diwali – festival of lights…and sugar?

Diwali – also known as the ‘festival of lights’ – is considered one of the most important festivals (there are hundreds, possibly thousands) amongst Hindus. Many fill their homes with oil lamps during this period to signify the triumph of good over evil.

For me, Diwali’s abit like Thanksgiving where families simply get together and be thankful for one another. Not forgetting the traditional wear, delightful sweets, colourful decorations and fire crackers. So really, it’s tonnes of eating, drinking and being merry!

This year also marks the first Diwali with my husband-to-be and to celebrate the special occasion, I decided to make a special Indian sweet called Kheer (directly translates to ‘milk’)! It is an essential dish made during Hindu celebrations and I thought it’d be the perfect way to kick things off this year.

Knowing how tedious the process of making these sweets can be, I was a bit nervous from the get-go. Little did I know, the actual cooking would be the least of my worries. The hardest part was getting all the right ingredients! If you ask any Indian in Singapore (or anyone for that matter), Mustafa Shopping Centre always comes up when inquiring about local produce. Unfortunately, I did not plan ahead and make a trip in advance so I tried my neighbourhood supermarket Fairprice instead. I did manage to get a couple of things but a few essential ingredients were missing – like ghee and broken vermicelli. Thankfully, there is a small little shop along Tanjong Katong – called Katong News Agency – that sells many Indian items. I remember this store from 20 years ago during my childhood days – it started out as a stationery and bookstore but today, it strangely offers a lot more! (Tip: for those looking for old school stationery, this is your place.)

Anyway, with all my ingredients in hand, here goes. First up, these are all the items you’ll need for the recipe:

3 cups broken vermicelli
1/2 litre milk
1/2 cup condensed milk
5 crushed cardamom pods
sugar to taste
1 tablespoon ghee
Handful of cashew nut halves and raisins

And then comes the directions:

  • Dry roast broken vermicelli with a touch of ghee. Once golden brown, turn off heat and set aside
  • Boil milk in a deep pan. Slowly add the vermicelli to the milk while stirring constantly for 5 minutes
  • Add condensed milk and cardamom pods to the mixture and stir well until the mixture starts boiling. Add sugar to taste
  • In a separate frying pan, heat ghee. Lightly roast some cashew nuts and raisins for 3 minutes. Transfer it to the vermicelli dessert once done and voila!
  • Serve hot or chilled – if you’re cooking this for the first time like me, try abit of both 🙂

Diwali may be over now but this sugar-coated memory still remains.

love / B

Advertisements

dean & deluca not so delightful

rating: 5/10 (underwhelming)

nice cafe/deli for a coffee and pastry, not much else. the mains were pretty disappointing and overpriced. the red velvet cake was the only decent course after three uninspired mains. but then again these days it’s not so hard to find a decent red velvet cake in Singapore is it?

go for a croissant, a cupcake, or a muffin. it’s the least dean & deluca can do for you.

  • not sure about pre-made salads anymore these days when you’ve got great salad shops like Saladstop around town.

chicken and apricot pie didn’t hit the sweet spot. an acquired taste perhaps.

the taste of the mac and cheese is as meh as it looks. hardly cheesy, too garlicky.

the new yorker from the all day breakfast range. bagel with smoked salmon and scrambled egg. sounds delicious? it was average.

finally a decent bite. but it was too little, too late.

love / B and Z

destination – danang and hoi an

fine beaches, south china sea, amazing food, rich culture, gorgeous weather, tailored clothes, coffee, cycling, shopping.

there you go, danang and hoi an in one line! both are located at the south coast of Vietnam; March is one of the best months to visit in terms of climate.

fly from sg to danang direct via silkair.

danang

if you love beach holidays and haven’t visited danang before, do it. the view of the vast south china sea is only the icing of the cake. i love that danang, unlike many beaches in Southeast Asia, is still relatively quaint and untouched by crazy beach-starved tourists. if you like to throw a little culture vibe into the mix as well, you can sign up for one of those jeep tours that takes you to My Son (a UNESCO world heritage site) and Marble Mountains.

a group of us girlfriends stayed at the ocean villas, a relatively new luxury resort located not too far from the airport. upon arrival we were very impressed by the environment – it looked like an upscale suburb just like Wisteria Lane in Desperate Housewives. unfortunately on closer inspection, the furniture in the villa looked quite dated. the service didn’t match the exceptional ambience too. for example being flexible in bending the rules to add an extra portion to a fruit plate for an extra charge – these are little details that make the hotel experience exceptional. i also thought it was a shame they didn’t provide bicycles for guests since the entire resort was huge and the roads were very quiet anyway.

