Her World Tries: Cooking Nasi Lemak & Ayam Berempah

We joined a local cooking class to try our hand at making some classic Malaysian delicacies.

I like cooking… I just don’t cook often. My best dish: fancy instant noodles; boiled to a delightfully bouncy consistency, topped with cheese and a beautiful poached egg. It takes skill, honed over many pots of noodles, and I’m proud of it. Only, few (make that none) are ever impressed when I’m asked to elaborate what it is that I cook.

So, when the opportunity came up to whip up a few Malaysian delicacies in a cooking class, I said yes. And then made sure to rope in Eena, my editor-in-chief, who’s experienced in the kitchen. I figured, two heads (and two pairs of hands) are better than one. Booking through Airbnb – the class is one of many Airbnb Experiences – was easy, as always.

The spacious and organised kitchen table (Image from Sara Khong)

A few hours before we were due to arrive, Sara Khong, our host and instructor who’s also a food blogger and cookbook author, contacted us through the platform to ensure we could find our way to her cozy family home in KL. Yup, we’d be cooking in Sarah’s very own kitchen – fingers crossed I wouldn’t accidentally wreck it. Making nasi lemak and ayam berempah, more or less from scratch, sure sounded daunting.

Sara’s edible garden (Image from Sara Khong)

I didn’t have to worry, though. Sara is so sweet and friendly, she quelled my anxiety over a cup of welcome tea served with a piquant, leaf-wrapped appetiser. It’s heartening to hear that she sources most of her ingredients from small, local businesses. For example, the santan we used to cook nasi lemak came from a shop within her neighbourhood. She also tends to her own edible garden with over 50 herbs, spices, and flowers: no pesticides, and super-fresh!

Full concentration in prepping a mouth-watering meal

The cooking process was thankfully smooth (no accidental fires, phew!), with Sara patiently guiding me every step of the way. She doesn’t measure out each ingredient beforehand, believing the best way to learn – and have it stick in memory – is to do.

Eena trying her hand at wrapping nasi lemak (Image from Sara Khong)

Along the way, Sara passes on little tips and suggestions, either on making cooking easier or on bringing out the flavours. She also offers the option of blending the ingredients, or pounding them the old-fashioned way with a pestle and mortar.

Within 3 hours, we’d sat down with Sara for introductions, toured her garden, made nasi lemak (and wrapped it up), cooked ayam berempah, and pulled our own teh tarik. The sweetest bit, of course, is to sit down and savour the fruits of our labour. To sum it up in one word: delicious! I enjoyed every bite of my hard work, while Eena was especially impressed with Sara’s sambal recipe.

To ensure her students can replicate the dishes on their own, Sara sends each one home with a little booklet of recipes and cooking tips. So I can now say, I cook more than just fancy instant noodles.

To book this experience, click here. Check out the video below to see what happened during our class:


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