7 Classic Recipes of P. Ramlee’s Favourite Foods

The late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Teuku Zakaria bin Teuku Nyak Putih – or better known as P. Ramlee – is an artist who is familiar to every Malaysian, Singaporean and practically the whole world.

With his talent as an actor, director, comedian, musician, singer and songwriter, he has set the bar for many in the industry. To this day, there are people, both among the younger as well as older generation, that are still duly impressed with the sheer talent of this legend and love how he delivered messages and lessons through his work.

Happy Birthday, P. Ramlee!

On March 22, 1929, a world-class artist was born right here in Malaysia. So in conjunction with the birth of the great P. Ramlee, Butterkicap is taking the opportunity to share with you seven different dishes that were among P. Ramlee’s favourites!

For loyal P. Ramlee fans, this is an opportunity for you to get to know your favourite artist, and attempt to recreate his most loved dishes right at home.

Let’s take a look at this list of delicious concoctions!


Fried Turmeric Quail

Credit: maisepinggan.blogspot.my

There aren’t many people who prefer quail meat to chicken meat. A fact that is not commonly known is that quail meat has many nutritional benefits. Among others, quail meat could play a part in preventing and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke, lowering blood pressure, increasing muscle mass and strengthening the bones.

Did P. Ramlee know all this? Perhaps that’s why he preferred quail meat!

Quails can be cooked in various ways, but the easiest and most appealing way to cook quail is P. Ramlee’s favourite fried turmeric quail. The preparation process is easy as it requires only a few ingredients.


  • Three quails (marinated with turmeric and salt)
  • 1 onion
  • A potato (cut into pieces)
  • Curry leaves
  • A tablespoon of grinded chili
  • A tablespoon of oil
  • Salt


  1. Lightly fry the quail and potatoes, then set aside.
  2. Using a pot over a slow fire, saute onion and curry leaves until fragrant. Add grinded chili to the mix and saute until oil breaks the surface.
  3. Add the quail and potatoes and a little bit of water.
  4. Stir for five to ten minutes until quail is cooked and potatoes are soft.
  5. Season with salt for flavor and serve as you wish.


Peppered Catfish

Credit: blogopsi.com

Even though he was famous, P. Ramlee was a very humble and modest person. Incidentally, his second favourite dish perfectly could be said to perfectly reflect his personality.

Catfish is often a main dish for those who live in the countryside, especially out in the fields. But it’s common to think that catfish is not clean, hence why it is not eaten as frequently in towns and cities.

If you have always felt hesitant about trying catfish, perhaps the fact that P. Ramlee’s loved this dish so much might entice you to give it ago. Try out P. Ramlee’s favourite preparation for catfish which includes seasoning it with turmeric before firing it up with cili padi! Believe me, the succulent taste of this spicy catfish will awaken your tastebuds.


  • 5 medium-sized catfish
  • 4 heads of garlic
  • 2 large onions
  • 5 red chili
  • Cili padi (to your own preference)
  • Tamarind water
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cooking oil
  • Turmeric powder


  1.  Season fish with salt and turmeric, then fry until crisp. Drain the oil and set aside on a plate.
  2. Mix and pound garlic, onions, chili and cili padi until the desired consistency. Heat up some oil in a pan and stir fry the mixture.
  3. Add small amounts of tamarind water. However, don’t add too much as the dish might taste too sour!
  4. Mix in salt and sugar, and cook until it reaches a consistent texture.
  5. Pour sauce over the fish and it’s ready to serve.


Fern Shoot in Turmeric Gravy

Credit: mamamiasanasini.blogspot.my

The Malay community is very fond of gravy-soaked foods, but the taste of shoots and gravy is almost unmatchable.

Fried shoots in gravy is one of P. Ramlee’s favourite dishes because the concept is so simple, yet rich enough to be a must-try for every Malaysian. You can’t really call yourself Malaysian if you have not tried this particular dish!


  • 1 fern shoot
  • 1 large bowl of thick coconut milk
  • 1/2 bowl of ikan bilis
  • 4 red onions
  • 5 pcs of cili padi
  • 1 small fresh turmeric
  • Salt


  1. Clean the fern shoot and cut the leaves and stem into 1-inch pieces.
  2. Blend the red onions with cili padi and turmeric, then set aside.
  3. Wash ikan bilis and briefly pound.
  4. Add coconut milk, the blended mix and ikan bilis into a pot. Cook over a slow fire and stir until it comes to a boil.
  5. Add the shoot pieces and cook until tender. Add salt as you desire before serving.


Black Glutinous Rice Pudding

Credit: myresipi.com

Back in the day, fancy desserts and sweets were not as readily available. Unlike today, it was a luxury that not many could enjoy. Traditional desserts were more likely to be served over fancy cakes. On the plus side, they usually were more nutritious. One of those desserts was black glutinous rice pudding.

