Sunday, February 15, 2009

Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa

Curry laksa is one of locals’ favourite foods. It is quite similar to curry chicken mee. However, there are some differences between curry laksa and curry chicken mee. Curry chicken mee contains only chicken and noodles whereas curry laksa contains more ingredients such as bean sprouts, fried bean curd cubes (taufu-pok), chickens, long beans, cockles as well as optional types of noodles. Moreover, the amount of coconut milk used in cooking curry laksa is more compared to curry chicken mee.

Metabolism Involved
The main sources of carbohydrates come from noodles. Carbohydrates can provide energy after digestion and absorption. The digestion starts in the mouth where the starch is broken down to smaller units by saliva containing enzyme amylase. Carbohydrates pass through the stomach and into the small intestine. Most digestion and absorption occurs in small intestine where digestive enzymes are secreted from the pancreas and small intestine to breakdown starch into smaller units. Pancreatic amylase (from pancreas) breaks starch into disaccharides and small polysaccharides whereas enzymes from small intestine break the remaining disaccharides into monosaccharide components. Sugars such as galactose, glucose, and fructose that are produced by the breakdown of polysaccharides enter into absorptive intestinal cells. After absorption, they are transported to the liver where galactose and fructose are converted to glucose and released into the bloodstream. Glucose is able to produce energy for the body through a series of processes. Glucose undergoes glycolysis, Krebs cycle and electron transport system to produce ATP (activated carrier which gives organisms energy). The glucose may be sent directly to organs that need energy, it may convert into glycogen (in a process called glycogenesis) for storage in the liver or muscles, or store as fat in adipose tissue.

Figure 1: Metabolism of carbohydrates (UNISA, 2008)

In addition, curry laksa also provides protein source which mainly come from chicken as well as fried bean curd (taufu-pok). Protein breaks down into amino acids by digestion. Initial physical breakdown of protein begins in the mouth. Then, the stomach secretes pepsinogen which will then convert into pepsin. Pepsin helps in breaking protein into amino acids. Once the food moves into duodenum, duodenum and pancreas work together to breakdown protein into single amino acid molecules with the help of trypsin. Amino acid molecules absorb into the small intestine and pass into the bloodstream. The amino acids are then carried by blood to the body in order to rearrange into human proteins as well as use in building its structure. Excess amino acids will be metabolized to glycogen or fat and used for energy metabolism. Amino acids will be used to produce energy when starvation. The carbon skeletons are converted to acetyl CoA, which enters the Krebs cycle for oxidation to produce ATP.

Furthermore, noodles and fried bean curd (taufu-pok) contribute most fats in curry laksa. Digestion of fats starts in the small intestine with the aid of lipases and bile acids where fats breakdown into smaller units. The smaller units are absorbed through the wall of the intestine then they are reassembled into triglycerides and carried into the body through the lymph system on chylomicrons. Lipid can metabolize through several pathways such as lipolysis, betaoxidation, ketosis, and lipogenesis. Lipolysis (fat breakdown) and beta-oxidation occurs in the mitochondria. It is a cyclical process in which two carbons are removed from the fatty acid per cycle in the form of acetyl CoA, which proceeds through the Krebs cycle to produce ATP (Patel, 2008). The rate of formation of ketones by the liver is greater than the ability of tissues to oxidize them, ketosis occurs. This happens when large amounts of fats are consumed in the absence of carbohydrate or during prolonged starvation. Lipogenesis is the process by which glucose is converted to fatty acids, which are subsequently esterified to glycerol to form the triacylglycerols that are packaged in VLDL and secreted from the liver (Wikipedia_Lipogenesis, 2009). Lipogenesis encompasses the processes of fatty acid synthesis and triglyceride synthesis (Wikipedia_Lipogenesis, 2009).

Figure 2: Catabolic processes of proteins, carbohydrates and fats (Hardy, 2005)

Nutritional Value and Benefits of the Ingredients of Curry Laksa:

The main ingredient for curry laksa, chicken especially chicken breast is a very good source of protein. Protein helps in growth of bone, acts as enzymes, hormones, regulators of fluid balance, acid-base regulators and transport proteins, defend the body against disease by producing antibodies as well as source of energy. In addition, chicken also contains the cancer-protective B vitamin, niacin. Niacin is important in components of DNA. Deficiency of niacin as well as other B-complex vitamins leads to genetic (DNA) damage (Mateljan, 2007). Trace mineral, selenium also can be found in chicken. It is an essential component of several major metabolic pathways, including thyroid hormone metabolism, antioxidant defense systems, and immune function (Mateljan, 2007).

Cockles in the curry laksa have a high content of selenium, vitamin B12, iodine and iron. Selenium is an antioxidant and helps to regenerate vitamins E and C so that they can fight with free radicals (Obikoya, 2009). Besides that, iron also helps to promote growth of red blood cells.

