Passion is developed from within oneself. Usually, it begins with an experience we went through or the surroundings in our upbringing. Nobody would ever understand why each one of us has a different passion. One of my passions is cooking. I love cooking. I really do. The golden rule of life is, make a beginning. So, I began cooking at a very young age.

Both my parents would always be in the kitchen cooking together. All the children would not dare to laze around. The moment they walked into the kitchen us children will follow them like a family of ducks crossing a road. Everyone in the kitchen had their own share of duty. Washing, cutting, chopping, frying, boiling, were done efficiently. My mom was a good cook.  I was mesmerized each time she baked cakes and decorated them so beautifully. The cakes in the 60s were always extremely dense and sweet. The decoration were roses and leaves made from what they called royal icing. Tonnes of sugar were needed to make this icing. She also excelled in cooking Rendang our popular festive dish. Making Rendang was a must during the Eid celebration. As the celebration was nearing, my parents with the help of some of their friends would together cook a gigantic cauldron of Rendang. They would drain blood, sweat and tears for hours to cook it over woodfire. The result was really worth it.  

Reminiscing the past, we kids anticipated every school holidays. We would go back to our family kampung(village) and main pondok (play hut). We gathered with our cousins and built a hut with just 4 sticks as pillars and a piece of canvas, plastic or broken zinc pieces as the roof. Once, we attempted to cook our own lunch. As the leader of the group, I gave each person a task. They had to get onions, rice, cooking pot, dried anchovies, some vegetables and a few other things. My job was to start

the woodfire. We had everything ready but the woodfire kept going dead. Smoke started to get into our eyes and we were sweating under the heat of the sun. After almost 4 hours of struggling, we managed to have our food ready waiting to be savoured. Yes, we could not wait to dig into the steaming hot rice, delicious anchovy sambal, vegetable soup and fried eggs. We were too hungry and the array of food was so tempting. Within minutes, we gobbled up everything. Well, needless to say, the foods were actually imported from our respective houses. All of them were our moms’ cooking. Our cooking project for that day failed tremendously!

Here is a Rendang recipe from my own cookbook ‘From Tim’s Kitchen’.

The Green Chicken Rendang
A

18 chicken pieces (1 big chicken)
1 kilogram coconut cream
2 to 3 cups water
2 turmeric leaves(julienned)
3 kaffir lime leaves(deveined)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 piece tamarind slice

Salt to taste
2 tablespoons kerisik kelapa (coconut butter)
1 cup cooking oil

B
(blend all with a little water)
10 green chilies
Green hot chilies (amount of your choice)
2 large onions
10 cloves of garlic
A thumb size of galangal
A thumb size of turmeric
6 lemon grass (the white part only)

Method:

  • Pour B in hot oil and fry till fragrant.
  • Add A except the coconut butter and the turmeric leaves. Let it bubble away. Remember to always stir.
  • When the oil starts to resurface, put in the chicken.
  • Make sure the fire is not too intense. Stir most of the time to prevent it from burning yet not breaking the chicken.
  • When the gravy begins to thicken, reduce the fire. Finally add the coconut butter and turmeric leaves. Coconut butter is the key to rendang making.
  • Continue cooking with very low fire until the gravy continues to thicken. It might take a couple of hours.
  • You can eat this delicious Rendang with any kinds of unsweetened bread, rice or sticky rice.

Bon Appetit!

Author: Fatimah Aini, Malaysia