The Healthy Benefits of The Malaysian Appetizers – Ulam – Ulaman

Health Benefits of eating Ulam-Ulaman

Working in the food industry, we tend to come across different food that we have never seen or eaten. Coming from the city I have heard of only a few types of ulam- ulaman. While working in the East Coast for a few years, I have found that there are lots of different things that can be used as ulam. And talking to some elderly people especially in my wife’s village of Kampung Cheh, Kuala Kangsar, I have also found out that there are health benefits in eating ulam. That is why we see the people from the village are much more lively and healthier than some of us even the old there. So when you are in Malaysia, look out for these local appetizers and give a try.

 What is Ulam?

Ulam is a type of vegetable dish that is consumed fresh and raw.  It is eaten with rice and other dishes as an appetizer to whet the appetite. As it is eaten raw and fresh, ulam-ulaman is high in vitamin and minerals. It has also anti bacterial and anti oxidant properties.


Wkipedia :- Ulam (Salad)

Malaysian Plants That are Eaten Raw


ulamrajaUlam Raja originated from Latin America but can be found growing wild around Malaysia. They can grow to a height of 2 meters from seeds found in the dried flowers. The part of the plant that is normally eaten is the young shoots. Which is usually eaten with sambal belacan, a spicy dip made from pounded chilli, raw onions, shrimp paste and lime juice.

Health Benefits

The health benefits of eating ulam raja are that is said to clean the blood of toxic materials and can also strengthen bones.

Ulam Raja in Wikipedai :- Pokok Ulam Raja

ULAM PEGAGA (Pennywort leaves)

pegaga_1Pegaga or as its called in English Indian Pennywort grows in relatively moist soil. Pegaga leaves are fragrant and Malaysian consume these leaves as an appetizer together with their meal as with all ulam with sambal belacan.

It originated from India but can easily be found anyway in South East Asia. Besides eating with rice, some people in Malaysia drink the juice as a brain tonic to increase the brain power.

To make it as a drink is easy. Just blend the leaves with a little water and strain out the juice in a glass. Add a little sugar if you like but I like mine without.

Health Benefits

Elders have said that pegaga rebuilds the energy, helps to combat stress and increase mental power. Pegaga also is said to be able to reduce high blood pressure, slow down ageing process, and help the body protect itself against toxins.

World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized pegaga as a herb to generate intelligence to think, especially among children. Actual nutritional pegaga has long been recognized throughout Asia.  As ‘brain food generates intelligence’, this ulam is very effective for improving mental functions such as improving memory and concentration of mind.

The practice of drinking juice pegaga very effective to help the troubled sleep, treat skin irritation and high blood pressure.


petaiThe petai tree is large and shady, and can grow as high as 30 meters. Petai fruits are long and thin in the head known as the “board”. They look like large French beans. Each board has a total between 12 to 15 seeds arranged lengthwise. Petai seeds are peeled and eaten raw and can also be cooked in a sambal paste with shrimp or shellfish.

In traditional Malay medicine, petai beans are believed to be effective in treating heart disease and diabetes, cleaning the kidneys. Combined with fiber, petai gives an instant, sustained and substantial boost of energy. Research has proved that just two servings of petai provide enough energy for a strenuous 90-minute workout. One of the major side effects of eating petai is it gives bad breath and smelly stomach gases. It contains certain amino acids that give a strong smell to one’s urine, an effect that can be noticed up to two days after consumption.

 Health Benefits

Petai contains extremely high potassium yet low in salt, making it perfect to beat blood pressure. So much so, the US Food and Drug Administration has just allowed the petai industry to make official claims for the fruit’s ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke. High in fiber, including petai in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.


Daun Kesum is one of the ingredients found in The Famous Penang Laksa and Assam Pedas. Its scientific name is Polygonum minus huds and in English it is known as Knotweed. It’s a type of creeper that grows to about one meter in length. A group of University of Technology researchers from the Faculty of Applied Science and the Faculty of Hotel and Tourism Management, each headed by Prof. Madya Dr. Abdullah and Mohd Shazali Noriham Md Sharif did research on herbal extracts and found kesum has a high content of antioxidant and antimicrobial and can be used to extend the life of meat products and bakery.

Health Benefits

Daun Kesum is good for the digestive system. To cure indigestion, just boil the leaves in water, strain it and drink the water. It is also believed to cure dandruff. How this is done is to mash it and place it on your head. Wash your head after 3-4 minutes with clean water. Daun Kesum is rich in beta carotene, vitamin A, vitamin C and minerals like  calcium and phosphorus. But people with rheumatism, arthritis, gout, kidney stones should take especial caution in consuming this plant since it can aggravate their condition

Jantung Pisang or if translated in English it is called “The Heart of Banana” is actually the flower of the banana tree before it bears fruits. Its scientific name is “Musa paradisiacal”. You can find it in most wet market in Malaysia cause the locals eat it as an ulam. They will normally blanch the flower in hot water. And eat it with sambal belacan with their meal.

Health Benefit

Studies have shown that the banana flower contains dietary fibers, proteins and unsaturated fatty acids and also is rich in vitamin E. This flower also has the antioxidant properties that help in preventing free radicals to control cell and tissue damages. There was a study published in October 2010 issue of the “Food Science and Biotechnology” journal that recommends the use of banana flower extracts to make health supplements due to its antioxidant potential.  This flower is considered as an effective treatment for  constipation, bronchitis and ulcer problems.  If you have a menstruation problem of heavy bleeding, then you can boil and mash a banana flower with yoghurt. This concoction helps to regulate the amount of blood flow during menstruation.


One thought on “The Healthy Benefits of The Malaysian Appetizers – Ulam – Ulaman”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *