Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian’

Honestly speaking, I had always associated a vegan being Buddhist. Call me ignorant, but you will forgive me after reading the next paragraph *wink*

My first exposure of a full-fledged vegan meal was when I did not know I had a vegan meal at all! How ironic was that? Then again, it was eons ago. I was a little girl sitting at a big round table, surrounded by adults I could vaguely recollect their faces except for my late Dad and an aunt or two and an adopted cousin and her biological family. Everyone was speaking Henghua, and Mandarin and a smattering of Hokkien and Malay. I remembered eating a cold plate as starter and mains consisting of lo han chai, braised mushrooms with broccoli, yam basket with pieces of ‘meat’, slices of ‘meat’ in orange sauce that tasted like duck meat, whole fish with edible bones. All the dishes were intricately and artistically presented. I was not a good eater when I was a young girl growing up, but I remembered those dishes were simply sublime. Although the tastes seemed quite linear throughout, the textures were rather interesting: chewy, meaty, spongy, sweet, savoury, tangy, tasty; and yet there were no real meats, only mock meats! Yup, that was my first intro to a vegan meal, prepared for a group of people who were mostly Buddhist at the time.

>> Fast forward anno 2013, Belgium >>

On 5th June, 2013, the United Nations celebrated World Environment Day (WED). The company where I work, co-celebrated the year’s theme “Think. Eat. Save”.  A colleague who is a vegan was the best ambassador to present that year’s theme at one of the meetings.

And guess what? I was not being introduced, but more so, re-introduced to yet another full-fledged vegan lunch, albeit on a different level! I must say the vegan burger was a surprise discovery. I have written a post about it, here.

In case you are wondering, nope, my colleague is NOT a Buddhist. She became a vegan due to both dietary and ethical reasons.

Vegan is the New Black!

This phrase is inspired by the opening title of Netflix’s hit show Orange is the New Black. While the 2nd part of the phrase, “the new black” is very common in pop culture, the first part of the phrase, “Vegan”, is the suddenly trendy thing that is happening of late. If you don’t already know, being vegan is not at all a new thing. It was founded in 1944 !!

Loving the Loving Hut

Ever since I had my first bite of that vegan burger, I was on the lookout for that restaurant in Leuven. Loving Hut is a vegan restaurant chain with several outlets worldwide. I’m glad Leuven is one of them! I have brought my younger son there with me on several occasions and he likes the food there, so much so, that it becomes a domino effect. In turn he brought his friends to lunch there, too.

Here’re what I had with my son during one of our visits to Loving Hut. All organic and vegan burgers with vegan “bitterballen” and “calamares”

Awesome!



My favourite remains the refreshingly colourful and tasty, neptunus salad.



Oh by the way, it was at Loving Hut that I got to know of Dr RM, a Kerala born doctor in Ayurveda and yoga therapy. Although I have never been to any of her yoga classes, I have enjoyed a good Ayurvedic full body massage from her.

During one of the massage sessions with Dr RM, she mentioned about giving an Ayurvedic Vegan workshop (yes, she called it a workshop) when the weather was warmer. She sounded extremely enthusiastic about it and even sharing her plan with me. Lucky for her, I’m a good listener 🙂

And doubly lucky for her, I told her to count me in when the workshop day arrived, as I was game – for the food, in particular. Lol!

Workshop Day

28th May arrived. It was a lovely sunny day. I drove to Dr RM’s house where the workshop was. It was my first Vegan workshop, hence, I had not the clue what to expect.

Although I have been to Dr RM’s house on several occasions for the Ayurvedic massage, I have never been into her living room, let alone, her kitchen. It felt like walking into another dimension with our bare feet et al. The living room was unadorned and pure minimalistic, definitely not in a negative sense.

Yoga Before Vegan

We were a small group of 4 participants. Dr RM gave a brief explanation of yoga after which she recited a simple mantra to anchor our attention to our breathing while the calming and Zen meditation music was playing.

A-U-M!

We “woke up” with a pleasant serving of aromatic mug of freshly brewed warm Ayurvedic chai. We were in comfort zone, literally speaking.

Ready? Steady…. Cook!

For the next 2 hours or so, I took down mental notes of the vegan cooking process through the photos I captured from my iPhone.

My challenge? To replicate the Vegan lunch in the comfort of my own kitchen *wink*

Okay, just let your imagination run wild with you, with the following photos…

It was supposed to be an interactive cooking workshop but due to time constraint, it ended up with Dr RM preparing and cooking all the dishes herself!

