As I have mentioned before, Singapore ( where I grew up) has 4 main races - Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. We are very familiar with the Chinese belief in food that cool your body (Yin) and food that heat your body (Yang).
These concepts are actually a part of our Singaporean culture and they are often used to explain our emotional or physical state.
Too much heat energy in your body and you'll end up feeling irritable, constipated and have rashes, nose bleed and symptoms of a cold or fever and sore throat. To counteract this you have to eat certain cooling foods like banana, yoghurt, cucumber and cooling soups among others
If you have too much cool energy, you will feel lethargic, weak, tired and restless. To combat this, you have to consume heaty food like dates, ginger, cinnamon, mangoes and blackberries among others.
Then there are neutral foods too like honey, apricot, carrot, celery, potatoes, papaya and beetroot among others. These foods are neither warm nor cool thus they are suitable for any type of body.
Green Mung Bean Dessert Soup is a cooling soup and helps in combating the heaty elements in your body. It also helps to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and clear acne. In ancient China, women drink loads of this soup ( with salt instead of sugar) to regulate their monthly period. It is very easy to prepare and you can either just drink the liquid or have both the liquid and the beans for extra potency and fibre.
Ingredients ( serves 4)
1.5 cups of whole green mung bean
1.5 litres water for cooking and some for soaking the beans overnight.
Sugar per preference
Wash and soak the beans overnight.
The next day, rinse off the soaking water and add the required fresh water.
Boil for 30 mins on medium fire. If the soup thickens, add more water. It is supposed to be a thin soup.
Remove from stove, add sugar per preference and scoop into bowls.
This is a healthier version of a recipe found on the Internet. In this day and age when being healthy is not a fad but a necessary way of life, I wonder how full fat butter, ghee and heavy cream are still being used in everyday cooking. Come on guys - even if you say you are only using a little everyday, the bad effects accumulate over time. For the sake of your longevity and for the sake of your loved ones, please make a change.
In Singapore, there are 4 main races - Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians. We all live in harmony without any interracial discord thanks to our government. And because we are so connected inter racially, our culinary is all jumbled up as we make each other race's dishes on a daily basis. This dish is of Malay origin and is popularly called Tofu Sambal.
I first learnt how to prepare this dish from my cousin Raihana. She is a wonderful cook. In fact, one of her dishes Vegetable Briyani, was featured in our national newspaper recently ( Way to go Raihana!!).
Along the way I have heard many variations like adding sugar at the end to give it a sweet sour taste or adding tamarind juice to give it an even more sour taste. I have resigned to this version as it goes well with my family.
Initially, I used to make this tofu dish by deep frying the tofus. For obvious reasons, I have started grilling them. I have used chilli paste instead of the authentic way of soaking a handful of dried red chillies and grinding them after.
No tofus at home? No sweat. You can use boiled eggs instead of tofus to come up with Egg Sambal.
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
1 block of firm Tofu ( 16 oz or 450 gm)
Oil for grilling and oil for cooking the spicy tomato sauce
I medium onion, chopped finely
3 garlic cloves, pounded
1 tbsp sambal oelek ( chilli paste ) or 2 if you prefer a spicier sauce ( See Note)
1 tbsp mushroom seasoning ( See note)
4 oz tomato paste ( 110gm)
2 medium very ripe tomatoes ( See note)
Salt for seasoning
Some scallions, sliced for garnishing
Cut the tofu in half and then half again. You should have 4 squares. Cut each square sideways. Now 8 squares. Cut each square diagonally so you will end up with 16 triangles. Grill on a shallow fry pan with minimal oil. Drain tofus on paper towels.
Take a medium sized pot, heat it and add 2 tbsp good quality veg oil.
Fry the chopped onion and then the pounded garlic till golden brown.
Add in the mushroom seasonings and then the sambal oelek. Let this cook for 2-3 mins on medium heat.
Add in the tomato paste and chopped tomato. Again, let it simmer for a few mins. Mash the tomato pieces in the pot so the whole sauce comes together. Season with salt.
Pierce holes into the sides of the grilled tofu and drop them into the sauce. Give it a good stir to get the tofus well coated with the sauce. Let it cook for 5-10 mins.
Serve warm garnished with sliced scallions.
Mushroom seasoning is actually a msg substitute without the bad side effects. Made entirely out of mushrooms. Easily found in Asian Grocery Stores
Sambal Oelek is found in many American grocery stores as well as Asian ones.
I used very ripe red tomatoes for this sauce. Look at the gorgeous red color!
