In 1511 Portuguese
Admiral Alfonso d'Albuquerque serving under King Manuel I of Portugal and his
flotilla of 18 ships sailed into Malacca. The ruling sultan of Malacca, Sultan Mansur Shah, put up a
severe struggle but the strong force of the Portuguese armada prevailed - and Malacca
was made a Portuguese colony and settlement. In the days before refrigeration,
when food was preserved with salt, especially for the long winter months in the West, spice
from the East was a very valuable commodity most sought after. Malacca, on the Malayan
Peninsula was a strategically located natural harbor in the Straits of Malacca,
a major hub of the Spice Trade. The favorable trade winds that blew in the
region and it's longstanding successful trading links with China, India and the
Middle East attracted the attention of the Portuguese merchants. For the next 130 years,
formed one of the
three key points, with Goa in India, Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, giving
Portugal the control over the main Asiatic trade routes. However in 1641 Malacca
fell to the Dutch who took over control from Portuguese, as the main European trading power
in the region. In the 18th century the British began to show their naval
prowess in the area exerting control in this thriving trade area. After a
power struggle, a Treaty was signed in 1824 with the Dutch and Malacca
eventually came under British control.
legacy of the Portuguese, the first of the European colonial settlement in Malacca, was the emergence of a unique community. A century and a half of intermarriages between Portuguese settlers and local women,
led to the a mixed race of European Asian, Eurasians, who identified themselves as Kristang
meaning Christians. This community of Portuguese Eurasians adopted the religion,
language, custom and culture of the Portuguese and also it's cuisine.
Portuguese settlers in Malacca, having sailed the world's oceans in their quest for precious
spices and goods, had long since acquired a taste for spicy food. Portuguese
country cooking took on a regionally spicier taste using local ingredients. The Portuguese Eurasian dish
is it's most famous. Lots of chilies, especially dried
chilies, are used in the making of this fiery hot dish - hence it's name!
Being a predominantly seafaring community
akin to the fishing community of Portugal, many of
the Portuguese Eurasian's food
condiments are fish and seafood derived like Pickled Salt Fish [Acar
Ikan], Pickled Fish Roe, Cincaluk or Cencaluk [tiny baby shrimp sauce], dried
Karing-Karing [dried threadfish] and the ubiquitous
blacan], dried shrimp paste, a specialty of Malacca, reputed to be the best.
Eurasians in Malaysia are generally referred to a community of people
with mixed parentage, Caucasian and Asiatic. This includes later colonial
occupants, after the Portuguese, of the Dutch and British. A diversity of
cuisines has inevitably proliferated from this colorful historic and ethnic
tapestry. Eurasian food, in general, is an amalgamation of European
cuisines - Portuguese, Dutch and British especially British East Indies, with
local ingredients and influences by Malay, Indian, Chinese and Nyonya
styles of cooking.
While some of the Portuguese Eurasian dishes
are named in English, many have Portuguese names; and even names whose origins can
be traced to the travel routes of the Portuguese. Dishes like Porku Sal Pementer,Sal
means salt and Pementer is a Latin family name. Porku [porr-koo] is a word that can be traced to a pro
language, porkus in Latin; also in Maltese language porku is
a word meaning pork. Some Portuguese Eurasian style dishes are classic
Portuguese country cooking like Portuguese Baked Fish using local fish
and ingredients. Many dishes of the Portuguese settlers were also inspired by
the Portuguese maritime routes and their other colonies. Dishes
like Chicken or Pork Vindalooand Salt Fish Pickle originated from
the Portuguese colony of Goa in India. The
Portuguese had a strong link to Benin City, the capital of Edo State, a
powerful Kingdom in the southern coast of
Congo present day Nigeria. Tahu Brangku Fugar [Tahu is tofu in Malay], Brangku
in Portuguese dialect means white and Fugar means stir-fried in Portuguese
dialect. The word Fugar also means icing or confectioner's sugar, used for local
palm winemaking. The word Fugar can also be traced to a place, a Portuguese colony in the southern coastline
of Nigeria, where in the North lies a terrain of pastoral beauty called Kukuruku
Highlands. Kukurukuku is heralded in an old Portuguese folklore song sung
for generations by Portuguese Eurasians in Malacca. Lobak Tempre de Bredu - Lobak
is radish in Malay, Tempre means tempered in Spanish; tempra also means
spice paste and Bredu means vegetables; the word Bredu can also mean
sword brother or sister in Portuguese dialect.Other local Portuguese Eurasian dishes
are Curry Bobra [Pork Spareribs Curry], Pesce
Curry Mangga [Pesce is fish in Spanish and French, Mangga is
mango in Malay] and Porku Tambreneu [Tamarind
tambreneu meaning tamarind in Portuguese dialect.
