Indonesian Food Vs Malaysian Food: What’s the Difference?

Many people often wonder what the difference is between Indonesian and Malaysian food. While both countries have their own distinct flavors and cooking methods, there are a lot of similarities as well.

For example, the types of dishes that you might find in one cuisine may be found in another cuisine as well. Both cuisines use rice as part of their staple diet and also use herbs like cilantro and basil to flavor their dishes.

There are some differences as well such as the way spices are used in each country’s cuisine. Here is a quick rundown on how these two cuisines compare to each other so you can tell them apart!

The Similarities

* Rice is the staple of both cuisines

* Both cuisines use herbs like cilantro and basil

* Spices are used differently in each cuisine

The Differences

Indonesian cuisine is often categorized as being more similar to Southeast Asian cuisine, while Malaysian food has a different flavor profile. One of the most significant differences between Indonesian and Malaysian food is that Indonesia uses more spices in their cooking than Malaysia.

For example, Indonesia commonly uses ginger, garlic, red chili pepper, and cumin to flavor their dishes. The focus on spices in Indonesian food presents an intense flavor profile with many layers of flavor.

However, Malaysia typically does not use as many spices in their cooking as Indonesia does. Additionally, Indonesians are known for using rice as part of their staple diet whereas Malaysians do not use rice as often or at all. This results in a slightly different taste profile for the two cuisines.


Whether you have been to these two countries or not, you have probably at least heard of Indonesia and Malaysia. One of the most popular dishes from both countries is Nasi Lemak. Malaysia has a distinctive coconut milk-based curry that goes with the rice while Indonesians use a spicy peanut sauce to complement the dish.

Indonesian food is also influenced by colonial powers in the region with a heavy emphasis on rice and vegetables with a strong flavor of spices. Malaysian food in contrast leans more towards a sweeter taste with a heavy focus on meat and fish dishes.

Both countries have many common dishes but there are many differences as well. Delve deeper and you will find that each country has its own special dishes and traditions.