( My first attempt in using Canon DSLR camera instead of my mobile phone for the photos - what a difference in color vibrancy and definition! And I could blur the background while focusing on the dish itself. Amazing )
I had my first taste of this dish Bell Peppers with Coconut, Jaggery ( dark brown sugar made from the sap of Palm trees) and bitter spices while I was visiting my parents in law for the very first time in 2000. They are living in Pune ( also pronounced Poona) which is a city very close to Mumbai, India.
My mother in law is a good cook coming from a lineage of great cooks. I always hear nostalgic accounts of her cooking from Anand, my husband all the time. Just the other day, he was recounting how she'll bake cakes in a clay pot with charcoal!! ( and how it used to taste so authentic and nice!!)
Anyway, when we were visiting, she had used baby bell peppers and had raw coconut stuffed into them. Even though I liked the dish then, I felt raw coconut would taste, well, raw so I tweaked her recipe to roasting the coconut. I didn't have jaggery so I used brown sugar instead. Lastly I didn't stuff the stuffing into the bell peppers but rather just let cook side by side next to the bell peppers.
This is a rather bitter dish. But the flavors of brown sugar, dried chilli and fenugreek seeds blends beautifully well together.
Ingredients ( Serves 4)
2 tbsps canola or any good quality veg oil
3 medium bell peppers, all of different colours for their vibrancy
1/3 cup grated coconut
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbsp mustard seeds
2 Kashmiri dried chillies
A pinch of asafetida, optional ( See Note)
1.5 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
Salt to season
Coriander leaves, chopped for garnish
Firstly, roast the coconut till golden brown and set aside.
Then, roast the fenugreek, mustard seeds and Kashmiri dried chillies for 5-10 mins on low fire.
Let the spices cool and dry grind to a smooth powder. If it remains coarse because of the small quantity, it's alright. ( I like coarse coz it gives texture to the dish)
Mix the roasted coconut, ground spice mix, asafetida and brown sugar together. Check for bitterness levels. If need be, add more brown sugar. Add 1/2 tsp of salt. Set aside.
Prepare the bell peppers. Wash, deseed and cut into big cubes.
Heat a medium sized pot, pour the oil and place the prepared bell peppers into it. Season with more salt.
Add in the coconut, spice and brown sugar mix to the bell peppers. Give it a good stir.
Add 1/3 cup water to let the bell peppers cook without getting burnt or stuck to the pot bottom.
Let it continue cooking till bell peppers are cooked. You might need to add in more water if needed. By this time, the beautiful aroma of the spices and coconut would have permeated your kitchen.
Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve warm with a dhall dish.
Note : Asafetida is sometimes called the Devils' Dung. It is bitter and has a strong smell. It is obtained from the dried latex of tap roots of several species of Ferula, a perennial herb. Used a lot in Indian Vegetarian Cooking to reduce flatulence esp when lentils and beans are involved.
It is sold in small pieces or ground and is widely available in most Indian Grocery stores. It's optional to use in this dish.
This recipe is originally my mom's. I grew up having this for dinner. When I cooked this dish for Anand, my husband, he got put off by the strong cinnamon and ginger garlic combination.
Even last night when I made it for dinner, he twitched his nose and complained about this Indian Macaroni. He still can't take the pungent smell. Well I am not giving it up anytime soon!!
I have omitted the cinnamon stick to give a less overpowering smell and taste to this dish.
Ingredients ( serves 2)
2 cups shell macaronis, boiled al dente
2 tbsps. canola or any good veg oil
1 medium onion, cut big
1/2 green chilli, cut big ( optional)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1/2 tsp chilli powder
150g (4 oz) Tomato sauce
1/2 cup mixed vegs, boiled ( carrots, peas, beans, potatoes)
Salt & pepper to season
Coriander leaves for garnishing
Grind the big cut onion pieces and the chilli, if you are using, to a paste. Set aside.
Heat a pot with canola oil and fry the chopped onion for 2 mins.
Add in the ginger garlic paste and fry it further.
Then, add in the onion (and chilli) paste.
Add in the chilli powder. Sauté further.
Pour in the tomato sauce and mixed vegs. Add in salt and let the mixture boil.
After 5 mins, add in the cooked macaroni and give it a good mix till well coated with the sauce.
Serve warm garnished with coriander leaves and sprouted moong salad for protein.
Anyone who loves peanuts would go nuts over this fried rice! It's chewy in texture and tastes even better the next day.
Peanuts add protein to this dish. Grilled tofus can be added to add even more protein.
Ingredients ( Serves 3 as a main dish)
1 cup Jasmine Rice, cooked
1/2 cup brown rice, cooked ( See Note 1)
2 tbsps canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sambal oelek ( chilli paste) ( See Note 2)
1 tsp mushroom seasoning
2 celery stalks, sliced thin
2 small carrots sliced thin
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1/4 cup chopped coriander leaves
Light soy sauce ( See note 3)
Extra coriander leaves for garnishing.
