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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sweet and sour fish


Ingredients

* 1 large fish such as lapu-lapu or tilapia

* 1 large onion, sliced

* 1 each of red and green bell pepper, julienned

* 4 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons ginger, julienned

1 cup vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

3 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1/2 cup water

1/2 teaspoon MSG or vetsin

1 cup cooking oil

* 1 carrot, sliced (optional only)

1. Clean the fish and rub with salt and vetsin.
2. In a frying pan, heat the oil and fry the fish until golden brown.
3. Place the fish in a serving dish and set aside.
4. Remove the used oil from the pan and put in about 1 tablespoon of fresh oil.
5. Saute the garlic, ginger, and onion.
6. Add the bell peppers and saute until half-cooked.
7. Put this mixture on top of the fish in the serving dish.
8. Return the pan to the heat and put the vinegar, salt and sugar.
9. Bring to a boil and thicken with the dissolved cornstarch.
10. Pour this sauce over the fish and serve immediately.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Plus-sized murtabak draws the crowd


KOTA BARU: A stall selling its very own king-sized murtabak – aptly named the “Royal Murtabak” – has been the focus of many during the fasting month here.

A long line of people is seen crowding the stall hours before the breaking of fast every day to buy the plus-sized delicacies.

Hawker Nik Faizah Nik Ab Rahman, 53, has been making and selling the extra big murtabak since 1995.

“I learned how to make murtabak from my mother who named it the Royal Murtabak,” she said.

Her mother had named the delicacy – dough wrapped in meat – the Royal Murtabak in the 1970s after the then Sultan of Kelantan Al-Marhum Tuanku Yahya Petra suggested it to her when dining at her stall.

Nik Faizah, who has three children, began learning the art of making the jumbo-sized murtabak at the age of 15.

Later, she took over her mother’s stall along Jalan Merbau here and made it a speciality for those breaking fast.

Sold at RM11 per piece, the response is so good, thanks to the double chunks of pastry and meat, rolled in with eggs, a secret recipe of spices, and a large serving of onions which her customers love.

Nik Faizah said that during the non-fasting period, she sells about 80 pieces daily but once Ramadan begins, sale of the delicacy would increase to 300 pieces daily.



Sunday, December 13, 2009

Malaysian Chicken Curry with Roti Canai





I came across the Chicken Curry Recipe on Seasaltwithfood, another talented cook from Malaysia. I always like the drier version of Malaysian chicken curry. Without hesitation, I printed the recipe and made this curry for dinner.

Malaysian Curry Chicken Recipe





Ingredients

2 Chicken Breast (about 650 to 700 g) Bone In, cut into smaller pieces
4 Medium Yellow Wax Potatoes
6 Large Eggs, boiled
60 g Chicken Curry Powder
10 g Chili Powder
2 Sprigs Fresh Curry Leaves
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Can (400 ml) Coconut Milk
1 1/2 Cup Water
5 Tbsp Of Peanut Oil
Salt To Taste

Method


Method

  1. Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and marinate with 1 Tbsp of curry powder.
  2. Marinate in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  3. Boil the eggs, cool and shelled.
  4. Then boil the potatoes until they are cooked but still firm. Peel and quarter.
  5. In a heavy pot, heat the oil and add the chopped yellow onion, together with the curry leaves. Cook until the onions are lightly brown.
  6. Add the curry and chili powder. Cook until they are fragrant.
  7. Mix in the marinated chicken and cook for about 10 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked.
  8. Add the coconut milk with 1 1/2 cups of water.
  9. Bring the curry sauce to a boil and then lower the heat and continue cooking for 10 to 15 minutes.
  10. Then, add the eggs and potatoes and cook further, for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Season the curry with sea salt and serve warm or at room temperature.

The curry turned out to be marvelous. I have to warn you that the 10g of chili powder is a killer. If you can't take the heat, I strongly advise you to reduce it by half or omit it.

You should also use the Malaysian curry powder available from Asian grocery stores (not the kind from the supermarket shelf) as it uses a different blend of spices and gives you the distinct taste.

I serve it with Roti Canai (it's called Roti Paratha in Singapore) which is a type of flat bread found in Malaysia, often sold in Mamak stalls (Food stalls own by Indian Muslims). Most of us don't have the skill to make Roti Canai. We usually purchase the frozen packets (I use Kawan brand) from Asian grocery stores and pan fry them.

If you wish to take up the challenge to make Roti Canai at home. Here is the link to the recipe and video on how to make Roti Canai:

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Curry laksa



Laksa is almost everywhere available. Basically there are two types of laksa: curry laksa (curry mee) and assam laksa. The curry laksa is served in a coconut curry soup while assam laksa refers to noodles served in a sour fish soup. The noodles used are thick though thin noodles (bee hoon) are used too.

