Malay Malam - 10th & 16th March 2012

Post date: 16-Feb-2012 23:58:16

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. As I am unable to get the blue pea-flowers that used to grow on my Grandma's fence, which we used to dye the rice the especially attractive blue, I'm afraid I shall have to use blue food colouring, so this supperclub will be unsuitable for anyone prone to hyperactivity ;-) It's strange, in Malaysia we think nothing of blue rice; in this country it would be considered quite unappealing. But in Malaysia, we would find the idea of blue cheese absolutely revolting.

Here's a picture of my Nasi Kerabu as served in Kelantan:

Curry Puffs – these are home made with a particular type of flaky pastry that is very special

REAL Chicken Satay (none of the muck you get in this country)

proper home-made satay sauce


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 Masak Merah - Chicken in a red tomato-chilli sauce, with potatoes

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

Acar - Malay style salad with pineapple

Nasi Kerabu - with sides of special coconut, fried fish crackers, and other accompaniments.


Ais Kachang / ABC - ABC is the modern name for this, when I was a child this was called Ais (ice) Kachang (beans). Nowadays it's called Air Batu Campur - water stone mixed (yes, malay for water is Air!). Stone water =ice. Longer but more poetic, then shorten to an acronym. Pointless. This will require some audience participation! It's a shaved ice dish with a selection of things inside it. It is THE classic Malay dessert.

Price for this supper will be £40, of which £35 will go direct to MSF. Please mail us on with bookings.