Penang Peranakan spices cooking class - Orangutravel
An inspiring visit to learn more about tropical spices and their usage as culinary ingredients in the Peranakan food tradition of Malaysia! Join a tour to the most unique tropical spice garden in South East Asia and get to cook Nyonya dishes based on the spices you just learned about
  • 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
What's included
  • 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
Penang Peranakan spices cooking class
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.


      1 Tropical Spice Garden
      From your hotel in George Town, meet a private driver to bring you to the cooking school, which is located a bit far from the city. Once arrived in the tropical spice garden of the cooking school, you will enjoy a guided tour in company of a botanist to learn more about the species and the culinary uses of several tropical spices. There will be also a good share of history anecdotes connected to the trade of spices between West and East. Once the introductory spice tour is complete, you will enter the cooking class and with the aid of a famous local chef you will commence preparing nyonya food with ingredients from the garden, which will be served for lunch. The driver will then take you back to hotel in town.
      20150223 08:30Meet your driver at hotel lobby in George Town and get to the other side of the island.
      20150223 09:00Guided tour with an expert botanist of the tropical spice garden.
      20150223 10:00Cooking class starts. Meet the chef and after a briefing get your hands on ingredients and kitchen!
      20150223 12:15Lunch with prepared food.
      20150223 13:30Back to your hotel.
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