08 November 2009

Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings

Last night I attended a BIG b'day bash complete with brilliant music, flowing drinks and all the dancing to fill your heart. The event was @ Le Baroque, Chijmes and was chock-a-block with fellow Indians, and expat Bangaloreans in particular. Swapping stories, finding common acquaintances, and picking up some hot gossip (hehehe), it felt like I'd never been away.

Shagies, the fount of all that wonderful music are top notch. Apart from being talented singers and players, they are great performers - drawing in the crowd, getting everyone singing along, grooving and eventually even on the floor dancing (what to say, we are shy lah).

Of course, being desis (and very happy to be so, thank you), we head to Rupee Room, to finish off the night. There was the usual Bhangra hour (an hour too many IMO) followed by the more popular (at least with me) Bollywood music (no, Not "HINDI" film music but dhinn-chhik Bollywood music). Ah perfection.

So after all that halla-gulla of last night, and being perfumed by the stench BO (need I explain?) and malt in the air (JD and beer being the religion of the majority of last night's masses), this morning I needed a reprieve. Or was it just a longing for momma and daddy and home? To replicate the parental household, this morning I made venn-Pongal.

And what connection, those of you not acquainted with my parental stamping ground might ask, does this have with that?

Simple. Sundays was always, but always venn pongal brekafast day at the parent's. Picture this: Saturday night party scene in Bangalore. All the beer in the world, all the hard rock and metal, followed by a spot of dancing somewhere (there is always someplace). You totter home minutes before the milkman (ah the good ol' blr days), worn out with all the chilli vodkas, the G&Ts, and whatever else have you's, more usually than not, followed by the lousiest-oiliest-spiciest-nastiest (it only tastes that way the next morning) post drinking trash that passes for food. You wake up feeling like the aforementioned food and REEKING of smoke and malt that seems to have fermented in your clothes. At that moment, salvation is served in the form of, thats right - Venn Pongal!

Here's my simple-dimple recipe for venn pongal. It's not the same as the homestead's (I don't have Puchka to do the chopping and grating and cleaning and korumbu making.)

1/2 cup moong dal
1 cup rice
1 tsp jeera
pinch haldi
pinch hing
1 tbsp chopped ginger
curry leaves

1. Wash rice and moong dal in a cooker, add appropriate amount of water (2 and a 1/2 in this case or thereabouts), salt to taste and plonk it on the gas for 3-4 whistles (I like my venn pongal mashy.) After the 5 whistles, wait till you can open the cooker lid.
2. In a small sauce pan/takda pan/tadka spoon take ghee (can use oil but the taste of ghee does the trick here). Once the ghee is hot, add jeera, peppercorns, haldi, asafetida, chopped ginger, sizzle it all up till you can smell the ghee fried jeera smell, and the peppercorns start popping (1 min or 2) and pour this tadka into the cooker atop the rice and dal.
3. Mix it, mash it and eat hot.

The parents would never serve this without mendiya korumbu or at the very least tomato gotsu/gojju. In Tamil Nadu, restaurants serve it with coconut and other chutnies. In Karnataka, restaurants serve it with cucumber and onion raita. Feel free to eat it with whatever you like, only remember to EAT WHILE ITS HOT.

Shubha Bhojanam!

02 November 2009

Calories from Soup Spoon

Since Singapore food stalls do not display calorific and nutritional value of the food they sell, I've tried to find some of that information by emailing a few people.

One of the foremost restaurants/food stalls I contacted for this information was The Soup Spoon - makers of delicious soups, sandwiches, mini brownies and salads. I am fairly a regular there, so knowing the nutritional value of something I consume regularly, can only help, right?

Many thanks to Anna Lim from Customer Care @ The Soup Spoon for this information.






Roasted pumpkin





Tangy tomato










Beef goulash





Tokyo Chicken





Meatless minestrone










Smoked ham and cheese





Roast beef wasabi





Chicken Caesar





Tuna mayo





Falafel wrap





Prawn wrap





Chicken tikka wrap





Caesar salad





Healthy eating!

