Kuala Lumpur Street Food

6 Popular Kuala Lumpur Street Food You Can Make at Home

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Updated on February 4, 2024

Reviewed by Esraa Mahmoud

In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s heart, a symphony of flavours and aromas fills the air through its vibrant streets. The city’s street food scene is a captivating tapestry woven from the threads of Malaysia’s diverse cultures, resulting in a medley of delectable dishes that tantalise the taste buds. From savoury delights that satisfy the hunger pangs of busy commuters to sweet treats that indulge the senses, Kuala Lumpur street food offers a glimpse into the city’s soul, where tradition and innovation intertwine to create an unforgettable gastronomic experience.

What Is the Most Popular Food in Kuala Lumpur?

Kuala Lumpur has a diverse culinary scene that reflects the country’s multiculturalism. Some of the most popular foods in Kuala Lumpur include:

Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak pack in banana leaf, popular breakfast in Malaysia

Nasi lemak is made of cooked rice in coconut milk, served with fried crispy anchovies, spicy sambal, toasted peanuts, boiled egg, and cucumber. Prices can range from around 5 to 10 MYR (Malaysian Ringgit).

Roti Canai

Roti Parata or Roti canai with lamb curry sauce kuala lumpur street food

This is a type of flatbread that’s crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It’s commonly served with dhal (lentil curry) or other curries. A serving of Roti Canai might cost you around 1 to 3 MYR per piece, depending on where you buy it.

Char Kway Teow

Fried Char Kuey Teow, popular noodle dish in Malaysia and Singapore

Char kway teow is a popular stir-fried noodle dish made with flat rice noodles, prawns, eggs, Chinese sausage, and bean sprouts. Prices typically range from 5 to 10 MYR, depending on the ingredients and portion size.

Hainanese Chicken Rice

Hainanese chicken rice

This dish features poached chicken and seasoned rice, often served with ginger paste, chilli sauce, and soy sauce. A plate of Hainanese Chicken Rice might cost around 5 to 10 MYR or more, depending on whether you order additional side dishes.

Satay

Satay or sate, skewered and grilled meat, served with peanut sauce, cucumber and ketupat, Malaysia or Indonesia food. Traditional Malay food. Hot and spicy Malaysian dish, Asian cuisine.

Satay is a skewered and grilled meat, usually served with peanut sauce, rice cakes, and cucumber-onion salad. A satay skewer could cost around 1 to 2 MYR per stick, with minimum orders often ranging from 5 to 10 sticks.

Laksa

Laksa on wooden table. Laksa is a spicy noodle soup popular in the Peranakan cuisine.

It is a spicy noodle soup with coconut milk or sour tamarind base, often containing seafood or chicken. Prices can vary between 5 to 10 MYR, depending on the location and type of laksa.

Rendang

Rendang

Rendang is a slow-cooked dry curry dish, often made with beef, originating from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia but is also popular in Malaysia. Prices for rendang dishes can range from 8 to 15 MYR or more, depending on the meat and portion size.

Cendol

Cendol is one of Malaysia's top selling favourite street beverage.

This is a popular dessert made with green rice flour jelly noodles, coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, and shaved ice. Prices are typically around 2 to 5 MYR per bowl.

Durian

durian fruit in packages on sale in market

While not a dish per se, durian is a distinctive fruit that’s either loved or hated due to its strong smell and rich, custard-like texture. Durian prices can vary based on factors such as the type of durian, the quality, the season, and market conditions.

Nasi Kandar

A dish of Indian-Muslim origin, Nasi kandar involves a plate of steamed rice accompanied by various curries and side dishes. The cost varies depending on the types of curries and side dishes you choose, but a basic plate might start around 10 MYR.

These prices vary based on various factors like location (touristy areas might be slightly more expensive), the vendor’s reputation, and any inflation or economic changes. Additionally, while street food is generally more affordable than dining in restaurants, prices can still vary from one vendor to another.

How to Make Some Savoury Kuala Lumpur Street Food at Home?