Then there are Eurasian dishes inspired by the Dutch and
British. Bergedel, which are potato patties with ground beef, can be
traced back to the Dutch influenced islands of Batavia, today's islands of
Indonesia. While other Eurasian dishes are British East Indies imports like Mulligatawny Soup
Chicken Soup) - the word Mulligatawny originated from the Tamil word Milagu-Tannir meaning Pepper
Water. There is the famous Kedgeree or Khichri
- Smoked Haddock & Curried Rice, a very popular British East Indian
meal, usually served as breakfast. A dish called
Semur which evolved from a classic Goan dish called Sorpotel or Sarapatel, believed to
have originated from the Portuguese Sarrabulho, which is a kind of Pork Stew
with curdled pig blood and Cabidel or pork giblets. Nowadays Semur is made using
beef tongue and stewing beef. It is often cooked and enjoyed
during Catholic religious festivals or special occasions. Other popular Eurasian dishes
like Brown Beef Stew, Pork Chops, Fish & Chips, Oxtail Stew, Chicken Pot Pie,
Shepherd’s Pie, Tuna Mornay and Salisbury Steak are traditional
recipes from the British Isles, taught to their local housekeepers or amahs
as they were called, by early British colonists.
Local Malay, Indian, Chinese and Nyonya neighbors have
also inspired many dishes in the Eurasian
kitchen. Satay Celup or Satay Dip is Malay influenced, wooden stick skewers of
prawns, squid, cockles, pork and vegetables are dipped and cooked in a pot of hot
bubbling Satay sauce. Other Eurasian dishes are influenced by it's
Chinese neighbors like Pomfret Juliana [hot and sour Pomfret], Teem with Pork Trotters
or preserved Chinese Mustard with pork trotters, Pork Ribs Soup Eurasian-stylewith potatoes and carrots added instead
of Chinese vegetables.
One can easily spot authentic Eurasian food in Malaysia by its cooking style,
Portuguese names and the word 'Eurasian' as a prefix, such as Eurasian
Mee or Eurasian Noodles and Eurasian Nasi Goreng or Eurasian Fried Rice. Other
popular dishes cooked in Eurasian households like Chicken Buah Keluak [Chicken with a local fruit],
Babi Pongteh [Stewed Pork] and Chicken Kapitan are inspired by the
close proximity of Peranakan neighbors and Nyonyas
Afternoon Tea or High
Tea - is a
daily ritual adopted by the
Eurasians from the British tradition of teatime. Finger foods, snacks and sandwiches such as cucumber,
watercress, sardine and prawn sambal sandwiches are served.Snacks
Curry Puffs,Pineapple Jam Tarts, Treacle Tarts, Tea Scones
are served together with a piping hot pot of English tea. Sister Dot’sChocolate Cake,Macaroons, Bread
Pudding, Banana Cake
and Sherry Trifle
are also popular desserts. Rich Fruit cake, Marzipan Icing Cakes and Christmas Pudding
are made for special occasions.
: Portuguese Devil Curry is a rich and fiery hot dish, made with
mustard powder, turmeric powder, vinegar, candlenuts and lots
of chilies - hence it's name! Chicken, pork and occasionally wild boar, is used to
make Devil Curry. Try it with fresh Blue crabs [Mud, Stone or Dungeness
crabs] for a superb Devil Crab!
