A sometimes amusing thing about having a smattering of more than one language is how what you hear pops something completely different into your head courtesy of another language!
It can result in some rather odd brain combinations…
The 1st time I was asked if I wanted ‘susu’ in my coffee in Indonesia… had a quite gross image of a kid pissing into my sacred morning ritual with a heavily caffeinated brew!
Cus ‘susu‘ in my Hindi-colonised brain now means… well… taking an erm…. leak.
Whereas in Bahasa it means milk!
Last trip to Jakarta during my stay-cation massage, I thought the girl asked if I wanted a palak massage too.
Now palak to me means spinach…. So I instantly had bizarre cartoon images of spinach dancing in my head!
Turns out she was actually saying kepala i.e. head but obvious my ear was wired to food!
I wonder if others have this strange experience of hearing (or mis-hearing) one thing which bears zero relationship to what is ACTUALLY being said?
Just after I booked my flight and stay for Jakarta, my attention turned to what needs to get done around the house before I take off for 3 weeks…
Did a little fridge digging and freezer check, discovering a frozen Atlantic salmon fillet just begging to be consumed with some assorted veggies….
My partner was on tour so it was just me, but one of the things about work travel is you learn to revel in the occasional ‘proper’ solo dinner…
So why not get into practice at home?
There you have it… found myself cooking up a storm to produce a scrumptious yet reasonably healthy Sunday dinner just for me, myself and I!
- Poached salmon with a crazy yum citrus dill reduction sauce
- Steamed cauliflower with a dash of tumeric
- Toasted roasted beans with sesame, sunflower, yellow mustard and cumin seeds
- Carrots with cumin and dill
- Potatoes sautéed with onions a special home-made olive oil my partner picked up in Beirut, cracked black pepper and seasalt
What a pleasure… a good proper home cooked meal, at our own table, with a little music in the background. Yup… think I have my ‘home fix’ and easing beautifully into solo meals!
When you travel a lot, little extras in places you rest your weary head start to make a difference. Like a luscious exotic fruit plate.
What is even nicer is when there is a little help to navigate the delicacies offered… like this hotel from a stay in Bangkok in 2013 that had a menu card with explanation, how to eat and what you could expect trying the fruit.
Me? I sooooo knew what I was diving into! From that tempting bowl, I went straight for the mangosteens.
Mangosteens have been a favourite since I first strolled with a friend in Singapore through a market in China Town. She made me buy a full bag – warning me that I would never be able to stop with just one.
She was completely right!
That sweet, tangy, juicy oh so yummy fruit… I’m craving it right now just looking at these photos, imagining that plump white pulp bursting into flavour in my mouth.
So… when is duck not duck?
It could be a fish if you live in Mumbai!
I first had ‘Bombay Duck‘ in New York when visiting a Parsi friend from Mumbai. It was masala dried – stinky, chewy, very different but also quite good.
Then I moved to Bombay and discovered fresh bombil, deep-fried is beyond yum! If ever asked what goes superbly with a chilled beer? The answer is ‘Bombil Fry‘ aka ‘Bombay Duck.’
Bombil is actually a lizardfish… uh yeah… this duck is now actually a lizard? What is it with the misleading names and this fish?
It is rather popular with folks from Maharashtra… and the dried form is privately ‘smuggled’ across borders – hence my tasting contraband ‘Bombay Duck’ in New York back in the early 90s.
Any food in your ‘hood’ with a misleading name?
I’ve also come across :
- 水煮鱼 aka Shanghai “water boiled fish” that is actually drowning in oil!
- Or “prairie oysters” that are… ahem… fried baby bull balls
Other Sunday Snaps:
When traveling, a gal has got to eat! In 2015, I had several trips to Delhi. Normally I keep it a quick ‘grab and go’ kinda meal unless it is a sit down business lunch or dinner.
However during my December trip, with the chill in the air and a little time on my hands between meetings I had a ‘proper’ sit down Punjabi lunch with chole (chickpeas), laccha parantha, pickles and salad. It was simple and completely satisfying!
Now I’ve ordered hot chole bhatura from a local dhaba in Bandra and have even been known to make it at home from time to time… however it is just not the same as the spicy tangy incredibly delicious version most joints make in Delhi.
There are lots of other amazing Punjabi dishes… any other favourites out there? Ones that are simply not quite the same outside of either someone’s home or a particular location?
Most of us have ‘go to’ recipes… something quick and delicious that you can make on an instance without even thinking.
