346, Jalan S2 8,
Uptown Avenue Seremban 2
70300 Seremban
Tel: 06-601 5559
Opening hours: Mon-Thurs (2pm to midnight);
Fri-Sun (noon to midnight)

DEVIL CURRY and vendaloo. Diners at Cafe Sportivo in Seremban will be able to enjoy these two Portuguese staples and more during a two-week food promotion at the outlet in June.

In celebration of St Peter’s Feast on June 29, executive chef Benildus De Silva has come up with a special menu featuring some of the food he grew up with and loves so well.

The 40-year-old Malacca-born chef who now oversees the kitchen at the cafe said he wanted to introduce diners to great-tasting Cristang cuisine which is much more varied than the usual devil curries and vendaloo.

8AF812FABF1A4025945831019865A4E5A chef’s passion: Benildus is passionate about promoting and preserving Cristang food culture. The bubbly chef has come up with a special menu featuring 11 mouth-watering Cristang dishes in celebration of St Peter’s Feast which falls on June 29.

“What is commonly referred to here as Portuguese food is actually Cristang cuisine — the food culture which is the result of mixed marriages between the locals and Portuguese who first came here in 1511.

“I want people to get to know our culture and cuisine.

“This year is significant for our community because it marks the 500th anniversary of the Portuguese in Malaysia,” he said when we sat down to a meal of some of the dishes featured on the promotional menu recently.

The father of two who grew up in Malacca’s Portuguese Settlement, developed his passion for the cuisine as a young boy when he used to help his late mother Belbina prepare food for family and friends.

De Silva said his mother was a good cook and her food was often requested by relatives and neighbours for weddings and other events.

He said the unique Cristang cuisine was passed down from generation to generation and if it was not preserved and celebrated, would be a thing of the past.

“Over the years, recipes have been tweaked to cater to varied and modern tastebuds but at least you can still find some authentic dishes.

“It is not only important to pass down our food culture but to introduce it to others as well,” he said.

96C45072A1A24CA9B3E4A1A9157F3849Mouth-watering: Devil curry chicken(front), pork kapitan (centre) and mutton vendaloo is spicy yet tantalising.

During the promotional period, patrons of the cafe will be able to choose from 11 mouth-watering Portuguese favourites which have Western, Malay, Indian, Chinese and Peranakan influences such as Beef Ambila, Devil Curry Chicken, Saybak, Mutton Vendaloo, Mutton Curry Sako, Keluak Pork Knuckle, Baked Fish, Portuguese Roasted Chicken, Pork Kapitan (all RM16++ per serving) as well as Kangkung Belacan and Black Pepper Brinjal (RM8++ each per serving).

Redolent with herbs and spices, home-made chilli paste and a blend of onions, garlic and ginger, all the dishes we were served surely hit the spot.

For starters, we had the Saybak or pork salad – thinly sliced pork belly braised in soy sauce and accompanied with cucumber, lettuce and homemade chili sauce.

The dish was both light and a refreshing departure from the usual Caesar salads that most of us are used to.

The Mutton Vendaloo, Pork Kapitan and Devil Curry Chicken we had were all equally delicious although a little different from hot and spicy Indian curries.

My favourite was the Pork Kapitan with its chunky cubes of belly pork in a yummy curry gravy.

De Silva said the pork dish which literally means captain’s favourite was slow cooked in herbs, spices and chili paste for over an hour before a dash of vinegar was added to give it a zing.

Adding to the heat factor was the Black Pepper Brinjals which was peppery but not overpowering.

The informative chef who is passionate about Portuguese food and culture said fresh ingredients procured daily was used in his dishes.

“It is not an easy feat to prepare Cristang dishes as it can be time-consuming but it is a sacrifice I’m willing to make to churn out dishes just the way my mother used to make.

“Every Cristang chef will have a different version of these popular dishes but I’ve tried to remain true to my roots and present the dishes the way I remember them,” he said.

This is the writer’s personal observationand is not an endorsement byStarMetro.

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