Palace (Istana) Cuisine
The Istana has been the center of Malay culture and literature since time immemorial and also has its own specialized cuisine. The Istana may have their personal cooks but there is irrefutable proof that several cuisines actually originate from the creativity of the local village community as passed down from generation to generation. Such recipes were then adapted into the Istana after minute changes in order to suit the standard taste that is to be expected of royalty. A case in point is the ‘Puding Raja’ or the Royal Pudding recipe that was brought in from Singapore. The influence of English or Western dishes due to an international education and the strenghtening of diplomatic relations can also be seen in Istana cuisine. An example is the ‘Ayam Ros’ or the savoury Chicken Ros dish that was a favourite of Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar. This dish is more elaborated with the use of several different ingredients. Istana cuisine is not always for daily meals. There usually exists select meals for special occasions or with the intention of entertaining Royal guests.
It is difficult to pinpoint the origins of Pahang cuisine because, like other states, external influences congregated in Pahang as early as the first century BC. Influences from China, Arabia, Persia and India had already permeated into Malay society and commingled with the Malay ethnicity. Added onto this, the coming of Western nations shortly after further changed the social and gastronomical image of the Pahang Malays. The opening of land schemes during the mid-1950’s in the state of Pahang also led to a large scale migration of people from Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Selangor, Johor, Perak, Kelantan and Terengganu. This, too further effected the cuisine of the Pahang Malays.
Cuisine of the Indigenous People
Generally, almost all cuisines of the Indigenous People, irrespective of their tribes are derived from ingredients easily obtained from their surroundings. For the Indigenous People who live in rural areas, their food ingredients usually come from hunting, jungle fruit and woody tendrils to name a few. For those who live near rivers, their food almost always consists of fish, river conch shells, turtles and prawns. Each respective habitation influences the recipes and style of their cuisine. The main source of carbohydrate for these people is from a tuber called the Godong tuber which is available all year long.