As Tanjong Jara Resort is a sanctuary steeped in age-old Malay traditions accompanied with architecture that reflect the elegance and grandeur of 17th century Malay palaces, it is no surprise that I kept smelling fresh chillies being pounded and ground in preparations for either the days’ fresh chilli paste used in cooking or as a meal’s accompanying dip called sambal.
With so much dedication put into the preparation of food, it’s a great place to gain insight into the wonders of traditional Malay home cooking.
I never knew cooking classes while on vacation could be so much fun! I cook at least three times a week at home and I never enjoy it. I see it more like a chore, but at Tanjong Jara Resort and with the bubbly personality of Chef Ann, cooking up some authentic Malay dishes like Beef Rendang and Prawns cooked with Lemak and Chilli Padi was such a joyful experience.
Class is held at the Di Atas Sungei restaurant that sits on top of a natural stream which flows out to sea a few feet away. There is something soothing about the sounds of the ocean when the waves caress the shore. Facing east towards the South China Sea, the location for a cooking class couldn’t have been better.
Each of us had our very own stove. We were introduced to the ingredients and began cooking under the direction and close guidance of Chef Ann. Her upbeat and lively nature made the cooking process a lot of fun. Starting off with the Beef Rendang, I was surprised to find palm sugar being used as one of the main ingredients, and was worried my dish would taste a little too sweet but it surprisingly didn’t.
I learnt a lot that afternoon including the part where it was alright to add coconut milk in the very early stages of the cooking process when we started on the prawn recipe. The fun part about the class was that we didn’t have to look at a written recipe and follow it like we would at home. With Chef Ann guiding us, all the way, all we had to do was listen to her directions which made it a lot more interactive.
The best part about attending a cooking class at Tanjong Jara Resort is that we get to indulge in our masterpieces at the end. So make sure to skip lunch! Too bad for Joseph though, he decided to skip the class to catch a snooze and missed out on some delicious food. I on the other hand feasted away.
Does anybody want a recipe for Prawns cooked with Lemak and Chilli Padi? Let me know.
Ingredients for the Beef Rendang – Cardamoms, cinnamon sticks, cloves, galangal, ginger, onions, garlic, lemongrass, palm sugar, kerisik
My Beef Rendang in the making
Chef Ann thinly slicing some daun salam – fresh bay leaves
Chefs at work 🙂
My prawns cooked with Lemak and Chilli Padi in the making – dried shrimp paste is used here
My finished dishes – the lovely smells worked up an appetite
With the masterchef – Chef Ann!
Did I mention we get to eat at the end? Luckily I decided to skip lunch!
Chef Ann cooking up the remainder of beef – hers was a spicier version
Tanjong Jara Resort is located at Batu 8, Off Jalan Dungun 23000 Dungun, Terengganu, Malaysia. Cooking classes are held on a daily basis (except Friday) outdoors when the weather permits, but otherwise within Di Atas Sungei restaurant. Cost: Approximately US$46 per person. Prior reservation is required. For more details on the other daily activities conducted by the resort, visit their official website.