This one is so crazy simple, you can literally make it in minutes. Makes a great side dish, cold you can jazz up any salad throwing some of these green beans in too!
And today, I mixed it up a little substituting one ingredient – super yum!
- Green beans, sliced roughly in 3 inch bits – can parboil first but not required
Then in a non-stick pan
- Heat a dollop of oil on high
- Drop in 1/2 teaspoon each of cumin seeds, yellow or brown mustard seeds and sesame or sunflower seeds
- They should start to pop and sizzle almost immediately
- Thrown in the green beans
- Then a dash of salt and cayenne pepper
- Just keep tossing around for a few minutes until everything gets nice and toasty – it is best when the green beans get a bit ‘singed’ to bring out a roasted flavour
Today I substituted sunflower for sesame seeds – wow! Will definitely do a repeat of that… maybe experiment with other seeds too…
One of the delights about living in Asia is access to an array of fresh food. Pure and unadulterated.
In Canada if you want coconut water? You get it from a can or a drink box imported from Asia.
In India, if you want coconut water? The coconut man brings it fresh to your door.
You can sip it with a straw or even have it in a glass if you prefer (why?).
He’ll then ask if you want the ‘meat’ and proceed to take part of the coconut shell to scoop out and roughly chop all that good stuff so it is easy to eat as is or store to have later.
Practically everything from the coconut can be used.
It is hard not to be a bit of a foodie in India – there is such amazing choice and range of flavours, cooking styles and combinations.
The passion and pride folks have in ‘their‘ cuisine is unmistakable!
The danger of hanging out with true foodies is that as you are enjoying one meal, plans are afoot for the next!
No surprise then that a brunch of Karwari cuisine was born out of conversations at an earlier meal.
For those not familiar with the region or its cuisines, ‘Karwar‘ is a coastal area in Karnataka, just south from Goa. A distinctive element is that though predominantly Hindu, even brahmins eat seafood and meat.
Linguistically, most speak Konkani like Goans though the official language is Kannada yet there are also strong Marathi and Hindi influences too.
As you would expect from coastal cuisine, seafood is king! Also you won’t find wheat rotis here. Instead rice is the staple starch. Plus generous reliance on coconut (including the oil for cooking) and spicy masalas.
- Mutton sukke – a dry mutton curry
- Chicken sagoti (like Goan xacuti but without vinegar) – cooked in coconut gravy with ‘sagoti’ masala
- Prawn gassi – another coconut dish
- Batata song – surprisingly simple and amazingly delicious potato with red chillies
- Usal watana – peas with cashew
- Dali toi – yum daal made with chilies, ginger, asafoetida
- Bhakri – a kind of steamed ‘chapati’ made with rice flour, great for sopping up gravy
- Bhinda kadi – a refreshing kokum drink
Trust me… I’m now ravinous just writing about it.
Any community cuisine that captured your culinary fancy recently?
On 26 Dec, we welcomed our kitten Zoe in the evening. We also threw a rollickingly good Boxing Day brunch.
The idea was to revive a ‘tradition’ from Canada where Christmas would be devoted to family, but Boxing Day? Oh that was prime time for those near and dear friends who are like family!
Feasting, feasting feasting!!
And what is family friend time like without a feast? So I encouraged folks to ‘box’ up their Christmas leftovers and bring to our home. As the day progressed, dish upon delicious dish piled up. To the point where both our living room and kitchen tables were groaning under the weight and even the kitchen counter and stove was bursting with fabulous food. (Shame on me! I was too busy socialising to take a pic!)
Most dishes needed heating, so between the stove and microwave, something sure was ‘cooking’ in the kitchen. At one point, my re-heating duties were taken over by a couple of friends and my partner’s mother’s helper. Not quite sure how it happened, but to cut a long story short, we literally managed to burn out the micro!
Now this is India… which means anything can be repaired. And sure enough, my very serviceable microwave can indeed be fixed. However the cost to replace the part blown is 4 times its re-sale value and inching close to that of buying a new cheap one. After a dozen years, we decided it was time to ‘upgrade’ and get a swank new microwave come grill come convection oven, donating our old micro to our driver who will be able to get it repaired or re-sell it.
So out with the old and in with the new! (more…)
Yes Everyday Asia… you have been sorely neglected!
Yes there are a bunch of partly written blog posts sitting in your draft folder…
Yes your phone is full to bursting with photos from various adventures…
Yes you were busy busy busy!
So… if you can’t write juicy little separate posts, just do a quick round-up… yes?
Here goes! (more…)