We Malaysians love our nasi lemak. It's a staple food for some and comfort food for most. Whenever we go abroad for long periods of time, it's typically one of the things we crave for. For some of us, there is nothing like going to Auntie Christina's for our nasi lemak fix.
Her nasi lemak is among the best in town, and one of Puchong's best kept secrets. The rice grains are fluffy and come nicely apart and oh so fragrant, perfectly blending with the sweetish spicy sambal, and crunchy peanuts -- Christina sells hundreds of nasi lemak packets every day. That's on top of the nasi lemak on the plate the stall offers along with yummy Malaysian favourites such as curry chicken, rendang chicken, beef rendang, sotong, devil's curry, fried chicken, asam pedas, and stuffed ikan kembong. The stall also sells mee rebus, rojak mamak, prawn mee and a host of kuih-muih. Christina does food catering as well, specialising in Portuguese, Indian and Malay cuisine.
Portuguese descent Christina Lowe has been in the food business for 32 years, first in Seremban before moving to Pusat Bandar Puchong where she had been for the past 15 years. Her yummy delights, coupled with her kind and affable personality, naturally built her a steady following.
Christina speaks fondly of her loyal customers, some of whom she had seen grown up. Many who had moved away still seek her out occasionally for their nasi lemak or mee rebus fix.
"There are many who used to eat here as children now bringing children of their own here. Some who had migrated overseas still come to see me whenever they are back," she says.
In the world of nasi lemak where stall operators tend to come and go rather quickly, Christina's 15-year-old "Nasi Lemak Melaka" stall, with its throng of loyal customers, is a testament of her tenacity and food quality.
Christina is particular about the ingredients that she uses. For cooking oil, which also goes into her kuih-muihs, she swears on palm oil.
"That's the only oil that everyone can take, without any complaints. [For example] coconut oil has this smell that not everyone likes. Some people are allergic to peanut. Every now and then, people would ask if I use peanut oil in my cooking... there is no such problem with palm oil," she says.
As Christina uses a minimum of 10kg of cooking oil per day on weekdays and 15kg per day on weekends, palm oil also makes the most economic sense. Palm oil is the most easily available cooking oil in Malaysia and the most cost efficient, she said.
"It's healthy, it's value for money, and it's Malaysia's own oil. Is there anything better?" she asks rhetorically.
When asked for her secret in making great nasi lemak rice that is fragrant and with individual grains that come apart and not clump together, Christina says "use good rice, don't skimp on santan, don't rush the process, and add some palm oil".
Christina's stall is at Kedai Kopi Min Ren, Jalan Bandar 2, Pusat Bandar Puchong. Opens 6am-3pm; close on Thursdays.