Nyonya Kuah Lada
This is a dish I have been eating since I was really young, as my grandma on my father's side would frequently cook it at family gatherings which used to be a weekly affair. It is a Nyonya dish called "Kuah Lada" - "Kuah" means gravy, and "Lada" means pepper: Pepper Gravy! Okay, it doesn't sound very appetising or fancy or even logical (pepper soup? More like a prank prop, ain't it?), but if you think of all the delicious foods you have had growing up, they usually are very simply or literally named. After all, food that creates a party on our palates do not have to sound good, they just have to taste good.
If the word "Nyonya" has left you a little perplexed, allow me to explain further -- In Southeast Asia, there exists a community of people called Peranakans, or the 'Straits Chinese'. They are the descendants of 15-17th century immigrants to Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore from Mainland China who settle into marriages with the local women. The men are known as 'Baba', and the women 'Nyonya'. Both my father's parents are peranakan, and as such, we are very much exposed to the Peranakan cuisine which consists of dishes that are very flavourful but also extremely tedious to prepare. My mother learned a handful of Peranakan recipes from my grandmother and she will cook them from time to time at home on weekends. The source of protein in this dish is Stingray, and I am told that NO OTHER types of fish can replace it. But of course, if you really really really am unable to get your hands on stingray, you can always try Tenggiri (Mackerel) fish. Do take note to withhold from adding any salt to the gravy as the Tamarind is already pretty salty, and any more salt will ruin the dish. The preparation stage of the recipe will take up quite some time, but once you get pass that, the cooking stage is a breeze, and the aroma that you get from the savoury Kuah Lada broth is out of this world~