Friday, 31 October 2008


Recently I bought Meena Pathak’s (yes, of the ready made Patak sauces fame) cook book (picture attached below) and tried her RAJ KORMA recipe. I have to say that for a ready made sauce, it was really nice and so it should be, with the extra ingredients that went into the dish. Do I recommend it? Whole heartedly! Here’s another keeper for all we time poor people.

NB: I changed the recipe slightly to accommodate the extra chicken I used and my love of garlic and spices.


3 tbsp veg oil
2 large onions – finely sliced
3 bay leaves
3 cloves garlic – chopped finely
6 cardamom pods – bruised (I gave it a ‘whack’ with my pestle)
2 coriander plants – chopped
1 kg chicken breast – diced
1 small jar Patak’s Korma Curry paste
1 medium tomato – diced
Salt to taste
1/3 cup thickened cream
1/3 cup natural yoghurt
1 tbsp desiccated coconut – optional


Heat oil in a pan and add the onion and bay leaves. Cook until the onions are golden brown. Add in the garlic, cardamom and half of the coriander. Cook for 30 secs and add in the chicken. Mix well and cook for about 5 mins or until the chicken is well sealed.

Add in the korma sauce and mix well. Cook for 4 to 5 mins, then stir in the tomatoes and salt (put 1 tsp to start – you can always adjust later). Cook for another 5 mins.

Stir in the cream and yoghurt and bring to the simmer. Sprinkle the coconut, mix well and add in the coriander. Lift and serve with rice or bread.

BTW, Happy Halloween to everyone. Don't let the Ghoulies get you!


'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call A ROSE
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.

Spoken by Juliet - From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, 1594

Meaning of 'A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL AS SWEET': What matters is what something is, not what it is called!

Thursday, 30 October 2008


In the 1400's a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have 'the rule of thumb'
Many years ago in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled 'Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden'...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the U.S. Treasury
Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better. So don’t blame your husbands when they can’t hear you!
Coca-Cola was originally green.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.
The San Francisco Cable Cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:

Spades - King David

Hearts - Charlemagne

Clubs - Alexander the Great

Diamonds - Julius Caesar
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321 (made it get out your calculator, didn’t it?)
If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter 'A'?

A. One thousand
Q. What do bullet proof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?

A. All were invented by women.
Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?

A. Honey
Q. On which day are there more reverse charge phone calls made than on any other day of the year?

A. Fathers Day
In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes..

When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... 'Goodnight, sleep tight.'
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
In English pubs, beer is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.'

It's where we get the phrase 'mind your P's and Q's'
Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. 'Wet your whistle' is the phrase inspired by this practice.
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow!
Don't delete this just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can read it...

