Nyonya dishes and desserts
It’s no secret that the decadent dishes of the Peranakan cuisine are notoriously difficult to prepare. They are infamous for taking hours to prep and cook. These days, you’ll hardly find anyone casually cooking them at home — it’s always a restaurant affair.
Since dining out is out and eating in is in, why not try your hands at these Peranakan recipes. A fair warning that these recipes are not the easiest, but we’re sure that your grandparents would be more than impressed at your effort.
In fact, why not ask them for help? It’ll make for a good bonding experience, plus open your eyes to secret family cooking tips that may not be listed here. Peranakan food doesn’t have to be so out of reach!
P.S. If you learn any great cooking tips from your grandparents, be sure to share them in our Facebook cooking community!
– Mains –
1. Babi Pongteh
This comforting traditional dish will leave your usually small-eater grandmother and mother grabbing for seconds and thirds. Many of us shun braising anything, for fear of burning the dish, but all will be well if you follow this recipe closely! Plus, the luscious dark sauce and soft tender pork that comes out will be worth it. Dress it over a bowl of steaming, fluffy white rice to complete the dish.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes. Serves: 4 pax.
2. Kari Kapitan with Roti Jala
Looking to zhng up your regular curries? Or just trying to recreate restaurant-level dishes? Look no further, for this recipe was specially curated by a peranakan chef, Chef Arlene, from Shin Gi Tai for the regular cooks. This mouthwatering dish pairs immaculately with the Roti Jala introduced within. Get ready to get your hands dirty — legend says eating with your hands makes everything taste better.
Preparation Time: 1 hour. Serves: 6 pax.
3. Ayam Buah Keluak
According to Lonely Planet, did you know that ayam buah keluak is reportedly one of late Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and his son, Lee Hsien Loong’s favourite dishes? This might not be EXACTLY the same but you can bet your rice that your Peranakan grandmother will be thoroughly impressed by this super easy-to-make dish. It’s so simple that the hardest part about this would be cracking the buah keluak open. Complete this dish with a bowl of steamed rice for a delicious and unforgettable meal!
Preparation Time: 5 hours. Serves: 3-4 pax.
4. Nyonya Chap Chye
Can’t forget a side of vegetables if we’re trying to make this a complete meal! Oh, to be a glossy glass noodle bathing in a bed of flavourful cabbage, wood ear fungus, and crispy beancurd strips. While Peranakan families have their ancestors to tell them whether or not there’s enough soybean paste or salt in this dish, the rest of us don’t —so here’s your handy dandy guide to creating a staple dish that even the most picky eaters will enjoy.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes. Serves: 4-6 pax.
– Desserts –
5. Kueh Dadar
Kueh Dadar or Kueh Ketayap, is a bright green rolled crepe filled with grated coconut steeped in gula melaka that many of us have eaten growing up. The delightfully sweet filling is slightly nutty with the coconut and delicate enough that you can gobble down many of these at a go. You can’t go wrong with gula melaka and coconut, a pairing often seen in desserts, so why not indulge yourself and your family in this delectable version?
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes Serves: 12 pieces
6. Ondeh Ondeh
A swell Peranakan time will not be complete without one of Singapore’s favourite desserts, Ondeh Ondeh. Who would’ve thought that it would be so easy to make such a decadent and nostalgic dessert?
Pro Tip: Lightly oil your hands to prevent the dough balls from sticking to your palms and fingers when rolling them.
Total Time: 30 minutes Serves: 4-5 pieces
7. Kueh Talam
Behold, another green dessert. (It seems like the Peranakans really love their pandan juice.) We’re not complaining, though. The sweetness of the firm agar-like pandan layer is cut through by the slightly salty coconut layer. It’s a definite match made in heaven. This savoury and sweet dessert is perfect for an afternoon pick-me-up when paired with either hot or cold tea.
Total Time: 50 minutes Serves: 12 pieces
Good, authentic Peranakan food in Singapore is so hard to find, but it doesn’t mean they’re difficult to emulate! Try your hands out on these simple recipes and who knows, you might finally have your Peranakan dishes be grandma-approved.
For more inspiration, check out our specially curated Nyonya Food Playlist here.
Some other recipes you might like:
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