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Malaysian medley

From food to dance... you could catch glimpses of Malaysia at Le Meridien

MALAYSIA COMES to Chennai with its cultural and gastronomic mores, at Le Royal Meridien's multi-cuisine restaurant Cilantro. The cultural-cum-food fest, Malaysian Cultural Extravaganza, which is on till September 8, has been organised by the hotel in association with Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines.

"People from different climes live harmoniously in Malaysia. It is for this reason, Malaysia is truly Asia. In fact, the theme for the fest is: Malaysia, truly Asia," says Raji Menon, director, Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board. Papiha Desai, leader of a dance troupe, which is to perform at the fest, says, "All the troupe members are Indians, but we have been trained in Malaysian dance forms from Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur, an institution of arts and culture. We will perform dances representative of all the ethnic groups that have made Malyasia their home. There's a dance based on Silat, a Malay martial art. Then there is Kipas (a fan dance). Then we will perform Malay court dances, Arab dances and also those widespread in Tamil Nadu, China, Portugal and the Borneo Islands - Sabah and Sarawak."

Papiha, who hails from West Bengal, says a number of Malaysian dance forms are akin to those prevalent in North-East India. "For instance, Malaysia has a dance form which is close to Cheraw, the bamboo dance practised in Mizoram."

About the cuisine, Chef Presert, who has been flown in from Malaysia, says he has "brought 10 cartons of ingredients from Malaysia" to ensure an authentic flavour.

Variety, he says, is the defining word. Just as the dances, the food is also from various parts of the world. "Malaysia's multi-cultural ethos is reflected in its food. I am a Thai who has settled down in Malaysia," says Presert.

Among the main dishes are "burga cobis goring sambal" (stir-fried cauliflower), "labu goreng rempah (pumpkin in curry sauce), "cobis goring kunyit" (cabbage with turmeric), "ding-dang kambing" (lamb in dark soya sauce), "ayam masak merah" (chicken in spicy tomato gravy) and "ikan asam perdas" (fish in spicy tamarind juice).

There are some interesting salads. "Acar rampa" is a sort of "vegetable pickle" comprising carrot, cucumber, sweet turnip and mango.

The desserts are mouth-watering — "Pengat pisang" (banana porridge), "jemput pisang" (banana fritters), "bubur puhut hitam" (black glutinous rice with coconut) and "ketayap" (green pancake).

Malaysian Cultural Extravaganza Cilantro, Le Royal Meridien Till September 8, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. For reservations: ph: 22314343


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