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

~~~~~~~~~~~AND FINALLY~~~~~~~~~~~~

U R LAUGHING at yourself because you are still trying to lick your elbow!

Wednesday, 29 October 2008


This is a recipe my mother used to make all the time, especially for Diwali. I finally found NESTUM™ in Canberra; I used to have to buy it from Melbourne whenever I went over there for work or to visit my in-laws. You can now find NESTUM™ at the Hub Asian Supermarket at Tuggeranong or Gungahlin. If you are wondering what NESTUM™ is, it is a malt flavoured cereal popular in Malaysia and Singapore. It is manufactured by Nestlé but you can’t find it here except from select Asian grocers as it is imported from Malaysia. Malaysians love to eat it as breakfast cereal or as a coating for fried chicken or to make the base for cheesecakes. Try it – it really does have a beautiful aroma and taste!

NB: Apologies for the measurements of these biscuits – the recipe is quite old hence the reason for it being in imperial measurements (I have a dual measurement scales).

Ingredients – makes between 50 to 60 biscuits

8 oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup NESTUM™
4 oz butter – softened to room temperature (not melted)
5 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
Glace cherries – cut into small pieces (for decoration)
Extra NESTUM™ for coating


Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced oven). Line baking tray with baking paper.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Blend in the NESTUM™.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in eggs one at a time. Next add in the vanilla essence. Beat well to combine. Now combine the flour mixture into the butter. Mix well and form into small balls. If the dough sticks too much to your hands, you made need an extra tbsp or two of flour.

Roll the balls in extra NESTUM™. You may need to slightly flatten the balls here to get enough NESTUM™ to coat the dough. Top with a tiny piece of glace cherry. Make sure you press in the cherry firmly. Bake for 10 to 15 mins.


There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children. One is roots; the other, wings ~ Hodding Carter

Monday, 27 October 2008


I am not sure what these biscuits are called in English but in Malay, they are known as ‘SEMPERIT’. It’s a traditional biscuit and used to be very popular in Malaysia and Singapore but I believe that the introduction of more ‘exotic’ cookies has waned its popularity. I however still enjoy them as they melt in your mouth when you eat them. I guess it’s to do with the custard and corn flour.

This is my mum’s recipe and I had to ‘trial’ the measurements as they were in ‘tins’ and ‘packets’. Try figuring out what a tin of corn flour and butter weighed 20 years ago! Anyway, the cookies came out perfect, as you can see below. Here’s the recipe.


250g butter
200g caster sugar
300g corn flour
100g custard powder
100g plain flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
Glazed cherries or sultanas – chopped, for decoration


Preheat oven to 160°C (fan forced). Line baking trays with paper or grease lightly with butter. Set aside.

Beat the butter and the sugar until creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time. Continue beating until well combined. Add in the vanilla. Beat well.

Sift and combined the flours and using a spoon, mix into the butter mixture, to form‘pressable’ dough.

Now comes the tricky part. Fill a cookies press and press out to desired shapes. Top with cherries. You MAY need to adjust your mixture here. If the dough is too hard, add tea spoon full of butter , and mix to get the desired consistency. If the dough is too soft, add a spoonful of flour until you get the desired results.

Bake for 12 to 13 mins.


Saturday, 25 October 2008


As Diwali is not a public holiday here and I don’t have any of my side of the family in Australia, I don’t really celebrate the occasion. I do tend to get quite nostalgic during this time and wish that I was back home in Malaysia, celebrating with my family and friends. Unfortunately, it is not meant to be. Oh well, such is life.

Anyway, I do make a few cookies and sweets for the kids and nearly every year, I get a request for Gulab Jamun, especially from my eldest. Funny, she doesn’t eat much sweet stuff but she sure likes Gulab Jamun. Word of warning: this is a very sweet and rich dessert!

In the next few days, I will posting the few goodies that I made for Diwali. For now here’s the recipe for GULAB JAMUN.


6 cups water
6 cups sugar
6 cloves
1 cinnamon stick

2 cups full cream powdered milk
½ cup Self Raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
½ cup ghee
1 cup evaporated milk
Light veg oil such as canola or sunflower for deep frying


Put all the syrup ingredients in a pot and boil until the syrup slightly thickens about 10 mins on a rapid boil. Leave to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the powdered milk, flour and baking powder together. Add in the ghee and rub into the mixture.

Add the evaporated milk and mix lightly into stiff dough. Do not knead heavily. Roll all the mixture into balls, the size of a small marble. Place on a plate.

