Friday, November 04, 2005

Tauhu Masak Titek

This is one of my favourite comfort food. There are two variations of this dish one using Tauhu (Soft Bean Curd) the other Buah Paya Masak Titek which is actually unripe papaya. Sadly the latter dish is fast disappearing due to changing tastebuds ?? in the younger generation.

Tauhu Masak Titek cooked the way of our ancestors have meat balls in them. Some Nyonyas instead use minced prawns and pork balls in thier recipe.

My grandmother style of Tauhu Masak Titek the prawns are kept whole and minced pork are made into pork balls. Tauhu Masak Titek is best eaten with steamed white rice and sambal belachan.

:-) Wicked....

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Peranakan Festival 2005 - Raising The Phoenix

The Peranakan Association will be holding its first Peranakan Festival starting from 18 - 27 November 2005 at Millenia Walk.

Watch performances by Gunong Sayang, the Dendang Irama band and the Peranakan Voices, followed by a reception for invited guests.

THE PERANAKAN FAIR @ MILLENIA WALK 18 November 2005, 6 - 8pm
In many ways the heart of the Festival, this promises to be a colourful cornucopia of Peranakan music, fashion shows and performances all set against the background of our now well-established Craft and Food Fair, which comprises 30 stalls selling Peranakan food and bric-a-brac.


1. Information panels will highlight the characteristics and achievements of the Peranakan community. Visitors can experience the vision, philanthropy and ideals of the Baba pioneers, which continues alive and vibrant to this day.

2. A display of items that define the culture and aesthetics of the Peranakans. Clearly evident will be the passion for excellence and quality, a unique sense of colour, and a preference for an eclectic art form, incorporating elements of European, Chinese, Indian and Malay design.


Throughout the event, the public will experience an array of music Peranakans enjoy including Keronchong (from Indonesia), joget / rongeng/dondang sayang (from Malaysia) and golden oldies from the 1930s thru 50s along with a selection of newly-composed Peranakan melodies.

A fashion show featuring modern interpretations of batik wear from top Malaysian designers will be held on the 21st of November, in conjunction with the launch of a coffee-table book, "Batik Inspirations - featuring top batik designers". The forward-looking book boldly essays a blueprint for melding tradition and post-modernism through the lens of a new generation of batik fashion.

Peranakan skits aim to highlight the lifestyle and traditions of the Peranakan lifestyle. A wedding procession typical of a traditional Peranakan Wedding will be staged.

Food & Craft Fair

12 food stalls and 12 craft stalls will be set up at Millenia Walk. The food stalls (open from 18-26 November) will cover a range of popular Peranakan cuisine, including popiah, kueh pai tee, buah keluak, nonya mee, mee siam, and desserts such as kueh lapis, pineapple tarts and many other treats to tempt tastebuds..

The crafts on sale include intricate Peranakan jewellery replicas in gold and silver, kebayas, old batiks, porcelain ware and wooden carvings. Also present will be artists offering their interpretations of Peranakan material culture, or neo-Peranakan objects d'art.

Fringe Activities

BABA BAZAAR @ OG 18 - 27 November 2005

OG celebrates Peranakan culture with 10 food and craft stalls at Orchard Point, together with an array of Peranakan fashion for sale.


18th BABA CONVENTION: RAISING THE PHOENIX 24 - 26 November 2005 RELC International Hotel

Seminars featuring leading authorities on the culture will explore its preservation and revival.

105th ANNIVERSARY, ANNUAL DINNER AND DANCE 25 November 2005 The Neptune

This year's Dinner & Dance is themed Baba Las Vegas. Join in and play Baba Roulette, Cheeky Cherki, Bibik's Mahjong, 21 and many more. This promises to be a night of sheer revelry and extravagant entertainment.

FOOD GALORE AT HOTELS 18 - 27 November 2005

Hotel Phoenix and Furama Hotel will feature Peranakan cuisine and special events throughout the Festival period.

Peranakan Food Fair at Phoenix Hotel
Home-cooked Food style of Peranakan dishes like Ayam Buah Keluak,Ikan Pari Kuah Lada, Babi Ayam Pongtay,Udang Goreng Asam etc Look out for the PRESS for the Activities like Cooking Classes,Bunga Rampay Demo,Beaded Slippers Demo etc.....and stalls selling Spices, Kueh-Kueh,Sauces,Kebayas,Kerosangs etc

Party like a Peranakan! 27 November 2005 Asian Civilisation Museum, Armenian Street

The Museum will host several activities. A workshop for children to impart the skills of making selected Peranakan crafts will be held. Visitors to the Museum can watch an interactive play devised by members of the Peranakan Association's cultural group and students and also dress up in Peranakan wear for a fun polaroid. Stalls selling food and Peranakan bric-a-brac will also be set up. Enjoy choral performances by The Peranakan Association and Gunong Sayang. Finally, partake in an appreciation high tea at 4pm and mingle with everyone involved in the Festival.


