I’ve always heard the saying that Malay food tastes better if you eat it the traditional way—with your hands. There are various cultures around the world that still regularly eat with their hands; amongst these are the Indians, some Africans, and obviously, local Malays. It’s a common sight to see people eating at gerais, mamaks, and even restaurants; mixing their rice around with their hands and expertly scooping up curry and chicken without batting an eyelash. It’s actually more difficult than you might think—it’s a refined skill that’s honed from years of practice.
So we went out to test the belief that food tastes better when you abandon your Western cutlery and opt for a throwback to the past—eating with your hands. First, I had to get some pointers from my Malay friends and colleagues. They graciously gave me advice on just how to pick up a scoop of rice with my hands, and the right was to stuff everything into my mouth. After that, off we went to find a Malay restaurant to test out our theory in!
Our search brought us to Chomey, which is located at The Curve’s “Food Street”. They serve mainly Kelantanese food, which is one of my favourites. Indeed, I got to order my favourite nasi kerabu, which they serve in blue!
The dish came with some keropok, fried fish, veggies, and various sauces. The first thing on the agenda was to mix everything up:
After which I proceeded to eat with my hands (don’t worry, I washed my hands THOROUGHLY before digging in).
And here goes nothing!
See the problem here? Silly me. Forgot to cut my nails before going. Now, if you’re going to try this, remember to cut your nails if they’re long! It was such a pain because all the rice kept getting stuck between my nails (gross, and made it very difficult to eat).
The aftermath. My hands definitely smelled extra funky!
Next, I used a fork and spoon to eat instead:
My verdict? The rice definitely tasted somewhat better when I was eating it with my hands. The difference wasn’t extremely significant, though. But maybe that’s because I am not very adept at picking up rice with my fingers. That said, I don’t think I’ll be swapping my cutlery for my hands anytime soon… mainly because I have strong feelings for my nails and really don’t want to have to trim them all the way down. And it’s also a pain to have to wash my hands thoroughly before AND after eating, but hey, if lots of others can do it, I’m sure you can, too!