baba-and-nyonya Archives - juesatta (CJ Photography)
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[caption id="attachment_11759" align="aligncenter" width="850"] Nyonya Memoirs - first live environmental Peranakan show in Melaka (iPhonegraphy)[/caption] It caught my attention when the ad in the mall stated it to be the first 360° musical show, not only in Melaka but Malaysia's. The show is the product by the familiar Malaysian film director, James Lee whom I admire of the short films he directed (read about his introduction of this play in his Facebook too).  Last week I got an entry ticket from my friend and invited to see, I would say 'participate' in this show happening in Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall. The...

[caption id="attachment_8887" align="aligncenter" width="800" caption="Hokkien New Year eve (Bai Tian Gong) at Chris's place"][/caption] Today, the 9th day of Chinese New Year is also the significant day to all Hokkien. It is the Hokkien New Year and yesterday the eve celebration known to the Hokkien as 'Bai Tian Gong' (in Chinese, 拜天宫) was held in many places of Malaysia. Although I am not a Hokkien, I still share the joy and celebrate the festive and last night I was invited to Chris Baba's place for the celebration. Copy-and-paste the story behind the festive from the Bai Tian Gong's post published two years back: During...

[caption id="attachment_2206" align="aligncenter" width="500" caption="Baba Pongteh by Jason"]Baba Pongteh by Jason[/caption] When we speak of Nyonya dishes we are first to think of Nyonya Pongteh. It is basically chicken (ayam in Malay) or pork (babi in Malay) or both, with potatoes and mushroom braised in soybean paste. If you google for Pongteh recipe on the web, there are heaps of result coming out. However, I tried a few web recipes and did not get the taste expected. The real Pongteh is always made by the authentic Baba (refers to male) and Nyonya (refers to female) folks. 2 months ago, Jason’s mother invited my mother and me to their place and to learn how to cook Pongteh and also for a lunch together. Jason’s mom was guiding and supervising us. Jason was interested in learning too so he did the cooking most of the time while I was helping him to prepare the ingredients. What I could remember is, about 300g-500g of pork was cooked in water (to remove the strong taste of pork), cooled and cut into pieces. Another 300g-500g of chicken was cut. Ratio 1:1 of shallots and garlic were peeled and chopped, then fried with oil. A few table spoons of Cow brand soybean paste were added to the wok followed by the pork and chicken. Then the Pongteh was fried until we got a strong flavour and the gravy was thick. After that, a bit of water was added and salt, sugar, soy sauce, dark soy sauce were added to taste. I didn’t take down any notes of the Pongteh we learned to cook; rather I enjoyed eating than cooking. And regrettably I didn’t take any shot of the final product of Pongteh because I couldn’t wait to eat when it was served. It was really delicious. Besides Pongteh, there were other Nyonya dishes cooked by Jason’s mother. They tasted not so different from those I had in Nyonya restaurants, yet as yummy. Thanks to Jason and his mother for inviting us to their place and teaching me how to cook Pongteh. I would call the Pongteh I had at Jason's place, the Baba Pongteh, as Jason the Baba cooked it. Below are some of the shots I took while I had time:

“传说明朝时一年的农历新年,倭寇在福建沿海一带,杀人放火,抢夺财物,乡民扶老携幼逃命。 乡民在黑夜中逃到一处偏僻郊野时,眼见倭寇就要追上,大家感到万分惊恐,突然前面出现一大片蔗林,乡民便逃入蔗林躲避,避过倭寇,逃过鬼门关。这天正是大年初九,逃出生天的乡民都认为这是天公救命,于是每年的大年初九凌晨便祭拜天公,以谢救命之恩。而拜甘蔗也具有不忘蔗林藏身救命之恩。” “另一传说是,古时有一名孟将军,他到某个地方,只要喝了当地的水,就会讲当地的话,他就以这门本事辨别汉人。 可是他到了福建,手下竟然拿了外省的水给他喝,结果他一直不懂讲福建话。他便以为福建人不是汉人,就下令大开杀戒,福建人枉死无数。到了大年初九那天,从外省运来的水喝光了,孟将军才喝到福建的水,会讲起福建话,这时他才知道杀错人,马上下令封刀。而福建人认为这是天公所赐,让他们逃过大劫,便在初九凌晨拜天公谢恩。” 前两天是农历正月初八,也福建人的新年。我、Wee-Peng和Jason到访了Jason的两个伯母的家和Murphy的家去见识福建人的拜天公。同时我们也见识到了峇峇福建人为拜天公准备功夫的细腻。 Two days ago (Sunday midnight) was the 8th day of the first month of lunar calendar. On the 9th day, it would be the celebration known to the Hokkiens as 'Bai Tian Gong', which literally means 'praying the Heaven God'. During a Chinese New year of the Ming Dynasty, there was a bandit raid in the province of Hokkien. These intruders however robbed and burned down villages, attacked and killed the villagers. The people of the villages were in fear and escaped from their burnt villages during the night. Some of the villagers then hid themselves among the sugarcane fields. Needless to say, those villagers prayed to Heaven God (Tian Gong)  for salvation during their hideout. The pursuing intruders spent many days trying to locate and hunt them but to no avail. On the ninth day of that Chinese New Year, they finally gave up and returned to their region. The Hokkiens then happily emerged from the sugar cane fields, and praising the blessings of the celestial deities and owing gratitude to the sugarcane plants for saving them from destruction. Thus, in all Hokkien celebrations, the sugarcane plant is given prominence. Realizing that it was also the 9th Day of the Chinese New Year and coincidentally the birthday of Heaven God, they decided to make votive offerings and prayers to the Jade Emperor for their salvation. There are many version of the Hokkiens' Bai Tian Gong stories. Whichever it is, the hokkiens believe that our life and prosperity are granted by the Heaven God. On the eve of the 9th day, a pair of sugarcane plants are used by the Hokkiens usually placed one on each side of the offering table or  the front door of the house. The pair of the sugarcane symbolises unity, cooperation and strength. The sugarcane itself is a symbol of harmony and a token which can bring good and 'sweet' results. The very straightness of the sugarcane stem also ensures that the Hokkiens can become a clan of honest and sincere people. Three family houses I visited together with Jason and Wee-Peng, two of my best friends on the eve of Bai Tian Gong festival. The first two houses we visited were the family of Jason's aunties, and the last house we went was my best friend, Murphy's house. Jason comes from a Baba-and-Nyonya family so the prayers of Tian Gong for them is a grant event of the year. The celebration they held for the past few years I visisted were so unique and special. Each of the table setup and the offerings, the preparation were carefully done and also involved a lot of manpower.  Share the photos I have taken: