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Malaysian cuisine is closest cousin to South Indian food

The interconnection between Malaysian and South Indian cuisine

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Image: Wikimedia Commons

Malaysian cuisine can be termed the closest cousin of South Indian cuisine. Nevertheless, Malaysian dishes taste different, said a top chef at The Raintree, St.Mary’s Road, a star hotel here.

That may sound like the advertisement line for a ketchup brand. “It’s different”, but what executive chef Hushmoin K. Patell says is true.

“The ingredients used are similar to South Indian ingredients. But Malaysians use a lot of shrimp and shrimp paste as a flavouring agent or for garnishing purposes,” Patell tol d IANS.

Malaysian cuisine is known for its use of spices, shrimp paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, cardamom, star anise, fenugreek , galangal and coconut milk – the last adds a delicious creamy touch.

The dishes do not give out the strong flavour of galangal or lemongrass, as in the case of Thai curries.

The South Indian influence in Malaysian cuisine is bound to be with the historical invasion of Srivijaya by Rajendra Chola I, who had also forayed into Indonesia.

Subsequently, during the British rule of India many South Indians migrated to Malaysia.

Anchored by Malaysian chef Mohamad Asri, the hotel’s restaurant Colony is hosting a Malaysian food festival from April 22 to May 8, 2016, for buffet dinner.

Forty-eight-year-old Asri is anchoring for the second time a Malaysian food festival in India. The first time was in 1996 at a star hotel in Delhi.

Related article: 5 Indian dishes doing rounds in Malaysia with a twist!

The menu offers five non-vegetarian and six vegetarian dishes, four starters – two each in vegetarian and non-vegetarian, two kinds of rice and five desserts, including is kacang – Malaysian shaved ice.

“The Malaysian chicken satay is different from Thailand’s chicken satay. Malaysians use palm oil. We have not used palm oil here, but still maintain the authenticity of taste,” Asri said.

According to Patell, the Malaysians use a lot of shrimp as the flavouring agent even in their vegetarian dishes.

They consider meat to be non-vegetarian, while use of shrimp paste as a flavouring agent or shrimp for garnishing is considered vegetarian,” he said.

“We have done some adaptations in the vegetarian dishes keeping out the non-vegetarian items,” Patell said.

While Chinese noodles are available on Indian streets though modified to Indian tastes, Patell said perhaps Malaysian curries too can be made and sold on the streets here.

Asked about South Indian dishes, Asri said he likes the dosa made here.

“The dosas here are much more crispier than what is made in Malaysia,” he said, offering the ayam soup or the chicken soup.

The soup, with finely cut chicken pieces, was flavourful and could not be associated with south Indian dishes.

The chicken satay with roasted peanut sauce was also good but the surprise item was the sweet potato fritter or sweet potato bhaji.

It was time for the main course and Asri suggested coconut rice with okra curry and pajeri aenas-pineapple curry.

The Malaysian dish (unlike the South Indian counterpart) was sticky and made with grated coconut, coconut milk, ginger, lemongrass and some seasoning.

The coconut rice with both the curries tasted good. The pineapple curry was sweet at first, but then the spicy flavour took over – surely a must try item.

On the non-vegetarian side, the steamed rice with ayam kalio (chicken cooked in red coconut gravy with aubergine) was tasty.

Similarly, the ikan masak mera (fish cooked with chilli and tomato) was also good and would also go well with steam rice and okra curry.

For the sweet tooth there is a wide choice: pengat pisang (sago pudding with banana and coconut milk), onde onde (steamed rice dumplings stuffed with palm sugar), kuih ketayab (pancakes stuffed with a sweet coconut filling), sago gula melaka (sago pearls cooked in coconut milk and cream topped with caramel sauce) and kuih lapis (layered cassava cake).

