Tuesday 18 May 2010

Food, Music, Food, Music, Food, Music... Ad Infinitum

If you thought that my post about Malaysia a few weeks ago was the only account I was going to publish about my stay in that Asian nation, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but no. That was just the start. Tonight we tackle Malaysian cuisine (although the dish is originally from Indonesia) and next week is music's turn.

As I already mentioned in my previous post about Malaysia, the key word to describe its social make-up is 'mix' and so logically its cuisine tends to go in the same direction. The recipe I bring to you tonight comes originally from Indonesia but in KL I saw a very good version. Incidentally it is this version that appears in my cookbook 'A Taste of Southeast Asia', which I purchased in KL, and in it, it comes under... Indonesian cuisine. Over to you, my Malay brothers and sisters.

Roasted Chicken with Turmeric, Lemongrass and Coconut Juice


Chicken drumsticks (deboned)
Turmeric 20g
Lemongrass 2 stalks
Shallots 3
Garlic 2 cloves
A pinch of black pepper
Light soy sauce 1tbsp
Sugar 1tsp
Coconut juice 60ml
Assam water ½ tbsp
Cayenne ½ tbsp

Chop and rinse the turmeric, lemongrass, shallots and garlic. Rinse, drain the chicken drumsticks and mix with the previous ingredients as well as the black pepper, light soy sauce, sugar, coconut juice, assam water and cayenne. Marinate for three hours. Place the marinated chicken drumsticks on a baking rack. Cook in a preheated oven at 250°for 20 minutes. Remove and chop into chunks. Serve with rice (preferably Basmati) drumsticks. Mix with heavy music. And when it came to selecting the melodies for tonight's post my first thought was: my mp3 player. Because many a day I spent lounging by the pool at my brother-in-law's house when we were in Malaysia, listening to my mp3 player whilst reading 'The Female Eunuch' by Germaine Greer. So, the clips you're about to watch tonight have been short-listed from my always loyal mp3 player.

My first offering is a Cuban rap outfit that has done much to highlight the vigour and energy of the hip hop scene in my country of birth. This track, 'Represent', is from their debut album and it's spicy and filling, just like those drumsticks. Enjoy.

Now sit down, lie back and put your feet up because Lou Reed is 'Waiting For the Man'. Originally performed by The Velvet Underground, this version reminds me of how one marinates the chicken for the above recipe. Getting your hands filthy and sticky. No mess, no (good) cooking, in my humble opinion. Plus the album where the original song was included featured a banana (designed by one Andy Warhol) and that's food. So, tune and recipe are related. Thanks.

Continuing with acoustic pieces, we have Sinead O' Connor performing one of my favourite songs ever, 'A Perfect Indian'. When I hear this melody, I think of the food cooking slowly in my oven. I also think of the process of crafting a sensitive piece such as Sinead's and its close relationship to the art of cooking. And then the last line of the song comes back to me: 'And there's only one way to be free'. And that way, to me, is using your creativity.

In the same way that Brazil is a palette of different types of music, so is Malaysia an oblong board of different cultures. It should, then, not come as a surprise that in a post about Malay food I have included one of the most famous Brazilian songs ever, 'Aquarela do Brasil'. And what a marvellous cover version this one is! Enjoy.

© 2010

Next Post: 'Vacas/Cows' (Review), to be published on Thursday 20th May at 11:59pm (GMT)


  1. I think I might just have to make that chicken dish tomorrow for supper, it looks and sounds gorgeous and has some of my favourite flavours in it.

    I totally agree with you about freedom and creativity.

  2. Hello from Toronto CiL!
    That recipe sounds yummy and I have put it on my "must try" list - once I locate some assam water. Not sure what it might be but I am sure to find it in one of our "southeast asia" grocery stores.

    I too like to lace my cooking with a heavy dose of music. I appreciated you selections. My favourite? A Perfect Indian. Great song. Thank you for sharing it and the recipe.

    I don't nearly get enough time to visit your blog, but when I do I try and catch up a bunch of them... so it is on to the next! :)

  3. one of my first thoughts while reading and before receiving clarification, "he has a cookbook???" (as in, YOU published one :-)

    the thought lemongrass and coconut together makes me smile.

    --'And there's only one way to be free'. And that way, to me, is using your creativity.--

    i can concur with that.

  4. That I know is absolutely delicious and makes my mouth water and nose tinkle just thinking of the spices.

    It's amazing how you've married spicy Indian chicken curry with exotic music flavours into this post.

    it's all yummy..

  5. Sometimes I skip past your blog if I'm short on time but you hooked me in with the food photo. Ok, I need more info for the recipe--Assam water? and is coconut juice the same as coconut water?
    The Cuban and Brazilian music is very much to my liking.

  6. Yay, more on your travels! I was hoping to find out more about Indonesia. Thanks!


    PS: I'm a huge fan of Sinead O'Connor, was going to post a song of her last week but didn't because I got sidetracked.

  7. Our national anthem is Indonesian. Need I say more?

  8. Oh my God, Cubano, no me hagas ésto! I miss Malaysian food soooo much! We are supposed to go back in September but with the baby coming we will have to see... I LOVE asian food!

  9. Greetings from Boston. Pungent spices! Preparing and savoring new flavors is one way to experience another culture. Though I understand how some might cling to familiar food.

    Next time I cook I'll follow your example and turn up the music.

  10. Many thanks for your kkind comments.

    Congrats to you and your husband, Susana! :-)

    Greetings from London.

  11. Thanks for the recipe and the musical selections. I've made a version of this recipe..usually have most of these ingredients on hand..I like to be in the neighborhood of ethnic cuisine! Usually use breast of chicken..just last night+ brown rice..yummy!!

  12. Yum, that looks righteously tasty. We are trying to broaden our cooking horizons so will give this ride, assuming we can find the ingredients in Maine. I don’t usually like rap, but I liked the musicality of Represent. Lou Reed is classic. Sinead O’Connor’s music is so much softer than her appearance. The music from Brazil was lovely. You’ve served up a tasty array of food and music here on your blog.

  13. Welcome back, Mr. Cuban! This looks most delicious. I bet it would be good with chicken boneless chicken thighs, as well. I think I'll give it a whirl. You're in stellar food music food form!

  14. Music and food too? Awesome. I just got back from a program about traveling around the world. Sounds like you are living that dream. Lucky you!

  15. I used to live near a Malaysian & Indonesian restaurant - I kept meaning to try it, but then it closed down. So I need to try this cuisine!

  16. Makes me wish I had all the ingredients on hand already - with the music in the background. Or maybe the foreground. It's all delicious!

  17. I love your mix of songs and I agree the recipe sounds yummy, probably due to all those spices, I think I can substitute the chicken for tofu (since I'm vegetarian).



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