It is the time of the year again, 2 weeks of school holidays. Cars, motorcycles and vans filling up the highways and roads, good restaurants crowded with people you don’t recognize, traffic jams outside my office…yes, the holidays have arrived, and I have piles of Invitation Cards to weddings of cousins, nephews, nieces etc. I guess that also adds to the reason why many people travel outside of Kuala Lumpur during the school holidays.
Who hasn’t been to a Malay kenduri? In Malaysia, nowadays, the kenduri has become synonymous with nasi minyak, ayam masak merah, kurma daging, dhalca and acar. I must say that will be the stereotype kenduri menu in towns and major cities. My favorite invitation is always to a kenduri in kampong areas. I remember in the 1980s, kenduris in the kampong area of Pendang means white rice, catfish curry, fried salted fish, ulam and sambal, and boy, that was a major feast.
The food is prepared by the kampong people themselves; no commercialized catering food here. The curry is a bit more watery compared to the normal curries, and almost soup like, with not too much spice. The beef is fresh, and the “secret ingredient” here would be the banana tree trunk stem, which is the centre stem or fiber of the banana trunk. Once cooked, the risa is soft and the beef tender, some falling off the bone.
The banana trunk stem, or “risa” as it is known up north, must be taken from a young banana tree which has not produced any flower of fruit yet. If the risa is a from a banana tree which has produced fruit before, then it will be tasteless when it’s cooked. The risa is cooked together with the beef curry to produce the tasty, right-tasting dish which is enjoyed by the hundreds of guests throughout the kenduri.
After 2-3 kenduris in town area, this dish alone is a refreshing change from the heavy nasi minyak and ayam masak merah dishes.
I am not sure whether this curry is available at kampongs outside of Kedah, but I am sure that other kampongs in Kedah and all other states in Malaysia will have a unique recipe of their own.
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