In North Eastern Malaysia, the states of Kelantan and Terengganu are staunch Muslim areas, with far fewer Indian and Chinese citizens than other, more touristy areas, like Penang. It’s a fairly interesting area that few travellers take time to explore, often only overnighting on the way across the Thai border or on their way back from the Perehentian Islands.
Being a predominantly Muslim area the food culture is quite a lot different from the typical Malaysian tourist destinations, obviously there’s no pork (aside from the tiny Chinese enclave – which coincidently is the only place you’ll find a beer, too.) and plenty of locally treasures, one of which is Nasi Kerabu.
Rice is such a staple of the region, and nasi kerabu is a great showcase of Kelantanese cuisine, visually it’s unusual as the rice is a bright blue colour, having been dyed using the leaves of a peaflower (although, I’m sure many shortcuts are taken and food colouring is more than likely used in its place) The rice is then a centrepiece of a sort of salad – including salted egg, coconut, beansprouts, ground fish, sambal, fresh herbs and Keropok (a type of prawn cracker). Additionally, a bit of grilled chicken, or another local specialty, Ayam Percik can be added with chillies stuffed with ground fish and coconut.
The flavours balance between spicy, sour and sweet – the Ketalanese are known for having a sweet palate. It’s one of my absolute favourite rice dishes, and the area of Kelantan has some other dishes well worth seeking out – Ayam percik & nasi dagang.
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