The claims of benefits of blue pea flower or extracts are wonderful and mind boggling. It is said to have high antioxidant properties, is a great night cap, cleanses the skin from within etc… I am not a big fan of savoury food that looks blue or purple but when I ate at the famous Nasi Kerabu stalls in Kelantan (a light nasi lemak rice washed with streaks blue pea colour with chicken and sambal), I had to make an exception. I asked and back the reply came “the blue pea for colour only!” from a top hawker there. But today I am glorifying the audacious deliciousness of purple (or blue).
Daun Telang or blue pea flower is a creeper and seen in many public areas. Most cooks and chefs I know, pluck or grow it themselves as it’s not easily available in the markets. You can dry them, let it simmer in warm water and use the coloured liquid. You can also eat them raw or brew it for a cup of blue pea tea. When I first had the blue pea nasi lemak here, there was a blast of aromatics in the grains. I was curious and when I saw the lid lifted in the rice pot, there was a forest of pandan and lemongrass swirling about the pot. Suddenly all those flavours with that touch of lemak (coconut milk richness) was ever so present. The popular signature fried chicken wing set ($4) had mass appeal- the usual crispiness in the batter and juiciness in the wings did not fail. I have to emphasise the sambal- own made and you can taste the grittiness of the spices used and it was mean enough to overwhelm the genteel purple and fragrant grains. It came with some achar, keropok (prawn crackers) and a perfectly rendered oozy running fried egg atop. Go for the Rempah Chicken version ($5) which comes with a drumstick fried in a batter mixed with sambal. It was not overly spicy like how an authentic ayam berempah would be like in Malaysia, but it was alluring and the bits of fried curry leaves they lay atop, was a “home-made” touch. Not many bother with such details these days. Bosses Jack Beh (Preak) and his partner Kok Kian Ann (Ipoh) are one of the more earnest Malaysian hawkers in Singapore. Their 2 month old stall kitchen (they moved here from Marine Parade) shows their operational finesse, gleaned from working in top Chinese kitchens like Tung Lok in the past. It’s clearly not some pasar malam pop up kitchen operation.
The clincher was the assam pedas versions they offer. The Nonya Assam Fish set ($6) has two ikan selar sitting fresh and soft in a pool of hot, spicy and sour assam pedas sauce, served seperately with the purple rice. You don’t find these things commonly in hawkers or kopitiam but in cafes and restaurants. The Nonya Seafood Assam Pedas set ($6.80) which comes with fresh (not instant frozen or IQF) prawns, clams, sotong and crabsticks was a pleasure to devour. I will return for these as it was so easy in, and the confluence of flavours, from lemak, sambal, assam, spicy, sour to eggy and crispy (crackers) will always get me.
I now only need to go Kelantan Lane, not Kelantan up north, for blue pea nasi goodness.
Blue Pea Nasi Lemak
Times Cuisine Kopitiam
31, Kelantan Lane
10.30am-8pm, closed Mondays