We spent the last afternoon of our last visit to Malacca with a resident of Kampung Chitty. The Chitty village is home to a dwindling community of descendents of long-ago marriages between male southern Indian immigrants to Malacca and mostly Malay women. Also known as Malaccan Peranakan Indians, the Chitty are unique group within Malaysia's larger Indian community: they speak not Tamil but Malay (with a sprinkling of Tamil words) yet their religion is Hinduism. Chitty cuisine is heavily Malay-influenced, and unlike fellow southern Indian Malaysians, Chitty are not vegetarian.
There are, unfortunately, no Chitty restaurants in Malacca. But the village is worth a visit for its lovely old wooden kampung houses, few temples (notably unadorned when compared with other Indian temples in Malaysia), small but informative museum, and friendly residents. Sadly,we were told that the place rarely receives visitors.
We'd skipped lunch that day and began the drive back to our hotel with growling stomachs. A simply rendered sign beckoned: MEE KARI. Wee expected more of the Nyonya-style curry noodles we'd enjoyed a couple weeks before.
Instead we discovered a take on curry mee that paired a soupy Indian-ish curry with yellow noodles and ingredients found in Indian-style rojak or pasembur: spongy deep-fried fritters, bean sprouts cubed potatoes, firm tofu batons and hard-boiled eggs halves. And there were Malay touches as well (it was, after all, a Malay-run stall); the sliced green cayenne chilies and kalamansi half that garnish southern Malaysian noodle specialty mee rebus.
What we were eating was Malaysia-on-a-plate: disparate Chinese, Indian and Malay ingredients melding into a perfect, scrumptious whole. Kalamansi juice cut the subtle sweetness of the warm spice-fragrant curry soup, potatoes and egg added heft to what was essentially a meatless dish, and chilies made it all pop.
The fritters were among the best we've ever had: threaded with caramelized scallion slivers, they held their crunch even after sitting in the soup for ten minutes. They were so delicious, in fact, that after we finished our noodles we ordered more fritters to sop up the rest of our soup.
The mee kari wasn't the only surprise at this stall.
There were also fabulous filled pastries which, though called "curry puffs" by ladies running the shop, tasted not at all curry-ish. We think they're more appropriately called "spring puffs": crispy curry puff-like wrappers enclosing ingredients more often associated with Chinese spring rolls: carrots, bean sprouts, mushroom shreds, and tofu.
Our spring puffs were served chopped into thirds and doused with a light sweet-hot chili sauce. Others ordered a mixed plate of spring puffs and fritters (the same ones that starred in our curry mee) dressed with a sauce heavier on chilies than sugar.
This stall also does a brisk business in your basic nasi lemak (pandan-fragrant coconut rice, sambal, fried egg). As we ate we watched the friendly proprietors working double-time to fill multiple carry-out orders of a dozen or more.
Kari Mee, Spring Puffs, and Nasi Lemak Stall, Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock just past the Shell station on your left if you are heading away from Malacca's old town (walkable from the end of Hereen Street), Malacca. 11am-5pm, closed Sundays.
Update: Word of warning -- according to a comment (see below) to this post left on July 12 2012, this stall may be closed. <sob>