The aromas that fill my kitchen evoke the lush green spice islands of my past. I constantly draw upon spices like coriander, cumin, fenugreek and cumin, kemiri nuts (used by the Pacific Islanders as candles) tamarind and fresh galangal, a rhizome of the ginger family.
Growing up south of Kuala Lumpur, I found an intriguing interest in food from my childhood and pursued it in many ways. I remember sitting through an English lesson on Tennyson ... I was day dreaming about the "Lotus Eaters" and the allusion to a "meadow set with slender galingale." I was taught to cook by my Cantonese Nanny but father's gardening book of botanical terms also taught me that galingale (galangal) was none other than our humble lengkuas ... which we used every day in Malaysian Kitchens. I said this to my teacher, a bright young English lass, fresh from England and caught the flack full frontal "and do you think Tennyson had nothing else to do but write about Malaysian herbs!!!"
Father and mother were gregarious school teachers so we had many friends and relatives who visited, some even stayed during times of crisis. The kitchen was a constant source of sustenance, also a refuge for my thirsty soul and hungry stomach. Amah would encourage me to help in the kitchen as Mother was not interested in cooking, while she loved to entertain. What better place to hide out where choicest gossip could be gleanedd and homework avoided?
Because of its position at the Crossroads of Asia ... Malaysia offers an appetising mix of cuisines: Malay, Singaporean, Nonya, lndonesian, Indian, Chinese and Sri Lankan. I have a special affinity with the food of Sri Lanka and Nonya because of close family ties: mother was of Indian descent but brought up by Hokkien ~ in Penang while my father and husband were ethnically Sri Lankan Since moving to Australia, I have continued to infuse my cooking with rich spicy, soft and subtle flavours of Malaysia and Asia, incorporating wonderful cuts of Australian Meat, delicious Australian Dairy produce and bountiful fish, fuits and vegetables. This fusion represents in many ways my own culinary journey through life.