Monday, 31 August 2009


Wishing all my Malaysian family and friends happy 52 years of independence. Merdeka! Merdeka!

Independence Ceremony, 31 August 1957

Sunday, 30 August 2009


DID YOU KNOW……They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive you were said to be "Piss Poor."

But worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot...........they "didn’t have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be. Here are some facts about the 1500s and 1600s.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to smell, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom we have today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all were the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water!"

Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying "It's raining cats and dogs."

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence the saying, "Dirt Poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way to stop the thresh from slipping outside. Hence: a "thresh hold".


In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while. Hence the rhyme: "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old".

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, "bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat".

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust".

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence the custom of "holding a wake".

The folks in England started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1 out of 25 coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (this became known as the graveyard shift) to listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell" or was considered a "dead ringer". And that's the truth......


Friday, 28 August 2009


Another take of meatballs with plum sauce.


500g meatballs
1 large onion – sliced 1 cm thick
2 carrots – sliced fine
Capsicum - sliced
3 cloves garlic – minced
2 tsp Galiko or John West brand freshly minced chilli *
1/3 cup of plum sauce *
2 tbsp light soy sauce *
2 tbsp oyster sauce *
2 tbsp water *
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine - optional
2 tbsp veg oil


Mix * ingredients in a bowl or small jug. Set aside. Warm meatballs in a microwave.

Heat oil in wok and fry garlic until aromatic. Add in the carrots and capsicum and fry for 2 mins or until nearly cooked. Moisten with a few tbsp of water if needed.

Add in the meatballs and stir through the ingredients. Add in the blended * ingredients and mix well. Bring to a boil. Add in the sliced onions just before lifting. Serve hot with rice.

Thursday, 27 August 2009


The 'CASH FOR CLUNKERS PROGRAM' was Obama’s answer to stimulate the economy and bail out the automobile industry. Many Americans brought their old cars to the car dealers and received a sizeable discount on a new car, thank’s to the American Government.


If my body were a car, this is the time I would be thinking about trading it in for a newer model. I've got bumps and dents and scratches in my finish, and my paint job is getting a little dull. But that's not the worst of it. My headlights are out of focus, and it's especially hard to see things up close.

My traction is not as graceful as it once was. I slip and slide and skid and bump into things even in the best of weather.

My whitewalls are stained with varicose veins. It takes me hours to reach my maximum speed. My fuel rate burns inefficiently.

But here's the worst of it…………..

Almost every time I sneeze, cough or laugh, either my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires.


Tuesday, 25 August 2009


If there is one recent Bollywood movie you should have on your ‘must see list’, it has to be OM SHANTI OM. This movie was released around a year and a half ago in cinemas, but already has a cult following that equals that of the Blues Brothers. The acting is superb even from the then newcomer Deepika Padukone (daughter of badminton legend of the 1980s and 1990s, Prakash Padukone) and actor Arjun Rampal makes a great villain in the movie. Actors Kiron Kher and Shreyas Talpande shine in their supporting role and Farah Khan once again excels as the director and choreographer of this movie. But it is Bollywood heart throb Shahrukh Khan that steals the thunder and is downright titillating (apologies for the graphic description, but he is!) in his role of Om Prakash Makhija, a junior artist (in other words, a movie extra) who dies and is reincarnated as Om Kapoor, who becomes a Bollywood superstar.

Set initially in the 1970s, the movie depicts scenes of Bollywood’s golden heyday and mimics the heroes and heroines of that genre. For those of you that grew up watching Bollywood movies in the 1970s, it is a great journey through memory lane. Moreover, it has some really great songs too.

If you haven’t watched the movie, I don’t want to spoil it for you by telling you more.

I strongly recommend you watch OM SHANTI OM and enjoy a Bollywood cinematic journey from the 1970s into the present. And check out Shahrukh’s pecks whilst you are there!!!

OM SHANTI OM will be screening this Friday night at 9.00 pm on SBS Two. Don’t miss it!