Spicy or not? Laksa for sure is one of the more spicy dishes you will find in Malaysia. In general of all Malaysian food, I found the Malay laksa spicier then the Chinese laksa. The assam laksa, with it's sour fish has a distinct different taste then anything else with the exception maybe of the Tom Yam soups you find in Malaysia and Thailand. Curry Mee is usually less spicy though you may have to ask for no sambal if you don't like it too spicy.



Curry laksa or curry mee

Curry laksa, or simply laksa in Malaysian food is a coconut based curry soup. Ingredients usually include tofu, fish, prawn and cockles. In Malaysia some hawkers sell chicken laksa, leaving the prawns. Laksa is usually spice also because it is served with sambal chili paste.

This kind of laksa is also known as curry mee in Penang while in other states people know it as curry laksa. The real difference is the kind of noodles used, thick white noodles in laksa mee while in curry mee they use the yellow noodles. Curry mee is one of my more favorite mee dishes and Mee Gerai Tzien Fatt in Sitiawan serves some of the very best curry mee in the surrounding of Pangkor and Lumut.

Friday, November 27, 2009

E-tour: Bukit Larut (Maxwell Hill), Taiping


Where do we experience the natural beauty of forests in Peninsular Malaysia? Is it Genting Highlands? Is it Cameron Highlands? These are famous hillstations in Malaysia; however, commercialization and developments on these hilltops have severely "contaminated" the natural beauty of Malaysian forests found there. Casinos, theme parks, hotels, tea gardens, too predominant in the former two hill stations, have robbed both Genting Highlands and Cameron Highlands of their most valuable asset, originality and naturalness, which were replaced by an entirely new identity. Though considered successful nowadays in Malaysia, one can really argue that they cannot compare at all with the alluring Maxwell Hill in Taiping, Perak.

Maxwell Hill is located in Taiping, Perak. The place itself had great lengths of history, comparable to the likes of the settlements in Jamestown. Taiping was the first key of British's interest in Malaya. The abundance of tin, much more than any place in the world at the time attracted British conquest of the territory. Being the first region where tin was discovered in Malaya, Taiping was the centerpoint of development. Like all other milestones of development in Taiping, the Maxwell Hill Station was the first in Malaya.

The British built bungalows on top of the hill to serve as a sanctuary to escape the blistering heat of the equatorial regions of Malaya, and thus, soon it became a popular holiday spot for the British officials. After Malaya gained independence, Maxwell Hill was not put in the blueprint of development due to several reasons. The first reason is that the roads to the hilltop were hard and impractical to built due to the terrain. Secondly, the emergence of other hill stations had shunned Maxwell Hill to the verge of isolation as well.

Perhaps this is a blessing a disguise, as this move preserved the natural beauty on top of the hill. Bungalows were preserved as they are during the British colonial era. The roads to the hilltop have not changed much since the colonial era. Even the transportation method to the hilltop has not changed either. Everything is just as it is in the past. One can relive history when you walk past the forests found on both sides of the road.

While not having casinos, theme parks and hotels to attract tourists, what does Maxwell Hill possess that gives itself the authentic identity? The answer lies in the preserved flora and fauna found along the trail to the hill top and to the hilltop itself. As the primary transportation is only by jeep, there is very few pollution done to the natural environment here. Also, there are less tourists compared to other hill stations, therefore the scars left by humans are almost nowhere to be seen.

Recent attractions also include the successful cultivation of tulips on the hilltop. Due to the unpolluted environment of Maxwell Hill, botanists have successfully cultivated tulips there.

Nevertheless, Maxwell Hill is also one of the victims of global warming. The temperature on top the hill is reported to be increasing year by year. This may severely disrupt the ecology on top the hill. Despite the fact, Maxwell Hill is a must-visit place. It may not receive publicity like the Grand Canyon, nor like the Amazon forests, but it is certainly on par with these powerhouses in terms of natural beauty.

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Penang Hill, Bukit Bendera

Located 6km from George Town, Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) is one of the most popular destinations in Penang. Penang Hill is actually a complex of hills and spurs and the highest point is Western Hill which is 830 meters (2730ft) above sea level. Apart from the cool climate and the fantastic panoramic view of George Town, Tanjung Bungah and the mainland from the summit, you can also enjoy the picturesque colonial bungalows, a beautiful flower garden and a bird sanctuary. Some of the flora and fauna of Penang Hill are considered as endemic species, and are so rare that their existence is endangered.


The most convenient way up to Penang Hill is by means of a funicular railway in Air Itam (there’s not much places you be seeing such funicular railway system these days!). There is a tunnel which measures 258 feet long and 10 feet wide starting at steepness of 35 feet high, which is the steepest tunnel in the world.

