Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Cooking with Rohani Jelani @ Bayan Indah, Kampung Sg Penchala, Petaling Jaya
I must be the last food blogger in Kuala Lumpur to talk about this wonderful place. Better late than never I reckon and just in the nick of time before 2010 comes to a close. It's weird how I often resist those good things in life. Call it a natural deprivation.....saving the best for the last.
I've often heard about Rohani Jelani's legendary classes....from my sister who has had countless lessons here, my friend S who had raved to me about the place, and of course from the blogosphere that is sprinkled with loads of references of this oasis of calm nestled within the bustling city. Top on my list of places to do when I have free time, I've been slack in ticking this off but one weekend, I managed to navigate my way through the sleepy hollow of Kampung Sg Penchala to arrive at the doorstep of the huge metal gate leading to this culinary retreat.
Later, I found out from one of the participants, this was a sought-after class - the once in the year BBQ Party, where it prepped you for the festive season. Learning how to cook at Bayan Indah is not only about techniques that any cooking school can drum out but a whole karmic experience since you meet new food-like-minded friends and you get your hands dirty by working your way through the recipes. Add a wonderful tropical resort setting (where you can even spend a night in well appointed rooms) and an experienced Le Cordon Bleu trained teacher in the form of Rohani Jelani, and you'll have a formula for success.
For me, Bayan Indah has a friendly vibe kinda like a hugging cousin's place where you step into to learn how to cook up and share a wonderful meal among friendly souls. Best of all, there's no need to wash up after all that cooking...the perfect dream come true!
The very experienced Rohani has groomed many home chefs with her simple no-fail recipes and even taught a few celebrity ones about our Malaysian cuisine. Recently, she played host to Todd English who was here to film his television series Food Trip and Top Chef finalists, Ed Cotton and Angelo Sosa. She's also contributed to numerous publications.
Our group was a motley bunch - a couple from Minnesota US and UK who were traveling around Asia, a mother and daughter team, two good friends, a first timer and a regular Bayan Indah attendee. There was even a familiar face in the form of food blogger Pure Glutton among the sea of strangers.
It was a busy afternoon as we tied on our denim aprons and got down to the different dishes we were assigned to. Split into groups of two people, we had to tackle dishes like the beef fajitas including making the tortillas from scratch, naan bread, tandoori chicken, beef and chicken satay including the peanut sauce, grilled prawns, grilled lamb, honey ginger chicken and salad.
My biggest thrill was making the chicken satay and the peanut sauce, something I've never attempted before. Surprisingly, the peanut sauce turned out to be wonderful. We had a few worrying moments as we kept tasting it a few times before the peanuts softened. Eventually the spice paste's flavours emerged after a long stint of boiling. I thought the chicken satay was a goner since I had cut the chicken pieces too small. It did make piercing through the bamboo sticks a little hard but suprisingly, after grilling it on the hot coals, it turned out to be juicy and well marinated. Sinful pieces of chicken skin in between the meaty bits added to the succulence of the meat.
Making naan from scratch was a little bit tricky but we managed even though not all of our naans were fluffy pillows of dough. The tandoori chicken was a little watery since I kinda forgot to drain the marinade but otherwise, it tasted fine.
Rohani will be around to give us pointers including how to work those dough balls magically into flat pieces of naan to be grilled on the flat iron griddle.
She even shared her secret way of draining salad leaves minus the salad spinner - roll them in kitchen towels for the leaves to shed their moisture. Great idea that meant no need to purchase a bulky salad spinner. The whole place is also brimming with Malaysian exotica - herbs, vegetables and fruits - a perfect place to learn more about our home grown produce.
After we finish our work, the sideboard is groaning with all our dishes, as we taste and try each other's food, sharing tips on what worked for us and what didn't. It's good feedback since these are the little pointers that make and break a recipe. Most importantly, we all had fun and managed to enjoy our fruits of labour.
I reckon I've definitely caught the Bayan Indah fever....as we're scheduled to return in 2011 for more fun learning. Hopefully as the tail of Linkin' the cat beckons to me like a wand, I'll keep to my New Year's resolution to keep coming back again and again..
Plot 3343 Kg Penchala Indah,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
(Join their facebook for more information. See here for the class schedule. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)