I think the origins of Soto is Indonesia, and I personally love how the word is pronounced in the Indonesian language, the vowel sound coming from deep in the throat.  I can’t say it properly myself, to be frank.  I say it the way Malays do, just simply from the mouth as it were, no deep O sound.  When I was a teenager this was one of the first major meals I attempted to cook for myself, in a tiny pot with the proportions that I visualised my mother use, which of course was a mistake.  My mother always cooked for a family of six.  This does not fit into a one-quart saucepan. Read More →

assam pedas serving suggestionAssam pedas is one of those staple dishes that feature in a Malay family’s regular home menu, and quite typical of Malay cooking in that its main ingredient is CHILLI.  Go to any Malay food stall in Singapore, and you will see it sitting there as an option for you to put on your rice.  And, if you think this is along the lines of chilli con carne you are mistaken.

When I first ate chilli con carne as a tween in my school food fair (international food fairs are a regular feature of many International schools and always eagerly looked forward to each year!) I was confused; for something called ‘chilli’  I felt no heat at all.  And I am not one of those hardcore chilli eating individuals either.  Why is chilli con carne called chilli??  I don’t know, maybe it really is supposed to blow your head off and perhaps I simply didn’t eat an authentic rendition.

Assam Pedas on the other hand is made with real chillies, and will blow your head off. Read More →

I thought it most appropriate to start off with something that I consider covers the basics of Malay cooking technique, something I learned from my Mom, chicken curry, and something that started off the repetition of the mantra, onion garlic ginger.  And yes, chicken curry really is easy.

In Singapore, it seems everyone has their own version of chicken curry.  I’ve tasted it cooked by a Chinese, an Indian and of course the Melayu.  All taste the same but different.  Anybody would eat it with plain white rice, or bread (traditionally, the kind you get at HDB estates where they call it ‘french loaf’ though flavour and texture wise, it doesn’t resemble a baguette very much).  The Chinese, I’ve very recently discovered, apart from eating it with rice or bread, came up with the idea of eating it with fried rice vermicelli or, as we know it, fried bee hoon which would include all of its own ingredients like vegetables, soy sauce or oyster sauce.  I did think it a strange combination at first, but somehow, it works.  I personally prefer it with white rice, or better still with roti prata.  My mother’s version is very savoury, with only a little sugar to round out the flavour but not sweeten it.  And oily.  And salty.  And spicy.  Very Malay. Read More →