Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Deepavali Vartegal & Selamat Hari Raya!

This is a special post tribute to all Hindus : "Deepavali Vartegal" and all Muslims "Selamat Hari Raya".

On 21 Oct 2006, all Hindus celebrated the festival of lights. It is a celebration to commerate Lord Rama's homecoming after defeating the demon Ravana, Lord Krishna's triumph over the demon Narakasura, and moany other versions of the origin of Deepavali. All in all, it is simply a celebration to commemorate renewal of life! I would like to show you photos of kolam (a decorative art form created on the floor using coloured rice powder), lighted oil lamps in clay dish, offering plate to ancestors and gods/goddesses, and the food - muruku, ommapadi, chippi, sweet meats, rice puddings and many many more. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend my friend's open house because I had to travel doen to Ipoh to attend my boyfriend's sister's wedding. Sorry Suja, and happy deepavali. Hopefully next year...

On 24 October 2006, Muslims also celebrated a renewal. Prior to the Hari Raya Aidilfitri, all Muslims have to observe a full month of fasting. They will begin fasting from around 5am and break fast around 7pm (from sunrise to senset). During this period, no food or drinks are allowed and it is the time that Muslims are supposed to reflect and abstain from desire and urges. It is a time to forgive and forget and star anew again. Similarly, I wished I could reveal to you photos of decorative bulan sabit (crescent moon), lighted lampu pelita (canned oil lamp), visits to the love ones' graves, and food again - ketupat (pressed rice in coconut leaves), lemang (glutinous rice in bamboo), dodol and much more. Again, now that I am back to Kuala lumpur, most of my friends are back to their hometown to celebrate - balik kampung. Probably I'll go visit open house put up by our ministers. What? They are not in KL too? Sigh...

Because Malaysians celebrate all festivals, I wish all Malaysian happy holidays and please drive carefully (if you don't know what I mean. check this out -
http://www.flickr.com/photos/everythingasian/). Have a safe and happy holiday!

p/s: Those images I got it from yahoo. I like story with pictures :)

Monday, October 23, 2006

Imbi's morning wet market

Hainanese Breakfast
Have you had Hainanese breakfast before? Do you know what is a Hainanese breakfast? Those days when migrants from China came over to Malaysia, every different clan has a specific trade of their own. Hainanese? One of their best trade is kopitiam (literally translated to coffee shop, or you can call it cafe).

Why do you call it coffee shop? Well they are really good in preparing a good old cup of fragrant coffee. The trademark is a green flower motived cup for a thick hot coffee.

But what makes up a Hainanese breakfast is... (1) a cup of coffee, (2) half boiled eggs, and (3) toast with butter and kaya (sweet-brownish coconut and egg jam). But of course, as times passed, we get slightly improved version of bun instead of toast, and iced coffee instead of hot coffee. One of the famous Hainanese breakfast in Kuala Lumpur is a stall set up within the Imbi's morning wet market.

Location : Imbi, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Food rating : Good-lah*

If you like half boiled eggs, you'll know that the perfect half boiled eggs are those that when you crack the eggs and pour the contents out, no eggs will stick to the inside of the shells. This is what you will find from the stall in there. The eggs came out just right!

Hainanese coffee here are local coffee with milk, not the normal instant coffee you get from the likes of Nescafe or Indocafe. These are grounded coffee beans that have been fried with caramel. In fact, most local coffees gone through similar treatments. But some brands have their secret process that makes them more fragrant than the others. Same as the coffee here, they are fragrant hot or cold.

The buns here are generously spread with kaya and butter. The buns are not too hard or soft. They are toasted to golden brown that is easily crunched on the outer layer but still soft and chewy on the inner substance. I especially like the block of butter that is sandwiched with the kaya. You can eat it straight away to experience the butter's creamy taste or you can leave it to melt and soaked the inner portion of the buns with its buttery aroma.

I guess the photos below tells better story than I do...

