Friday, 31 July 2009


I was in the pub yesterday when I suddenly realized I desperately needed to fart. The music was really, really loud, so I timed my farts with the beat.

After a couple of songs, I started to feel better. I finished my pint and noticed that everybody was staring at me.

Then I suddenly remembered - I was listening to my iPod!!!!


School: A place where Father pays and Son plays.

Life Insurance: A contract that keeps you poor all your life so that you can die Rich.

Nurse: A person who wakes u up to give you sleeping pills.

Marriage: It's an agreement in which a man loses his bachelor degree and a woman gains her masters.

Divorce: Future tense of Marriage.

Tears: The hydraulic force by which masculine willpower is defeated by feminine waterpower.

Lecture: An art of transferring information from the notes of the Lecturer to the notes of the students without passing through 'the minds of either'

Conference: The confusion of one man multiplied by the number present.

Compromise: The art of dividing a cake in such a way that everybody believes he got the biggest piece.

Dictionary: A place where success comes before work.

Conference Room: A place where everybody talks nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on.

Father: A banker provided by nature..

Criminal: A guy no different from the rest....except that he got caught.

Boss: Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

Doctor: A person who kills your ills by pills, and kills you by bills.

Classic: Books, which people praise, but do not read.

Smile: A curve that can set a lot of things straight.

Office: A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Yawn: The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

Etc.: A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Committee: Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

Experience: The name men give to their mistakes.

Atom Bomb: An invention to end all inventions.

Philosopher: A fool who torments himself during life, to be wise.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


Oh la la! What a rich and yummy cake. This is definitely a keeper and I believe even without the cherries, as a pure butter cake, it will still be delicious. My only issue is with the aesthetics of the cake; the cherries have the tendency to sink. Oh well, a minor issue - totally overcomed by its taste!


170g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
250g butter
200g caster sugar
5 eggs (see my GLOSSARY post on EGGS)
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g fresh cherries – pitted and sliced (see my GLOSSARY post on CHERRIES)
Extra cherries – halved (to decorate – optional). See Note 1


Preheat oven to 160°C. Line and grease an 18 cm square/round tin.

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar until very creamy. Add in the eggs, one at a time, and beating well after each addition. Lastly add in the vanilla essence and beat for 1 minute.

Add the sliced cherries into the flour mixture. Distribute the cherries evenly thoughout the flour and fold the flour gradually into the butter mixture. In other words, using a spatula or large spoon, gradually mix in the flour mixture.

Bake in the oven for 45 mins to an hour (See Note 2). Cool in the tin for 10 mins. Remove from the tin and further cool the cake on a wire rack.

Note 1

Place the halved cherries on top of the cake after 10 minutes of being in the oven. This SHOULD prevent the cherries from sinking to the bottom. However, do be careful as removing the cake from the oven may cause the cake to slightly ‘drop’ in the middle.

Note 2

This is a very moist cake and has the tendency to be still ‘wobbly’ eventhough it is cooked. If a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the cake (make sure that you do not skewer the cherries as this will give you a false reading) and the cake has ‘left’ the sides of the tin, it is cooked. It will ‘firm’ up after it has cooled.

VG’s Rating: 4 Stars


The cherry is a fleshy fruit that contains a single stony seed. It belongs to the Rosaceae family, along with almonds, peaches, plums and apricots.

The cherry as we know today are thought to have come from a wild cherry which grows in areas spanning from the United Kingdom to western Asia. Since ancient times, the trees with the sweetest fruit have been selected for cultivation and from these, the modern varieties have arisen.

The cherry is generally understood to have been brought to Rome from northeastern Anatolia, historically known as the Pontus region, in 72 BC. The Romans are thought to have taken their preferred varieties to Britain when occupying the country in the 1st century AD.

In Australia the first commercial cherry orchard was planted at Young in New South Wales in 1878. Young has continued to grow cherries since then and today, Young and Orange are the major cherry growing areas of Australia. However, South Australia and Tasmania also produce a lot of the cherries that are found in the shops today.

