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GRANOLA

 

 Breakfast ideas

When I was a little girl, while living in a kampong, the Bread Man comes in a bicycle laden with bread on a huge box. When he opens the box, one side of it will become his cutting board.

He will take out loaves of French bread and long loaves of brown and white bread.

The brown bread apparently is not made from whole-wheat flour, which I had thought previously, but it gets the colour due to the use of brown sugar.

Normally one can buy slices of bread spread with one side margarine and the other side kaya. (Egg jam)

He also has a huge tin with red coloured jam, which is basically a mixed fruit jam.

There were times when we buy the bread and the spreads separately and he would place a dollop of each in pieces of a square tracing paper (now it is the Baking paper) and scrunches to make a small parcel, this is considered take-away, I wonder how many readers of my blog can reminisce this!

Another popular local breakfast item is the pancakes with peanuts, known as the banh chang kueh. The fun is watching him doing it. It is just like “Performance.” We the little ones will make OOHs and WAHs sounds while watching him.   Now this peanut pancakes are available at most places at all times. This clearly declares that this is not just a breakfast item anymore.

I have evolved from my childhood days and now my breakfast is so important that I include a combination of protein, carbohydrates and fruits to have proper nutrition, as this is the first meal of the day.

So much goodness is said about oats so I have made it the main ingredient for this recipe.

Granola is a boon for people in a hurry as it is ideal to eat on the go. If you have time, you can add milk and eat it like cereal as part of a breakfast meal or it can be eaten as a cereal bar if you woke up late and don’t want to miss breakfast.

A great breakfast for anyone, which provides some health, benefits which also tastes so delicious. So lets to go to the kitchen to make this easy breakie!

My friends usually snack on it when they come over to my place! I do too while watching TV! Its like eating peanuts – just can’t stop!

Raw Almonds, pecans, cashews and walnuts

 

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NUTRITIVE GOODNESS IN A MEAL

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Falafel is all about goodness, made totally of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

Love it because it is one of the tastiest vegetarian food. It can be a starter or it can be the main meal.

I ate this  many years ago in London for the first time  in one of the Middle Eastern Cafés which are just about everywhere in the London streets.   It was good. It reminded me of  snacks that I ate  as a child but not the “’dressed up’’  kind.

I began to have a liking for such food and I started exploring the making of it as well as eating in places where  middle eastern food is served.    Not that I have tried all but the tastiest was in Amsterdam near a palace.  Really couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant though.

Now coming back to the making – many make the mistake of boiling or steaming the  dried chickpeas.

Absolute NO!  The dried chickpeas needs to be soaked preferably overnight and blended with some ingredients.

Form into canelles or lime sized balls, then just  deep fry, no need for crumbing or egg washing!

I have made it very easy for you to follow my recipe. Easy and yet  not short cutting the taste that comes with it.

Here I am using mini chapatis to wrap  it, but of course you may use any other wraps such as pita bread or soft tacos that are available in the supermarkets now.  Try and you will not be disappointed and you will have an accomplishment of feeding your friends and family a nutritious and tasty meal.

Serve it with Hummus ( a middle- eastern  dip) or simply grated  cucumber with yoghurt – delicious!

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Cornflake Cookies

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Deepavali!

The word alone brings back memories for me. Suddenly I can visualise myself throughout my childhood – most of it centering around food, of course!

And recently when I had a request for a cookie bake to pass on to needy families, I agreed immediately. Each volunteer baker had to bake a certain number of jars of cookies, namely, chocolate chip cookies and cornflake cookies. The best part, all the bakers were not known to each other, but we introduced to each other in a “Whatsapp” group. So many messages and the person who brought us together is Sonia. She coordinated the bake, and gave us the recipes and instructions on how each cookie should look.

I am sharing the recipes here as they were very good. I did a sample bake of each cookie and passed them to about 30 people to taste test. I listened to their comments and did some very minor changes to make them the best tasting cookies.