Line a colander or basket with paper towels (you don't want condensation to build). Heat sufficient oil in a small wok (remember you are deep frying the balls), on medium heat. If your oil is too hot, the outside will cook and the insides will still be raw. If your heat is too low, the batter will absorb too much oil. So do a test run to get your temp right.

Fry your jamun in batches and drain on the paper towels. When you have finished frying, put all the jamuns into the syrup, making sure that they are submerged. Allow the jamun to absorb the syrup (preferably overnight) before serving either at room temperature or you may refrigerate your jamuns and serve them cold. Enjoy.


Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one ~ Jane Howard


A friend sent this to me a couple of days ago and I was going to delete it from my e-mail but I thought I’d put it on my blog – not only because it is quite funny but also, I have actually come across such stupidity. I am sure you have too! So so sad.

Some guy bought a new fridge for his house. To get rid of his old fridge, he put it in his front yard and hung a sign on it saying: 'Free to good Home. You want it, you take it.'

For three days the fridge sat there without even one person looking twice at it. He eventually decided that people were too un-trusting of this deal. It looked too good to be true, so he changed the sign to read: 'Fridge for sale $50'. The next day someone stole it.*

**They Walk Among Us!!**

One day I was walking down the beach when someone shouted,' Look at that dead bird!' Someone looked up at the sky and asked,'where??'*

**They Walk Among Us!!**

Conversation overhead in a cafeteria. One of patrons was telling her friend about the sunburn she got on her weekend drive to the beach. She drove down in a convertible, but 'didn't think she'd get sunburned because the car was moving'.*

**They Walk Among Us!!**

A patron walked into a butcher shop and asked the salesperson for half a kilogram of sirloin. She informed the patron that they only had 500 grams of sirloin left!

**They Walk Among Us!!**

My sister has a lifesaving tool in her car it's designed to cut through a seat belt if she gets trapped. She keeps it in the boot...*

**They Walk Among Us!!!!!*

My friends and I were on a beer run and noticed that the cases were discounted 10%. Since it was a big party, we bought 2 cases. The cashier multiplied 2 times 10% and gave us a 20% discount.... *

**They Walk Among Us!!**

I was hanging out with a friend when we saw a woman with a nose ring attached to an earring by a chain. My friend said, 'Wouldn't the chain rip out every time she turned her head?' I had to explain that a person's nose and ear remain the same distance apart no matter which way the head is turned...*

**They Walk Among Us!!**

I couldn't find my luggage at the airport baggage area. So I went to the lost luggage office and told the woman there that my bags never showed up. She smiled and told me not to worry because she was a trained professional and I was in good hands. 'Now,' she asked me,'Has your plane arrived yet?'...*

**They Walk Among Us!!**

While working at a pizza parlour I observed a man ordering a small pizza to take away. He appeared to be alone and the cook asked him if he would like it cut into 4 pieces or 6. He thought about it for some time before responding. 'Just cut it into 4 pieces; I don't think I'm hungry enough to eat 6 pieces.*

**Yep, They Walk Among Us, Too!!!!!!!! *

Friday, 24 October 2008


Currently I have around 6 different varieties of Syngonium and it is one of my favourite plants as it is so easy to grow and quite hassle free. I just love the variegation in the foliage and their colours.

The other good thing about this plant is you can either grow it in soil or in water. The plant is not ‘shocked’ easily so you can easily change its position around the house. What I mean by ‘shocked’ is that some plants do not like to be shifted once they have settled in a position. They can go into shock and wither when you change their ‘home’, until they get acclimatised again.

Tip: I usually grow most of my plants in plastic pots. I then have a variety of pretty containers such as porcelain and brass pots and change my plants around the house according to seasons, light levels or just to change the décor. This way, you are not restricted to the same plant in the same position.

FYI, Syngonium is a genus of 33 species of flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to tropical rain forests in Central and South America. They are woody vines growing to heights of 10-20 m or more in trees. They have leaves that change shape according to the plant's stage of growth, and adult leaf forms are often much more lobed than the juvenile forms usually seen on small house plants.

Syngonium species are often grown as house plants in the juvenile foliage stages.

Quick reference guide:
 There are several variegated cultivars, the main differences being in the position and extent of the cream or white markings. Some leaves are almost entirely white, pink or yellow. All parts of the plant are poisonous and cause severe mouth pain if eaten.