A breakdown of the world cherry produces, Australian cherry growing regions and Australian cherry seasons are provided below.


Here are some instructions for storing cherries to maximise their lifespan…..that is, if you can stop yourself from eating them all!!!

* Cherries are picked ripe and sweet from the tree, so there is no need to ripen them.

* Keep the cherries cool, ideally in the fridge, to keep them fresh for longer.

* Store dry and loosely packed in a covered container in the fridge until needed.

* Leave the stems on - they help keep the cherries fresh.


Cherries have a unique combination of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which act together to deliver health benefits not available in supplements. Fresh foods not only retain more of their nutrients than processed foods or supplements, but these act together to naturally provide the body with a more complex and potent mix of the compounds it requires to prevent disease.

Vitamins E and C and the flavonoids found in cherries and other fruits may slow ageing and they may slow or even reverse the symptoms of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Cherries also contain compounds that can help to slow or inhibit the progression of cancer (Polyphenolics Egallic acid and Lignans).

Antioxidants are necessary to clear the body of damaging free radicals and they are most effectively acquired through diet. If we don’t consume enough antioxidants, damage can occur, leading to degeneration and disease including cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cancer, inflammatory conditions and neurological diseases. Cherries contain 16 antioxidants, plus a suite of other compounds with beneficial health benefits.

Cherries may benefit people suffering from chronic inflammatory conditions such as gout, pancreatitis, or prostitis, as well as allergic conditions including asthma, hay fever, eczema and hives because they contain the compounds cyanidin and quercetin.

So cherry lovers can indulge to their heart’s content, because cherries have significant health benefits in slowing or inhibiting the progression of cancer, ageing, neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory conditions. They may also aid in detoxification of foreign substances.

And to top this off – cherries have only 224 kilojoules (54 calories) per 100 grams and virtually no fat!

Source: Wikipedia, Victorian Cherry Association and Fresh for Kids


Eggs are one of the most common and versatile cooking ingredients. The most commonly used are poultry eggs from chicken, followed by duck, goose and quail. Other more exotic eggs from the bird family include ostrich, gull, guinea fowl, pheasant and emu eggs.

Chicken eggs (hereby referred to as eggs) are widely used in many types of dishes, both sweet and savoury. Eggs can be pickled, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, scrambled, fried and refrigerated. They can also be eaten raw, though this is not recommended for people who may be especially susceptible to salmonella, such as the elderly, infirm or pregnant women. In addition, the protein in raw eggs is only 51 per cent bio-available, whereas that of a cooked egg is nearer 91 per cent bio-available; meaning the protein of cooked eggs is nearly twice as absorbable as the protein.

Eggs have been a valuable source of food since prehistory, when our ancestors were hunter gatherers. In Thebes Egypt, the tomb of Haremhab, built about 1420 BC, shows a depiction of a man carrying bowls of ostrich eggs and other large eggs as offerings. In ancient Rome, eggs were preserved and meals often started with an egg course. In the middle ages, eggs were forbidden during Lent because of their richness.

Eggs supply essential amino acids for humans, and provide 11 different vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, D, E, riboflavin, folic acid, vitamin B12, choline, iron, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. They are also an inexpensive single-food source of high quality protein, healthy fats (including omega-3) and important antioxidants.

All of the egg's vitamin A, D and E is in the egg yolk. The egg is one of the few foods which naturally contain Vitamin D. A large egg yolk contains approximately 60 Calories (250 kilojoules); the egg white contains about 15 Calories (60 kilojoules). A large yolk contains more than two-thirds of the recommended daily intake of 300 mg of cholesterol (although one study indicates that the human body may not absorb much cholesterol from eggs). The yolk makes up about 33 per cent of the liquid weight of the egg. It contains all of the fat, slightly less than half of the protein and most of the other nutrients. It also contains all of the choline, and one yolk contains approximately half of the recommended daily intake. Choline is an important nutrient for development of the brain, and is said to be important for pregnant and nursing women to ensure healthy fetal brain development.

