Malay Malam

Post date: 20-Sep-2012 00:52:52

28th April 2018


Nasi Kerabu as served in Kelantan, Malaysia

The last time I was in Kelantan, which is one of the most "Malay" states of Malaysia, it was monsoon season. I was the wettest I'd ever been.

I had been warned that it was monsoon season, but I really hadn’t grasped the reality of the “north-east monsoons”. It came down in ropes from the time I arrived to about 1 hour before I left, the sun miraculously breaking through the clouds just as I set foot on the tarmac to board my AirAsia flight out of my very own Lost City of Atlantis, only just before I developed webbed feet.

On my arrival in Kelantan, at Kota Baru railway station (in the rain of course), I was whisked off by a delighted and rather bored taxi driver to the small village, or kampung, where I was staying. As possibly the only tourist in the entire state of Kelantan, I had no problem with availability of taxis. I "toured" around Kota Baru with my by now quite friendly taxi driver, always available (he lurked around where he dropped me off, waiting for the fare home!), who took me on eating trips to town and other random places to eat local delicacies like Ayam Percik and Nasi Kerabu, or should I say Kerablue since it is rather a strange colour. He ate Nasi Air which translates to water rice - didn’t sound the most appealing dish in the world. Especially given the amount of water that was falling all about. We practiced my Malay (he really didn't speak English, so it was particularly good for my Malay), and he marvelled that a single woman could travel alone, he’d never seen it before. “Just like a man!” he said.

You can read more about that particular trip here.

In memory of that trip, we are going to make the particularly unusual dish of Nasi Kerabu, which is native to Kelantan. The rice is an especially attractive blue, traditionally dyed with blue pea flowers. It's strange, in Malaysia we think nothing of blue rice; in this country it would be considered quite unappealing. And... dessert is BRIGHT GREEN.

Here's a picture of the blue pea flowers that dye the rice blue:

Curry Puffs – these are home made with a particular type of hand made flaky pastry that is very special - you can see them below

served with Acar - a Malay style salad with pineapple


Beef Rendang - a spicy beef "curry" that uses coconut milk and galangal to fantastic effect, the best and most classic Malay dish going, in my opinion.

Ayam Percik - Grilled chicken flavoured with the very Malaysian galangal and coconut milk - it sounds like beef rendang but tastes more like satay

Ikan Bakar - Barbequed fish, cooked in banana leaves with sambal belachan, a home made spicy sauce

Nasi Kerabu - "blue rice" with sides of special coconut and mackeral kerabu, fried fish crackers, and a range of other salad accompaniments.


Kueh Talam - literally translated as "tray cake", I've been surprised to find how popular this green, pandan-flavoured dessert is, as the texture and slightly salty taste is pretty alien to British palates. It is, however, one of my favourites, and it seems everyone else agrees.

Gula Malacca - it means "Malaccan Sugar". This is a sago/coconut/palm sugar combination that's just divine. My father's favourite Asian dessert.

Price for this supper will be £45, of which £35 will go direct to MSF. Please mail us on with bookings.