Other than cockles, long beans in the curry laksa are high in fiber, vitamins and minerals as well as low in fat and calories. It provides a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese (Wikipedia_ Yardlong bean, 2009). Fiber helps to reduce the glycemic effect of meals and contributes to colon health. Moreover, it seems to help in lower the cholesterol and triglycerides level and also may help to prevent ulcers, particularly in the beginning of the small intestine (duodenal ulcers), diabetes, heart disease and colorectal cancer (Dolson, 2007). Besides that, fiber also helps in management of constipation, increasing the stool output and also beneficial for irritable bowel syndrome.

Bean sprouts in curry laksa contain significant amount of proteins, vitamin C and number of essential B vitamins which are needed by body for proper functioning of various body system (Ayushveda, 2008). Bean sprouts forms the ideal food for those who go on for dieting as it is very low in calories and be eaten without putting any dressing.

Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) of Curry Laksa:

1 bowl of curry laksa contains approximately:
- 41% of total energy required daily
- 17% of carbohydrate required daily
- 84% of protein required daily
- 67% of fat required daily

As we are taking 3 meals in a day, energy and nutrients required from a bowl of curry laksa should only fulfill 1/3 of daily diet. This means that, a bowl of curry laksa should only contain approximately 33% of energy and nutrients required daily. However, we can see that the total energy, protein and fat contents in a bowl of curry laksa that we usually eat are higher than what we require whereas carbohydrate is lower than what we require.

In this case, curry laksa can be modified to enable us to have maximum benefits of it and at the same time reducing the adverse effects of it. First, we can use white soya bean curd (white taufu) instead of fried soya bean cubes (taufu-pok). As taufu-pok is very high in fat, it provides too much energy that it raise the calories (energy) contain in curry laksa highly. So, using white taufu instead of taufu-pok can lower the fat content in curry laksa, therefore reducing the calories in curry laksa. White taufu contains no cholesterol and is very low in fats. It contains proteins, carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fatty acids, various minerals and vitamins, nutrients that are easily absorbed by the human bodies. Second, we can choose to use rice noodles rather than other types of noodles as it is high in carbohydrate but low in fat. Long beans, fried soya bean cubes, chicken and bean sprout are all high protein food, so, by decreasing the amount of some of these food, the protein contents in curry laksa can be lowered. Therefore, the amount of chicken and white taufu replacing taufu-pok is decreased to obtain lower content of protein in curry laksa. The amount of long beans, cockles and bean sprouts are not modified because they contribute least in nutrients of the curry laksa as they are used in small amount. However, we need to make sure that the cockles are fully cooked before they are eaten because it may cause Hepatitis A. Lastly, not to leave out fruits in a meal, banana will be good to balance out the modified curry laksa.

Recommended Nutrient Intake (RNI) of Modified Curry Laksa:

1 bowl of modified curry laksa and banana contains approximately:
- 28% of total energy required daily
- 30% of carbohydrate required daily
- 32% of protein required daily
- 14% of fat required daily


Ayushveda, 2008. Health Benefits of Bean Sprouts [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

Dolson, L., 2007. Fiber [Online] Available from:
< > [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

Hardy, J.K., 2005. Carbohydrate Metabolism [Online]. Available from:
http://> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

Mateljan, G., 2007.Chicken [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

NutriWeb Malaysia, 2009. Malaysian Food Composition Database [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 14 February 2009]

Obikoya, G., 2009. The Benefits of Selenium [Online]. Available from:
< > [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

Patel, G., 2008. Metabolism [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

Wikipedia_Lipogenesis, 2009. Lipogenesis [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

Wikipedia_ Yardlong bean, 2009. Yardlong bean [Online]. Available from: <> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

UNISA, 2008. Carbohydrate Metabolism [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 7 February 2009]

United States Department of Agriculture, 2009. Nutrient Data Laboratory [Online]. Available from:
<> [Accessed on 14 February 2009]

By: Tan Cheng Siew & Soon Elsie


  1. hey siew siew, michelle here =)
    i'm amazed!! for the fact that i've just realised that chicken contains cancer-protective B vitamin, niacin. I learned something new, and btw, very informative site :)

    share more!

  2. wah reminds me of highschool..biology chapter 7 - nutrition which is the longest and my least favorite chapter haha.

    anyway, good effort thr. helped me refreshed my memory and also learned something new. :)

    ps: remember to remind felix not to eat raw cockles so much..! hepatitis A!

  3. swt sa!nt...chapter 7...u do remember huh...

    what a side siew! I wonder how long u've been take to finish this...
    great 1, u helped me differentiate curry laksa and curry mee~ lols and oso a better way to have curry laksa but in the same time live life longer.. :)

    keep it going!

