Tuesday, May 29, 2007

'Ayam Kuali'

I have had A LOT of request for this recipe and so I will share it, even though Mr S has confided in me his little dream about a restaurant that specialises in these dishes - no doubt due to the very 'healthy' response to the pic of this dish in a previous post and also due to the response of our guests each time I cook this dish.

Not to mention, of course, Mr S's 'healthy' imagination as well!

This dish is mild and best eaten with chapattis, in my opinion. It's delicious and easy, not to mention it does not require the normal coconut milk that we Malaysians just love to put in our dishes..

It's something different. Try it!

Chicken Karhai
(literal translation: 'ayam kuali' - so make sure you use a kuali/wok for this one!)

cooking oil

3 fresh tomatoes, diced

garlic and ginger paste
crushed chillies (looks similar to the ones you get at pizza hut
turmeric powder


Chicken - 4-5 pieces of chicken, cut into small pieces

1-2 Tbs fresh yoghurt

coriander leaves, sliced
green chillies, sliced


Heat up the oil in your wok. Fry the tomatoes, turmeric, salt, ginger and garlic paste and the crushed chillies. Stir a little and fry on medium fire until the juice of the tomatoes dries up a bit - add chicken.

Cook the chicken on high fire for 2-3 minutes and then cover, on low fire until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Don't forget to turn the pieces over once in a while!

Increase fire. Add fresh yoghurt. Stir for 2-3 more minutes. Add the sliced coriander leaves and sliced green chillies. Stir for another few minutes.

Done! That was easy, wasn't it?

Good luck in trying and hope you LOVE it!

'Kenduri' With Friends

'Kenduri' with my friends, the Muslim mums.

The food tasted just like what I would have eaten in a fancy Middle Eastern/Indian/Mamak restaurant back home!

Bless the cook, my friend from Yemen!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Filling the Money Box

"Quick, H***n! Let's go into that yoom and take the money before someone comes!" said my 3 year old to his big brother who was in the toilet with me - I was helping him wash his hands.

Instantly, I became alert.

"Huh? What money? From which room?" I quickly asked, suspecting mischief straightaway.

My youngest had a guilty look on his face and he hung his head low. "From that room," he said, his eyes looking down at the floor all the time although his right hand lifted to point to the room that we are currently sub-renting to our housemate, serigala-london.

"What??! From where in that room did you take the money? From the floor?" I asked, quite amused by his facial expression but I reigned in my laughter, because clearly, he STOLE that money and that's no laughing matter.

"No. From the table.." he said, still looking down.

"H****h! That's stealing! Who asked you to do that?" I said, clearly translating directly from the normal Malay phrase of scolding 'siapa suruh buat tu??!'

"But we want to put money in our money box so that we can go back to Malaysia!" he said, looking up at me at last, his eyes pleading and full of innocence.

"Yeah, you said we need more money in the money box to buy aeroplane tickets.." my eldest added from beside me.

Oh no.

My heart felt heavy when I explained to them that yes, we need more money to buy the air tickets but no, it's not okay to steal other people's money to fill the money box so that we can do that.

The truth is, both my children have been asking me 'when can we go back to Malaysia'. Mama..I already have so and so amount in the money box, now we can go back to Malaysia?!

My eldest said he misses his granddad and grandma and he wants to stay in a hotel and go to the beach and ride on the KTM - the things that we used to do back in Malaysia. His little brother just agrees with him as he has no real memory of home - we came here when he was just one and a half years old.

I keep telling them that we have to wait for their papa to pass his exams and that we have to save enough money first in order to buy the tickets... hence the reason why my children are so desperate to fill up their money boxes.

I want to go back to Malaysia too!

My nek is old and every time I talk to her on the phone she keeps asking me that question, "Bila kau nak balik, ***?" Mr S is also a little fed up with his work and wants to go back to Malaysia for a holiday.

For all of our sakes' I pray that my husband will pass his final exams and that the 'money boxes' will be full soon because this is the longest we've been away from home and we miss everyone and everything back in Malaysia.

Soon, InshaAllah.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Boys Will Be Boys

Brotherly love aside, boys will be boys.

My eldest likes to scratch or pinch or kick or smack his youngest when I scold HIM for doing something naughty.

I have scolded and talked to him several times about this behaviour of his to no avail. The last time I just didn't know what else to do so I just sent him to the naughty chair for 7 minutes.

