I often refer to myself as the reluctant cook. I think being the youngest in the family, and having elder sisters who were in charge, I have always been the least aspiring when it comes to cooking and often see it as a chore rather than a passion. I also think I have been rather "spoilt" being on the receiving end of delicious food, as I come from a family of extremely talented cooks. Perhaps I've enjoyed myself too well in happily participating in the eating part of the meal as opposed to participating in its actual preparation!
That's why I am grateful when I get to attend cooking classes like those taught at the Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School, where I can learn to grasp some fabulous recipes to "hopefully" impress the hubby and friends at home. Having spent my youth living in London and Istanbul, I have grown to appreciate and love Malaysian food. I think that it is pretty amazing that we have such a wide range of culinary options available for such a small country. From Malay to Chinese, Indian, Portuguese and Nyonya there are really so many choices to tease and satisfy even the most well-travelled palate!
So after our awe-inspiring guided tour round the Tropical Spice Garden, we attended a cooking class at the school located in a small sweet bungalow within the grounds. There were 8 of us that day and looking around the room, I noted that there was a mish-mash of tourists from Australia, the UK and a local Malaysian teenage girl and her younger brother, and of course the Batik&Bubbles crew!
That day we were cooking some Nyonya dishes, which happens to be one of my most favourite Malaysian cuisines. Nyonya food is one of Malaysia's most revered cuisines and stems from the Peranakans, who were the early descendants of Chinese migrants who had settled in places like Penang and Malacca, and inter-married with the local Malays. This intermarriage has culminated into a rich cuisine, packed full of flavour with its unique cultural blend of Chinese ingredients, that are cooked using Malay spices and techniques. I happily rubbed my hands in glee as I anticipated a gob -smackingly delicious lunch ahead filled with exotic aromas and tastes!
It was a proper learning experience as we were each given our own workstations and had all our ingredients and recipes carefully laid out in front of us. We even had our own bright and cheery TSG aprons to wear and take home after the class!
We were then instructed by our cooking teacher, named Nyonya Bee, whose cheerful and thoughtful guidance steered us carefully through the 3 different recipes.
The menu for the day, was Nyonya Curry Kapitan, Nyonya Belanda Egg (Sweet and Sour egg) and Sweetcorn and Sago in Coconut Milk. Curry happens to be a big favourite of mine and I just love trying different types of curries!
After we had finished all our cooking, we were then escorted to our table outside where we got to enjoy the spoils of our labour, whilst enjoying the scenic views of the ocean.
For a self-professed reluctant cook, I don't think I did too bad this time! The combination of the spicy chicken went so well with the tangy sourness of the tamarind-flavoured fried egg. Not being a big sweet lover, I happened to love the creamy taste of the creamy corn and sago dessert, which was a delightful way to end a hearty yet enjoyable lunch.
We had such a great interactive morning as we happily worked our way through the different menus, and I am glad to say that I was overwhelmingly surprised with the final result!
After the cooking class and lunch and a quick chat with Katharine Chua, The MD of the Tropical Spice Garden, we walked just across the road to the Teluk Bahang beach where we had a quick stroll to walk off some of the large quantities we had consumed!
It was such a fantastic way to end the morning jumping through the waves and exploring its white sandy beach. We would highly recommend you pack a blanket, towels and some sunnies for a relaxing in the afternoon sun beach side after your stint at the Tropical Spice Garden.
Tropical Spice Garden, thank you again for letting us explore your treasures, we really can't wait to return!
*Watch out for our Facebook note where we will be sharing some of the Recipes cooked at TSG!
We would like to thank Katherine, Paul, Nyonya Bee and team for hosting us at the Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School.
- To find out more about the Tropical Spice Garden Cooking School and its classes, visit www.tsgcookingschool.com for more details or call 04-881 1797.
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