10 September 2009

Heaty and Cooling Foods

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), 'heaty' and 'cooling' are common concepts related to the balancing of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’. Most people, especially the Chinese in Asian countries such as China, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singaporeans are familiar with this notion of heaty or yang, as opposed to cooling or yin, as it is a Chinese form of expressing certain set of symptoms or sensations often associated with emotional or physical reactions.

These are symptoms of heatiness:

• Irritability

• Short temperedness

• Fever

• Constipation

• Flushed face or cheeks

• Dark yellow urine

• Sore throat

• Nose bleed

• Outbreak of pimples and acne

• Rashes

• Mouth ulcers

• Indigestion

Excessive 'cold' energy in the body, on the contrary, makes us feel:

  • weak

  • lethargic

  • tired

  • restless

The constitution of each person is influenced by congenital factors as well as the acquired lifestlye (e.g diet, stress level, amount of exercise and sleep, living environment), and this varies from person to person. In other words, different foods act upon the human body in different ways and affect our state of health. The body's metabolism, functioning of organs and organ structure all combine to determine our susceptibility to these heaty and cooling effects of foods.

Cool (yin) Foods:

Bamboo shoot, banana, bitter gourd, clam, crab, grapefruit, lettuce, persimmon, salt, seaweed, star fruit, sugar cane, water chestnut, watermelon, lotus root, cucumber, barley, bean curd, chicken egg white, marjoram, oyster, pear, peppermint, radish, strawberry, tangerine, and yogurt, broccoli, cauliflower, zuccini, corn, tomatoes, pineapple, turmeric.

Neutral (balanced yin and yang) Foods:

Corn, abalone, apricot, beef, beetroot, black fungus, carp, carrot, celery, chicken egg yolk, cuttlefish, duck, fig, honey, kidney bean, lotus fruit and seed, milk, olive, oyster, papaya, pork, potato, pumpkin, radish leaf, red bean, plum, sunflower seed, sweet rice, sweet potato, white fungus, yellow soybean, brussels sprouts, snow peas, sweet potato, taro, dates, figs, raspberries, raisins, sage, rosemary, thyme, brown rice, apple.

Heaty (yang) Foods:

Pepper, cinnamon bark, ginger, soybean oil, red and green pepper, chicken, apricot seed, brown sugar, cherry, chestnut, chive, cinnamon twig, clove, coconut, coffee, coriander (Chinese parsley), date, dillseed, eel, garlic, grapefruit peel, green onion, guava, ham, leaf mustard, leek, longan, mutton, nutmeg, peach, raspberry, rosemary, shrimp, spearmint, sweet basil, tobacco, vinegar, walnut, jackfruit, durian, leek, shallots, spring onion, , apricots, blackberries, black currant, mangoes, peaches, cherry, mandarin orange, grape.

How a food is prepared also matters. For example, Prok is considered as neutral, but if you have it deep fried or grilled, it would be considered as heaty. In addition, there are some interesting broad guidelines to determine whether a certain food is heaty or cooling.

Heaty/yang foods:

• grow under the hot sun

• are sweet

• have lots of fats

• rich in sodium

• are hard, dry or spicy

Cold/yin foods:

• grow in little sunshine

• are salty

• are lean

• rich in potassium

• soft and wet

The heatiness and cooling effect of foods refer to their capacity to generate sensations - either hot or cold in our body. They do not refer to the state of the food but its effect on our bodies. For example, tea is a cooling food. This means that it generates cold energy in our body.

To seek a balance in diet, we can classify food as predominantly yin or yang. Hence, if you eat predominantly yin foods, your body is capable of producing only cold energy, in contrast, eating predominantly yang foods produces hotter energy. If a person suffers from cold rheumatism, eating foods with a warm or hot energy would be helpful. If a person suffers from acne eruptions due to consumption of fried foods, it is beneficial to eat cooling foods to counter heatiness and relieve symptoms.

Source: www.benefits-of-honey.com/heaty.html

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ruth_Tan

27 May 2009

A Local [Af] Fare

Chints came to visit me in Singapore for some R&R. So while I worked during the day, he slept, ate, swam, and protected his skin from sun exposure. I introduced him to my Singapore, and together we discovered some more of Singapore. 

