LaZat offers authentic cookery lessons in a contemporary Malaysian home environment, surrounded by lush greenery. Who would have thought that just a few hundred meters from the highway at Damansara, this quiet haven would exist, where you can escape the city hubbub and enjoy incredible food that you have prepared yourself! With the guidance of LaZat’s amazing team, I pulled off incredible recipes that even I couldn’t believe I had created; they could have been whipped up by a native Malaysian chef.
Courses run Monday through Saturday, with a different cuisine offered each day, from authentic Malay classics, to Nyonya and even Thai cookery. Dishes can be adapted for vegetarians and those with certain food allergies and LaZat even run a specially adapted Vegetarian session on Mondays. With Hari Raya celebrations in full swing, I chose the Authentic Malay class, where I would learn to cook one of Malaysia’s more famous dishes and a festivities must-have; rendang.
Each course begins with a market visit, to the colourful and bustling TTDI market, where the lovely Sue guides you through unusual Malaysian ingredients, the best spots to buy your meat and fish, shows you how coconut milk is made and you’ll even get the chance to grab a traditional breakfast of roti canai or roti telur (with egg) with an assortment of sauces made fresh in front of you.
After the market visit, we were taken to the cookery school, just a short drive away. Upon our arrival we sat down for a chat over a cup of their home-made pandan tea that had wonderful aromas of lemongrass, ginger and palm sugar. Owner Ana made us feel extremely welcome and at home, giving advice on all the best spots to hit in KL, including an extensive list of great eateries for all us foodies.
Cooking began shortly after in the rustic, home-style “wet kitchen” downstairs, where we sat at the teaching bench, overlooking the forest canopy. The kitchen was well set out, clean, spacious and with all the equipment you could even need. Aprons on, pens at the ready and we were all set.
Saariah was our teacher for the day. She explained everything very clearly, introducing each dish, its origins and its ingredients before launching into demonstrations of their preparation before sending us off to try for ourselves, under her watchful eye, or course. All of our ingredients were beautifully arranged in pretty little bowl at our individual cooking stations. We must have used hundreds of utensils and containers between us by the end of the day, so many thanks to the washing-up staff; cleaning was a burden we were able to escape!
On the current ‘Authentic Malay’ menu were:
- Cucur udang – prawn fritters, made with soft, sweet prawns, crunchy bean sprouts, spring onion, fresh corn and shallows, then deep-fried until golden and crisp. Served with sweet chilli sauce, they are a very ‘moreish’ snack. We were even given presentation tips for this one!
- Rendang daging – a richly spiced, rich-tasting and thick meat dish; this version with beef (daging in Malay). A dish served during festivities, such as Hari Raya, and always on the menu at a Malaysian wedding.
- Acar timun – a colourful and spicy warm cucumber salad, fragranced with lemongrass, ginger and chillies. This dish is often served with rending for a balance of sweet, spice and sour flavours.
- Kueh koci – steamed glutinous rice balls, filled with a sweet and juicy coconut and palm sugar filling, then smothered in a creamy coconut glaze. Delicious!
After a long day of slaving over the stove, it was time to sit down to eat in the upstairs dining area. The brewing storm finally broke and provided welcome freshness while we ate. Many thanks to the LaZat team for an amazing day.
For recipes, see the links below:
LaZat Malaysian Home Cooking Class
Malay House at Penchala Hills
Lot 3196, Jalan Seri Penchala
Kampong Sg. Penchala
Courses run Mon-Sat 8:30-14:00 (check website for holiday dates)