Monday, July 13, 2009

Baba and Nyonya Cuisine

spicy pork roll
ayam kapitan

Nyonya food is also known as the Straits Chinese food which is an interesting amalgamation of Chinese and Malay dishes thought to have originated from the Peranakan (Straits Chinese) of Malacca. Besides Malacca, Nyonya food is also native to Penang and Singapore. However, over the years, distinct differences have evolved in the Nyonya recipes found in Penang than that in Malacca and Singapore due to the proximity of Malacca and Singapore to Indonesia and Penang to Thailand. Influences aside, Nyonya recipes are complicated affairs, often requiring many hours of preparation and is about the blending of spices, using pungent roots like galangal, turmeric and ginger; aromatic leaves like pandan leaf and fragrant lime leaf together with other ingredients like candlenuts, shallots, shrimps paste and chilies. Lemon, tamarind, carambola and green mangoes are used to add a tangy taste to many dishes. For dessert, fruits are seldom served but instead colorful cakes are served. Nyonya cakes are rich and varied, often made from ingredients like sweet potato, glutinous rice, palm sugar and coconut milk.

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