March, 2022 - Enak Virtual cooking class no. 6 with Ana of LaZat 'Chicken Curry Kapitan & Roti Jala'

Cooking is all about love! 
By Antoinette Gustini

LaZat virtual cooking class 10 March 2022

Lunch with Ana fronting LaZat Cooking school’s virtual class was a delight! We were treated to some Malaysian favourites; Kapitan Chicken Curry and Roti Jala.

Cooking is all about love, which sums up Ana’s approach to cooking - it feeds her soul! Her eyes lit up as she recounted traditions that have been passed down through generations. She detailed an anecdote about unmarried young women tapping a stirring spoon on their arm, rather than on the side of the pot while cooking, to avoid making noise, fearing they would not find a husband if they could not cook gently and quietly!! (YIKES!) 

Ana’s style of cooking is very tactile. She talked about massaging herbs and leaves to extract their aromatic oils, and relies heavily on her sense of smell. Particularly when making a curry paste, she insisted it could be left to simmer on the stove, while you carried on with other duties, until you could smell the aroma, telling you the paste was fragrant and ready.
She recounted the colourful history of the name ‘kapitan’ curry, telling us it was a melting pot of three cultures; Malaysian, Indian and Chinese, each community bringing individual flavours to the dish. Fresh flavours like shallots, turmeric, galangal and ginger came from the Malay; deeper spices like cumin, fennel and coriander from the Indian; and a sweetness and lightness from the Chinese, who were not keen on too much spice at the time the dish was created. The dish developed aboard a cruise ship, where it was cooked for the ship’s captain, hence the name kapitan!

Ana spoke about how spoiled Malaysians are when it comes to food and food preparation. A throw back from the days before refrigeration, it was necessary to prepare meals fresh, three times a day, to prevent ingredients spoiling. It has become an expectation to have food prepared fresh, rather than cooking in bulk or having leftovers. That’s a healthy philosophy I can adopt!

Learning to make the Roti Jala, which translates as ‘bread net’ proved quite the challenge. Using a small cup with nozzles at the bottom or the side, you had to work quickly, pouring a pancake-like mix into a hot, oiled pan and swirling it around, creating a thin ‘net’ like crepe, which you then folded and rolled, creating a vessel to scoop and mop up curry juices!

I decided to cook along and had my work cut out for me just to keep up! I love Ana’s passion and commitment to her craft. She makes it look easy and insists anyone can do it! 

If you crave some Malaysian delights, Lavender cafe serves breakfast and lunch buffet style on Monday to Friday in a beautiful outdoor setting. Her menu serves local cuisine Monday through Thursday with a western selection available on Fridays. Ana is off chasing a new dream, but has laid down a solid foundation with general manager Chee Kiat at the helm! She also has ready-made curry pastes available for purchase if you want the love, but don’t have the time to make your own. Try Ana’s for a taste of home!