all that said, the beach was amazeballs. the uninterrupted view of the south china sea and the long stretch of sandy beach all made up for the lack of service. there is also a tennis court, a pool, and a recreational area with a pool table. so we were pretty much sorted in terms of entertainment within the resort. we stayed 3 nights and went out for a seafood dinner on the last. ask your concierge for a recommendation; most of the seafood restaurants in the area are quite consistent.

hoi an (or hoi an ancient town)

danang was great for its beach and view but honestly much of the action was in hoi an itself, which is a 15-20min cab ride away. the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the town is extremely well-preserved. it’s a real struggle trying to balance taking photos all the time vs. just taking in the beautiful architecture and sights.

five things to do in hoi an:

  1. walk around on foot, admire the architecture and colours
  2. eat – try out street food, sign up for a cooking class at morning glory
  3. get some clothes made. go prepared with pictures, and be discerning about the fabrics you pick. there are rows and rows of tailors in hoi an, choose one based on your gut. don’t go crazy; the kind of pieces that will get you the most ROI is probably jackets. forget about imitating designer goods, the quality of the fabric is just not there. recommendation is to make 2 pieces and if you’re happy with them, order more. normally the turnaround is in a day – they are that fast!
  4. drink some vietnamese coffee
  5. if all else fails, there’s still the beach!

1. gorgeous buildings and colours around hoi an ancient town

quiet hoi an on a weekday evening, love the lights

2. eat and learn how to cook at morning glory – the food here is SO good

cabbage roll with shrimp paste – one of the dishes we learnt to make during the cooking class at morning glory

fried wanton with crab meat – yummy

4. have some traditional vietnamese drip coffee, too sweet for my liking at times but it’s so strangely tempting…

love / Z

cooking from the heart

I’ve always been fond of good food…I mean, who isn’t? But ever since I started dating my now husband-to-be, my interest in food – and not just eating, but cooking as well – increased even more! It brings me so much joy to see him clean out his plate each time I make something new. I’ve not hosted too many meals for my friends or family yet, but I’m pretty sure that will soon change once I get more confident in the kitchen!

I’m really excited to share today’s recipe because it turned out nearly as good as my mum’s! Presenting the ever famous North Indian dish – The Aloo Gobi (directly translates to Potato Cauliflower).

It is one of the most common and loved Indian curries that can be eaten with all kinds of rice, bread, or even on its own. In fact, this dish is also very healthy, high in Vitamin C, and also perfect for vegetarians!

First up – the ingredients:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 onions, peeled and chopped
1 bunch fresh coriander, roughly chopped
3 green chilies, chopped into small pieces
1 small cauliflower, cut into eighths
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 large tomatoes, diced (or  1 can/14 oz diced tomatoes)
Fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Fresh garlic, chopped

Seasoning

1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (mixed spice)

And of course, the directions:

  • Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan
  • Add the chopped onions and cumin seeds
  • Stir and cook till onions become golden and translucent
  • Add chopped coriander, turmeric, and salt (to taste)
  • Add chopped chillies and stir tomatoes into onion mixture
  • Add ginger and garlic; mix thoroughly and let sauce simmer for three minutes
  • Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus a few tablespoons of water; ensure that all ingredients are coated with the curry sauce
  • Cover and simmer for 20 minutes (or till potatoes are cooked)
  • Add Garam Masala and stir
  • Sprinkle some chopped coriander leaves, turn off heat and cover for another five minutes before serving

Voila!

The total time taken to make this dish – including preparation of all ingredients – is just 40 minutes! But for those who don’t have as much time to spare, cut 10 minutes off the recipe by using a pressure cooker to prepare the potatoes beforehand instead of cooking them with the curry.

On the other hand, for those who do have some extra time, make some Raita (also known as a yoghurt salad – see above) to serve on the side. Not only does it compliment the Aloo Gobi dish, it also leaves a refreshing feeling on a hot day (and we all know how many of those we get in Singapore)! Refer to an example recipe HERE.

What I’ve also learnt is that cooking with the heart makes a whole lot of difference, whether it’s for the intention of feeding your loved ones or simple self-gratification.

For me, I’m just glad knowing how proud my mum will be when she tries this dish tonight! *happy dance*

love /  B