7 Local Dishes You Can Easily Make From Your Pantry
Want to start a conversation with a Malaysian? Just talk about our food.
As Malaysians, if there is one thing we all agree on, it is how good and undefeated Malaysian food is. Now with us staying at home most of the time, a lot of us have started cooking at home and enjoy good home-cooked meals.
Somedays when we are pressed on time with overwhelming work and family responsibilities and do not have the time for grocery shopping, we end up with a somewhat empty fridge. Times like this call for an easy, quick, and delicious meal. Fret not, because many common items in a typical Malaysian household pantry can make a mean meal in no time. Here are 7 local dishes you can easily make from your pantry that you can try when you need a quick and delicious meal.
Let me start with my personal favorite, the Teochew porridge. My grandma will be so proud that it is first on my list. Teochew porridge is so fool-proof that it does not need a recipe – hence why I did not link any.
The first step is to make plain white porridge – this will be the base of the meal. Then, crack open some canned side dishes such as canned pickled lettuce, canned fried dace with salted black beans, and salted eggs on the side. The warm white porridge is the perfect canvas to highlight the umami flavours of the side dishes. I had this dish for all 3 meals for 2 days straight after my Covid-19 vaccination, and the warmth of the porridge made me feel much better.
2. Dhall curry
My mom makes this recipe at least once a week, it contains dhall, onions, potatoes, and carrots – all the ingredients that we would usually have in our home pantries. Have some store-bought roti or chapati on the side for lunch and you’ll have a good balance of carbs, protein, and fiber. After this meal, you’re set to take on the rest of the day.
3. Bubur pulut hitam
Not every day do we see black foods so it is very visually appetizing to see foods with an uncommon colour. Try adding a dash of coconut milk and it turns into a pretty lilac colour.
The recipe for this dish is so simple and only really needs 4 ingredients, black glutinous rice, sugar, pandan leaves, and coconut milk. Have it on a cold rainy day, and it is guaranteed to warm your soul.
4. Curry puffs
A curry puff needs no explanation as to what’s so delicious about it. The buttery, flaky crust with warm spicy potato filling can make snack time the highlight of any day! Best served with a side of teh tarik and a tissue for wiping greasy fingers. You may find the recipe, here.
5. Vendhaya Kulambu (aka onion curry)
This is my first time hearing of this dish but I am very eager to try it out. Onions are so unassuming and many of us do not think of onions as a dish. Scrolling through the recipe and reading the list of spices added to this dish, I can only imagine how tasty it would be.
Imagine having the mixture of flavorful spices and creamy coconut milk on top of a bed of freshly cooked warm rice. It is truly a match made in foodie heaven. I know some people are not the biggest fan of onions because of their pungent smell. However, give this recipe a try and it might just be the dish to change your mind about onions.
I have made onde-onde at home on several different occasions and it always amazes me how easy it is to make. All you need is flour, sugar, and shredded coconut. It can be a fun family bonding activity to sit in a circle and roll out the tiny doughs together.
Different colours can also be added to the doughs to make it rainbow coloured – it is advisable to use natural colouring rather than artificial ones. When you bite into one of these little snacks, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with a burst of sweet and salty melted gula Melaka. And trust me, one onde-onde is never enough. To try this out, you may find the recipe here.
7. ABC Soup
A staple in many Malaysian Chinese households where every mom has their own version of it – the ABC Soup. The ABC soup got its name ABC because it is as easy as ABC to prepare. Maybe also perhaps because it has vitamins A, B, and C in it.
The boiling time for the soup might take a while. However, the actual time you stand in the kitchen preparing the ingredients might only take 15 to 20 minutes. Just throw in chopped potatoes, onions, carrots, and tomatoes and you’re set (some people add beetroot to their version)!
Leave it simmering for 2 hours and come back to a hearty and nutritious meal. My friends and I used to make this soup very often when we were studying overseas as it reminded us of home. Having it for dinner on a cold winter night felt like a familiar warm hug from the inside. The best part is how easy it is to prepare, just follow this recipe – for a vegetarian option you can just leave out the chicken.
If there’s anything all generations in Malaysia can relate to, is our mutual love for food. We are very proud of our multicultural cuisine which allows us to experience different cultures and traditions. I hope these simple recipes will kick-start your interest in trying to make local dishes at home. From one Malaysian foodie to another, may our love for local food never die, Malaysia Boleh (makan)!
If you’re interested to try out more recipes, check out these articles on 6 Quick And Easy Noodle Recipes You Can Make and Comforting One-Pot Dishes You Can Easily Whip Up for Your Weekday Dinners.