Here’s a simple recipe for making some popular savoury street food dishes from Kuala Lumpur at home:

1. Char Kway Teow Recipe

Fried Char Kuey Teow, popular noodle dish in Malaysia and Singapore

Here’s a simple recipe for making “Char Kway Teow” at home:

Ingredients

  • 200g rice noodles “Kway Teow”
  • 100g sliced chicken (optional)
  • 100g shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 minced cloves garlic
  • 2 sliced Chinese sausages
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce mixed with 1 tablespoon light soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sweet soy sauce (kecap manis)
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (belacan)
  • Pinch of white pepper
  • Fresh lime wedges
  • 1 teaspoon chilli paste (adjust to taste)
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
  • Chopped scallions (green onions) for garnish

Instructions

  1. Soak dried rice noodles in warm water for about 15 minutes until they are softened. Drain and set aside.
  2. Mix the dark soy sauce, sweet soy sauce, light soy sauce, and white pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Pound the shrimp paste in a mortar and pestle until it becomes a smooth paste. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large frying pan, then add vegetable oil and set it to medium-high heat.
  5. Add the minced garlic and sauté until fragrant.
  6. If using chicken, add the sliced chicken and cook until it’s no longer pink.
  7. Push the chicken and garlic to the side of the large frying pan and crack the eggs into the empty space; stir the eggs until they are cooked.
  8. Add the shrimp and Chinese sausages to the pan. Stir-fry until the shrimp and sausages are fully cooked.
  9. Add the drained rice noodles to the pan and toss all the ingredients together with also the shrimp and chilli paste.
  10. Add the mix of soy sauce to the noodles and stir-fry until the noodles are heated through and coated fully with soy sauce.
  11. Put the bean sprouts and stir-fry for a minute.
  12. Season and add more soy sauce or chilli paste according to your preference.
  13. Serve the Char Kway Teow hot, garnished with chopped scallions, cilantro, and lime wedges.

2. Nasi Lemak

Nasi lemak kukus traditional malaysian spicy rice dish, fresh cooked with hot steam. Served with belacan, ikan bilis, acar, peanuts and cucumber

Nasi Lemak is a classic Malaysian dish with fragrant coconut rice and various complements. One of the critical elements is the spicy sambal sauce. Here’s how you can make it at home:

Ingredients For the Coconut Rice

  • 2 cups jasmine rice
  • 1 3/4 cups coconut milk
  • 2 pandan leaves (optional for aroma)
  • Salt to taste

For the Sambal Sauce

  • 10 dried red chillies
  • 3 shallots
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste (belacan)
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, soaked in 2 tablespoons water and strained
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Salt to taste

Accompaniments

  • Hard-boiled or fried egg halves
  • Cucumber slices
  • Fried crispy anchovies (ikan bilis)
  • Toasted peanuts
  • Slices of fried or grilled chicken (optional)

Instructions

  1. Wash and rinse the rice until the water runs clear. Drain.
  2. Combine the rice, coconut milk, pandan leaves, and a pinch of salt in a pot. Cook the rice as you normally would.
  3. While the rice is cooking, prepare the sambal sauce. Blend the soaked dried chillies, shallots, garlic, and shrimp paste into a smooth paste.
  4. Heat some oil in a pan and sauté the chilli paste until it’s fragrant and the oil separates.
  5. Add the tamarind juice, sugar, and salt. Cook until the sauce thickens. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
  6. Serve the coconut rice with the sambal sauce and your chosen accompaniments.

3. Satay (Chicken Satay) with Peanut Sauce

Satay (Chicken Satay) with Peanut Sauce

Satay is a popular Malaysian street food consisting of skewered and grilled meat with a delicious peanut sauce.

Ingredients For the Chicken Satay

  • 500g boneless chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey or brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • Bamboo skewers soaked in water

Ingredients For the Peanut Sauce

  • 1 cup roasted peanuts, ground into a paste
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • Water as needed

Instructions

  1. Combine soy sauce, honey or sugar, curry powder, and turmeric powder in a bowl. Marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours.
  2. Put the marinated chicken in the soaked bamboo skewers.
  3. Grill the chicken skewers on a barbecue or stovetop pan until cooked and slightly charred.
  4. Heat some oil in a pan and sauté the shallots and garlic until fragrant for the peanut sauce.
  5. Add the curry and turmeric, and sauté for another minute.
  6. Add the ground peanuts, coconut milk, tamarind paste, and sugar. Simmer until the sauce thickens, adding water to achieve your desired consistency.
  7. Season the sauce with salt to taste.
  8. Serve the grilled chicken satay with the peanut sauce on the side.

