When we were at the Majestic Malacca hotel, we got to know about the Kristang people, their culture, and unique cuisine. To be honest, in our last Kristang Cuisine post, we briefly touched their culinary legacy, which had about 500 years to develop. Now we will share with you our Kristang cooking class experience, so you will get more insight into this endangered cuisine.
About the Kristang Culinary Journey
The founder of the Kristang cooking class is super-grandma, Chef Melba Nunis. She is doing her best to save the Kristang cuisine from oblivion. The cooking class is a tribute to her grandmother’s cooking while following her grandfather’s footsteps. Before Chef Melba left for her new adventure, she thought the staff everything they needed to know on the Kristang topic.
Trip to Local Market
In the past, a visit to the market before cooking was inevitable, now we have options, but a market is still the best place. Unlike Mrs. Melba’s grandfather Vincent, who went to the market for a fresh catch, we went to check the offer.
We loved the opportunity to get familiar with some of the unknown items. Another bonus was also the sheer size of the Pasar Besar Market. It must be the biggest market in Melaka, with an abundant and, at times, alarming offer.
After Market Chill
The second part of our Kristang journey was outright invigorating. It began with our return to the Majestic Malacca hotel, where we cooled down with a refreshing dessert. The sweet treat consisted of the tapioca pearls with Gula Melaka and chilled coconut milk.
Tell the truth, this is Mrs. Melba’s go-to sweet treat on a hot day, and we sincerely appreciated it as well. Next to the cooling bowl, we got a piece of coconut cake, that was magnificent on its own and mixed with the coconut milk.
Kristang Cooking Class
Beautiful weather allowed us to cook on a portable table, outside the Majestic Malacca hotel. Before we went into action, Chef Khay Tamano walked us through the recipes and kindly explained every step. Cooking with such a skillful Chef was terrific, and we felt there was nothing we couldn’t do under his guidance.
Soy Limang Terung
The first dish we prepared was fried aubergine in soy sauce, a simple yet delicious side dish. Even though it might be easy to make, it has an ace up its sleeve, the combination of light and dark soy sauce in the gravy. For us, a little goes a long way, but Kristang people love soy sauce. Therefore, gravy gets only a few other additions before it is done.
Recipe for soy sauce gravy from the Kristang Family Cookbook:
100g of sliced onion
2 sliced red chilies
4 Tbsp water
1 ½ Tbsp dark soy sauce
Light soy sauce to taste
Ground white pepper
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp lime juice
The first step is frying the onions and chilies for two minutes before adding water, soy sauce, sugar, lime juice, and pepper. Bring the sauce to boil before you pour the sauce over the fried aubergines.
The second dish we prepared was a Kristang variety of a famous Peranakan stew, known under the name Pongteh.
Pongteh Recipe from the Kristang Family Cookbook
80g peeled shallots
80g peeled garlic
2 Tbsp fermented soybean paste (tau cheo)
To make a paste, place the ingredients in the food processor and blend until you get the fine paste.
1kg chicken or pork ribs
1 liter water
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp light soy sauce
3 peeled potatoes, cut into cubes
½ tsp dark soy sauce
Heat a little oil on a medium heated pan, before adding the paste to it. Once the paste gets fragrant, add the meat and coat it with the fried paste while stirring it. Then add the water, sugar and light soy sauce to the pan and let it simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes. Add the potatoes and dark soy sauce to the pot and cook covered for another 10 minutes, or until potatoes are done. The Pongteh is traditionally eaten by hand with rice and sambal.
Kristang Lunch after the Cooking Course
The final destination of our Kristang culinary journey was the dining room. There we tried our classics and got rewarded with two additional Kristang dishes. We chose the extras before the cooking and enjoyed all freshly cooked from two separate kitchens.
Additional dishes were the potato fritters and the Peranakan inspired fish curry. We savored the crunchy fritters with the tender, well-seasoned middle and crisp crust. It is comfort food that ticks all the boxes even before the dip into the sambal. On the other hand, the coconut curry with fragrant kaffir lime leaves, tamarind juice, and plenty of chilies got us almost addicted.
Kristang cooking class is a delightful journey that will show you a glimpse of history and a tasty legacy anyone would be proud of. It is a silent testimony of constant change that made Melaka such a cultural melting pot as it is today. At the same time, we must express gratitude to the Majestic Malacca Hotel in their efforts to save the Kristang legacy. Indeed we are more than happy to partake such a memorable experience. For this reason, we warmly recommend you embrace it if you have a chance.