Banana leaf curries were common. Walking along a busy main road, we ducked inside a grimy-looking cafe, only to be served one of the best curries of the trip. Sweet sticky chicken drumsticks, dolloped with a ladle of spicy curried green beans, lightly spiced cabbage and rice served from long silver containers. I was less impressed with the lizard that ran up my leg, causing me to scream like a total girl.
Murtabak, eaten here at the night market in Kota Bharu, were egg-laden treats. We watched mesmerised as the maker flipped out the roti dough nice and thinly, and on it went to the hot plate to be spread with whipped eggs and a curry mixture, folded, folded and folded again until hot and crisp.
It sounds like a rude word, but in fact Popiah are like a cross between spring rolls and the Vietnamese summer rolls. Amongst the best street food we sampled, I watched as the lady warmed up a wafer-thin crepe wrapper, spread it with a hoi-sin like sweet sauce, before piling on shreds of daikon and some scrambled tofu.
Chilli sauce seasoned each mouthful, and it was a delight to chow down on a mixture of soft wrapper, crunchy vegetable and piquant and sweet sauces. To my distress, they seem almost impossible to replicate at home unless you're a master of dough. I am not.
Desserts came in the form of small bowls, often flavoured with coconut and riddled with beans or jelly-like textures. The most famous, Cendol, was made with shaved ice, coconut cream, caramel, threads of flour-based noodle flavoured with pandan and sweet kidney beans. It was icy and surprisingly refreshing.
Weirdest dish of the trip was perhaps 'Tandoori Kashmir Chicken'. A naan bread, topped with tandoori chicken and watermelon, banana, apple, and cashew nuts. Like a big chickeny fruit salad.