She whipped up 4 vegan recipes while explaining the choice of ingredients used – Ayurvedic mung bean soup, Ayurvedic Chapatis or Rotis, Ayurvedic chutney and kheer or rice pudding with saffron, cardamom and cashew nuts.

What a Feast!

It was worth the wait. A simple, unadulterated vegan meal that’s fresher than FRESH! Couldn’t get any fresher than that.

What more can I say!

My Challenge…

After seeing Dr RM toiling away with the mixing, stirring, kneading and cooking, I thought, “nah, too time consuming!“, so I opted for the extreme alternative.

Yup, I turned to my Thermie for help 😉

With the mental notes in my head, I converted the drudgery of preparing the Ayurvedic vegan lunch into an expeditious culinary journey in the comfort of my own kitchen.

Vegan Sunday with a Twist


My Ayurvedic Chapatis

  • 1 kg potatoes (I used “Jazzy” creamy potatoes)
  • 750 g organic wheat “atta” flour (I used organic spelt flour plus extra for kneading)
  • 1.5 tsp nigella seeds
  • 40g chopped fresh coriander
  • 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tsp Himalayan rock salt


I boiled the potatoes (skin on) as per the BCB and peeled the skin when still warm but not hot. Then I set them aside to cool before mashing the potatoes to the texture I wanted. Then I added the flour bit by bit, nigella seeds, 1 Tbsp coconut oil and salt. I mixed the mixture until a dough is formed. I turned the dial to “knead” for 2 minutes, and added 1 Tbsp coconut oil if too dry, or more flour if still wet. The key here is trial and error and stop when you are happy with the consistency you want.

Next, I tipped the dough onto a floured bowl and leave the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes. After half an hour, I kneaded the dough again by hand on floured surface. For the amount of dough mixture, I was able to make 25 equal-sized balls. I flattened each ball with a floured rolling pin and rolled each ball into disc.


I used two green pans to speed the roti making process. Each pan was pre-heated and drizzled with a tiny bit of coconut oil on medium high heat. The Chapatis were cooked when they puffed in the centre. I just flipped the roti over to cook on both sides until little brown specks became visible. As you can see, my rotis were not of uniform sizes and form. I like it that way as it looked more home-style 😀

My Ayurvedic Chutney

  • 180 g raisins secs
  • 180 g raisins blanc
  • 200 g x 2 dates
  • A palmful of fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan rock salt


I soaked the raisins and dates in water overnight. With the amount of raisins and dates (water removed) and mint I dumped in the TM bowl, I made sure not to go above speed 5 to avoid the TM blades from getting stuck. You can continue by using a wooden spatula to free the area around the blades. Continue blending until you reached the desired texture. I prefer my chutney with a bit of texture.

For smoother puréed-like texture, blend in smaller batches.


Dates and raisins are sweet, so you know the drill. Pep it up with some freshly milled Himalayan rock salt and cayenne or paprika powder. Et voilà!

My Ayurvedic Soup

  • 400 g split mung beans
  • 1,500 g water plus 500 g water
  • 5 g turmeric powder
  • 5 g garlic (sorry, I can’t go without this herb!)
  • 80 g onion (ditto)
  • Ginger
  • Lemon juice from half a lemon
  • Himalayan rock salt, to taste
  • 25 g Coconut oil


Tempering

  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Roughly chopped Spinach leaves
  • Coconut oil


Garnishing

  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • Crispy fried onions (optional)

Wash the mung beans in several changes of water until the water runs clear. Soak the mung beans for at least 4 hours or overnight


Mince the garlic, onion and ginger upto speed 5 for 3 seconds. Add coconut oil and sauté with turmeric powder for 3mins/ 120 C/ speed 1.

From the overnight-soaked mung beans, weigh 500g of the soaked beans and transfer to the TM bowl. Add 1,500g water. Cook for 20 mins/ 120 C/ R/ Spoon/ Half MC

After 10 minutes, watch out for the foams floating on the surface. Pause and remove the frothy surface. Reduce the temperature to 100C/ Half MC. Cook further until the mung beans are soft and tender. Transfer the soup to a bigger soup pot. Add 500 g water. Boil for another 5 minutes.

And of course, season to taste!

