British show's take on rendang curry riles Southeast Asians

Malaysia's national dish, Nasi Lemak and chicken rendang, at a restaurant in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Judges on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian food after insisting a Malaysian contestant's chicken rendang curry should have been crispy, and have taken to social media to denounce the TV show hosts. (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)
Customers eat nasi uduk, which is Indonesian style steamed rice cooked in coconut milk dish, at street food stall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Judges on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian food after insisting the chicken in a Malaysian contestant's rendang curry should have been crispy. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Customers eat nasi uduk, which is Indonesian style steamed rice cooked in coconut milk dish, at a street food stall in Jakarta, Indonesia. Tuesday, April 3, 2018. Judges on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian food after insisting the chicken in a Malaysian contestant's rendang curry should have been crispy. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Judges on a popular British cooking show are being ridiculed for ignorance of Asian food after insisting a Malaysian contestant's chicken rendang curry should have been crispy.

Foodies in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia have taken to social media to vent at the critique of the Malaysian-born cook's traditional and standard method for preparing chicken rendang.

"The skin isn't crispy. It can't be eaten but all the sauce is on the skin I can't eat," one of the MasterChef UK judges complained in a recent episode of the show.

Online, Southeast Asians pointed out that the chicken is cooked in curry sauce, not fried, and is never crispy. Some accused the judges of neo-colonial attitudes and racism.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak also chipped in, posting a photo of chicken rendang on Twitter and light-heartedly asking whether anyone has ever eaten a crispy chicken curry. Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman said the judges were guilty of "whitesplaining."

The contestant, Zaleha Kadir Olpin, was eliminated from the competition but took to Instagram to vow she'd never stop cooking the traditional way.

Her offending rendang was presented as part of Malaysia's national dish, Nasi Lemak, or rice cooked in coconut milk that comes with sides such as peanuts, spicy prawns and rendang.

The judges lavished praise on most of the ingredients but dismissed the non-crispy chicken rendang as a "mistake."

One of the judges, John Torode, later stirred more controversy online by trying to fuel the ages-old war of words between Malaysians and Indonesians over which country invented rendang. However the absurdity of the crispy curry saga has provided the neighboring countries with a rare point of agreement.

The curry, which originates from West Sumatra in Indonesia, is popular in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and southern Thailand.

Must Read

Hong Kong pro-democracy candidates retain veto in key vote

Sep 5, 2016

A group of young Hong Kong pro-democracy activists has pulled off a stunning election victory,...

China, Russia launch South China Sea naval war games

Sep 12, 2016

China's military says the Chinese and Russian navies are launching eight days of war games in the...

China says it can't end North Korea nuke program on its own

Sep 12, 2016

China says the United States has inflamed the conflict on the Korean Peninsula and must carry the...

Taiwan loses diplomatic ally in move welcomed by Beijing

Dec 21, 2016

Taiwan has condemned the African island nation of Sao Tome and Principe's "abrupt" move to break...

Winds may finally clear 'scary' pollution from China's skies

Dec 21, 2016

The dense smog that has smothered much of China for five days may soon clear, giving relief to...