Malacca – the Portuguese colonial state in South-Western Malaysia – like Goa, has some great culinary offerings, most of which is an amalgamation of the cuisines from different cultures. Malaka Spice does justice to it with a lot of inspired South-East Asian cuisine on the menu. They went a little ahead this time and launched their celebration menu, since they’re completing twenty years of existence. The menu which is available at all the Malaka Spice outlets until December, honours the innovative and timeless Mamak and Nyonya recipes, of course, with their own local twist to suit the Indian palate!
The Nyonya Cuisine is a rich mix of Chinese and Malay flavours, teamed with hints of Indian and Thai. The Nyonyas are Malay descendants of marital unions between the Chinese traders and the local Malay women. The Chinese came to Malaya for a variety of reasons and obviously preffered Chinese food and flavours. But since they weren’t able to find the required fresh herbs and vegetables in the humid tropics, these Chinese settlers started teaming their traditional cooking techniques with local produce, blending distinct Chinese flavours drawn from five spice, fish maw, soya sauce and fermented soybeans with the zesty Southeast Asian herbs, coriander, galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime, which gave rise to the classic Nyonya cuisine was born.
The Mamak Cuisine on the other hand, is influenced by people from Southern India (especially Tamil Nadu) who arrived in Malaysia as indentured labour during British colonisation. They bought along with them their culture, ingredients, spices and styles of cooking. This cuisine is a fusion of Malay and Indian cooking. I am told, this food is a very popular street food option to be devoured while in Malaysia. Noted! But at Malaka Spice, we got to try all the Nyonya and Mamak recipes in Goa!
Since soups are often a highlight in Orinetal cuisine, I was pretty excited when we started our meal with a soup called Kanji Kedah @ Rs 270/-. Let me admit at this point, most of the names I heard were my first time, since I’ve never been to Malaysia. The piping hot soup was an amalgamation of South Indian rice porridge and some Nyonya spices, topped with shrimp, vegetables and coconut milk. It was yumm!
The menu has a balance between the number of vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes. So well, for the appetisers, in veg, you could pick from the Spicy Pumpkin (Mamak) or the Sambal Steamed Okra (Nyonya). The Spicy Pumpkin @ Rs 260/- definitely has South Indian and Malay influences, with inclusion of curry leaves, garlic and shallots in addition to Guilin chilli sneak gourd rings. I loved the Sambal Steamed Okra @ Rs 260/-with a spicy sambal belacan and soy sauce dressing is full of umami flavour. In the chicken, you can pick from the Kam Heong Chicken, Chicken Debal Curry and Kurma Ayam, all @ Rs 330/-.
The Dalca @ Rs 470/- was my absolute favourite. It’s essentially a meat and lentil stew flavoured with Asian spices, making it the right amount of spicy and tasty. It goes well with the Tissue Roti, also known as the Roti Helikopter @ Rs 130/- which looks super interesting and is paper think. You could also go for the Udang Tumis Petai @ Rs 590/- which is essentially stir fried prawns and beans tossed in Nyonya spices.
I love rice in general and happened to try both the recipes on the menu and I must say, they are absolutely delicious. The Nasi Bokhari @ Rs 330/- is their spicy chicken rice with an Indian influence. The wedding rice Samabal Terong and Nasi Kemuli is flavourful and delectable.
For the desserts, they have the Dodol, Nyonya Pancake and Pudding Raja, all at @ 190/-, and all super interesting. The dodol was locally sourced (since it’s common to Goan and Mamak cuisine), but served differently. The Nyonya Pancake, similar to Indian modaks are pandanu crepes stuffed with a coconut stuffing. The classic Mamak dessert – Pudding Raja – a caramelised banana sweet served with jaggery syrup and ice cream.
Related post: North West Frontier Cuisine at Le Meridien Goa