‘Regional’ cuisines can be inspired by the ingredients locally available, those traded, traditions, climates and culture(s). Imagine a place that’s been exposed to India and China and was colonised by the British, Portugese and the Dutch. What you have is a proper medley of ingredients and cooking styles, and is probably what sets Malaysian food apart. You’d expect Chilli peppers, coconut, soy, lemongrass, tamarind to be kitchen staples along with rice, noodles and roni canai (bread). Oh, but there’s so much more!
Mamak and Nyonya are two such cuisines which were born out of a figurative ‘marriage’ of cultures and people. Celebrating them is Malaka Spice on a rather special occasion – their own 20th birthday!
Witness first hand to the effort that went into crafting their brand-spanking-new menu, I can wholeheartedly vouch for –
Chan Choy Tong – Malabari Mamak Spinach Soup that strikes a perfect balance between the spinach and the mutton; the texture is on point too. Best had while it’s warm.
Kanji Kedah – there’s something ‘homely’ about this soup…maybe it’s the fried onions, or maybe it’s the coconut milk or maybe it’s something else.
Sambal Steamed Okra – just the right level of spicy, and a near re-invention of the humble ‘Bhindi‘
Ayam Goreng Garam Kunyit – probably the most rustic preparation in the menu; a perfect marriage of turmeric and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, it tastes delicious…just not that ‘special‘, if you’re asking.
Kurma Ayam – an interesting juxtaposition, this – simple ingredients combined together to produce such complex flavors and aromas!
Dry mutton curry – Don’t let the dry masalas and curry leaves fool you – it’s almost like it’s Tamilian cousin…mind the almost, it’s Mamak after all.
Borneo fish with Sabah veggies – I’d have these just for the Sabah veggies; for how exclusive a superfood it is and the chefs at Malaka have totally nailed the recipe.
I preferred pairing the entrées with plain rice just so I could enjoy the flavors for what they were; I didn’t much fancy Malaka’s rice preparations, to be honest.
The roti tissue was another miss for me in that its an excellent palate cleanser but it loses its near-perfect texture in mere minutes.
I’d probably have only the jaggery syrup and the ice cream bit of the Pudding Raja; the rest of it didn’t really cut it for me. But I was stuffed anyway by the time I got to this part, so maybe that was my brain telling me to stop eating. Who knows?!