New York Times Travel Show


Traditional Chicken curry

Traditional Chicken curry


Demo Presentation -Traditional Curry of Malaysia for New York Times Travel Show

I will be doing a demo presentation at 11 am and book signing at 11:30 am at the New York Times Travel Show on Sunday, March 2nd at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. I will be talking about the curries of Malaysia and the various types reflecting Malaysia’s melting pot. I will be demoing a traditional curry that embraces the rich multicultural heritage of Malaysia. Please go link to check it:

A Journey Through Times, Tastes and Traditions

Flavors of Malaysia Cookbook-Introduction

Curry—a Popular Malaysian Cooking Style
I cannot talk about the different ethnic cuisines of Malaysia without discussing curries, a cooking style common ms ethnic groups. The word “curry” is really a British translation of the Tamil word kari, meaning sauce. In Malaysia, we have a curry that we all enjoy and which reflects its poly-ethnic make up. Malaysian curries usually have Indian and Malay origins, and are prepared from a blend of dry spices and/or wet spice pastes. A number of curries also reflect Chinese influence through the use of soy sauce, star anise, white pepper, ground fennel seeds, and taucheo (preserved soybean paste), while others have Portuguese influence with tomato paste, vinegar, sweet spices, and potatoes.

Malaysians use specific spices to complement chicken, beef, pork, lamb, seafood, or vegetables. For example, my Grandma told me that fenugreek is the special spice for fish dishes; coriander for chicken; cinnamon and clove for enhancing beef; star anise, a must for pork dishes; and turmeric for vegetable and lentil dishes. Turmeric is also used marinade for poultry.


In predominantly Malay regions of Malaysia, curries cooked with coconut milk are referred to as gulais. The backbone of traditional Malay curries is a wet paste of shallots, garlic, chilies, galangal, turmeric root, and lemongrass cooked with coconut milk and/or tamarind juice. Depending on the type of curry, dry spices such as coriander, cumin, cinnamon, clove, black pepper, and fennel seeds are added, as well as local herbs and flowers, including salam leaf, turmeric leaf, laksa leaf, and bunga kantan (wild ginger flower). Rendang is a slow-simmered coconut-and-spice-based Malay curry, made with beef (page 177), chicken (page 287), fish, or shrimp. Sayur lodeh (page 223) is another Malay curry made with mixed vegetables simmered in coconut milk and spices. Indians generally use an array of dry spices with shallots, garlic, ginger, tamarind juice, and/or coconut milk to prepare their great variety of curries. Most Indian curries that I grew up with have South Indian and Sri Lankan origins. In Malaysia, they taste quite different from the original Indian styles, because they incorporate local flavorings.

Ma made Chinese, Malay, Nonya, and Eurasian-style curries in addition to her Indian curries. She listened fervently to radio cooking programs for new recipes to try. I especially enjoyed Ma’s intensely flavored dry curries called peratils and varuvals. Our favorite curries were a simple chicken varuval dry-fried with spices in hot oil (page 167), a fragrant fish curry (page 198) that Cha enjoyed, egg curry that Periama taught her (page 172), and mutton peratil, goat meat cooked in a seasoned sauce(page 185). Ma’s festive curries were vegetable kurma (page 283), Chettiar shrimp (page 291), and a chicken kurma (page 168) that guests savored during our open house at Deepavali celebrations.

Lamb peratil

Lamb peratil

For Indian curries, Ma and Periama would dry roast whole spices and grind them to give a fresher aroma. They fried the whole or ground spices in hot oil for about 30 to 60 seconds before adding chicken, meats, fish, tofu, or vegetables. Ma generally prepared her curries in a metal wok, but sometimes used a clay pot, deep pot, or saucepan.

Eurasian curries can be fiery, vinegary, and/or sweet, depending on whether they have Portuguese, Dutch, or British influence. My British-Eurasian neighbor made her curries mild with tomatoes, black pepper, star anise, cinnamon and Worcestershire sauce. Ma’s good friend Mrs. Collar (of Portuguese ancestry) cooked hot and vinegary curries using vinegar, soy sauce, chilies, dried shrimp paste, and black peppercorns. Her fiery chicken curry debal (page 289) was our favorite.

The Kristangs of Malacca have combined Portuguese, Indian, and Malay spices and ingredients into unique curries (called cari ). Kristangs generally add souring agents—vinegar, tamarind juice, lime juice, belimbing, unripe mango, papaya, or other sour fruits—along with coconut milk, shrimp paste, soy sauce, chilies, and wet or dry rempahs. They sometimes add pineapple for sweetness and candlenuts for thickening. Some traditional curries are ayam vindaloo (page 169), cari seccu (dry mutton curry), and a spicy salted fish curry.Untitled-20

The Nonyas of Penang and Malacca tend to enjoy curries with pork, beef, and seafood, flavored with Malay and Chinese ingredients, including belacan, chilies, lemongrass, tamarind, and coconut milk.  Typical curries are ikan or udang assam pedas (hot and sour tamarind fish or shrimp curry, page 201), sayur lemak (similar to sayur lodeh, page 223), kari Kapitan (page 162), and chicken kurma (page 168). Many Nonya and Kristang curries tend to be similar in flavor, such as kari Kapitan and assam pedas, sometimes with each
group claiming that a particular curry is their own. I have tried my best to attribute them to the appropriate creator based on my research.

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Categories: cultures, curries, demo presentation, Malaysia, Malaysian cuisine, Spotlight, Tastes, Traditions, trend, Uncategorized


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One Comment on “New York Times Travel Show”

  1. maria mercedes bejarano
    February 20, 2014 at 8:30 pm #

    BRAVO AGAIN and AGAIN , Sushee dear , GO !! This world needs your rich flavors and your awesome heritage ..
    love , maria

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