Cuisine in Melaka


Melaka River International Festival 2013 from 25 May – 30 June 2013

Inspired by the San Antonio River Festival in USA, Melaka International River Festival 2013 is back for the whole month of June.

Among the highlights include a water sports fiesta, dragon boat competitions and decorative floats parade.

With more than 100 events prepared, this well-known state tourism event is expected to draw not less than 800,000 tourists. One of the famous event will be the Annual Melaka Dragonboat race where international teams are expected to participate.

For details, log into :

All Malaysia Info

Festivals and celebrations in Malaysia

Malaysia has a number of festivals and celebrations,  most of which are either religious or cultural in origin, and are swathed in traditions and rituals.

Malaysia. A country where one can experience a multitude of cultural celebrations and festivals, as well as, and most importantly, good food(!) all year round.

Almost every month of the year, tourists and locals alike immerse themselves in one celebration or another, thanks to the diverse cultural practices we have.

To help our foreign friends have a better overview of the festivities to look forward to when visiting Malaysia, and also for the benefit of locals, here is a list of the monthly cultural celebrations and festivities Malaysia has to offer.

(Note: Some celebrations may vary from year to year as they are based on lunar calendars.)

Thousands flock to Batu Caves to participate in the Thaipusam Festival.


Celebrated by the Tamil community, the manifestation of Thaipusam is best witnessed at Batu Caves in Selangor, or in Penang. The jaw-dropping sight of devotees carrying ornately decorated frames, better known as kavadis, would stay with you long after you’ve experienced it; this unique festival is a sight to behold.


Chinese New Year
Celebrated worldwide by the Chinese to mark the first day of the New Year in the Chinese lunar calendar, the celebrations last for 15 days. Expect fireworks, lion dances, the prominence of the colour red, and open houses with scrumptious Chinese meals!

Chap Goh Mei, or the 15th night of Chinese New Year, symbolises the end of the festival. To celebrate the Chinese version of Valentine’s Day, young women inscribe messages or well-wishes on oranges and throw them into lakes or ponds.


Good Friday
Held in churches to mark the “saddest day” in the Christian calendar, it is observed in remembrance of Christs’ Passion, crucifixation and death. On the Sunday that follows Good Friday, Easter Sunday is celebrated to commemorate the resurrection of Christ.

Malaysia Water Festival
A country with natural settings of lakes, beaches, seas, Malaysia hosts this event annually with a variety of water-based sports. Activities such as kayaking, fishing, and cross-channel swimming promises a whole load of adrenaline-pumping time!


Wesak Day
Celebrated by Buddhists to pay homage to Buddha and to mark the three significant events in Buddha’s life (his birthday, enlightenment, and achievement of Nirvana) the festival begins with meditation and prayers. Donations are made to the poor and needy.

Harvest Festival
Known to Sabahans as Pesta Ka’amatan, it is a thanksgiving festival to celebrate the rice harvest. The festivities include traditional sports such as the buffalo race, the best tapai (rice wine) competition, and the “Unduk Ngadau” or Ka’amatan Queen Competition.


Hari Gawai
The Gawai Dayak is celebrated in Sarawak to mark the end of the paddy harvesting season. It also marks the beginning of the new planting season, and activities such as dancing, singing, and a considerable amount of drinking tuak (rice wine) take place in the longhouses.

Dragon Boat Festival
Known also as the Chang Festival or Duanwu Festival, it commemorates a patriot and poet in China named Qu Yuan. The best place to witness the celebrations is in Penang, where the annual Penang International Dragon Boat Festival takes place on a grand scale.

Rowers going all out during the annual dragon boat race in Penang.


Rainforest World Music Festival
Held in the grounds of the Sarawak Cultural Village, the annual three-day music festival is fast becoming the largest musical event in Malaysia. It celebrates the diversity of world music, while at the same time highlighting the use of traditional acoustic world instruments.


