Wednesday, August 29, 2012


31ST AUGUST 1957 is Independence day for the Federation of Malaya

A new Federation under the name of Malaysia was created on 16 September 1963. 

I am proud to be a Malaysian and would like to share a simple traditional recipe from the ancient , to celebrate this occasion.

Traditional Malaysian foodies are known to be spicy, aromatic and very flavorful.

I like to present this recipe in a traditional way, from memory- 
and not the usual orderly way such as listing the ingredients first, then followed by the cooking techniques.
SMOKED  FISH IN COCONUT GRAVY or you may do grilled fish
Fish- preferably the not too soft type and has some good fat content
A good example  is catfish which is high in vitamin D and some omega fatty acids.
There are many edible catfish varieties that are prepared as food, in many different ways worldwide. Catfish makes an interesting ingredient for this ancient dish.

Smoke or grill 3 medium size catfish. Let them get burnt a bit, but remain soft on the inside. Coal fire would be great. When done cut into half- careful not to break into pieces.
1 cup concentrated coconut milk mix with 1 ½ cup water OR vice versa if you prefer a thicker and richer gravy.
3 pieces bitter gourd- halved and seeded. This gives great flavor, just a slight bitter taste helps make it a more authentic dish with great medicinal value.
1 large eggplant- quartered
Half  inch fresh mature turmeric root. It is not an original recipe, if you use turmeric powder.
Some fresh chili- this depends on your feel for chili hot taste.
Traditionally, we use the very hot bird chili variety.

1 piece/ 1 slice sun dried asam gelugor (dried garcinia/ gandarusa) – an origin of Malaysia- see image

A substitute for this traditional asam will be green unripe mango, which is crispy and has a sour taste. A quarter cup of sour green mango slices will do just fine.

Blend turmeric with chili. Use a cooking pot-add in coconut concentrate with water, blended ingredients, bitter gourd and eggplant.

Let boil and stir consistently to ensure a smooth gravy texture. After 10 minutes, add in fish and asam / mango.
Stir for another 10 minutes and put off fire.

Serve with rice as a main dish. You may complement this with fried chicken and omelet.

Traditionally, we used claypot to cook this- 
it helps bring out the best of flavors, 
as well, retain heat for a long time.

After a hearty meal and a whole morning workout in the fields, it is time to  relax, stay indoors and shelter oneself from the afternoon sun.
Betel leaf and betel leaf gold plated holder
The elderly, especially grandparents will help themselves to what I personally call  the “ancient chewing gum”. Yes, it’s eating sireh pinang time.
Sireh (betel leaf-as in topmost pic)  in an addictive psycho-stimulating  formula, popularly eaten in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and in Asian countries like Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.

Here, areca nut, catechu (kattha) and slaked lime is wrapped with the betel leaf. This combination is called “Betel quid”. The betel quid has been popular for several  thousand years and still is.
Areca nut or betel nut with a cutter
both holder and cutter pics(excluding leaf and nuts)
are from perpustakaan negara
In some countries tobacco is added, but not in ours. According to medical studies, excessive intake may cause oral cancers, but I have never seen one affected this way. 

Medicinal value
In India, betel leaf is used to cure worms and antiseptic. In ayurvedic , it’s a remedy for bad breath.
Both betel leaf and areca nuts are stimulants. Stimulants induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both.

Examples on the effects of stimulants may include enhanced alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion etc. Their effects typically have an "up" quality to them, stimulants are also occasionally referred to as "uppers". Depressants are "downers", which decrease mental and/or physical function.

In some countries, Betel quid may include coconut, fruit preserves, rose petal preserves, various spices or candy coated fennel seeds, for a sweeter variety.
May be you know of other interesting formula using betel leaf and areca nuts  to psycho stimulate one’s brain. Do share with us. Thank you.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


This fantastic thirst quencher is from the schweppes collection, where i have added a little more peach and some honey for a touch of natural sweetness.

For me, the schweppes combination of of fruit flavors in their juices and cocktail, are simply awesome.
  • 2 peach fruit- skin and de-stoned
  • 1 medium banana
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 40ml Schweppes Lemon Juice Cordial
  • Honey
  • Some ice cubes
  • Blend all the ingredients  and pour into chilled glasses.
  • Serve with ice cubes- makes two

Saturday, August 11, 2012



Canadian Blueberries
Part One of a two part series.
Canadian  blueberries are of two types- The  “lowbush blueberries,” also known as wild blueberries and The Highbush blueberries”.
A True Taste of Nature
The sunny days of late summer and early autumn are harvest time for Canada's blueberry crop. 


Canada is the world's largest producer of “lowbush blueberries,”  and is the world's second-largest producer and exporter of these delectable berries, after the United States.
In British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, workers hand-pick the sweetest fruits for the table market, while mechanical pickers scoop up the berries destined for freezing and processing.

