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
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.