Prepare the tempering by heating some coconut oil and mustard seeds in a frying pan. As soon as the seeds start popping, add the cumin seeds and roughly chopped spinach leaves. Gently pour the tempered ingredients into the soup. Season to taste before serving. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and crispy fried onions (optional)


Our Vegan Lunch was ready to serve!

My Verdict?

I loved Dr RM’s Chapatis. Her rotis puffed up beautifully in the centre. She used plain wheat flour while I used organic Spelt flour. That could be the reason why my rotis did not puff too much and a bit more dense, too. The mixing and kneading in the TM were a breeze but it was the rolling out of the dough into discs and the waiting time to get the rotis cooked went by at annoying snail speed. With my boys popping in and out of the kitchen and incessantly asking “is the food ready yet?” didn’t help one bit at all 😦

I loved my Ayurvedic soup the most. Could it be the un-vegan ingredients of minced garlic, onion and crispy fried shallots that made the world of difference? That’s the Twist, I meant 😉

The guys in my household are not fan of beans and lentils, but surprisingly, they liked the soup.

To be honest, Dr RM’s soup was very bland. It could do with some pinches of extra salt but we were all too ravenous, and gulped all the soup down. Lol!

Our Ayurvedic chutneys were on par. Hers was extremely smooth, more like purée and mine was more relish-y. I prefer my chutney with some texture, hence by not pulsing on high speed for too long was, for me, perfect. If you’re wondering if the chutney was too sweet because of the dates, well, it was on the sweet side but not overly sweet due to the overnight soaking. The slight tartness from the raisins and the cool and refreshing mint, Himalayan salt and cayenne or paprika powder balanced the flavour of the chutney quite flawlessly.

I asked the 3 participants what their favourite dish was. All 3 pointed to the Ayurvedic chutney and the Chapatis 😉

By the way, I did not replicate Dr RM’s dessert as that was my least favourite dish. Her rice pudding did not set in the fridge and it turned out pretty soupy. The flavours were alright.

Will I make these again? Yes! Without a doubt, but on a smaller scale. I will use plain atta flour for the Chapatis. The Ayurvedic soup will be on a future lunch menu. Bookmarked! I will make the Ayurvedic chutney 2 ways – puréed and relished and will add some chilli flakes and a squeeze of lemon juice for extra tartness.

If you have never had an Ayurvedic vegan meal before, you may consider trying this out and judge it for yourself.

I’m not a Vegan but I loved it, however, it’s not something I will eat everyday. Too many restrictions and it’s just not possible for me to abstain from a good bowl of kolo mee or char siu pao 😀

Oh by the way, Dr RM gave away a try-out sample pack of the Ayurvedic chai after the workshop.

I brewed it immediately when I got home.

Mmmmm…. yummy!

Zen….

This masala chai is a keeper 😉

Have a Blessed Sunday!

Cheers!

Christmas and the New Year celebrations have just passed us by. We have been pampered with a bit too much eating, from appetizers to starters to soups to main courses to desserts. Munching, chomping, slurping, burping… OMG!

I’m glad it’s over for now, albeit temporarily. My stomach needed a bit of rest after the eating marathon, so I decided to make something really clean and simple and yet very attractive and tasty. It’s everyone’s favourite – at least in my family – the delectable sushi, or rather, Makizushi or nori rolls.

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DIY Sushi Meal Kit

I have made sushi before when I was still in Kuching many moons ago. We made it from scratch, my sisters and I. Homemade sushi are definitely a notch higher than the store-bought ones or even the restaurants’ because we have control over what goes in the cylindrical gems. More often than not, the sushi rice served in restaurants are way too sweet, which I am not a fan of.

Both my sons are fans of Sushi of any type. I have made Inarizushi (sushi stuffed into fried tofu skin or aburaage). That became a hit with my guys.

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Once in a while during impromptu outings with my younger son, we would always end up in a Japanese resto ordering a sushi set lunch. My son, who is not a big eater could down these sushi in record time. But that also meant burning a hole in my pocket, hence the urge to home make the sushi rolls 😉

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Just before Christmas last year, I was at Stonemanor, a British store located at Everberg, Belgium.

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While filling my trolley with Christmas goodies, I was thrilled to see a Sushi Meal Kit on the Asian shelves, I grabbed 2 kits.

