A Malaysian Blog about Food, Family and Friends – by Lyrical Lemongrass
When my car broke down yesterday at one of the busiest roundabouts in Kuala Lumpur, while waiting in the sweltering afternoon heat for the tow truck to arrive, my boss, who was in the car with me looked at me with an amused look and said, “You probably do this to all your bosses who annoy you, don’t you?”
I laughed at that remark, and it felt so good to let go of the angst and frustration and the feeling of helplessness. It is always a struggle to accept the fact that we can’t always be in control of our lives and the elements surrounding it. So what if the car-breakdown helpline wasn’t so helpful? So what if the first tow truck company wanted to fleece me? So what if the second tow truck driver didn’t understand my directions, given in a mix of languages in a burst of high pitched conversation that was sure to confuse him further? I had to count my blessings. It wasn’t raining like the last time my car broke down with another boss beside me, and I met a nice tow truck driver. The day ended well with the husband buying me Tau Yu Bak for dinner.
Bayan Indah is located in Kampung Sungai Penchala. The house is an architectural beauty and is designed to be a culinary resort, where one can come and stay at one of the four tastefully decorated rooms and learn to cook typical Malaysian dishes. There is a resident cat. FBB and I can’t remember if he’s called “Bob” or “Tangavellu”. I vaguely remember Rohani calling him by some rock star’s name, though.
I could probably spend a lot of time in this tub with a view of the jungle beyond. No, there are no peeping toms.
Ingredients for Nasi Kerabu. Nasi kerabu is made with a variety of local herbs, all laboriously sliced using an ingenious technique which Rohani taught us.
The Poggenpohl kitchen is a chef’s dream. Classes are hands-on, so everyone has a chance to prepare the ingredients and cook. The recipes are tweaked to ensure that even the most inexperienced student is able to produce something amazing. Rohani does not only sell dreams; all feelings of inadequacy are washed away with the dirt and sand as she nurtures and releases in you a feeling of confidence.
Cooking class at Bayan Indah is meant to be an interactive experience, and by interactive, I don’t mean throwing food at each other (like we did…*hanging head in shame*). I ask you, is it my fault that FBB is so competitive? He accused me of sabotaging his ayam percik just because his looked paler than mine. Pbbbth. (It’s called talent, my dear friend)
As far as blessings go, meeting Rohani Jelani is one of them. She is one of those people whom you can instantly warm up to as she speaks with an earnestness and sincerity about her greatest passion – cooking. Her medium of instruction is English. Had she had cracked one of her naughty jokes in Bahasa, I’d have probably looked at her with a blank expression like she was reading from the holy book instead.
Rohani is Cordon Bleu trained, but she has no airs about her achievements as she willingly shares her experience with her students. She is also a food writer and a food stylist.
Nasi kerabu in all its glory. So good you can even eat it on its own. Where have I heard that before?
I made these balls. These glutinous balls filled with sweet gula melaka are a breeze to make, and I love the fact that artificial colouring wasn’t used to give the balls a sickening green colour. The green colour you see here is a result of pulping and straining pandan leaves (which serve a dual purpose of providing colour and flavour to the kuih).
I was invited by Rohani Jelani (and Choo Li-Hsian) to experience her class on provincial Malay cooking, but thanks to the enjoyable day spent at Bayan Indah, I left wanting more. It felt like I was on holiday at a resort, cooking and eating with people who mattered to me. That kind of experience is priceless, and I assure you, you will leave rejuvenated and ready for the next obstacle. I have since signed up for another class tomorrow. It will be a bigger and more boisterous group which may stun the good people of Kampung Sungai Penchala.
Ah well, c’est la vie.
For more information on Bayan Indah, please visit their website: http://www.bayanindah.com/
Oh, didja know…Bayan is a red-cheeked long-tailed parakeet, an endangered species native to Malaysia, and Indah is Malay for pretty (or sweet-natured)? (sapu-ed from Bayan Indah’s website)
Food, for me, is a means to an end and not an end in itself.
Food, for me, represents the love of family, the fellowship of friends, and the community and communality it brings.