It’s Friday so I’m writing about food again, and this time it’s one of our favourite foodie day trips – our cooking class in Malaysian. Malaysian food is amazing and Penang is popularly known as the foodie capital of the country, so after spending 3 days there, we were super excited for our cooking class. Discovering that they were pretty pricey, we decided to do our cooking class in Kuala Lumpur as there were a number of cookery schools just outside the city that looked great and didn’t charge as much as other areas.
Our cooking class started as usual with a trip to the market in Kuala Lumpur. We were pretty sure we wouldn’t find it all that interesting, as by now we’d visited markets in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam and figured this one would probably be very similar! Amazingly though, this was one of the best market tours we had. Our lovely hostess was really friendly and, like most Malaysians, spoke brilliant English which made it far easier for us to understand more about the produce on display.
Our Trip to the Market
The most interesting thing about the market was how well it reflected the cultural diversity of Malaysia. There are lots of religions that seem to sit alongside one another in relative harmony compared with other countries and it was pretty cool to see this even in the layout of the market. The pork is kept downstairs so any Muslims who are shopping can avoid it, whilst the beef is around a corner so Hindus don’t have to see it on display, and all the fruit, veggies and non meat products are on one side so that the vegetarian Buddhists can shop without walking past meat stalls. I’m not sure if this is usual in any other countries, but it’s the first time we’d seen it and we found it pretty interesting.
We were treated to a breakfast of traditional Indian Roti and sweet tea, which was just what the doctor ordered, and then began shopping. After buying our ingredients, and receiving some bonus free curry paste from the friendly ladies at the spice stall, we headed about ten minutes out of town to LaZat Cooking School. It’s set in a great location just outside of the city but up a hill in the jungle and the open air kitchen makes you feel like you’re cooking in the forest. We had chosen to do the ‘Malay Classic’ cookery class as whilst there are several different menus and types of class available we wanted to get a feel for how to cook some of Malaysia’s most traditional dishes.
The Cooking Class Gets Underway…
We started out by making our dessert as it needed a couple of hours to set – Sago Pudding. This is like a chia or rice pudding with coconut milk and syrup, and only took around 15 minutes to make after boiling up our ingredients. I think it would possibly be quite tricky to make at home as the ingredients were very much local spices and grains rather than things we’re used to seeing back in the U.K.
Next up was our main course of Nasi Lemak and Prawn Sambal. This was sooooo good although it was pretty spicy! Nasi Lemak is considered to be the national dish in Malaysia and it’s sold pretty much everywhere – from high end restaurants to street food stall and anywhere in between. It was great to learn how to cook and is definitely one we’ll be making again back home. The rice is cooked in coconut milk for extra flavour (and calories!), before being served with hard boiled egg, peanuts and cucumber.
The traditional accompaniment is Sambal sauce which was next up. It’s a spicy kind of curry paste with garlic, dried small fish and plenty of chilli. When mixed with fresh king prawns and the Nasi Lemak, it’s really delicious and the dishes set each other off perfectly.
Overall our cooking class in Malaysia with LaZat was brilliant – beautiful setting outside of the city with friendly hosts, a great menu and a relaxed environment. It’s one of our essential tips when it comes to things to do if you have a week in Malaysia, or even longer in this amazing country.