It\u2019s not often that you find a woman pilot in Malaysia, much less one who is a mum who cooks professionally. Amira Nuria Anuar is a captain with Firefly, still flying local destinations for this period and enjoying her time in the skies just as she had since she began her career flying commercial planes in 2010. It\u2019s a career that\u2019s not exactly the norm for women. As she says, the ratio for women becoming a pilot is about 1:10, and in Malaysia there are maybe only 100 over women in aviation flying planes. \u201cIt\u2019s not an impossible career but it is still a new option here.\u201d In the cockpit with Captain Amira. Love-At-First-Sight for Amira Flying the skies is a love for Amira, but being a pilot wasn\u2019t her initial dream career after leaving school as Amira recalls. \u201cI wanted to do chemical engineering or become a quantity surveyor instead, as I was interested in numbers and chemistry. But when I saw piloting at an education fair, it was love at first sight and I told my parents I wanted to take up flying instead.\u201d The course was for two years she explains,\u201cYou need to have excellent SPM results in English, BM, Maths and any Science subject. A pilot uses both physical and mental acuity. We have nine papers to do in ground school and the passing mark is 75%. After we pass the ground school papers, we have to complete 200 hours of flying. But even after you graduate and work, we pilots still have exams using the simulator every six months to keep up our training, especially in emergency procedures. Amira believes women have the aptitude to become pilots, it is not solely a man\u2019s domain. The type of woman who is best suited for the job is one who likes adventure, travelling, is able to learn things quickly, and has a character that is strong enough to be able to speak up for what they need. "Of course most importantly, they must have a passion for flying. If you love your job, you will never be bored of going to work,\u201d she quips. A Flying Mum Amira with husband and daughter. Another good thing about her job is the fact that it is where she met her husband, who is also a pilot and a captain. They have a daughter together two-year-old Ayra Marissa Ashraf Hakimi. Managing my daughter is challenging but at the same time it makes me proud that I am her mother. \u201cWhen I was actively flying, I would usually take turns to take care of Ayra with my husband, especially when it was on an off-day or we send her to nursery if both are working. If both parents are outstation, my parents will take care of her untill either one of us gets back." A Change of Course When not on duty, Amira makes sure she spends one-on-one time with Ayra. However, since the start of the pandemic last March, Amira has had to make some alterations to her career. \u201cIt\u2019s been challenging,\u201d she says, as flying time had to be significantly reduced.\u00a0 From the usual 70 to 80 hours a month, flights were now down to 10 to 15 hours a month, and she and her husband thought of starting a small food business to diversify.\u00a0 Their first dish was frozen Ketupat Palas for Ramadan last year. \u201cThen after Raya, I started to cook Chicken Rendang to go together with the Ketupat Palas. It was a hit because customers loved my Rendang served together with the Ketupat.\u201d From flying to cooking - Amira and daughter with her speciality: Laksa Sarawak. With confidence gained through her initial foray in the food business, Amira then started a small JV business with three of her friends to sell Laksa in October. It is an online business sold through Rumah Laksa on Instagram and Rumah Laksa Enterprise on Facebook. The menu offers all the best and most loved laksa in Malaysia. Customers have a choice of choosing Laksa Siam, Laksa Kedah, Laksa Johor or Laksa Sarawak, all lovingly home-cooked with traditional, authentic ingredients from respective states and then delivered. \u201cEach one of us will cook our own speciality Laksa when the orders come in. Since I am Sarawakian, I cook Laksa Sarawak.