I did a total of 70 jars of cookies. Even if it was for needy families whom I did not know, my intention was, and is always, very clear. When you give anything to anyone – it must of the best quality! So I did take the trouble to source for good ingredients as I wanted the end result to be the best!

 

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As they turned out very well, I decided to do more of these cookies for my dinner party this week as a party favour for my guests, so that they could also enjoy these cookies with tea in the comfort of their own home.

Here’s the recipe for the cornflake cookies. Don’t forget to check out the recipe for the chocolate chip cookies!

 

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Chicken Korma

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Probably there are many versions of korma, but my version is simple, white and delicious.

There is no coriander or chilli powder in this curry. Korma is a Moghul creation which is flavoured with nuts, spices and rich cream. I have followed the Moghul tradition to make this curry (this recipe was given to me by a dear friend who is a great cook of Moghul cuisine), so it is very different from the ones that we get in the usual restaurants.

Even though it is different in looks, the korma is to die for! It goes very well with crusty bread, chappati, or any flatbread as well as simple, plain white rice. As it is very mild, non-spicy food eaters will love this curry! So when serving with rice, I always add a hot chutney to go with it.

 

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This is a dish that I don’t really like to order whenever I go to a restaurant, because it always comes out as a fusion curry of sorts, or simply a gravy with coconut and coriander. And I never get the authentic korma. That’s a disappointment! The only restaurant that you can get a good korma is usually at a fine dining restaurant serving Moghul cuisine which is what I like very much! When the waiter brings it to you, the aroma of the korma hits you and you must dig in quickly!

My version is exactly that and you will see the difference immediately once you have made it.

It is fragrant, mild and aromatic! Make it and I want to hear from you!

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Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing

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This cake has been very popular with my friends, especially friends who have gone overseas and have travelled well. Each time we meet it has always been carrot cake and coffee at various cafes in Singapore for that little tête-à-tête with my lady friends.

Each time the carrot cake has been a great disappointment. Somehow there seems to be a metallic taste to it. I attended a famous chef’s class just to learn to bake this cake, well, it was a disappointment too. It was too dense and the taste was unpleasant. This actually encouraged me to test some carrot cake recipes from Europe and the United States some years ago. I observed that US carrot cakes come with cream cheese icing and are always much sweeter (their cupcakes and the famous red velvet cakes do have cream cheese icing). Whereas the European versions seem to have butter cream or plain glacé icing.

My version has cream cheese as it adds a nice tang to the cake. The cake itself can be eaten on its own as it is wholesome with all the carrots and goodies in it! The magic ingredient seems to be the canned pineapple! You will not taste the pineapple, but it makes the slightly dense cake moist and gives a softer texture which is a pleasure to eat. Everyone who have tried my cake always asks for more and more.

 

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Recently I had a baking class where I taught this cake. My friends in the class gave the thumbs up for this cake. Those who do cake hopping to try cakes told me that this is the best carrot cake that they have eaten. One participant told me that my cake matched her high standards. I was so happy as my experiments in this cake have paid off very well in making others happy and beaming with joy as they were eating the cake. They also found out that my method is very easy to make too. Once you have gathered the ingredients, just separate the wet and the dry ingredients and work from there. I have given measurements in cups to make it easier and you don’t need a cake mixer too. So do bake this cake and I would surely love to hear from you!

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Eggless Date & Walnut Coffee Cake

 

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Friends always request eggless cakes from me and this is for them. I like dessert at the end of lunch and dinner so this is a perfect ending to a vegetarian meal. Or you may serve at Afternoon Tea, which I do most of the time.

I observe vegetarianism a few times a week so I experiment with bakes that do not need eggs. I substitute eggs with other ingredients. Surprisingly, some taste better without the eggs. I will be posting these recipes in due course.

I served this to my cousin recently.  At first she refused to eat it, I had to convince her that the cake had no eggs in it! When she tried it, she was very happy with the texture and the taste of this cake. She asked for more!

A non-vegetarian will not miss or guess that there are no eggs in this cake!