These small blue globes have always been prized, and for centuries were a special favourite among Canada's First Nations  (natives). 
They had learned how to smoke the wild fruit for winter use, mix it with honey and cornmeal to make blueberry pudding, and make a blueberry syrup to cure coughs. 

Nowadays, Canada's making them unique—no other Canadian fruit shares this distinction.
Most are grown commercially in Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. They are native to Eastern North America and grow best on treeless land or on land that has been burned over
Wild blueberries are unusual because growers do not plant them, but instead manage wild stands that spread naturally by means of underground runners
Since managed wild blueberry fields can have several distinct runner systems, the berries are often not uniform in appearance—but the delectable taste is always the same. They ares mostly destined for processing and freezing.

Diets supplemented with wild blueberry juice may affect memory  and learning in older adults, while reducing blood sugar and symptoms of depression.

Wild blueberries has a higher anthocyanin content.  Anthocyanin is the red, blue or purple color in a fruit/ veggie, depending on the pH. It is water soluble.
Anthocyanins have been shown to act as a "sunscreen", protecting cells from high-light damage by absorbing blue-green and UV light, thereby protecting the tissues from   (photoinhibition), or high-light stress.

This may be seen on  the color of autumn leaves and  of plant shoots , like the reddish hue of rose shoots.
Anthocyanins also act as powerful antioxidants.

Links- wiki-anthocyanin, also government websites- here  and here

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


 “A great idea should always be left to steep like loose tea leaves in a teapot for a while to make sure that the tea will be strong enough and that the idea truly is a great one.” 
Green Tea benefits
Research shows that there is one kind of tea which can be up to 100 times more potent at blocking growth of cancer cells than another. 
While all tea (green, oolong or black) contains antioxidant compounds called catechins that protect against cancer (especially of the lung, breast, colon, stomach and skin) by neutralizing free radicals, green tea contains about 7 times more catechins than black tea. 

Green tea also has unique catechins that block an enzyme involved in breast, prostate and colon cancers. 
Green tea is 10 to 100 times stronger than black tea in blocking the growth of cancer cells. 
Catechins also prevent heart disease and stroke, primarily by defending against the harmful effects of artery-clogging LDL cholesterol.

I can drink tea until the cows come home and I love the atmosphere in tea-shops.- Zola Budd

Green Tea and The 'Asian Paradox'

There is a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer in Asia where people smoke heavily, which may be accounted for by high consumption of tea, particularly green tea, according to a review article published by a Yale School of Medicine researcher. 

"Our trouble is that we drink too much tea.  I see in this the slow revenge of the Orient, which has diverted the Yellow River down our throats."
~ J.B. Priestley
Bauer Sumpio, M.D., professor and Chief of Vascular Surgery in the Department of Surgery.

"We do not yet have a full explanation for the 'Asian paradox,' which refers to the very low incidence of both heart disease and cancer in Asia, even though consumption of cigarettes is greater than in most other countries,"  "But we now have some theories." 

Sumpio, the lead author of the review in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, said he and his colleagues reviewed more than 100 experimental and clinical studies about green tea in writing the article. 

He said one theory is that the average 1.2 liters of green tea consumed daily by many people in Asia offers the anti-oxidant protective effects  EGCG.

EGCG also reduces the amount of platelet aggregation, regulates lipids, and promotes proliferation and migration of smooth muscle cells, which are all factors in reducing cardiovascular disease.
 Sumpio said other reports show that EGCG prevents growth of certain tumors.
Tea, according to studies, also can improve gastrointestinal function, alcohol metabolism, kidney, liver and pancreatic function, protect skin and eyes and alleviate arthritis.
Tea has been used in managing and preventing allergies, diabetes, bacterial and viral infections, cavities, reduce or cure diseases with an inflammatory component and improve neurologic and psychological health.

"More studies are necessary to fully elucidate and better understand green tea's method of action, particularly at the cellular level,"
  Sumpio said. "The evidence is strong that green tea consumption is a useful dietary habit to lower the risk for, as well as treat, a number of chronic diseases. Certainly, however, smoking cessation is the best way to prevent cardiovascular disease and cancer."

Reference: Journal of the American College of Surgeons 202: 813-825 (May 2006)

"Although my neighbors are all barbarians,
and you, you are a thousand miles away,
there are always two cups on my table." - Tang Dynasty

"A woman is like a tea bag, you can not tell how strong she is until you put it  in hot water."  -      Eleanor Roosevelt

Thursday, August 2, 2012



Ooops!!! this is quite  a catchy ancient Chinese proverb- read this:

"Better to be deprived of food for three days, than tea for one." 

On Drinking Tea Alone...(Chinese saying)

"In my own hands I hold a bowl of tea; I see all
of nature represented in its green color.
Closing my eyes I find green mountains and pure water 
within my own heart. 
Silently sitting alone and drinking tea, 
I feel these become part of me."

