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

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Kuala Lumpur Eats: Kembali Kitchen

I think very few countries in the world can boast the kind of culinary variety that Malaysia enjoys - not just in it's home grown cuisine but also the influences it enjoys from China, India, Middle East and  South-East Asian neighbours. Authentic Malay cuisine might be a little bit jarring to Pakistani tastebuds - with extensive use of shrimps and anchovies both as ingredients and condiments. One needs at least 2 weeks in Malaysia    (3 meals or more per day) to begin to understand Malaysian food. However, hotel food is usually considered a no-go area for me, for anything other than breakfast. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the traditional Malay dinner served at a hotel restaurant ....

This time round in Kuala Lumpur, I stayed at a very new hotel (just 2 months since it opened) - the Best Western Premier at Dua Sentral.  Located about 10 minutes from Sentral station - the transport hub of the city - it's close enough to the central district but still quiet enough to get some down time. They have big spacious rooms with big windows and great views - my standard double room was actually good for four people! 

The view from Best Western Premier 

The Kembali Kitchen is the hotel's signature restaurant and do they know how to give your a crash course in Malay cuisine! Great place to begin your 'jalan jalan cari makan' (let's go look for food) trail in Malaysia. We had a special 4 course traditional Malay dinner served - starters, soup, mains and dessert.

Starters included kerabu (coconut chilli picked fish salad), fried tofu with chilli sauce and rojak (vegetable and egg salad with peanut sauce). The tangy kerabu meets the spicy tofu meets the sweet rojak for a circus of flavors in your mouth.

Fewer things feel better than a big, steaming bowl of 'sup ekor' on a cold rainy day. Ox tail soup is a staple and a delicacy. The ingredients are oxtail (obviously) cumin seeds, anise seeds, corriander seeds, onions and potatoes - simple, hearty flavors. The soup is usually served with thick pieces of bread and garnished with spring onions.

That's me getting up close and personal with some rich 'nasi tomato' or tomato rice. That's rice cooked in a tomato broth and garnished with cashew nuts. This is not a daily dish, mostly reserved for Eid or wedding celebrations at home. 

And that is the main event - the full rainbow of Malaysian curries! From the top that's ayam masak merah (red chicken).  Mutton korma on the right (not be confused with Pakistani korma) is a stew of meat and vegetables including potatoes and green beans. The dark, deep brown curry is beef rendang - one of my all time favorite Malaysian food - a rich, heavily spiced, coconut based curry. Between the beef rendang is the ever popular shrimp curry. To offset the rich, spicy curries there's some steamed vegetables in the center - cauliflower, broccoli and carrots. So rich and colorful, such a pleasure to just look at even!

Red beans and black glutinous rice come together to make one of the most comforting desserts you could indulge in. A sticky, sweet warm soup that you are sure to finish, no matter how much you are served. And with a healthy yet filling dessert like this who needs a main course?

The Kembali Kitchen at Best Western Premier Dua Sentral is not your average hotel-breakfast-serving-room. It is a restaurant and destination in its own right. Do check it out if you happen to be in KL.

For more on my KL experience - go here

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