Thanks to Li Hsian, who had kindly put together this little cooking soiree, on a lazy Saturday morning. The chosen ones were Me, of course, A lil fat monkey, Awhiffoflemongrass, (thereinafter referred to as Thamby), Pure Glutton, Babe in the City KL, Audrey of Audrey Cooks, and Alice Yong, foodwriter and blogger.
We were greeted by Wati, Rohani's able assistant, and proceeded to shoot everything in sight, because it was just screaming out to be shot. (by a camera, I mean).
The lovely Bayan Indah in Sg Penchala. It used to be Rohani's home, which is now converted to a Kampung Homestay Bed & Breakfast, and also venue for her Culinary Classes. Sprawled over an acre, it has herb and vegetable gardens that Rapunzel's mother would have sold her soul for. Almost every conceivable herb in spawned in this veritable Eden.
Despite her credentials, Rohani is so very down to earth, hilarious, witty, and puts us all at ease with her natural warmth and hospitality. Her animated repartee keeps us awestruck while listening about how she started it all....our group of floggers, all familiar to one another, of course had a gala time chipping into the conversation, no holds barred.
We are divided into groups of 2, and it's a Hands On Class. I felt like a student in Hogwarts, all those herbs in herbology, and rival houses. For the sake of ease of reference, I'll call us Gryffindor, the team of Thamby and Babe are Slytherin, of course, since they are EVIL, (or rather, just Thamby was), Pure Glutton, Audrey and Alice are Hufflepuff.
Rohani's recipes are easy to follow, and in a matter of minutes of us donning on our aprons, the kitchen (incidentally, my DREAM KITCHEN...spacious, airy, bright, lots of work surfaces, well equipped...sigh..dreamy look) was filled with splendid aromas of various herbs frying away.
She demonstrates to us some basics, like how to de-vein a prawn with grace and dignity, how to shred the cornucopia of herbs that go into the nasi kerabu, finely, ...not the size of selimuts (blankets)...and valuable cooking tips like how to slice dried chillies minimize the de-seeding process. Will I share those secrets here? Nahhhh.....
She demonstrates how to chop up a Jantung Pisang (banana flower) with the dexterity of a Cardio Surgeon.
Somewhere in the cooking process, we suspect the Slytherin team had sabotaged us, because our gravy for the Ayam Percik seemed pale, compared to their gorgeously crimson red. Thamby must've nicked a chilli or two from our bowl. However, in the end, after some help of evaporation, ours turned out JUST AS NICE.
Looks delish dont it!
Almost effortlessly and flawlessly, we put together our Udang Masak Lemak with Nenas (Prawns in Coconut Milk with Pineapple), thanks to Monkey's speedy deveining of the prawns, and deftness at following the recipe.
The Cekur Manis dish, (Cekur is a stalk vegetable, from the same stalk as Sabah Shee Chai Choy, and has no known english name, but probably has some latin genus name like Cekura Phallacia something something)...so easy to put together and so gloriously beautiful. One just feels HAPPY LOOKING AT THIS DISH. Our version was with pumpkin, while the Slytherins was with sweet potato.
Monkey tasting the fruits of his labour.
Now, while we had finished all OUR 3 recipes, Thamby and Babe were still struggling with the slicing of their kerabu herbs. Put it this way la, if Thamby were to open a cafe selling nasi kerabu, she'll be bankrupt before Malaysia in 2019, if we dont remove our subsidies. Heck, she'll be bankrupt by the end of the week. Slicing the herbs at the speed of snails spawning... not very time efficient. We kindly offered to take over, so that they could get along with making their green balls with gula melaka filling. (Ondeh ondeh). More tips from the guru as to how to puree pandan, to get the maximum amount of juice. The scent of screwpine is dizzying... it just so comforting.
Rohani demonstrates how to roll and make the balls.
After laborious slicing of herbs to micro millimeter thin strips, the nasi kerabu is ready to be tossed. Doing it by hand is the best way.
Nothing like a good toss with the hands. This is the other team tossing their nasi kerabu. Isn't it just gorgeous? The kaleidescope of colours, completely embellishing a combination of basmati and beras wangi, (fragrant rice), to create such a beautiful dish. And most importantly, its healthy as well!!!
And FINALLY, lunch is served!!!!
The final product, Kerabu Jantung Pisang. Splendid. The older outer layers of the banana flower make for a wonderful serving receptacle.
Ayam Percik. Grilled under a hot grill, to give it that final charred flavour, soaking in a spicy herbaceous gravy that goes together with the nasi kerabu like a match made in heaven.
Udang Masak Lemak... Who would've thought that this tasty dish is so easy to put together?!!
Cekur Manis with Pumpkin and Prawns. The sweetness of the sweet potato, the leafiness of the cekur, the succulence of the freshwater prawns, divine.
Nasi Kerabu in a rustic salad bowl. Isn't this simply beyond description?!
And to finish, ondeh ondeh for dessert. Lovely green balls nestled in a banana leaf wrap, and lengkuas leaf (galangal leaf) wrap. The delightful flavour of palm sugar popping in your mouth with the slightly savoury coconut, and that pandanus filled dough, simply fabulous.
This was MY lunch plate. And trust me, one helping was NOT enough.
Now, if you were to attend just ONE cooking class in your whole life, it HAS to be at Bayan Indah. The complete experience, Rohani herself, the gorgeous surrounds, the fabulous recipes, the dream kitchen, honestly, this is THE place!
Check out the website HERE. Priced at around RM220 per class, it is darn good value, because it usually comprises a few recipes, it's hands on, you get to have a fabulous meal after. I highly recommend it. Oh, and in case I haven't said it enough, ROHANI JELANI RAWKS!!! She is my new idol for 2010!!!
Thanks soooo much for having us, Rohani, and special thanks to Li Hsian for hooking us up. I owe you big time.
In addition to the 4 bedrooms which are available for rental, in that quaint village surroundings, there is also a seminar room, which has THIS as a view. Pretty as a picture ain't it.
So far, only Pure Glutton has posted about it. HERE.