This entry is just so that you know, in case you thought my boys are perfect angels 100% of the time!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Brotherly Love

On the way home from school
Holding hands and looking out for one another
Not caring if friends don't think it's cool
Brotherly love, what a loving gesture

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Subconscious Memory

Mr S has been using the 'favourites' folder in my youtube account to keep his favourite songs, from our younger years.

Examples of these songs are:

Cintamu Mekar Di Hati - May

Memburu Rindu - Hattan

And others like:

Sentuhan Kecundang - Ekamatra
Dari Sinar Mata - Bumiputra Rockers
Bayangan Gurauan - Rahmat
(Mr S insisted that I make a longer list, by the way, to which I had vehemently refused, of course!)

I will always come out with some sort of barb to show my contempt of his choice of songs - the rock kapak genre, they call it I think, although even this term is pretty new to me, so I am not sure if I'm using it correctly.

He sat in front of the pc for many hours searching for these songs - using up my valuable blogging hours - trying to recall the titles of these songs and the many bands of that time.

And then saving it all in MY account. Ugh..

I had fun 'sneering and ridiculing' (or in more polite terms, mercilessly teasing) Mr S who just grinned and ignored my taunts and kept on asking me whether I remembered this band and that band, to which my answer would be a firm NO!

But of course!

Hmmm....funny thing. With all the sarcasm that gushed from my mouth and my exaggerated show of contempt, to my utter surprise and not to mention absolute annoyance, each time Mr S clicks on a particular utterly repugnant and detestable song and making a great show of 'singing' each song, I somehow was able to 'join' him and even corrected his ever so often self made and impromptu lyrics. In fact I ended up singing most of the songs myself!

But, but, but........HOW??

I think, although I have never really shown any interest in most of these songs, I have subconsciously memorised these songs because I constantly heard them on the radio/tv at the time the songs were popular. And I hardly watched tv during those days at boarding school and I didn't even own my own radio until the last few months of school. Perhaps I heard them from other people's radio in our dormitory and probably subconsciously listened to other people singing them too.

Mr S just looked at me as if he knew it all along.

We just ended up singing the songs together in front of the pc, with me asking Mr S to 'play it again' when I thought we really sang a certain song well, in a duet.....

Friday, May 11, 2007

Another Tag...

Blogger Nik Farizah has tagged me, in retaliation for the time I tagged her (no use denying it!)..

So here goes..

1) How often do you shower?

Back in Malaysia, twice a day. Over here it depends on the seasons...he he he..

2) How often do you make up your bed?
Every morning, just before my youngest and I jump back onto it to play dominoes or to do his 'lessons'...

3) How often do you wash your car?
I don't. A car washer does that for us and even that, not frequent enough. Ours is an old Honda Civic which should probably be scrapped soon due to the MOT requirements - unfortunate, because the engine still works brilliantly.

4) How often do you sweep/mop the floors?
Sweep: probably twice a week. Mop: Whenever I feel my floor needs it.

5) How often do you shower your pets?
Not applicable. No pets what so ever - except perhaps a 'Wonderpet' - my youngest loves that show and loves to sing the song.."Lily, Tuck and Ming Ming too..." he he he.

6) How often do you see the dentist?
Back in Malaysia, I used to go every six months without fail to do some scaling..but over here....

7) How often do you buy perfume?
I opened the bottle cap of my current perfume, a half full bottle of 'Romance' by Ralph Lauren (I only have one bottle of the 'more expensive' range at a time, the Body Shop ones don't really count - or do they?) and found that there is green stuff under there...yikes! No..I don't buy perfumes - Mr S usually does that for me and only when the previous bottle is finished. He does the same for himself. I like to stick to a certain scent but really, I hardly put on any perfume at all.

8) How often do you go for manicure & pedicure?
Have only been to a manicure and pedicure once in my life...

9) How often do you go to a spa?
Never ever...not really my kinda thang..

10) How often do you go shopping?
Shopping for groceries - once a week, or sometimes not even that because we order online. I buy a lot of stuff online; ebay, Amazon and other specialty sites. Other than that - not very often.

11) How often do you travel out of your country?
Out of the UK? Well, I did go to Barcelona 2 years ago, just before the children and I joined Mr S here..but no..not since then. We're here on a mission. Therefore, need to concentrate!

12) How often do you have sex?
Blardy hell...ini pun mau tanya ka??!!


And with that, I would like to tag..


The buck stops here...:)


This is something I learnt from a friend here, who hails from Karachi so I guess this is how they make it there. This is the simplest and most delicious and healthy 'roti' ever (not that I have much experience with them) because it uses no oil whatsoever and on top of that, you can choose to use a wholemeal atta flour for it and reduce the salt.

