Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cooking with Love

All these cooking and cake making without any doubt gives one some kind of a satisfaction. It feels great when the food is all finished and all the hard work of slogging in the kitchen is appreciated.

However, doing all the chores by yourself is no fun. Trust me when you have to do EVERYTHING from peeling the onions, cutting vegetables right till clearing the dishes, urggghhhhhhh PENAT!!! We do not have a maid anymore. The last one left - seperti biasa lari or in their lingo kabur; mana she went entah and I am not at all bothered to know what happened to her. This is not the first time I am faced with such a situation. Last year, I went solo in the kitchen during Ramadhan. And the situation is the same still this year. Tapi this year, umur pun dah meningkat, maka kepenatan itu pun bertambah.

Last year however, due to my new work assignment and its ridiculous hecticnes, I wasn't able to prepare much of food for our breaking of fast. There was this one kedai makan which we always frequented for our meals during the non fasting days. So obviously food for our breaking came from their kitchen. 

This year alhamdulillah, I'm quite relieved that I have more flexibility at work. Deliverables are manageable and during this fasting month we were allowed to take off early. If the roads are really, really okay (and it has been that way these past few days) I'd be pulling in to my driveway by 5pm!! Terkejut neighbours bila melihat I'm home when the sun is still bright. And what's most delighting is that I have time to cook!! 

Jadi....dapur itu sudahlah muka berasap. Simple dishes like soups, fried noodles and some lauk pauk would feast the hungry ghosts ones at home and it gives a real nice feeling when everyone is home having meals together. 

Sekarang sudah agak berkurangan ke Ramadhan Bazaar to buy food. It's not that I do not want to support these seasonal mushroom like sprouting small traders in making it big at Ramadhan. Most of the time juadah from them are rather disappointing. Not fresh, tak cukup rasa and price yang ditetapkan adalah sangat tidak berbaloi.

Early this morning at sahur, when I gulped down the dry and not-so-nice kueh kochi (bought at the Ramadhan Bazaar) my high hopes were shattered. Sebabnya? TAK SEDAP!!!

Oleh itu, akan adalah project "cuba, try, test" this weekend (kot??). Must attempt to make these sweeties – a must have for berbuka when my late grandmother was around.

Ohhh.....could just taste the sweet filling melting in my mouth. 
Kena buat jugak ni!!

Anyone remembers this batu kisar tepung? Then tepung beras kampit was no avail. To make the sweet kuehs, one would have to soak the beras pulut and later use this grinder to get that milky batter. (picture taken at a cousin's house in Air Pa'abbas, Alor gajah Melaka)

This kukur kelapa is used for shredding coconut from its interior. One needs strength to sit on this low benches. But actually, one has to learn how to use it. Tak betul cara guna, takut muscle pull akibat nya! (picture taken at National Museum Singapore)

Most important for kueh kochi is its sweet fillings - the inti. The coconut must be fresh and to use the best brown sugar - gula enau from Juasseh, Kuala Pilah!

Pekan Juasseh....where one finds gula enau, chendol, biskut Azan and that out of this world rojak mamak Ali Kutik.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes

If you have fetish eaters like I do, putting together dishes they would not frown and make faces at is an absolute challenge. During this fasting month, the challenge can drive you up the wall. So in order to not go any more crazy than I already am, I resorted to seeking help from Uncle Google – in more specific the food blogs.

Just imagine, at lunch break mem-browse blogs yang penuh dengan gambar-gambar food yang tak terkata yummyliciousnya. Tergugat iman? Maunya tak!! But tak de lah sampai nak berbuka pulak kann. Just enough to stimulate the mind into figuring out what to cook later.

Anyway, one day when browsing for pasta recipes guess where it brought me? Yup, I landed at some blogs which had cakes of various shapes, colors and flavours. Ohhh...dugaan sesangat!

My baking...well it's mediocre lah. Just suka-suka whenever I feel like it. Obviously my baking akan ikut mood; if jiwa kacau, I'd bake more frequent. Kalau keadaan kehidupan macam relax and selesa je, tak de nya kisah nak mengguli-uli tepung and butter tu. And because baking ni tak serious, ada masanya yang diadun tu menjadi cantik. And ada masanya ia akan terus masuk dalam dustbin. I wish one day to be able to bake macarons like the Kitchen Guardian. When that happens, I think I should jejak qaseh dengan my cikgu Homescience dulu and tell her “hey maam...look, I didn't turn out to be so bad lah”. Considering dulu she pernah kata if I failed my exams, I should just kawin je (ohhh sampai hati cikgu...saya ni bercita-cita tinggi, cikgu....and how could you not see that??) Tapi mana boleh durhaka pada guru kan? Nanti tak berkat ilmu and macam tak sincere pulak bila tiap-tiap tahun nak bagi hadiah during Teacher's Day celebration.