A TWIST OF FATE Presented by Singapore Repertory Theatre From 18 November 2005 Esplanade Theatre

This highly successful Peranakan murder mystery production by the Singapore Repertory Theatre returns to the stage! Enjoy an evening filled with comedy and suspense - wonderful entertainment for the whole family. For more information, please visit us at

Thursday, October 20, 2005

In Memory of Datin Seri Paduka Endon Mahmood

Today Malaysia loses her First Lady Datin Seri Paduka Endon Mahmood her demise will be a great loss to the local Malaysian arts and culture scene.

Datin with her passion for local handicrafts and traditions, has taken it upon herself to revitalise pride in Malaysian crafts, both locally and internationally.

She launched the Nyonya Kebaya - A Showcase exhibit in Kuala Lumpur in 2003. It was her hope that the exhibition and book will raise the awareness of the unique aspects of the cultural heritage of the Peranakans and inspire Malaysian designers and artist.

Currently her collection is on loan to The Asian Civilisation Museum (Singapore) from 9/3/2004 to 29/5/2005.

DATIN also wrote a book The Nyonya Kebaya: Century of Straits Chinese Costume


Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's wife, whom he described as his No. 1 supporter, died Thursday after a nearly four-year battle with breast cancer. She was 64.

Endon Mahmood's death -- which comes less than two months after she and Abdullah marked their 40th wedding anniversary -- is the biggest personal blow to the Malaysian leader since he took office in October 2003 following the retirement of his predecessor, longtime leader Mahathir Mohamad.

Endon, who recently underwent months of intensive chemotherapy in Los Angeles, passed away at the family's official residence Thursday morning in Putrajaya, Malaysia's administrative capital, after being released from a Malaysian hospital Monday, said Abdullah's spokeswoman, Esuriyanti Ahmad.

"The family members were at her side, everybody was there," Esuriyanti said, adding that Endon would be buried in a traditional Muslim funeral later Thursday.

Abdullah, Malaysia's fifth prime minister since the country achieved independence from Britain in 1957, had been married to Endon since September 4, 1965. They have a son, a daughter and four grandchildren.

Abdullah has often publicly called Endon his "No. 1 supporter."

When his mother died of natural causes in February 2004, Abdullah telephoned Endon in the United States, where she was undergoing treatment. She later told reporters that he said: "I've lost my mother and I don't want to lose you too."

Endon discovered she had breast cancer in 2002 following a checkup after her twin sister, Noraini, was earlier diagnosed with the disease.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Tan Cheng Lock Baba House

When I saw this report in The Straits Times on Saturday 8/10/2005. I was so happy as this is something that will take Peranakan culture out of the museum if the initial plans are follow through.

$5.5 million (Singapore Dollars) was given to NUS(National University of Singapore) but with an unusual request that the money is use to acquire Peranakan homes in Singapore and Malacca.

This request came from the last surviving daughter of the late Tun Tan Cheng Lock founder of Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). Miss Agnes Tan who is 85 years old asked that NUS acquire a Peranakan house at Neil Road and two more houses at Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock in Malacca.

The house in Singapore will be used to teach young Singaporean about Peranakan history, culture and tradition and will be named the Tan Cheng Lock Baba House while the other two houses in Malacca costing S$1.5 million will be restored and use for to study subjects such as the conservation techniques of historical bulidings.

The house acquired at Neil Road belongs is one of the last remaining authentic homes which belong to a Peranakan Wee Lin an engineer whose ancestor is Wee Bin who was a shipping tycoon. Plans include having a Bibik impersonator as a live-in housekeeper and also into making the house a centre for exhibitions, talks and performances and to include the Wee family history.

Monday, September 19, 2005

The Peranakan Experience: A Singapore Story

In 2003 the inaugural lecture for the Lien Fung’s Colloquium - Chakap Chakap lah :-) was held at the Singapore Management University visit the link to see, hear all about The Peranakan Experience.

