This Merdeka, let us celebrate peace and embrace diversity by cooking and savouring dishes from our multi-ethnic groups. I have brought together Malay, Chinese, Indian and Malaccan Portuguese dishes to make one unforgettable meal.

8/30/20234 min read

“Peace is not unity in similarity but unity in diversity, in the comparison and conciliation of differences,” Gorbachev.

This Merdeka, let us celebrate peace and embrace diversity by cooking and savouring dishes from our multi-ethnic groups. I have brought together Malay, Chinese, Indian and Malaccan Portuguese dishes to make one unforgettable meal.

This is to honour the rich tapestry of cultures that unite us through the love of food.

The menu comprises Steamed Chinese Glutinous Rice Dumpling (Chang or Zongzi), served with Malay Sambal (Chilli Sauce) and Serunding Kelapa (Spiced Grated Coconut), Indian Egg Biryani, and Luncheon Meat Stew from the Malaccan Portuguese community. Enjoy!

Steamed Chinese Glutinous Rice Dumpling (Chang or Zongzi)

These triangle shaped dumplings, called Zhongzi in Cantonese and Chang in Hokkien, are normally stuffed with fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves. Since I wanted to serve mine with Sambal and Serunding Kelapa as a condiment, I made mine plain.

500 gm glutinous rice
Seasonings for rice:
2 Tbsp cooking oil
5 cloves garlic (peeled and finely chopped)
2 shallots (peeled and finely chopped)
2 Tbsp dark soy sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp sugar
Salt & pepper to taste

You also need:
24 pieces dried bamboo leaves (cleaned and soaked overnight)
Kitchen twine

1. Rinse and soak the glutinous rice for at least 4 hours or overnight. In you are using pressure cooker, you can omit this stage.
2. Drain off the water.
3. Wipe the bamboo leaves dry with a clean cloth when you are ready to use them.
4. Heat 1 tbs oil in a skillet and stir fry the garlic and shallots until fragrant.
5. Add in the glutinous rice
6. Mix in the seasonings and give it a good stir.
7. Dish out and set aside to let it cool.
8. Take 2 bamboo leaves, stacking one on top of each other. Make sure the smooth side of the leaves are facing you.
9. Fold into a cone shape. Fill it up with about 3 Tbsp of rice and use the back of the spoon to pack it in.
10. Fold the leaves down and wrap to make a triangle shape.
11. Tie with kitchen twine.
12. Repeat with the rest of the rice.
13. If cooking with pressure cooker, boil the dumplings for 40 minutes.
14. If cooking on the stove, you need to boil the dumplings for 2 ½ hours.
15. Drain.


3 tbs chilli paste
1 large onion (peeled and minced)
1 stalk lemon grass (smashed)
Kaffir lime leaves (roughly shredded)
1 tsp tamarind paste
1 tsp sugar
Salt to taste

1. Heat 2 tbs of vegetable oil in a skillet.
2. Fry minced onions for 2 minutes until fragrant.
3. Add chilli paste and lemon grass and stir fry for 3 minutes over medium heat.
4. Stir in salt, sugar, tamarind paste and some water.
5. Bring it to a boil.
6. Add kaffir lime leaves.
7. Stir and dish out when the gravy thickens.

Spiced Grated Coconut
(Serunding Kelapa)

1 cup grated fresh coconut
2 tsp dried shrimps (soaked)
1 medium sized onion
1 stalk lemongrass
½ inch fresh turmeric or ½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tbs dried chilli paste
¼ tsp teaspoon coriander powder
¼ tsp cumin powder
2 tbs sugar
Salt to taste
1 turmeric leave, finely shredded, (optional)

1. Peel, wash, chop and blend together onion, lemon grass, turmeric and dried shrimps.
2. Heat 2 tbs vegetable oil in a skillet.
3. Add blended spiced paste and fry until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
4. Add chilli paste and fry for another 2-3 minutes over medium heat.
5. Add ground spices and turmeric powder (if using).
6. Stir in grated coconut, sugar and salt. Stir fry for 2 minutes.
7. Add turmeric leaves and dish out.

Note: If you do not have fresh grated coconut, you can use desiccated coconut. But add 1/3 cup of coconut milk during the cooking process. Cook until it is dried.

Egg Beriyani

1 tbs ghee
3 cardamoms
1 bay leave
1 onion (finely sliced)
2 cloves
1 ripe tomato (diced)
4 eggs (hardboiled and shelled)
2 cups Basmati rice (washed & drained)
A handful of coriander leaves
Salt to taste
Spice Paste
½ cup grated coconut
½ cup yoghurt
1 onion
1 tbs ginger & garlic paste
4 green chillies
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli powder

1. Blend all the spiced paste ingredients, adding some water during the process.
2. Heat ghee over medium heat.
3. Fry cardamoms, cloves and bay leave.
4. Add the sliced onions and fry until lightly brown.
5. Stir in diced tomato, followed by the blended spice paste.
6. Cook over low heat until the oil separates.
7. Add the hard-boiled eggs and stir only until the eggs are coated with the spiced mixture.
8. Remove the eggs and set aside.
9. Add the rice to the pan, give it a good stir.
10. Transfer the rice-spiced mixture to rice cooker, add salt and water and cook until rice is tender.
11. Top the rice with coriander leaves and eggs.

Luncheon Meat Stew

1 can Luncheon Meat, sliced thickly, (or ham)
2 potatoes (peeled and quartered)
1 small head of cabbage (rinsed)
2 carrots (peeled and cut into batons)
1 big onion (peeled and sliced)
1 cinnamon stick
Salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat 1 tbs oil in a pot.
2. Add the cinnamon stick and onions and fry until fragrant.
3. Pour in water, salt and pepper and bring to a oil.
4. Add potatoes and cook until almost tender,
5. Add the carrots, cabbage and Luncheon Meat.6. Cook until the vegetables are tender.