Anyway, back to the story of fetish eaters. I Googled pasta and it brought me to cakes. Ciss tak baik betul Uncle Google ni. So dipendekkan cerita dalam the many cake sites, I found one recipe that I thought was pretty simple and manageable. And because it was something that has something to do with Japan, lagilah it got my attention. Anything to do with Japan or Korea would definitely interests the J-pop and K-pop junkie in the house (read: NISSA lah who else!)

The cake is called Hokkaido Chiffon Cake (original recipe here). Nama glam lah kan. But seriously speaking, it's pretty easy to make. So sebenarnya bukan lah I pandai sangat nak buat. Cuma pandai follow instructions yang diberikan lah kot. Jadi friends who were so quick at complimenting my “ke-terrer-an” at baking, thanks, thanks, and thanks again. Tapi sebenarnya, you all semua pun boleh nak try out this cake ya :)

So to friends who have asked for the recipe, here goes..... Try ya jangan tak try coz these snowy, soft and spongy babes are really nice :)

Hokkaido Lemon Chiffon Cupcake
(I tweaked it by adding lemon rind to give a bit of flavour)


3 egg yolks, at room temperature
20g caster sugar
35g corn oil
60g full cream milk
70g cake flour, sifted
1 teaspoon lemon rind (if u like a more lemony cake, u can add more)
3 egg whites, at room temperature
25g caster sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar

Cream Cheese Filling 
(recipe actually suggested something with custard and whipping cream, but I improvised)

2 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons cream cheese
4 tablespoons icing sugar (use more if you like it sweet)
1 teaspoon cream
4 tablespoons plain yogurt
Icing sugar, for dusting


1.Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

2. Remove eggs from fridge 30 minutes before you start, and separate the egg yolks and whites and place in separate bowls covering them in cling film until ready. Arrange paper liners on a muffin tray.

3. Using an electric whisk, beat the egg yolk and sugar until pale yellow in colour. Add in oil and milk, and mix well. Add lemon rind. Add the cake flour and combine.

4. In a separate bowl (make sure bowl and whisk are very clean and free of oil or else the eggs whites will not rise), use an electric whisk to beat the egg white until foamy and then add cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks are formed. Gradually add the sugar, and continue to beat til stiff peaks.

5. With a spatula, gently fold 1/3 of egg white into the egg yolk batter.

6. Fold in the balance egg white until well-combined.

7. Fill the pre-arranged paper liners to about 3/4 full.

8. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Do not overbake or else texture of the cake won't be as light. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

9. Using an electric whisk, beat butter till it's fluffy.

10. Add in cream cheese, sugar, plain yogurt and cream. Whip everything until it turns light and creamy. Use a chopstick to make a hole in the middle of the cake. Pipe cream into the cooled cupcake and dust with icing sugar.

Recipe makes about 10 cupcakes if you use the squarish paper cups.
I must say they go very well with a cup of hot coffee or hot milo at iftar :-)

Sent via Kay's Berry

Friday, July 27, 2012

Mosque Hunt - Pettah, Colombo

Alhamdulillah....it's almost been a week of fasting. Time flies and it goes faster by the day. InshaAllah may we be given more sabr and taqwa to observe and fulfill His Commands. And may we be forgiven of our sins and shortcomings and may He always keeps us in the company of righteous muslims.

In the spirit of this holy month Ramadhan, I'll try to feature some of the mosques I've visited during my travels. Many are relatively old – dating hundreds of years, whispering stories of the days long gone and the generations of people who have lived in and around it.

As obvious as some may be, many of these sacred places of worship were located rather remote and not easily accessible. More often than not, those preconceived visual display of mosques looking like what they are in our country were not of any help.

I have been wrong many times. What stood in front of my very eyes would humble me - drumming this message of how lucky and blessed we are. We see in sincere moderations, evidence of minority Muslims striving hard at continuously propagating the message of Islam and conquering the hearts and minds of others around them.

