Christina’s and Olivia are a mother and daughter team who operate Christina’s Gourmet Catering, Dinners and Workshops in Baulkham Hills. These two ladies are passionate about the food of their Peranakan heritage - Malaysian Nyonya Cuisine. In addition to their busy catering schedule, they also offer a weekly dinner service, and Malaysian cooking workshops.  Their most recent workshop was held as a lunch event. Participants (including me) cooked up a rich Assam Pongteh Chicken and Pulut Inti, a sticky rice dessert. These delicious dishes were cooked and eaten outdoors on a sprawling Kenthurst property against the backdrop of a liquid amber tree. 

 Christina's Gourmet Workshops

Nyonya is a fusion cuisine which was born from Chinese settlement into Malaysia many years ago. Ingredients for Assam Pongteh Chicken include the best of both worlds, fragrant lime leaves, garlic, a bold red babas chilli powder, salted soya beans, tamarind and diced onion. 

Christina's Gourmet Workshops . Christina's Gourmet Workshops

The workshops are hands on. We cooked in teams where everyone contributed to the finished dish. Christina and Olivia guided the class through every step of the recipe and were on hand to help if we needed them. Firstly, we blitzed the fragrant ingredients into a paste, this was fried in a wok with a good amount of oil. The chicken, potatoes and tamarind were added last. The wok simmered until the chicken was cooked through. Then it was time to taste.

Christina's Gourmet Works . Christina's Gourmet Workshops

Assam Pongteh Chicken is served with boiled eggs, steamed rice and fresh chilli. The flavours are quite vibrant with a touch of fire and sweetness. We were also treated to steaming hot bowls of Christina's lamb and vegetable soup, the stock was the hero of the pot with aromatic flavours of star anise and cassia shining through. Eating Christina's soup felt as comforting as a big warm hug.

Christina's Gourmet Workshops . Christina's Gourmet Workshops 

 

Christina's Gourmet Workshops . Christina's Gourmet Workshops

After Lunch we were introduced to a guest chef, Malaysian recipe blogger Lay Ean Eng. Lay Ean showed us how to assemble Pulut Inti -  banana leaf parcels of glutinous rice topped with sweet coconut . Lay Ean shared her method for cooking glutinous rice and folding the banana leaf around the rice and coconut. I was surprised how easy this was to achieve, and our parcels looked amazing.

Christina's Gourmet Workshops

To make the rice yummy and sticky, pre soaked glutinous rice is steamed in coconut milk . Pandan leaves are added for their delicate aroma, pandan is essential in Malaysian desserts in much the same way as vanilla.

Christina's Gourmet Works . Christinas Gourmet Workshops

The rice may also be coloured using a natural food colouring extracted from butterfly pea flowers. Lay Ean demonstated two methods, firstly using the actual flowers, then she showed us the easy way using butterfly pea powder.

Christinas Gourmet Workshops  Christinas Gourmet Workshops

Lay Ean gave us lots of great tips but the best had to be - freeze banana leaves overnight and they will be much easier to fold (once thawed).  Each little parcel gives a couple of bites of sticky coconut deliciousness, it’s hard to stop at one! If you would like to try these for yourself, Lay Ean's recipe can be found here.

Christinas Gourmet Workshops

Christina and Olivia's workshops bring people together in friendship to share the flavours and techniques of Malaysian home cooking. I really loved the whole experience, especially tasting Christina's delicious food and discovering new ingredients.

 

If you're tempted to try the Assam Pongteh Chicken for yourself, Christina's recipe is below, but if you prefer someone to do the cooking for you, Christina and Olivia's weekly dinner menu is well worth checking out! I can highly recommend the handmade spiral pastry curry puffs, they are a new favourite in our house, and we can't get enough of them!

Christinas Gourmet Workshops

 

Assam Pongteh Chicken

 

Recipe by: Christina’s Gourmet Catering

(shared with permission)

 

Spice paste - blend together

3-4 (400gms) large Onions

6-8 (50 gms) large Garlic cloves Garlic

60 gms Babas Chilli powder

80 gms bean paste

60 gms sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 tsp seasoning

 

Ingredients

1.5kg chicken pieces

500gm  potato, parboiled

lime leaves, sliced

200ml Water

Tamarind Juice (60gm tamarind +250ml water)

4 Hardboiled eggs to serve

Slices of fresh chilli, to serve

 

 

Method

1. Heat oil in a wok or large frypan and saute spice paste until it's fragrant.

2. Add chicken, parboiled potatoes and lime leaves

3. Add 200 ml of water and bring to boil, season well

4. Simmer gently until chicken and potatoes are cooked

5. Add tamarind juice - bring to simmer

6. Serve with rice garnished with boiled egg and fresh chilli.