Unless you walk into some local ethnic markets, you rarely see Malaysian-made food products being sold in popular US supermarkets
All that changed when a young Malaysia-born chef launched her range of pandan kaya and lime leaf sambal in US supermarkets last weekend, 8 July
Foodtown grocery stores located in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania will, for the first time, sell her products along with other mainstream specialty stores such as Dean & Deluca, Greene Grape, and Kalustyan.
Born and raised in Seremban, Auria Abraham grew up in the kitchen with her mother, who cooked scrumptious dishes with Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Portuguese influences
During the early 1990s, she moved to the US to further her music studies at Berklee College of Music.
Like many students who live abroad, Auria craved for some good ol' Malaysian food, especially her mum's sambal. After making a quick call to her mum for a refresher course, she started to make her own batch of sambal.
"It was a typical 'Mum' recipe. No weights or measures, no exact method, everything by feel, look, and taste," she said in an interview with Taste of NYC: Fancy, Food, Fellowship.
In college, she would regularly cook Malaysian meals for herself and her friends, who had grown bored of eating cafeteria food
In 2011, she created an underground supper club series, where she hosted 20 people at a time at her home. She served them her favourite Malaysian dishes, such as beef rendang, chili soft shell crab, and curry laksa.
From there, word spread quickly about her authentic Malaysian cuisine. She began to sell her dishes at pop-up markets, street fairs, and food festivals around Brooklyn, where she is based.
In 2012, Auria opened a booth at the Malaysian Winter Market in Bryant Park. Her booth attracted so many customers, that the waiting line went right out of the heated tents and towards the park's entrance. Some customers were said to have waited up to 45 minutes to taste her food!
To make Malaysian food more available to the American public, Auria eventually launched her own company - Auria's Malaysian Kitchen
Her company started off by selling her signature hot chilli sambal, and eventually branched into more products like lime leaf sambal, salted caramel kaya, and pandan kaya.
Recently, Auria joined the prestigious New York Fancy Food Show (NYFFS) 2018 held from 30 June to 2 July and walked away with bronze and silver prizes!
Her company presented two entries for the 'sofi' competition, lime leaf sambal and pandan kaya, that were judged by a national panel of food experts.
She told Bernama in an interview at the show that Auria's Malaysian Kitchen is the only Malaysian food brand manufactured in the US today.
"We are trying to bring Malaysian foods that I remember from my childhood to the US market. Since our products are relatively unknown to most Americans, this honour is a much-appreciated confirmation that our products are well-liked and have great potential here."
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