I’m Mariam Shah, a Malaysian born in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. I was raised in Kuala Lumpur and have attended schools in the chaotically-beautiful city. I left KL in 2005 to pursue a Chemical Engineering degree in Perth, Australia. In Perth I spent an amazing 4.5 years living, learning and surviving my post-teenager/early-adulthood years.
I left Perth in 2009 when I was fortunate enough (this was at the beginning of the global economic meltdown) to be given the opportunity to work in Singapore. This allowed me to be closer to my family in Malaysia and my then-boyfriend-now-husband (Zu) in Singapore. The next 1.5 years in Singapore were the busiest of my life. I travelled constantly between the 2 cities, so often that I stopped carrying luggage with me because I cannot be bothered to pack and unpack my bag. Despite so much going on during my short stay in Singapore, I enjoyed being closer to my family and friends after so long and it was good to finally spend the fasting month and Hari Raya with my loved ones.
The potential big move finally came true in 2010 when my husband was placed on a secondment to the London office for 2 years. During our first year in London, Zu decided to try to get himself into a masters program and fortunately enough, he gained acceptance into London Business School. This meant we had to extend our stay in London by another year. I was not complaining with this extension because as it turned out, I love living in London! In London I picked up bikram yoga (after suffering severe back problem from running), explored the city, got lost and discovered a new hidden alley each time, and I enrolled myself in short courses learning the things which have always interest me but never had the time to pursue.
Despite the many changes in my life, the one thing which has remained constant is my love for cooking and food. Coming from a big family of talented cooks, I have always been surrounded with good honest food made from collective effort by members of the family. From the smallest team member (I don’t think this can qualify as child labour if it involves lots of fun and messing about) to the most respected elderlies, everyone was involved in putting together a good feast. The formative years of my life were spent in the outdoor kitchen of my atuk, looking for pandan leaf, limau purut leaf, serai etc. around the compound of the kampung house and chasing after chickens for the aunties and uncles to prepare for meals. Come to think of it, the poor chickens must have been terrified by a gang of kids screaming and running after them. All this just to prepare good hearty meals to be enjoyed by the loved ones. I always think that food brings people together and create fond memories, and I have so many of these memories which I carry with me where ever I go. They help me to create good humble food for my family and most importantly, help me create new memories moving into the future.
This blog is long overdue and it’s about time I share my experience doing what I enjoy the most and that is honest food cooked from the heart. Read on and I hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it.