He arrived on Saturday morning. I wanted to sleep some more and he wanted to be out and about. 'Atithi Devo Bhava' and all that bolke I got dressed and took him out for breakfast. I fed him to the gills with Eggs Ben, Waffles, Brek-O-Day, Tea & Coffee @ the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, West Coast Mall. 

Then I took him for a Saturday morning stroll to the  bustling West Coast Market. It's a typical Singapore local market selling fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, flowers, grocery, shoes, shoes, clothes, etc. Being Saturday morning it was pleasantly full of people, noises, and smells. Not the biggest or the best, but it's the closest @ hand and will do very nicely. We inspected all the food stalls, vegetable and fruit stalls, bought flowers, and bookmarked certain places for a revisit. At the end of a happy hour spent browsing and shopping Chints was finally ready to hit the sack. Bwahahaha!

We made our way back home via a short cut and it was hot as only the equator can be! We reached home hot and sweaty, turned on the aircon, turned on the fan, drank grape fruit juice, followed by lime juice, followed by snapple juice and collapsed into bed. We slumbered the whole afternoon away till awoken by the rumble of our stomachs'. Lunch was a rack of Pepper Spare Ribs from Cold Storage [Recommend!] which we washed down with some Merlot. That done, it was back to slumber - Part 2. After all, it is the weekend.

In the evening we made our way to Clarke Quay and Jumbo. First stop, India Pale Ale @ Highlander accompanied by very gamey Venison Sausages (Brahmanical license apparently). 

Then I showed him all around Clarke Quay, all my favourite places, sketching out their pros and cons and checking out all the people. Then we made our way to my favorite Jumbo, where we dined on Kang Kong with Minced Garlic, Egg Rice, and Pepper Crab (Totally Recommend!). As the food took effect, jetlag hit Chints like a ton of bricks. So we quickly went back home and he slept. Again. Well, I did say he came for R&R! 

Sunday was spent cooking. Breakfast @ home consisted of egg, ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches. Then shopping for raw materials in Sheng Shiong and then I started cooking lunch. I made large batches of Peanut Korma, Tomato Chutney, Corn Pulao, Sambar, and Cluster Beans subzi so Chints would have some home food to turn to when hungry. 

We needed to walk off the lunch so I took him to West Coast Park for a walk. We did the marsh walks and the sea front walk, circled the full park and came back home much exercised, read:exhausted.

In the evening we went to Vivo City and browsed around the huge mall and stopped at Marche for dinner. Marche calls itself a Swiss village, has lots of counters serving different items (like a buffet or live food stations) and you only pay for what you eat, so it's not like paying for the whole buffet. We had roasted veggies, marble potatoes in butter, Rosti, Portabello Mushroom Crepe, Focaccia, and Strawberry Yogurt Drink [Recommended!]. Its pricey and not really value for money, okay for once in a while @ best. Nice decor and nice concept, but do we have to pay Euro prices?

Come Monday I was off to work and Chints slept his beauty sleep, ate breakkie, swam, and lazed around. In the evening, we went to Asian Civilization Museum but didn't make it in time. So we took the bum boat ride instead. But before that, we stopped for a sip and a bite at Timbre. I strongly recommend their 2 glasses of beer or wine and a pizza deal, the pizza was thin crust and very good. [Strongly recommend] (Darn! I remember taking pictures, where are they?) The bum boat ride was predictably good, the commentary was on, so we soaked up all the "info" on the various bridges on the Singapore River from Clarke Quay to Marina Bay. [Recommended.]

