Peranakan Cuisine And Its Indian Connection: All About Origins
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Peranakan cuisine might not be a very familiar name for you. But if you have travelled to countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and China then chances are high that you must have tried something from this cuisine. This cuisine originated in the 15th century when different traders from China and otherSoutheast Asian countries started settling in the nearby areas. 

The migration of people led to a beautiful union of cooking practices and customs from the nearby countries. Free trading movements not only allowed the exchange of goods and services but also age-old cooking methods and different dishes that were previously held back by boundaries. 

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* Origin Of Peranakan Cuisine

Most people believe that Peranakan cuisine originated after the Chinese traders decided to explore the world and started settling in the nearby areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. A lot of historic trade ports and relations were created between these countries, and people started going from one place  to another very frequently. The word Peranakan simply means descendants. This signifies that despite the cultural complexities between these countries, there was a ground level of mutual cultural heritage and brotherhood among the people. This feeling of solidarity led to the creation of a special cuisine that was different from anything else that the people had seen before.

The most notable thing about this cuisine is the use of different flavours altogether, which include sweet, salty, sour and savoury. But what is fascinating is that despite the use of so many diverse flavours that are so contrasting from each other, the blend of everything comes out very harmoniously.

 This is because special cooking techniques are used with utmost precision to make sure that flavours are balanced and one ingredient overpower the other ingredients used. Also, the special kinds of spices and herbs that are traditionally cultivated in Southeast Asian countries are used to make dishes. These herbs further provide the needed balance to the dishes and make them extremely delicious and flavoursome. Coconut milk, tamarind and shrimp paste are also very important parts of this cuisine. Pandan leaves and laksa leaves are also frequently used to make dishes.

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Cooking Techniques And Indian Connection 

Most of the cooking techniques used to cook Peranakan dishes are of Chinese origin. This includes the process of braising, stir-frying and steaming. Further, the flavour of these dishes is revamped and elevated by using the locally available spices that give this cuisine a unique local identity.Now most people will wonder what kind of Indian connection this cuisine has. If you look back in time, you will find that the connection between these two can be found in the historical trade routes that were made between India and other Southeast Asian countries. A lot of people from different parts of Southeast Asia are still living in the Southern part of India. They are famously called the Chitty community. India is famous for spices like turmeric, coriander, fenugreek, cumin et cetera. These places have been used in Indian cuisine for centuries. It was through this trade route that spices like cumin and turmeric found their way to Southeast Asian countries. If you look at the Peranakan way of cooking, then you will find that all the spices are dominantly used in cooking various dishes. Although the way these spices are used in Peranakan cuisine is indeed very different from how we use them in India, you cannot deny the presence of these Indian spices in Peranakan cuisine.

Tamarind is also a very important part of the Peranakan way of cooking. It adds a very sour and tangy flavour to the dishes which is further balanced by the creaminess of coconut milk. This is a flavour combination that is also quite popular in the Southern part of India. By looking at the foodscape of both countries in totality, you can easily find the uncanny resemblance in the ingredients and flavours used to cook various dishes.

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Famous Dishes

In Peranakan cuisine, some of the most famous dishes include Rendang which is a dish prepared by using a lot of meat, Laksa Nyonya which is a fish curry, Ayam Buah Keluak, Chicken Kapitan which is a dry chicken curry and Kabin which is a kind of fried chicken. Kueh is a very famous sweet dish in the cuisine that is very much like a cake. A significant influence of cultural amalgamation is present in this cuisine. This cuisine is a testament that even though food practices of different cultures on an autonomous level can be worlds apart, a harmonious blend of them can come out beautifully.

This is the story Peranakan cuisine and its intriguing history. Peranakan cuisine is one of the most hybrid cuisines in the world and a must try for everyone.