De­li­cious Ke­lan­tan

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - FRONT PAGE - ON THE ROAD star2@thes­tar.com.my By HUN­GRY CATER­PIL­LAR

Wnasi da­gang, nasi berlauk, nasi ker­abu, nasi tumpang, nasi kapit and nasi air in Kota Baru.

Nasi berlauk is rice with dishes, and didn’t hold much sur­prise. But nasi tumpang was a new find – it’s wrapped in a cone, with lay­ers of rice, meat floss, omelette and curry.

Nasi kapit is com­pressed rice with sa­tay and peanut sauce – yes, for break­fast.

And nasi air is savoury por­ridge with meat, spices and herbs.

Nasi da­gang (un­pol­ished rice steamed with co­conut milk and served with fish curry) and nasi ker­abu (rice with a va­ri­ety of herbs) are avail­able out­side of Ke­lan­tan, but the ones sold here are so much HEN I was a child, I fin­ished ev­ery grain of rice on my plate. I was al­ways care­ful to never spill my rice be­cause I was taught that it is sa­cred and must be treated with the ut­most re­spect. My late grand­mother had as­so­ci­ated the treat­ment of rice to the ease of earn­ing a liveli­hood so of­ten that rev­er­ence for rice be­came in­grained in all of us.

She’d be hor­ri­fied at how peo­ple are shun­ning rice these days, and how a low-carbo diet is sup­pos­edly the path to weight loss and good health. I am too much of her grand­daugh­ter to ever think of rice in dis­dain, and it’s my sta­ple food.

That’s prob­a­bly why I feel so at home eat­ing in Ke­lan­tan, where the va­ri­ety of rice dishes make it my favourite food desti­na­tion in Malaysia (sur­pass­ing even Pe­nang). There is nasi lemak for break­fast else­where in the coun­try, but there is (From Flavours mag­a­zine – Sept/ Oct 2006) Ingredients ¼ chicken 50ml water 6 shal­lots, slice thinly 2 stalks young lemon­grass, sliced thinly 1 medium-sized torch gin­ger bud, sliced thinly 1 sprig poly­gonum (daun ke­sum), sliced thinly 1 cab­bage leaf, sliced thinly 5 birds eye chill­ies, sliced 10 limes, halved and squeezed for juice 1cm gula me­laka 1 ta­ble­spoon budu 0.5cm bela­can (op­tional) Salt to taste

Chicken Ker­abu

Ke­lan­tan should be on ev­ery­one’s list of food des­ti­na­tions, es­pe­cially rice lovers. bet­ter. utes out­side of Kota Baru. In Kota

My favourite nasi da­gang stall Baru, lo­cals like the Sri Cheng­mai is at Cap­i­tal Café in Jalan Pe­ja­bat Restau­rant in Jalan Dusun Raja Pos Lama. There is al­ways a queue where we had dishes like fish keng here, but the nasi da­gang and nasi som, shrimps with palm shoots in berlauk is one of the best I have had. co­conut milk and kangkung fried in The beef curry is good, but make bat­ter. sure you add a slice of salted fish, A lesser-known Ke­lan­tanese cui­half a salted duck eggs and sam­bal sine is the Per­anakan food, mostly bela­can, and of course the gu­lai ikan be­cause they are only cooked in tongkol. the homes of the small com­mu­nity

Nasi ker­abu comes in dif­fer­ent here. My Ke­lan­tanese Per­anakan colours – white, grey, green, blue. friend’s fam­ily has been in Ke­lan­tan In Ke­lan­tan, they serve up two ver­for nine gen­er­a­tions, and they sions of nasi ker­abu – Malay and as­sim­i­late Malay cul­tural prac­tices Thai. The Thai ver­sion is called khau in their daily lives. They speak flu­jan, and one of the best is found in ent Malay, and some even have the court­yard of a Bud­dhist tem­ple Malay names. out­side Kota Baru. The Ke­lan­tanese Per­anakan

In Kota Baru, a pop­u­lar khau jan cui­sine bears Chi­nese, Malay and restau­rant is U-Lang Cor­ner in Jalan Thai in­flu­ences. It’s a pity no one Wakaf Mek Zainab. has com­piled their recipes be­cause

There isn’t all that much dif­fer­what few dishes I have tried have ence be­tween the two ver­sions, been re­ally good. ex­cept that the dishes at the Malay Khau jan is a spe­cialty in many stalls would in­clude solok lada Per­anakan homes, and my friend’s (white chill­ies stuffed with minced aunt made hers with over 35 dif­fer­fish and grated co­conut), and pick­ent herbs. She knows the herbs by led gar­lic. And budu, the lo­cal fish their Malay names, and some­times sauce, is the must-have condi­ment. only by their Thai names. She also

I also like how Ke­lan­tanese pack made us lak­sam, a gen­tle con­coc­the cur­ries sep­a­rately so the rice tion of co­conut milk and don’t get soggy. fish, with rice noo­dles.

Most peo­ple as­so­ci­ate Ke­lan­tan Their ev­ery­day only with Malay food, but the Thai dishes in­clude egg food theere is also good due to its cooked with ke­sum prox­im­ity to the Thai bor­der. In fact, leaves, ker­abu chicken and the lo­cal cui­sine bears strong Thai beef with daun kadok. in­flu­ences. When­ever we are in

There are many Thai restau­rants Kota Baru, the Pasar in Wakaf Baru, which is 20 minSiti Khati­jah is a com

pul­so­ry­pul­sory stop to stock up on spices such as kuzi, kerutut and kurma, as well as fra­grant rice and black gluti­nous rice, and serund­ing.

At the mar­ket, we also stop at the kuih stall for lo­cal del­i­ca­cies such as akok, a cus­tardy kuih made of co­conut milk and lots of eggs. The kuih talam here is also de­li­cious lemak and aro­matic.

In­dulging in Ke­lan­tanese food may not be the health­i­est ac­tiv­ity, but it’ll be most sat­is­fy­ing. n Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar blogs at hun­gryc.com. On The Road is a reg­u­lar col­umn in the Don’t Call Me Chef recipe se­ries, co-pro­duced by Hun­gry Cater­pil­lar, Marty Thyme and Veg­gie Chick. The col­umn is on food and travel around the coun­try and abroad. Don’t Call Me Chef also ap­pears on Kuali. com.

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