One thing Malaysians have in common is their love for the local food. As many may know, since Malaysia is a country of diverse cultures and race, it reflects on the cuisines as well!
However, Malaysian can also be quite blunt and honest sometimes coupled with their odd sense of humour, which also reflects on the way they name their food.
If you haven’t noticed, Malaysia actually has quite a number of food which have some inappropriately weird names! It’s not known if some of these food names were meant to be just a joke, but they sure stuck around and are hilarious!
1. Chee Cheong Fun
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First off, let’s start with something that doesn’t sound too weird to people. Yes, everybody knows and loves this thin roll snacks made from a wide strip of rice milk and fillings. But many non-Chinese speaking people were shocked to learn that the name literally means “pig intestines noodle”. While the ingredient of the noodle is definitely not made from pig intestines – though the fillings of it can include pork – the reason why it was named so is because the noodle is usually rolled tightly and the shape resembles the small intestine of a pig. The English name of this food however is called rice noodle roll or steamed rice roll.
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To fellow Malaysians, this doesn’t sound too weird or indecent as they’re pretty much used to it. But to non-Malaysians, they will be curious to know what sort of brains they have been eating as “otak” literally means “brains”. However, as usual, the food is not made of any animal’s (or human’s) brains, it’s actually derived from the idea that the dish somewhat resembles the brain matter; being whitish grey, soft and almost squishy. (Eww!) However, since the dish originates from Indonesia, only the Indonesian version has the whitish grey colour while the Malaysian version has a reddish orange colour due to the addition of chili, turmeric and curry powder.
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Dodol is a common dish among Malays which is usually served during Muslim festivals such as Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha as sweet treats for children. It is a sweet toffee-like confection made from coconut milk, jaggery and rice flour. Why is this dish weird though? Well, to Malaysians, it is not. But, in Indonesia, “dodol” is an informal, rude and insulting slang word that is used to refer to someone as “stupid” and “illogical”. It is extremely impolite to refer to someone as “dodol” in Indonesia. So, be careful!
*Note: The last three are going to be a bit more indecent. So keep reading at your own risk!
4. Roti Jantan
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Roti Jantan is actually just a roti canai with two eggs. Roti canai is a type of Muslim Indian-influenced flatbread often sold in Mamak stalls. Another famous variation of the roti canai is roti telur where the Indian flatbread comes together with a fried egg in it, and roti jantan is when the flatbread has two eggs in it. Why is this so indecent? Well, roti jantan literally means male bread, and in Malay, “telur” is an indecent slang word used to refer to a male’s scrotum. So roti jantan has two eggs – get it? It is not known who started the name, but most Mamak stalls – especially in KL – are already accustomed to it. However, there are also some Mamak stalls that are not familiar with the name, especially those outside of Kuala Lumpur. So it is safe to assume that the KLites are the ones who have given it the weird name!
5. Nasi Lemak Tetek
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Basically, this is just the most basic nasi lemak wrapped with pandan leaf in a small triangular shape. So as many already know, nasi lemak is a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf, and usually served with anchovies, peanuts, boiled egg, cucumber, and traditional chili paste. But now, it can come with all sort of side dishes like fried egg, chicken, beef, vegetables and more. However, nasi lemak tetek specifically means the small and triangular nasi lemak which is traditionally wrapped in banana leaves and contains only the basic nasi lemak garnishing. Again, why is this indecent? Because for those who don’t know, “tetek” is a Malay slang word for “breast”, the specific nasi lemak is given such a name because its shape sort of resembles a woman’s breast. The name is commonly used in many kampong areas.
6. Buah Kote Mamak
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This is probably the most indecent name of all! Kote Mamak fruit literally translated as Mamak’s penis fruit which comes from Kote Mamak tree. Yes, it is very rude and obscene! The scientific name of it is called Cassia grandis, one of the several species called Pink Shower Tree which is a flowering plant in the family Fabaceae. The fruit contains a lot of nutrition as it is able to cure all kinds of diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure. A lot of the Kote Mamak tree can be found in Perlis and Kedah, and it originates from southern México. As for the vulgar name, it is believed that the name is given by the old folks long ago based on the colour and the shape of the fruit, which is long and dark!