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All about Penang & more

Penang today is very much an amalgam of the old and the new – a bustling port, a heritage city and an industrial base. Perhaps it has more to offer per square mile than any other place in the world. For sheer variety of locales, cultures and foods, Penang is hard to beat. Here are stories about Penang and more.

Make your own ketupat daun palas (boiled rice wrapped in palm leaves)

Ketupat © Adrian Cheah

The most popular types of ketupat found in Malaysia are ketupat nasi (made with plain rice) and ketupat daun palas (made with glutinous rice). Both varieties are wrapped in palm leaves and then boiled in water until cooked. It is said that ketupat daun palas originated from the northern states – Penang, Kedah and Perlis while ketupat nasi is more popular in Perak.

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Ramadhan – a time for reflection

Ramadhan © Adrian Cheah

Once again, Ramadhan, the holiest of months for Muslims, is almost upon us. The ninth month of the Muslim year is strictly observed by all Muslims as a month of fasting (and abstinence) during which they would abstain from the pleasures of eating, drinking and carnal desires and actions from sunrise to sunset. Ramadhan usually lasts from 29 to 30 days, after which Muslims celebrate Id-al-Fitr (Hari Raya Puasa in the local language). Fasting is one of the five basic duties of Islam.

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Traditional Malay cooking at Lagenda Café in the heart of George Town

Lagenda Café © Adrian Cheah

The key signature in traditional Malay cuisine is definitely the generous use of local herbs, spices and belacan (shrimp paste). Coconut milk is also added to Malay dishes to enrich them with a creamy finish. In Penang, as well as the northern states of Malaysia, Malay cooking has further integrated Thai flavours. Meats and seafood are usually marinated with a special blend of herbs and spices before being cooked. Vegetables are often stir-fried and some eaten raw always with sambal belacan. I love Malay dishes because of their strong, spicy and aromatic oomph. For an authentic Malay feast, head down to Lagenda Café.

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Fanning the flames of satay

Satay © Adrian Cheah

Satay is an example of how Penang cuisine was greatly influenced by the Arabs who came here to trade from the Middle East. Some say that this dish has Turkish roots. Be that as it may, satay has been available in Malaysia for many years already and is synonymous with Malay cuisine.

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The Maker – offering eye-candy temptations of sweet treats and pastries

The Maker © Adrian Cheah

The Maker, located along upper Beach Street in George Town, first opened its doors to the public in March 2020. It offers fabulous-looking desserts and pastries from shortcakes to croissants and from tarts to breads. It is a heaven for those who relish sweet treats. There is a display glass counter that flaunts lovely beauties unapologetically. Let us dive in and take a closer look at some of The Maker's popular desserts.

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Penang ban chien kuih, filled with grounded peanuts, creamed corn and more

ban chang kuih © Adrian Cheah

Ban chien kuih, a popular street snack in Penang is easily available throughout the state. In Hokkien, ban chien kuih 慢煎粿 (or ban cien koay, ban chean kueh, ban chang kuih or ban jian kway) literally means "slow-fried cake".

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The Tamarra takes off this Ramadhan

Tamarra © Adrian Cheah

The Tamarra is the latest addition to Shad Kamarulzaman's string of restaurants which include Irama Dining, Sutera and Lagenda Cafe. Not resting on his laurels, he brings yet another inspiring dining destination to Penang, this time serving modern Malay gastronomy. However, for the month of Ramadhan, The Tamarra is proud to present "Senandung Rasa by the Sea".

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Irama Dining, the rhythm of a fresh and modern dining experience

Irama Dining © Adrian Cheah

Penang is truly a food paradise. One can find almost everything under the sun here on this tropical island including good Malay food. Dining at Irama is a game-changer for me. The strong, aromatic and distinct Malay-style cooking is combined with the rich flavours of local herbs and spices. The food presentation is masterful and the dining room is tastefully elegant.

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Lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo)

Lemang © Adrian Cheah

Although lemang is available all year round, it is nonetheless an exceptionally special dish during Hari Raya open house. Although the preparation seems simple enough, cooking lemang requires an open area with plenty of ventilation – which is why people just prefer to buy lemang rather than attempt to make it themselves.

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Acheen Street Mosque, priceless legacy of the Penang Muslim community

Acheen Street Mosque © Adrian Cheah

The history of the Acheen Street mosque (also known as the Malay mosque), began in 1792, which marked the arrival of its founder Tengku Syed Hussain Al-Aidid who had come from Acheh to settle in Penang. A member of the royal family of Acheh, Sumatra and descendant of a sovereign Arab family, Hussain became a hugely successful entrepreneur and one of the wealthiest merchants and landowners in Penang.

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Delightful bowl-shaped appam at Singgah Sebentar

appam © Adrian Cheah

The appam (also known as palappam) or apom (in Penang) is an Indian pancake made with a fermented rice flour and coconut milk batter. The contrast of textures in this dish is alluring. The pancake - with a crispy fringe and is with a spongy, soft fluffy rice cake centre – exudes a distinct yeasty aroma. The crispy fringe reminds me of kuih kapit.

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PIA St. Patrick’s Day 2022 Ball at E&O Hotel, Penang

PIA St. Patrick’s 2022 Ball © Adrian Cheah

On Friday, 4 March 2022 PIA celebrated the St. Patrick’s Day Ball at E&O Hotel in Penang with a scrumptious 5-course, sit-down dinner. Misneach (mish-knock) refers to courage, spirit and hopefulness was the theme of the ball. 196 friends of Ireland gathered in the spirit of friendship, the hope of good things to come, and in the knowledge that fortitude sustains all.

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