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Both kits included the following items –

• A Bamboo Rolling Mat (makisu)
• 4 Sushi Nori Sheets
• Sushi Rice (2 “Uncle Ben’s” type bags)
• Sushi Vinegar
• Japanese Soy Sauce
• Wasabi Paste
• Chopsticks (4 pairs in the red kit and 2 pairs in the yellow kit)
• Sushi Ginger or gari (not included in the yellow box)
• Sushi Recipe/ Instruction Leaflet

Per kit makes 4 large Makizushi, a main course for 2 or a starter for 4. Since there are 4 of us and I have planned to serve the sushi rolls as a main dish, hence I bought 2 kits. And by the way, I had actually planned to make those sushi rolls during the weekend of Valentine’s Day or Chinese New Year. Since CNY 2015 falls on 19th Feb, which is a Thursday, it will be difficult for me because it’s a workday. Honestly speaking , the 2 kits were too enticing for me to wait that long, I decided to ceremonially open both kits on the same day for our first weekend lunch anno 2015 🙂

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Instructions (per kit)

1. Put the 2 rice bags into a medium-sized saucepan and add enough water to cover the rice bags, soaking evenly.

2. Bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for 11 – 12 minutes with the lid on.

3. Turn off the heat and drain the water using a sieve; put the rice in the sieve back into the saucepan and leave to stand for 25 – 30 minutes with the lid on. Do not open the lid!

4. Remove the rice from the bags and transfer the hot rice into a large bowl. Fold Sushi Vinegar into the rice. Wait until the hot rice cools down to a warm temperature before rolling the Sushi.

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Fillings

While the rice is cooking, prepare the fillings. At this point, just let your imagination run wild with you. I have actually used leftover vegetables from my fridge (yellow, orange and green paprikas, cucumber, carrot, spring onions and chives). Then again, the list is endless. You may want to go vegetarian or vegan or add slices of chicken or Peking duck meat. The sky’s the limit! I made a vegetarian version, with mock crab sticks and omelette with chives as protein.

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To Roll …

1. Place a sheet of nori onto the makisu (bamboo rolling mat). Spread the cooked rice as evenly as possible over the nori making sure to keep a thin layer of rice and leave a 1 cm gap free from rice at top and bottom as you will need this to seal the roll.

2. Before placing the strips of vegetables, surimi/ omelette on the rice, brush some wasabi paste or mayonnaise on the rice, from one end to the other, horizontally. Do not put too much filling in otherwise it will be difficult to roll.

3. Begin rolling the nori carefully and evenly around the filling, using the mat to help shape the Makizushi, rolling away from you and pressing firmly. Pull the bamboo mat away from you, and make sure to keep rolling the nori around itself.

4. Once the roll is complete, press down firmly on the mat helping to compress the roll slightly so that it keeps its shape.

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To Cut …

1. Remove the rolled sushi from the rolling mat and place onto a dry chopping board.

2. Using a very sharp knife, cut the roll in half. Then cut the 2 halves into 4 even lengths, making 8 Makizushi. Wash the knife occasionally between cutting each Sushi roll to prevent the rice from sticking to it and to ensure a cleaner cut.

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I served my Makizushi on a tray with some gari (sushi ginger) and wasabi paste. As far as the presentation is concerned, there’s still room for improvement, however, since that was the first time I have attempted making the Makizushi on my own, I thought that was not too bad at all 😉

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Without a doubt it was a mouth-watering lunch and what was even better was it was wholesome, healthy and à volonté.

No wasabi paste? No worries.

Not many people will go gaga on this green-colured paste. Wasabi is Japanese horseradish and its stem is used as a condiment and has an extremely strong flavor. Its hotness is not akin to that of a chilli but more so of hot mustard. The heat from the wasabi paste produces vapours that stimulates the nasal passages more than the tongue. And sometimes it even goes up to the head. Ha ha..

I found a good substitute for the wasabi paste. It’s also green in colour. It’s a cousin of the Tabasco sauce, the Tangy Green Jalapeño hot and zesty sauce from Heinz. I always have this bottle in my fridge. It goes very well with pizzas, salads, soups… It’s just so zingy and funky! Love it!

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The Day After

There were 2 sushi rolls left after the day before’s à volonté lunch. I used those as starter for our Sunday lunch. There were no gari and wasabi paste left, hence I made a simple and quick pickled cucumber with dhill. It went so well with the sushi rolls. It was super refreshing and scrummy. Yums!

