One of Southeast Asia’s richest cuisines, Peranakan food is a mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian ingredients and cooking techniques. Peranakan culture began in the 15th century when Chinese men moved south to build new lives, later marrying the local Malay women. Being “Peranakan” means to be “locally born”. Men were called “Babas” and women “Nonyas.” Let’s explore some Peranakan or Nonya food.

Ayam buah keluak (chicken stew with black nuts)

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http___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_220303175308-01-peranakan-food-galleryNothing says Peranakan cuisine more than Ayam buah Keluak. This stew is made with chicken, tamarind, spices, and buah keluak nuts.

Hee pio soup (fish maw soup)

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http___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_220307005458-03-peranakan-food-gallery-dupeEaten during Lunar New Year celebrations, this hearty soup contains meatballs, fishballs, chicken, cabbage, and egg rolls.

Sambal belachan (shrimp paste chili)

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http___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_220303180059-06-peranakan-food-galleryThis paste can add an exciting flavor to any dish. It is made by blending belachan (dried shrimp paste), red chilies, kaffir lime leaves, and a pinch of sugar.

Kueh ko sui (palm sugar cake)

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http___cdn.cnn.com_cnnnext_dam_assets_220303175918-04-peranakan-food-galleryFor dessert, Nyonyas offer a chewy cake called Kueh Ko sui. It is made by combining gula melaka (palm sugar), rice flour, tapioca flour, and lye water. It usually has freshly grated coconut on top.

The Peranakans’ age-old cuisine and culture are still alive in many Asian countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. They can be experienced in restaurants, neighborhoods, and museums.