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Bitter gourd salad – raw and refreshing!

 

 

BITTERGOURD. Think of this vegetable and the first thought that comes to mind is its bitterness. Bitter gourd is believed to have many nutritive and medicinal values and great for detoxing. I have known that by consuming the bitter gourd juice regularly one can alleviate diabetes. Not sure about this. If any one have done this and have had improvement, kindly let me know.

 

There are a few types of bitter gourd.   Normally I use 2 types depending on what I want to use it for.  I have a daughter

who from a very young age loves bitter gourd, surprising me too as I am not fond of this vegetable.  I usually slice them very thinly and bake as chips for her to munch.   My whole family loves bitter gourd done this way.   I have grown to love this vegetable now.  So I am dedicating this dish/salad to my daughter who simply loves this vegetable!

 

About 1 year ago, I learnt from my cousin of another way of using up bitter gourd and it was a delight to eat, I was very surprised because she did not cook it. She made it into a salad. Guess what! This is a raw bitter gourd salad with the end result so refreshing and not at all bitter.

I have some bitter gourd plants at home so whenever there is one ready to be plucked, this salad will be made. It is that simple to make too.

This salad is a fabulous accompaniment to fish or any curry dish. It is enjoyable as an appetizer too.

If you panfry a fish or bake it, you can have this bitter gourd salad as a side dish as well.

So get going with a raw vegetable that is surprisingly not bitter as the name says!

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CHEESY BRINJAL BAKE

 

Vegetables always have great nutritional values and we are told to eat vegetables on a daily basis to receive as much nutritive values.

Many a times while discussing about food, my friends have always complained about how difficult it is to get their children to eat vegetables. I am so very glad that my daughters love all the vegetables whatever the colour. Very surprisingly, I personally do not like broccoli except if it is made into a blended soup. My girls will make fun of me about this whenever I cook broccoli!

Brinjal is one  vegetable that my family loves. I love Malay style brinjal berlado the best or in Indian style chutneys which goes so well with briyanis.

I love to bake vegetables as often as possible with different herbs and possibilities and one such dish is this brinjal bake.

It looks very presentable, simple to do, no need to fuss in the kitchen type of recipe.

It is a side dish for pasta or a meat dish and sometimes it can be the main dish as well if you are a vegetarian.

You can experiment with the different cheeses that you like or keep to the safe ones that you normally use.

Use different types of brinjals, as each is a little different from each other in flavour and taste. The lighter green and purple ones are less bitter though.

For this recipe use the big dark purple eggplant as they are large and easy to cut into even large slices.

Lets enjoy vegetables!

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Sambal Belachan – So shiok!

Some years ago, I went to Janda Baik in Malaysia for a course on Awareness Before Change 

It was my Company that encouraged me to go for it. To go for this course was one of the best  decisions that I made – I should say. It changed my life, the way I think and what to do if I ever need to get what I want. I am not saying need. It is What I want!. I didn’t practise what I learnt because I don’t have any wants in life. If I had been the go getter probably I would be a multi millionaires now!

No! I was more intrigued by the lifestyle of the trainers, the Colonel and his beautiful petite wife and who they have become to be.

At Janda Baik, at lunch time, our long wooden table always carried a cane basket full of this winged beans which were plucked  from the garden or maybe from the jungle nearby.

I was not going to eat vegetables that were not cooked especially vegetables that I am not familiar with. But I was coersed by the Cooks that I should try as it is very good for health.  Decided to give a try and it was indeed very refreshing.  I was hooked!

Back in Singapore – I couldn’t find it for a long time. I wanted my girls to eat this vegetable because they enjoy raw food. And I got a friend to buy it at a local market. (now I can get it at the Kranji farm which has this organic vegetable and other varieties too). But to eat this raw one needs a sambal to go with it.

I notice most of our various cultures have some form of sambals/dips in the diet. Indians have their chutneys, pickles, Italians their various olive oil dips, Thais have their nam prik, nam pla and many more.

But I love a mean sambal belachan which can be eaten with raw vegetables, or stir fried or as an accompaniment to rice.

As a child in my grandma’s place in Bukit Timah, I have seen my Malay neighbours eating together as a group using one huge tray of food. They sit on the floor in a circle around the tray and enjoy their rice with boiled vegetables, sambal belachan and fried fish. It is a sight to behold. I remember allowing them into my grandma’s garden to pluck sweet potato leaves and tapioca and some other vegetables on a regular basis.

My grandma was a giver of food, just like my mum. I remember that almost daily, some people will come and ask for permission to pluck fruits and vegetables. We had plenty to eat and to give away too.

I remember too, when I was married and had my own place, there were just too many ladies fingers and brinjals in my backyard that I gave away daily. Sometimes I pack it and give to whoever I meet when I go for a walk or when I wanted to fetch my girls from school.

Somehow this habit of giving food has been instilled in me that I tend to cook more than necessary so that I can pack the leftovers for my guests to bring home too.

Now when I am teaching baking or cooking at my Potong Pasir Community Club, I also tend to cook extra and my student residents are just too happy to have more. And I do this teaching voluntarily too.   I remember my WEC Chairman, Ms Jenny Yong, telling me once when I initially started to teach about 5 ½ years ago, that we want happy residents.  I totally agree with her.

This joy of seeing others happy is just too great. Money definitely cannot buy that, right? (more…)

Kangkong Moolie

kangkong mollie 1

 

Aha, this is one comfort food for me. I adapted this dish from Mrs Cardoza, my Secondary 2 Home Economics teacher in my convent days. During that time we had to go through Home Economics for 2 years in Secondary 1 and 2. After that you go on and take subjects that is relevant to your liking or course of study etc. I didn’t continue Home Economics after Secondary 2 (because I don’t mind cooking, but I disliked sewing and I preferred mathematics!).

