A new Federation under the name of Malaysia was created on 16 September 1963.
I am proud to be a Malaysian and would like to share a simple traditional recipe from the ancient , to celebrate this occasion.
Traditional Malaysian foodies are known to be spicy, aromatic and very flavorful.
I like to present this recipe in a traditional way, from memory-
and not the usual orderly way such as listing the ingredients first, then followed by the cooking techniques.
SMOKED FISH IN COCONUT GRAVY or you may do grilled fish
Fish- preferably the not too soft type and has some good fat content
A good example is catfish which is high in vitamin D and some omega fatty acids.
There are many edible catfish varieties that are prepared as food, in many different ways worldwide. Catfish makes an interesting ingredient for this ancient dish.
Smoke or grill 3 medium size catfish. Let them get burnt a bit, but remain soft on the inside. Coal fire would be great. When done cut into half- careful not to break into pieces.
1 cup concentrated coconut milk mix with 1 ½ cup water OR vice versa if you prefer a thicker and richer gravy.
3 pieces bitter gourd- halved and seeded. This gives great flavor, just a slight bitter taste helps make it a more authentic dish with great medicinal value.
1 large eggplant- quartered
Half inch fresh mature turmeric root. It is not an original recipe, if you use turmeric powder.
Some fresh chili- this depends on your feel for chili hot taste.
Traditionally, we use the very hot bird chili variety.
1 piece/ 1 slice sun dried asam gelugor (dried garcinia/ gandarusa) – an origin of Malaysia- see image
A substitute for this traditional asam will be green unripe mango, which is crispy and has a sour taste. A quarter cup of sour green mango slices will do just fine.
Blend turmeric with chili. Use a cooking pot-add in coconut concentrate with water, blended ingredients, bitter gourd and eggplant.
Let boil and stir consistently to ensure a smooth gravy texture. After 10 minutes, add in fish and asam / mango.
Stir for another 10 minutes and put off fire.
Serve with rice as a main dish. You may complement this with fried chicken and omelet.
Traditionally, we used claypot to cook this-
it helps bring out the best of flavors,
as well, retain heat for a long time.
SIREH PINANG –
BETEL QUID- THE ANCIENT CHEWING GUM
After a hearty meal and a whole morning workout in the fields, it is time to relax, stay indoors and shelter oneself from the afternoon sun.
|Betel leaf and betel leaf gold plated holder|
The elderly, especially grandparents will help themselves to what I personally call the “ancient chewing gum”. Yes, it’s eating sireh pinang time.
Sireh (betel leaf-as in topmost pic) in an addictive psycho-stimulating formula, popularly eaten in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and in Asian countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
Here, areca nut, catechu (kattha) and slaked lime is wrapped with the betel leaf. This combination is called “Betel quid”. The betel quid has been popular for several thousand years and still is.
|Areca nut or betel nut with a cutter|
both holder and cutter pics(excluding leaf and nuts)
are from perpustakaan negara
In some countries tobacco is added, but not in ours. According to medical studies, excessive intake may cause oral cancers, but I have never seen one affected this way.
In India, betel leaf is used to cure worms and antiseptic. In ayurvedic , it’s a remedy for bad breath.
Both betel leaf and areca nuts are stimulants. Stimulants induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both.
Examples on the effects of stimulants may include enhanced alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion etc. Their effects typically have an "up" quality to them, stimulants are also occasionally referred to as "uppers". Depressants are "downers", which decrease mental and/or physical function.
In some countries, Betel quid may include coconut, fruit preserves, rose petal preserves, various spices or candy coated fennel seeds, for a sweeter variety.
May be you know of other interesting formula using betel leaf and areca nuts to psycho stimulate one’s brain. Do share with us. Thank you.