I was recently invited to a Cooking Workshop by one of the PR firm representing Doubletree by Hilton. The cooking class / workshop was conducted by two chefs who came all the way from "Makan Kitchen", Doubletree by Hilton's signature restaurant with 350 seats located at Level 11.
Talking about Hilton, my colleagues and I know exactly how many Hiltons are there in Malaysia. I have a colleague (we nickname him Miles in the office!) who is a frequent flyer miles and hotel points collector! 'Miles' happens to be a Hilton Honors member and he tries all his might to retain his Gold membership level. I am sure you have read about points and miles junkies, 'Miles' happen to be a real life person that does that!
During our lunch time, 'Miles' will be talking about Hiltons in the places he will visit for his next holiday. If you are familiar with the Hilton Honors program, you will know that there are certain stays you need to fulfill to retain your membership level. The cheapest way to get those few nights will be in Hilton Malaysia if you are living in Singapore!
So, do you know how many Hiltons are there in Malaysia? 4 Hiltons and now 1 Doubletree by Hilton hotel. I was once like 'Miles' but probably with just 1/8 of his enthusiasm. I was once a Gold Member too and with that I got free upgrades to the Executive Floor and yes, free flow of food and drinks and somehow they address you by your family name! I have stayed a few times in both PJ Hilton and Hilton Kuching, once at Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse, probably the most unique Hilton in the world!
Now in Kuala Lumpur, there is the DoubleTree by Hilton, which is one of the many brands of the Hilton group. For foodies who loves to go for Hotel Buffets, if you happen to be in KL, visit the Makan Kitchen. This locally inspired restaurant serves six different kinds of local cuisines, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan, and even Kristang and Iban delights!
Our teachers for that night, Chef Prem Kumar from Ipoh and Chef de Cuisine Ahmad Nurul Azri from Selangor.
We always see chefs wearing white chef hats, but these guys are all in black! I was naughty and asked them who is taking care of the kitchen there? They have an army of chefs there taking care of things. Do you know they prepare over 150 local dishes across 3 interactive kitchens? I am so interested to try the Kristang (mixed cuisine of the Portuguese-Malaccan community) and Iban cuisines!
Two dishes that are available from Makan Kitchen were demonstrated first by the chefs and with the ingredients in front of our own cooking stations, we replicated it. There was a competition too which we only found out when we were about to cook. 'Oh oh...' I thought in my mind. There's a lady, Mak-Fly on the front station that we found out is a cooking teacher! Two person whom I know cooks really well, Maameemoomoo and CookSnapEatLove were there too. I also know DanielFoodDiary and Aimakan cooks too! There were people I already know that was there. There were others!
Chef Azri told us this dish is a very simple dish and it originated from Negeri Sembilan. The original recipe had fewer ingredients. Here's the recipe:
Ingredients (for 10 persons serving):
Flower crabs (cut into half) 400 gm
Coconut Milk 90 ml
Water 40 ml
Turmeric leaves, thinly sliced 15 gm
Tamarind, peeled 12gm
Lemongrass 10 gm
Turmeric, fresh 25gm
Bird eye chilli (cili padi) 30gm
Shallots (optional) 15 gm
Galangal (optional) 10gm
Green chilli (optional) 10gm
Guess what? Everyone had a blender on their station and I had none! They ran out it. Since Chef demonstrated the dish using the stone mortar and pestle, I went to grab one too. I did not want to waste time waiting for the rest to finish using theirs.
Oh man.. hard work! Pounding ingredients can be so tiring!
It was even more tiring as I was cooking and taking all these photographs at the same time? One with a DSLR and the same photos on the iPhone which some of you might have seen the photos appearing live on Instagram and Twitter while I cooked!
In a pot, put in the blended ingredients, lemongrass, water and crabs and let it simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes. We noticed there was no oil was used. The chef said there was no need to!
While the crabs were simmering, thinly cut the turmeric leaves.
I seldom see turmeric leaves, but you can buy them from the wet markets.
