As Malaysians, we love our local food – not only because they are delicious as they’re inexpensive too. Apart from restaurants and hawker stalls, pasar malam in your neighbourhood can be a real teaser as well. And, it’s okay to indulge in what your local pasar malam has to offer every now and then. While you’re at it, you can still make healthier choices. Here are 10 healthiest dishes you can find at a pasar malam near you!
1. Air mata kucing
This cooling and refreshing, golden brown thirst-quenching drink is made of luohanguo (a cooling fruit), dried longan and winter melon. You can get it hot or cold, and the cold version is so much better in our humid tropical weather. This beverage also packs some healing properties like relieving cough and sore throat. It also has anti-hyperglycaemic benefits that makes it suitable for diabetic patients – just make sure to go easy on the sugar, or have it with your preferred low-glycemic sweeteners.
2. Chicken rice
Whether the chicken is steamed or roasted, chicken rice is the ultimate comfort food – it’s delicious and easily available. To keep it rather healthy, settle for a chicken piece that contains lesser fat like the breast, and skip the skin. As for the rice, try to switch to white rice instead of the usual chicken rice as it may contain extra fat and oil.
3. Nasi ulam
This popular Malay dish is a mixture of various fresh and raw herbs like the four-angled beans, lotus roots, bean sprout, kesum leaves or coriander, kafir lime leaves, ginger flower, and mint leaves. All of the fresh ingredients are eaten together with boiled or steamed rice, which makes this dish delectable and full of flavour, while staying on the healthy spectrum.
4. Tau Foo Fah (Soy bean pudding)
Although most smooth tofu glaciers will be floating on an ocean of sugary water, try it without sugar (or add just a bit of sugar for taste) or substitute with honey, agave nectar, maple or date syrup. This refreshing dessert is made from soft beancurd, which is an excellent source of iron, calcium and mineral manganese.
5. Popiah (spring rolls)
Forget about the fried ones, and pick popiah basah instead. Filled with sliced, fresh ingredients like turnip, cucumber, bean sprouts, mint, minced meat and shrimp, this dish is pretty low in calorie as most ingredients used are raw. Just go easy with the sauces used in this dish as that’s where the calories can come from if that is your concern!
6. Steamed buns
Steamed buns or bao (often with fillings) are always a great choice for a grab-and-go-meal. Although it may not be completely healthy for you depending on the filling, you can also find vegetarian options with carrot, jicama, and coriander as the filling.
7. Lok lok
This consists of an assortment of cooked and raw food on bamboo skewers, which are then dipped in boiling water. You can keep it fairly healthy by going for the fresh dumplings, quail eggs, fresh vegetables, shrimps, squids and cockles instead of the processed items. They’re eaten with condiments like chili , sweet and spicy peanut sauces – you may want to limit your sauce intake though, due to the sodium content.
8. Tea eggs
Also known as herbal eggs, these are hard boiled eggs which are soaked in a medley of herbs, tea and spices, left to simmer throughout the day to let the eggs absorb just about all the herby goodness of the broth. It is high in protein and B vitamins, choline, Vitamin A and phosphorus, but low in saturated fat.
9. Thai Prawn Salad
If you like something fresh, light and spicy, and are a fan of Thai food, try this salad. Yes, salad – it’s a salad slaw mixed in spicy sauce and cilantro, red onions, and mint leaves. The tangy taste will keep you wanting for more! You can also add fresh vegetables like kale or spinach for a healthier option.
10. Fresh fruits and vegetables
Aside from good food, you’ll find yourself surrounded by local produce that is not only cheap, but also fresh – from guavas, bananas and jackfruits to mango, coconut, papaya and more. You’ll be spoiled with choices and might even need an extra hand to carry them around!