at bayan indah, cooking up bliss

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Bayan Indah, a cooking school and retreat within the city limits of Kuala Lumpur

Last week my friends and I visited a lovely little retreat, Bayan Indah, hidden away in a little kampung (village), for a cooking class.  The house was lovely, and even though we were just a few miles away from IKEA and one of the biggest malls in Kuala Lumpur, you’d never know it from stepping onto this calm little pied-a-terre.

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Top, left: an outer petal of the banana flower, peeled away, reveals undeveloped tiny bananas inside; top right: I’m holding a banana flower to show you just how huge they are; bottom right: an onde-onde (Malaysian-style mochi) with gula melaka (palm sugar); bottom right: toasting freshly grated coconut in a wok

Our focus on the day was local Malay food (not to be confused with Malaysian Chinese or Malaysian Indian, which are totally different and also have subcategories of cuisine with each).  I was the most excited about learning how to break down and cook a banana flower, which are gargantuan.  I’ve always wanted to buy one from my local wet market, but I chicken out at the last minute because it’s such a beast of a plant to work with, and up until last week I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it.

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The fruits of our labor: nasi kerabu (rice salad); chicken and pineapple simmered in coconut milk; and ayam percik (a delightful, saucy barbecued chicken)

It turns out the banana flower, when simmered gently, peels away to reveal a mild, pleasing flesh not unlike an artichoke.  It’s delicious this way as a salad, which our class prepared both with spicy hot chillies, grated coconut and shallots and with a steamed fish.

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Top left: an assembled banana flower salad; top right: black rice, lychee and swirls of coconut milk; bottom right: one of my favorite fruits here, the rambutan

The best part of the day’s class was that we incorporated fresh herbs growing right outside Bayan Indah’s front door, and we were able to learn about how they’re incorporated into a variety of local dishes.  But, as always, the best part was eating the fruits of our labor.  That’s always the best part, isn’t it?

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Bayan Indah | Kuala Lumpur | Malaysia

Comments

  1. Jessica says

    What lovely photos! Looks like you really had a great time.

  2. says

    It was nice meeting you at Bayan Indah. The photos are great! I’m planning to do a write-up for the AAM magazine; would it be okay if I referred them to you for photos? Mine aren’t nearly as appetizing.

  3. says

    Glad you enjoyed your experience at Bayan Indah – everyone who goes there loves the place! :) I’ve been there 5 times myself.

  4. says

    What lovely pictures! I wish I can be back in Malaysia again, just to cook and eat at Bayan Indah

  5. says

    Bayan Indah is my favourite cooking school in the world. My boyfriend and I do a class here with our friends every time I come to KL to visit him, so we will be doing our 8th class soon! Can someone beat that? :-)

  6. says

    Jessica: definitely worth checking out!

    Rachell: nice to meet you, too! Let the AAM know (is it Debra?) that I’m happy to provide photos — just tell them to e-mail me.

    Pureglutton: Wow, amazing! I can see why you’d go back again and again — such a lovely place.

    Selina: Thank you!

    Emma: I think you guys win, as far as I know. Glad you enjoy Bayan Indan so much! What classes do you recommend?

  7. says

    Over the last 3 years or so, we have done so far

    Rock and Roll
    Fishy Business
    Laksa Workshop
    Typically Thai
    Use Your Noodles
    Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
    Mighty Macarons

    Every class is excellent so it depends on what you like. That is another reason why we love going to Rohani. She has such a breadth of knowledge about teaching people how to cook just about any style of food, not only Asian like other schools (who tend to do it rather mechaniccally too, like a production line). She is simply genius. A recent example are the macarons – her special tips work perfectly every time, and I can now bake them for my family, who are always amazed. And then the next day I make them a classic laksa!

  8. Prab says

    My sister and I have been to Bayan Indah 6 times. Now planning a baking class with some friends for a birthday.

  9. says

    Emma: what a great variety of classes! I’ve been dying to learn more about macarons ever since our lopsided attempt awhile back. Maybe I’ll have to try it out before we head out!

    Prab: Glad you enjoy Bayan Indah, too! Hope your baking class goes well.

  10. HM says

    Your nice pictures remind us of a wonderful and extremely delicious day with Rohani during our holidays last year. It was our most perfect day in KL city.

  11. says

    I’ve always wanted to buy one from my local wet market, but I chicken out at the last minute because it’s such a beast of a plant to work with, and up until last week I didn’t have the foggiest idea what to do with it.