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SMU Libraries

Understanding Malaysia: Culture, Sports and Cuisines

This guide provides useful information and links to resources on Malaysia.

At A Glance


The following information have been carefully selected for your reference. Some resources may have bias perspectives. Please approach the SMU Libraries ( ) should you have any doubts or need clarifications.


These videos show the distinct culture, and values of Malaysia.

Local Culture

Popular Sports

Football (Soccer), Badminton, Tenpin Bowling, Field Hockey, Tennis, Squash, Golf, Horse Riding, Sailing, Martial Arts.

Malay culture is rich with it's own uniqueness. Watch this video to learn more about the various Malay traditional outfits.

This student share his experiences with Malay culture and the interaction with Malaysians.

This video discovers the lesser known parts of Malaysia and its local cultural significance.



This curried and stewed meat dish is said to have originated from Padang, West Sumatra. Commonly served at ceremonial and festive occasions, the dish has been ‘absorbed’ into other areas in S.E.Asia, with slight variations. Traditionally rendang is made with beef and cooked with coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and other spices like tamarind or turmeric leaf. The dish is braised for hours until almost all the liquid is gone, allowing the meat to absorb the spicy condiments. The cooking process changes from boiling to frying as the liquid evaporates. The longer the cooking process, the better the dish will taste as the meat not only absorbs the spices but becomes tender as well.

Nasi Lemak

No visitors will leave Malaysia without tasting our very own Nasi Lemak. Hot cooked rice with pandan aroma steamed with coconut cream goes heavenly well with sizzling spicy sauce or “sambal”. Generous sprinklings of roasted peanuts and salty dried anchovies with a hard boiled egg perfect this dish. A platter of everything good all wrapped up in banana leaves to further enhance its unique taste. Nasi Lemak is truly a national heritage of Malaysia.


Follow the aroma of sweet, barbequed meat as you walk on the street and when you see a man or woman fanning the grill at a hawker stall, go for it! Satay is a Malay food made up from meats that are marinated, skewered and grilled on sticks and served with delicious peanut sauce. Found in restaurants, food courts and night markets throughout every state in Malaysia, popular kinds of Satays are usually made with beef, chicken and mutton, however, different regions in Malaysia have developed their own unique Satay recipes.


Laksa is a famous noodle soup from Peranakan culture with coconut based curry soup filled with rich ingredients such as tofu puffs, fish sticks, shrimps, cockles and others. It is served with a spoonful of chilli paste or “sambal” and traditionally garnished with Vietnamese coriander, or laksa leaf. There are many varieties of delicious Laksa in Malaysia suck as Sarawak Laksa, Johor Laksa, Kelantan Laksa, Penang Laksa and many others. Try out as many as you can.

Char Kway Teow

‘Char Kway Teow’ or ‘stir-fried ricecake strips’ is arguably one of the most popular dishes among Malaysians of all races. The name is derived from the Hokkien term for ‘fried’ which is ‘char, while ‘kway teow’ refers to the ‘flat rice noodles’, which is the main ingredient. The latter is stir-fried over very high heat with light or dark soy sauce, chili, while prawns, deshelled cockles, bean sprouts, chinese chives and eggs. Among the chinese community, the char kway teow is traditionally stir-fried in pork fat with crisp croutons of pork lard and serve on a piece of banana leaf or plate. In some instances, slices of chinese sausage and fishcake are added to accentuate the taste.

Apam balik

You haven't truly experienced Malaysian food until you thrill your taste buds with this sweet treat. A pancake-style snack wedded with the compact package of an omelet, apam balik is stuffed with more than a sufficient amount of sugar, peanuts and the occasional sprinkle of corn -- it's a dish that's constantly being reinvented.

Roti jala

Roti jala, or net bread, gets its name from the net-like formation that's created by making zigzagging lines with flour on a large skillet. The final product is folded up like a crepe and usually served with chicken curry. Roti jala is eaten any time of the day.

Philippines Cuisine

This video introduces you to the top 5 Malaysian food in Kuala Lumpur that everyone needs to savour.

In this video, take a look at the delicious Malaysian Cuisine that Luis Suarez got to try, and also learn some other cuisine that you probably aren't aware of.

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