Going Beyond Bak Kut Teh! Malaysia Officially Recognises These 9 Other Dishes as Cultural Heritage

Recently, the National Heritage Department (JWN) declared bak kut teh, uthappam, and nasi ambeng as part of Malaysia's rich heritage. This announcement highlights the incredible cultural blend that makes Malaysian cuisine and our country truly unique and special.

Under the authority of the National Heritage Act 2005 (Act 645), JWN Commissioner Mohamad Muda Bahadin officially gazetted 10 food items as national heritage objects, acknowledging their profound cultural significance.

going beyond bak kut teh! malaysia officially recognises these 9 other dishes as cultural heritagePhoto via MICHELIN Guide 

These food items represent a diverse array of flavours and traditions, reflecting the multicultural tapestry of Malaysia.

The list encompasses staple foods, traditional cakes, appetisers, soups, and drinks. Among them, bak kut teh, a herbal-style pork ribs stew, stands out in the soup category. While its inclusion has sparked discussions due to the presence of pork, many argue that it represents Malaysia's culinary heritage and should be celebrated accordingly.

In the ongoing debate, the recognition of other dishes as Malaysia's heritage objects has also garnered attention. These include burasak, mi kolok, and nasi ambeng in the staple food category; dodol kukus tahi minyak, kuih genggang/kuih lapis, kuih karas, and uttapam in the traditional category; jeruk tuhau in the appetiser category; and air katira in the drink category.

going beyond bak kut teh! malaysia officially recognises these 9 other dishes as cultural heritagePhoto via MyResepi

Each dish tells a story of its origins and cultural significance. From the fragrant rice dish nasi ambeng to the chewy caramel-like dodol kukus tahi minyak, and the refreshing milk-based drink air katira, these foods represent the culinary diversity of Malaysia.

Furthermore, the inclusion of dishes like bak kut teh and uttapam underscores Malaysia's shared culinary heritage with neighbouring countries like Singapore and India. It's a testament to the interconnectedness of cultures and the rich tapestry of flavours that define Malaysian cuisine.

In essence, the recognition of these dishes as national heritage objects not only celebrates Malaysia's culinary diversity but also serves as a reminder of the importance of preserving and promoting our unique cultural heritage for generations to come.