NB: Check out the official OM SHANTI OM website HERE.

VG’s Rating: 5 stars for the music and movie!

Monday, 24 August 2009


A simple and nutricious way to enjoy bean sprouts, chinese chives and tofu.


500g bean sprouts
½ packet fried tofu puffs – cut into triangles using scissors
1 bunch Garlic/Chinese chives – cut into 4 cm lengths
2 cloves garlic – minced
1 small onion – sliced
1 fresh red chilli sliced or 2 to 3 dried chillies torn into pieces – optional (see my GLOSSARY post on CHILLIES)
Few splashes of light soy sauce
Few splashes of Thai fish sauce
Few drops of sesame oil
Salt to taste (optional)


In a wok, heat some oil and sauté the garlic and onion for 10 secs. Add in the tofu and chillies and cook for 1 min.

Add in the sprouts and chives and toss to cover with all the ingredients. Add some soy and fish sauce and cook for about 2 to 3 mins only. You want your bean sprouts to remain crunchy. Check seasoning.

Add a few drops of sesame oil, mix well, lift and serve hot with rice as an accompaniment to a meal.


Chillies (or chilli peppers, chilli, chile) originated from Mexico in Central America and there are several species, all belonging to the capsicum genus.

Chillies have been a part of the human diet in the Americas since at least 7500 BC. There is archaeological evidence at sites located in southwestern Ecuador that chillies were domesticated more than 6000 years ago, and is one of the first cultivated crops in the Americas that is self-pollinating. Chillies are members of the solanaceae family, along with cousins potatoes, eggplants and tomatoes.

Christopher Columbus was one of the first Europeans to encounter chillies (in the Caribbean), and called them "peppers" because of their similarity in taste (though not in appearance) with the Old World black peppers of the Piper genus.

Chillies can be red, green, orange, purple or almost the colour of chocolate. They can be pointy, round, small, club like, long, thin, globular, tapered, or bell shaped. Their skin may be shiny, smooth or wrinkled and their walls may be thick or thin. They range from extremely hot to sweet and mild. Be assured that only a few varieties of chillies are as mild as capsicums.

The colour of chillies is no guide to the intensity of their flavour. Nor is the size. Yet they are utterly delicious and an essential part of the cuisine so many parts of the world. Some people (myself for one) believe they are mildly addictive in a nice and harmless way.

Chillies grow in a range of areas. They are short lived perennials in subtropical and tropical areas, but are normally grown as annuals in colder regions because the cold weather causes them to die off.

In Australia, most fruit is produced from December through to April. chillies like a warm, sunny spot, well drained soil and regular watering during dry weather. Over fertilising can lead to excessive foliage and fewer fruit, just like with tomatoes. I have grown chillies successfully in a hot house throughout the Canberra winter. Ensure that you do not over water during the winter period as the roots may freeze if the ground is too wet.

The substances that give chillies their intensity when ingested or applied topically are capsaicin (8-methyl-N-vanillyl-6-nonenamide) and several related chemicals, collectively called capsaicinoids. Capsaicin is the primary ingredient in pepper spray.

When consumed, capsaicinoids bind with pain receptors in the mouth and throat that are normally responsible for sensing heat. Once activated by the capsaicinoids, these receptors send a message to the brain that the person has consumed something hot. The brain responds to the burning sensation by raising the heart rate, increasing perspiration and release of endorphins.

The "heat" of chillies is measured in Scoville heat units (SHU), which is the number of times a chilli extract must be diluted in water for it to lose its heat. Bell peppers rank at 0 SHU, New Mexico green chillies at about 1,500 SHU, jalapeños at 3,000–6,000 SHU, and habaneros at 300,000 SHU. The record for the hottest chilli was assigned by the Guinness Book of Records to the Naga Jolokia, measuring over 1,000,000 SHU. Pure capsaicin, which is a hydrophobic, colorless, odorless, and crystalline-to-waxy solid at room temperature, measures 16,000,000 SHU.