Colombo in Sri Lanka was a city I visited sometime in 2010. Often referred as the capital of the country, the city reflects trade culture of the past and showcases many historic colonial buildings. Its colonial architectural marvels thousands of travelers to witness the heydays of Dutch and British era.

Pettah is a place where Sri Lanka's multi-culturalism at its most pronounced. A bazaar with definite Middle Eastern flair is known for its narrow streets, clogged with tuk-tuks and and bewildering assortment of shops buzzing with activities. The district has long been inhabited by Muslims, but a strong population of Sinhalese and Tamils contribute to its intoxicating mix of ethnicities.

Smacked in the alleys piled with crammed goods of colourful textiles, gold and silver, and colonial-era antiquities is the Jamiul Alfar Mosque. Its name reflects a long-standing heritage of contact with the Arab world. Built at the beginning of the 20th century, it is decoratively patterned with red and white brick- work.

The mosque is one architectural monument - enriched in Islamic culture along with its majestic colonial English looking structural detailing. Its close proximity to the Colombo Ports also provides a scenic yet very spiritual environment.

Acknowledged as a character to the neighborhood and yet visually pleasing and cohesive, the Jamiul Alfar Mosque is a special place for thousands of Muslims in upholding the teachings of Islam and its benevolent values.

Scene just before solat

Juicy rambutans was in season

Fresh bread loaves could be found in many of the coffee shops in Pettah area

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Ramadhan Kareem

Allaahumma innee as’alukal jannata. 
O Allaah, I ask you for Jannah[Paradise].

To all readers of Sembang

May this Ramadhan be the ultimate life changing experience for all of us.
May it increase us in our Iman and Taqwa and be a source of nearness to Allah.

Ramadhan Mubarak. Wishing you a blessed Ramadhan!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vicious Attack

Mosquitoes - who would imagine such pesky nemeses could cause great havoc in our family this last one week or so. What started with intense headaches, feverish spells, severe joint and muscle pain and exhaustion later led to one most unbelievable finding - dengue!! 

Hero #1
Faris was the first casualty. That Sunday night when he picked me up at the airport, he complained of the bout of headaches he's been having over the weekend. Next day it got worst and he went to the GP to have it checked. At the clinic, they did a blood test. Later that evening, his blood test results came back and it was tested positive for dengue. The GP quickly prepared the guarantee letter for him to be admitted at KPJ Hospital. I was at work when Abe informed me of his development. Next thing I knew, I was on the way to the hospital.

The moment he was in the ward, the nurses started him on the drip and got series of tests done. Tubes of his blood samples were quickly sent to the lab for more conclusive diagnosis.

Hero # 1 was down and Mommy still in denial.

Hero #2

Abe was supposed to be away on work assignment. That morning before I left for work, I saw him packing his suitcase. His movements were slow and he didn't look like he was at all excited to leave for Curryland. I thought it was because of my last minute tag-along-cancellation that got him upset; leaving him with little motivation to proceed with the trip (perghhhhh....perasan kann!!) Well, if only some (incompetent) people didn't mess up with the travel itinerary.......

Anyway, it's all history now. Close book. Fated. Tak de rezeki nak ke Bollywood again.

And nak jadi cerita lagi, he too fell ill. His headaches and sore joints became worst. Topped by chess pains lagi! And all these got him going to the clinic. Just hours before his departure, the GP asked to stay put and declared that he was not fit to travel. Doctor prescribed some medications and asked him to continue resting at home. This was quite a blow for him. First time in his nearing 30 years service with the power company, he experienced such an adverse misfortune.

Two days later came the second whammy. His blood test confirmed the cause of his aches and pains. Positive dengue jugak!

Abe checked-in to the same hospital; just two rooms down the corridor from where Faris was.

Hero # 2 was defeated and Mommy turned into Nurse Florence.

Mommy as Nurse Florence had to put a brave front. Couldn't possibly show the two heroes how worried she was. Close family members and friends on FB helped calm the squirms in my stomach. And this “not-giving-up-nurse” dutiful prepared soup ketam, rebus bayam, starfruit shake, 100 plus - the popular food for remedy suggestions received from friends near and far for her patients.

My office was very understanding on my situation. I was away for three days and during those days I was either hanging out in the hospital or preparing food for the duo. On a few occasions I had to run to the pharmacies, hunting for some ointment or cream to help ease the patients' pain. It was nerve wrecking tiring!

