Appetising starter: Asam Laksa, a Malaysian noodle soup Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Talk about choice cuisines in the UAE and it’s unlikely that Malaysian food would find an immediate mention. Yet, as FoodAddict TV show producer-anchor Zenofar Fathima tells us, it’s a huge draw among residents who patronise a good many restaurants that serve authentic Malay delicacies.

As a “food addict” who has done the rounds of these eating places for TV shows, Fathima should know.

“There are many go-to places for Malay food such as Rasa Sayang, YUM!, Tangerine and Toshi,” she says.

“Malaysian cuisine, like Indonesian food, has a very distinct taste. Both share some common dishes, Rendang, a flavoursome beef curry, being a hot favourite. But Malaysian food distinguishes itself with an array of blends.”

According to Fathima, Malaysian cuisine represents a fusion of many cultures.

“The taste, aroma and key ingredients are quite different from let’s say, a typical UAE flavour. It is a combination of sweet and sour, whereas the UAE diet consists of more charred or grilled meat, though both use spices generously.”

Satays are a fine example. “There are many people in the UAE besides the 7,200 Malaysian expats, who love beef and chicken satays with a zing of peanut sauce. The beef redang again is very popular during celebrations and ceremonies. It takes quite some time to prepare the redang since it is a rich coconut beef stew.”

Another delicacy of Malaysia is the Asam Laksa, a noodle soup with many variations.

“Cooked in tart tamarind broth with fish and noodles at the bottom with cucumber and pineapple, the bright and aromatic Asam Laksa is truly unique,” says Fathima, whose FoodAddict show is expected to air for a second season this year.

“Malaysia as a country too is wonderful to explore new flavours and festivals. It appeals to everyone as it boasts a multi-cultural cuisine,” says Fathima.

She says restaurants serving lip-smacking Malaysian food are easy to locate and not expensive in the UAE.

“For a very rich taste, the Malaysian cuisine is quite affordable. There may be a variety of ingredients in a dish, but each of them is basic and easily available in the market. So just go ahead and sample them.”