Coming back to the Moolie, what I learnt then was Fish Moolie – a firm favourite in my family till today. But I adapted this dish to make the kangkong (morning glory or water convolvulus) the hero of the dish.  There is no spice and can be suitable for vegetarians. My mother used to call it by another name, Saar – which is very similar – always cooked when you want to eat lightly the day after heavy feasts or dinners.

 

kangkong mollie 3

 

It is a simple dish using either cream or coconut milk and the green leafy vegetable. And it is definitely comfort food. It goes very well with plain white rice and maybe a fried fish or another vegetable as a side dish. I did some variations this time, I added bonito flakes as the garnish and to add a Japanese flavour!

Aha! An Indian/Eurasian dish with Japanese flavour – just try it – you will get hooked too!

You only need about 5 minutes to cook this dish once you have the ingredients ready.

 

kangkong mollie 2

 

INGREDIENTS:

250 g kangkong, washed well and cut into long lengths, stems and leaves separated

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp ginger strips

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp coconut cream or milk

Salt to taste

1 tsp cooking oil

Bonito flakes, for garnishing, a small handful (optional)

 

METHOD:

Heat a pan, pour oil, add garlic and ginger strips, stir and add turmeric powder.

Add the kangkong stems first, stir and then add the leaves.

Add salt, coconut cream and 1 cup of water.

Let it simmer for a few minutes. Remove from stove.

Garnish with bonito flakes and serve immediately with plain white rice.

 

Notes:

You can add chicken or vegetable stock instead of 1 cup of water.

Bonito flakes are not necessary – the dish is as good as it is.

You may substitute coconut cream with skimmed or low fat milk.

Kangkong is the best green leafy vegetable for this dish, but spinach can be used also.

Carrot Cake Loaf with Cream Cheese Icing

carrot cake 3

 

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.

 

carrot cake 2

 

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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Tauhu Sambal

tauhu sambal 2

 

There are many times when I prefer to eat non-meat meals at home. Inevitably it will be legumes. One such bean is the soya bean and when it is transformed to tauhu (beancurd) – it tastes wonderful.

Tauhu on its own is bland, it is nicer deep fried or added to curries and sambals.

 

tauhu sambal 1

 

The Chinese love their tauhu, so do the Malays, the Indians have their paneer (indian cheese) as the substitute but then tauhu is so readily available in the supermarkets and is also very economical.

Many people I know love tauhu sambal, it’s my family’s favourite too, hence this simple version. I have made it with very little oil. It is also a protein rich dish and can be eaten with my spinach pilaf, or just plain rice and chappati. The ground paste can be made ahead. It also freezes well.   Once you have the ground paste ready, you could make this dish in 15 to 20 minutes. So no excuse to say no time to cook!

 

spinach pilaf 2
Tauhu sambal, pictured with spinach pilaf (recipe for which is on the blog)

 

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Simple Spinach Pilaf

spinach pilaf 3

 

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.

 

spinach pilaf 2
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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Thai Green Curry Chicken

green curry chicken 2

 

As I have mentioned in my Thai Green Curry paste recipe, this is a dish that I have learnt from Thai friends and some chefs when I visited Thailand many years ago. I have received many good comments that this is one of the best and most authentic Thai curry that they have eaten. I always serve this curry with fluffy white jasmine rice. Just goes so well that you can just keep on eating and eating! And the baby eggplants and brinjals – they taste so great in this curry. Do make it and I am sure you too will be asked to make this curry more often!

 

green curry chicken 1

 

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Olive Samba Rice

olive samba rice

 

This recipe was born because I wanted to use up a bottle of green olives that I had bought earlier.

Samba rice is a variety of rice from Sri Lanka and some parts of South India. There are several varieties of samba and it comes in red or the usual white rice. I suppose the red ones are unhulled and that accounts for the red colour. Samba rice can be identified from its oval shape and it is usually short-grain. It is very filling and a little corn-tasting and not so fluffy as the Thai rice.

 

olive samba rice 3

olive samba rice 4

 

But then I like to add fibre to my cooking and surely samba rice fits the bill. I use samba rice for many recipes such as Dosa, (Indian pancakes served for breakfast) and for many kinds of flavoured rice where the cooked rice needs to be grainy in texture.

I must mention that as much as I do healthy dishes, I also love to eat totally devilish and full-of-butter desserts (more of this later)!

My olive samba rice is an easy one pot meal which can be eaten on its own or you may add a salad or a protein side dish. When I made this, I added a simple salad and my Spinach & Chicken Meatballs.

It is a nice dish to bring on a picnic as it can be eaten hot or cold. So enjoy and I suggest to read my notes below before attempting the recipe.

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Spinach & Chicken Meatballs

 

This is one of the most simplest recipes and now with the Air Fryer, it becomes easier. I don’t usually eat fried food or fry in oil for health’s sake.  But the air fryer makes me want to eat them – air fried!

You can have these meatballs in sandwiches, a snack, a side dish or even as a main course with a simple salad and roast potatoes.

 

 

I make this with many variations and usually add any vegetable that I have on that day. You can form it into different shapes as per your liking.

It is tasty on its own or with some tomato/chilli sauce if preferred.

When I have unexpected guests, I will make this in a jiffy and it goes well for tea time too.

It is a fast to cook – good to eat recipe. Do make it. You and your family will enjoy it too.

This time it was lunch and I made Olive Samba Rice to eat with the meatballs.

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