Recent research shows eating eggs has very little, if any, effect on blood cholesterol levels with the real culprit being saturated fat. In addition, chicken eggs that are high in Omega 3 fatty acids have come on the market. These eggs are made by feeding laying hens a diet containing polyunsaturated fats and kelp meal. Nutrition information on the packaging is different for each of the brands.

In Australia, the Australian Egg Corporation Limited (click HERE for the website) defines the sizes of eggs sold in Australia. The following table shows Australian egg sizes.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS), Australia produced 236.4 million eggs (from 440 producers) in 2006/07. Average retail prices for one dozen eggs (March quarter, 2008) sold in Australia is $4.51. A breakdown of the grocery/retail production share of these eggs is presented below.

Eggs should be considered in a similar way as other protein-rich foods and included as part of a varied diet that's low in saturated fat and contains a variety of cardio-protective foods (such as fish, wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes and nuts).

There is little research to guide recommendations for egg consumption for people at high risk of heart disease (e.g. with diabetes or high cholesterol). However, prudent advice is that the inclusion of eggs in the context of a diet low in saturated fat, and containing known cardio-protective foods, is not associated with increased risk.

As eggs provide a great source of high quality protein, a relatively low amount of kilojoules and 11 different vitamins and minerals, they are an excellent inclusion in a healthy, well balanced diet:

* Boil eggs and pack for lunch with wholegrain bread and salad.

* Scramble eggs with grated or finely chopped vegetables and serve with ham, tomato and mushrooms for a great Sunday morning ‘pick-me-up.'

* Mash boiled egg with canned salmon and ricotta cheese for a high calcium sandwich filling or as a topping for wholegrain crackers.

* Mix beaten eggs with grated reduced fat cheese, cracked pepper and parsley and stir through cooked wholemeal pasta for a quick and easy dinner or lunch. Serve with a green side salad.

* Make a healthy fried rice by mixing cooked, chopped vegetables, ham, and chopped boiled egg with cooked rice. Stir fry in sesame oil, add a splash of soy sauce and cook until heated through.

Source: Wikipedia, Australian Egg Corporation, Australian Bureau of Statistics, AC Nielsen and Eggs.Org.Au

Monday, 27 July 2009


If there is one movie I can’t wait to see this year, it must be LOVE AAJ KAL (Love These Days)…..and this is just going on the songs that I have heard from this movie. I am so addicted to them – especially Aahun Aahun, Twist, Chor Bazari and Thoda Thoda Pyar (in that order). So, if you haven’t already yet, I strongly recommend you get the soundtrack and do the Twist, Saif Ali Khan style, LOL.

The songs in the soundtrack include:

Aahun Aahun (and Remix)
Twist (and Remix)
Chor Bazari (and Remix)
Thoda Thoda Pyaar
Ajj Din Chadheya

You can check out the trailer of the movie and snippets of the songs at the LOVE AAJ KAL official site (click HERE). The movie stars Rishi Kapoor, Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and a new actress whose name I cannot seem to find. I will update this when I do find it out.

BTW, I found out that the movie is opening this Friday 31 July 2009, at Greater Union Manuka, ACT. Guess who is going to be there?????

VG’s rating: 5 Stars!!!

Friday, 24 July 2009


Bachna Ae Haseeno (Beware O Beautiful Ones) is a Bollywood movie staring Ranbir Kapoor (son of Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Singh), Minissha Lamba, Bipasha Basu and Deepika Padukone. The film was directed by Siddharth Anand whose previous films include Salaam Namaste (2005) and Ta Ra Rum Pum (2007).

The film follows the ‘love’ exploits of Raj Sharma (Ranbir Kapoor). It tells how he meets three girls at these different stages of his life and goes from one love affair to another, only to run into true love: Mahi (Minissha Lamba) - a small-town girl from Punjab he meets when holidaying in Europe, Radhika (Bipasha Basu) - a model from Mumbai and Gayatri (Deepika Padukone), his true love – an Indian Australian taxi driver and student he meets when working in Australia.

