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The term Peranakan is commonly known as local born or local descendants and is thought to have been

used by the local people of the Straits Settlement and Malay Archipelagos to address foreign immigrants
whom established families and businesses in the Straits of Southeast Asia.
During the late nineteenth century, Chinese communities who settled in Southeast Asia adopted the term
Peranakan to distinguish themselves from the new immigrants, whom they referred to as Sinkeh (new
guest) or, in Indonesia, as totok(migrant). More specifically, male descendants were called Babas and
female descendants Nyonyas while senior females were recognized as Bibiks. Most of these descendants,
although retaining their Chinese beliefs, also adopted local indigenous lifestyles. Thus, giving birth to the
unique practices of the Peranakans and even their own variation of the Malay language called Baba Malay.
While the term Peranakan is most commonly used among the ethnic Chinese for those of Chinese descent
also known as Straits Chinese, there are also other, comparatively small Peranakan communities, such as
Indian Hindu Peranakans (Chitty), Indian Muslim Peranakans (Jawi Pekan) and Eurasian Peranakans.
A large part of Peranakan customs comes from traditional beliefs inherited from their Chinese ancestors.
Their strict observance of these beliefs sometimes supplants even the Chinese themselves.
The family unit is an important facet of the Peranakans, and family members within the same tree can
usually be found living under one roof much like their Chinese counterparts.
Nevertheless, the true feature that defines the Peranakans is their ability to embrace modern thinking. For
instance, unlike the traditional Chinese who in the past, favored male offspring, Peranakans deemed both
sons and daughters equal rights to the family fortune.
A large part of Peranakan customs comes from traditional beliefs inherited from their Chinese ancestors.
Their strict observance of these beliefs sometimes supplants even the Chinese themselves.
The family unit is an important facet of the Peranakans, and family members within the same tree can
usually be found living under one roof much like their Chinese counterparts.
Nevertheless, the true feature that defines the Peranakans is their ability to embrace modern thinking. For
instance, unlike the traditional Chinese who in the past, favored male offspring, Peranakans deemed both
sons and daughters equal rights to the family fortune.
Peranakan food is probably the most diverse and distinctive of all local cuisines. A marriage of cooking
styles, Nyonya cuisines combine the preparation techniques of both traditional Chinese and Malay cooking.
This unusual marriage gives Nyonya cuisine its distinctive taste, filled with exciting flavours from the use of
local herbs and spices, and more often than not spicier and hotter than Chinese food.
A typical Nyonya kitchen would not be without condiments like turmeric, ginger, galangal shallots, chives
and shrimp paste. Lemon, limes, tamarinds, green mangoes, citrus leaves and coconut milk are also used

to up the epicurean experience. Rempah, an exciting blend of ingredients pounded together in a mortar
and cooked in oil to release its flavour is used for a variety of dishes. Its this special combination that sets
Peranakan food apart from the rest. And because of their ingenuity to improvise traditional dishes with
spices and herbs, Peranakans have produced tasty local treats like achar, curry fish in banana leaves,
buah keluak, chendol, Nyonya kuehs and many other delights.
Last but not least, the Peranakan culture shares great nostalgia and significance to our local communities
in Singapore, and is an attraction for many of our foreign visitors who wish to discover and experience the
unique Southeast Asian culture

The origins of Baba Nyonya can be traced back to centuries ago when the Chinese emigrated from
China to the British Straits Settlement of Melaka, Singapore, Penang and also Java of Indonesia.
The Chinese then married the local females and their distinct background, cultures and customs
blended together harmoniously and became baba nyonya in Peranakan culture.
Peranakan means descendent in Malay. It is another local term for them. Baba refers to the
male while nyonya is female. Beside, they are also being known as Straits-born Chinese. This is
a very unique culture in Melaka where the Chinese culture is assimilated into Malay customs.
During the ancient time, they retained some practices of Chinese culturesbut at the same time
adapted local Malay traditions in order to minimize the culture shock.
Assimilated into Malay culture, they have several similarities with that culture in terms of dress,
food and language. Nyonya is usually wearing sarung or baju kebaya similar to Malay. However,
most of them are not Muslim even though they practice Malay traditions. They retained some
Chinese customs especially in festival celebrations, marriage, names and ancestral worship.

Mentioning about nyonya food, one will be salivating and food like Kapitan chicken, buah keluak,
duck sup, laksa and variousmouth-watering sweet delicacies will come to the mind. Adapt both
cultures in cooking; nyonya food is made up of pungent and strong-flavored spices from Malay and
Chinese style in food preparing. Thus, you might probably find some cuisines similar to Malay food
but contain pork.
They speak in a form of assimilated language consisting of Baba Malay, Malay Patoi and Hokkien
dialect. Thus, you might be surprised by the way they speak in a mixture of Malay language,
Hokkien dialect and probably some unfamiliar terms for you. It is said that their language is a
blend of Chinese, Malay and Eurasian culture because European like Dutch was influential when
they dominated Melaka last time. Their languages itself is amazing enough in telling you how one
culture can assimilated into another and create another novel and unique culture.