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Friday February 22, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 17, 2013 MYT 12:02:25 PM
NEW YORK: Despite the fierce icy winds that usually blow across the east coast during this time of the year, the two-day Malaysian Winter Market (MWM), which kicked off Wednesday at New York's Bryant Park, attracted large crowds of New Yorkers.
The hottest selling items were, of course, Malaysian dishes and also spice blends especially created by a Malaysian food technologist-cum-author of cookbooks.
The highlight of the MWM is the Malaysian Kitchen Programme which purports to push Malaysian cuisine with the cooperation of seven Malaysian restaurants based in the Tri-State area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
The event, which runs from 11.30am until 2.30pm for lunch and from 5.30 until 9.00pm for dinner, attracted crowds as the aroma of the freshly prepared food seemed to overwhelm the guests who were eager to try out everything ranging from curried prawns through the "mee" noodle varieties to the rich-gravy laden rendang.
Auria Abraham, a Malaysian whose specialty is authentic Malaysian home-cooked food, had a long line of customers who stopped by at her stall on their way home after work.
"I am happy with the response to my dishes," she told Bernama, and added that it had been a satisfying day.
Besides Auria, other restaurants that showcased their dishes were Fatty Crab, Laut, Nyonya, Penang, Bentara and Wichcraft, besides three vendors.
Susheela Raghavan, a Klang-born author of a book called "Flavours of Malaysia: A Journey Through Time, Tastes and Traditions", who also has her own spice blends sold under the brand "Taste of Malacca", was busy selling her book and spice blends.
The long line of inquisitive New Yorkers at Raghavan's stall was an elegant testimony to the popularity of her products.
Raghavan, who has a Master degree in Food Science from the University of Reading, United Kingdom, told Bernama that she developed her "deep passion" for food and cultures after working internationally in food-product development, holding classes on global cuisine for chefs and cooks, teaching at New York University, and authoring a spice reference book "Handbook of Spices, Seasonings and Flavuorings".
She also writes a blog about her global travels
"My book Flavours of Malaysia was first released two years ago. It celebrates the best of the Malaysian table: sizzling satay, flavuorful stir-fries, fragrant rice and noodle dishes, aromatic curries, and Malaysia's signature hot and spicy condiments, the delectable sambal," she said.
But, she emphasised, her book is "much more than just about blending and mixing of spices".
"It also explains, in anecdotal historical terms, the evolution of the Malaysian cuisine which has absorbed foreign influences, particularly the strong Chinese and Indian influences. For centuries, Malaysia was a major centre of the spice trade in Southeast Asia.
"Over time, Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Indonesian and Arab influences, intermingled with Dutch, Portuguese and British elements, blended beautifully to create the melange of cultures and intensely vibrant flavours that is Malaysian cuisine today," she said.
Raghavan said that her Taste of Malacca Spice Blends had sold well on the opening day of the MWM.
She also gave a live cooking demonstration before the afternoon crowds, explaining to them the intricacies of preparing Curry Kapitan which also is a mirror-like representation of the melting-pot character Malaysian society.
"I chose this particular type of curry because it is also a culinary representation of Malaysia's diversity. My spice blends Curry Malaysia, SattayKajang and MeeGoreng (Malaysian Spicy Noodles) evoked the interest of the guests who had lined up at my booth," she said.
Besides the food and the spices, an added attraction at the MWM was a series of traditional Malaysian dances in colourful costumes presented by female dancers of the Oshe Dance Group led by Esther DeCew, a New York based Malaysian who teaches and performs Malaysian traditional dances. - Bernama
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