Essential Ingredients

There are a few basic ingredients that are used in most Malay and Indian cooking. Some are pastes made beforehand and stored in air-tight containers kept in the fridge so that you simply scoop a spoon or two of it and it goes straight into the hot wok or pan when the recipes calls for it. The following pages will show you what and how it’s made.

Chilli Paste

Chilli PasteIt is one of the most often used raw ingredients in Malay cooking. We use chillies in most Malay recipes because we like our food to be hot and spicy. The chillies are often grounded into a paste and stored in the fridge.

If you do not want your dish to be too spicy, you can remove the seeds from the dried chillies first.

Wash the dried chillies to remove any dirt then soak them in water until  the chillies are soft or boil them to soften. Once softened, drain the water away and transfer the soft chillies into a blender.

Add about 2 tablespoons of oil like grapeseed oil or vegetable oil and some water, about half a cup, into the blender. Then blend them to a paste. Pour the paste into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge.

Garlic Paste

garlic pasteWe used a lot of garlic in Malay cooking though in small amounts. From stir-fry to marinates to soups or stews.

Just peel a lot garlic, throw them into the blender, add a bit of water and a tablespoon of oil and blend into a paste.

Transfer the paste to an airtight container and keep it in the fridge until the time you need to use it.

Always use a clean spoon when you spoon out the paste so that you avoid contaminating the remaining paste.

Ginger Paste

You can use fresh or old ginger. I normally use old ginger. Simply peel them, rinse then pound them using the pestle or mortar into a paste. I don’t make large amount for ginger paste as I don’t quite use them as often as I used garlic or ginger paste.

Just 3 to 4 tablespoons of ginger paste for me can last me a week or more.

Onion Paste

onion pasteIt’s worth the trouble to make the paste before you ever need to use it. It has saved me many times when I had one of those ‘lazy’ days where I couldn’t bring myself to even peel an onion much less ground it.

It’s a relief to open my fridge and simply have the ingredients ready like this onion paste.

These are onions that are peeled, washed then thrown into the blender then blended into a paste. Store it into an airtight container and keep it in the  fridge.


If you intend to eat rice everyday or rice is your staple food then it is a wise investment to get a rice cooker. Get a small one if you normally cook a small portion. Otherwise get one that can cook your desired amount.

Getting a rice cooker saves you a lot of time because you don’t have to mind the rice while it’s cooking in the rice cooker. You have to keep checking the rice if you are cooking it in a pot over the stove to avoid burning the rice.

If you are using the rice cooker, follow the instructions on how to cook the rice. If you are cooking it in a pot on the stove then the proportion is 1and 1/2 cup of water for every cup of rice. Before that rinse the rice until the water runs clear, this gets rid of dirt and excess starch so that the rice is less sticky.

Cook the rice with the lid on and let it simmer until all the water is absorbed.

It’s not rocket science to cook rice, with the right amount of water and cooking time, worrying about burnt rice will be a thing of the past 🙂


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