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I’m sharing this post to the following blog-hop Cooking Challenges, my first linkup in 2015 😀

The Great Britsh Store Cupboard: Cooking with Herbs Challenge – January 2015

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“My Treasured Recipes #5 – Chinese New Year Goodies (Jan/Feb 2015)” hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders and co-hosted by Charmaine of Mimi Bakery House

Tasty Tuesdays by HonestMum

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January 2015 Family Foodies hosted by Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash

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January 2015 Vegetable Palette hosted by A2K – A Seasonal Veg Table

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Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking

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Extra Veg with Helen at Fuss Free Flavours and Michelle at Utterly Scrummy

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Have a Healthy and Happy year!

Cheers

If there’s one vegetable that topped my family’s order list of meals ordered at Chinese restaurants back in Kuching that would undoubtedly be baby kai-lan, stir-fried with ginger, garlic and oyster sauce. So simple and yet so delicious!

Kai-lan is also known as Chinese broccoli or Chinese kale. I could eat a plate of this baby kai-lan all by myself. Yes, it’s THAT good!

A needle in a haystack with an ambiguous substitute…

Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to find baby kai-lan in the Asian stores in Belgium, at least where I live. I have tried preparing broccoli mimicking the recipe of the baby kai-lan, but it just did not taste the same 😦 

And THEN I found a substitute in one of the most ambiguous vegetables. Is it pak choi or bok choy? Most people (including many chefs) have been using both words to refer to the same vegetable, which is rather confusing.  

I am very sure there is a difference because I am more familiar with Hokkien. Pak choi (Cantonese) or pek chai (Hokkien) is literally translated as “white vegetable”. But the ones I bought recently were NOT white.

Will the real pak choi please raise your hand, erm… I meant leaf?

By the way, the true pak choi has snow-white stalks and dark green leaves with ruffled edges, but they were NOT the ones I bought recently.

The young bunch I bought recently had pale lime green, short, spoon-like and chunky stalks with light green leaves. I discovered the correct name for this veg is Shanghai bok choy or green-stem bok choy, while in the commercial world today they are popularly labelled as baby bok choy.

I will call my little gems with its correct name – Shanghai bok choy 😉

1. Steamed baby bok choy_fresh 

The texture of the leaves and stalks is crisp. The young Shanghai bok choy can be eaten raw in salads, but nothing beats a briefly (yes, very briefly, please…) cooked Shanghai bok choy.

Full steam ahead!

You can cook the Shanghai bok choy anyway you like – stir-fried, boiled, braised, steamed, stewed or in soups. I prefer mine, steamed with drizzles of homemade sauce, and served immediately. Sinfully delicious!

Ingredients –
Serves 4-5

A bunch of fresh Shanghai bok choy of 5 plants, quartered and wash away any grits and grimes in between the crevices of the stalks

For sautéing –

3 cm piece ginger, grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp cooking oil (I used olive oil)
 

Marinade –

8 – 10 Tbsp water
2 Tbsp naturally brewed “less salt” soy sauce
2 Tbsp Mushroom vegetable sauce (vegetarian oyster sauce)
1 Tbsp Shaohsing wine (optional – but it really made the difference ;-))
1 Tbsp corn flour
1 tsp sesame oil
Freshly milled white pepper (optional)

 

Garnishing –

Crispy fried onions (optional, only if you want a bit of crunch)

The Acid Test …

Let me walk you through the method in preparing this uncomplicated and delectable dish in snapshots 😀 

Steam the Shanghai bok choy for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on the type of steamer you have.

2. Steamed baby bok choy_quartered 

While the veg is busy steaming, prepare your ingredients for sautéing. There are only 2 main ingredients – ginger and garlic, both grated. At the same time, prepare the marinade for the sauce.

3. Steamed baby bok choy_ginger+garlic+marinade 

Sauté the minced garlic and grated ginger until fragrant

 4. Steamed baby bok choy_sauté 

Pour the marinade in the pan and stir well. You will notice the sauce starting to thicken (from the corn flour) and becomes glossier. At this point, it is important to check how thick or thin you want your sauce to be. Add some water to thin the sauce, if necessary. I prefer mine not too thick and lumpy, but still quite thick and not too runny.

5. Steamed baby bok choy_check thickness6. Steamed baby bok choy_right consistency 

Remove the steamed Shanghai bok choy from the steamer and arrange them on a serving plate.

