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Flavors of Malaysia

by: Susheela Raghavan

New York NY: Hippocrene Books 2010, $40.00, Hardbound
ISBN: 978-0-7818-1249-8

Reviewed by: Jacqueline M. Newman
Summer Volume: 2011 Issue: 18(2) page(s): 19

Multi-cultural tastes, many Chinese, make this a rich and wonderful volume, a melting pot of excellence, and with many dishes whose roots and flavors are Chinese. In it, learn about Malaysia's cultural beliefs, religions, and dishes, about the author's family and favorite foods, and about her home country's food history.

A dozen chapters detail and delight the reader from the first called Snacks and Appetizers and their Spicy Bites, to the last titled Fusion Malaysian: and A Harmony of Flavors. They fill more than three hundred fifty pages with wonderful tales, wonderful tastes, and wonderful sepia and color photographs, many of historic value.

Every recipe, and there are more than one hundred and fifty of them, begins with a multi-paragraph introduction about it, the country, and from whence it came. They are a great taste and an advanced course in Malaysia's culture, anthropology, sociology, and cuisine detailing that this country was the center of the spice trade. Some tales and tastes blend Malay, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Indonesian, Arab, Dutch, Portuguese, and British foods and their backgrounds.

Ms Raghavan has learned, taught, and traveled in many countries. She has been featured on television, lectured extensively, and taught cooking classes in many places. As Marion Nestle says, "Reading her book is a gorgeous introduction to the food and culture of a country as multiethnic as they come." We found the recipes we tried delicious, the anecdotes delightful, and the specialities a divine gift for our tastebuds.
Hot and Spicy Chicken Wings
2 Tablespoons ginger juice
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground chili pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
1/2 teaspoon thick soy (or Chinese sweet flour sauce)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound chicken wings
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon cornstarch mixed with an equal amount to cold water
Lemon wedges and cucumber and tomato slices (optional decor)
1. Mix ginger juice, soy sauce, honey, and the ground coriander, cumin, fennel, chili pepper, and the paprika with the thick soy, rice vinegar, turmeric, pepper and salt. And stir this well, then stir it with the chicken wings. Cover and refrigerate for one or more hours, or overnight.
2. Heat oil in an oven-proof pan, add the wings and brown them.
3. Add three-quarters of a cup of water to the pan, and bake in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven for fifteen minutes, then mix in the cornstarch mixture and bake another fifteen minutes.
4. Remove from the oven, squeeze lemon juice over the wings, and serve them on a bed of cucumber and tomato slices.

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