You can hear old and new Malay/Peranakan/English songs like Tanjong Katong, Rasa Sayang, Chan Mali Chan, Burong Kakak Tua, Su Suay Kemuning, Aiyoh Mama, Oleh Oleh Bandung, Nyonya Nyonya, Nyonya Pakey Bunga, Nyonya Manis and many more which are old favourites of the Peranakans.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Wayang Peranakan

Wayang Peranakan started from the influence of the Malay Bangsawan (Malay Opera) trying to ascertain the time period as to when it all started would be difficult. Bangsawan rose to popularity in the Straits Settlements (Singapore, Malacca & Penang) , Malaya (Malaysia) and the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) from the 1880's (Bangsawan: A Social and Stylistic History of Popular Malay Opera by Tan Sooi Beng - Oxford Unversity Press, 1993) As the Peranakans enjoy watching the Bangsawan naturally given time they adapted it and started producing thier very own Wayang Peranakan.

Wayang Yap Chow Thong and Opera Stamboul could have been the earliest owned Chinese bangsawan troupes as press advertisements were found in the local papers Straits Echo as far back as May 1904.

With its popularity many groups were formed such as the Wales Minstrels Party, Merrilads Musical Party(1930's), Oleh Oleh Party (Jan 1932), and Kumpulan Peranakan Singapura, staging musical shows, music, song, dance and drama became a part of our vibrant culture.

The themes of the wayang centre around the family. Domestic squabbles, matriarchal domination and young love which are spun in a web of intrigue with surprising twists and turns of the plot, and finally concluding with a happy ending. Using local humour and the quick wit of the performers injecting comedy and drama, the Peranakan stories and characters often mirror and amplified the real life off stage. Tidak Berdosa, Rusia, Kaseh Ibu Tiri, Nyai Dasima, and Naseb Si Buta are some of the popular old plays.

By the 1960's all this came to an end there was almost a 20 years wait until Felix Chia's Pileh Menantu (Choosing a Daughter in law) was staged in 1984 for the Arts Festival. With its sucess a new spark of life was given to Wayang Peranakan. And from then on Gunung Sayang Association produce a play each year.

In 2001 in celebration of its 100th Anniversary the Peranakan Association presents Dah Sa Chupak Tak Boleh Sa Gantang. In 2002 a totally new style of Wayang Peranakan was produced by the Association titled Bibik Behind Bars (All about Bibiks and thier foundness of playing Cherki).The play was even recorded and telecast on TV at Arts Central Channel. In its resounding sucess Bibiks Goes Broadway was produce.

In 2005 The Main Wayang Company was founded and it makes its debut performance Bibiks In Parliament and in October 2005 they will will be staging Bibik Chari Menan 2. Main Wayang also produce Music CD's and VCD's of thier past productions.

Past Plays by Gunung Sayang Association (VCD's of past productions available for sale)

1985 - Buang Keroh Pungot Jernih (Let Bygones Be Bygones)
1986 - Lepas Jambatan Buang Tongkat (The Ingrate)
1986 - Menyasal (Regrets)
1987 - Zaman Sekarang (Times Have Changed)
1989 - Biji Mata Mak (Apple Of His Mother Eyes)
1990 - Tak Sangkah (Unexpected)
1990 - Sudah Di Janji (Fated)
1992 - Nasib (Fate)
1993 - Salah Sangkah (Misunderstood)
1995 - Manis Manis Pait (Bitter Sweet Memories)
1996 - Kalau Jodoh Tak Mana Lari (Destiny of Love)
1997 - Bulan Pernama (An Auspicious Full Moon)
1999 - Janji Perot (Pre-Birth Pact)
2000 - Cheh It Chap Goh (Every Cloud Has A Sliver Lining)
2001 - Hujan Balek Ka Langit (The Impossible)
2002 - Anak Udang Anak Tenggiri (Blood Is Thicker Than Water)
2003 - Kipas Cendana (The Sandalwood Fan)
2004 - Buang Keroh Pungot Jernih (Let Bygones Be Bygones)
2005 - Belom Mati Belom Tau (The Unpredictable)

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Belom Mati Belom Tau - Gunung Sayang Association Wayang Peranakan 2005

Belom Mati Belom Tau

Its the time of the year again when Gunung Sayang Association produce its annual Wayang Peranakan stage at The Victoria Theatre this year production titled Belom Mati Belom Tau.The playwright GT Lye will provide the audience with a glimpse into a typical Peranakan household of the 60s. Also anthroplology affcionados will get a glimpse how Peranakans of the old days mourn their love ones, along with the fashion and culture of their time.

The poster of the play shows a black and white sarong worn during mourning periods also pearl kerosangs and silver chocok sanggul (chignon hair pins).

