Everyone would agree that mama’s home cooking is truly exceptional. The aroma. The spices. The delicious meals that only her unique hands can produce, which gives you the tingles every time you close your eyes to recall her special recipes. Or the fun times you had bantering with her while helping her out in the kitchen.
Since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, we want to highlight popular Melakan dishes that will surely trigger childhood memories and the comfort of mama’s home cooking. And at the same time, give you suggestions to a few places to bring your most favourite person in the world for a nice lunch or dinner treat (yeah, give her break from the kitchen for once).
Devil’s Curry (Curry Debal)
Pedigree: Portuguese-Eurasian (known as Kristang). A curry with a twist.
What makes it yummy: The tasty, fiery zing from spices such as candlenuts, lemongrass and chillies infused with white vinegar are explosive to any taste bud! Brings flashbacks of childhood days when mama used to cook this regularly and eaten with steamy white rice to balance the flavours. Soooo lip smacking!
Chicken Pongteh (Ayam Pongteh)
Pedigree: Peranakan (Straits-Chinese, known as Baba and Nyonya). Their version of flavourful chicken and potato stew.
What makes it yummy: Whenever mama cooked this, each spoonful into our mouths was the trick she used to shut us up because she knows the deep flavours always work its magic. We love how the mix of soy sauces, fermented bean paste (tauchu), garlic, shallots and other sinful ingredients just dances happily on our tongues. Definitely a dish not to be missed!
Grilled Fish (Ikan Bakar)
Pedigree: Malay. Another take on Grilled Fish.
What makes it yummy: The simple combo of crispy charred skin melding with the soft, juicy, fish makes this a yummylicious meal. Mama used to serve this in true Melakan style with Nasi Lemak (Coconut Milk Rice) and Kuah Asam – a condiment mix of sliced shallots, sliced bird’s eye chili and tamarind juice.
Lemongrass Fish Soup (Lauk Pindang)
Pedigree: Indian Peranakan (Chitty/Chetty)
What makes it yummy: We always insist that mama be generous with the ingredients, especially the fresh turmeric and the extra ‘kick’ of the tamarind juice. The fish complements this dish so well that with every flavoursome bite, you’ll feel like kicking your legs in the air with glee. And the aroma … OH EM GEE!
Pedigree: Peranakan and Malay. A dessert group which has an in-between texture of a jelly and pudding.
What makes it yummy: You’ll be tantalised with the inviting aroma first when it’s being steamed in the kitchen — which was what used to make us sneak into the kitchen and get first dibs when mama wasn’t looking. And the variety! Onde-Onde, Kuih Lapis, Seri Muka, Bingka Ubi, Ang Ku Kuih – all made from basic ingredients such as glutinous rice flour, sugar, natural flavouring and (sometimes) peanut stuffing to create a medley of flavours and textures that makes us reach for more even after being told not to!
We’ll say it again, nothing beats mama’s home cooking. Not even from acclaimed chefs. Unless of course, the chef is your mama too! *wink* … Happy Mother’s Day!