Just thought I'd share this simple recipe with you!

2 cups of atta flour, salt to taste and 1 cup of warm water. Add salt into the flour. Add water little by little, using your clean hands to mix and make a dough.

The measurements above are my measurements, I just make them using the same amount every time to make sure that the amount of chapattis I get is the same. The measurements above are for 2 large chapattis and 2 small ones (by 'large' I mean, very large for Mr S and I!).

I usually only need a little less than 3/4 cup of the water to achieve the above. There is almost no need to knead the flour - just once or twice will do and then..

..bring your bowl and the cup of water down to the floor! Yes, this is really the best place to do it because you can use your weight when 'punching' the flour, as in the picture above. Scoop a little bit of the warm water with your hand and pour it onto the dough before you start punching (by the end of it, the water that you have used is probably around 3/4 of a cup). Punch the dough - your bowl will automatically turn around like a wheel as you punch with both hands, the movement assisting your punching.

Once the dough is flattened, gather the dough and knead once or twice before doing the punching routine once again, with/ without scooping more water onto the dough - it's okay if the dough is a little wet.

Gather the dough again and knead once or twice before transferring the dough into a clean bowl and leaving the dough slightly covered for at least 10 minutes ( I like to leave it for 30 minutes). At this stage, the dough is a little wet and sticky, UNLIKE normal bread dough that is smooth and shiny.

Ready to roll? Pinch a portion of dough, to fit the palm of your hand for a large chapatti and a slightly smaller one for a small chapatti. (The dough size above in the pic is for a small size chapatti.) Roll the dough around in your hand to make a ball - this will help the shape of the chapatti to be nice and round later!

Heat up your pan - fire must be medium and pan must be really hot when dough is laid on it. Don't put any oil in your pan - there is no need! Sprinkle some of the atta flour onto your rolling board. Before rolling with the rolling pin, press down the dough ball with your fingers first to flatten it - to prepare it for rolling. Try to maintain a nice and round shape while flattening with your fingers and also later while rolling. Don't roll too thin and not too thick either..hmm..you know what I mean.

Once the chapatti is turned and cooked front and back, remove from pan and wrap/roll it in a clean kitchen towel and chuck it into a plastic container - to try and retain its heat while you cook the rest of the chapattis - other better methods are welcome, of course e.g. a heat retaining container is probably better and one that I do not have!) Looky there (pic)! If the pan is hot enough your chapatti will 'inflate' and that's a sign of a good chapatti, apparently.

And finally, you can eat it with Mr S's favourite chapatti accompaniment, Chicken Karhai. Maybe next time I'll type out the recipe for this..

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I'm Sorry I Forgot!

Our wedding anniversary this year had a lovely, lovely date:

And I forgot all about it!

Really do feel like crying...

Mr S remembered but PURPOSELY kept me in the dark because he wanted to surprise me with a gift and he didn't have time to buy one on the day or before that because it was an extended weekend and he had to study at home for his exams and most shops were closed anyway....(phew! that was a long sentence!)

*Excuses, excuses.

Anyway, if I had remembered, I would have at least cooked something nice for him (since I have no money whatsoever to buy him something nice instead - what's the point of it if I buy and he pays for it, right??

Instead, on that fateful day, I was feeling tired and lazy and there was some leftover lauk masak kurma in the pot and I just added some chicken into it!!!!

In fact, Mr S was the one who suggested it because he knew that I was just too lazy to cook that day!


I do feel very, very guilty over it but I blame him as well for not reminding me about it AND THEN, rubbing in the fact that I forgot our anniversary and only 'masak lauk kurma semalam tambah ayam je' for him on the special day!


And he had to buy me that very nice card too, on top of the gift. He really made me feel quite miserable and very, very guilty yesterday!

Because Mr S will be reading this, I would like him to know that I AM SORRY for forgetting such a significant date in our lives and I wish him too, a very Happy Anniversary and I hope that he can forgive me.

(In future, if Mr S doesn't want to be disappointed, please set aside any temptation to surprise and just inform me so that we would at least have a good anniversary dinner, huh?)

Right. I am not really one for love poems but I found this particular one on the net that strikes a particular chord...

So here it is, to you, my horrible but lovely, my darling Mr S...

The Love of My Life
by Manda E I

You've been patient and I thank you a lot,
because very few people seem to have what we've got.

It took a long time to be really sure,
but I am the ailment and you are my cure.

Love without you is a life without love,
like living on earth without the heavens above.

Love without you, is a day without time,
a million years pass and the sun never shines.

