We, Malays, love our food a lot. We also cherish our culture and traditions, and the best way to display them is through our traditional marriage ceremonies. And yes, one of the major decisions you and your partner will make when preparing for your big day is about the food. After all, the costs for catering can take up a substantial portion of your budget. Here, we list down the popular, traditional must-have food that are served at a typical Malay wedding.
Let’s start with the essentials first. Rice is always served in a Malay wedding and the kind of rice is served up to the preference of the host. The different varieties of rice that are usually served for festive Malay wedding can range from butter rice (Nasi Minyak), biryani rice (Nasi Briyani), sweet corn rice (Nasi Jagung), Arabian fragrant rice (Nasi Bukhari) and tomato rice (Nasi Tomato). Out of these, ‘Nasi Minyak’ is the popular choice, and you will more often than not hear your friends hinting when they say ‘I’ll be waiting for you Nasi Minyak’. It is a simple yet fragrant rice that is cooked with spices and a generous dose of ghee or butter.
Nasi Biryani is another famous pick for Malay weddings as a staple rice dish. This dish is a fusion of Indian mixed with distinct Malay influence flavoured with spices such as saffron, and aromatic rose water. These wholesome rice-based dish goes well with the choice of main courses.
Next is the array of sumptuous main course. The must-have main course in any typical Malay wedding (Sanding) are rendang daging, sambal goreng pengantin, ayam masak merah and dalca. Other popular additional dishes can range from sweet sour fish, sambal prawns, sweet sour prawns, black pepper prawns, kurma, daging gulai kawah.
Other than these main courses, some side dishes that goes well may also include delicious rojak petis, tahu telor, satay, acar buah, ulam and acar timun.
Sambal goreng pengantin is almost like a compulsory dish for festive occasions such as Eid and also weddings. This traditional Malay-Indonesian spicy dish includes cow liver and lungs, prawns, tripe and either beef or mutton cut into cubes and stir-fried to perfection. This rich in spices dish offers a unique taste due to the generous mixture of ingredients.
When you think of Malay wedding food, ayam masak merah is almost always served – making it the must-have food at a Malay wedding. You’ve probably never went to one without having ayam masak merah on the buffet table. Considered to be one of the most authentic Malay dish still served even today, it is a spicy and sweet fried chicken. This is best served with Nasi Minyak.
Beef rendang and biryani or Nasi Minyak goes synonymously together. Made with simmering beef drowned in santan or coconut milk, and a range of aromatic spices until the liquid evaporates, this is also a popular every-day dish.
And now what’s a complete meal without ending with desserts? We’ve come to our most favourite part of the food spread! A lot of newlyweds love to go adventurous for their spread of desserts. The customary desserts chosen to end the meal are endless – from bubur chacha, bubur terigu, bubur pulut hitam, kuih talam, kuih kaswi (rice cake with palm sugar), kuih koci (glutinous rice flour), kuih keria (sweet potato doughnuts), kuih lapis and sago gula Melaka (palm sugar sago).
Bubur pulut hitam is a well-known and top pick for a traditional dessert. This sweet treat is made from black glutinous rice porridge with coconut milk, with palm sugar.
Today, we’ve gone further from our traditional favourites to other sweet-tooth delights from churros, fruit or chocolate tarts, chocolate fondues, mini cheesecake and brownies, and the list goes on. For me, my personal favourites are fruit tarts, eclairs and cream puffs!
Live Food Stations
As guests, your inner foodie hipsters will jump for joy when there’s live food stations. Think hipster, unconventional piping fresh food prepared right before your eyes usually found in Bazaar Ramadhan, carnival events and pasar malam. Today, there are a plethora of choices for you to explore when choosing a live food station. It is not uncommon to see young millennials going into this expanding business of the industry. For starters, churros and goreng pisang cheese are simple yet such tasty sweet treats. If you prefer more Malay options then you can pick apam (terang bulan) or putu piring. If you are interested in engaging a live food station, you can consider Chulop, or Churros Factory for your favourite Spanish snacks or Broti for interesting, unique drinks served in huge cups.
Newlyweds need to be mindful of the drinks that are available should cater to both the young and old. Hot drinks such as coffee and tea are common, with chilled drinks such as fruit punch, rose syrup and bandung are top picks. These drinks have now expanded to teh tarik, Milo or other concoctions including ice kachang, fruit cocktail, lime water, fruit juices, iced lemon tea – or even some sparkling juice!
What is a celebration without Malay food? If you’re not that sure what you should serve in your wedding, stick with the tried-and-true customary Malay food spread!