Chef Aziza's art of cooking

My Heritage Kitchen by Aziza Ali features 73 dishes from the various cultures that make up the author's heritage as well as showcases 20 of her food-related paintings and a poem by her.
My Heritage Kitchen by Aziza Ali features 73 dishes from the various cultures that make up the author's heritage as well as showcases 20 of her food-related paintings and a poem by her.PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Part cookbook, part art showcase, My Heritage Kitchen is a fitting tribute to the multi-tasking Singaporean culinary veteran Aziza Ali.

The chef and food consultant's new book features 73 dishes pulled from the various cultures that make up her heritage, which include Malay, Javanese, Arab and Chinese.

There are also short write-ups on the history of the traditional recipes.

Also included are 20 of the author's food-related paintings, a poem by her and sentimental messages about her by 17 of her closest friends in Singapore and abroad.

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Aziza, 68, says: "It's a little encyclopedia, a book that teaches historical facts woven around my life and my recipes."

A food consultant, columnist and television personality, she first entered the food industry in 1979, when she opened Aziza's, Singapore's first upscale Malay restaurant.

The popular eatery was forced to relocate from Emerald Hill Road to Albert Court after the area was re-zoned for residential use. It closed in 1998 due to the Asian financial crisis.

My legacy is to share my experience and knowledge, and create an awareness of our history and real food.

SINGAPOREAN CHEF AND FOOD CONSULTANT AZIZA ALI, who has just written a new book, My Heritage Kitchen

Now, she spends her time as a freelance food consultant, hosts workshops and lectures on food, paints and makes jewellery.

Over the years, she has written two books: Aziza's Creative Malay Cuisine (2000), her first cookbook, and Sambal Days, Kampong Cuisine (2013), a gastronomic memoir.

In 2013, she helped to coordinate the stories that went into A Village Remembered: Kampong Radin Mas, a collection of historical anecdotes about the neighbourhood.

Her goal now is to "teach the younger generation about our food and culture".

Born the second eldest child in a family of eight children in Kampong Radin Mas, she often had to help her housewife mother in the kitchen, which gave her a solid foundation in making Malay and Javanese food.

The hours she spent chopping and stirring are in stark contrast to contemporary food culture, or what she calls the "quick and lazy fast-food era".

"We are in this world to be productive," says the tireless foodie.

"My mission is to create something that may benefit other people. My legacy is to share my experience and knowledge, and create an awareness of our history and real food."

• My Heritage Kitchen will be available for purchase soon at $49 from major book stores.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2017, with the headline 'Chef Aziza's art of cooking'. Print Edition | Subscribe