I also cut the tomatoes first and I did not used up all the cili padi that was provided. It would be crazily spicy to used them all up!
Throw in the tamarind first and after a while, put in the thinly sliced turmeric leaves. The moment the leaves went in, a fragrant smell whiffs up! I can remember the smell as I look at this photo now.
The tomatoes are supposed to be for garnish in the recipe, but I prefer cooked tomatoes so I threw them in.
When chef came to 'inspect', he added more water in to my pot. It seems the heat was too high and the sauce has evaporated quite a bit. More sauce is needed because there's still the coconut milk to go in.
Add in the coconut milk and some salt, pepper to taste. A tiny bit of sugar and stock powder is optional. Let it cook for 3-4 minutes.
Here it is, the dish I whipped up. The sauce is a bit milky and light tasting.
Looks good? I used the leftover ingredients to 'decorate' the dish.
It's so simple, you can try it at home.
If it's too hassle, head to Makan Kitchen to eat lah.....
Next to demonstrate for us was Chef Prem and his creation the Jingga Malai. When we saw the ingredients and see him preparing it, we were all kind of salivating! The marinate was so good to eat it by itself! This dish goes very well with biryani rice or naan bread.
After we watch the chef, it was our turn to try. The ingredients on my cooking station.
Ingredients (for 10 persons serving):
Tiger prawns 22 pieces
Cumin powder 15gm
Garam masala 15 gm
Lime Juice 10 ml
Plain yoghurt 100 gm
Salt 35 gmBlack Pepper 10 gm
Cooking cream 70 ml
Cream Cheese 100 gm
Ginger, cleaned 25 gm
Red onion, peeled 30 gm
Garlic, peeled 10 gm
Bird eye chilli 15 gm
I shared the blender with Jacob from CookSnapEatLove. We put both our portions of ingredients and blended them. We then took half of it each.
A few pulze and this was it. It's cream cheese and I tell you it tasted really good just like this! With the cili padi, it's spicy and kind of addictive! Like having cili padi and spice ice cream!
Marinate the tiger prawns with the cumin powder, garam masala, black pepper, salt and lime juice.
The prawns were 'butterflied' so that it won't curl when it's cooked.
The blended marinate, massaged it all in! Wrap the naked prawn with these cream cheese blend! As much as you like! Though the chef says not too much, it might not look too pretty when it's cooked.
Marinate it for 45 minutes. We did not have time to wait, we waited 5 minutes and off it went into the oven that had been pre-heated at 190 C! Bake the prawns for between 8 to 12 minutes. Baking time depends on the size of your prawns.
This was how I plated my dish. Used the leftover turmeric leave as the base to give it some green.
When you bake the prawns, you will notice the prawn juice and lots of extra browned cream cheese sauce. Mix them up and you can have a 'dip' that taste nicer.
(The idea was from Jacob. He was even better by adding super fine lemon zest into the dip.)
The other view of the prawn. The prawn juice was oozing out and it looked kind of pretty, which was not planned but probably earned some brownie points for deco / plating.
Guess what? I won the cooking competition for the night.
Both the chefs thought my 'replication' of the dish tasted the most authentic and the plating was neat and clean too.
The prize was a 2 night stay at Doubletree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur!
Thank you chefs for picking me! I am going to visit the Makan Kitchen! I bought my air tickets!
For the coming holidays, if you are heading to Kuala Lumpur, why not try out Makan Kitchen?
You can choose from a selection of local delights from the a la carte menu or have the full Makan Kitchen Experience where you can savour over 150 local dishes.
The Full Makan Kitchen Experience is priced at:
Lunch: RM59++ per adult / RM29.50++ per child below 12 years old.
Dinner: RM79++ per adult / RM39.50++ per child below 12 years old.
On weekends, there's the Malaysian High Tea with over 60 classic favourites, priced at:
RM45++ per adult / RM22++ per child below 12 years old.
More info at www.makan-kitchen.com
Doubletree by Hilton Kuala Lumpur
182 Jalan Tun Razak
50400 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603 2171 7272