Independence Day
Commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from the British in 1957, August 31 holds a special place in the hearts of all Malaysians. The biggest celebration of the event takes place annually at Merdeka Square, or more commonly known as Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri
Also known as Hari Raya Puasa, it marks the culmination of Ramadhan, during which Muslims the world over fast for a whole month. Traditional Malay food such as rendang, ketupat, and lemang is served. This is also a time to forgive and forget past quarrels, where family members ask for forgiveness from friends and family members.

Hungry Ghost Festival
Observed among the Chinese, the festival commemorates the opening of hell’s gates for the spirits from the lower realm to roam freely for a month. Things to note during the festival are the larger than life papier-mache figures and performances of Chinese opera and Ko-Tai (energetic singing and dancing with performers in glittering costumes).


Malaysia Day
September 16 commemorates the establishment of the Malaysian federation in 1963, with the joining of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore to form Malaysia.

Mid-Autumn Festival
Fondly known as the Tanglung (Lantern) Festival or the Mooncake Festival, it is celebrated by the Chinese to mark the end of the harvesting season. Mooncakes are a must as it also commemorates Chang Er, the moon goddess.

Father and daughter inspecting the hanging Tanglungs (Lanterns).


Hari Raya Haji
To commemorate the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha, the occasion is marked most significantly by the conclusion of the annual Haj (pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca). Sacrificial-slaughtering, or korban, takes place in mosques, and the meat is distributed to the poor and needy.


Also commonly referred to as Diwali or Festival of Lights, the festival is significant to all Hindus as it symbolises the triumph of good over evil. Oil lamps are lit to ward off darkness and evil, and like every other major cultural festivals in Malaysia, open houses are held.


A religious festival to mark the birth of Jesus Christ for Christians, Christmas in Malaysia is celebrated like everywhere else in the world. However, Christmas is also viewed as a universal celebration by many, one that that carries a secular rather than religious meaning. Even without the traditional “white Christmas”, the celebrations carry on with a kaleidoscope of lights, endless Christmas displays, and crazy shopping deals for all!


Pesta Kaamatan

Oil Lamp or Vilakku

Deepavali – The Festival of Lights

Miss World Malaysia 2009 Thanuja Ananthan

Colours of Deepavali [PIC]

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Wonderful Malaysia

Zong Chinese dumpling festival in Malaysia

Good ole Zong (Bak Chang) – The Traditional Food of Chinese Dumpling Festival

Triangle shaped, round or square “Yuk Zong” (?? in Cantonese), my favorite pork meat glutinous rice dumplings are filled with various fillings, wrapped in bamboo or lotus leaves. Zongs come in various shapes, sizes and tastes (sweet, savoury, spicy and a mixture of it all) according to regions or states in Malaysia.
Whenever someone ask what Zong is, I would always happily explain what ingredients are required to make this truly authentic and traditional recipe.

Welcome to Malaysia, a land where everything is of a mixture (Malaysians refer to this as Rojak): the people, the language, the newspapers and the food culture all mix naturally. Though the origins of Zong, points to Southern China, this heritage food is also well acclaimed across the Malaysian Chinese communities; the Kuala Lumpur (Cantonese speaking KL-ites) refer to it as Zong, the Northern Penang name it Bak Chang in the local Hokkien dialect and the Baba-Nyonya Peranakan call this dish Chang.

zong simplyenak 3

Important and interesting, it is the meaning and story or Chinese folklore behind Zong that leave an impression. The Zong / Dumpling Festival (Cantonese: Tuen Ng Jit / ???) is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, June 23 this year 2012. It honours a famous and successful scholar-poet Qu Yuan who took his life by jumping into a river after the fall of the Qin Dynasty to the Zhou Dynasty. He was greatly saddened when the king refused to take his advice, leading to a great war. It is said that the local people, who admired Qu Yuan, dropped sticky rice triangles wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river to feed Qu Yuan in the afterlife. The paddling of the boats in those days apparently were meant to scare the fishes away (in modern today we have the famous Dragon boat racing).