These recipes should give you a taste of the savoury delights found on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Remember that you can customise this recipe by adding other ingredients like fish cake, squid, or vegetables to suit your taste. Enjoy cooking and savouring these Malaysian flavours at home!

How to Make Some Sweet Kuala Lumpur Street Food at Home?

Here are three sweet Kuala Lumpur street food-inspired recipes you can try at home:

1. Cendol

Cendol is one of Malaysia's top selling favourite street beverage.

Cendol is a popular Malaysian dessert made with green rice flour jelly noodles, coconut milk, palm sugar syrup, and shaved ice.

Ingredients For the Cendol Jelly

  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon pandan paste or pandan essence
  • Green food colouring (optional)
  • Water

Ingredients For the Palm Sugar Syrup

  • 1 cup palm sugar (gula melaka), grated
  • 1/2 cup water

Ingredients For Serving

  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Crushed ice

Instructions

  1. Mix the rice flour with pandan paste and green food colouring (if using), adding water gradually to form a smooth batter.
  2. Steam the batter in a shallow pan or steamer until it becomes firm and translucent. Once cooled, cut it into thin strips resembling noodles.
  3. Dissolve the grated palm sugar in water over low heat for the palm sugar syrup. Strain to remove any impurities.
  4. To assemble, place a handful of cendol noodles in a bowl. Add crushed ice on top.
  5. Drizzle the palm sugar syrup and coconut milk over the ice and cendol.
  6. Mix everything before eating to enjoy the contrasting textures and flavours.

2. Apam Balik

Apam balik, another version of pancake, sweet crispy filled with peanuts, sugar and sweet corn. Delicious Malay street food, Malaysian snack, Asian cuisine.

Apam Balik is a sweet folded pancake filled with various fillings, such as crushed peanuts and sweet corn.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sweet corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup crushed peanuts
  • Butter or oil for cooking

Instructions

  1. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Add the egg and water. Gradually and slowly add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, stirring until smooth.
  3. Pour a ladleful batter onto the heated pan, spreading it evenly to form a thin pancake.
  4. Sprinkle sweet corn and crushed peanuts on one half of it.
  5. Once the edges start to cook and the surface bubbles, fold the other half over the filling. Press gently with a spatula.
  6. Cook until it gets golden brown and crispy.
  7. Cut the apam balik into wedges and serve warm.

3. Kuih Ketayap

Malaysia sweet dessert with coconut known as kuih ketayap

Kuih Ketayap, or “Pandan Crepes,” are sweet coconut-filled pancakes rolled into cylindrical shapes.

Ingredients For the Crepes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup rice flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • A pinch of salt
  • Green food colouring (optional)

Ingredients For the Filling

  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1/2 cup palm sugar (gula melaka), grated
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions

  1. Whisk together all-purpose flour, rice flour, egg, coconut milk, salt, and green food colouring (if using) until smooth.
  2. Heat a non-stick pan and grease it.
  3. Pour a ladleful batter onto the pan, swirling to evenly coat the bottom. Cook until the crepe is set and slightly crispy at the edges.
  4. Remove the crepe from the pan, then repeat the process.
  5. Mix grated coconut, grated palm sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl for the filling.
  6. Place a spoonful of the coconut filling in the centre of each crepe. Fold in the sides and roll up the crepe to encase the filling.
  7. Serve the Kuih Ketayap as a sweet treat.

These sweet recipes will give you a taste of the delightful desserts enjoyed on the streets of Kuala Lumpur. Enjoy preparing and indulging in these Malaysian delights!

Kuala Lumpur’s street food is more than just sustenance; it’s a celebration of Malaysia’s rich heritage and a testament to the harmonious fusion of cultures that call this city home. Each dish carries a story, a history passed down through generations. As you navigate the bustling lanes and vibrant markets, the tantalising aroma of char kway teow, the sweetness of cendol, and the comforting familiarity of nasi lemak envelop you in a sensory adventure whether you’re an adventurous foodie seeking new flavours or a traveller yearning to connect with the heart of a city, Kuala Lumpur’s street food is an invitation to savour the essence of Malaysia, one delectable bite at a time.

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