Press Review for Belom Mati Belom Tau

A Peranakan's progress Veteran playwright passes on customs of his culture in his latest play

By Hong Xinyi

PLAYWRIGHT G.T. Lye finds himself getting nostalgic each time the annual drama production put on by Peranakan association Gunong Sayang comes around in September. After all, the stage is about the only place where Peranakan culture is the most vibrant these days, says the renowned female impersonator. For the past 20 years, the 67-year-old has been directing and scripting this annual event, as well as acting in it, for Gunong Sayang. Founded in 1910 to promote Peranakan, or Straits Chinese, culture, the association has put on a Peranakan production every year since 1985.

This year, Lye, a retired businessman, wrote a play titled Belom Mati Belom Tau (You Wouldn't Know Because You're Not Dying). Set in 1960s Singapore, it tells the story of a sickly Peranakan matriarch and her scheming family. Lye, who is also the director, plays the role of the matriarch's eldest daughter-in-law, who tries to hoard the family's wealth. The two-hour-long play will include scenes where the Peranakan rituals of mourning are re-enacted for the audience.

''Peranakan women wear attire of different colours for different phases of the mourning period,'' he elaborates. ''They are also not allowed to wear gold jewellery, and they can't attend weddings, birthdays or any joyous occasion.''

His exhaustive attention to such details is a rarity in the Peranakan community these days.''The younger generation also finds practices like ancestral worship too tedious and time-consuming,'' Lye says, with a tinge of wistfulness in his soft voice. He tries to keep Peranakan culture alive by including such rituals in his plays, and also by ''creating stories where I can educate the younger generation, and remind the older generation of things they have forgotten''.

For Belom Mati Belom Tau, his message, not surprisingly, is the value of filial piety. But in the field of female impersonation, at least, the bachelor need not be worried. Kelvin Tan, a Peranakan, has been learning the ropes from Lye for the past three years, and the latter pronounces the 36-year-old quite a competent successor. ''It was rather rough in the beginning to get the hand movements and way of speaking right,'' says Tan, a civil servant. But what keeps him going, he says, is his fascination with the play's recreation of a 1960s Peranakan lifestyle. ''It gives me a chance to experience an era I never had a chance to live in,' says Tan.'' It's really an eye-opening experience, and it gives all of us from the younger generation a lot of pleasure.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Traditional Nyonya Curry Chicken with Homemade Curry Powder

Here in Singapore every race (Malay, Indian, Chinese, Eurasians and Peranakan) have thier different versions of Curry Chicken. Each with slight differences in the cooking method and ingredients use but no matter what we always start with the basic rempah paste of shallots, garlic and ginger.

Traditionally each Nyonya household have thier own recipe for home-made Curry Powder. Due to the change in life style and the demands of modern life most households have resorted to commercially produce Curry Powder.

The home cooked version of the Nyonya Curry has the addtional ingredients of hard boiled eggs. So if you are invited to share a meal in a Peranakan home do not be surprise if you find eggs in the curry.
Posted by Hello

Friday, April 15, 2005

Tengkats aka Mangkok Tengkats

The word Tengkats or Mangkok Tengkats mean Tiffin Carriers.

The word tiffin means Lunch, or any light meal.Tiffin is a word that perhaps more than any other evokes British India. It entered the language at the very beginning of the nineteenth century, perhaps because the fashion for eating dinner mid-afternoon was giving way to a main meal taken later in the day, requiring a lighter midday meal and a name for it. Why the much older luncheon or lunch wasn't used isn't clear. Instead, the English in India borrowed tiffing, an old English dialect or slang word for taking a little drink or sip.

The use of Tiffin Carriers is still very much alive in its traditional heartland of India. Lunches are still cooked at home by workers’ wives and then transported, often by train, perhaps 20 or 30 miles to their places of work by tiffin-wallahs, each three-tiered tiffin-carrier probably passing through several hands in a highly sophisticated and efficient cooperative process.

The use of tiffin carriers spread down to South East Asia. They come in all sorts Kow Tik - Enamel type ones embellished with flowers and some even with words wishing the recipents Happy Feasting on it, but the most unwieldy and unpractical table-ware made to Straits Chinese specifications is the Porcelain Tengkats. The tengkat dishes (usually four) are stack one over the other, they are so loosely fitted that a slight tilt will send them and thier contents tumbling down imagine the difficulty of transporting food. I was told that to help in the transportation some of the older tengkats have two circular wooden boards, one on top of the other and held by three post, one of which is detachable so that the tengkat can be fitted into the carrier. To facilitate carrying a brass or iron handle in fitted on the top of the wooden board.

