few days ago we went to mak keh's house for dinner. mak keh is my mak's cousin. very close one. in fact, since mak keh is the only girl in her family, she's more like a big sister to mak and my aunts.
now, mak keh is the sort of aunt where you can just call her up at a moment's notice for lunch or dinner. the sort of home where you can just drop by at anytime, always with a warm welcome and a warm meal! and oh boy, she can cook up the simplest dish of sambal ikan bilis to the complicated lauk kampung. just make your order, and she'll whip 'em up real nice.
from a young age we all know mak keh's place as a meeting point for my mom's side when there's a family gathering. my mak, auntyna, cik, mak keh, tokcik, mak long and mak ngah - the whole clan would gather and borak till the wee hours of the night while the men simply made themselves at home and slept on the carpet.
sigh. i miss those noisy all-night gathering...
anyhow, even as we 'crashed' mak keh's house 'uninvited' - mak keh said, "macam ni lah nak mengekalkan kemesraan!" sounds like a line from an rtm drama, but that is the truth. the first generation met here. us the 2nd generation of nieces and nephews could also meet here without the 'adults' - abah and my aunts.
soon, the third generation - the grandnephews and grandnieces khaleef and kahfi should also be able to come here and 'order' the sambal ikan bilis' with a moment's notice! baru lah kekal mesra!
mak keh is a fantastic cook. even when she came over my house in ipoh, mak would just let her take over our kitchen!
but selera anak-anak noriza ni simple je. we just want mak keh's special crispy crunchy sambal ikan bilis! her sambal ikan bilis is superb because she fried the ikan bilis first before mixing it with the sambal tumis. then she add sugar for taste. she actually made a whole bunch for me to take to dubai the first time i went, and honestly, that's the only lauk i ate for every single meal i was there. really. masak nasi, re-heat sambal mak keh, goreng telur. cukup!
we made our order with mak keh through the phone, and just a few hours later, got a feast of lauk!
when we finally arrived for dinner, mak keh already whipped out the ordered sambal ikan bilis, and my fav acar tomato with cut-up green chilli. on top of that she also made ikan kembung masak kicap, her special daging masak kari tomato with potatoes and sayur kacang fried with egg.
excellent. siap tapau bawak balik!
"hello, mak keh? isnin ni nak sambal ikan bilis lagi, boleh?"