Nasi Kerabu & fiery realisations
A passage written with a very satiated belly full of sambal fire.
Kafe Kleptokrat | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
This fantastic Nasi Kerabu is like that bite of salted egg to the mush of emotions I am currently wading through.
One of my favourite ingredients in Nasi Kerabu is its salted egg.
First, you have some very spicy, tangy sambal coating a mouthful of deceivingly simple, fragrant ulam rice. Some crunchy onions and fresh herbs.
Then there’s chicken rendang - creamy, nutty, thick. Some spiced fried chicken - incredibly tender within a crust of spice. And some smoky ayam salai (smoked chicken) which (I’ve no idea why) reminded me of the delicious stringy cheese I used to have as a child.
Nasi Kerabu is a traditional Malay dish - 'kerabu' stands for the usually raw herb salad eaten with the rice. Kleptokrat's version features the kerabu salad & various chicken condiments with a side of ulam rice - a mixture of steamed rice, various herbs and vegetables.
Onto the Lontong -
More thick tofu rendang. Serunding (spicy grated coconut) topped the kuah kacang (peanut sauce) in a wonderful nutty, textural explosion. And wait - this is only the topping to sticky rice dumplings below, coated, in another pungent, delicious sambal.
Lontong generally is a coconut-milk based vegetable soup with compressed rice cakes known as 'Nasi Impit' in Malaysia - cooked in bamboo cylinders and wrapped in banana leaf. Beware: these are small, but VERY FILLING. This is the dry version of the usual 'Lontong' - whereby its coated in thick, sambal umami.
Oh, the flavours, the layers!
Finally, a bite of that salted egg. An ingenious palate cleanser that not only elevates it, but also cuts neatly through all that taste- for your next bite of wonders.
Thus far, 2023 has sent me through a string of cities and constant changes in my environment, career, and relationships. In my great inability to multitask, the identity I built up started breaking, scattering bits and pieces as time went on. Leaving the current me lost, confused, lonely, frustrated.
I stopped posting simply because food no longer brought the joy it used to. Food became an affair I had to hurry through simply to get on with work. Eating out over the weekends was simply a quick remedy to the sameness of the everyday. What used to be adventures were reduced to hollow activities to pass the time.
It took some time to realise that food was such an adventure because it was the heart of so many conversations with different people - stories of cultures, of words where we found solace, companionship, and ourselves.
To be honest, I’ve no conclusion to this passage that I wrote in emotional hurry - well, other than this cafe serves some really incredible traditional Malay dishes that I do very highly recommend that you check out.
And I guess, keep calm and eat sambal?
Perhaps this is simply another (of many) first steps - to get some desperate words out of my head.