Heat a pot with the canola oil.
Fry the onion and then the garlic till golden brown.
Add in the mushroom seasonings and sambal oelek.
Fry for 2 mins and then add the carrots and celery. Let cook for 3-5 mins.
Add in the rice, nuts, coriander leaves and soy sauce to season. Combine well.
Serve warm garnished with coriander leaves.
1) Add the brown rice for that extra health punch. White Jasmine goes well on its own too. Just remember to cook both types of rice a little firm so it helps in the mixing. Otherwise, it will get all mashed up and end up looking like porridge!
2) You can omit the chilli paste if you prefer a less spicy dish.
3) I leave the amount of soy sauce to your preference.
I have made this espresso cake couple of times and in those times, I had to reduce the coffee powder. My girls were young kids then and I didn't need them to get even more hyper then they already were. So when I gave my friends back in Spore to try this cake out, they would go ' Where is the coffee in this supposedly espresso cake?'!!
The orginal recipe asked for a whopping 160gm of sugar for the cake and another 160gm for the coffee syrup. Tch Tch....We could do with less sugar in our diet, can't we?
Ingredients for Cake ( for 6 servings)
3 eggs, beaten
100 gm granulated ( caster sugar)
150 gm light butter, melted
140gm self raising flour
1 tsp cocoa
1 tbsp hot water
1 tbsp instant coffee
1/4 cup slivered almonds for decoration
Ingredients for Coffee Syrup
100 gm granulated ( caster ) sugar
150 ml water
1 tbsp instant coffee
Method for Cake
Preheat oven to 180deg C ( 350 deg F)
Grease a ring cake tin and line with grease proof paper. Set aside.
Whisk eggs and sugar till thick and fluffy.
Sieve the flour with the cocoa. Add this to the egg mixture.
Add in the melted butter.
Dissolve the coffee in hot water and add it to the batter. Mix well until smooth.
Add slivered almonds for decoration.
Place the batter in prepared baking tin and bake for 40mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
In the meantime, prepare the coffee syrup
Method for Coffee Syrup
Put all the ingredients into a small pot and bring to boil till sugar dissolves. Cool.
When the cake is done, turn it out onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Drizzle with coffee syrup while the cake is still warm.
Serve with a light tea or as a dessert cake.
1) I did half the quantity which explains why I didn't use a ring tin but a loaf one instead.
2) Substitute half of the 140 gm flour with ground almond or hazelnut. Yields a richer cake.
3) I used gm for measurements based on my original recipe. You can easily convert to cups in Google.
Have you noticed how each dish is somehow connected to a memory? Amazing isn't it? As your taste your food, it brings back fond memories of when you first tried it, whom you shared it with, the conversation that followed...etc
Using fruits for desserts is an ingenious way to incorporate the goodness of fruits into what everyone loves - Desserts!
Who doesn't love onion rings? Golden crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Burger King was my favorite place to get my onion ring fix but didn't get to savor any here in Bluebell. The weather doesn't permit us to go out a lot. We are pretty much hibernating at home.
Two weeks ago I was at Barnes & Noble , the bookstore at Plymouth Meeting while my girls go were at their vocal and drum lessons at Guitar Center. I came across this wonderful vegan cookbook by Chloe Coscarelli. It has all these wonderful Italian recipes all vegan.
I decided to purchase the book out of a whim because I wanted to try out all the recipes. Little did I know that I would be attempting to become a vegan in a week's time!
I tried out this Vegan Baked Onion Rings. It was a hit at home but it wasn't easy to coat the rings without the crumb mixture getting clumpy. You might need to prepare more crumb mixture as needed.
I used whatever ingredients I had at home since I couldn't go sourcing for Italian breadcrumbs in suburbian Bluebell! I also added Parsley flakes to give the rings color.
Ingredients ( serves 4)
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 tsps salt
1 tsp red Chilli flakes
1 tsp parsley flakes
1 cup all purpose flour
1.25 cups water
1 large onion cut into 1/2 inch slices
Preheat the oven to 450 deg F ( 230 deg C)
Prepare 2 baking trays and spray cooking spray or spread olive oil on the base to prevent the onion rings from sticking.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and water till a thick paste has formed. Set aside.
In another bowl, mix the breadcrumbs with salt, red chilli flakes and parsley flakes. Divide the mixture into two bowls.
Separate the onion rings. Dip each onion ring into the flour batter and then coat in one of the bowls of the breadcrumb mixture and place it on the baking tray. Do the same for the rest.
Very soon, the breadcrumb mixture will get clumpy. Discard this bowl and move on to the other bowl.
Bake for 5-10 mins till golden brown.
Serve with your favorite sauce.