Another, equally convincing, folklore explained: fearing that fishes would eat Qu Yuan’s body, friends and supporters had made dumplings and threw them into the river so that the fishes would eat them instead of the body. Hence the dumplings Zong was given birth.

Some of the various types of Zong available are:

– Ham Yuk Zong / Yuk Zong ( ??): Salty Meat Dumpling typically filled with fatty pork belly, yellow mung beans, salted egg yolks, mushrooms and my favorite chestnut.

– Nyonya Zong (???): A specialty of Peranakan cuisine, the fillings are minced pork with candied winter melon, ground roasted peanuts and taucheo (Chinese soy bean paste made from yellow soy beans). Traditionally the dumpling has a bit of blue rice coloured from the butterfly pea flower.

– Kan Sui Zong (???): Literally translated as “alkaline water Zong”, this is a dessert item or a snack for tea time. The glutinous rice is treated with lye water hence the distinctive yellow color. It is usually plain, with no filling and if there are it is a sweet stuffing, for example red bean paste. It is often complimented with sugar, gula melaka (Malay for palm sugar) or a delicious local coconut spread named kaya.

zong simplyenak 1

Zong today, in my view is considered a forgotten food and recipe in Kuala Lumpur. Through my observations there are many chicken rice stalls but very few Zong stalls around. And how many Zong stalls serve a decent Zong? To be honest not many in KL.
The most delicious Zong sold around KL would be freshly homemade from generation old family recipes, which have been passed on from moms or grandmas. That was indeed how I acquired and learnt how to appreciate Zong: through a traditional family secret recipe and ritual since I was 11 years old. It was really satisfying, as i recalled back to those days, the family’s team spirit and hard effort making Zong. Every bite of the Zong was simply delicious, flavorful with all the pork meat and fat melting away and simply filled with lots of love.

The process of making it is truly an art and takes many cumbersome steps, from purchasing various ingredients, preparation to frying, folding and steaming/boiling them. There were always a lot of fun, jokes, laughter and gossips with and about the entire family. Never was there a quiet moment in a Chinese household especially as aunties gathered who all possessed the family trait of high sopranos voices, which were probably even evident miles down the road.
There was a lot of sharing and family members’ participation involved as each had their own role and individual strength or skill, for instance folding the bamboo leaves with stuffing and tying a cluster of them to strings. We appreciated and respected each others’ roles even the children, like myself back then were delighted eating after witnessing the hours of making Zong.
I am proud of my family and have realized that preserving the food heritage is vital in creating one’s identity and shaping the next future generations’ love for the family’s traditions.

zong simplyenak 2

So what is my favorite Zong? And who makes the best Zong in Malaysia?
My favorite is: the “Ham Yok Zong” (savoury version).
In my heart the best Zong recipe by far comes from my late grandma, no one has and probably will be able to surpass that level of standard on the ‘delicious-Zong meter.’
Determined, I attempted to re-make Zong according to my grandma’s recipe some months ago. I pulled some family members together and took a few quick decisions to speed things up. The outcome was a disaster the taste, texture, everything fell short of what I was used to.
There are no shortcuts to traditional recipes and there are some things in life that are irreplaceable.

Every traditional food has its story and listening to it takes you a step closer to a deeper understanding of its culture. True meaning makes every bite unique in its taste and even more pleasantly delicious to savor till the very last bite. So I urge all to continue this tradition! Head out and buy some Zongs to eat in this time of the year. Happy Tuen Ng Jit (Zong / Dumpling Festival).

Curious to find out where to buy the best Zongs around Kuala Lumpur? Visit to find out more.

This article was written by Pauline Lee. Pauline is a food enthusiast and has a great passion for Malaysian Food. Her mission is to preserve local food traditions and recipes to allow next generations to enjoy what she knows to be some of the world’s best food. Pauline is a Food Experience Captain and owner of Simply Enak – Food Experiences. Her company aims to give foreign guests the best experience of Malaysian Food. Simply Enak provides food walks, food drives, dinners at local homes and more exciting Food Experiences. Visit for more information.

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