Throughout my recent stay in the Majestic Hotel Malacca, it is the walk through the cultural heritage of Kristang that is captivatingly intriguing as to how the hotel is creatively preserving and continues to educate this heritage through food and culinary, via interactive cooking and the meals of Kristang dishes. Starting with their culinary course with a visit to the biggest market in Melaka, guided and greeted warmly by local vendors who are more than happy and willing to share their knowledge with us even though we didn’t spend at their stalls, to a cooking class as part of the YTL Hotel experience.

The Kristang is a representation of traces and descendant’s hybrid of when Portugal claimed Malacca port, when the settlers then married the local women. Their cuisine, characterised by plenty of spices and local herbs, and a heavy use of coconut is a well representative of harmonious cosmopolitan flavor, and that they represent the root of Melaka as a renowned hybrid as much as the Peranakan Baba and Nyonya.

To begin, the market place is already one that touches my heart when you realised how people can be so friendly at the first meeting.  On top of all that, we were being introduced to the common herbs and spices commonly used in Kristang cooking. The Chef will lead you through a private cooking class, upon returning to the resort.

But we obviously turned the place upside down, it’s really just a fun and casual cooking class. Aprons and hats and some light refreshments were all provided and the market tour includes transportation back and forth so there really isn’t much to prep ahead. After all, it is a staycation isn’t it? Bring an open mind and the heart to accept different cultural knowledge. Watch our crazy Kristang Journey but take note that on top of our own cooking which you can totally enjoy after the class, the hotel prepares light refreshments upon arrival, and they even tried making more food just to make sure that we were all well fed. We stopped the kitchen from doing that because it would be more wastage if we couldn’t finish our food.

We made the Kristang Kari Debal (Devil Curry Chicken) and the Soy Limang Terung (eggplant dish with with Lime Sauce), which by the way happened to be my favourite dish here. We have a vegan with us and the hotel is happy to accommodate and still deliver the same experience. Chicken was simply replaced with tofu! I love the versatility. For those who is thinking of making this at home, here a guide of recipe as reference.

 

Recipe:

Part A:

  • 600 grams chicken (alternatives: squid or pork)
  • 1.5 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 5 tbsp vinegar
  • 250 ml cooking oil
  • 300 ml water

 

Part B:

  • 2-3 potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 5 cm knob ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 2 red chillies, sliced at a slant

 

Part C: (Combine in a blender or pound using a pestle & mortar)

  • 20 g dried chillies, roughly chopped & soaked in warm water
  • 120 g shallots
  • 25g galangal
  • 20g ginger
  • 30g lemon grass (remove outer layer)
  • 1 nutmeg (break open by using the side of a knife)
  • 6 candle nut
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tbsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 125 ml water

Instructions:

Heat oil to saute ingredients C at medium heat until it takes on texture like rendang, remove and strain oil but reserve some remaining oil to fry ingredients B over low heat till fragrant. Next, put in ingredients A and C (except water) and be sure to thoroughly coat all the chicken before allowing to simmer over low flame for 15 minutes before adding water to continue cooking until chicken and potatoes are soft. Serve this with rice or bread.

 

 

Recipe:

Part A:

  • 2 medium-sized eggplants
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • Oil for frying

 

Part B:

  • 100 grams yellow onions, peeled & sliced)
  • 2 pieces red chillies, sliced)
  • 175 ml water
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1½ tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice

 

Garnish
  • Chopped spring onions
  • Sliced red chillies

Instructions:

Start with slicing the eggplants and scoring crisscrossing for better tasting of eggplants after cooking with the sauce, and season with ingredients A before frying in oil till soft and golden brown. Set aside and proceed with frying onions and chilies and later adding remaining of ingredients B. Pour sauce over the cooked eggplant slices and serve this hot.

 

 

 

Take note that lunch, apron, headscarf, return transportation to the marketplace are all included in this Kristang Culinary Journey, and participants will receive a culinary certificate upon completion of the class. Guess who just added another cert to her certificate folder. Hahaah..

 

This, in my opinion is one thoughtfully planned itinerary by the hotel for otherwise none of us would have seen what we saw at this tour. Learnt new ingredients, had culture shocked with the size of the market, and had fun, and happily indulged in more food on top of what we made in our cooking class. 

If cooking really isn’t your thing, and you still want a taste of Kristang, the hotel kitchen is an expert. We had a very wholesome dinner upon our arrival and our host in the mansion not only providing a great hospitality, also told us the beautiful and interesting culinary history of Kristang as we savour the delicious Kristang dishes. There’s a great intense of fiery dishes but is at the same time with potent sugar as most Malay dishes would be exhibit. Also, there is plenty of well-known peranakan dishes on the menu as well, yet I was told that the resemblance to the Kristang dishes can be a whole chapter of history to study. Let’s not get too intense with it, for now I am really just very happy to know that the heritage is well preserved, and let’s hope to preserve and not have Kristang being washed away in the sweeping tides of globalisation, migration, and national development.

 

Thank you YTL Group for introducing this experience at the Majestic Malacca, and big thanks to YTL Hotels for sponsoring. Read and follow my #YTLNomad experience HERE.

 

The Majestic Hotel Malacca is located at:
Address: 188, Jalan Bunga Raya, Melaka, 75100 Melaka
Phone: 06-289 8000
GPS: 2.202034,102.25216
https://www.majesticmalacca.com

 

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