Note:* "lah" is a suffix used by Malaysian meant to add emphasis to a word/phrase.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Kedai Makanan & Minuman Teluk Pulai (Pottery) Bak Kut Teh

Bak Kut Teh is a typical Chinese Malaysian food. You can only find this in Malaysia. It is a rice dish usually served with pork, mushrooms, iceberg cabbage and loads of chinese herbs and spices. If you ask me, I believe Bak Kut Teh is not complete without "Ewe Jar Koay" - fried Chinese Crullers, or "Tau Hu Pok" - fried tofu. The taste of those 2 soaked in Bak Kut Teh's soup is simply heaven!
Who invented it? According to the most plausible version of the story, Bak Kut Teh was invented by a gentleman from Quanzhou of the Fujian province in China. The secret recipe was passed to a friend who later went to Klang and became the first person to commercialise and sell Bak Kut Teh. The dish went on to become a famous dish and was copied and improved many times over. So according to this version the Hokkiens were the inventors of the dish. The Teochews came later and the main visual difference between the Hokkien and Teochew version of Bak Kut Teh is that the Hokkiens use dark soy sauce and thus the soup base is characteristically darker in colour. It is up to the individual's taste buds which one tastes better.
You may find many shops in Klang selling "original" Bak Kut Teh. Don't ask me which is the most famous or original amongst them. Heck I am still sampling.
So this is my sample no 1: Kedai Makanan & Minuman Teluk Pulai (Pottery) Bak Kut Teh

Malay-English Translation
Kedai - Shop
Makanan - Food
Minuman - Drinks
Teluk Pulai - Pulai Gulf

Hokkien-English Translation
Bak Kut - Ribs
Teh - Tea

Location : Klang, Selangor, Malaysia
Food rating : OK-lah*!


The shop has all the typical Hokkien Bak Kut Teh ingredients - dark soy sauce, dark soup, etc. Unfortunately, the shop was out of crullers that day :(
Anyway, the soup was ok. Not very fragrant but not tasteless either. Meat was ok. Not too hard and not too fatty/lean. The enoki mushrooms were different. They are fatter than the usual enoki mushrooms that you can buy in the market. The "fu chuk" - beancurd skin, that was added into the soup was ok too. Not too hard/soft and not tasteless, but not very fragrant either.
See... Now you know why I rate it as "OK-lah". Because it is simply ok-lah.
I will continue to try all the remaining shops in Klang, but not consecutively. Hell no! FYI Bak Kut Teh's herbs are very heaty
(Asian's term for food that induce higher metabolism eg chilli).
Let's have some variety, ya?
By the way, sorry for the late posting (though I promised you 16 October 2006). Oh come on! Haven't you heard of Malaysian time? Due to our extremely strong ability to procastinate, Malaysian time tend to stretch for a long long long long long period. If they say dinner starts at 7pm, I suggest you have some food coz' it is really gonna start at 9pm. If you've been to Malaysian dinner, you'll know :). OK, enough about that, so I'll see you again next week? Till then, stay cool!

Note: * "lah" is a suffix used by Malaysian meant to add emphasis to a word/phrase.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Maiden Voyage!

Ok, so this is it. What do I mean: "forget about what foreignors have to say about Asia/Malaysia and look at our own backyards." ?
Well, what I mean was we always care about what other people think about us, shouldn't it be the time that we, Asian, tell the world what Asia means to us? What do we think about Asia (and in my case, it has got a lot to do with food).
Besides the demographic details of what Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is today. I'd love to share with you our roots, traditions (although we being the 2nd to 3rd generation of Malaysian kinda loss the original traditions brought down by our forefathers from either China, India, and other parts of Asia), attire, thoughts, developments and of course FOOD! We may not be the pure breed from our ancestors, but what we have been mixed and matched and turned out to be what we are today - Everything Asian!
What are we gonna do? Well for a start, you will have to bare with me to introduce you Asian food in Malaysia on a weekly basis. Until I've saved enough for an oversea trip, you have to make do with local Malaysian Asian food and places. Deal? Deal!
Then I'll see you next Monday 16 October 2006 for my first feature of Malaysian Asian food...