What is the story behind your favourite dish?

Have you been watching Masterchef? I seldom watch any reality shows, but I quite enjoy Master Chef and have been watching it with my children since the show / concept started.

This year is more special and meaningful because a family friend’s daughter is one of the contestants – #gosarah!!!!

What is it that I enjoy in the show most?

It is the story behind their dishes!!!! The ideas are mostly derived from nostalgic sentiments, for example, the recipes shared by their family traditional dishes, learning from grandparents or parents… And the different ways the contestants can create / cook and share their own story with the same ingredients…

It would normally bring tears to the contestant when sharing the recipes, because to them it is about sharing their culture, their traditions, remembering the family members and the journey they shared together. It is also remembering the childhood time they spent in the family home kitchen watching their grandmother cooking the dish or learning from their mum how to make pastries…

To them, food is about their family, their culture and family connections. By sharing their favourite dishes that are cooked from their heart, it is literally reconnecting to who they are, their values, their beliefs, what they stand for and mostly their FAMILY.

So when you step into your kitchen tonight, when preparing the dish that you are planning to cook and share with your family, are you replicating a dish that you grew up with?

Think about the following, why are you cooking this dish? Who taught you how to cook this dish? Were you helping that person prepare and taste test the dish? What conversation did you have with that person when cooking this dish?

Pandan Leaves

Kuih Tayap

For example, when I was cutting my Pandan leaves from the garden yesterday and was thinking how I would like to use the leaves, and I thought about Kuih Tayap (coconut crepe).

We don’t normally make this sweet kuih from our home, but it brought back beautiful memories about going to the market with my grandmother, standing in front of the massive trays of different mouth watering cakes, and finally deciding which one to choose, walking hand in hand with my grandmother and savouring the delicious and precious kuih in my hand.

So before you cook later today, take a minute or two to reconnect to yourself and share your amazing traditions and story with your family. Imagine just a simple ‘kuih’ could bring back such nostalgic memories, and imagine how a beautiful dish brings people together.

Your dish is about you, your culture, your family and every dish has a story, especially your favourite dishes. What’s your story behind the dish you are cooking tonight?

Start reconnecting to yourself through your favourite childhood dish! And share your stories and culture with your family.

Cooking with your children/grand children is a great way to connect with them and to share cultural values. The child will benefit from feeling the love and intimacy with family members.