Nanyang's Malaysian melting pot

Nanyang's Malaysian melting pot

By May Chan, Nanyang Malaysian restaurant

Indian and Chinese food is amongst some of the most popular in the UK, but if you add to them some Indonesian, Thai and traditional Malay influences, you get the simmering melting pot that is Malaysian cuisine.

What makes Malaysian gastronomy so unique, diverse and delicious is the fact that it’s been influenced by so many countries around the world. It’s an example of the perfect fusion food.

Thanks to the country’s rich colonial past, each of its states and territories contain a diverse array of ethnic influences. Malaysia has been occupied by the British, the Portuguese and the Dutch in the course of its history. In more recent years, the country has seen significant migration from China and India. If you add to all of this the proximity of neighbouring countries such as Indonesia and Thailand, it’s clear to see why Malaysian cuisine is so complex.

Satay is one of the most popular dishes in Malaysia. It provides a perfect example of the fusion food the country is known for. It’s believed satay originated in Indonesia, where it took inspiration from Indian kebabs that were brought to the country by Muslim traders. The southeast Indian spice turmeric is one of the key ingredients in satay sauce as it gives a hint of warmth as well as a trademark yellow colour.

We run cookery classes, here at our Malaysian restaurant at Quartermile teaching people how to make satay – but it’s also easy to make it yourself at home.

How to make satay chicken – by May Chan, owner of Nanyang Malaysian restaurant at Quartermile, Edinburgh


- 1kg of chicken (leg or breast meat)
- 3 stalks of fresh lemongrass
- 2 tbsp turmeric powder
- 6 shallots or 1 red onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- ¼ tsp of cumin powder
- 1 tsp of coriander powder
- 4 tbsp cooking oil
- Bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 2 hours to avoid burning).


- Start by cutting the chicken into strips.
- Whizz the lemongrass, shallots (or onion), garlic, spices and salt in a blender until very fine.
- Put the chicken in a bowl and mix with the sauce you’ve just made. Leave to marinade overnight in the fridge.
- When you’re ready to cook, thread the chicken pieces onto bamboo sticks. Remember to brush some cooking oil onto the chicken to keep it moist.
- Place on a hot grill pan or barbecue and keep turning the bamboo sticks until the chicken is cooked.
- Serve your satay sticks immediately with peanut sauce, cucumbers and onions.

Nanyang Malaysian restaurant runs Malaysian cookery classes throughout the year, including sessions on how to cook satay chicken. Call 0131 629 1797 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details or to make a reservation.

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