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Minang herbs and spices in Padang cuisine

NIPAH COFFFEESHOP
Hotel Equatorial KL,
Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur
Tel:03- 2161 7777 ext. 8555
Business hours: 6.00am to 10.30pm.

CHILDHOOD dreams are often forgotten and never realised when we hit our teenage years.

For Azhar Alias, his dream of being a chef started as a mere hobby but he constantly pushed himself hoping to make it to reality.

The toughest time for him was his childhood years, when he had to hover in the kitchen trying to peep at what his mother was cooking.

“As a boy, I fancied my mother’s cooking and would always try to help her in the kitchen, hoping to learn her recipes and techniques.

In charge: Azhar will be preparing and overseeing the dishes served for the Padang Cuisine buffet.

“Instead of teaching me, she did not want me to be in the kitchen for fear that I might mess up her precious space,” he said.

Azhar, who is the second child of five children, said he continued to bug his mother until she finally relented and allowed him to do simple chores such as chopping the ingredients and cleaning up the area.

“The few dishes she taught me were all my favourites such as the Beef Rendang and the Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak,” said Azhar who is now Hotel Equatorial’s Malay cuisine chef.

The 49-year-old said his mother who is of Minangkabau descent would often incorporate the Minang or also known as Padang cooking styles into their food.

Crispy: The Padang-style fried chicken is marinated with garlic, lemongrass and ginger.

“Their food is quite similar to local Malay dishes where both use equal amounts of spices and chilli. However some may be spicier than the other,” he said.

The only difference was that the Minangs preferred cooking with fresh herbs and spices while Malaysians opt for the powdered mixes.

At a review of the Padang cuisine promotion, Azhar introduced a few authentic dishes which are usually sought after if one makes a visit to Indonesia.

He started off with his favourite, Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak (Cassava Leaf in Spicy Coconut Milk), Paru Goreng Berlada (Spicy Beef Lung) and Rendang Daging Minang (Minang style Beef Rendang).

He then brought out a special rice dish which looked almost like Briyani but was named Nasi Kabuli.

“It’s a very simple rice dish made out of Nasi Minyak (Buttered Rice) cooked with chunks of lamb, herbs and spices in it.

“This is an Arab influenced dish because the Arabs made a stop in Indonesia back then to trade and that was how they brought together with them a bit of their culture that stood by the Padang people till now,” said Azhar.

Also on the list was Ayam Goreng Padang (Padang Deep fried Chicken) which is marinated with garlic, lemongrass, turmeric, salt and ginger to give it a flavourful taste.

Hot and spicy: (Top) Paru Goreng Berlada (Spicy Beef Lung) and Rendang Daging Minang (Minang style Beef Rendang) are on the buffet line.

Other dishes diners can indulge in are Gulai Ayam, Gulai Pakis Udang, Paru Goreng Lado Merah, Soup Ekor Sapi Cili Padi, Gulai Nangka Muda, Sambal Udang Petai, Gulai telur Ikan, Mee Bakso, Nasi Pandan, Ikan Siakap Goreng Berlado and Gulai Singkong Cili Padi dengan Udang.

For desserts, there are bubur pulut hitam, kuih bakar, kuih seri muka, ice kacang, fresh fruits, cakes and ice-cream.

Before ending your meal, make sure you try the restaurant’s teh tarik, kopi tarik or ginger tea.

The buffet is only available for lunch from noon to 2.30pm from Monday to Friday. It is priced at RM75 (adults) and RM38 (children).

This is the writer’s personal observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.