[Penang] Eurasian Food Fiesta 2023, Saint Xavier's Institution

Penang has a sizable Eurasian populace (people of mixed European and Asian ancestry) similar to the former Portuguese colonies of Goa (India), Malacca (Malaysia) and Macau (China). Besides the dominant Portuguese-Eurasian community, Penang also has significant British- and French-Eurasians, descended from refugees fleeing religious persecution in Siam and Burma to British-ruled Penang in the late-18th century. But, by and large, whatโ€™s defined as Eurasian cuisine in Malaysia and Singapore inevitably has strong Portuguese-Goan-Malaccan characteristics.

The Creolised cuisines of Goan-Portuguese, Malaccan-Portuguese and Macanese-Portuguese have been influencing and counter-influencing each other over the centuries, even adopting African influences - from Portuguese colonies like Mozambique and Angola. Goa was a Portuguese colony from 1510 to 1961, Malacca from 1511 to 1641 (when the Dutch supplanted the Portuguese) and Macau from 1897 to 1976.

The annual Eurasian Food Fiesta 2023 was held yesterday, Sunday Aug 13, at the main hall of Saint Xavierโ€™s Institution, with about ten different food stalls offering various Eurasian eats.

We zeroed in on a stall run by Amelleia Chamin, who specialised in Goan curries, as we know sheโ€™s one of the best around - her stallโ€™s continuously busy as her many fans recognized her.

What we stuffed ourselves with:
:small_orange_diamond:๐˜พ๐™๐™ž๐™˜๐™ ๐™š๐™ฃ ๐˜พ๐™–๐™›๐™ง๐™š๐™–๐™ก, a spiced, coconut milk-enriched Goan chicken dish believed to have originated in the former Portuguese African colonies of Mozambique and Angola, where ๐™˜๐™–๐™›๐™ง๐™š refers to the inhabitants of Cafraria (or โ€œKaffrariaโ€), derived from โ€œkafirโ€, a term Arabs used on the non-Muslim inhabitants of the Swahili coast. โ€œร€ Cafrealโ€ means โ€œin the way of the Cafresโ€.
It was spicy, but the coconut milk tempered the heat of the chilis (introduced by the Portuguese to India in the 1500s).

:small_orange_diamond:๐™‹๐™ค๐™ง๐™  ๐™‘๐™ž๐™ฃ๐™™๐™–๐™ก๐™ค๐™ค - another popular Goan staple, derived from the Portuguese ๐˜ค๐˜ข๐˜ณ๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฅ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ท๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฉ๐˜ข ๐˜ฅโ€™๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ฉ๐˜ฐ๐˜ด, literally โ€œmeat in garlic marinadeโ€. It was cooked using fatty chunks of pork belly, and was perfect with steamed white rice.

:small_orange_diamond:๐˜พ๐™ช๐™ง๐™ง๐™ฎ ๐˜ฟ๐™š๐™—๐™–๐™ก - a very spicy chicken-ham bone-bacon curry, flavoured with candlenuts, galangal, mustard seed and vinegar from Malaccaโ€™s Eurasian Kristang (Cristรฃo) culinary tradition. Traditionally made with leftovers from a Christmas dinner, the dish had long superceded that purpose, and can now be found at any Eurasian dinner party or fiesta.

:small_orange_diamond:๐™‚๐™ค๐™–๐™ฃ ๐™ˆ๐™š๐™–๐™ฉ๐™—๐™–๐™ก๐™ก ๐˜พ๐™ช๐™ง๐™ง๐™ฎ - this was my favourite dish of the evening. The coconut-infused, gently-spiced sauce was milder than the other options on the table.

:small_orange_diamond:๐™‹๐™–๐™ฃ๐™œ ๐™Ž๐™ช๐™จ๐™ž - Eurasian sweet potato buns with spiced meat filling. This was a retro tea-time or party snack which used to be so common in 1960s/70s Singapore and Malaysia, but which has become so rare nowadays, with the advent of Japanese and French-style bakeries everywhere. The version here really took me back to my childhood years.

:small_orange_diamond:๐™Ž๐™š๐™ ๐˜ฝ๐™–๐™  - soy-braised pork loin, pigโ€™s ears. Another of my old-time favourites.

:small_orange_diamond:Assortment of apple pies, chicken pies and curry puffs.

Also got a cookbook on sale there, but not sure if Iโ€™ll cook from it. :joy:


Wow the Goan Dishes look right on! Interesting that it is all served with Acar but makes sense considering the Location of the Festival.

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Thatโ€™s a very cool theme for a festival.
(And I love that (meat)ball curry!)

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This particular achar here is known as achar awak, adapted by the Penang-Nyonyas from the early Burmese settlers in Penang.

Back in 1786 when Captain Francis Light developed Penang for the British East India Company, amongst the first emigrants to arrive were the Burmese, whose first settlement was called Ava Village, named after the old Burmese capital of Ava, pre-Rangoon days.

The Straits-born Chinese (Babas & Nyonyas) from Malacca who came to Penang and settled in Pulau Tikus, the same area as the Burmese, mispronounced โ€œAvaโ€ as โ€œAwakโ€ (Malay for โ€œyouโ€), calling Ava Village โ€œKampong Awakโ€ (literally โ€œYour Villageโ€), and the Burmese โ€œOrang Awakโ€ (literally โ€œYour Peopleโ€).

The Straits-born Chinese women (Nyonyas) also co-opted the Burmese pickle into their culinary repertoire, but reduced the number of vegetables used in the dish. It was said that the Burmese made an elaborate, celebratory pickle, usually for prayers or religious festivals at the main Dhammikarama Burmese temple, where the Straits-born Chinese Buddhists also worshipped at. The Nyonyas adapted the Burmese pickle, but simplified it to about 4 or 5 vegetables used: carrot, cauliflower, cucumber, cabbage, pineapple, whereas the Burmese were said to use more than a dozen vegetables. The Nyonyas named this pickle โ€œAchar Awakโ€ after the local Burmese/โ€œOrang Awakโ€.


Your reporting continues to set the bar higher and higher.

(Tip of hat to Jackie Wilson.)


Thank you. :pray:

Great bit of food history there. Thank you for Information.
Nyonya Cuisine has a really cool and complex history as well as being delicious.