On a recent trip back home to Singapore, I decided I was going to spend my holiday learning how to cook some local dishes. While growing up there, we ate local food when we went out, however at home, we never cooked anything other than traditional South Indian food, with the occasional pasta dish thrown in. So as an adult, I realized that I really didn’t know the first thing about Malay cooking at all, and decided to dive right in.
While searching for Malay cooking classes in Singapore, I came across a wonderful cooking experience run by Ruqxana Vasanwala. It turned out, my dates in Singapore coincided with her signature Malay cooking class, which she only offered once every several months. She was offering her signature cooking class on Pulau Ubin, a small formerly densely inhabited outer island belonging to Singapore. The class i took involved a jungle hike for local herbs, followed by traditional Malay cooking in a kampong. The island, rich in flora and fauna is now protected from urban development, and gives us a glimpse of what Singapore was like prior to industrialization. The population is also dwindling, with fewer than 100 inhabitants, at the time I visited. Naturally, this was an opportunity I just couldn’t pass up. In all my years growing up in Singapore, I’d never been to Pulau Ubin and I’d never taken a Malay cooking class either. This was a perfect match! My adventure into Malay cooking was about to begin.