I am prompted to blog on green tea again- inspired, after knowing that my blogger friend, Lee, cosumes six glasses of green tea daily, consistently, for more than twenty years now.

Name: Long Jing Tea or Lung Ching Tea or  Dragon Well   Tea  (Chinese Green Tea)
Origin : Hangzhou,  Zhejiang Province  China
Longjing is one of China's top 10 teas and is considered the best by those devoted to green tea.
Brand: There are many brands of Dragon well  tea  in the market.


This tea doesn't store very well (green teas are best drunk fresh). Green teas can be stored for 1 year in a dry, air- and light-tight container.

Suggested Usage: Use between one and two teaspoons of leaves per cup of 75-85 degree water (167-185F) for up to 3-5 minutes.

The flat and smooth tea leaves (resembling pine needles with a pale green color) brew a tea with light green color, a subtle fragrant scent, and a refreshing taste.

It is one of China's most celebrated green teas. 


Tea was accidentally discovered by Emperor Shen Nung (aka the Shennong, Yan Emperor or "Emperor of the five grains") over 5,000 years ago, 
when it was found to be an antidote against the poisonous effects of some herbal medicines.

The tea has a long history; more than 1000 years.
It's earliest record may be found in the book named chajing, the first book on tea in the world, written by the Chinese expert of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Lu Yu. 

Knowledge of the tea began to spread and became known all over the country by the times of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties.
Especially in the Qing Dynasty, Longjing tea became very popular. 

One of the most remarkable emperors of the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong, paid four visits to the growing area of Longjing tea, not only to enjoy sipping tea, and to write and sing poems to praise the tea, but also to watch the process of picking and roasting it with serious intent. 

He was so interested in Longjing tea that he named the eighteen tea trees in front of the Hugong Temple "royal tea".

The Chinese government has made a great effort to promote it and introduce advanced technology in planting, picking and roasting of the tea with high quality standards.


The name Longjing is from a small village  in Hangzhou Zhengjiang Province. It is said that residents in ancient times believed that a dragon dwelled there and controlled the rainfall. 

As a result, people went there, whenever there was a drought to pray for rainfall, from as early as the Three Kingdoms Period (221-280).
Longjing tea is grown in the Longjing mountain area of Hangzhou, southwest of the West Lake. 
The fertile land is both rich in phosphorus and sub-acidic sand. 
This region prevents the cold current from the north and holds back the warm current from the south, thus the growing area of Longjing tea can be coated by cloud and mist for long periods of time. 


Grown in the mountainous regions of Lion's Peak of Hangzhou, Zheijiang province.

Like other famous teas (notably Darjeeling), the notion of "flush"
(time of picking)

i.e. spring, summer or autumn) applies to this wonderful tea.

First flush Long Jing, which is picked once a year by hand when the leaves and buds are at their smallest and most fragrant stage, is immediately roasted and has a characteristic shape of leaves folded flat along their length. 

The right time for picking the tea leaves is very short. The period between Qing Ming and Grain Rain (from April 5 to 21) each year is generally considered the prime time to get the highest quality Longjing tea.
This is a premium tea and highly prized as such in China. 
It is difficult to find in export as it's mostly consumed by the local market and it isn't cheap.
Long Jing is very delicate and fresh tasting, has a nutty, slightly sweet flavor and a lasting buttery finish.


Longjing tea aids one's health in many ways regardless of your age.

It is used to deter food poisoning, refresh the body, stop cavities, fight viruses, control high blood pressure, lower the blood sugar level, and to prevent certain cancers. 

Hence, Longjing tea is regarded as the elixir for health and is widely sold and accepted all over the world.

A more detailed health benefits list, strictly  based on research, will be publish in my future posting.


The brewing method we highly recommended is to put a pinch of dry, roasted tea leaves into a porcelain or transparent glass cup and pour hot water at about 85C into the cup. 

Sip and enjoy!


Longjng tea is famous both because of its good quality, as well as its historical and cultural values. 
The chinese have their way on tea ceremony.

When having visitors or entertaining guests, make sure the spout of the teapot is not facing anyone. It is impolite to set the teapot down where the spout is facing towards somebody. 

The spout should always be directed to where nobody is sitting, usually just outward from the table.


The Legend about the Shape of Dragon Well Tea
The present-day flat shape of Dragon Well Tea is said to have something to do with Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. Legend has it that on one of his inspection tours to Hangzhou...

Emperor Qianlong disguised himself as an ordinary man and came to the Hugong Temple at the foot of Shifeng Mountain near Dragon Well Village. An old monk served him some Dragon Well Tea of the West Lake. 
 This is just a legend. The flat shape of Dragon Well tea is generally believed to be influenced by Dafang tea of neighboring Anhui area in the late Ming and early Qing Dynasty.