You know how some foods you’d just mentally associate with specific occasions and wouldn’t eat at any other time, like Christmas Pud or Turkey roast you’d have only during the season, or Moon cakes with the Mooncake festival only, or Kuih Mor only during Hari Raya. Sure, these are available or can be made out of season, but without the occasion they somehow don’t quite ‘fit’.
Well, to me, the Pineapple curry or Nanas kari is exactly one of those dishes.
As a kid I used to wonder in amazement at the perfect ring of pineapple as in pic above, or the perfect cubes they sometimes came in. I actually believed that these imported pineapples were naturally shaped liked that, very different from the pineapple I was more accustomed to seeing in our backyard. Of course I don’t believe that anymore; I now know better that only pineapples from Singapore are in perfect rings or cubes, not ones in Brunei. How nice.
I also remember thinking about who might have first come up with the idea of currying a sweet fruit(?) like the pineapple. I used to debate with Yatang and Mangga, my two imaginary friends, how weird a taste it was- they agreed. It was much later that I came to realize these two were cats, who were none too keen on veg anyway. But as I was saying, the pineapple curry has become a mainstay during weddings that take place every single weekend here in Brunei – this last Sunday was no exception. On this occasion, my nanas kari was accompanied by a delicious helping of chicken in sweet and spicy sesame sauce, which was excellent.
Don’t get me wrong, I do not despise Nanas kari, I do like it, just not crazy about it – I’ve become conditioned to it. My debate with Yatang and Mangga was really about how sweet pineapples shouldn’t be cooked in a savoury curry. But over the years, I’ve come to appreciate that extra hint of star anise and cinnamon in the spicy pineapple curry. It does work somehow. But as I said earlier, you wouldn’t see me eating Nanas kari on normal days. It’s just one of those things, I guess.