Chef Melba Nunis continues to champion Malacca-portuguese cuisine, also known as Kristang, as she takes over the kitchen of Melba at The Mansion, the in-house restaurant of The Majestic Malacca
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Melba at The Mansion is on the second floor of The Majestic Malacca, and as you walk upstairs you’ll come across chef Melba Nunis’ family portraits that set the tone for an intimate dining experience. You are led into an expansive space with yellow walls accented by green archways and doors that divide the restaurant into several dining sections. Peranakan ceramic artworks on the walls and inside display cabinets complement the gastronomic experience as you savour homely Kristang food, which marries Malaccan and Portuguese flavours.
Nunis can’t get enough of the black nut, a famous Southeast Asian ingredient she uses in the ayam kari keluak, or braised chicken and black nut in a fragrant curry. She puts a spin on her curry base by infusing it with the nutty flesh. Doing so gives the gravy a dark brown hue and tempers the spiciness with its rich, earthy flavours. Whole black nuts are served with chicken and potatoes, and the best way to eat them is with your hands. FAMILY TREASURE
I GOT IT FROM MY MAMA
Nunis prepares her family’s treasured recipes, and she highly recommends her mum’s creation—the Inchimintu Karangezu. Here, she flakes the local crab’s fresh, sweet meat and mixes it with minced chicken, prawns and vegetables, before stuffing this mixture back into the crab shell and baking it, so it’s juicy without being oily. While the taste seems simple, eating it together with the fresh, zesty pineapple salad gives it a lift. If you prefer more heat, Nunis recommends coating it with homemade chilli sauce.
While many Kristang restaurants serve kari Malayu (beef and cabbage in coconut curry), Nunis makes hers unique with the choice of beef cut. “I use the shin as it was what my late husband always bought, plus I feel that it’s more tender,” she says. Big, chewy chunks are cooked in a piquant red curry sauce painstakingly made with various ingredients that make for a rich, slightly tangy and spicy concoction. Adding potatoes and cabbage makes this a filling meal.
With all the fiery flavours from the main dishes and curries, you might as well give your taste buds a break with the sagu kung sukri Malaka. The tapioca pearls are prepared from scratch, ensuring they are not starchy but cooked to the right consistency. A big dollop is served in a martini glass layered with luscious coconut cream and addictive gula melaka. Scoop into all the layers to relish the chewy, creamy and sweet dessert.