: this famous dish made it's way from the Portuguese settlement of
India. The meat, usually pork or chicken, is marinated in blend of hot chilies, ginger,
garlic and other spices. Mustard seeds are popped before cooking the meat in hot oil. Vinegar adds moth-watering tang to the dish. Mountains of steamed rice can be consumed with this hot & tangy dish!
Malaccan Black Pepper Crab : Uncommon in an Asian
recipe, butter used in this dish reflecting the Portuguese influence in
Malacca. With the butter, lots of coarsely ground black peppercorns also goes into this dish. The result is a deliciously mellow black
pepper sauce, not unlike Steak Au Poivre. Blue
crabs, Mud crabs, Stone or Dungeness crabs are simply scrumptious in this sauce!
: Bostador in local
Portuguese dialect means 'slap' as one is slapped with fiery hotness when
eating this dish!
Garlic, shallots, candlenuts, turmeric powder,
[also spelt belachan or blacan] and
lots of chilies goes into the making of this dish.
Pickled Salt Fish
: Salted fish similar to Bacalao
or Salt Cod - is pickled in a blend of garlic, ginger, vinegar,
spices and tamarind. It's usually served as an appetizing chutney or accompaniment to a meal.
: Canned tuna has never been so lovingly smothered in a creamy cheese sauce and
baked. Reminisce of old British colonial days, this casserole dish is much loved
and usually made on special occasions.
Granny's Meatball Curry
: Meatballs in a coconut curry sauce made lovingly by Granny - an old-fashioned hand meat grinder was used to mince the meat... I don't think she will mind if store ground beef is used. Fresh packaged 'meatloaf' meat is also excellent for this dish.
Pork Rib Soup
: Pork spareribs are simmered and flavored with onions, cinnamon stick, cloves,
star anise and black peppercorns. Potatoes and carrots, sometimes cabbage and
green beans are added to this flavorful broth. This is one soup that is cooked daily in some Eurasian homes.
Hock Curry :
Smoked ham hocks,
usually imported as meats are rarely smoked in Southeast Asia, are cooked in a
curry. Chunks of smoked
ham hocks are simmered
for hours until tender and falling off the bones. Subtly smoky in flavor, this
is one of Daddy's specialtydish!
: Duck & Salted Vegetable Soup - this soupy dish is made with duck, usually
roasted duck, sour plums and Kiam Chye [salted
Chinese Mustard Greens, also called Sour Mustard. A great dish
to eat with steamed rice when you want to take a break from hot spicy foods.
Curry Feng :
Pork Mince Curry - Christmas
is not complete without Curry Feng. It is best eaten after being
refrigerated for a day or
two. This dish is made with pork, pig liver or innards. It is wonderful eaten
with crusty French loaf.
Cincaluk Sambal :
Baby Shrimp Sauce - tiny baby shrimps preserved
in brine, is a favorite Portuguese relish, sold in bottles. An acquired taste, cincaluk [also spelt cencaluk],
is usually savored as dipping sauce or condiment, by mixing it with fresh chilies, shallots and lime juice. An excellent
accompaniment to grilled
or barbecued fish
- Ikan Bakar.
Malaysian Chicken Curry
: is a
typical chicken curry cooked in almost all Malaysian homes. This basic recipe
Made in Malaysia
Curry Powder. It has just the right blend of spices for an authentic
curry! Some ingredients may vary - Eurasian homes might add
carrots, more potatoes or a dash of
is a typical
Made in Malaysia
It has just the
of spices for
mangoes and coconut milk.
Curry Puffs :
Indian samosas, puff
is cut into rounds
and folded over a filling of curried ground beef,
potatoes and peas.
Pineapple Jam Tarts :
a pastry tart, topped
with home made
Sugee Cake :
a 'pound cake' made with semolina or
roasted almonds. A favorite at teatime
nice cup of
hot milky tea!