He ends up breaking Mahi’s and Radhika’s hearts, only to find that Gayatri, the one that he loves, does not believe in the marriage instituition…..just like he used to be! Rejection cuts him deep and as he stands, alone, watching the love of his life walk away, he remembers the hearts he broke - Mahi and Radhika. He decides to return to India to apologize and make amends.

Will Mahi and Radhika ever forgive Raj? Will Raj ever find happiness? Watch Bachna Ae Haseeno to find out.

The movie also has some great songs and ironically the title song, Bachna Ae Haseeno, was first ‘sung’ by Rishi Kapoor, Ranbir’s father, in the movie ‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’. The song was originally sung by the late Kishore Kumar and the original version has been maintained in this movie, with newer lyrics added and sung by Kishore’s son, Sumit Kumar - copying the concept made famous by Natalie Cole when she sang the duet, ‘Unforgettable’ with her deceased father, Nat King Cole.

My favourite songs in the movie are the first four songs, in that order:

Jogi Mahi
Small Town Girl
Bachna Ae Haseeno
Khuda Jaane
Aahista Aahista
Lucky Boy

VG’s Rating: 4 stars for both the Movie and Songs.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


I will seek you and find you...

I will take you to bed and have my way with you...

I will make you ache, shake & sweat until you moan & groan...

I will make you beg for mercy, beg for me to stop...

I will exhaust you to the point that you will be relieved when I'm finished with you...

And, when I am finished, you will be weak for days.

All my love,

The Swine Flu….Bwah….ha….ha….ha...

Now, get your mind out of the gutter and go get your flu shot. Oh no….I forgot….we have to wait for October to get our swine flu shots…..if we are lucky!


This morning on the highway, I looked over to my right and there was this woman in a brand new BMW doing 110 kmh with her face up next to her rear view mirror putting on her eyeliner.

I looked away for a couple seconds and when I looked back, she was halfway over in my lane, still working on that makeup.

As a man, I don't scare easily but she scared me so much that I dropped my electric shaver, which knocked the meat pie out of my other hand.

In all the confusion of trying to straighten out the car using my knees against the steering wheel, it knocked my mobile phone away from my ear…… which fell into the coffee between my legs…..splashed and burned Big Jim and the Twins……ruined the phone, soaked my trousers and disconnected a very, very important call.

BLOODY women drivers!!!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009


Usually, with Malay or Nyonya style sambals, the use of prawn/shrimp paste or belachan is always prevalent. However, this Nyonya recipe does not make use of belachan and yet, it tastes really nice. I adapted this from Mrs Leong Yee Soo’s book, ‘The best of Singapore’s Recipes: Nyonya Specialities’. The original recipe called for prawns but I substituted it with squid.


1 kg squid (or prawns) - cleaned
½ tin (200 ml) coconut milk
Cooking oil
1 heaped tbsp tamarind mixed with ½ cup water and juice extracted
Salt to taste
1 tsp sugar

Grind the following to a fine paste

115g shallots or red onions
15 dried chillies – de-seeded and cooked in hot water to soften before grinding
10 fresh red chillies – de-seeded
3 cloves garlic
4 to 6 candlenuts
1 large stalk lemon grass – sliced fine (white bits only)


Heat oil (about 5 to 6 tbsp) in a deep pot or wok. Fry the ground ingredients, stirring regularly, for 10 mins. Add a few tbsp of coconut milk and/or water to keep the paste moistened.

Add the squid/prawns and mix well with the paste. Add in the sugar, salt and tamarind extract. Mix well and cook for 2 mins.

Lastly, add the remaining coconut milk, bring to a boil and cook for a further 2 mins. Adjust seasoning if required, turn off heat and serve.

