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THE ROYALE BINTANG,
The Curve,
6 Jalan PJU 7/3,
Mutiara Damansara,
Petaling Jaya, Selangor.
Tel: 03-7843 1111

SLIGHTLY sourish, very juicy and filled with the goodness of pineapple. That was how the pajeri nenas endeared itself to this writer at The Curve’s The Royale Bintang’s Hundred Spices Ramadan buffet.

Very ripe local pineapples, boiled in turmeric and infused with cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and star anise make this 10-year-old recipe by junior sous chef Idris Yahya.

Story has it that Idris learned it while working with a wedding caterer in Ampang. Since then, it has gone through modifications in terms of colour and taste.

The endearing pajeri nenas.

The endearing pajeri nenas.

Revealing his secret, Idris said the trick in preserving the tasty juiciness is to not introduce raw fruit to the sauce straightaway. This is because excess liquid will dilute flavours.

The thick wedges of pineapples, made more alluring with the aroma of mustard seeds, make a good accompaniment for the Kashmiri-style lamb biryani.

In this dish, basmati rice is boiled with salt for eight minutes at a temperature of 150°. It is then transferred to another pot and cooked for 30 minutes in a rich lamb paste of mint, coriander, spring onions and celery leaves.

The briyani is one of the season’s best-sellers. Public relations manager Dangsuria Zainuddin said diners are known to be able to manage seconds and thirds due to the low-starch nature of the dish.

The very same slow-cooked gravy used to flavour the rice also serves to top the whole lamb leg, which has been cooked in a confit for four hours at 140°.

Idris holds the tender leg of lamb confit.

Idris holds the tender leg of lamb confit.

The slow cooking, said executive chef Khairuddin Selamat, preserves not only flavour but tenderises it enough for the meat to fall off the bone.

A fish masala and prawn curry are two seafood dishes in the buffet line. Both employ the fragrant qualities of garam masala.

The usual list of ground spices are black peppercorns, mace, cinnamon, cloves, brown cardamom, nutmeg, and green cardamom.

In the fish masala, Idris chose the sliced white flesh of halibut for its firm texture.

The fish is fried minus a coating to preserve shape as it waits for dinner bells to ring in the chafing dish.

The appetising fish masala.

The appetising fish masala.

Tomato sauce, chilli powder and an in-house concocted masala mix make up the sauce.

The masala treatment also extends to the prawns.

The saltwater variety is proudly a local product from Klang.

The difference here is Idris has chosen to load this dish with a heavier curry flavour to complement the subtler flavours of the briyani.

Masala prawn curry.

Masala prawn curry.

A lamb curry, enriched with coconut milk, also beckons.

Together with a beef curry, both bring back warm, hearty memories of bubbling hot gulai kawah.

Amidst the spicy numbers is a non-fiery but no-less-delicious contender – the Ayam Masak Hitam, or chicken cooked in black sauce, with a dash of black pepper and coriander.

“But, just to titillate the tongue, there is a pinch of curry powder,” admitted Idris.

Well, so much for the saying that spice is a part of life.

The Hundred Spice Ramadan Buffet is priced at RM78nett and is available from today to July 5.

This is the writer’s own observation and is not an endorsement by StarMetro.

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