So, Malaysia is planning to open its international borders to foreign visitors/tourists in Nov 2021 (next month!). It’s been 19 months of being locked down here in Penang! Many of us are also looking forward to finally be able to travel out of the country, although we still needed to check on the quarantine requirements at the countries we want to visit, and also when we get back to Malaysia.
In the meantime, we’re still trying to make the best of what we have here in Penang. Dinner last night was a Moroccan mezze at the Jawi Peranakan Mansion on Hutton Lane.
Full house at dinner last night. I guess Penangites are beginning to pick up the courage to venture out to eat nowadays, with the vaccination rate at 95% of the adult population, and daily new COVID cases falling from a peak of 2,000+ just a couple of months ago to just 270 yesterday.
Our dinner started off with an appetizer platter consisting of:
- Hummus bi tahini - chickpea & tahini dip
- Zaalouk - mashed aubergine, tomato & black olives
- Khiar bil na’na - shredded cucumber & mint salad
Slada batata halwa - sweet potato salad
For me, the standout here was the sweet potato salad, as the other local Middle-Eastern restaurants in George Town/Penang serve as good, if not better, hummus and other variations of Arabic dressed salads than what we got at Jawi Peranakan Mansion.
The mains consisted of:
- Tagine djaj bi zaytoun Wal Hamid - tagine of chicken with saffron, preserved lemons & green olives
- Hout bil chermoula - pan-fried seabass with chermoula
- Kesksou bil meshmesh - cous cous with apricots
Slada tamatim halwa - tomato salad
The slada tamatim halwa salsa-like salad turned out to be the most important component of the mains platter - its crisp acidity undercutting the richness of both the fish and chicken dishes.
I adore Moroccan tagines almost to a fault, but have never been to Morocco itself. My best experience was at the Hammam restaurant at the back of Paris’ Grand Mosque. But I’d seek out good tagines whether I’m in Paris or Madrid or New York.
The version here was actually pretty good - perfectly spiced, the chicken tender and yielding, the preserved lemons delicate, and the cous cous fluffy & moist.
My first experience of Moroccan tagine dated back to 1985 when a couple of my university mates - French-Moroccans - wanted to reciprocate for the Singapore-Nyonya dinner which I had given them previously, by giving me my first taste of North African cuisine.
I didn’t have a clue what a “tagine” or “cous cous” were at the time - and just being able to watch them prepare the whole thing in their kitchen was one of the best culinary experiences for me then. I think that was when I fell in love with the dish.
Desserts consisted of:
Pomegranate & blueberry trifle
All washed down with Moroccan mint tea
The standout here was the trifle - more British than Moroccan actually, but very moreish and a good ending to a rather substantial meal.
Jawi Peranakan Mansion
153, Hutton Lane, 10050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-218 9858