Next I took him to Chinatown, where he went to town with his shopping. He bought nearly everything he wanted for everyone from here. As usual, Chinatown is a big hit with everyone I take there. [Strongly Recommend!].  Chinatown  started shutting down before we could decide what we wanted to eat so we took the MRT from Chinatown to HarbourFront and ate a delicious dinner of Veggie Spicy Black Noodle Soup, Pork Dimsum, and Egg Rice @ the Asian Kitchen in Vivo City. [Totally recommend]

Tuesday he visited the botanical gardens and Clarke Quay with other friends. Wednesday we made it well before closing time to Asian Civilization Museum and spent 2 lovely hours there. [Recommend] 

Wednesday we decided we wanted to have local fare. We set off to Clementi Market and browsed all the stalls that were newly put up, from crockery, to furniture, from plants to school bags, these shops sold everything! I heard this is called a Pasar Malam or Midnight Market – the only thing midnight about them I think is that they disappear overnight to another location, otherwise they are on all day. I lost my heart totally to an amazing wooden inlay-worked extendable dining table [Strongly Recommend] and a Chinese Standing Lamp [Strongly Recommend]. Both of these were beyond my budget to I settled with my third Chinese Tea pot, and a few ceramic mini spoons.

For dinner I had Pork Dimsum Soup [Totally Recommend] from the innermost Clementi Food Stall and Chints had Laksa [he says it tasted like warm Arabian Sea with Noodles]. We shared a plate of Kang Kong in Oyster Sauce with a bowl of Rice. [Nice]

Thursday we went to Little India, where I took him to my favorite South Indian Non Veg restaurant, Anandam on Upper Dickson Road. [TOTALLY Recommend]. We ate Pepper Chicken, Biryani Rice and Economic Meals. Awesome bole to, uff! too much and so reasonable. This was followed by shopping @ Sim Lim Square, which was followed by shopping @ Mustafa where Chints bought the cutest Talking Parrot [Recommend]. This bird repeats whatever you say to it, but in a faster and higher pitched voice. We enjoyed ourselves enormously with it; most entertaining and a most worth-it buy.

Friday we went to Orchard, ate @ Food Republic, Wisma Atria. I played it safe and ate Roti Prata with Potato and Daal [Recommend, but the stall staff are RUDE esp if you are brown skinned]. Chints tried the Yong Tao Foo [Gabbu Noodles with Drainage Sauce] and swore that he will make me eat that tomorrow while he dines on lovely Roti Prata. To pacify him we had yummy cookie crunch desert @ Haagen Daz

Then I took him to Arab Street, which was jagmagaoing with people, hookas, food, and music. We got a drink @ a restaurant set outside a shop front and then moved to another cafe opposite a CD shop (who seemed to be the official DJ of Arab Street) to enjoy the cafe's Turkish coffee, tea and shisha and the DJ's Arabic music. [Recommended]

Saturday we partied the night out in Clarke Quay. We started with Tapas Tree [outside: Recommended, inside: Bad Service]. Ate all their food and drank sparingly because of the heat. Then we walked around looking for our next spot, were sorely tempted by the The Tent, Mongolian Grill but were too full just then to do justice to it. So we continued walking and landed up across the bridge and ate a lovely dinner @ A971 Café. Once the stomach was full, we worked it off by dancing in China One. Drank a drink or two and then moved to Rupee Room, where your's truly has danced like no tomorrow. [Recommended: Only if you like Bollywood Music]. Danced like crazy but were driven out by excessive BO of patrons. Wound up the night @ a respectable 4am. 

Sunday we were invited to X'namurty's house for Lunch, which we not only ate but also packed and brought back shamelessly. Anita, you're a great cook ma. Thanks so much. [Recommended]. Their condo in Lakeshore has such huge pool it runs the whole length of the condo!

Sunday night we went back to Clementi Market to cull out the Dimsum Soup place but ended up eating in the Pasar Malaam Maket. The following items were non-stop consumed till we could eat no more:
  • Chicken Rice, Ananas Café
  • Chicken Wings Satay
  • Fritters – Raw banana, Ripe banana, Sweet potato
  • Bird Nest drink
  • Appam Balik – made like appams with peanut power inside with palm sugar
  • Putu Piring – small conical 'puttu' with palm sugar/jaggery stuffing
  • Pork Satay
  • Thai Coconut Jelly [AWESOME!] – tastes like nungoo jelly
  • Ramli Burger – chicken patti wrapped in egg, with tomato sauce, mayo, cheese, and stuffed in a burger bun
Monday Chinti left, and I want to thank him profusely for being such an adventurous foodie, helping me discover more of Singapore, making me laugh non-stop and last but not least, for all the tea. Come back soon da, love raj!