PETALING JAYA, Oct 12 — I had come across this Peranakan-style nasi ulam in a friend's Instagram post.
What interested me was the story behind the newly set up business which was featured by U Mobile.
Moreover, nasi ulam or what cookbook author Terry Tan calls "the queen of all Nyonya rice dishes" is a big favourite of mine.
From what I read, Mama Chew set up this business after losing her job during the movement control order (MCO).
Bored at home, the lady who loves to cook practised hard on her recipe repertoire. That love for cooking came from her family who are all good cooks; from her grandfather to her mother who are from the Hakka Ho Poh clan.
After testing out her nasi ulam on family and friends, she took the leap to start this business. For this venture, her two daughters Joelle and Sam are also helping out.
Her prized possession is a Chinese cleaver passed down from her grandfather. That is also the key to her nasi ulam — the knife skills to finely chop the herbs and vegetables needed for the rice.
In fact, when I looked at some of the pictures, I did think it was machine processed as it was incredibly finely chopped. This could be due to the fact that the Nyonyas tend to finely slice their herbs versus chopping them.
On its own, the nasi ulam (RM15 for a portion) is a tasty treat. In fact, you won't miss any protein since each spoonful gives you satisfaction with the aromatic herbs.
What I also liked was how the rice wasn't too dry. Sometimes depending on how they wash and dry the herbs before chopping it, the rice can be incredibly hard to eat when the herbs are too dry. This version was good to eat on its own.
There's a hint of dried prawns, salted fish and kerisik inside too. Since the herbs are so finely chopped, it easily coats each rice grain.
There's a long list of herbs inside it such as wild betel leaf (daun kaduk), laksa leaf (daun kesum), turmeric leaf (daun kunyit), kaffir lime leaf, mint leaf, basil leaf, torch ginger flower and daun selom. There is also lemongrass, turmeric and kunyit.
This version includes pennywort or daun pegaga which is uncommon. Again, this depends on individual families. On top they sprinkle chopped bird-eye's chillies and it is served with fried tempeh, a sliver of salted egg and a segment of lime. They also add some vegetables like lettuce and cherry tomatoes with each portion.
Even though I had it for lunch and dinner that day, I wasn't sick of the nasi ulam. In fact, my friend whom I shared the nasi ulam with is keen to place another order in the future as she enjoyed it so much.
They have also rolled out three various bottled condiments you can sample such as chilli sauce, dried shrimp sambal and sambal belacan.
For the nasi ulam, you need to place a minimum order of three portions, at least three days in advance. They prepare the nasi ulam for lunch and dinner.
Delivery is at your own cost and can be arranged for areas such as Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Bandar Sunway, Shah Alam and selected KL areas. If your area is not within their delivery areas, contact them for special arrangements.
Mama Chew's Kitchen, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya. For orders, message via their Instagram @mamachewskitchen