7. Steamed baby bok choy_steamed done 10 mins8. Steamed baby bok choy_arranged on plate 

Drizzle the cooked sauce over the steamed Shanghai bok choy and garnish with some crispy fried onions. And that’s it, really – an honest and healthy plate. Delish!

 9. Steamed baby bok choy_platter1

9. Steamed baby bok choy_platter2

9. Steamed baby bok choy_platter3

Oh, by the way, I bought the bunch of the Shanghai bok choy (5 plants) for Eur 2.50. I am not sure if that is expensive or not, but I thought it could have been cheaper, as the vegetable grows all year round. Anyway, that does not stop me from going back for more 😉

I’m definitely linking this post to the following events –

1)      For the first time and definitely, not the last, to Bangers & Mash’s The Spice Trail: cooking with ginger. I was intrigued by the choice of  Vanesther Rees’ March’s theme of one of my favourite spices – GINGER!

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 AND –

2)      As well as to Javelin Warrior’s  Made with Love Mondays: Week of 24th Mar 2014.

I promised to come back and I did 😀

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Enjoy the rest of the week.

 

Cheers!

Whew!  How time flies. One year has gone by in the wink of an eye.

If you have read my post: My ambitious eleven homemade dishes gone in 30 minutes, you will know why this annual get-together has become part and parcel of my nightmare.

I ended with a BIG question mark in that post, as you may have read.  Would I replicate the same stunt?

Yeah, would I?

When the going gets tough…

…the “tough” got weaker… Sorry, folks!  I could not sacrifice another two or three days for this year’s family reunion.  Let’s say, it has been at the back of my mind 😉

This time round, my other half picked the date. Sunday, 8th September, 2013. It was not the most appropriate timing for me as far as my office workload was concerned. Anyway, I went along with the idea for three reasons, firstly, it was just after the summer vacation and the boys have just started their new academic school year, hence, less school work, secondly, we would be sure to have a full quorum and finally, the weather would (still) be reasonably summer-ish.

Good weather we had for sure at 21 degrees Celsius, a full quorum and an early school year stage 😉

Taking it easy

While my workload soared after our summer break, we took it easy by ordering a 3-course set meal from a Traiteur – starter, soup and the main.  A typical Belgian fare of grey shrimps on a bed of salad with cocktail sauce, creamy cauliflower soup, and roasted veal served with assorted vegetables of braised Belgian endives, carrots and peas and green bean bacon bundle and croquettes. No chillies, spices or pungent smelling ingredients for once…

1a. Sago Pudding_Starter1b. Sago Pudding_Main

Wham bam! Then came the dessert:  A huge contrast to the savoury fare!!

By the way, I have never made desserts for my in-laws. In fact I seldom make desserts. I find our classic Malaysian desserts too “heavy”. Hint: glutinous rice, sweet potatoes, deep fried, beans, condensed milk, egg yolks… erm…  I could almost read my Belgian in-laws’ minds “Yuck!

I have made bubur cha cha, tofu fah, lek tau suan many moons ago for my hubs and two boys and the end result was always identical. I ended up eating everything.  Yikes!

In order not to end up a “junkyard”, I made sure I picked the right dessert that would comply with the Belgian palates. LOL!

Jackpot!

I wish I owned that special ice machine that churns out the shaved ice. The Ais kacang or ice kacang would have stood out that day.  Mmmm…yums…

Well, wishful thinking aside, I was quite certain that there was one Malaysian dessert that would stand the test of time. I have made it twice or thrice before and my three guys loved it!

It was none other than the simple sago pearl pudding with drizzles of creamy coconut milk and caramelized palm sugar – the jackpot dessert that made all the difference in the world, my world, at least.  Really!

2. Sago Pudding

Easy as ABC

Only 5 or 6 ingredients, and that’s it!

All you need are sago pearls, palm sugar, coconut milk, pandan leaves (or screw pine), water and salt (optional).

I was really glad that I could get almost fresh stock of pandan leaves from our Asian (Thai) store. I used the needed amount and froze the rest.  They freeze very well, by the way.

3a. Sago Pudding_pandan13b. Sago Pudding_pandan2

Pandan leaves are used to aromatize desserts, like vanilla beans or pods. They are also used as natural food colouring.  I love the smell of pandan in cakes, in steamed jasmine rice, nasi lemak and even curries.

Two times Fifteen!

