- Visit the tropical spice garden of Penang on a guided tour
- Learn about tropical spices and how to use them in food preparation
- Meet a local chef and food enthusiast
- Vehicle with driver to cooking class and back to George Town
- Guided spices tour and entrance fees
- Fully equipped cooking stations
- Kitchen tools, food ingredients, beverages and lunch
- Any amount of people can join.
The island of Penang is a famous food heaven in Malaysia, also because of the longstanding cultural melting pot that has been characterizing the place since its colonial times. Not many decades after the founding of George Town, originally the main outpost of the British settlements in Malaysia, people from India, China, Indonesia, Thailand and many others flocked to the small island seeking their fortunes in commerce, trade and the flourishing new economy that the Europeans brought. What these people brought were of course their traditions, language, customs… And obviously food. In particular, the mixture of local Malaysian and Chinese traditions originated a new culture that is known as Peranakan or Baba Nyonya. Among the traits of the new culture featured new dishes, that became part of the Malaysian tradition as a whole.
Food is certainly an characterizing element of Malaysia till today. But food is generally connected to a special set of ingredients, which the Europeans where after in the first place with their colonies in the far East: spices. Not many years after the founding of George Town, in fact, the British financed the creation of a “spice garden” on the newly acquired land, as part of their strategy to compete with the Dutch who were active in the spices trade since centuries from nearby Indonesia and Malacca. Trades evolved and eventually commerce diversified itself in more commodities and materials. The spice garden of Penang was often closed and reopened. Nowadays the original location of the garden is uncertain, but Penang has a new spice garden, which is open to visitors who want to learn more about East Asian spices and their usage in cooking.
With this experience, you will visit the contemporary tropical spice garden of Penang, in a guided tour assisted by a local expert botanist, which will introduce to you several types of common and less common spices used in West and East culinary traditions. But the “real” experience starts after the end of the tour, when you will be taken to the cooking school where you will learn to prepare an array of delectable dishes from scratch.Under the guidance of experienced and professional chefs – each specialising in Nyonya, Malay and Indian cuisines – you can learn to cook local favourites such as Nasi Lemak, Assam Laksa, Chicken Tandoori and even concoct refreshing spice inspired beverages.
All the food ingredients and kitchen tools will be already in the cooking school, therefore you do not have to carry anything with you. The classes may be organised in groups, so you may be in company of others – but the number of participants will not exceed 10 people, thus allowing the chef to deliver a personal approach to the teaching. Though the menus follow authentic and traditional methods they are taught in such a way that you will be able to recreate the delicious dishes at home.
This experience cannot be booked on mondays. Bring with you some water and a raincoat in case of rain. The spices garden normally handles mosquito repellent for its guests before they enter the garden.