My vast interest in cooking started when I was very young. Being the youngest girl in a large family of eleven, I have three older sisters and a mother that were the excellent designated cooks for our family. I was only allowed into the kitchen to watch my mother and sisters cook and after much debate was eventually allowed to help with small tasks. I would help with the chopping and preparing of wet spices by grinding them using a granite grinding slab, or crushing the spices using a pestle and mortar. This was long before the liquidiser was invented, which makes preparing these spices far easier now!
After slowly being allowed to assist in the kitchen, I would often offer to cook for my family, however they would not stick around to see the disaster meal they presumed I would create. Alongside being robbed of the opportunity to cook the family meals I was constantly told I had no cooking skills from my older brothers. This only drove me to want to prove I too had inherited my mother’s cooking ability like my older sisters. When I moved out of my family home in my early twenties I would constantly cook for my friends and always received strange feedback; they thought my food was great! I was astonished when my friends gave me such wonderful compliments on my food, and from there my confidence grew.
I was astonished when my friends gave me such wonderful compliments on my food, and from there my confidence grew.
On my next visit to my family I was determined to cook for them for the first time after ten years of being turned away. Upon trying my food my family were astonished and agreed that I had indeed been blessed with my mother’s incredible talent to cook after all! Hallelujah! They were very impressed with my Singaporean dishes and suddenly some of my dishes became their favourites! I always made home cooked meals for my daughters when they were young children – actually, they insist I still cook for them now, even as they have become young adults – and they have told me that they feel privileged to have grown up with a Singaporean mother that cooks such wonderful, Asian infused dishes for them.
My recipes offered to you have been in my family for many generations. They were handed down to me by my mother, my aunties, sisters and even sister-in-laws. My mother learnt the secrets and intricacies of Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines from my grandmothers. Her knowledge of Indian and Chinese cookery was gained from the close friends she made by living in such a multicultural community. She learnt to make ‘nonya kueh’ (Singaporean sweets) through close observation and experiment until she perfected each recipe to her high standards. Thankfully, I have the tendency to follow in her footsteps and now I am able to share with you my family’s legacy.
My mother learnt the secrets and intricacies of Indonesian and Malaysian cuisines from my grandmothers.