I am really hopeless in estimating the quantity of food for the required number of guests.  I expected 15 eating guests but it turned out that I made twice as much! Well, never mind, we ate the rest for the next four days 😀

Here’s how I made my sago pudding…

Ingredients –

  • 2 x 454g sago pearls
  • 2 x 200g palm sugar plus 2 cups cassonade brown sugar
  • Plenty of water
  • Pandan leaves (I love pandan leaves; hence I used quite a lot)
  • 1 x 400ml creamy coconut milk
  • A pinch of salt (optional)
  • Some vegetable oil

Method –

1)      Boil quite a lot of the water in a big soup pot, and then add the sago pearls, knotted pandan leaves and stirring quite frequently with a wooden spoon, avoiding the sago pearls sticking massively to the base of the pot. The sago pearls are ready when they turned translucent.  Wash away excess starch from the cooked sago and scoop 2 tablespoons into a lightly greased mould.  I used my all-purpose muffin/ cupcake tray!  Grease lightly with vegetable oil. You will be surprise how easy they come out from the mould.

4a. Sago Pudding_sago pearls14b. Sago Pudding_sago pearls2

4c. Sago Pudding_sago pearls34d. Sago Pudding_sago pearls4

2)      In a smaller pot, pour in a small amount of water, palm sugar, brown sugar, and knotted pandan leaves.  Stir until the palm sugar melts and caramelizes while at the same time exuding the most exquisite aroma of the pandan. My three guys kept popping in the kitchen to check that magical scent floating through their nostrils. Ha ha ha!

5a. Sago Pudding_caramel15b. Sago Pudding_caramel2

5c. Sago Pudding_caramel35d. Sago Pudding_caramel4

3)      In a third pan, simmer the coconut milk with a pinch of salt. For the record, this step is optional.  I used the creamy coconut milk straight from the can, without simmering or adding salt in it. It tastes gorgeous with a more intense coconut flavour.  And oh yes, there’s one pan less to wash and 15 minutes less of waiting time!

4)      Refrigerate the sago, palm sugar caramel and coconut milk, preferably overnight.

5)      Serve the sago pearl pudding on a dessert plate or bowl and drizzle with the sticky caramel and creamy coconut milk.

6a. Sago Pudding1

Oh by the way, I had 15 thumbs up (including myself) that day 😉  I was gobsmacked!

7a. Sago Pudding1

Dreamy :-P

Dreamy 😛

As a Belgian would say, “voor herhaling vatbaar”.  I couldn’t agree more. It’s (definitely) worth repeating

I am submitting this post to the Little Thumbs up event with the September theme “PANDAN”, hosted by Joceline from Butter, Flour and Me, organized by Doreen from my little favourite DIY and Zoe from Bake for Happy Kids.

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Cheers!

The weather has cooled down this week after a bout of heat last week, and before June bites the dust, I’m making sure that my tingling tongue remains “numbed” with the explosion of spiced up dishes and snacks in the pipeline 😉

I was so craving – again – for one of my childhood favourite snacks, the Masala Vada (Spiced dhall fritters).  I have a story on this and you can read it here.

Masala Vada, Masalvade, Cucur Roday, Vadai....whatever - a favourite snack in our household

Masala Vada, Masalvade, Cucur Roday, Vadai….whatever – a favourite snack in our household

Masala means spices and Vada is the disc shaped lentil (dhall) fritters, very popular in South India. We used to call these snacks “Cucur Roday”, definitely a misheard word, coined by the Kuchingites as “Roday” instead of Vada or Vadai or Vade. Cucur” is the Malay word for fritters or beignets in French.

Think Global, Act Local

With the migration of mostly South Indians to Malaysia and Singapore many, many years ago, even prior to the British colonization of Malaya, you would notice the strong influence of Indian cuisine on traditional Malay cuisine. Indian and/or Mamak restaurants are well received by Malaysians and Singaporeans from all walks of life. The roti canai has become one of Malaysia’s favourite breakfast dishes! Other dishes and snacks included the delectable curries in many forms, flavours and textures, Idiyappam (or putu mayam), nasi kandar, rojak pasembor, thosai (dosa), murukku and the lists go on…

Vada is a snack that has been a favourite in our household since time immemorial. I made this snack last weekend, trying to replicate the vada, I used to eat when I was a child growing up in Kuching, with the inclusion of the secret ingredient “hay bee” (dried shrimps).

