Travel Diary Kelantan – Part 1

Late last year baby Noah and I were invited by Tourism Kelantan to visit Kota Bharu, the capital of Malaysia’s northernmost state, for a traditional cooking tour experience.

It would be my first time visiting Kelantan, and I wasn’t sure what to expect.

Kelantan moon-kite (wau bulan)

Traditional Kelantan moon-kite (wau bulan) on display at Grand Riverview Hotel

I already knew that Kelantan is VERY distinctly different from other parts of Malaysia; I would discover that in many ways it’s also a study in contrasts.

It’s a conservative Islamic state, yet it’s home to hundreds of Buddhist temples and the longest reclining Buddha statue in Southeast Asia.

There are no movie theatres or manifestations of pop culture, yet rather than sombre killjoys, the people are among the most joyful and friendliest I’ve ever met.

It’s an agrarian-based economy, but its women are famous for their entrepreneurial spirit, and are very visible as small business owners both in Kelantan and in places like Kampung Baru in KL.

And another thing – the Chinese in Kelantan speak badass Malay – which is really unusual in Malaysia (my Malay crew in Sydney used to tell me that the Kelantanese Chinese speak better Malay than they do).

Now on to the food – I’ve been a huge fan of Kelantanese food since spending quite a bit of time in Kampung Baru, KL, where many of the most well-known restaurants are in fact run by Kelantanese settlers. Its proximity to Thailand means there’s a strong Thai influence in its cuisine – I’ve covered it in previous posts about my Kampung Baru stay.

My first meal on arrival at Grand Riverview Hotel, Kota Bharu - before the start of the official itinerary. Kelantanese touches to this nasi campur include the fish crackers and the serunding (meat floss).

My first meal on arrival at Grand Riverview Hotel, Kota Bharu – before the start of the official itinerary. Kelantanese touches to this nasi campur include the fish crackers and the serunding (meat floss)

An intriguing array of boiled pulses and lentils at the Grand Riverview’s buffet - this is uniquely Kelantanese and is only served during harvest time, so I was very fortunate to have come at the right time of the year

An intriguing array of boiled pulses and lentils at the Grand Riverview’s buffet – this is uniquely Kelantanese and is only served during harvest time, so I was very fortunate to have come at the right time of the year

Simple but delicious when eaten with the fresh, shredded coconut piled on the right.

Simple but delicious when eaten with the fresh, shredded coconut piled on the right

Over the course of 3 days, I, along with the editor and photographer from Malaysian magazine Rasa, and a Malaysian food & travel blogger were taken around numerous locations to savour some of Kelantan’s most iconic dishes.

We came away with recipes for 12 Kelantan dishes, which I will be sharing in my next posts.

Travel Diary KelantanFlashback: Travel Diary Kelantan

Posted by Jackie M. on Thursday, November 26, 2015

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Tourism Malaysia - Kelantan   grv-logo   People Express

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