Where: The Colony restaurant at The Raintree, St. Mary’s Road, Alwarpet

Available as a part of dinner buffet 7-11 pm

Price: Rs.1,450 excluding tax per head

Dates: April 22 to May 8

(IANS)

 

  • Pritam Go Green

    Well i don’t think people are much fond of south Indian food . Had it been more kind of north Indian food .. i would have loved it .

  • Akanksha Sharma

    I love South Indian food because they are mostly spicy

  • Shubhi Mangla

    A good population of South Indians in Malaysia have also contributed in adding south Indian flavour to Malaysian cuisine

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  • Pritam Go Green

    Well i don’t think people are much fond of south Indian food . Had it been more kind of north Indian food .. i would have loved it .

  • Akanksha Sharma

    I love South Indian food because they are mostly spicy

  • Shubhi Mangla

    A good population of South Indians in Malaysia have also contributed in adding south Indian flavour to Malaysian cuisine

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Andrew takes a tentative taste of baked, salted mealworm at Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch. VOA

A huge shipping container in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado, is the home of some of the nation’s smallest livestock. Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch is Colorado’s first and only edible insect farm, and one of fewer than three dozen companies in the U.S. growing insects as human food or animal feed.

Wendy Lu McGill started her company in 2015, and today grows nearly 275 kilos of crickets and mealworms every month. “I want to be part of trying to figure out how to feed ourselves better as we have less land and water and a hotter planet and more people to feed,” she explains.

Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.
Wendy Lu McGill raises mealworms and crickets to sell to restaurants and food manufacturers.

Feeding the world’s appetite for protein through beef and even chicken is unsustainable, according to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization. Protein from bugs is more doable.

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Edible insects are a great source of high quality protein and essential minerals such as calcium and iron. Edible grubs — insect larvae — offer all that, plus high quality fat, which is good for brain development.

Insects are part of the diet in many parts of the world. Analysts say the global edible insects market is poised to surpass $710 million by 2024, with some estimates as high as $1.2 billion. And while American consumers comprise a small percentage of that market today, there is growing demand for a variety of insect-infused products.

Thinking small

Amy Franklin is the founder of a non-profit called Farms for Orphans, which is working in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “What we do is farm bugs for food because in other countries where we work, they’re a really, really popular food,” she notes.

In Kinshasa’s markets, vendors sell platters of live wild-caught crickets plus big bowls of pulsating African Palm weevil larvae. These wild insects are only plentiful in certain seasons.

Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans)
Farms for Orphans works with Congo Relief Mission, FAO in Kinshasa and the University of Kinshasa to set up small-scale palm weevil larvae farms to bring sustainable nutrition and economic empowerment to orphanages. (Courtesy: Farms for Orphans). VOA

Franklin’s group helps orphanages grow African Palm weevil larvae year round, in shipping containers. “Most of the orphanages don’t own any land. There really is no opportunity for them to grow a garden or to raise chickens. Insects are a protein source that they can grow in a very small space.”

Changing the American palate

It’s estimated that more than 2 billion people worldwide eat insects every day. And even though the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has confirmed that consumption of crickets and mealworms is safe and that they are a natural protein source, many Americans, like Denver grandfather Terry Koelling, remain skeptical. As he and his grandchildren take a tour of Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch, he admits, “I don’t think they are very appealing, as something to put in your mouth. You see them around dead things, and it just does not appeal to me to eat something that wild.”

Koelling gets adventurous at Linger, a Denver restaurant that has had an insect entree on its menu for three years.

Culinary director, Jeremy Kittelson, says Linger is committed to changing the American palate. “As much as we love beef,” he says, “there’s no scientist who will tell you cattle farming is a sustainable practice. We should eat more insects.”

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And so Koelling takes a forkful of the Cricket Soba Noodle dish, with black ants, sesame seeds and crickets mixed in with green tea soba noodles, and garnished with Chapuline Crickets.

“The seasoning’s great!” he says with surprise, adding, “Seems to me there weren’t enough crickets in it!” (VOA)