Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Malaysian Magic!

  Hello !!
              Following my last blog post, (read it here, if you haven't read it already), my Saturday couldn't have ended in a better way! The Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel was hosting the Malaysian Food Festival. They had flown in the experts, Chef Ridzuan and Chef Rhap all the way from Malaysia. The spread was delectable, with enough options for vegetarians like me :) and for the Non Vegetarians, it was nothing short of paradise.
              I started off with the salads. I had Gado with peanut sauce- which is something like 'make your own salad', with different cuts of vegetables like french beans, carrots, sprouts, cabbage etc. and a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. The raw veggies had the perfect crunch and the peanut sauce gave the salad a lot of flavor. Then I had some Kerabu Kacang Panjang, which was a bean and sprout salad and also some Kerabu Tahu  (tahu = tofu) which is a stir fried tofu and vegetable salad . One important thing I observed was, that there is a humongous difference in the tofu we get here in the Indian market as compared to the tofu they had imported for the festival. Their authentic tofu was and crumbly and just moist enough, which left a clean after taste.... Their other non vegetarian salads, which had shrimp/ chicken/ squid etc.. they were Kerabu Kambling Suhoon, Kentang Ayam Sambal, and Kerabu Sotong Limau Bali. (I know the names sound very complicated, I'll just try and use explanatory terms from now :) )
             I had the ever so famous Tom yam soup (pictured below)- Fresh vegetables in a tangy, broth base with a strong current of lemongrass passing through it. The non veg option was the Bebola Daging which had a green base with prawns. The Tom yam was perfect, just how I remember it from my trip to Malaysia years ago.


          Moving on to the main course, (I dont have pictures of the main course because my phone decided to hibernate in between :( sorry!) I had some spicy Sambal rice, which was delicious. It was like a literal party in my mouth. Accompanying this were two curries, Sayur Lodeh - which was mixed vegetables in a smooth coconut curry and Keladi Masak Asam which was yam in sour Malaysian curry. 
        There was a live station for the meat and sea food lovers where they were serving fresh Rojak Asma, Mee Rebus and Ayam Jintan Manis with some Daging Lada Hitam. I din't actually got to the station to describe it to you. If from the next time, you want me to cover the non  vegetarian parts for you, then please leave a comment below! 
         Both the speciality Chefs, Chef Rhap and Chef Ridzuan were a delight to talk to. Chef Sunil Kumar Nandal, who was accompanying them was ever so kind, patiently explaining to me every detail. One interesting thing was that the Chefs had obviously created an authentic Malaysian Menu, but they also added a few twists to it. For example, They donot get yam in Malaysia, but they had made a malaysian curry by substituting some root vegetable with yam. Similarly, when they weren't able to procure palm sugar for the desserts, they improvised with some jaggery instead. 
        I spoke to the Chefs at length. I learnt that Malaysian cuisine very was very different from what I had mentally perceived it to be. It was no more close to Thai food, as to Indian. Coconut and rice are their main to - go ingredients for almost all parts of the meal, be it  the entrees or desserts. The lemon grass and shrimp combo is similar to that of Thai food. I was thoroughly surprised to see the sheer variety of vegetarian options, because my trip to Malaysia was a terror when it came to finding vegetarian food. Turns out, I just needed to know what to ask for :P tch, tch, novice traveler mistakes, But the Malaysian Food Festival opened up an new dimension of South East Asian Food for me. 

     Now coming to my favorite part, obviously the desserts. What good is a blog called sugar rushes, if it cant give you a sugar fix in every post?!. The Dessert Table was a sight to behold. Along with traditional Malaysian desserts, the usual treats like mini cupcakes, tarts and mousses were also there. The five traditional desserts were Lengkong Gula Melaka which is somewhat similar to the Goan specialty of dodol. It is a coconut jelly and pannacotta set with agar agar and tasted absolutely divine. Kuih Pulut Berinti which are balls of rice topped with sweetened grated coconut. Kuih Pulut Serunding is a sticky rice roll which is sweet. Now coming to Bubur Pulut Hitam that I tried on Chef Sunil's advice, which turned out to be the one that I loved the most. This was black rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk and served warm. It was exquisite. The flavors were clean, but layered and the rice was creamy and sweetened just enough so that it wasn't cloying to the palate. The last Malaysian delicacy was the Kuih Ketayap which was browned coconut in a green pancake covering. I was left astounded with the simplicity of their desserts, because even though they weren't very complex, their texture, taste ranged deep. Having  bubur pulut hitam is as soul satisfying as having a bowl full of kheer or basundi. Food truly doesnt have any language or religion. 

Black rice cooked in sweetened coconut milk

All time faves madelines

Contemporary desserts

My not - so modest plate of desserts

     I left Renaissance with a happy tummy and a happier mind because of all that I had learnt today. It was an experience I am going to carry with myself. One very very special mention to Atika. Very rarely have I seen such dedicated people who are not only brilliant at their job, but so pleasant to talk to and interact with. I truly appreciate her hard work and genuineness. It makes your day when you meet people like her. Keep up the good work. It was truly a pleasure meeting you. 
     Another special mention to the Specialty Chefs, Chef Rhap and Chef Ridzuan. The Sr. Sous Chef of the Lakeside Chalet -  Chef Danish MerchantChef Sunil Kumar Nandal and of course Marketing Executive - Carol Braganza. Its because of wonderful people like you that us food bloggers find the passion to keep writing about food. You give us food - experiences we feel like sharing with the world. Thank you for a wonderful evening. 

  Now coming up next is going to be another one in the review series. Stay tuned, stay happy. Please leave a comment below if you would like to request a anything or want to make a suggestion, or just simply drop a hello, I'm always up for a chat! :)

Until next time,

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