Now if only i can get to see one of those carriers and dine using one of the tengkats :-)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Rose Pink Tengkat

Rose Pink Tengkat consisting of four tiered dishes with a slightly domed cover. The design consist of trailing branches of peonies is typical of Peranakan taste come from Tung Chih period

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Perot Rumah 2

In the kitchen there will be three stone implements. They are used for the grinding and pounding of ingredients before the arrival of electrical appliances.

Batu Giling - Grinder

Batu Lesong - Motar and Pestle

Batu Boh - Mill

The pots and pans of the day would be eatherware objects which included water jugs, belangahs - Indian style pots use for cooking curries. Utensils use for cooking would be made from coconut shells.

"Cooking was done over a concrete fireplace using firewood for fuel. When one tried to get the fire going by blowing through a foot-long, hollow, iron pipe, the ashes would fly into one's face and hair. It was hot, perspiring work. Common utensils used were the kuali or curved frying pan, and the belanga for cooking curry, besides the usual metal pots and pans these utensils were always black with soot and smoke from the firewood"
Rainbow Around My Shoulder - Ruth Ho

Another item found is the Nyiru - Bamboo Trays of varied sizes and shapes. This trays are use to sun-dry spices as well as vegetables, keropok - fish crackers, belachan - shrimp paste and other items.

Rice is stored in a tempayan - glazed earthenware jar while sugar, salt, kapor are kept in small porcelain containers.

Another indispensable tool would be the Parutan Kelapa - Coconut Grinder and in some households there would even be a ice cream maker.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Perot Rumah 1

The kitchen is the centre of household life and activity in a Baba house the matriach of the house and the womanfolk would gather here to prepare food and even entertain relatives and friends. That is why the Baba akin the kitchen as the Perot Rumah or The stomach of the house.

" My grandmother's friends never had to venture beyond the comforting embrace of the kitchen when visiting her. It is from here that my grandmother entertained traders, family friends and relatives as the the mistress of the house" Lim Kean Siew, The Eye Over the Golden Sands - Pelanduk Publications

In the days before refrigeration, live fowls were kept in cages in the backyard. Food had to be stored away from ants and cockroaches, so a long hook will hang from the ceiling and on this hook a small wooden box enmeshed with fly screen doors was suspended. The meat storage boxes were later replaced by tall almari cupboards with fly screen doors. The four high legs of the almari stood in small bowls made of ceramic which were filled with water to deter ants.

Cooking was done on long brick stoves with several holes over which the cooking pots were placed. The fuel source would be firewood in the early days, charcoal was only available later.

The furniture would be a square or long wooden table with long bangku (benches) for preparing food as well as for the servants dining.

Wooden drying racks hung on the walls were use to store the many tools required for food preparation.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Loak Embok Embok - Nyonya Cuisine

The correct term to describe Peranakan food - Is Nyonya Food or Loak Embok Embok. Why ??? It is because the food is cooked by Nyonyas..but now with more Babas stepping into the kitchen this may not be so.

In the old days the Nyonyas view cooking as an accomplishment to be proud of, daughters were trained in the art of cooking at an early age.

In her book Mrs Lee Chin Koon recollect....

"We were taught to sew and to perform domestic duties expected of us as Peranakan daughter-in laws. Most important of all, we were taught to cook well. We would start by doing simple things around the kitchen like peeling shallots (bawang merah). Even that can be considered an art, as we had to learn to peel the shallots without shedding tears. We were taught to peel the shallots at an arm's length so that the wind would blow the shallot juices away from our eyes.

Matchmakers played an important role in those days. They would call at 10 o' clock in the morning. That was the time when we all prepared our rempah (pounded ingredients), and they could tell by the sound of the mortar and pestle if there were good cooks in the house. There should be a rhythm to the pounding. From the sound of the pounding, we can tell which ingredient is being pounded and also whether the person who is pounding is an experienced cook.

Our Nyonya food is so complicated that it takes years to learn and master. We had to learn to pound our rempah to just the right texture, we had to learn to fry garlic until it was golden brown, light and crispy, we had to learn to combine and measure our spices so that they would harmonize, and we had to learn how to fry our dishes so that the gravies would be clear and bright, not dull, in colour. All these require training, experience and skill. In those days, we didn't use recipes and measurements such as tablespoons, and everything was done by agak (estimation). Everything had to be learned by watching and practice."