The funicular train leaves every 30 minutes and can carry up to 80 passengers. One way ticket cost of RM4. It takes about half an hour to the top. The funicular train does not go straight to the summit and will pass several small stations, where the locals will alight. There are also some small hotels and guesthouses on this stretch. During holiday seasons, the wait for this ride can take as long as 1hr.




The alternative is to hike up. You will pass by several pit stops on your way to the summit. Some of the more famous pit stops at the mountain are 52 and 84, at these pit stops, the view of island is visible to hikers which are able to get some water, tea and coffee (you might even get biscuits if you are lucky) prepared by locals stationed on the hill; don’t forget to drop some change into the box to help maintain the services for others. Pit stop 84 is the last one before reaching the top of Penang Hill, it will take you another 45 minutes from 84. There are a number of trail leading to different peaks as follows:

  • Moon Gate at Waterfall Road: 5.5km about 3 hours
    About five minutes away from the Botanic Garden entrance. This trail takes you to Bukit Bendana and 84. The moon gate was once the main gate into the grounds of a colonial mansion aptly named “Yu Yi Yuan” (Yu Yi Garden). The mansion is now in ruins and lies just 15minutes walk from the gates, but its history is significant in the chronicles of the migrant Chinese in Penang.
  • Hye Keat Estate , Air Itam
    This path takes trekkers through a connection of fruit and vegetable farms and forks off to 84 whilst the other veers off to the Middle Station. From the Middle Station, trekkers can opt to trek all the way up to the top of Penang Hill or hop onto to the funicular train all the way up or down.
  • Tiger Hill trail: 8km about 5 hours
    This uphill climb starts from Air Itam , not far from the Kek Lok Si Temple. The trail heads up to the Air Itam Dam and then to Tiger Hill, ending at Summit Road. From the exit point at Summit Road, it’s another 30min to Strawberry Hill. According to trekkers, this trail is worth the hard work trudging into valleys, passing by a farm, streams, jungle shrubbery and trees. Not much left of this on the island, it is a must do before it completely disappears.

Another way to go up the hill is by hiring a 4WD vehicle which is the least popular choice. Hotel Bellevue provides this service from RM70 to RM130 depending which part of the island are you from.

Locatrion: The station to get to the top is located in Air Itam. At Air Itam, you should come to a roundabout. One side leads to Kek Lok Si Temple and the other to Penang Hill.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nasi Lemak at Rasa Malaysia


One of the staple dishes of Malaysian cuisine, nasi lemak is rice steamed with coconut milk and served (usually) with hard-boiled eggs, tiny anchovies, sambal (chili paste), sliced cucumbers and (occasionally) fried chicken. It's often served for breakfast at Malaysian street stalls, or sold cold and wrapped up in banana leaves as a quick on-the-go lunch. Nasi lemak is eaten with your fingers, as is traditional in Malaysia - most restaurants have a tea pot full of cold water and a bucket for pre- and post-meal washing.

The rice is soft and moist and rich with coconut milk, the sambal pungeant with chili and prawn paste. Cucumbers add coolness, peanuts and tiny anchovies (called ikan bilis) add crunch. Check out this recipe, at Rasa Malaysia.

What Is Hari Raya Without Ketupat And Lemang



The celebration for Aidilfitri - throughout this month of Syawal as Malaysians keep to their tradition of holding the Hari Raya open house.

At these functions, held either in residences, offices or hotels, the spread of food would undoubtedly have the 'compulsory delicacies' of ketupat and lemang.

For the Malays, the menu for their Hari Raya food offering would be devoid of the sparkle minus the presence of these two delicaies.

The senario is rather straightforward, as without ketupat and lemang, the plates of chicken and beef rendang as well as the serunding (dried spicy meat floss) on the dining tables would remain almost untouched with the absence of these two Hari Raya delicacies.

That is how synonimous ketupat and lemang with the Aidilfitri celebration..



KETUPAT, LEMANG

Lemang is a traditional Malay food made from glutinous rice and cooked in bamboo stick. The glutinous rice is mixed with coconut milk before compacted into a hollow bamboo stem.

A person needs to be skilled when doing this as to ensure that the right amount of rice is placed inside without it spilling over as the mix of of rice and coconut milk cooks and expands.

One also needs the necessary skill to roast the premix lemang over the fire for hours, to ensure that it cooks evenly. When cooked, the bamboo is split open and the cooked Lemang is taken out to cool. Once cooled, the lemang is sliced up and eaten with either the rendang or serunding.

Ketupat is a type of dumpling made from rice without any filling and very popular among the Malay community.

here are two types of ketupat -- 'ketupat daun palas' and 'ketupat nasi'.

