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Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ordinary kampung food is what the King savours

KUANTAN (Bernama): When it comes to the favourite foods of the newly installed King and Queen, one should ask none other than Hasnah Koming.
The 65-year-old is the cook at Istana Abdulaziz here.
So what food grabs the fancy of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, and the Raja Permaisuri Agong, Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah?
Ordinary kampung food, said Hasnah without hesitation.

Their Majesties are not fussy about their meals and among the dishes that they usually eat is the local opor. The opor, whether it comes with chicken or any other bird or beef, is Sultan Abdullah’s favourite food besides ikan patin masak tempoyak, fish curry and ikan masak taucu.

"Tunku Azizah likes to eat masak kicap and asam pedas dishes, as well as beef stew.
"As for vegetables, both of them like petola tumis air, mixed fried vegetables, sawi masak sos tiram and kobis masak lemak.
"Many find it hard to believe that Their Majesties like simple food. They think the menu here (at Istana Abdulaziz) is special every day, ” she said.

Hasnah joked that she did not know how to cook complicated dishes and that she developed her skills only after being recruited as a kitchen assistant in 1980 at Istana Abu Bakar in Pekan, Pahang.
She picked up tips from the previous cook and has passed them on to the younger kitchen assistants.
Interestingly, Hasnah, who is called Mak (mother) by most of the palace staff, actually retired in 2015 but was recalled because Their Majesties like her cooking.
"When I cook for Sultan Abdullah, the dish is mildly spicy but Tunku Azizah loves it to be very spicy. So we have to know how to balance the dishes so that both of them can enjoy the same food, ” she said.
Hasnah said Tunku Azizah, who is a good cook herself, never gets angry if the dish of the day was not up to the mark. But she would gently point out how it could be improved.
She said Her Majesty, who gave her tips on cooking Johor food, was an expert who could cook food in large quantities for palace banquets.
Sultan Abdullah loved home-cooked food so much that he would eat before leaving for any official function or, if he was short on time, he would eat after returning to the palace, she said.
"He does not like wasting food. If I have cooked curry for dinner, it will be reheated the next day for him to eat with roti canai or capati, " she said.
Hasnah said the palace kitchen normally opened with preparations for lunch as His Majesty’s breakfast would be food that had been bought, such as nasi lemak, roti canai or capati. For tea, the items bought would be delicacies like curry puff, jemput pisang and kuih talam.
Describing their personalities, Hasnah said both Sultan Abdullah and Tunku Azizah were caring when it cames to their employees and would instruct the palace kitchen to provide lunch even when they were not home.
"They are also very concerned about guests. For instance, Tunku Azizah often reminds that meals must always be provided for all guests.
"If they arrive unexpectedly, they should be served with whatever is in the kitchen. At the very least, guests at Istana Abdulaziz must be given a drink.
"She always says that whoever comes is a guest, and those who work here must know what needs to be done, ” she said.
Hasnah said Sultan Abdullah would often take along food like sambal bilis kacang and rendang dendeng whenever he went overseas, while Tunku Azizah would take along acar buah.
She said she would never forget Tunku Azizah’s sambal belacan which Her Majesty often gave as gifts to close friends and local and foreign dignitaries.
"Those who know about her sambal belacan will look for it whenever they go to Istana Abdulaziz. We usually keep a stock of it in small bottles in our fridge.
"Here, we call it sambal belacan dunia as it has gone all over the globe.
"In fact, some of Tunku Azizah’s friends will ask for it when their stock runs out, ” she said. – Bernama

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