Malaysia is a country known for its rich and diverse cuisine, with an abundance of delicious and flavorful dishes that are enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. However, many of the traditional Malaysian foods are high in carbs, making it challenging for those following a keto diet to enjoy the local cuisine.
Fortunately, many popular Malaysian dishes are keto-friendly. Dishes such as chicken curry (without potato, beef rendang, bak kut teh and bangkung belacan can be enjoyed as long as you eat it without rice or noodles.
In this blog post, we will explore what types of keto-friendly Malaysian dishes you can enjoy.
Table of Contents
Low-carb Malaysian Meat Dishes
- Chicken Curry without Potato (5-7g net carbs per 100g): Chicken curry is a popular Malaysian dish that is made with chicken, spices, and coconut milk. Eat it without potatoes to keep the carb count low. The combination of chicken, spices, and coconut milk provides healthy fats and protein with a low amount of carbs.
- Ayam Percik (5g net carbs per 100g): This popular Malay grilled chicken dish is marinated in spices and coconut milk, making it low in carbs. The spices and coconut milk provide flavor and healthy fats, making it a perfect keto-friendly meal.
- Ayam Masak Merah (7-10g net carbs per serving): This spicy tomato-based chicken dish can fit into your keto diet if you use fresh tomatoes or no-sugar-added tomato paste. It’s keto-friendly because it contains healthy fats from the chicken and the spices, which provide flavor without adding many carbs.
- Ayam Goreng (6.3g net carbs per 100g): Fried chicken is generally keto-friendly if you avoid using flour or breadcrumbs for coating. Just leave the skin out if you are eating ayam goreng from KFC or MacDonalds. However, eating too much fried chicken is also not very healthy because they are deep fried. Consider eating grilled chicken instead.
- Tandoori Chicken (3-5g net carbs per serving): This traditional indian dish is marinated in yogurt and various spices before being cooked in a tandoor oven or on a grill. The yogurt and spices used in the marinade provide flavor and healthy fats, making it a perfect keto meal.
Beef & Mutton
- Beef or Mutton Rendang: This slow-cooked curry dish is made with chicken, spices, and coconut milk, which are all low-carb ingredients. The net carbs in Chicken Rendang should be around 5-8g per serving, depending on the specific spices used and the portion size. Ensure no sugar is added to the dish.
- Chinese-Style Stir-Fried Beef (5-8g net carbs per serving): This popular dish features thinly sliced beef, stir-fried with vegetables and a savory sauce. It’s keto-friendly when a low-carb sauce like soy sauce or oyster sauce is used, and sugar or cornstarch is avoided. The beef provides protein and healthy fats, and the vegetables provide fiber and nutrients.
- Sup Kambing (Lamp Soup) (4-6g net carbs per serving): This Malaysian-style mutton soup can be enjoyed on a keto diet if served without high-carb accompaniments like bread or rice. It’s keto-friendly because it’s made with mutton, spices, and herbs, which are all low-carb ingredients, and the soup provides a source of healthy fats and nutrients.
- Bah Kut Teh (without Rice): This pork rib soup is actually keto-friendly if consumed without rice. Made with pork ribs, herbs, and spices, it’s naturally low in carbs, and the pork ribs provide healthy fats and nutrients. It might be weird at first eating it without rice, but it’s not as strange as you think. Just replace the rice with an extra side of vegetables.
- Siew Yok (Roasted Pork Belly): Ever felt guilty eating too much of this in the past? Well, good news for you: Siew Yok is or roasted pork belly is a fantastic keto food because is naturally high in healthy fats and protein. However, don’t eat too much if you are worried about eating too much saturated fats. What about Char Siew then? Char Siew is definitely not keto-friendly since it’s marinated with lots of honey so avoid it.
- Pig stomach soup: Made with pork stomach, herbs, and spices, this peppery soup is keto-friendly and low in carbs. Eating it without rice might be challenging though, since it’s so spicy. But you can balance it by eating more vegetables or other dishes..
- Chinese Stir fry pork: This dish is made with thinly sliced pork, stir-fried with vegetables in a savory sauce. To make it keto-friendly, use a low-carb sauce like soy sauce or oyster sauce, and avoid using sugar or cornstarch. The pork provides protein and healthy fats, and the vegetables provide fiber and nutrients.
Keto-friendly Malaysian Seafood dishes
- Ikan Bakar (Grilled Fish) (1-3g net carbs per 100g): This dish features marinated fish, typically wrapped in banana leaves and grilled over an open flame. The marinade usually consists of spices, herbs, and sometimes a bit of tamarind paste. It’s keto-friendly because the fish provides healthy fats and protein, and the spices provide flavor without adding many carbs.
- Asam Pedas (Sour and Spicy Fish Curry) (3-5g net carbs per 100g): This tangy and spicy Malaysian fish curry is made with fish, tamarind, spices, and sometimes vegetables like okra or tomatoes. As long as you avoid adding sugar, Asam Pedas is naturally low in carbs, and the fish provides healthy fats and protein.
- Udang Masak Lemak Nenas (Prawn Curry with Pineapple) (4-6g net carbs per 100g): This Malaysian curry dish is made with prawns, pineapple, and a creamy coconut milk sauce. To keep it keto-friendly, use a small amount of pineapple, as it’s higher in carbs compared to other fruits. The prawns provide healthy fats and protein, and the coconut milk sauce provides flavor and healthy fats.
- Butter Prawns (2-4g net carbs per 100g): This Malaysian seafood dish is made with prawns cooked in a buttery and creamy sauce, sometimes with curry leaves and bird’s eye chilies. As long as you avoid using high-carb ingredients like sugar or cornstarch, it’s naturally low in carbs. The prawns provide healthy fats and protein, and the buttery and creamy sauce provides flavor and healthy fats.