 For successful growth, a winter minimum temperature 16 °C to 18 °C must be maintained, rising to 20 °C to 30 °C during the growing season.
 They require high humidity, including misting the leaves regularly, and good light, but not direct sunlight; they will tolerate low light levels. Water freely from spring to autumn, sparingly in winter.
 Feed regularly in spring and summer.
 If juvenile foliage is preferred, cut off all the climbing stems that develop — the plant will remain bushy, rather than climb, and the leaves will be more arrow-shaped.
 Re-pot every second spring.
 Propagation is by cuttings or air layering. I normally just cut pieces near the tip of the plant, allowing provisions of some aerial roots and sticking it into water until it takes root completely. I also grow them in water permanently (see picture below).


Green fingers are the extension of a verdant heart ~ Russell Page

Thursday, 23 October 2008


I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my family, friends, fellow bloggers and visitors to my blog a very HAPPY DIWALI. Hope you have a wonderful time with your family and friends.

In particular, I would like to convey my personal greetings to:

My mum and Dad
My cousin Somi, Sashi, Rashwin, Uncle Raj and Aunty Dev
My aunty BB and her family in the UK
My good friends the Bhullers and their daughter in Canberra
Ms Joanna and Family
Ms Bhawana and Family
Ms Usha and Family
Ms Priya and family
Ms Pushpa and Family

My apologies if I have forgotten anyone. Have a great Diwali!

Love, VG and family


Picasso - Mother and Child (1907)

If there is no joyous way to give a festive gift, give love away ~ Unknown

Tuesday, 21 October 2008


Lentils are friendly - the Miss Congeniality of the bean world ~ Laurie Colwin


I think this is a favourite dhal with all Punjabis in Malaysia. It is also Mr G’s favourite as he reckons this is the most flavoursome of all the dhals he has eaten. I beg to differ…I like all dhals. I think he likes this version because it is spicier than the rest.

Anyway, this is how I make Mung Dhal. I am sure that the version that is made in India is different from how I make this dish. I guess the Malay culinary influences have seeped into my dhal making too! Also, I prefer to use Chinese Celery as the garnish to this dhal. If you can’t find Chinese celery, you can substitute with coriander leaves. You can find Chinese celery most of the time at LAE Asian Grocer in Southlands Shopping Centre Mawson, Canberra.


1.5 cups mung beans* – soaked overnight in 2 litres of water. This will quicken the cooking process
1 tsp turmeric powder*
1 tsp salt*
1.5 litres of water*
5 to 6 dried chillies* – torn into two (optional)
2 red onions – diced
4 cloves garlic – minced
Thumb size ginger – diced
2 sprig curry leaves
2 tbsp Malaysian made meat curry powder e.g. Baba or Nuri Brand or Ayam Curry Powder
2 spring onions and 1 small bunch Chinese Celery/Fresh Coriander – chopped thickly
Oil or Ghee


Wash the beans and put in a pot with * ingredients. Cook until the beans have split/collapsed. You may need to top up your water during this process. When cooked, turn heat to very low and allow to simmer whilst you prepare the ‘tadka’ or spices.

In a separate pan, heat 2 tbsp oil or ghee and add in the curry leaves, followed by the garlic, ginger and onions. Cook until the onions are golden.

Add in the curry powder and 1 cup water and cook until the oil seeps through. Turn off the heat and pour the ‘tadka’ into the dhal.

Mix well, check the salt and add in the celery/coriander leaves and spring onions. Cook for 1 min, lift and serve hot with rice such as CUMIN AND CARROT RICE or breads such as CHAPATTIS, PURIS or ROTI CANAI.

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in ‘Casablanca’ (1942)

Women don't want to hear what you think. Women want to hear what they think - in a deeper voice ~ Bill Cosby


Imagine my surprise when I came home from work and saw a rack of lamingtons drying! Good ol’ Mr G decided to make them and he actually made them from scratch. What I normally do is (my sister-in-law JL in Ballarat taught me this) I buy the Tip Top brand Madeira cake, cut it into squares and ice it to make lamingtons. I have to admit that Mr G did such a good job that the lamingtons practically walked out the door!

This is how he made them.

Cake Ingredients
125 g butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 xl (800g) eggs
2 cups self raising flour
½ tsp salt
1/3 cup milk (approx)
½ tsp vanilla extract

Cake Method
Heat oven to 180°C and cover a 33cm x 23 cm lamington tray with baking paper.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Sift flour and salt and to mixture, alternately with the milk. Add vanilla extract and blend well but do not over beat. Add extra milk if necessary to form a ‘soft dropping’ consistency.

Spread evenly onto lamington tray and bake for 25 to 35 mins or until cooked. Turn out and cool on a cake rack. When cooled, cut into 30 squares.

Chocolate Icing Ingredients
30 gm butter
½ cup boiling water (approx)
3 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup cocoa
½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups desiccated coconut

