Artist’s palate: Mandy El-Sayegh’s recipe for Acar
Mandy El-Sayegh’s simple yet layered recipe for Malaysian Acar is the latest dish in our Artist’s Palate series, an homage to our favourite contemporary art
The work of Mandy El-Sayegh is multilayered. Through large-scale paintings – often featuring newsprint, advertisements, maps and other source material – immersive installations, performances and videos, the Malaysia-born, London-based artist dissects, and pieces together disparate socio-political constructs to raise new questions about the contemporary world.
Her artist's palate recipe, Acar (pronounced ‘ah-char’), is a Malaysian vegetable side dish. ‘There are many favourite recipes to choose from growing up – Palestinian, Malaysian, Chinese, Indo-Chinese. My family always had many dishes on the table; interesting combinations that raised me with a very broad palate. So I chose a simple side dish with contrasting flavours, which reflects this breadth,’ she says. ‘It can accompany other recipes and is long-lasting in the fridge. It tastes best after flavours have infused for a few days.’
Mandy El-Sayegh’s recipe for Acar
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
Chilli powder, chilli flakes, curry powder and turmeric powder, blended with water to create an aromatic paste
1 large can of pineapple chunks
200-300g salted roasted peanuts, crushed
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 4cm strips
1/4 medium cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cucumber, trimmed of inner pulp and cut into 4cm strips
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp roasted sesame seeds
Fry the onion, garlic and aromatic paste with a little vegetable oil over a medium heat until fragrant. Add the pineapple with its juice and a little sugar and combine to form a thick, soft paste. Add the crushed peanuts and mix well, then add vinegar according to taste, and stir to a soft consistency. Reduce to a low heat, then add the vegetables and lemon juice, and mix well. Adjust sweetness, saltiness and sourness to taste, then stir in the sesame oil and seeds, and mix. Allow to cool, then transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film and refrigerate it for a day or two. This will help to mature and infuse the taste.
Mandy El-Sayegh will hold her largest solo exhibition to date at Thaddaeus Ropac, London in September 2023, concurrent with a joint show with Kader Attia at Lehmann Maupin, London. ropac.net; lehmannmaupin.com
Harriet Lloyd-Smith is the Arts Editor of Wallpaper*, responsible for the art pages across digital and print, including profiles, exhibition reviews, and contemporary art collaborations. She started at Wallpaper* in 2017 and has written for leading contemporary art publications, auction houses and arts charities, and lectured on review writing and art journalism. When she’s not writing about art, she’s making her own.
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