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..

Bayan Indah
Plot 3343 Kg Penchala Indah,
Taman Tun Dr Ismail
Kuala Lumpur

(Join their facebook for more information. See here for the class schedule. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.)


Babe_KL said...

Gosshhh I really missed eating the satay esp the peanut sauce! Nice write-up ;-)

Ciki said...

great balls of fire.. looks great! I wanna go one day. LOL. Ahpa said must cook. i said, can just take photos ar? (coz we met rohani jelani and she kept asking me to go to her place.. i kept saying i don't cook. hahahaha :P so just go and hangout lor;P )

Baby Sumo said...

The prawn really looks sedap.. yum!

Swee San said...

I wanna go too!! Heard so much abt the place.. chicken satay yummeehhh

Kenny Mah said...

Great balls of dough indeed. Hehe. I love your little comments popping up here and there in the pictures... Certainly adds to the mood of the post. Excellent! :D

Michelle Chin said...

Lovin' the look of the honey plum cake. Appears moist to me. :)

Three-Cookies said...

I wonder if Malaysia will see an award winning masak-masak Restaurant opening in 2011:)

J said...

Love the photo collages! - made me
smile, made me laugh n definitely made me
(oh n please don't worry. U r definitely not the last. I haven't even stepped into bayan indah yet, let alone blog about it)

qwazymonkey said...

Totally agree that the best part is that you don't have to clean up after! Awesome

Babe_KL said...

Wishing you and your family a splendid year ahead with good tidings coming your way. Happy New Year!

aly said...

Boo, my dear, you're not the last don't worry. I still haven't been! Fab post, next time you wanna go count me in! Hugs, and happy new year! xx

boo_licious said...

babe_kl - the satay was awesome, if I must say, hee hee.

C&C - must cook or else how to have fun? Come come, we go play masak-masak there?

Baby Sumo - it was darn sedap with those crisp salad leaves.

Swee San - I reckon we'll have a long list of people who want to go too. We shld just hve a class for all of them.

Thxs Kenny for the compliments, especially from such a talented guy like you.

Michelle - well spotted, it had a lovely moist and fine crumb.

Three Cookies - doubt it as masak-masak is a lazy cook who likes her washing to be done for her.

J - quick, new year resolution is to drop by here!

qwazymonkey - I know! I keep pinching myself on that part.

babe_kl - Happy New Year to Hook and your boi boi!

Aly - we shld do one session with Rohani and another with Michael since he also does cooking classes.

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