Curry Laksa is a food that has a savoury taste and vibrant colour. The dish is usually eaten during the tea time in the afternoon, but it’s so good that Malaysians eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner as well! It is a traditional dish from the Peranakan culture, and it is actually a mix of Chinese and Malay recipe. Curry Laksa is widely available in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Southern Thailand.
What is Curry Laksa?
Curry Laksa is thick wheat noodles served in spicy coconut-based curry soup with various toppings. The broth is made with heavy coconut gravy which is sweet, spicy, and mixed with fish gravy. Some toppings that are commonly used include green sprouts, bean curd puff with slices of fish, prawns, or chicken depending on places and preferences. Some variations of the dish also include adding a hard-boiled egg to the dish.
History of Curry Laksa
It is suggested that the name comes from the Hokkien phrase, luak sua, meaning ‘spicy sand’, due to the ground dried prawns which gives a sandy or gritty texture to the soup. Another theory believes that laksa was derived from an ancient Persian word for “noodles”.
Even more fascinating, is a theory that connects laksa to the 15th century Ming Dynasty, during which Chinese naval expeditions were exploring the Maritime Southeast Asia.The expedition caused a significant increase in the number of Chinese migrants and traders in various parts of Maritime Southeast Asia. These Chinese men intermarried into the local populations, and together they formed mixed-race communities called the Peranakans or Straits Chinese.
Variants of Curry Laksa
Curry Laksa is a coconut-based curry soup made using common ingredients such as bean curd puffs, fish sticks, shrimp, and cockles. In Penang, it is usually known as curry mee as they use yellow mee or bee hoon instead of thick white laksa noodle. The most common variants of Curry Laksa are Laksa Lemak (Nyonya Laksa), Katong Laksa, and Johor Laksa.
Laksa Lemak or Nyonya Laksa is the most commonly known Curry Laksa. It is usually made with fish-based gravy with the addition of coconut milk which gives a distinct richness to a dish. The toppings include sliced cucumber, onion, chillies, and at certain regions, pineapples. A hard-boiled egg is also added for a finishing touch.
Another variant of Laksa Lemak is the Katong Laksa which is also known as Singapore Laksa. It originated from the Katong area in Eastern Singapore which explains the name. For Katong Laksa, the noodles are cut up into smaller pieces so that it can be easily eaten with just a spoon, without requiring a chopstick or a fork. The ground dried shrimps are added to the gravy to give the soup its ‘sandy texture’.
Last but not least, Johor Laksa is unique, as instead of using laksa noodles, it is made with spaghetti noodles. Most Curry Laksa only uses fish, but Johor Laksa also has prawns, dried prawns, and fish. It is served with a thick gravy that looks like spaghetti sauce. The garnishing for Johor Laksa are sliced cucumber, bean sprouts, long beans, daun kesum (polygonum), and daun selasih (Thai basil). The must-have condiments are sambal belacan and calamansi limes.
Where to find Curry Laksa in Malaysia
Curry Laksa is a popular dish and can be easily found at any Malay, or Chinese restaurants. Ah Koong Restaurant (Kuala Lumpur) serves a variety of noodles with its Curry Laksa gravy, or you can order from Restaurant 3 Man @ Curry Laksa (Petaling Jaya) for a delicious bowl of Curry Laksa. Find more Malay cuisine on foodpanda!