Owing to diverse culinary influences, Malaysian cuisine is as varied as it is delicious. From the Indonesian-born rendang to the fiery curries of India, to the much loved laska lemak: Malaysian food has earned its reputation as one of the tastiest cuisines on the planet.
- 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
- 20 curry leaves (2 sprigs) (see Note)
- 3 tsp Malaysian curry powder (see Note)
- 250 g tomatoes, chopped
- 3 tsp tamarind puree (see Note)
- 1–2 tsp brown sugar
- ½ red onion, sliced
- 120 g baby eggplant eggplant, cut into 1 cm thick slices
- 8 large green prawns, peeled, tails left on
- 2–3 tsp lime or lemon juice
- steamed brown rice to serve
- lime cheeks, to serve
- ½ red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1–2 long red chillies, chopped
- 1 tbsp chopped ginger
- 1 tsp shrimp paste (see Note)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Process all the paste ingredients in a small food processor until smooth. You will have to stop the machine a few times and scrape down the sides. Alternatively, use a mortar and pestle to pound to a smooth paste.
Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan over medium heat. Add the paste and curry leaves and cook, stirring, for 6–7 minutes until the paste starts to darken. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Increase the heat to high, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Pour in 250ml water, add the tamarind puree and palm sugar and bring to a simmer. Season with salt, cover and cook for 5 minutes.
Slice the remaining onion into half moons 3mm thick. Add the onion and eggplant to the wok and continue to cook, covered, for 7–8 minutes until tender. Add the prawns, reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 2–3 minutes until just cooked. Stir through enough lime juice to balance the flavour.
Serve immediately with steamed rice.
• Tamarind puree is available in the Asian aisle of most supermarkets and from Asian food stores.
• Shrimp paste, also called belacan, is a dried, fermented paste used widely in Asian cuisine. Available in Asian food stores and in the Asian section of most supermarkets.
Photography by Benito Martin. Styling by Lynsey Fryers. Food preparation by Suresh Watson.
Chopsticks, Vitro rice/noodle bowls and Robert Gordon wide tapas bowl all from The Chef and The Cook.