Without a doubt, Malaysian cuisine is one of, if not the main factor that attracts tourists to the country. If that’s the case, do bear in mind that your makan adventure will not be complete without visiting Malaysia’s food heaven, Pantai Timur or the East Coast!
The food in Kelantan and Terengganu is influenced by Thai culture and taste due to the close proximity to Southern Thailand. Aside from that, since this region also relies on the fishing industry, most of the food here are fish based. You will see a lot of dishes that feature fish as well as other seafood in this list🐟 Without further ado, here’s 12 must try dishes in Kelantan and Terrenganu!
1. Nasi Dagang
Be it breakfast, lunch or dinner, nasi dagang is available anywhere at any time in the East Coast 😋
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There’s a slight difference between nasi dagang Terengganu and nasi dagang Kelantan! Nasi dagang is made up of a mixture of white rice (in Terengganu) or brown rice (in Kelantan) and glutinous rice steamed with coconut milk, shallots and fenugreek. In Terengganu, it’s simply served with gulai ikan tongkol, which is a spicy red fish curry, while sambal kelapa and boiled eggs are also served in Kelantan.
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2. Nasi Kerabu
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Nasi kerabu is a Malay-style salad (a combination of local vegetables, herbs and fruits) served with rice that’s been dyed blue (naturally using bunga telang), kerisik sambal ikan (fish floss with grated and sauteed coconut), budu (fermented fish sauce) which is a Kelantan specialty, boiled salted egg and fish crackers. At some places, the dish also comes with a choice of grilled beef or fried battered fish. This combination of flavours will all create a uniquely beautiful taste in your mouth that you will never forget!
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Although nasi kerabu is available in both East Coast states, somehow it’s relatively more popular in Kelantan.
Terengganu really do love their fish so much that even their snacks are made of fish😄
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Satar is basically deboned and mashed fish mixed with grated coconut, ginger, pepper, chillies, tumeric leaves and bay leaves. It’s then wrapped in a cone-shaped banana leaf, skewered and grilled over hot coals 😊
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P.S. If you can’t stand spicy food, you might want to be careful while eating satar!
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Made from rice flour, laksam is unlike any other noodles and more similar to laksa, except that it’s been spread, rolled and cut into bite size. Laksam is eaten with a gravy made from, you guessed it, fish meat and coconut milk mixed with several other condiments. For spiciness, you can add some sambal to the dish. Like made other local dishes, laksam is one of the staple breakfast menu in Terengganu and Kelantan.
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5. Laksa Terengganu
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The most special thing about Laksa Terengganu is that it comes with a choice of two kinds of gravy; kuah putih (white gravy) and kuah merah (red gravy). While kuah putih contains pepper, red chillies are used for kuah merah, making it spicier. Laksa kuah putih is pretty similar to laksam and is a more popular choice, that doesn’t make laksa kuah merah any less special.
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If you find yourself in Terengganu, don’t forget to try both versions!
6. Nasi Tumpang
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Unlike the other rice dishes, nasi tumpang is exclusively a Kelantan dish. It’s a unique rice dish packed in a cone shaped banana leaf. Usually, it comes with fish or prawn curry, serunding ikan or daging (fish or meat floss), a dollop of sambal and sometimes a slice of omelette.
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It’s a perfect breakfast or lunch (or both!) for those who are travelling or going to work
7. Ketupat Sotong
People in the East Coast do love their seafood for sure. Ketupat sotong is another favourite for tea time, featuring squids stuffed with glutinous rice. They are later cooked in a rich and creamy coconut milk gravy. This dish is both sweet and filling, which makes it a wonderful treat after a long and tiring day😋
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Similar to some other dishes, ketupat sotong varies in Kelantan and Terengganu. While Terengganu maintains the original flavour in white gravy, palm sugar is added in Kelantan for a much sweeter taste.
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8. Ikan celup tepung
A trip to Terengganu is not complete without this dish!
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Ikan celup tepung, or simply ICT according to the locals, is basically battered fish fried whole. It’s such a popular evening snack among the locals and tourists that the queue can get as long as an hour’s wait especially during public and school holidays. Stalls serving ICT in Terengganu are often located by the beach, so you can feast on the food while enjoying the stunning view with your loved ones.
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Also available are sotong celup tepung, udang celup tepung as well as ketam celup tepung at some places (squid, shrimp and crab).
9. Nasi air
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Consisting of rice in clear chicken broth, several other condiments are added to the soup to add to the flavour of this signature Kelantan dish. They include crispy anchovies, peanuts, bawang goreng (fried shallots) and a squash of lime for a zesty flavour😍
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If you’re a fan of rice porridge and chicken soup, remember to try out nasi air, which is pretty much a combination of both!
10. Nasi Lemak Ikan Tongkol
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Nasi lemak can be found everywhere in Malaysia, but you can only find nasi lemak ikan uniquely in the East Coast. Instead of the usual sambal ikan bilis, people here use ikan tongkol (albacore tuna fish) in their sambal, making this dish a more filling breakfast to start the day and definitely more special.
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11. Pulut Kelapa
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Simplicity at its best, pulut kelapa (or pulut nyior as the locals call it) is another popular breakfast choice in Terengganu. As the name suggests, this dish is simply glutinous rice served with grated coconut and often dried and salted fish as a side dish. Not only that the light flavour is perfect for people who prefer a simple breakfast, pulut kelapa also guarantees that you won’t be hungry until lunch!
12. Pulut Lepa
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Some people think that pulut panggang and pulut lepa bear no difference. Unlike the former which contains spicy dried prawns and grated coconut mix, pulut lepa contains fish floss. Ikan selayang is shredded and flavoured with shallots, fenugreek and other spices. After filling the glutinous rice (which is first steamed with coconut milk) with this fish floss, it’s wrapped with banana leaves and grilled over hot coals just like satar.
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Pulut lepa is so affordable and easy to eat that the locals, especially people on the way to work or school, usually grab and eat it on the go😌
Did you know that 2017 is Visit Terengganu Year? While you’re there, make sure to visit the neighbouring Kelantan as well and fill your tummies with all the good food that these places has to offer!