- Steamed Fish with Ginger and Soy Sauce (1-3g net carbs per 100g): This simple and healthy Malaysian dish is made by steaming fish with ginger, soy sauce and green onions. The dish is naturally low in carbs, and the fish provides healthy fats and protein.
Low-carb Malaysian Vegetables & Tofu Dishes
- Kangkung Belacan (Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste) (2-4g net carbs per 100g): This popular Malaysian vegetable dish is made with water spinach, shrimp paste, garlic, and chilies. It’s naturally low in carbs, and the water spinach provides fiber and nutrients.
- Stir-Fried Bok Choy with Garlic (2-4g net carbs per 100g): This simple and healthy Malaysian vegetable dish is made by stir-frying bok choy with garlic, soy sauce, and a bit of oil. It’s naturally low in carbs, and the bok choy provides fiber and nutrients.
- Sambal Terung (Spicy Eggplant) (4-6g net carbs per 100g): This Malaysian dish is made with eggplant cooked in a spicy sambal sauce. To keep it keto-friendly, avoid using sugar in the sauce. The dish is low in carbs, and the eggplant provides fiber and nutrients.
- Stir-Fried Bean Sprouts with Tofu (2-4g net carbs per 100g): This Malaysian vegetable dish is made by stir-frying bean sprouts and tofu with garlic, soy sauce, and a bit of oil. It’s naturally low in carbs, and the bean sprouts and tofu provide fiber and protein.
- Yong Tau Foo (without rice, noodles or wanton): This Malaysian dish features stuffed vegetables like tofu, eggplant, and peppers, served in a clear broth. To keep it keto-friendly, avoid using high-carb fillings like noodles or wantons. The dish is naturally low in carbs, and the vegetables provide fiber and nutrients.
- Berries: Berries like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are keto-friendly fruits as they’re low in carbs and high in fiber and antioxidants. They have around 5-7g of net carbs per 100g.
- Avocado: Avocado is a keto-friendly fruit as it’s high in healthy fats and fiber, and low in carbs. It has around 1-2g of net carbs per 100g.
- Coconut: Coconut is a keto-friendly fruit as it’s high in healthy fats and fiber, and low in carbs. It has around 6g of net carbs per 100g.
- Guava: Guava is a lower-carb fruit option, with around 9g of net carbs per 100g. While it’s not as low in carbs as some of the previously mentioned keto-friendly fruits, it can still be enjoyed in moderation on a ketogenic diet.
Keto-friendly Malaysian Drinks
- Teh / Coffee O-Kosong (Regular Teh Tarik, Kopi is out of the question because they have too much sugar): These traditional Malaysian beverages are keto-friendly when consumed without added sugar or condensed milk.
- Lou Han Guo juice (without added sugar): Lou Han Guo is a fruit that’s naturally low in carbs and can be used to sweeten beverages without adding many carbs. Just make sure to avoid adding any extra sugar.
- Teh Ais Limau Kosong (Ice Lime Tea without Sugar): This refreshing Malaysian drink is made with black tea, lime juice, and ice, and it’s naturally low in carbs. It’s a great keto-friendly alternative to sugary iced teas.
- Barley water (without sugar): Barley water is a popular Malaysian drink that’s naturally low in carbs. To keep it keto-friendly, make sure to avoid adding any extra sugar.
- Coconut juice: Coconut water is a refreshing and hydrating drink that’s low in carbs and high in electrolytes. Just make sure to avoid adding any extra sugar.
- Chrysanthemum tea: Chrysanthemum tea is a popular herbal tea in Malaysia that’s naturally low in carbs and has a slightly sweet and floral flavor.
- Green tea: Green tea is a keto-friendly beverage that’s rich in antioxidants and has been linked to various health benefits. It’s naturally low in carbs and can be enjoyed hot or cold.
- Plain Water: Last but not least, plain water is the most keto-friendly beverage option out there. It’s essential to stay hydrated while following a ketogenic diet, so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
Foods you can eat in small amounts
- Satay: Satay is a popular Malaysian dish that typically consists of marinated and grilled meat skewers served with peanut sauce. While is it not considered a keto-friendly food, it’s okay to eat 1-2 skewers as it has about 1-2g of net carbs per skewer (around 25-30g per 100g). The peanut sauce can be high in carbs, so it’s best to avoid it or use a sugar-free version.
- Durian and rambutan: Durian and rambutan are tropical fruits that are relatively high in carbs, with around 20-30g of net carbs per 100g. They’re not the best fruit options for a keto diet, but they can still be enjoyed in moderation.
Malaysia is known for its rich and flavorful cuisine, but many traditional dishes are high in carbs and not suitable for a ketogenic diet. However, with a little creativity and ingredient substitutions, it’s possible to enjoy delicious Malaysian food while staying within your keto macros.
Chicken dishes like curry chicken, satay, and ayam percik are all keto-friendly options, as long as you avoid high-carb ingredients like potatoes and sweet sauces. Beef and mutton dishes like rendang and sup tulang are also low-carb and packed with flavor. Seafood dishes like grilled fish and asam pedas are keto-friendly and offer a variety of health benefits.
Vegetables like water spinach, bok choy, and bean sprouts are low-carb and full of nutrients, while fruits like berries, avocado, and coconut can be enjoyed in moderation. And when it comes to beverages, stick to unsweetened tea, water, and keto-friendly options like coconut water and Lou Han Guo juice.
Overall, Malaysian cuisine offers a wide range of keto-friendly options that are both delicious and nutritious. By making a few simple adjustments and choosing low-carb ingredients, you can enjoy the flavors of Malaysia while sticking to your keto diet.