It is amazing how Capsaicin can get around; therefore care should be taken when handling chillies. Capsaicin can damage your eyes so always prepare chillies by wearing disposable gloves and by thoroughly washing all knives, cutting boards and anything else that has come into contact with a cut chilli. Also, do not allow chillies to come in contact with a cut or graze as it can burn the skin.

Most of chilli’s heat is in its seeds and membrane. You can ‘tone’ down the chilli’s heat by discarding these.


 Sweet Chilli: A mild chilli that can be eaten even by children. About 6-8 cm long, bright yellow-lime green skin and pointed at one end.

 Bell Chilli Red/Green: This chilli is shaped like a bell. The red ones are hot the green variety can be medium to hot and are excellent for pickling.

 Green Chilli: A long slender green chilli, 6-8 cm long, pointed at one end. It has a medium flavour that is easily eaten by most people who are not use to chilli. Around 1,000 and 2,000 Scoville units on the heat index.

 Red Chilli: Similar in size and shape to the green chilli, but with more sting to its flavour. Good idea to mix the red and green chillies together in any dish.

 Thai Hot/Bird’s eye chilli: A very hot tiny chilli 1-2 cm long. The skin colour can range from green, lime yellow to orange and red. Most people will find these very hot even without the seeds. Used mainly in Thai, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Indian or Spanish dishes.

 Mexican Hot Chilli: One of the hottest chillies. It has a bright green skin, is 6 - 8 cm long and is pointed at one end.

 Jalapeño Chilli: This fiery hot chilli is the one by which all other chillies are judged. Ripened they can be dark green or red. They have a very thick fleshy skin and are sausage shaped with a blunt end. The Jalapeño rates between 3,000 and 8,000 Scoville units on the heat index.

 Serrano Chilli: It has thin walls and the Serrano chilli is green in colour at first, and ripens to red, brown, orange, or yellow. It is said to be about 5 times hotter than the Jalapeño and rates between 8,000 and 22,000 Scoville units on the heat index.

 Cayenne Chilli: This chilli is generally dried and ground, or pulped and baked into cakes, which are then ground and sifted to make the powdered spice known as Cayenne pepper. It is generally rated at 30,000 to 50,000 Scoville Units.


Chillies are normally sold commercially in the following forms:

 Fresh whole
 Fresh minced
 Dried whole
 Dried flakes
 Dried flakes in oil
 Powdered/Ground
 Pickled in a variety of vinegars or wines and in brine
 Infused in a variety of oils
 Chilli Sauces and Sambals


If you have been unfortunate and suffer from ‘chili burns’ to the mouth, don't be tempted to drink cold water as this can intensify the effect in the short term. Instead, have one of the following:

• Salt – put some common table salt on your tongue
• Milk
• Yoghurt
• Cucumber
• A couple of mint leaves
• Yoghurt with chopped mint

Source: Wikipedia, ABC Gardening and Apex

Friday, 21 August 2009


It been some time since I put any gardening posts up – today seems to be a good day as any day; so here tis.

Schefflera or commonly known as Umbrella plant, is a genus in the flowering plant family Araliaceae. The plants can be trees, shrubs or lianas (climbing vines), growing 1-30 m tall.

Several species are grown in pots as houseplants, most commonly Schefflera actinophylla (Umbrella Tree) and Schefflera arboricola (Dwarf Umbrella Tree). Numerous cultivars have been selected for various characters, most popularly for its variegation or purple foliage. Schefflera arboricola is native to Taiwan and Hainan and is popular as an indoor bonsai.

My Umbrella Tree (pictured above) is 8 years old. I have not “bonsaied” it in the true sense….all I have done is keep it pot bound. Every few years, I change the soil in the pot but I do not transfer the plant to a larger pot. This stunts its growth.


 The plant prefers higher light if possible, but can adapt to a wide variety of light levels. My plant is positioned about 5 m from the window.

