Let’s begin by saying that I’m a proud Malaysian, but I’m a sad excuse for one. I’ve only been to less than a handful of states but thankfully there’s Google, unfortunately I’m very wrong. I have a friend, one of my closest friends in fact, Zura, she helped me out with this article. Her mom is from Kedah so thankfully I’ve got my resources from a pure Kedahan. So here’s a shout out to Zura and her mom! Remember back in primary school we learned a subject called Kajian Tempatan (I think so)? If my rusty memory serves me well, that’s where we learned about Malaysian geography but then again, I was that kid in class that either slept a lot or graffitied my text book. But I digress, that text book taught me that Kedah is famous for paddy. Did you know that the government invested RM24.7 mil into the paddy museum in Alor Setar?!
Best part is it doesn’t even look like a typical museum, I swear it looks like some sort of planetarium. But Kedah is more than just a paddy field state, they’ve got their own fair share of nummy foods that we never knew about. Prepare your virtual forks and spoons for this one and let’s dig in.
One of the more known dishes in Kedah that we can find In KL would be Laksa Utara. Although in my opinion, the Laksa I’ve had here is not even close to the real ones in Kedah. KL has somehow made all the traditional dishes mainstream thanks to mass production, poor quality and failure to honor standard recipes. This is how I envision my dream bowl of Laksa, firstly I’ll get myself a roadie then drive to Kedah just to find a little mom and pop stall that has a “Laksa Kedah” banner on its front and a beautiful tranquil paddy field at the back. While sipping down on my Teh O Ais, my gut starts to wonder if the noodles used in the Laksa was freshly made, and I was right as my curiosity drives me to ask the Mak Cik that was makingthe aromatic fish broth. She makes her rice noodles from the produce of her very own paddy field. Minuteslater my Laksa would arrive and I watch the freshest ingredients in one bowl, home made rice noodle swimming in thick brown fish broth, topped with finely sliced cucumber and onions, mint and kesum
leaves, shredded lettuce from the garden and half a hard-boiled egg. Now that’s just perfect. Great I just made myself hungry.
Next in line would be one of my personal favourites, Gulai Nangka (Young Jackfruit Gulai). This dish isn’t
for everyone, the thought of a fruit in a savoury dish? Okay that image in your head is a ripe and sweet jackfruit, shake it off (No I’m not trying to promote Taylor Swift). If you don’t know how a young jackfruit tastes like, let me try to describe it. Picture a tasteless grey fleshy fruit. If that isn’t doing you justice then I just suck at describing. Anyway, Gulai is basically a yellowish-brown coconut milk-based curry, some are spicy and some are mild, depending on one’s preference. Gulai Nangka is usually mild, it is made from a mixture of ginger, galangal, turmeric, chili paste, lemongrass and young jackfruit.
If it wasn’t because of this article, I wouldn’t have heard of this next dish, Pekasam. I honestly thought it was candy, yes, curse my dumb city girl butt. Pekasam is actually fermented freshwater fish usually eaten deep fried or as a side dish paired with rice. I know Tempoyak and Cencalok but Pekasam? this is new information.
Let’s get down to the sweet stuff. Have you heard of Kuih Karas? I didn’t until I saw the photos on Google. I knew right off the bat that I’ve had this before, I even remember the taste! Sweet, crispy and messy. It looks like as if a Roti Jala was deep fried till golden brown, but its veins were much finer and tastes sweet.
Just don’t drop it because you’ll understand what I mean by messy. Now for this next dessert, I bet all that I own (which isn’t much) that you’ve never heard of this one, Kuih Bunga Pudak. I have never seen anything like this in my life. At a glance it looks like Turkish Delight and Coconut Candy had a baby. It is actually little squares covered in white skin, the skin is made of glutinous flour and the filling is coconut (the baby analogy was half right). I really need to get myself to Kedah, my curiosity is killing me.
There you go, Kedah’s traditional nummies for your tummies. Drop us a message here at Kedah Pages, we’d love to hear your take and suggestions on Kedah’s traditional dishes and candies. Till next time!