My love for you can hardly be told,
It's something you feel but can't ever hold.

Among all these words what I am trying to say,
Is, 'I love you', in that very special way !!

Monday, May 07, 2007

A Bargain

Thought I needed to make some extra effort to keep fit, what with all those cakes and my many cups of sweet tea, daily. Plus, the fact that my metabolism is not what it used to be, now that I am 31.

So, I bought this 'Air Walker' on ebay, second hand for 60 quid. OOpps..did I say 60? No, no,no...16 quid, not 60...!

I think I bought a real bargain of an exercising machine.

Mr S thinks I bought a white elephant...or a clothes hanging frame.

The boys think that I bought a climbing frame.

Only time will decide which one it will be.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dark Chocolate Cake

After such a long break from baking chocolate cakes, I made some dark chocolate cake with some chocolate cheese frosting a few days ago using the recipe below that I have always used and without fail result in a wonderful and moist cake.

Just thought I should put it under my recipes label (For the Tastebuds) with a picture of the cake (even if it is the last 1/4 of it!).

This recipe is very good and very easy - it is highly recommended. There is a slight presence of soda taste right after baking but somehow, after at least 1 day later this taste will disappear in my opinion. This cake is moist and the chocolate cheese frosting goes very, very well with it.
I normally bake this cake in 2 baking tins and sandwich both cakes with the frosting in the middle - the measurement for the frosting below is enough to do this.

For the pic above, I did not have enough cocoa powder left for the frosting so I guess that's why the colour of the frosting is not too dark. But the taste, I guarantee you, will make up for this.

As usual, with my plain butter knife doubling as my icing spatula, I can't seem to do the frosting on the side of the cake right (I think I need more practice with this frosting thing but my weight is increasing at an alarming rate due to all these cakes, so HOW..??) and instead just used a fork to do some err..'patterns'...

**Terasa segan lah pulak because many of my friends are getting so good at baking and cake deco!**

Anyway, here's the recipe for anyone who's interested in baking such a cake. It's really easy - Try it!

  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 2 1/4 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsps vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees C. Grease 2 - 9 inch round cake pans. In medium bowl, pour boiling water over cocoa, and whisk until smooth. Let mixture cool. Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at time, then stir in vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the cocoa mixture. Spread batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until you get a clean stick when cake is poked at the centre. Allow to cool.

Chocolate Cheese Frosting

  • 225g cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tbls milk
  • 4 cups icing sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 tsps vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a bowl, beat together the cream cheese, 3 tablespoons milk, icing sugar, butter, vanilla, cocoa, and cinnamon to a spreadable consistency. Add in additional milk if necessary. For a darker frosting add more cocoa or up to 100 gms of melted chocolate. Spread onto cooled cake.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Just Clothes

The muslim mums were gathered in a living room belonging to one of their own, discussing issues and events that recently have affected their lives.

"..I just want my children to wear muslim clothes, you know...to be proud to be muslims.."

Everyone agreed and nodded of course, except for me. Well, I was nodding too but only because I was a little impatient to make my point.

"Saying that.." I began, indicating that I see the merit of what she had said or I understand her point. However...

"Saying that," I began again, "what is really 'muslim clothes'?" I had asked. She had obviously meant the jubah for her children and of course the kopiah (although of course, she had other names for them).

I went on, "I mean, I come from a predominantly muslim culture as well, but our clothes are not like that, but they still cover the aurat- we don't need to wear something that symbolizes anything, as long as we cover what we're supposed to cover..."

Everyone was quiet for a few seconds - until one mum - an educated French muslimah - said, "But I think it's important for our children to understand that they're different than everyone else..."

And I understand what she wanted to say. That in a non muslim country like England, we need to instil in our kids that WE are not the same as THEM. WE do not celebrate Christmas or Halloween or Easter even though everybody else celebrates them. And WE do not believe in Father Christmas or Jesus or the tooth fairy even though they are frequently mentioned at school and on the telly.

So, the clothes that we wear may be the first 'signal' for our children.

I agree..

But still, just like the saying that the clothes don't make the man, to me, the clothes also don't make the man muslim. Or more precisely, they don't make a man a good muslim.

I wanted to elaborate on the matter further with the muslim mums but they went on to talk about other stuff so I decided to just keep quiet.

I remember I used to be young and quite blind to my faith. I used to think exactly that - if the man wears a jubah or a kopiah, then he must be a good man. A good muslim man. But I was disillusioned at a very young age, just before I turned 18, when I was 'sexually harassed' by a smiling and good looking man in a jubah and a kopiah too.