Chocolate Icing Method
Melt butter in only ¼ cup of boiling water. Sift icing sugar with cocoa. Add liquid, mix well and add the vanilla extract. Now add the extra ¼ cup of boiling water, if REQUIRED, to make a thin icing that will easily coat the cake slices.

Dip each of the cake slices into the chocolate icing to form an even coating. Roll in the desiccated coconut and place on the wire racks again to ‘stiffen’ the icing.

Friday, 17 October 2008


Getting to know you,
Getting to know all about you.
Getting to like you,
Getting to hope you like me.

Getting to know you,
Putting it my way,
But nicely,
You are precisely,
My cup of tea.

Song “GETTING TO KNOW YOU” from the Movie “THE KING AND I”


Kitchen Flavours (Lubna) of Yummy Food has tagged me with the “Seven Facts About You” Meme. As this is my first tag, I am getting all excited as this would be one of those rare moments where I can ‘expose’ myself! Okay, okay, I agree…that was pretty gross!

Anyway, the rules of the meme are:

a) List the rules on the blog;
b) Share 7 facts about you; and
c) Tag 7 other people at the end of the blog.

The seven facts about me are:

1. I am an EXTROVERT – I love being the centre of attention – it must be the Aries in me (does this count as one or two facts??)

2. I am a NEAT FREAK – Everything has to be spotless and in an orderly manner - I tend to catalogue everything….I told you I was a freak!

3. I am EASILY BORED…. so I am always planning and doing things. Poor Mr G …. When all he wants to do is put his feet up!
4. I own 120 PAIRS OF SHOES - no I am not joking – I am in search of that elusive ultimate comfortable high heels! Isn’t this an oxymoron??

5. I usually DRINK one cup of TEA a day with CONDENSED MILK! Eww I hear some of you say! All I can say is don’t knock it back until you’ve tried it, so there!

6. I Hate VEGEMITE. That does not make me very patriotic, does it? Thank god it wasn’t on the citizenship test as I would have flunked!

7. I am a ‘FOLDER’ as opposed to a ‘SCRUNCHER’… that one out!

Hmm… there are more things to write but as the tag specified seven facts, this would have to do. Also, I don’t want to give too much away, do I? LOL

In turn, I would like to tag the following bloggers:
1. Family First
2. Sweet Bites
3. What Do I Want 2 Cook Today
4. My Kitchen Snippets
5. Mexican American Border Cooking
6. Tastes of Home
7. Salt n Turmeric

Enjoy your few minutes of FAME!

Love, VG

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


“Without the curry, boiled rice can be very dull”
~ C. Northcote Parkinson


This is one of my favourite Indian dishes but I am not sure if it is authentic butter chicken. Since I have started blogging and checking out dishes that my Indian cyber friends have prepared, I have found that most of the recipes that I consider to be Indian, have had some Malay influence. As my friend SWEETBITES recently commented, it must be the fact that Malaysia is so cosmopolitan, that most of the food has also become cosmopolitan! So, I hope that I am not ‘insulting’ any of my Indian friends from the subcontinent by calling this dish INDIAN BUTTER CHICKEN. What I can say is (it is not my intention to brag here, or as they say in Malay, “masuk bakul angkat sendiri”) in my opinion, it tastes a heck site better than some good Indian restaurant that I have eaten in.

This is how I make my Indian Butter Chicken.


1kg chicken breast or boneless thigh fillets – cut into large cubes
125g roasted cashews
50g butter
1 tbsp ghee (optional) – if not using ghee, add an extra tbsp of butter
1 tbsp veg oil
2 medium onions – finely diced
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 to 2 cinnamon stick/s
1 Indian bay leaf* or normal bay leaf
2 tsp sweet paprika
425g can tomato puree*
125ml (1/2 cup)chicken stock – I mixed 1 tsp chicken stock powder with 125ml hot water
250ml (1 cup) thickened cream

Marinade – combine the following in a large bowl
125ml (1/2 cup) natural yoghurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp turmeric
2 to 3 tsp garam masala
2 tsp chilli powder (lessen to 1 tsp if you don’t want it hot)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, crushed


Add the marinade to the cubed chicken and mix well. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Reserve half the cashews and place the remaining cashews in a food processor. Process until finely ground.

Heat the butter, ghee and oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion, cardamom, cinnamon and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes until the onion starts to soften. Reduce heat to low, add the chicken and marinade, paprika, tomato puree, ground cashew and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in cream and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Garnish with cashews, chopped coriander and serve with rice.


Begin this recipe the day before. The longer you marinade the chicken, the nicer the dish! If you can’t wait, make sure that you leave the marinade for at least 2 to 3 hours.

You can find Indian bay leaf at Indian grocers in Canberra.

Use only tomato puree. Do not substitute with tomato paste or tomato sauce/ketchup.