Black glutinous rice pudding is a dessert made of black glutinous rice and coconut milk. The texture of the soft rice and the taste of the sweet milk is a suitable ending to any heavy meal!


  • 1 1/2 cups of black glutinous rice
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 2 cups of concentrated coconut milk
  • 2 pieces of pandan leaf, cut and knotted
  • 3/4 cup of white sugar
  • 1/2 cloves of gula Melaka
  • Salt
  • 1 tablespoon of cornflour


Black glutinous rice

  1. Boil the black glutinous rice with water and pandan leaves until tender. Let it cook till the mixture becomes thick.
  2. Add coconut milk, salt, white sugar and gula Melaka. Cook until mixture boils.
  3. Then add 1 cup of concentrated coconut milk as you desire.


  1. Add the remaining cup of concentrated coconut milk into a clean pot, and constantly stir until it boils.
  2. Mix a little water with a tablespoon of cornflour, then add to pot. Sprinkle in a little bit of salt for extra flavor.



Pomfret Fish Curry with Ladyfingers

Credit: missyblurkit.com

As someone born in Penang, how could curry not be on the list of his favourite food! A Penangite like P. Ramlee would have definitely grown up around curry dishes and his favourite happened to be fish curry. Fish curry is a type of fusion curry; a combination of Malay gulai and Indian curry. It is usually eaten with hot rice or bread, especially when the curry is fresh and thick.

For those who have yet to try this dish, you can now attempt to make your own with a Butterkicap recipe.


  • Pomfret fish (split into three pieces)
  • Coconut Milk
  • Ladyfingers
  • Curry leaves
  • Curry fish powder
  • Spices (like halba, cinnamon, clove flowers etc)
  • 1 cup of tamarind water


  1. Stir fry spices until fragrant.
  2. Mix curry fish powder with a little bit of water, then add to pot and stir until oil breaks the surface of the mixture.
  3. Add the cup of tamarind water and stir.
  4. Place fish pieces and ladyfingers into the pot and close the lid. Leave for 10 minutes to simmer.
  5. After 10 minutes, add 1 cup of coconut milk and a dash of salt. Mix in and let it sit for another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Serve as desired.


Dried Salted Fish

Credit: hoehingchan.my

Dried salty fish may not sound very exciting but it can be delicious! This dish was one of P. Ramlee’s favourites! Sometimes the simplicity of the taste of dried fish and plain rice really is enough to satisfy your appetite. Give it a try and you may find yourself chowing down on your third or fourth helping in the blink of an eye.

One thing about dried salted fish is that you can enjoy it as it is, or make it into a stew. Try it out with the recipe below!


  • 1 kg of desired fish
  • Salt
  • Vinegar


  1. Clean fish as required. Remove guts, gills and stomach contents.
  2. Salt fish accordingly. Make sure to use plenty of salt to prevent fish from rotting! After salting, place fish in a basin of water and ensure the fish sinks entirely. Close the basin lid and leave for 24 hours.
  3. After 24 hours, rinse fish thoroughly until there are no more salt grains. Drain fish on a tray.
  4. Splash some vinegar over the fish to keep flies away, then arrange the tray accordingly under the sun. (Note: the drying process can take 1-2 days)


Fried Banana Balls

Credit: blogresipi.wordpress.com

The most interesting thing about fried banana balls is that you can enjoy it at any time – as a snack, for afternoon tea or even as a dessert. Since it is so easy to prepare and so very delicious to eat, it can certainly be enjoyed by all, including the great P. Ramlee himself!


  • 4-5 bananas
  • 1/2 cup of wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp margarine or butter
  • 3-4 tablespoons of sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • bicarbonate soda


  1. Mash bananas with butter, sugar and salt. Add a little bicarbonate soda to the mix.
  2. Add wheat flour little by little and mix, to ensure the dough will not be lumpy and uneven. Make ball shapes as desired.
  3. Boil hot oil in a pan and add the balls in, keeping the heat low.
  4. Fry until golden and serve as desired.



Are you surprised by this list of P. Ramkee’s favourite foods? Have we missed out any other of his beloved dishes? Do leave a comment below and share this article with your friends and family members!

Happy birthday to Tan Sri P. Ramlee, and may he always be in the hearts and minds of our Malaysian society.

Emma Elizabeth Sim

Growing up with grandparents, they had one rule - whatever they cook, I must eat. I'm a person who enjoys reading, writing and gaming, but most importantly I enjoy food with the occasional milk tea on the side. I'm also probably the only Asian that prefers bread over rice. Pleasure is all mine!

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