Learning To Cook Malaysia Food : Lazat Review
Travel is composed of three main areas for discovery. The people, the sights, and the food. Everything else can be grouped under these three categories. Of these categories, food is the most accessible. You don’t even need to get on a plane to discover a regions food.
You are what you eat, and for me, understanding a regions food choices help me understand everything else about the area. Ever since my experience learning about the local delicacies at a cooking class in Thailand, I have actively sought out cooking classes when I travel.
When the lovely ladies at Lazat cooking school offered me a half price discount, I jumped at the opportunity. The food in Malaysia is a mix of the ethnic groups that make up the country – Malay, Chinese, and Indian – but despite Malay’s being the majority of the population, most of the food I had eaten so far in Malaysia had been Chinese. (possibly related to the fact that my hostel is in China town) Lazat provided me with an opportunity not only to taste Malay food, but to learn about its history and to learn how to prepare it for myself.
The cooking school, run by the very charismatic Ana Abdullah, is located just outside the city, but close enough to one of the main metro lines to make in convenient to find. The school, which has been operating for four years now, offers a variety of different menu options, depending on which day you book.
The classroom is set up with a main display and teaching area, and several individual work stations. The preparation of each dish is demonstrated, followed by the students preparing it for themselves at the work stations. Everything is well laid out and easy for even the most incompetent in the kitchen to create amazing food.
Melanie and I went to the Saturday course, and therefore had menu C. Otak-otak (marinated fish in banana leaves), Chicken curry, Onde onde (a dessert), and Roti jala.
Otak-otak is cooked with many fragrant leaves and spices and was traditionally used to cover up the taste of slightly old fish. These days, with refrigeration, that isn’t really a problem – but the recipe is so delicious that it stuck. Steamed in a banana leaf, it is not only delicious, but also aesthetically pleasing.
The chicken curry was divine – and we ate it with roti jani. Roti jani is a type of artistic pancake which is created using a special tool and rolled up for dipping. As a lover of all things curry, it is great to add something new to my repertoire.
Best of all though, was the dessert. The onde onde – glutinous rice flour balls filled with melted palm sugar and covered in fresh coconut.
By the end of the whole experience, we were all so full of delicious food that we could barely do anything for the rest of the day. But the food is only half of the experience – the warm and friendly staff really completed the experience for me. It is great to get together with local people and learn from them about their way of life and their culture – through the medium of food.
Armed with new knowledge and my complimentary cook book from Lazat – I am ready to take my skills back to New Zealand. I bet that James can’t wait!