I followed the recipe – with some modifications and adjustments – from the paperback, Hawkers Delight: A Guide to Malaysia & Singapore Hawkers’ Food (compiled by Jabbar Ibrahim and photographed by Tan Tai Peng)

Oh! Look at that sneaking hand.... :-D

Oh! Look at that sneaking hand…. 😀

Ingredients –

300g dhall chickpeas (I used 2 cups brown chickpeas, soaked overnight)

150g shrimps (I used 1 cup dried shrimps, soaked in lukewarm water)

2 large onions, chopped

3-4 dried chillies, chopped (I used 3 green chillies)

1 tsp meat curry powder (I used 1 Tbsp Yeo’s Malaysian curry powder)

½ tsp garam masala (I used 1 Tbsp of the self mixed 6 “C” spices *)

2 eggs, beaten (I used 3 eggs)

2 Tbsp flour, sifted (I did not use any flour)

1 tsp salt (I used ½ cube vegetable stock, plus some salt to taste)

1 sprig curry leaves, chopped (I used one handful dried curry leaves, crunched)

1 tsp fennel seeds (not in the recipe)

1 tsp lovage seeds (not in the recipe)

Half a carrot, chopped finely (not in the recipe)

5 sticks French beans (Haricots verts), chopped finely (not in the recipe)

2 roots of fresh coriander, minced (not in the recipe)

Oil for deep frying (I shallow fried my fritters)

*The 5 basic ingredients in Garam Masala are PepperCorns, Cumin, Cloves, Cinnamon and Cardamoms. I added the 6th C – Coriander. If you remember the “C’s” in the garam masala mixed spices, you will not go wrong.  That’s one trick I taught myself :-D

Since I had all the powdered form of the “C” spices, except cloves, I combined everything.  I then ground 3 fresh cloves to powder form and mixed that in the other “C” spices, which rounded up my Garam Masala mix. In hindsight, it would be better to dry roast the fresh spices and then blend them to powder form, just like I did my curry dish here.

Pre-soaked vs soaked (overnight) chickpeas.  The size doubled after soaking overnight and became al dente

Pre-soaked vs soaked (overnight) chickpeas. The size doubled after soaking overnight and became al dente

3c. Masala Vada_soaked chickpeas3d. Masala Vada_dried shrimps

3e. Masala Vada_chopped carrots+green beans3f. Masala Vada_garam masala

Method –

  • Clean the soaked chickpeas and grind/ blend coarsely.
  • Discard the water from the soaked dried shrimps and chop them roughly.
  • Mix all ingredients thoroughly including eggs, curry leaves, chopped carrots and French beans.  Leave the batter in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. I left mine for an hour or two.
  • If deep frying, rub a little flour on your hands and make disc-shaped dough and roll the flattened dough over the flour. I did not use flour but made the disc-shaped dough and shallow fried the fritters. (Note: the batter crumbled easily while handling and the key word was – whether you like it or not – PATIENCE 😉
Coarsely blended chickpeas with all the spiced mix and vegetables

Coarsely blended chickpeas with all the spiced mix and vegetables

Mix well to combine. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes

Mix well to combine. Set aside in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes

Disc-shaped fritters, shallow fried in a pan

Disc-shaped fritters, shallow fried in a pan

....until crispy and golden brown

….until crispy and golden brown

It's worth the wait. YUMMY!

It’s worth the wait. YUMMY!

Once bitten, forever smitten :-D

Once bitten, forever smitten 😀

Vadas in mini cup liners?

By the way, I never owned a deep fat fryer, which is rather unusual for someone living in Belgium. It would definitely be easier to deep fry these vadas in the fryolator, however, without one, I became fidgety and thought out of the box.

It took me ages shallow frying the little gems, and suddenly I had a stroke of genius and baked some of the batter in little paper cup liners 😉

5. Masala Vada_mini cupcakes

Did they or did they not work?

Erm…let’s just say, stick to the conventional way.  After all, they’re  Hawkers’ delight 😛

6a. Masala Vada_frying vs baking

I am submitting this entry to the following  ‘blog hop-over’ events –

1Little Thumbs Up  with the theme “CURRY”, hosted by Miss B of Everybody Eats well in Flanders, organised by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite D.I.Y.

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2Cook-Your-Books #1 organised by Kitchen Flavours.

Cook Your Books

By the way, I’ve said this before, carry on CURRY-ing 😉

Cheers!

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