About Nyonya

Let’s us share a little story about Nyonya

During the Ming Dynasty, as a diplomatic gesture to strengthen ties with the rich and strategic port of Malacca on the Malayan Peninsula, the Emperor of China betrothed his daughter Princess Hang Li Po to the Sultan of Malacca.

The royal princess and her entourage of about 500 formed the first permanent Chinese settlement in Malacca at Bukit China or China Hill. These early Chinese settlers wed local Malay brides and gave rise to the first generation of mixed Chinese-Malays known as ‘Peranakan’, the male being known as Baba and the female as Nyonya, pronounced nyoh-nyah and sometimes spelt Nonya.

Descendants of this early Peranakan community in Malaysia then married within their own community of Babas and Nyonyas establishing a strong hybrid culture proud of it's heritage.

Traditional Nyonya Cuisine

Influences aside, nyonya recipes are complicated affairs, often requiring hours upon hours of preparation. Nyonya housewives of the past would spend the better part of their lives in the kitchen, but they were fiercely proud of their unique cuisine, preferring nyonya food to any other type of food.

It has been said that in the old days, a Nyonya lady seeking a prospective bride for her son would listen to the pounding of spices by the maiden concerned as it denoted the amount of attention she would give to her cooking!

Nyonya cooking is also about the blending of spices, employing pungent roots like galangal, turmeric and ginger; aromatic leaves like pandan leaf, fragrant lime leaf and laksa leaf, together with other ingredients like candlenuts, shallots, shrimp paste and chilies. Lemon, tamarind, belimbing (carambola) or green mangoes are used to add a tangy taste to many dishes.

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