\u201d And this is the dish that Amira will be presenting to Motherhood readers for Ramadan and Raya. Breakfast of the Gods \u201cThe late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once called Laksa Sarawak \u2018Breakfast of the Gods\u2019. He finds Laksa Sarawak a well-deserved dish. We Sarawakians do serve Laksa Sarawak during Raya Open House. It\u2019s suitable for Buka Puasa too or any potluck gathering with family and friends,\u201d she says. It is a well-known and popular dish for whoever comes to Sarawak. Tourists who come to Sarawak must try this dish, that\u2019s why I chose this dish to cook. Whenever I feel homesick in West Malaysia, I will cook Laksa Sarawak to ease my homesickness. It is not easy to get authentic Laksa Sarawak in West Malaysia too. Recipe for Amira\u2019s Laksa Sarawak The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain once called Laksa Sarawak \u2018Breakfast of the Gods\u2019. You can see why. A typical bowl of Traditional Laksa Sarawak consists of rice vermicelli, omelette strips, shredded chicken, beansprouts, prawns, fresh coriander and lime, explains Amira. \u201cWhat makes it special? It\u2019s the perfect balance of heat from the Swallow spice paste, tartness from tamarind, and creaminess from coconut milk. This unique fusion is not found in any other type of laksa. \u201cThis fiery paste consists a host of spices like cumin, star anise, fennel, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, white pepper, chilies, coriander, ginger and belacan. A concoction of both chicken and prawn stock combined with coconut milk gives it a creamy richness. "The hint of tang from tamarind completes the holy trinity. The final crunch and texture is given by the noodles, vegetables, chicken and prawn. The real challenge lies in striking the right balance.\u201d Laksa Sarawak Broth & Toppings Ingredients (8 Servings) The texture of the dish is given by the noodles, beansprouts, chicken, egg and prawns. \t500g chicken breast with bone \t1kg prawns with shells \t300g beansprout \t3 medium sized eggs \t600g Sarawak Laksa Paste \t2 packets of coconut milk (400ml) or Evaporated milk \t600g rice vermicelli (1\u00bd packet) \t8g Coriander leaves \t5 medium-sized limes \t4 liters of water Belachan (Shrimp) Paste Ingredients \t12g dry chilies (8 med-size) \t60g shallot (4 bulbs)] \t25g garlic (7 cloves) \t50g of belachan Preparation of Belachan (Shrimp) Paste \tWash all the ingredients. \tThen, grind those ingredients in a blender. \tAdd water (50ml) to facilitate the blending. \tStir-fry mixture until becomes a thick paste. Laksa Sarawak Preparation All the components that make up Laksa Sarawak \tBoil water in a pot. \tPlace chicken meat in boiling water for 30 minutes or until fully cooked. Set aside chicken meat to cool. \tPlace prawns into same boiling water for 5 minutes or until cooked. Set aside prawns to cool. \tPour Sarawak Laksa paste into the same boiling water and let it simmer for 30-45 minutes. \tShred the chicken meat and peel prawns while waiting for laksa broth to simmer. \tThen, beat eggs in a bowl and fry into thin sheets in a hot skillet. When egg is cooled, slice into thin strips. \tUse boiling water, scald the beansprouts for 3 minutes and remove from water. \tRepeat step 7 for rice vermicelli. Repeat steps if necessary for large amount of rice vermicelli & beansprouts. \tRemove excess oil from laksa broth by using an oil sieve. \tThen, add coconut milk (or evaporated milk) into Sarawak laksa soup base and let simmer for another 10 minutes under low heat. \tAdd salt or seasoning to taste. Final Preparation for Sarawak Laksa (Garnishing) Place all the components in a bowl, then pour the laksa soup on top and serve with belacan paste and lime on the side. \tWhen serving, place a portion of boiled rice vermicelli in a bowl, topped with chicken meat shreds (from previous Sarawak laksa soup base preparation), strips of eggs, beansprout and peeled prawns. \tPour laksa soup on top and serve with belachan paste and lime on the side. \tGarnish with chopped coriander leaves. \tSarawak Laksa is ready to serve. *Note: 1kg of Sarawak Laksa Paste 12-14 servings ** All pictures courtesy of Amira Nuria Anuar For more Ramadan and Raya Recipes, watch this space in Motherhood.com.my.