Let’s Eat: ‘Chef Ken’ shares Malaysian culture at Kerol’s Kitchen | Food & Drink

Let’s Eat: ‘Chef Ken’ shares Malaysian culture at Kerol’s Kitchen | Food & Drink

Khirularziman Mahmud, recognized around Madison as “Chef Ken,” is now scheduling the menu for his brick and mortar cafe, even however it is possible quite a few months from becoming a actuality. 

Mahmud is the proprietor of Kerol’s Kitchen, a food items cart and catering small business. On a latest weekday, he leaned back again in his white chef’s coat soon after serving a scrumptious catered lunch based on a standard Malaysian marriage feast. 

At his restaurant, “you have to have nasi lemak,” he mentioned, “That will be the signature dish.” 

The unofficial countrywide foods of Malaysia, nasi lemak virtually interprets to “rich” or “creamy” rice, and with superior motive. The centerpiece of the plate is rice cooked in coconut milk. This is traditionally served with peanuts, sliced cucumbers, a really hard boiled egg and some kind of protein in a rich curry sauce. 

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Kerol’s Kitchen will make nasi hujan panas, saffron seasoned rice with tricky boiled eggs. 

“And pink milk,” Mahmud stated. “You would like this. It’s milk blended with a rose syrup. It’s pretty refreshing. And Malaysian espresso, with a thick foam at the major that’s sweetened with honey. You just can’t have a Malaysian cafe with no that.” 

Sometime, Mahmud would like to serve his food stuff in each important college or university city in the region.

Culinary ‘elder’

Although he queries the city for a good locale with fair lease, Mahmud stays a culinary nomad. For the earlier two many years, Mahmud has mostly cooked and shipped dishes from his homeland to eager diners who come across out about his Malaysian cuisine by phrase of mouth. 

“I am very well regarded on campus,” he claimed. “I do not have so many orders now in September, but wait around just one month. By then, all the Malaysian learners at the university will have run out of the food they introduced with them. They will start out to get homesick and they will seem all around for the kind of cooking they are employed to. The other pupils will ship them to me.” 

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Khirularziman Mahmud, far better acknowledged as “chef Ken,” is the chef and proprietor of Kerol’s Kitchen area, which would make Malaysian cuisine at a food cart and for catering functions. 

In an regular week through the college year Mahmud provides dozens of just take-out meals to eager and hungry learners waiting around in front of the Memorial Union. He delivers them spicy curries layered with ginger, onion, purple chilies and garlic, and aromatic rice infused with saffron, cardamom, cloves, star anise and pandan leaves. Pandan is a tropical plant with a grassy taste some say evokes vanilla and coconut.

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The evening meal Khirularziman Mahmud prepared for my family highlighted nasi hujan panas (saffron seasoned rice with challenging boiled eggs), daging masak hitam (black beef), shrimp curry with tomatoes and green beans, ayam masak merah (chicken with red chilies) and timun acar (cucumber salad with clean tomatoes, pineapple, carrots and jalapenos). 

“I’m like an elder in the neighborhood,” Mahmud laughs. “They know me. They all get in touch with me ‘uncle’ and my wife ‘auntie.’”

After reserving a handful of small festivals, weddings, numerous catering work and cooking courses in personal residences, Mahmud has begun to department out above the last calendar year. Earlier this month, he was a to start with-time food items seller at the Flavor of Madison. 

At Kerol’s Kitchen area, he served 1,600 plates of beef rendang or hen curry and 1,500 Malaysian spring rolls, a dish he developed with his wife. The spring rolls garnered him a very first put Style of Flavor award for Asian food stuff. 

“It was wonderful,” he stated. “I don’t have a typical staff members, so some of the Malaysian students I prepare dinner for arrived to assist me serve buyers about the weekend.”

Mahmud vends at the Boneyard Pet dog Park and Biergarten on Wednesday nights on Madison’s east aspect, together with numerous other food items carts. There he will make rice stir fries and sauteed noodle dishes to order, together with his award-successful spring rolls. 

“I make everything contemporary,” he claimed. “Nothing frozen. I push to Milwaukee after a 7 days so I can get fresh herbs that I just can’t invest in here.”

Malaysian foods will take patience

When going for walks me by the dishes he shipped for my luncheon feast, Mahmud explained the origins of Malaysian cooking and the philosophy guiding it. As a region full of immigrants from the bordering location, Malaysian foodstuff has been motivated by the foodways of Java, China, India, Indonesia and Thailand. 

For the reason that every spot uses its nearby kinds of elements, the flavor of the remaining goods can differ broadly. “The palm sugar which is grown and processed in each location is distinct,” Mahmud explained. “The teas are diverse Malaysian tea leaves are a lot much more fragrant. We use spices in different means.

“Also, Malaysian food stuff can take persistence,” he additional. “I discovered that from my father, when I watched him prepare dinner as a little one. He taught me, you have to saute gradually, enable the ingredients brown correctly prior to you put the upcoming issue in the pan. The consequence is deep, wealthy taste.” 

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Timun acar is a Malaysian cucumber salad with contemporary tomatoes, pineapple, carrots and jalapenos. 

Mahmud credits his moms and dads for training him the basic tenets of his native culture’s cuisine. Whilst not formally qualified as a chef, he labored in experienced kitchens in Malaysia’s capitol of Kuala Lumpur for several years, accomplishing anything from washing dishes to preparing banquets for foreign dignitaries — like the late Queen Elizabeth II. 

Mahmud accompanied his wife to Madison in the early 1990s, when she commenced work on her PhD in environmental sciences at UW and he centered on raising their three sons. Before long he began cooking for friends, then close friends of mates, and his popularity grew. 

“It has not constantly been quick,” he reported, shaking his head, “but I have been really blessed. Now issues are fantastic.”

A well balanced introduction

The dinner Mahmud prepared for my household built for a superb introduction to Malaysian foods. It showcased nasi hujan panas (saffron seasoned rice with hard boiled eggs), daging masak hitam (black beef), shrimp curry with tomatoes and inexperienced beans, ayam masak merah (hen with red chilies) and timun acar (cucumber salad with refreshing tomatoes, pineapple, carrots and jalapenos). 

As instructed, we piled a bit of just about every item on our plates and ate them all together, letting the flavors blend and engage in off every other. A delightful blend of salty and sweet, the dishes have been intricate fusions of ginger, cinnamon, lemongrass, turmeric and herbs that Mahmud grinds by hand. The food stuff was fantastically balanced the spicy chilies have been assertive but in no way overpowering. 

“When I do cooking classes, it’s ordinarily for a team of females good friends in a person of their homes,” Mahmud mentioned. “Sometimes they communicate and gossip and don’t learn a lot. 

“But I tell them pay consideration. This way your spouse is gonna love you. This is cooking from the heart.”