THERE is no contest when it comes to mum’s cooking.
This Ramadan, Checkers Cafe at Dorsett Kuala Lumpur rides on the culinary delights their housekeeping coordinator, Norashikeen Hassan, has been dishing up for her family.
A motherly figure to all, Norashikeen’s recipes were chosen for this year’s Masakan Bonda Ramadan buka puasa promotion in recognition of her two decades of service with the hotel group.
As star of this year’s buffet theme, Norashikeen’s family’s favourites include evergreen dishes such as assam laksa, squid kerabu, Minang-style chicken rendang, catfish in fermented durian and spicy oxtail soup served with black seed bread.
“My children still yearn for my cooking even though they have grown up and left home. Whenever they have cravings, they will call me and I’ll cook something for them. That’s when the whole family gathers for a feast,” said this mother of three who hails from Negri Sembilan.
Attention to detail is the philosophy behind this year’s buffet spread, said junior sous chef Faizal Abd Wahid.
Upon Norashikeen’s insistence, they had to eschew the use of supermarket-bought varieties for the shrimp paste. This required the kitchen team to scour through the list of shrimp paste makers to find one that suited her requirements.
Fortunately, Faizal, who hails from Melaka, knew a shrimp paste maker from his hometown who fits the bill.
Pinching a bit from the block, Faizal invited us to take a sniff of the soft, pinkish mass.
Spotted with the black dots of shrimp eyes, it was neither overly pungent nor salty. Subtle in aroma but rich in flavour, this is what goes into the making of the kerabu dishes and sauces accompanying the traditional herbs and salads.
About 5kg of it is specially delivered to the hotel kitchen every week.
To give the buffet spread a grander festive touch, the team added dishes from other states and tweaked everyday items to tempt diners.
Faizal is especially proud of the deep-fried tempeh which is coated with an aniseed flavoured batter so that they taste like Indian pakora.
In following an Asian-themed spread, the roast lamb served with briyani rice, dhall and baked seabass and snapper in a spicy curry marinade are the highlights of the spread.
These are followed by an array of main courses featuring deep-fried quail with spices, lala in preserved bean sauce, Penang-style red snapper head curry, beef dendeng and poached duck eggs in turmeric and a rich coconut gravy, to name a few.
Faizal reveals the base notes in these dishes require the use of dry and wet spices.
Onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger are the main ingredients in a wet spice mix while dried chillies, rosemary and parsley, cardamom, star anise, cinnamon and clove are used in the dry mixes.
Preference is for fresh turmeric instead of the powdered varieties for better digestion and nutritional value.
Dessert lovers, watch out for the creamy creme brulee which slides across the palate like silk. Also of note is the cheesecake, exceptional in its light and fluffy texture.
The Ramadan buffet is priced at RM118 nett per person with 50% discount for children aged between four and 12 and senior citizens above 55.
- CHECKERS CAFE, DORSETT KUALA LUMPUR, 172, Jalan Imbi, Kuala Lumpur. (Tel: 03-2716 1010). Business hours: 6am to 11pm, daily.
- This is the writer’s observation and not an endorsement by StarMetro.