KLM Royal Dutch Airlines & Cristang, a historical Malaysian-Dutch food experience

Beginning from March 1st 2012, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will serve a choice of carefully selected Cristang meals on board of their flights from Kuala Lumpur to Amsterdam. Passengers can look forward to tasty dishes such as a Cristang salad, Chicken Curry Belanda or Beef Semur when they travel in Economy or World Business Class.

When I got the invite for the launch, I literally drooled over my keyboard and replied with a ‘Yes’, though the location of the event was daunting…

…because the launch was held at ..

SEPANG!

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012

Our hot food was prepared in the LSG Sky Chef building, where most of the in-flight menus are prepared.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-1

For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with the Cristang cuisine, the cuisine is influenced by a variety of ethnic groups who settled in Malacca and who left their cultural and gastronomic traits behind.  The food is a mix of delicious tastes, varying from spicy to salty, sour and sweet.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-10

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-3
Original relatively bland European dishes has evolved into delectably spicy hybrids with the introduction of onions, garlic and chillies.

KLM Business Class Cristang meal on-board.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-18

KLM Economy Class Cristang meal on-board.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-17

Choice of Curry Chicken Belanda or Beef Semur.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-19
The Cristang is also a new ethnic community of Malay, Indian, Portuguese and Dutch descent. The heart of all things Cristang, in particular all things Portuguese and Dutch in Southeast Asia, is in Malacca, Malaysia.
KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-14

Thus, to ensure the authenticity and taste of the Cristang menu, KLM contacted Ms Celine Marbeck from Malacca, who’s an author of a few Cristang cookbooks. Her main focus is to promote the Cristang culture and its food, and her book Cuzinhia Cristang was the starting point of this whole idea.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-2

Proud of her heritage and in her quest to propagate Cristang cuisine, Celine enthusiastically signed up for this project and gave all the necessary assistance by designing this delectable menu.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-13

Below: Celine scrutinizing the dishes prepared and explaining to us the ingredients.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-8

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-9

The meals will be available in Economy class for six months (1 March – 31 August) and three months in World Business class (1 March – 31 May).

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-11

The dessert in the menu is ” Bolu Cuco”, a Portugese coconut cake, which is commonly eaten by the Eurasians during festive celebrations like Christmas. I don’t fancy coconut cakes as I dislike dessicated coconut but this cake was really nice. The texture was alike chiffon or more accurately our local “kuih bahulu”; as Bolu Cuco is light & dry-ish in texture. The accompanying cardamon custard added moisture to the dessert.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-15

This is the Cristang salad, also part of the whole Cristang set meal. Ingredients include lettuce, cucumbers, boiled eggs and hard tofu; with the key differentiating factor to be the salad dressing, a chilli sauce like concoction of which Celine shared the recipe – chillis, garlic and ginger, cooked in vinegar and sweeten with sugar.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-16

Left: The Beef Semur and right; The Chicken Curry Belanda.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-20

The Curry Chicken Belanda is creamy but not very spicy (or at least not to me). According to Celine, the chilli and crispy garlic toppings are a must.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-21

Beef Semur, tender fillets of beef marinated with mixed spices, soy sauce and vinegar overnight. The beef is then boiled till tender with potatoes.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-22

I grabbed a picture with Celine, the only Portugese cuisine maestro that I have met so far. I have every intention of buying a copy of her cookbook as well. If any of you would like a copy too, do drop me a comment here yea! 🙂

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-25

It’s about RM80.00 per copy and it’s not difficult to obtain a copy via bookstores. I will be ordering mine direct from the publisher as advised by Celine.

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-4

KLM & Cristang menu - March 2012-5

In a separate interview with Celine, I asked her if there are any good Cristang eateries around. She did mention one in KL, but I have received less than stellar reviews about the place so I shall not share it here.
Sadly, other than that, authentic Cristang cuisine is fast becoming a lost heritage. 🙁

Ok, enough about food.

Now, I’m itching to fly KLM to Amsterdam in April/May for the Tong Tong Festival which is Netherlands “Pasar Malam Besar”. There will be major music and dance artists performances as well as exhibitions and stalls offering  merchandise and food. 😀
I hope the weather is not too cold then!

This Post Has 25 Comments

  1. Simple Person

    Cristang… Long time I did not hear this word….
    Last time I use to travel to malacca for business trip… N my friend told me abt this…

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yes, Cristang community and cuisine is supposedly the most here in Malacca. unfortunately, it is now just “kept” within the families and ammong the communities. People like us won’t have the opportunity to experience their culture and cuisine

  2. kf

    Hi Rebecca,

    would like to get one copy of that book too!

  3. Nikel

    So Nice the flight meal!

    1. rebeccasaw

      Something different yes? 🙂
      I wanna fly to Holland! 🙁

  4. Sean

    Ooo I’ve flown klm, and it was good! Friendly staff, and free-flow of decent wines in economy class. Don’t recall the food previously, but Cristang cuisine sounds like it’d be really memorable! 😀

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yes, many people recommeneded KLM to me too, even fr flights that’s not to the Netherlands. Said fares were reasonable and service was good!
      And yes, u would rmbr the WINES 😀 Hahaha

  5. Kash

    KLM quite expensive to travel with.

    1. rebeccasaw

      Oh really??
      Overall so far I heard otherwise… maybe peak periods and destinations different?

  6. The Yum List

    Airplane food is not at the top of my list for taste testing! You sure have made it look good in this post though. 🙂

    1. rebeccasaw

      Haven’t travelled yet la ;p
      Hope to go soon. I have not gone anywhere for months. So sad stuck in Msia 🙁

  7. Badri

    Malaysian food! really? there’ll be more ‘boroi’s on KLM after this! 🙂

  8. Akulah Pak Lan

    Worth to keep book is a cooking book. For sure u will need when the time comes

    1. rebeccasaw

      Yes! And then it also motivate me to cook! 😀

  9. Jared

    wow….nice food. i like.

  10. lim yee pee

    The food look so delicious! The cakes looked tastifully killing!

    1. rebeccasaw

      It is!
      Wonder if other airlines’food are as good! AA’s and Firefly’s not that great ;p
      Korea Air was so-so.
      SIA’s pretty decent.

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