Our intern, Reyanna Ng, shares her experience joining an authentic Sri Lankan and Kelantanese dinner party hosted by two of our private chefs.
You can say I was more than nervous about my first-ever home dining experience. The butterflies in my stomach did not rest, with all sorts of scenarios running through my mind. I was anxious about putting on the right behaviour and having to be careful to not spill anything.
When we arrived at Dyllon’s apartment, we were warmly greeted not only by Dyllon’s smile but also the enticing smells coming from the kitchen. A wave of comfort swept over me; it was as if I was visiting a close family friend.
We were escorted to the dining table and was served organic Black Ceylon Tea, picked all the way from Sri Lanka and infused with fresh cinnamon. It is said to be good for digestion. That way, we would feel less full and eat more.
That’s the trick, guys!
Two Cultures, One Table
Ohh, the fooood! Ever heard the saying where one is full just from looking, that’s exactly how I felt.
For starters, we were served handmade pastries and popiah stuffed with homemade sausages. The pastry itself was flaky and crispy, and the sausage was perfectly seasoned. Same goes for the popiah, baked to perfection and not oily.
They both complemented each other well and I could tell that the night was about to get better.
Next, Kak Yong who was in charge of preparing the Kelantanese dishes served us her homemade Roti Jala with Chicken Rendang. Even before tasting, the Roti Jala stood out because they were in three different colours: yellow, green and blue, all naturally made from Tumeric, Pandan, and Butterfly Pea Flower.
The best way to enjoy this dish is to wrap the Chicken Rendang in the Roti Jala. The tenderness and spiciness of the chicken went well with the chewiness of the Roti Jala.
As we savoured the colourful concoction, Dyllon prepared the next dish, Coconut Roti with Udang Tiga Rasa. Made with freshly shredded coconut mixed with onions and chilli, the Coconut Roti changed my whole perspective of what a Roti is. The nuttiness of the Roti blended surprisingly well with the tanginess and spiciness of the Udang.
You have to try it! Even when there was no more Udang, I kept going back for the Coconut Roti, until I had to tell myself “NO MORE!”.
Our main dish is the Chicken Briyani with Lamb Curry alongside Acar. Having the first bite, I was shocked that the Chicken Briyani held so much sweetness that made me wonder where it came from. There weren’t any raisins, which would usually be found in Briyani, only peppercorns. I asked Dyllon where the sweetness came from and he said “The chicken! It’s all from the chicken.”. That must be some healthy chicken!
The Lamb Curry with the Briyani brought forward a whole new flavour. Being a lamb lover, I was excited yet worried it might have a gamey taste, but as with all the dishes, it tasted wonderful. Dyllon shared that the lamb was only marinated for 20 minutes prior to our arrival! As if that combination wasn’t enough, having a bite with the Acar changed the dish. The hint of sweet and sour fused well with the Briyani, leaving a refreshing aftertaste with each bite
Throughout the dinner, there was a constant ringing thought. I couldn’t put my finger on it – how some common Malay dishes I grew up with could seem so different!
When Dyllon and Kak Yong sat to talk, they explained that all the dishes were cooked without oil! Can you imagine my shock? How can you cook Chicken Rendang without oil? It’s like writing without a pen.
When asked about their inspiration behind cooking without oil, they said that they are believers in preparing healthy food without utilising commercialised products. They also choose produce of the highest quality, even going so far as to hand-grinding their own curry powder.
Throughout the experience, I was constantly curious about how each dish was prepared. Both Dyllon and Kak Yong had no issues sharing their process and methods, including tips on how to tenderise the meat and choose the right spices. Other than a full stomach, I left with cooking tips – who would have thought?
After letting the food in our stomachs settle, we were served dessert – Mango Sago in Evaporated Milk with Homemade Jelly. Kak Yong deliberately lessened the amount of sugar in the dessert as Dyllon isn’t much of a sweet-tooth, and I’m glad for that.
An unlikely food combination
Before this dining experience, I would have never thought to put Sri Lankan and Kelantanese food together.
Dyllon’s intention to merge Sri Lankan and Kelantanese food was due to his mother-in-law’s influence. When he first came to Malaysia, he scarcely spoke Malay and found it hard to communicate with her. But as we all know, food is universal. They bonded over food and Dyllon found that Sri Lankan and Kelantanese cuisines complemented each other in ways never thought before.
Stuffed and satisfied
You would have thought being in a stranger’s home for the first time can be, well, strange, but instead, I felt at home. There was a relaxing and comforting ambience throughout the whole experience and before I knew it, the end had arrived.
Dyllon was such an engaging and welcoming host, making sure we were comfortable and contented throughout the whole experience. Kak Yong had a sort of motherly aura to her that would make anyone feel like they are back visiting their grandparent’s with an array of food awaiting you.
This home-dining experience truthfully spoilt me a little with how all home-dining should be and have changed my perspective towards healthy cooking, especially dishes that many consider sinful. I did not only leave with a full and satisfied stomach, but a satisfied heart as well.
I can’t wait for Dyllon to host another home-diving event and neither should you. Join his Malay Sri Lankan Home Dining experience on LokaLocal.