VG's Rating: 3.5 Stars - Only because I like my sambals hotter. This version is quite mild.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009


When I first heard of this movie, it conjured up visions of a ‘B’ grade movie – a low cost production with new actors wanting to break into the Bollywood market. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was actually a movie with two of my favourite actors, Shahrukh Khan and Irfan Khan, in the leads. I started appreciating Irfan Khan when I saw him in ‘The Warrior’. For me, for an actor to be able to reach his audience with not much dialogue in a movie is no mean feat and one that Irfan carried out to perfection in ‘The Warrior’. He was brilliant! I totally recommend you watch the movie if you can. Okay, I am transgressing here, I know…..we are talking about ‘Billu Barber’ today, not ‘The Warrior’.

Anyway, in this movie, the main character Billu (Irfan Khan) is a poor barber who lives with his beautiful wife Bindiya (Lara Dutta, Miss Universe 2000) and their two children, Gunja (Mitali Mayakar) and Ronak (Pratik Dalvi) in the village of Budbuda. Though struggling, Billu lives a simple and uneventful life until Bollywood superstar Sahir Khan (Shahrukh Khan) comes to the village for a film shoot.

Billu has mentioned to his family, years ago, that he knew Sahir from his youth but has never elaborated on the fact. However, his children start telling their friends about their father's friendship with the famous star which then spreads throughout the village, the story taking different forms with each relay. Virtually overnight, Billu who had previously been scorned by most of the villagers for his impoverished state, becomes the center of attention. People, who had previously spurned him, now call him a close friend so that he will introduce them to Sahir. They bring him gifts as bribery. Billu refuses and downplays the friendship, saying that it is impossible for him to introduce people in the village to Sahir. When Billu consistently fails to introduce the people of the village to Sahir, his situation changes once again. Not only is he spurned but is now accused of lying about his friendship and of conning the villagers. Everyone - including his wife and children, begin to doubt his character and integrity.

So, does Billu really know the great Sahir Khan and if so, how? But why doesn’t he approach Sahir? Or are the villagers and his family right….that he is lying about his friendship? Watch Billu Barber to find out.

Not only is this a great movie, it also boasts some great songs. My favourites are the first three songs.

Khudaya Khair
Love Mera Hit Hit
You Get Me Rockin
Ae Aa O
Jahoon Kahan
Billoo Bhayankar

Billu Barber Facts:

Despite its great reviews, Billu Barber was rated by ‘Box Office India’ a box office "flop" in its third week.

The movie was renamed to ‘Billu’ in India because of protest from the hairdressing industry. They claimed that the term ‘barber’ is derogatory to their profession….go figure!!!

The movie was directed by Priyadarshan and produced by Gauri Khan (Shahrukh Khan’s wife).

Actresses Kareena Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra make guest appearances in the item numbers (a term commonly used in Bollywood movies to describe a catchy, upbeat dance sequence in a movie that has no relevance to the plot of the film). The film was released on 13 February 2009.

The movie is a remake of the 2007 Malayalam (a south Indian dialect) film, ‘Kadha Parayumbol’. It is also an adaptation of the Sudama and Krishna story as mentioned in the Bhagavata Purana (Hindu text).

VG’s Rating: 4 stars for both the Movie and Songs.

Thursday, 16 July 2009


This recipe is adapted from Kylie Kwong’s ‘Simple Chinese Cooking’. What I love about her cooking is her simple and quick recipes…..ideal for the working mother who, regardless of a hectic day at the office, still appreciates and demands good food. Here is an example of one. And the beauty of this dish is….all the preparation is done the night before!!!


800g boneless chicken thigh fillets – sliced into bite sized pieces
Oil for frying (peanut or canola works well)
2 tbsp light soy sauce


¼ cup honey (see my GLOSSARY post on HONEY)
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp Chinese cooking wine (my Muslim friends, you may substitute with chicken stock)
2 tbsp diced ginger
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp dark soy sauce
2 tsp Chinese five spice powder (see my GLOSSARY post on CHINESE FIVE SPICE POWDER)
½ tsp sesame oil


Mix the chicken well with the marinade ingredients and leave to marinade for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Heat oil in a wok until simmering and fry half of the chicken for 2 mins. Lift and set aside and repeat with the next batch.

