Thursday, April 08, 2010

Taking Malaysian Food to Manchester

Yesterday I got invited along to the Malaysian launch of Chef Norman Musa's book Malaysian Food at Hotel Impiana.

Norman is the creator and Executive Chef of Ning restaurant in Manchester, which also boasts a cookery school, the first of its kind, I think, in the UK. I'm in favour of anything that teaches the Mat Salleh's what they are missing if they don't have great Malaysian food in their lives.

(And yes, Rob and Elaine in Manchester, I did ask him if he cooks vegetarian dishes in his restaurant and he says yes, even vegan, so trot along and have a makan for me.)

Now I'm a sucker for cookbooks, and although I've got my favourite Malaysian recipes (learned from my husband and a sister-in-law) down pat, I'm sort of stuck in a bit of a culinary rut, so am grateful for my copy of this.

Most of the recipes are Malaysian standards like rendang, nasi lemak, fish curry, prawn fritters, but there are a few things I haven't tried my hand at yet (murtubak, those pretty little Malay kueh), and the recipes are very simple to follow and don't contain a daunting list of impossible to get ingredients (even in the UK provided you can do a quick supermarket run to somewhere like Wing Yip.)  I really like the way that Norman tells us what ingredients he substitutes in the UK because I love to cook there when I go back and making compromises is often miserable and things don't taste right.

But this is more than a cookbooks and I enjoyed the commentary too - especially the description of a Malaysian market and all the good things you can buy there, and the photos of the food, as well as more arty black and white shots of Malaysian faces.

This book would make a very nice gift, especially for someone who doesn't yet know too much about Malaysian food but is raring to have a go.

I enjoyed meeting Norman after the event, and got my copy of the book signed.  It was great to meet so many friends from the bookshops too, and make some new ones.  And we got great goody bags of ingredients including tons of Adabi curry powder ... so now I have no excuse not to cook the dishes!


ArtsVeronica said...

On his notes for novices to Malaysian food or cooking altogether as well as on available substitutes, is he as comprehensive as Shermay Lee? I find that I kind of have to depend on her even when using a Betty Yew. So, if Chef Wan is as good or better than her, his book will definitely be on my list.

bibliobibuli said...

i haven't come across Sherman Lee's recipes, i'm afraid. and this is not Chef Wan (love his books too) but Chef Norman Musa. different people.

my favourite malaysian cookery writer is Zakiah Hanum - use her two books all the time (yep, i can follow recipes in malay!)

ArtsVeronica said...

Oops! My eyes must have got all swirly from reading too much yesterday. Had just finished some detailed illustrations and was trying to wind down by Facebooking & imagining more cooking adventures on your blog's cookery books articles. Chef Norman Musa, it is!

Shall check out Zakiah Hanum :g
As for your prowess in Bahasa, well, language is like the back of your hand, right?

Shermay Lee was that young lady who wrote "The New Mrs Lee's Cookbook" some years back, the Mrs Lee concerned having been mummy to Lee Kuan Yew. As I mainly survive on hand-me down (mainly South & Southeast Asian) recipe books from the 1970s onwards, I find her precision a blast 'cos suddenly all becomes clear, ingredients-, preparation- and cooking-wise! When in Spore in Dec last year, I stumbled upon her cooking school, Shermay's Cooking School. However, it was a Sunday and the school was closed. Bet it's expensive to attend, though :p