Roselle Coffee House,
Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson,
12th Mile, Jalan Pantai,
Pasir Panjang 71250,
Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan,
THIS Ramadan, chefs at Lexis Hibiscus Port Dickson will be whipping up creamy curries and decadent desserts crafted from hand-me-down recipes.
Inspired by his own family recipes, newly-appointed executive sous chef Zulkafli Mohammad has put together a menu themed “Sajian Warisan Bonda” that features traditional festive favourites passed down through generations.
While the Ramadan buffet spread at the hotel’s Roselle Coffee House features everything from pasta to pastries, and over 100 menu items daily, the highlight of the spread is undoubtedly the kampung-style dishes that conjure memories of mum’s cooking.
Zulkafli, who has more than three decades of culinary experience and a wealth of recipes passed down to him by the womenfolk in his family, said the offerings at Roselle Coffee House differed slightly from the standard kampung fare served at other establishments during Ramadan.
“Some of these dishes are time consuming to prepare, and while you would find them at a kenduri, they rarely make it into hotel menus due to the amount of work they entail,” he said.
Among these classic dishes are Itik Solok (braised and baked duck), and Ayam Kerutuk (dry chicken curry) which Zulkafli, who hails from Kelantan, said he remembers his grandmother preparing during the festive season.
For the duck, a Kelantanese speciality, the meat is marinated overnight in a blend of herbs and spices, before being braised for two hours in a coconut milk broth.
The bird is then baked in an oven for about 45 minutes until the meat is tender to pull apart.
“Duck meat has a strong flavour and can sometimes be tough, but the marinade and cooking method used for this recipe results in tender and juicy meat,” he said.
Zulkafli’s take on his grandmother’s duck dish stays true to the original, minus the charcoal-fired oven.
Ayam Kerutuk (top pic) is another Kelantanese favourite that Zulkafli has added to the menu.
To prepare the chicken dish, a paste is first made by blending ground spices such as cardamom, star anise and cloves with shallots, dried chillies, galangal and other aromatics.
The chicken is slow-cooked in a coconut milk broth infused by the prepared paste until the sauce thickens, and the meat is tender.
The dish, similar to rendang (dry curry) in flavour, is aromatic and rich.
“Malay cooking often employs braising or slowcooking and the use of spice pastes for flavour.
“The end result is tender meats and fish, and flavoursome curries. I don’t believe in shortcuts as the dishes would lose their authenticity. In our kitchen, the pastes are prepared daily and this makes a big difference in the food we serve our guests,” said Zulkafli.
Also on the list of kampung-style dishes are less common festive favourites such as Gulai Pisang Muda Ikan Sepat (fish and unripe banana curry), Keladi Masak Asam Pedas (yam in a spicy-sour broth), Sembilang Berlado (catfish stir-fried with bird’s eye chillies), and Ikan Patin Tempoyak (fish cooked with fermented durian paste).
Zulkafli said that recipes for these dishes, which are specialities from different states in Malaysia, were contributed by his team of chefs.
“For example, Gulai Pisang Muda Ikan Sepat is a Kedahan specialty. In Kedah, gulai (curry) often refers to a curry with a thin gravy, while the Kelantanese version of gulai is thick and creamy.
“Asam pedas is a staple from Malacca, although the version we are serving has yam instead of fish, which is common. From Negri Sembilan, we have a variety of creamy coconut milk-based curries spiced with fresh turmeric and fiery bird’s eye chillies,” he said.
Complementing the classic dishes are a variety of tempting traditional treats such as lompat tikam (coconut milk-based pudding), puteri mandi (glutinous rice balls in brown sugar syrup), lempeng kelapa (coconut pancakes) and bubur gula merah(brown sugar porridge), as well as a range of patisserie.
Stalls serving whole-roasted lamb, grilled meats, noodles, pasta, roti canai and ais kacang are also set up within the restaurant’s premises, adding to the festivities during the nightly Ramadan buffet.
Sajian Warisan Bonda is available until July 2 and the buffet is priced at RM118 nett (per adult) and RM60 nett (per child).
Diners who make their reservations early are entitled to “Buy 9, Free 1”, a promotion currently available for early birds who book a table for 10.
For reservations, call 06-660 2626 ext 2646.
This is the writer’s personal observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.