Indonesian Vs Malaysian Food: Is Indonesian Food Really The Same As Malaysian Food?

The people of Indonesia and Malaysia have a lot in common.

They both speak Bahasa, share the same Muslim culture, but what about their cuisines? Are Indonesian food and Malaysian food exactly the same? In this article, we will be comparing Indonesian cuisine vs Malaysian cuisine so that you can make an informed decision on where to visit next time you are vacationing and try their delicious signature dishes.

What is special about Indonesian food?

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Fire Islands: Recipes from Indonesia
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Indonesian cuisine is a diverse and rich culinary tradition, with influences from Indian, Chinese, Malaysian, Dutch, and Portuguese cooking.

Indonesian food is popular for its use of spices like ginger, galangal, and lemongrass, ingredients like coconut milk, rice as the staple grain in many dishes; vegetables like jackfruit, eggplant, and cabbage; noodles such as soto ayam that are simmered in chicken broth or curry paste.

Indonesia has over 17,000 islands so its cuisine varies from region to region.

Indonesian recipes typically use simple ingredients that are readily available in most grocery stores or farmers’ markets.

They tend to eat more chicken, lamb, and seafood rather than pork and beef due to the diet restrictions of Muslims and Hindus.

They also offer many vegan options for those who want to cut down on meat consumption and eat healthier.

What is special about Malaysian food?

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Simply Malaysian Cookbook: Easy yet Delicious Classics from Malaysia
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Malaysian food is a diverse blend of cultures, with influences from the British, Chinese, Indian, and Thai.

This means that you can find dishes in Malaysia that are more Westernized as well as traditional food that is passed down from generation to generation.

The first thing that might strike people as unique is the use of coconut milk.

It’s used in desserts, curries, soups, and stews.

Spicy peanut sauce is also another staple in Malaysian cooking.

The most common curry dish is called “kari ayam” or chicken curry, which is perfect to consume with steamed rice or naan bread.

Malaysian food tends to be spicy with a lot of flavors and complex aromas.

It is usually served on the table family style so that every member can share food with each other.

Some Malaysians are Muslims and Hindus, therefore, pork and beef are not widely consumed while there is no diet restriction among Christians or non-religious people in this country.

What are the differences between Indonesian food and Malaysian food?

Many people think Indonesian food and Malaysian food are very similar.

It is true to some extent because there are still several differences between these two cuisines, and here are some of them:

Indonesian food is known for its use of coconut milk, while Malaysian food uses peanut sauce

The diversity in dishes between the two countries is vast.

And the first thing to notice is that Indonesian food uses coconut milk while Malaysian cuisine features spicy peanut sauce as a key ingredient.

This gives them an overall different taste but also makes for some interesting combinations of flavors.

Rice is a staple in Indonesian cuisine, while Malaysians also eat flatbread and noodles

In fact, rice is a staple in both cuisines.

However, this type of grain dominates Indonesian cuisine more than in Malaysia.

On the other hand, Malaysians also eat naan bread and noodles with spicy sauce or curry at any meal of the day.

These options can be used as an alternative to rice.

Indonesian food is spicier than Malaysian food

In general, both Indonesian and Malaysian food is reputed for being spicy because of their use of hot chili peppers, lemongrass, and ginger.

However, Malaysian dishes are a bit milder and Indonesian food tends to be spicier.

What are the similarities between Indonesian food and Malaysian food?

Besides the key differences that have been mentioned above, it seems that Indonesian food and Malaysian food are relatively similar and have been influenced by each other over time.

They are both island countries that are located in the Southeast of Asia with Muslims taking the majority of their populations.

This has resulted in the following similarities between Indonesian cuisine and Malaysian cuisine:

Indonesian cuisine and Malaysian cuisine use fresh ingredients

The first thing in common between these two cuisines is their use of fresh ingredients.

Most of their cooking elements are fresh and can be found in local markets rather than canned food like in American cuisine.

Both cuisines have diet restrictions for consuming beef and pork

More than 60% of the population in Malaysia and over 80% of the Indonesian population are Muslims.

According to this religion, consuming pork and beef is forbidden because these are sacred animals.

They mainly eat chicken, lamb, veal, or seafood instead.

Indonesians and Malaysians prefer stews and rice

Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines have been strongly influenced by Indian cuisine, therefore, they are known for their love of rice dishes.

Rice cooking is a big part of their cultures, as it commonly makes up the staple diet in these countries.

They also enjoy stews with meats like chicken or seafood that can be found at nearly any food stall on either side of their shared border.

Which one is better?

Fire Islands: Recipes from IndonesiaSimply Malaysian Cookbook: Easy yet Delicious Classics from Malaysia
Fire Islands: Recipes from IndonesiaSimply Malaysian Cookbook: Easy yet Delicious Classics from Malaysia
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Did one of these cuisines stand out from the other? The answer to this question depends on what type of food you like.

Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines are both delicious, but they have their own distinct flavors that set them apart from one another.

However, in general, these two cuisines are quite similar, so choosing one over the other won’t make any significant difference.

Now, let us know in the comment section below about your decision on which cuisine you prefer to have on your next meal.

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