Malaysian Curry Powder: A Multicultural Curry Blend

As with Jamaican and Madras curry powders, Malaysian curry powder is another variant of Indian spice blends like garam masala.

Malaysia is home to numerous ethnic groups and has been influenced by many different cultures at various points in its history. Along with colonization by the British, there has been significant migration from China as well as from India and other countries in the region. All of that is reflected in Malaysia’s food.

In Malaysian curry powder, we see the convergence of multiple food cultures in the fact that curry powder is a mixture of British preferences along with Indian technique and spices from both India and from Malaysia itself. The culinary cross-pollination seen in Malaysian curry powder can also be seen throughout Malaysia’s food culture as the Malay people along with Indian and Chinese immigrants share ingredients and recipes with the different communities modifying recipes to suit their own tastes.

The popularity of Malaysian curry powder stems from the county’s love of spices in general. Much of this love results from the fact that Malaysia was a hub of the marine trade route for spices for centuries.

The British influence emerged from the British East India Company’s foothold in Penang. Their base was established there in the late 18th century and they would maintain their control over Malaysia until after World War 2.

Malaysian curry powder is typically used in dishes that feature coconut milk similar to Thai curries.

Malaysian curry powder flavor profile

The flavor of Malay curry powder will vary depending on who is making it. The flavor profile depends on exactly which spices are used, and the spices vary depending on the maker’s preferences. Generally, Malaysian curry powder’s flavor will be dominated by a combination of savory and sweet notes, with heat from chili peppers along with the sweetness from cinnamon and cardamom.

Health benefits of Malaysian curry powder

Malaysian curry powder consists of several spices that are each full of nutrients. As a result, this spice blend is a good source of the following:

  • Minerals: Malaysian curry powder is loaded with iron and contains a modest amount of calcium as well. Other minerals in it can include zinc, copper and potassium in trace amounts.
  • Vitamins: Malaysian curry powder contains a significant amount of vitamin C along with a modest amount of vitamin A. You may also find various B vitamins in trace amounts.
  • Fiber: Most of the spices in the typical Malaysian curry powder blend are good sources of fiber, which means that the blend itself will also contain fiber.

Because of these nutrients, Malaysian curry powder may be beneficial for preventing several health conditions. Among them are:

  • Constipation: Because Malaysian curry powder contains fiber, it can be helpful for treating constipation. It ensures that water remains in the stool, which means that it passes through your intestines more easily.
  • Heart disease: The fiber in spices can help to reduce the amount of cholesterol that your body absorbs, which means that your body will pass it out instead.
  • Colorectal cancer: Malaysian curry powder has numerous antioxidants that can help to prevent cancer as well as fiber that helps you to excrete toxins faster.

Common uses

In Malaysia, curry powder can be used to make chicken curry and beef satay. Like other curry powders, it is not meant to be used as the sole source of flavor in a dish. Dishes that require curry powder often require coconut milk, belacan (fermented fish paste), and garlic as well.