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Eating Malaysia: The Unique Food of Kedah

Laksa Kedah

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Laksa Kedah or laksa utara (northern laksa) is a dish of rice noodles in a fish-based asam-flavoured gravy, garnished with cucumber and onions, and fragranced with herbs like daun kesum (polygonum). The dominating sour asam (tamarind) notes and the sweetness of the fish differentiates this laksa from the rest. The secret ingredient to this dish is the freshest ikan kembung (mackerel) or ikan selayang (sardines) from the fishing villages along the coast of Kedah. Otak udang (prawn paste), coconut sambal and cili padi (bird’s eye chillies) are a must for more depth, flavour and spiciness.

Traditionally, Laksa Kedah is served with finely-sliced ulam such as daun selom, ulam raja and pucuk gajus (young cashew nut leaves).

People in Kedah love their laksa so much they have it at all times of the day. You’ll definitely find it serve at wedding banquets and during festivals like Hari Raya.


Recommended famous laksa stall:

Zakaria Laksa Teluk Kechai on Jalan Kuala Kedah

Zakaria Laksa is one of the most famous laksa stalls here and is a family-run business for almost 70 years. Since rice is the main produce and the heartbeat of state, the restaurant believes that a true blue laksa Kedah must be served using freshly-made rice noodles because it is softer, more porous nature and better absorb the flavours of the gravy. Hence, Zakaria Laksa makes their rice noodles daily behind the restaurant.

A rice dough is made, then placed in a mould called a kebuk, which extrudes long strands of noodles that fall into a vat of boiling water to cook. They are then scooped out with a sieve and left to drain and cool.

Address: 250, Jalan Kuala Kedah, Kampung Klong Hoi, 06600 Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia

Phone: +604 762 1071

Business hours: Daily 12pm to 10pm

Related: The 9 Different Must Try Laksa In Malaysia 


Gulai Nangka

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A common dish that you will find at any nasi berlauk (Malay-style economical rice) stall in Kedah is the Gulai Nangka (jackfruit curry). Kedah is an important producer of nangka (jackfruit) in Malaysia. The aromatic, creamy yellow gravy is made from ground turmeric and many rich spices such as galangal, ginger, chilli paste and lemongrass, cooked in coconut milk with young, unripe jackfruit. The jackfruit’s thick green skin is removed and the fruit is cut into wedges with its seeds and all. Nangka fruit has a thick substantial body and can be used as meat substitute.

Gulai Nangka is usually served with steamed rice.



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Dodol is a sweet, thick and sticky toffee-like candy/cake made of coconut milk, gula Melaka (brown sugar) and rice flour. Although the common dodol is brownish in colour due to the brown sugar, it can be made into various flavours such as durian, coconut and pandan. Dodol will always be one of the main dishes during Hari Raya. For this festival, the making of dodol is a communal effort in the kampung (villages), as folks gathers around a huge wok, taking turns to stir the great vats of sticky paste over low fire for hours on end, until it thickens.



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This Madeleine-like cake is the favourite among many Malaysians. This cake is commonly known as bahulu, and to some it is called kuih baulu or kuih bolu. The name comes from the word “bolo” which means “cake” in Portugese. Kedahans love this baked sponge made from eggs and wheat flour. The cakes come in various shapes but bahulu cermai is the most popular; it resembles the star-shaped cermai fruit.

Kedahans bake it all year round. It’s soft and slightly dry texture goes really well with a cup of kopi O (black coffee).


Kuih Karas

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Kuih Karas is one of Kedah’s traditional kuih made from rice flour. The kuih resembles fried handful of beehoon (rice vermicelli) due to its string-like texture. Kuih karas is unlike any common steamed soft kuih. This fried kuih is harder in texture but crunchy and sweet in flavour.

Kuih karas is made using a special mould with tiny holes at the bottom to allow liquid rice batter to drizzle through while moving in circular motion into hot oil. Once it turns golden brown, it is sifted out and folded before it becomes cool and harden.


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