It was terrifying finding myself alone, in a foreign land, surrounded by people, but none of whom I knew. I had just left my hometown, flown seven hours via Kuala Lumpur to Penang, Malaysia to pick up my visa from the Thai consulate there. What no-one knew was that I was due to arrive in the middle of a 4-day public holiday. I visited the consulate several times, hoping beyond hope that they would be open. No such luck. The Indian taxi drivers sitting outside the hotel all knew my name and destination by heart. I made some desperate phone calls to HQ and they made sure my hotel booking was extended. I visited the travel agent and got my flights changed. I waited. I cried. Finally, I accepted the facts, overcame my fears and played tourist, exploring Georgetown and beyond.



Wandering the streets, and snapping pictures on my newly acquired camera, I made a point of sampling the local fare. There was Indian food from a hawker joint near the hotel, and some delicious fried noodles wrapped in a banana leaf bought from a shop on the side of the road… Subsequently, I went to live in Thailand for two years and fell deeply in love with all things Thai, but especially their food! There a few favourite Thai dishes I make, but only one Malaysian. It comes not from notes I made while travelling, but from the yellowing pages of a tiny, obscure book, “Recipes of the Orient” that I found in a second-hand bookstore once, a long time ago.



Claiming to contain “Over 70 easy-to-prepare recipes from Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, India, Thailand, Taiwan, and China”, it is full of unique and interesting dishes, many of which I have not been game to try! But, as is my practice with any new recipe book, I scoured it for attractive meal ideas, and noted, “try” on several that caught my attention. This one, called “Lauk Sayor” (or Curried Vegetables) hails from Malaysia, has relatively few exotic ingredients and an uncomplicated method. Once made, it got the big tick of approval, and I’ve been making it regularly ever since.


Lauk Sayor {Curried Vegetables}
A soup for those who like Asian flavours but prefer their curries with less kick.

Serves 4

½ lb (250g) bowler or chuck steak (I used gravy steak, often labelled as ‘slow cooker’ beef)
¼ medium size cabbage
½ lb (250g) French beans (green beans)
1 large potato, diced
1 onion, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 heaped teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons peanut oil (or other)
2 cups coconut milk

Add one level tablespoon of salt to 3 cups of water and cook beef on low burner for about an hour.

In the meantime, clean vegetables and neatly cut them into small pieces.

Take the meat from the burner and pour steak stock into deep bowl.

Put the (peanut) oil in the empty pan and fry onion and garlic.

When half done, add curry powder and sugar, and stock and coconut milk.

Last of all add vegetables and the shredded meat; when the vegetables are cooked the dish is ready.

*This could be eaten with rice, but we prefer to eat it as a soup.

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