The Best And Worst Things To Eat At The Mamak For Your Health


Is there anything more uniquely and definitively Malaysian than the mamak?

It’s probably near impossible to find someone who hasn’t whiled a few late-night hours away at the mamak with friends, and almost everybody has their own staunch uniform mamak order. (Roti pisang and masala chai for me, please!)

Of course, with all things good, it’s not particularly healthy to overindulge, no matter how delicious. But if you find yourself unable to stay away from the mamak, a few healthy food choices go a long way. Our friends at Shape have compiled a list of the best and worst things you can eat at a mamak!


1. Tandoori Chicken


Tandoori chicken is basically baked chicken, cooked in a traditional tandoor clay oven. Without the excess oil from deep- or pan-frying, tandoori items are also marinated in yogurt and spices, which are chock full of their own health benefits too. This makes this  dish one of the healthiest possible things you can order at a mamak!

2. Chapati


We know, we love carbs as much as you do. Roti canai is delicious, but for your health, make a switch to the healthiest roti a mamak has to offer: chapati. This staple flatbread is made of whole wheat flour and is cooked over a griddle with very little oil. Each chapati is roughly 120 calories, and the whole wheat will keep you full and healthy with fiber.

3. Dhal


What would a trip to the mamak be without a flood of curry over your rice or roti? But meat curries can easily reach up to 183 calories per 100g serving, and can be oily to boot. Go easier on them and opt for a serving of dhal curry. Not only does it tend to be less oily, dhal – which is often made legumes like with yellow lentils – is a healthy dose of fiber, protein, and vegetables. I drink it like a soup.

And now for the worst things you can order.


1. Roti Canai

If the mamak were a Hollywood film, its star would be the inimitable roti canai. Known as prata back in India, roti canai has become a firm Malaysian favourite and icon thanks to its unique flaky crispiness and addictive chewy texture that goes so well with all manner of curries and sweet things. But all that tastiness comes at a price: up to 300 calories per roti canai, because of its ghee-filled dough and being grilled with oil. It’s so tasty though..

2. Nasi Lemak

Now if Malaysia were a Hollywood film, its star would be the inimitable nasi lemak. This simple, humble dish of coconut rice, sambal, egg, groundnuts, anchovies, and cucumber is so iconic, it’s probably the first thing you think of when someone says “Malaysian food.” And for good reason, it’s utterly delicious. However, being cooked in luxurious rich coconut milk puts this dish at about 400 calories per serving!

3. Teh Tarik

A smooth hot glass of teh tarik just makes the entire mamak experience. Its sweet, comforting creaminess complements everything a mamak has to offer! But with all the sugar and condensed milk in it, a single teh tarik can contain over 100 calories. If you can’t pass up your glass of teh tarik, ask for it to be made less sweet or kurang manis.

So there you have it, the most and least healthy things you can eat at a mamak! And oh no, three of our Malaysian icons made it to the least healthy list! But that’s alright, once in a while is fine– just don’t eat multiple servings of roti canai in a day everyday!