PETALING JAYA, June 11 — In the Klang Valley, it’s rather rare to find stalls doing nasi kunyit or turmeric rice so I was incredibly happy to discover this six-year-old stall at Taman SEA run by Helen Leong Lai Yean, 57, and her husband, William Chew, 66.
I like to call their nasi kunyit my plate of happiness as the cheery yellow tinged rice always brings a smile to my face.
The texture of the rice is soft, sticky and delicious, and it is paired with a mildly spicy but fragrant chicken curry, crunchy homemade acar and toasted peanuts. This dish is traditionally served at a baby’s full moon celebrations.
Helen picked up her cooking skills from her Nyonya grandmother and aunt. She has been cooking since she was 12.
She recalls her younger days where she had to help her grandmother make acar, a back-breaking job that entailed crushing the peanuts with a glass jar.
At this stall, Helen tells us she uses a few tricks to ensure the rice has a nice sticky consistency since steaming it can produce a few random uncooked grains. The secret we discover is cooking it in an electric pressure cooker!
Using that contraption ensures that each grain is perfectly cooked with little effort. While a fussy Nyonya matriarch may object to this modern tweak, we’re all for it as the texture is just as good.
She also prefers to omit coconut milk from her nasi kunyit as her chicken curry is rich enough with coconut milk.
Look out for the other offerings like the steamed yam cake topped with shallot crisps and dried prawns that is soft and delicious. Eat it with the tingling hot and fragrant sambal belacan made by Helen.
Her regulars even eat the spicy sambal with the pan mee from another stall or pack it to take overseas e.g. Australia. A restaurant also commissions her to make the sambal for them.
A popular item with her regulars is her white fried beehoon (pak mai fun) that often sells out. There is also nasi lemak with a not overly spicy sambal and either chicken rendang, beef curry, fried mushrooms, mutton rendang, sotong or cockles.
She tells us the mutton is usually available on Saturdays or whenever a regular diner asks her to cook it. Other goodies include mee Siam and a darker hued fried beehoon.
She also prepares loh hon chai, the vegetarian dish on the first and fifteenth day of the lunar month. We also sampled the cencaru sumbat, where pan fried fish is stuffed with her homemade sambal. Delicious!
Prior to venturing into the F&B business, Helen used to be in the clothes industry where she was in charge of cutting out the designs. She moved to Tawau when her husband was posted there for work.
The couple eventually moved to Kota Kinabalu where they opened a restaurant in the Inanam area. Helen tells us it drew many customers who came for their assortment of Western and Chinese meals.
Another draw was her husband’s baked goods like chicken pie, cheese tarts, egg tarts, etc. Unfortunately she suffered a stroke that signalled the end to their thriving business.
Subsequently she returned here in 2006 and after resting for one year, she got bored and decided to start again. Depending on availability of stall space and what was required at the coffee shop, she hopped around from Sri Kembangan where she sold pan mee to Bandar Puchong Puteri where she sold wantan mee.
At one time, the couple also set up stall outside PJ’s iconic O&S Restaurant to sell durian pancakes and chicken pies every Saturday.
In 2011, she settled here after she took over the previous tenant’s nasi lemak stall.
Nasi Lemak/Nasi Kunyit Stall
Kedai Makanan & Minuman New Grand View
44, Jalan SS23/11
Taman SEA, PJ
Open: 6am to 12pm
Closed alternate Thursdays