Malaysia Airlines is now serving a new signature dish from MasterChef fave and TV presenter Poh Ling Yeow on all flights from Australia to Kuala Lumpur.
The aromatic Nyonya Chicken Curry appears on the menu in business class and economy class, and will also be offered on MAS’ flights from New Zealand to Kuala Lumpur from January 1.
Australian Business Traveller sat down with the delightful Poh in Kuala Lumpur to learn more about this favourite dish of hers, and her collaboration with Malaysia Airlines.
“Nyonya Chicken is a definite crowd pleaser ” Poh explains, and well-suited to being served inflight to hundreds of people.
“Chicken is something that everybody loves,” Poh says, “and the dish also has that authentic Malaysian flavour of classic spices, rich coconut milk and smokey curry leaves.”
“And it’s a very robust dish so after being cooked and quickly chilled it can be heated up easily in the plane without destroying that wonderful flavour.”
This is part of the challenge in taking a traditional dish – one of her own family recipes, in fact – and bringing it to the airline tray table.
Malaysia Airlines’ catering team has to cook and plate each meal, hundreds of dishes at a time, before the meals are blast-chilled and then transferred to the aircraft for the final reheat-and-eat cycle.
The only tweak made to Poh’s recipe is a dash of extra seasoning to cater for your tastebuds’ loss of sensitivity at altitude.
Poh adds that she’s confident that her dish will be safe in the hands of Malaysia Airlines’ executive chef Zahiddin Dris.
“Recipes just don’t multiply accurately when you’re cooking food en masse – if the recipe is for four people, you don’t just multiply it by however many more and it works out. It often just gets lost in translation.”
“So in those instances it’s important that you know what to add to drive it towards where it should be.”
“And I know that Chef Zahiddin will know where to drive it because he knows those flavours, they’re from his homeland just like mine, and from growing up here we’ve both had the memory of those flavours burnt onto our palettes.”
Malaysia Airlines first approached Poh to work with them in January this year, but the project was twice delayed following the loss of MH370 in March and MH17 in July.
It's the third such collaboration which sees chefs in each country create 'signature dishes' for the flights to Kuala Lumpur.
MAS has previously enlisted Amandine Chaignot, Chef de Cuisine from the Raphael Hotel in Paris, for the Paris to Kuala Lumpur menus, and Irish-born Michelin Star Chef Richard Corrigan for London to Kuala Lumpur flights.
The Malaysian-born, Australian-raised Poh says it was an ideal opportunity to combine her love of her two countries and her love of food.
“One thing that Australians and Malaysians have in common is that we’re such enthusiastic eaters. And Aussies are also very brave – we’ll try almost anything!” Poh laughs.
Want to try cooking Poh's Nyonya Chicken Curry for yourself? Here's the recipe from her Poh's Kitchen TV show.
David Flynn travelled to Kuala Lumpur as a guest of Malaysia Airlines
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