Thursday, 24 May 2007
If They All Come from Chennai
Nasi Ganja Ipoh
Recently my auntie passed away in Ipoh and as part of the ritual for my immobilised uncle, I went and bought their favourite murtabak at the Ipoh Godown Kanteen in front of ICT. While waiting I heard one of the brothers has gone back to Chennai and that got me thinking, if the mamaks basically come from Chennai why are their recipes so different from each other. Case in point is their murtabak which is one of the rotis i missed out on my previous posting, maybe because it is easier for me to find good ones still. Their murtabak is still done in the old way, a mix of curried meat with onions and eggs, poured onto a piece of dried roti canai and let cooked on one side, before being turned and then the balance of the mix is poured onto the other side before being wrapped in roti canai and at the end brushed with ghee while cooking before being served. Quite different from the way it is done nowadays and this way you get the murtabak in layered form, a bit like lasagna and more filling than that of a grandised roti telur.
Talking about nasi kandar, I don't really eat this other than outside of Ipoh maybe because there are many other food options for me there. I only go to the mamak shops near my house but if the appetite strikes me, then I will go for the famous 'Nasi Ganja" in new town. This is unlike typical nasi kandar as they serve old style nasi kandar with coconut sambal/chutney. Where can find like this nowadays eh. My brother likes their ayam panggang but my hantu dish is definitely their daging masak hitam. The funny about me is I prefer to tapau their nasi than eating at the shop. You want to know why? It is because for me all the lauk and nasi becomes 'mesra' after being packed for some time, so the taste becomes one heh!heh!heh! The last time time i was there, I packed a few ayam panggangs, daging hitam and three udang besar and it only cost me less than RM50. No way I can get such pricing in KL. But anyway the fact is that in a town like Ipoh, there are so many ways nasi kandar is served, and that is not even talking about the various nasi kandar in Penang itself, where everyone has their favourite spot. So I do not want to go there :) And the most obvious thing to me is that nasi kandar in Malaysia seems to have two versions, the northern style starting from Perak onwards, and the rest like they have in KL southwards. I must say that I find the southern style less spicy and with less kick, and the only nasi kandar stalls that I really like are at Medina Restaurant in BB Plaza rooftop food court and previously the stadium nasi kandar(i do not know where they have gone nowadays, bummer). The other nasi kandar places I go only because it is near or because they serve good fish head curry, but this can be a talked about in a different post right.
What I will write about though is the pasembor. In the old days of Ipoh Padang, you can find many pasembor stalls bawah pokok manned by mamak chennai with different recipes , and it is up to you to choose which preparation you prefer. Again I personally like those available near my housing estate, but to this day only one stall has survived and that is because the owner has put down roots in Ipoh rather than balik kampung with his sons now taking turns manning the stall. Their mee mamak is also excellent. If you do not know, mee mamak is basically fried mee where they add chilli paste, vinegar and the pasembor gravy to the fry mix, that also includes the pasembor kueh or fritters and boiled potatoes. I prefer the dark version with extra soy sauce but usually you get the red version due to the chilli paste and gravy mix. But again the recipes seem to differ in the north and south. Most mee mamak south of Perak seems only to use chilli boh or paste in their preparation and only add light soya sauce. You can only find the fritters or boiled potatoes very rarely and there usually is no vinegar bite. So here usually you find red coloured mee mamak instead.
Well I believe you will notice that my main grouse between the northern mamak food and the southern version seems to be ingredients, or rather the lack of ingredients. In that case you have hit it on the spot and on that note I shall end, Ok.