Eating Healthy in Malaysia
Mamaks in Malaysia are a sacred place. If you want cheap food, to the mamak you go. You and your friends broke? Guess it’s an all-night hangout at the nearest mamak then!
But as all Malaysians know mamak food isn’t the healthiest option. So this becomes a problem when you don’t wanna get FOMO(Fear Of Missing Out) from missing out on doing one of our most popular local traditions.
Eating healthy in Malaysia might prove difficult, even more so with mamak delicacies mainly consisting of fried dishes drenched in oil but Teh Talk are here to tell you how to seek healthy alternatives to your normal order of maggi goreng tambah telur mata with teh tarik!
1. Mix it up with nasi campur instead of nasi goreng
Look, everyone thinks eating healthy = no carbs but if you’re doing intensive workouts at the gym, carbs are still essential in every diet (In a moderate amount, of course).
So instead of ordering off the menu, how about going to the mixed rice/nasi campur/nasi kandar station and see what they have to offer? Usually mamaks will provide a wide range of veggies to choose from so lessen the rice portion & pile on the cabbage & taugeh!
2. Chicken. Baked, not fried.
There’s always the temptation of ordering ayam goreng when in a mamak. Just that irresistible fried aroma that hits just as you walk in salivates all your senses.
And it doesn’t help that if you try to tambah ayam to any of your dishes, it’ll definitely be fried chicken.
So time to bring in specifics and tambah ayam tandoori instead. It’s baked in a traditional clay oven called a tandoor (hence the name) so definitely healthier than your fried chicken prepared in a huge vat of oil.
3. Don’t be naughty about your roti.
Ah, a staple of mamak: roti canai.
As a young child, my parents would order me a plain roti for dinner and I would drenched it completely with sugar. (Definitely a nutritional diet for a growing child)
But too bad, we’re not children anymore that can get away with filling our bodies with pure sugar or oil-ridden carbs (in the case of the roti).
Instead, you could switch out roti canai for chapati or naan.
Chapati is made from whole wheat flour while cooked in a skillet while naan is cooked in a tandoor (just like ayam tandoori).
Best part? Both are prepared without oil!
4. Don’t be in a hurry while choosing your curry
Another healthy alternative to-go with your newfound love of chapati & naan is the choice of curry.
Curries sound healthy enough, it’s just meat & vegetables cooked in a spiced sauce but sometimes they can get really greasy & salty.
So choose dhal curry instead. Dhal curry is made up of legumes (lentils, peas, and beans) which definitely makes for a side dish high in plant-based proteins and fibres.
5. A healthier way of indulging in mamak staples
Look, we can’t deny how such a simple meal of maggi goreng, mee goreng mamak or nasi goreng can be so satisfying to the gut.
YET we all know how high in carb and oil ridden those dishes are. So the best solution is to NEVER order them and to rid their existence from your minds.
Nonetheless, if the cravings for them MUST be satisfied (we don’t blame you), how about cutting the portion in half?
You could either a) share half of the dish with your friend or b) tapau the remaining half for your next meal.
This way you can cut your calorie intake AND avoid food wastage too!
6. “Ais kosong kurang manis satu!”, oh wait…
So maybe ais kosong with less sugar will get you weird looks from the waiter/boss. But it was just a bad attempt at an attention grabbing subheading.
Moving along, the drinks (apart from the aforementioned ais kosong) at mamaks are all ladened with sugar. This doesn’t bode well for a clean diet since sugary drinks are just empty calories.
So next time you order teh tarik or limau ais, try making those orders kurang manis or tanpa manis so you won’t waste your calories (which can be better used for another portion of ayam tandoori, am I right?)
These are the 6 ways of eating healthy in Malaysia, specifically at a mamak.
We hope you found these tricks & tips useful the next time you ever find yourself at a mamak during a strict diet regime.
Wanna know more about eating healthy in Malaysia? Read our article on the best restaurants for healthy food in KL or our article on the best Malaysian healthy snacks.