A rather unique skill is also needed to weave the casings of these rice dumplings.

MONEY FROM MAKING LEMANG AND KETUPAT

Hence, those who have the skills to make lemang and ketupat are taking the opportunity to make these delicacies in the Syawal cheer due to demand from the public particularly organisers of the open house functions.

For lemang seller Salim Bakar, Syawal is the month of windfall for him.

"I started selling lemang one week before Hari Raya. The demand was good. Throughout Syawal I expected to sell about 100 sticks a day as many people have placed orders for their open house functions".

Salim sells his lemang at a wooden shack at the 5th mile of the Rawang-Batang Berjuntai road near here.

He sells a stick of lemang at RM8 each. That comes to a 'cool' RM800 a day.

Stalls and sheds selling lemang have sprouted in many parts of the Klang valley and the average price for a stick of lemang is RM8.

For former corporate man Datuk A. Ahmed, his Hari Raya celebration would not be complete without the lemang.

"It is a must for the Malays during Hari Raya as kuih bakul is to the Chinese during Chinese New Year," he said.

He said lemang is a traditional Malay food that originated from the Minangkabau community.

"Lemang or lamang is associated with the identity of Negeri Sembilan," he said.

PRICEY BUT NOT NECESSARY TASTY

For Rohaya Harun, a clerk in the private sector, she exercise some caution when buying lemang from the roadside stalls on the fear of bringing home lemang that was undercooked, either too soft or too hard, and cooked unevenly.

Usually she would pick the lemang of her choice from the same stalls over the years.

"Some of those in the lemang trade are not the experts on this delicacy as they cook it for only once or twice a year hence the lemang is cooked not the right way.

"What a waste would it be then, when the lemang bought is expensive but does not taste good for the palate," she said.

As for ketupat, those not skilled in making the ketupat casings would choose to simply boil the instant 'nasi impit' (compacted rice) or 'pulut' (glutinous rice).

However for the rather 'sentimental person' who thinks that ketupat is irreplaceble, he would opt to buy the ready-made ketupat casings from the market or even hypermarkets despite the high price of the item.

"The originality is always the preferred choice,' according to them.

WHY NOT LEARN MAKING KETUPAT, LEMANG?

For those not skilled in weaving the ketupat casings, they should try learning the skill during their spare time as instant nasi impit can never replace the ketupat.

The same with lemang. Some spare ground in your neighbourhood can be used to roast the lemang sticks. After all, the practice of preparing the lemang mix and roasting it over a fire is sure to enhance ties among family members and neighbours during the Aidilfitri celebration.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Welcome To Terengganu


Kite flying is a popular traditional pastime in Terengganu, especially during harvest time. Apart from the performance and appearance, the sound it makes when flying is considered important as well.

There are various types of kites such as wau kuching (cat kite), wau merak (peacock kite), and wau bulan (moon kite). Each kite also comes with a different design and size. The mark of a good kite is one that rises quickly and remains flying, no matter what the whims of the wind may be.

The colourful kites are played in the open paddy fields and along the sandy beaches. These places are suitable for flying kites because there are no trees or tall structures around. In fact, the wind blows strongly in these places. Normally, the wau is played after the paddy harvesting seasons or when the fishermen cannot go to fishing due the conditions of the sea. The best time to play the wau is in August and September.

The ulek mayang is a pre-Islamic religious trance dance accompanied by singing and music in Terengganu, originating from an unknown nearby island in which the Malay orchestra, comprising drums, gong, violin and accordian is used (Shafiee Ahmad 1992).

Tarian Ulek Mayang is another worshiping dance in the Malay dances. The dancing always begins with a person who is suffering from illness either when he catches fish, in the paddy field or any other daily activities in the society.

The patient will then healed by a bomoh, a traditional Malay doctor in the traditional way. Seven actors beautifully dressed represent the 7 princesses who come to visit the patient when the bomoh is treating him. Kemayan will be burnt together with chanting of pantun and dancing through the whole performance. Sometimes the rebab and seruling are also used to accompany the singing which is in the form of rhymes and poems

Although Tarian Ulek Mayang was once a folk ritual ceremonial in the Malay society, with its gentle and graceful movement, it has become one of the beautiful traditional dancing in Terengganu culture.


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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Welcome To Johor


OHOR - The most Southern tip of the Continent of Asia. Unforgettably beautiful with enormous rainforests dripping with parasite vines competing for sunlight and islands with coral gardens....

This Portal is an e-magazine guide for everyone who wants to know more about Johor. Comprises detailed business listings for business travelers and exhibitors, tourists attractions and events throughout the year. There are also links to URLs of many business sites like hotels, car rental, restaurants, etc.

In order to give you a better understanding of Johor state, there are many interesting and colorful photos for your viewing.




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