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this is mr. khairul and his aunt, mak cah on her wedding day with pak abas. the day he introduced mak cah to me for the first time, he said she is just like a mother to him - she took care of him almost completely from the moment he was born.
the way he fusses over her and the way he constantly 'demands' this dish and that lauk from her, you know he is super-manja with this 'mak'. so it's no surprise that on this trip back to malaysia from dubai he 'requested' gulai lemak nenas.
this was weeks ago, we went to taiping from kl, arriving close to midnight. sayangnya mak cah with her 'along' she stayed up waiting for him. my in-laws drove from kampung lalang and met us there.
mr. khairul went straight to attack the gulai lemak nenas he asked for, along with the ikan masin. the simple ikan goreng was inviting, and the best dish for me was the sambal ikan bilis petai.
it was a classic kampung meal. served on transparent glass plate yang macam kat kenduri kawen. laid down on newspapers. accompanied with hot plain tea. semua duduk bersila makan lauk dengan nasi panas. fuh!
buah tu je yang tak malaysia! hihi.
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fast forward to the present, yong finished work early so she sent the boys to abah's house for another round of x-box fun. i was supposed to pick them up after a visit to cik's house.
cik is my mom's youngest sister, and she makes the best ikan keli dish - ever. i mean, i'm an ikan keli hound. go to any malay restaurants, and chances are you see my plate graced with ikan keli goreng or masak sambal.
cik's ikan keli is so special because instead of using red chilli, she uses green chilli and bawang besar which gives it the sweet spicy taste. lovely! thanks, cik! esok nasi tomato pulak!
afternoons in ipoh is yummier with goreng pisang from the makcik bawah, as her stall is down a slope. from carsem factory in maju rapat, you go straight towards sultan azlan shah airport but turn right at the first junction after the factory. go straight down and you'll see from afar a stall selling goreng pisang, cempedak goreng and kerepok lekor. nyum.
we buy from this makcik since eons ago, so she pretty much knows our family. it's sweet how these little relationships can be built with a makcik goreng pisang or the pakcik posmen if we just make an effort to say 'hello' and bertanya khabar. even a little smile!
coming back, we just left the kuih in the plastic bags, and dunked our hands in to savor the taste! tak sabar-sabar nak letak kat pinggan!
in fact, just across a busy main road, lies 'yoong foong' - the pasaraya that i always go to when i was younger. 2 kids and dubai life later, i went to buy some stuff, leaving kahfi with cik.
"kenal saya lagi tak?" and the amoi squinted her eyes, trying to recall. "saya dulu duduk situ." pointing. "kakak saya.." and she brightened up and finished my sentence, "...kakak you duduk sana kan!" pointing to another direction. and we talked a bit. she told me she just found out that my mom passed away. her sympathetic tone and our mutual smile describes years of bond built between a grocer and her customer. it's that easy.
while big bro haiqal went out with his opah running errands, haqeem and khaleef enjoyed ice-cream together just watching x-box. best of times.
the cutest thing happened when they were leaving. haqeem left his wallet filled with coins. i noticed it right when they stepped into the car. haqeem asked me to keep it for him, he'll come for it tomorrow. and as they were leaving, haqeem rolled down the car window, and shouted, "kalau aunty gim nak beli apa-apa, guna la duit haqeem tu!"
it was the sweetest thing from a 6 year old, and the perfect example of 'i may not have much, but i don't mind sharing.' sigh. sebak sungguh! we can learn a thing or two from this little haqeem!