Looking back how, Alhamdulillah, the trying times have passed. Both heroes are recovering. Abe was first to be discharged and two days later Faris was allowed to return home. They are both making good progress and today Abe has gone back to work.

Bila ingatkan havocnya last week, macam tak terpikul di bahu. Ya Allah, itu baru sedikit ujian dari mu; your reminder to us of your innumerable blessings. Ya Allah, if compared to those with greater tests in war torn countries or plagued by droughts and famine, apa benarlah yang kami lalui ini.

I believe all these that happened is full of hikmah. Thank you God for helping us re-align our purpose and priorities. His grace upon us, as well as His eternal mercy and compassion, we should always be thankful. Our body, our health, our rezeki are all the great deal of evidence showing profound and great love of Allah. Kita adalah hamba Nya but He has such great love for us. Subahanallah.

To my love ones, this was Allah's test on us because he loves us and wants to bring us closer to him and his religion. This was His reminder for us to be better Muslims. To face tough and difficult challenges in life with faith put on Him. Some challenges may be difficult to overcome, especially when the odds are stacked against us. Go against the odds, have that "never quit" attitude in life. InshaAllah, by observing patience, remembering Him and turning only to Him for help and guidance during such times, He will be there for us.

To all friends and acquaintances yang tidak jemu-jemu memberi words of encouragement, offering their doas and prayers for the our safety and well being, from the very bottom of my heart, I wish to express my heartfelt thanks for your kindness and thoughtfulness. Thank you thank you so much for being there for us.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cheap Cheap Madammm

Iced with that sweet Asian smile, "cheap, cheap Madammm," they'd call out to get your attention.  The Thais, I must say are very polite people and very good at selling too.

They sell almost everything....hats 


As the boat got closer, they throw you their sweetest smile and they'll have you at hello :)

Fancy getting a Chanel or Burberry here?

Sent via Kay's Berry

Friday, July 6, 2012

Floating Experience

When we were planning for this Bangkok trip, we pretty much agreed to focus on the two attractions which we did not get to visit on our first trip some years ago. Time was something not at our luxury: after all it was only a quick break away.

So on the first day, we did the Grand Palace. Next was to do the Floating Market – an activity highly recommended in most tourism websites on Bangkok.

 We were up early as our pick up was at 7.00 am. The floating market we were visiting was about 100km southwest of Bangkok. 

So on the first day, we did the Grand Palace. Next was to do the Floating Market – an activity highly recommended in most tourism websites on Bangkok.

The most famous of the floating markets is Damnoen Saduak.

Houses along the river

The drop off peer which is also part of the market place

T-shirts among the many local products are sold at the market
Handicrafts of all sorts

Boats ferrying both tourists and locals into the waterways of the floating market

Local favourites....local food

Something grilled

Boat jammed...even in the waterways
She raced to the boat that came nearest to her - offering something for the growling tummy

Small waterways but no worries they maneuver well

Tourists and more tourists...come buy cheap, cheap

Anyone game for something "boat" cooked?

One very gutsy boatlady

There is lots of chatter and activities at the market. Bargaining is common – that’s all part of the fun.  But don’t expect to get the price down more than a few baht.

This buzzing market is at its best in the early morning before the crowds arrive and the heat of the day builds up.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Palace Guards

After about an hour of walking around the palace grounds, we decided that we've had enough. The sun was practically above our heads. The heat was tiring us down so fast.

We signaled to our guide, indicating that we wanted to get back to the van that was waiting for use outside the palace compounds. 

So, we took one last look at the majestical place and headed to the exit gate.

Really, really awesome view

The palace police had turned this building into their office

Guess it was just our luck that as we were living, it was time for the change of guards.

Very carefully take take their positions

Easy does it, friend!

Can't imagine they have to stand on guard for hours and in the scorching heat!

And one final look....

The Palace and Us

It was quite a walk from the main entrance to the inner Palace complex. If only the day wasn't too hot, the palace visit would have been a lot more pleasing.

However, since we were already there, we continued with the walking tour. The place was huge!! And it's architecture was something that could make you gasp!

For just about 150 years, Bangkok's Grand Palace was not only the home of the King and his court, but also the entire administrative seat of government.

Intricate designs and laborious love for the King

Elephants are sacred animals to the Thais.

These "ladies" glitter as the sun shines on them.

Some buildings are in white

some sparkle in gold :)

Tiles too were given really special attention 

The three of US :)

Nothing but the finest architecture

Decoratives in the abundance.

Next: Palace Guards