Culinary Heritage of Malaysia

As Malaysians we think we know a lot about food.  Whether they are Malay, Indian or Chinese dishes, we know them all and love them all.  We are even a little arrogant as a lot of concoctions are truly Malaysian; a fusion of food from different cultures.

Harith Jamaludin giving a talk to museum volunteers
Harith Jamaludin giving a talk to museum volunteers

On 26th Jan 2013, Harith Jamaludin gave a talk to the museum volunteers on Malaysian food and it was a humbling experience to learn that there is a lot about Malaysian cuisine we don’t know.  For example, nasi pattaya does not come from Pattaya, Thailand.  Possibly a local invention?

Harith Jamaludin is the Program Manager for the School of Hospitality & Culinary Arts, Kolej PTPL Sungai Petani. He obtained a Diploma in Food Service Management and Bachelor of Science in Food Service Management from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM). Currently based in Sungai Petani, Harith is undergoing his Masters Degree in Gastronomy at the same University.

Harith started the talk by explaining how history influenced Malaysian cuisine.  It was interesting to know that the Malay words ‘ubi’ (potato), ‘keladi’ (yam) and ‘babi’ (pig) are the only food related words not linguistically influenced from elsewhere.  With 143 mouth watering pictures of heritage food and drinks, Harith went through the cooking of the Malays, Indian, Chinese, Orang Asli, natives of Sabah & Sarawak as well as Peranakan and Eurasian cooking.  He also talked about European influenced cooking.  Laksa Johor, for example, uses spaghetti.

Some dishes

Sample herbs, plants and food brought by Harith
Sample herbs, plants and food brought by Harith

Harith also brought along herbs, spices as well as cooked and uncooked food in a show-and-tell.

We got the feel of texture and smells of herbs and plants which we usually only taste in the finished product.

The volunteers also had hands-on experience in making sambal belacan and many tried this with relish.

Lawrence having a go at making sambal belacan with the other volunteers waiting their turn.
Lawrence having a go at making sambal belacan with the other volunteers waiting their turn.

The talk was a good prelude to the New Year potluck.  Appetites whetted by sights and smells of Harith’s presentation, the sumptuous lunch that followed was a good end to the morning.

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Author: Museum Volunteers, JMM

Museum Volunteers, JMM Taking the Mystery out of History

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