Whilst the second batch is still in the wok, return the first batch back into the wok, along with the 2 tbsp of light soy and cook for another 2 to 3 mins until the chicken is cooked and slightly caramelised.

Lift and serve with rice and side dish of vegetables such as STIR FRIED PAK CHOY WITH MUSHROOMS AND OYSTER SAUCE.

VG’s rating: 4.5 stars


One of the easiest, tastiest…. and my favourite ways to cook pak choy.


2 bunches of pak choy – stalks and leaves separated
3 cloves garlic – minced
1 small onion or shallot – sliced (optional)
Mushroom of choice - sliced
Fresh or dried chillies (optional)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
Few splashes of soy sauce
Few drops of sesame oil
Veg oil


Heat oil in a wok and fry the garlic, onion and chillies for 30 secs.

Add in the mushrooms and pak choy stalks. Moisten with some soy sauce and cook for 1 minute. Add in the oyster sauce.

Next add in the pak choy leaves and cook for a further 1 min until the leaves are ‘wilted’. Check seasoning (I tend to add more soy sauce instead of using salt), a few drops of sesame oil, lift and serve as part of a meal with rice.


Since antiquity, honey has been a source of food and energy. From the first hunter gatherers, to the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans; records show the value of the bees and their honey.

If we journey back 4000 years to ancient Egypt, hieroglyphics show the story of the bee’s life. So primitive man had discovered the delight of honey — for centuries it was the only sweetener available.

In the 4th century BC, Aristotle wrote of the bee. Three hundred years later, Virgil the poet and Pliny the naturalist, carried the story further.

In England under Saxon rule, honey was accepted by some landlords as part-payment for rent from tenants. The bee had truly earned a valuable place in society.

In 1792 a blind naturalist, Huber, published a book in Geneva on bees and honey. The honey industry that we know today began to grow.

Honey that is sold in shops comes from honeybees (Apis mellifera). Honey produced by other bees or other insects has very different properties.

Honey is created by bees as a food source. In cold weather or when food sources are scarce, bees use their stored honey as their source of energy. By contriving bee swarms to nest in artificial hives, people have been able to semi-domesticate the insects, and harvest excess honey.

Generally, honey is classified by the floral source of the nectar from which it was made. Honeys can be from specific types of flower nectars, from indeterminate origin or can be blended after collection.

The bee's value however is not confined to making honey. Honeybees also help our fruit and vegetables grow. When the bee gathers nectar, her body becomes dusted with pollen. As she moves from flower to flower, the pollen passes from male to female stigma and cross-pollination (or fertilization) takes place which leads to new seeds and plant regeneration. Without bees, trees and flowers may not make fruit, nuts or seeds and there would be no honey.

The honeybee is not native to Australia. The colonists who came to Australia in its early days missed many of the comforts and treats of “home” (England) that they tried to introduce many of them to their new country. Plants, trees, animals, birds and many other reminders of home were introduced during those early years. One of these treats were honey. In 1810, Samuel Marsden brought the first honeybees to Australia but the attempt to start a bee colony failed. In the early 1820’s, a second shipment of honeybee was brought to Australia aboard the ship Isabella. She arrived in our waters in 1822 and adapted so successfully that other bee species were introduced from Italy, Yugoslavia and North America (thankfully the bees are one of the few introduced species that did not wipe out our unique eco system!)

Typically, honey is made up of:
~ 80 per cent natural sugars (mainly levulose, dextrose and glucose)
~ 17 per cent moisture
~ 3 per cent mineral traces

The honeybee is a most amazing insect. Its family (hive) consists of workers, drones and a Queen Bee. The bees collect nectar, pollen and water each day to take back to the hive so that future generations can live. The raw nectar comes from flowers. They mix this with secretions from their glands, thereby transforming it. It is then deposited in the comb where it ripens into honey.