It happened in Mekah.

And ironically, it was in a JUBAH shop. Two men manned the shop, one young, the other older. The older man looked pretty 'arab' to me, but the young man looked chinesey. I guessed that he's from one of the ~stan countries where they sometimes look pretty chinese like. They were many of them around in Mekah, I had noticed.

It was like a ritual. After prayers we made our rounds to the shops and bazaars to look for jubahs and what nots to bring back home to Malaysia. Mak was choosing and pointing at the jubahs hanging at the back, completely covering the wall - they were folded nicely so that the pattern around the neck could be seen clearly and they were neatly hung there for all to see.

My two younger
sisters were also there, if I am not mistaken - I can't really remember, but at least one of them certainly was there, I think. But they were both a few years younger than I and a lot smaller in size - so I don't think anything happened to them.

At least, I hope not. I never did asked them.

The shop was small and there were a lot of stuff about so as I walked about the shop, looking for anything that caught my eye, the younger man (who was also walking about the shop like any normal shop assistant) and I had to press our bodies to the wall or the piles of stuff on each other's side so that we can move without touching each other.

But somehow, each time I passed by him, his jubah only slightly touching my telekung, I bumped into something else.

And somehow, THAT happened quite a number of times in the few minutes that we were in that shop.

I remember the confusion I felt - apa benda tu?

It felt hard but at the same time it was soft because each time I passed it, it bent and brushed against me, before 'bouncing' back to it's initial position, under the man's garb.

At first I thought it must be his belt jutting out in front of him under his garb...I wanted to just ignore it but it kept bugging me because it happened a few times, almost like the man was doing it intentionally - bumping me with it, I had thought...

Could it be..?? !!

But it couldn't be

Only on the way back to the hotel it struck me. After all, I wasn't a complete innocent - I had started reading those Sidney Sheldon novels from the age of 12 and finished most of them before I turned 15...

I felt my hands, feet and face turn cold and my heart raced loudly in my chest. I was feeling numb and scared but I did not tell a soul. I kept thinking, can't my mother hear my heart beating like timpanis and didn't she notice my face turning white as sheet? But I would never have told her even if she had asked me and until now she doesn't know..

And THAT experience, in Mekah, no less, taught me about how one's clothes do not mean ANYTHING, especially I think, since it happened in the Holy City - where everyone, I have always thought then, is surely more God-fearing than anywhere else.

Blardy hell.

The experience changed my whole perspective of men in muslim garb, coz seriously, anything can lurk under that jubah...

And since then, pious looking clothes never meant anything to me.

They're just what they are.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Burnt Cake

Did I not say that I am an amateur cook?

In that were 3.5 packets of Philadelphia Cheese and 7 eggs plus all the other good stuff.

It was all my fault, you know - I read the instructions wrongly and turned the temperature knob to 200 degrees C instead of the stated 200 degrees F, which converts to around half of that in Celcius, I think.

!£$^"%$£!^%$"!!!F&*^%$%$£"!, %$£"$"£!%^!

When I smelled something burning from the oven I quickly, very quickly - in fact, in a flash, realised my mistake. It was, of course, too late for me to do anything and I was at the verge of crying and thrashing everything at the same time. I felt so angry with myself that later on, after softly muttering a variety of curses (I AM from Melaka after all, you must remember..), I threw the storybook that I was reading, at my bed room door no less, for the desired maximum BANG effect.

Never did like throwing things when I was angry.

I always thought it as childish, somehow. But I understand the need for some people to do it when they're consumed with wrath - better the vase than someone's face, right? Still, I've always hated what to me, is just a particularly brand of childish behaviour.

Saying that, I had to do something. I warned Mr S of what I was going to do prior to that and he gave me the permission to throw the book, which of course, was one that he paid for, so err, I thought it would be nice if he gave me his permission...

"Pa, aku tension lah..rasa macam nak baling lah buku ni...boleh tak?"
"Ha..baling lah...meh aku tangkap.."

I think he was trying to be funny at the time - to help me relax a bit, perhaps. Plus he was also growing rather tired of listening to my complaints about that particular book anyway.

And so, that particular book went air borne.

Of course, the 'maximum effect' came out only as a very dull thud because the book only made it to a pile of Mr S's files and books on the floor. But still, it gave me some satisfaction.

Guess I am really just an immature amateur.

Just in case you're wondering..the cake was edible and it tasted quite good underneath all that carcinogenic black layer. I also made some fresh strawberry sauce for it even though fresh strawberries trigger my asthma - just for the kids.

So at least, there's that.