Tuesday, 23 November 2010

My Culinary Journey

It all started when I was just 9 years old, just about the age when you know how to look after yourself and others. I was raised in a small abode for 3; my mom, my younger sister and me. Sometimes when ummi, left for work, I have to cook for my sister. And I would cook something easy,the easiest is Maggi, easier is toast or peanut butter sandwich, and easy is Mihun Goreng. Well, that's what a 9-year old likes to eat anyway. As I grew older, I obviously had to help ummi and nenek(my grandmother) in the kitchen. That's where I learn to love and to cook Malay dishes. Nenek still make the best Masak Lemak Cili Padi among other dishes, which I think is the result of a freshly pressed coconut milk from a freshly picked and grated coconut. Anyway, to make an old story short, Malay dishes are not that hard to master. Maybe, you need to have some patience because most Malay dishes take longer time to prepare, and not to mention the constant stirring. So yeah, patience can go a long way.

Then, there was a time during my university years where I got offered to be an exchange student at University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates.Come to think of it, that was an odd choice, but I took it anyway. There, I barely cooked at all. Most of the time, I would order take-outs for 1 week supply. My experience over there cannot be considered a culinary journey because believe me I did not learn anything besides just knowing the name of the dishes and ate them. And I must say, they were all good but of course I have my own preferences. It wasn't until I got back home in Malaysia that I started to miss the food. So, I had to find ways to make them myself. That's when I learn about Arabic and North African cuisines from a family friend who taught me Taboulah, couscous, falafel, stew, hummus and many more.

After that, my life took its course between Malaysia and The Netherlands. Between here and there, I started to learn more about food from watching the food network channel, reading books and inventing recipes in my ample free time. Being a Muslim, I think it is of great importance to know what goes into your food especially when you are abroad where Halal food is scarce. Sometimes there are invisible ingredients added to your food. They can be wine, sherry, pork fat and sometimes chopped bacon which melt into the dish unseen through the naked eye. I can assure you that they are in your Boeuf Bourguignon you had in Paris or your Seafood Pasta you had in Rome. That is why, for me, it is very important to find substitute for ingredients mentioned above. I often substitute bacon with 'halal' Salami (cured meat) or pickled /dried/ salted/canned anchovies that you can get here depending on the dish that you are cooking. You can always substitute wine/sherry/port with vinegar or lemon juice or chicken stock or beef stock for that matter. It will taste just taste as good!! Bon Appetit!!


  1. true! when we tried out the Boeuf Bourguignon (k my spelling the other day was so wrong :p) we substitute the wine with vinegar and it tastes just as good (haha mcm la penah try the one with wine) but the thing is its still the same, better sbb halal n ada self-actualization sbb self-made :D

  2. hmm...sbnarnye akak dah pernah rs masakan yg ade wine..tp ms tu jahil lg..xtau yg org letak wine dlm seafood pasta..and benda tu xdelah sedap giler giler..biasa je..jd gunalah barangan buatan malaysia..hahaha


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