In a day’s work, bees produce:

~ Honey – to provide food reserves for the hive (which we use as a sweetener)
~ Bees wax – to make honeycomb (traditionally used for candles and cosmetics)
~ Pollen – to nurture their young (which when dried and preserved is a valuable nutrient)
~ Propolis – to seal their hive from wind and rain (which can be used as an antiseptic)
~ Bee venom – to protect itself (which can be used to relieve arthritic and rheumatic pains)

Source: Wikipedia, and


The Chinese five spice powder is a mixture of five spices used in Chinese cuisine. Although the exact origins of five-spice powder are lost to history, there is some thought that the Chinese were attempting to produce a "wonder powder" encompassing all of the five elements. All of the five flavours - sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty - are found in five-spice powder. Then again, it's possible that a cook accidentally stumbled upon this particular combination of spices, and realized its power to enliven the blandest dish. Whatever the case, there is no doubt that five spice powder is unique.

This spice blend is a staple in Chinese cooking, and is often used in a technique called "flavour potting", where meat is steeped in a rich sauce and cooked for long hours. The spices and volumes used in five spice powders may differ slightly between recipes. However, the main ingredients are star anise, cloves, cassia, Szechwan pepper and fennel seeds. Some recipes use them in equal proportions, whilst others use more of one to heighten a specific flavour. Generally though, Chinese five spice powder is dominated by the aroma and flavour of the star anise.

It is used in many Asian recipes, its sweet tangy flavour going well with greasy meats like pork and duck. Stir-fried vegetables are enhanced by sprinkling about a teaspoon of the powder over the vegetables when cooking. Add a little salt to the powder, and it makes an excellent spice rub for chicken, duck, pork and seafood.

Here’s a recipe that I usually use (courtesy of the Epicentre)

1 1/2 tbsp star anise
2 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 1/2 tsp cassia
1/2 tsp Szechwan pepper
1/2 tsp cloves

Optional: 1/2 teaspoon white pepper and/or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Both will give added bite and depth to the flavour


In a frying pan, over medium heat, dry roast the Szechuan pepper until aromatic. Ensure that the pepper is evenly roasted by continually shaking the pan. This should take about 3 minutes.

Add the roasted Szechuan pepper to a spice/coffee grinder along with the star anise, fennel seeds, cassia and cloves. Grind to a fine powder. Add in the white pepper and ground ginger. Store in an airtight container.

Source: Wikipedia, Chinesefood.About.Com and The Epicentre

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Kambakkht Ishq (Damn Love) is a Bollywood film directed by Sabbir Khan and produced by Sajid Nadiadwala. The film, a remake of the 2002 Tamil film Pammal K. Sambandam, features Akshay Kumar and Kareena Kapoor in the lead roles along with actors Aftab Shivdasani and Amrita Arora in supporting roles. Hollywood actors Sylvester Stallone, Denise Richards, Brandon Routh and Holly Valance appear in cameo roles, playing themselves. The film was released on July 3, 2009.

Kambakkht Ishq explores the relationship between two very different individuals. Viraj Shergill (Akshay Kumar) is a swashbuckling stuntman in Hollywood who believes that women are only good for two things: "making love" & "making love". Simrita Rai (Kareena Kapoor), a surgeon and firebrand who is more than able to stare down the most arrogant male with her caustic wit and sardonic tongue. She firmly believes that there is no such thing as love.

So what happens when these two people, who hate each other, keep meeting at most inopportune circumstances???? You’ll have to watch Kambakkht Ishq to find out.

In my opinion, the songs from the movie are passable….listed below in accordance to my preference.

Lakh Lakh
Om Mangalam
Kambakkht Ishq
Welcome To Hollywood

PS: Kambakkht Ishq is current playing, for a limited time, at Greater Union, Manuka ACT. There are two shows daily, at 2.30pm and 8.30pm. Check Greater Union website and Canberra Times for updated times.

VG’s Rating: 3.5 stars for the Movie and Songs.