The Peranakans, also known as the Straits Chinese,are the descendants of early Chinese immigrants who settled in the Malay archipelago and took native women as wives. The word Peranakan is derived from Malay and means ‘local-born’. The men and women were known as Babas and Nonyas respectively.
Nonya food is influenced heavily by Chinese and Malay cooking. Nonya cooking uses Malay methods of preparation, such as pounding spices and frying the rempah in oil, and is therefore laborious and time-consuming. This has resulted in the slow disappearance of the cuisine. The Chinese influence on Nonya food is evidenced in the use of dried goods like dried mushrooms, and seasonings like tau cheo. The incorporation of pork into Nonya food is also a Chinese influence, as it is something Muslims are forbidden to eat.
As many Singaporean Peranakan families were of Indonesian origin, there are some Indonesian overtones in the cuisine. Many famous Nonya dishes such as sayur lodeh and ayam buah keluak are Indonesian in origin. Some Peranakans live in Penang, which is close to Thailand, there are some Thai influences in Peranakan food tood. For example, the Nonya penchant for coriander leaves and kaffir lime leaves are typical of Thai cooks.
Typical ingredients: buah keluak, galangal, candlenuts, kaffir lime leaves, calamansi, belimbing, belacan, coconut, ginger flower
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