Nasi banjir gives you all you need in a curry rice dish

Scrumptious curry rice or nasi banjir as it is known locally.

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By Wilfred Pilo

KUCHING, June 29: If one thinks about it nasi banjir (flooded rice) is an amusing name for a curry rice dish.

Locals here have a custom of describing something by way of giving it a witty or amusing name instead of being direct.

In this respect, nasi banjir’s description has helped it to become a household name. It has become a marketing tool for those who serve the dish.

Nasi banjir is usually served as a plateful of white rice topped with assorted meat, vegetables, and a boiled or fried sunny side up egg, and is generously drenched in a savoury local Chinese-style curry sauce.

If the tantalising sight of this mountain of deliciousness doesn’t incite a growl or two from one’s stomach, the taste of this unforgettably addictive combination will. Just the thought of savouring it can leave one salivating.

For food lovers who love the taste of mildly spicy curry, this is a must-try dish in Kuching.

Jong pours a generous helping of curry from which nasi banjir gets its name.

So why is nasi banjir or curry rice such a popular dish among local food lovers?

For one, this irresistible dish has a savoury, mildly spicy flavour profile which suits local palates. After all, there aren’t many local who don’t love a good curry!

Secondly, the moniker for the dish easily comes to mind whenever there’s a craving for curry. The steamed rice with Chinese-style curry sauce and juicy barbeque or braised meat all combine to create that perfect blend of aroma, taste and texture.

Add in some tangy fermented shrimp paste as relish only enhances the taste, making the dish one not to be missed!

Nasi banjir can be seen as a marriage of Malay and Chinese influences, drawing on different aspects of ethnic food culture.

Stir-fried long beans and savoury meat used in the Curry Rice dish.

There are many stalls serving curry rice dish here, but a good place to start is the one at Sin Ban Chong Cafe, operated by coffee shop proprietor, Alan Jong and his wife, Shirley Chin.

Chin said that she and her husband had already been in the food business for awhile when they came up with the idea of serving nasi banjir to give their customers more choices.

“The coffee shop had other stalls which served other food and we found out that curry rice is an ideal meal to serve to customers,” she added.

“Through our experience, we knew local food lovers love curry flavoured dishes, so curry rice was the logical choice as it is easy to prepare and it is a palatable dish.

“Besides, there were none in the vicinity offering the dish and we need a tasty dish that had the ability to pull in the crowd. The coffee shop has high customer turnover, so curry rice is also a quick meal to serve.

“The witty moniker of nasi banjir made it easy to be identified by locals. So to serve the dish, we must also adapt to the local name,” she said.

Jong stirring curry sauce used in his version of nasi banjir.

Chin also emphasised that the curry sauce is key to the savoury rice dish.

She makes her curry gravy from fresh curry paste instead of powder.

“I prefer to use curry paste rather than powder. The taste and aroma of the curry sauce made from fresh paste is different. This is the reason why I believe my customers loves my nasi banjir,” she revealed.

Chin added that she learned and improved her culinary skills under the guidance of her late father who showed her how to prepare and cook tasty dishes.

“My late father loved to cook good food and use ingredients which enhanced the taste of his dish.

“He used to operate a Kolo Mee stall at the former St Michael’s Canteen in the city that has now closed,” she revealed.

“My late father was a kind of a culinary expert himself. He told me what ingredients to use to make a tasty dish. I am thankful and blessed with the knowledge he gave me.

“He told me what curry ingredients make a good curry dish. And all this I adapted and used in my Curry Rice gravy,” she said.

Jong and Chin’s menu and price list.

The nasi banjir served by Chin comprises steamed rice topped with oven-roasted barbeque pork, braised five-spiced pork, steamed chicken, and stir-fried long beans.

“This dish is then dressed with curry sauce and finished with a fried sunny side up egg to give the final touch. My customers love this dish with this kind of egg as it goes well with the curry sauce.

“We used Bintulu shrimp paste (belacan) to make the relish. We like the taste and the flavour. It completes and adds to the taste of the dish,” she added.

Sin Ban Chong Cafe is located at No 9, Lebuh Temple. It also serves popular local food such as Kolo Mee, Pork Leg Rice, Lo Bak Rice and toast.

The coffee shop opens daily from 6am to 2.30pm. For inquiries, call O17-805 9992. — DayakDaily