 

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Furthermore, the addition of walnuts and dates makes this cake healthier than most others!

It is moist, delicious and most importantly easy to make. I have made it easier for you to measure in cups instead of grams etc. We will at least have a cup in the kitchen! So no excuse if you do not have a measuring scale etc to avoid baking! Little washing up as well!

 

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So yummy and good – do bake and give me your comments please.

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Bulgur Wheat Payasam

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This is definitely one of my all-time quick payasams (payasam is creamy sweet porridge in the Tamil language). It is a go-to comfort food for me. It is very tasty, easy to make and needs very few ingredients. It is also versatile and you can add lots of dried fruits and nuts as well to make it a very nutritious food.

Bulgur wheat is a quick-cooking whole wheat grain which has been parboiled. It is nutritious and has a very pleasant nut-like flavour. This grain can be used as a substitute for rice, couscous or quinoa. Most middle eastern recipes use this wheat. One famous recipe is tabbouleh.

 

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Bulgur wheat 

 

The recipe below serves 3 people or 4 small eaters.

I have given 2 methods of cooking, one on a normal stove and another for a faster method – the microwave. Both methods are very tasty. Try both methods and let me know which method you prefer!

 

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Sooji Butter Cake

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This is a traditional cake usually made by Eurasians. My mum had an Eurasian friend and her family used to make this cake for all special occasions. My mother and I would always be invited to their family events so that’s how I came to know that there is such a cake. There was always a good devil curry, crusty bread and many types of cakes. The highlight is the Sooji Butter cake which is very big (12 inches in diameter and about 4 inches in height.) Lots of nuts will be decorated on top of the cake, especially almond shavings.

 

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This Eurasian family had many members congregating during these occasions. And after all the food had been consumed, I remember watching movies from a home projector with one side of the wall as the screen. This is where I watched movies of Cliff Richard, Sean Connery, Elvis Presley and many good looking actors of yesteryear! Many years later when I was working, one of my duties was to scout for movies and documentaries for the staff, and I knew how to work that projector immediately. My mum just loved Elvis so much that she would hum his songs sometimes. You will be surprised to know that I can remember all the above even though I was only about 6 or 7 years old then. My mother’s favourite cakes were Sooji Butter Cake and Mixed Fruit Cake. Whenever I bake these cakes now, I will tell my mum to come and taste it (in my mind, of course).

Even though I don’t have the recipe for this cake from my mum’s friend, I just wish they will get to see my blog and will manage to connect with me someday! My heart feels so happy when I recollect such pretty memories.

With this in mind, I did some research and managed to come up with a recipe for a simple, easy to make and yet beautiful Sooji Butter Cake.  I was teaching this cake to some baking enthusiasts recently and all said the cake was sooo good and fantastic. Here it is!

 

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Simple Spinach Pilaf

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Spinach is a green vegetable that I became very fond of ever since I watched Popeye as a little girl. Popeye gets extreme strength every time he eats a can of spinach. I was intrigued then and till today it is one of my favourite vegetables.

It is a favourite not because of Popeye, but rather because it is such a versatile vegetable. One can do so much using this as a main ingredient (I will add more spinach recipes along the way)! It also has much nutrition and one of the few vegetables that contains iron, It is also easily available in the local markets as well as supermarkets.

 

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Spinach Pilaf pictured with Tauhu Sambal (recipe to feature soon on tummycalling!)

 

Some types of spinach can be eaten raw especially English spinach and salad spinach. Those are crisp and taste refreshing. The Indians love to use their spinach with cheese, lentils and even in some meat dishes as well. One popular Indian dish that sits on most North Indian restaurants’ menus is palak paneer (spinach cooked with Indian cheese).

What I have shown here is a rice dish cooked with spinach. I given it some richness by adding spices and almonds. It is suitable for vegetarians and it is a one pot meal. To make it wholesome, I usually serve with tauhu (beancurd) sambal or tauhu curry and a citrusy salad. It justs goes so well together.

Enjoy!

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