  4. Well Siew Siew, joshua here. Good infomative for those people out there who really cares about their healty in food. So now I know how many laksa I can have in a month. Thanks for all the infor and the hard survey huh.. Keep it up there. Hope to get more infor from you soon..

  5. Hmm, based on the statistics I'm not having enough protein today..."Boss Laksa satu lagi!"

    Kenny Chua

  6. Wao..its amazing,i didn't know that so many info even only one curry laksa mee..=.=...anyway,it's an informative site which can learn more about curry laksa..haha

  7. cool...
    nice work... this info is very useful for our life because we always consume this food but don't know anything about it... thanks a lot ya...

  8. wow.. very informative.. thx for it. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT. balance and variety meals always k

  9. what a briliant idea that not much people will realise on the different btw curru laksa and curry chicken mee..
    this is somthing that all of us have to know so that we can have a healthier lifestyle
    and the better way of preparing curry laksa that being intro by you that is replace the 'tau pook' is a nice idea as it really comtain much of oil content..
    that is what our new generation want about it that is a better and healthier and wealthy lifestyle
    you will stay longer as u eat with conciouness
    so i learn much from this article.
    hope others will get much info from this blog...
    just keep it up

  10. Thank for the information u put...
    It full of useful information as a refrences in my course work... Greatly thank you...

  11. Wow, it is a informative post ... but Cheng Siew I wonder the modified of curry laksa ... if as what you post mean the size of curry noodles will lesser so it will not enough for me ... and instead of banana I recommend to replace it with other fruits because banana is high calories fruit (as I know 1 banana equal to 1 bowl of white rice calories)and hence we can put more rice noodles and we can full with the meal.
    But do u think curry laksa match with white taufu taste? because with taufu have it own special taste hence if your curry laksa not enough salty the taste will be weird
    However it really is a nice post and really informative for all contain for the ingredient in curry laksa...
    keep it on ...
    Happy blogging ^^

  12. Well, let's me answer your (Benjamin) question. Of course u can add in more rice noodles and replace the banana with other fruits. The energy intake can still be balanced. However, not all people can eat too much, so i'm replacing it with a high calorie fruit.

    Ps:For a healthy diet, take less salt.

  13. hi, it is a very meaningful research! contribute to public health.. it is interesting..
    Regards, Hannah

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.

  15. Haha, finally I know how to differentiate curry chicken mee and curry laksa. You did a very good research about the improvement of curry laksa. I should suggest to my aunt who is selling curry laksa too. A very good and detail information you had provided to me. Thk for the information ya.

  16. Hi. it very useful information. and now me know what to take for the curry laksa, the white tau fu replace the tau fu pok not a bad idea and it also reduce the fat , and also for the noodles.
    thank for the information

  17. r u study about nutrition course?!
    tis topic is very interesting and detail.
    wont be bored when read it.
    thx 4 share information.

  18. Yup, i'm doing food science and nutrition course. So, I hope can share my knowledge and information with you all. ^^

  19. Erm ... when saw this "curry Laksa" make me feel that i wan to go out and have a nice "curry laksa"
    next time remember bring me go eat "curry laksa"

  20. good information for people ya^^

  21. what's a great blog !
    i hav more knowledge toward curry laksa , n it make me feel wanna hav a bowl of it now !

  22. May i know the serving size of your curry laksa that you calculated?

  23. Fun, the serving size for the curry laksa that i calculated is medium size.

  24. if i eat big bowl of curry laksa then then RNI value remains the same or will change?

  25. The RNI value will be changed as consume big size or more foods. The RNI value will be higher.

  26. oic, then i wish to know where you obtained the RNI value?

  27. You may get the RNI value from Nutriweb or USDA. The nutriweb is the local website. It is a very informative and useful website. It consists of Malaysian Food Composition Database so we can find the RNI value for local foods as well as other nutrition information. The website of Nutriweb and USDA you can get them from the references there. (*I can't post the links at here). Check it out~ ^^

  28. wow
    finally i know curry laksa contains so many knowledge in it
    you write until very details...
    i learned alot~~
    i like curry laksa alot~
    with these information i can control myself from eating too much of it~
    thank you for info~

  29. wow....toufu pok so high in fat o!tot all de toufu r same ger n veli healthy 1.faint@.@
    mayb can using keuh teow replace noodles,izit keuh teow less Kcal than noodles?then it wil bcm more healthy?thx 4 sharing de infor,it really a beneficial blog.

  30. Yup, according to Nutriweb, the kuih teow noodles is much more lower calories than other noodles. It provides only 140kcal/100g energy. So, you can replace kuih teow instead of noodles. But, it not really absorb the soup of curry laksa as mee hoon did. However, your suggestion is very good as it is healthier. Thanks for your suggestion. It is a good idea. ^^

  31. Wow! It is a helpful and informative post! It is a good recommendation as people now can have a bowl of healthy curry laksa. And now i know i can eat bean sprouts to diet. Hehe..