Everyone thinks their mom is the best cook in the world. But my mummy is seriously yummy! And this is the proof! My mother Gulnar, came from Basra, Iraq to Karachi in 1965 and brought recipes the likes of which Karachi had never seen (well, maybe). Here's some of her signature recipes that should try. Some of them are my experiments and food experiences from around the world. You can check out the menu and order details on facebook.com/yummymummyandme

Sunday, 2 September 2012

A Very Malaysian Eid...

Sometimes I wonder why we need an extended feast like Eid after the thirty days of Ramzan. Ramzan in Pakistan and pretty much every other place in the world is about food! However, there is no reason not to celebrate with friends and family over a good meal!

During my college years, I only spent one Eid at home in Karachi. The rest were all spent in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. with friends as good as family. I would get decked up in my Eid 'jora' that my mother would send from Karachi and head out to meet my land-lady, eat some food, collect my 'duit raya' or Eidee and began my rounds of visting homes of neighbours - eating and collecting money. Post lunch time, my friend Mutiara would pick me up and we would visit our friends. Every house we went to had oodles and oodles of food - beef rendang (a kind of caramelized beef curry) , ketupat (rice packets cooked in coconut leaves), laksa, ayam masak merah (literally, red chicken) , kuih (sweet cakes) and so much more! Needless to say, I miss my friends in Malaysia. But I also miss the joy with which Malaysians celebrate Eid .... 

This year, my friend Abu Bakar, the Malaysian Consul General invited me to an Eid open house at Rumah Malaysia. And it wasn't the usual stuffy, diplo dinner, it was like being back in Johor Bahru with my friends - gorging on the food, children running around, karaoke and great conversations. 

When we got there, Raya celebrations were in full swing - lots of families, lots of food, karaoke! As I started 'investigating' the food - it turned out that the Malaysian ladies of Karachi had been preparing for the feast for days before the event! Teams were assigned to each of the dishes. However, it turned out that the men had saved the best for themselves....
Team Beef Rendang

Satay is a boys club delicacy
Following all this hard work, the guests were served up a feast of delectable Malay treats!

What a rainbow of  flavors and colors!
How do I love beef rendang? Let me count the ways - beef, coconut milk, ginger, galangal, turmeric,  lemon grass, garlic, shallots and various secret spices. Rendang is basically slow cooked beef in a spicy  coconut milk then the beef comes so tender it melts in your mouth. Rendang is reserved for festivals and weddings mostly.

Notice how the rendang has been demolished since the last picture

Serunding always takes me back to Johor Bahru where it was a staple at my friend Rahimah's house. 9 times of the 10 when I went to her house for a meal, there was a bowl of serunding. Serunding is basically curried beef that is then fried into a floss type texture. Abu Bakar tells me this batch of serunding was flown down from Johor - like a culinary postcard from my 'kampung.'

Beef Serunding

Up next, we step away from the beef for some healthier option - lodeh. Pick your vegetables and add some tofu to a lighter than usual coconut milk curry. I love the vibrant colors in this version and the crunch of the greens with the smooth tofu! Get a bowl full, add some nasi impit or steamed white rice and you have a new kind of comfort food!

While all this looks fantastic - it's all just a lead up to the fairest food of them all - the satay. A lot of restaurants in Karachi have satay on the menu - but please don't let them fool you. A satay is not a pre-cooked piece of meat on a skewer with a peanut puree. It is beautifully marinated pieces of meat on a skewer cooked over an open fire; served hot with a crunchy peanut sauce .....

Above is a perfectly crafted plate of satay by Abu Bakar Mamat of course! There was a time during the occasion when I was actually spacing out thinking about the satay I was eating, oblivious of the conversations around me....

Food is always fun. But it's better when served with love, new people and most importantly - karaoke! What a fun Eid evening this was - terima kasih Rumah Malaysia and all the teams behind the fantastic food. .... especially the handsome satay specialists....

And a special shout out to the super-cute, color coordinated families of Abu Bakar and Azmir (Malaysian Vice Consul) - how gorgeous are these families!

 Azmir and gang
Abubakar and gang