 Being a tropical plant it likes moisture, but avoid letting the plant sit in water after watering so be sure to allow proper drainage. It likes to be moist but not wet. Allow the soil to dry in between watering; however do not allow it to stay dry for long periods of time. If the foliage begins to drop and turn black in color, you are over watering or do not have proper drainage in place. If the foliage tips begin to curl or wrinkle, you are probably under watering the plant.

 Do not be afraid to prune your Schefflera back into shape if it gets out of control. This is one houseplant who will bounce back better than ever after a nice complete pruning.

 The Schefflera is prone to spider mites. To prevent spider mites, give the plant a misting of diluted soapy water once a week. If spider mites are present, try the soapy water misting twice a day. If this does not work, visit your local garden center for a safe pesticide alternative.

 The Schefflera is toxic if consumed.

Source: Wikipedia

Thursday, 20 August 2009


It was April and the Aboriginals in a remote part of Northern Australia asked their new elder if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild.

Since he was an elder in a modern community, he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the tribe should collect firewood to be prepared.

But being a practical leader, after several days he had an idea.

He walked out to the telephone booth on the highway, called the Bureau of Meteorology and asked, 'Is the coming winter in this area going to be cold?'

The meteorologist responded, 'It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold.'

So the elder went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared.

A week later he called the Bureau of Meteorology again. 'Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?'

The meteorologist again replied, 'Yes, it's going to be a very cold winter.'

The elder again went back to his community and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find.

Two weeks later the elder called the Bureau again. 'Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?' he asked.

'Absolutely,' the man replied. 'It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever.'

'How can you be so sure?' the elder asked.

The weatherman replied, 'Our satellites have reported that the Aboriginals in the north are collecting firewood like crazy, and that's always a sure sign.'

Tuesday, 18 August 2009


A great lie is like a great fish on dry land; it may fret and fling and make a frightful bother, but it cannot hurt you. You have only to keep still, and it will die of itself.

~ George Crabbe ~


Fried fish is one of the ‘must have’ dishes in a typical Malay meal. Growing up in army camps throughout Malaysia, the smell of fish frying before lunch or dinner was a daily occurrence. To give this humble dish a slight twist, my mum used to make a tamarind sauce that she poured over the fried fish to give it some extra oomph. Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients (for 6 small whole fish/fillets)

6 small whole fish or firm fish fillets (I used yellowtail scad aka ikan selar kuning)
1 tsp turmeric powder
½ tsp salt
2 to 3 shallots – sliced fine
2 cloves garlic – sliced fine
2 red chillies - sliced fine
2 spring onions – sliced
1 coriander plant – sliced (see my GLOSSARY post on CORIANDER)
½ red onion – sliced thickly (optional)
1 heaped tbsp tamarind pulp – soaked in 1 cup water and juice extracted (don’t throw away the pulp)
2 tbsp sweet soy sauce (kicap manis)
2 tsp soy sauce


If using whole fish, make a couple of scores on each side of the fish. Rub the fish with the salt and turmeric and set aside for 15 to 30 mins.

In a fry pan or wok, heat some oil and deep fry the fish until cooked. The skin should be crispy. Lift on paper towels to drain, then arrange on a platter. Set aside.

Remove all the oil bar 2 tbsp from the wok. Saute the garlic and shallots for 30 secs, then add in half the chillies. Cook for 1 min.

Add in the tamarind juice and bring to the boil. Next, add in both the soy sauces. If you would like more gravy, add half a cup of water to the saved tamarind pulp and extract second tamarind juice. Taste, adjust seasoning and turn off heat.

Pour the sauce over the fish, garnish with the spring onions, coriander, onion and remainder chillies. Serve immediately.


Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an annual herb in the family Apiaceae. It is also known as cilantro, particularly in the Americas. Coriander is native to southwestern Asia right to the west to North Africa.

The name coriander derives from French coriandre through Latin “coriandrum” and in turn from the Greek “κορίαννον”. All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the most commonly used in cooking. Coriander is commonly used in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Indian, South Asian, Mexican, Latin American, Chinese, African and Southeast Asian cuisine.

Originally grown around present day Greece, coriander has been used as a culinary herb since at least 5,000 B.C. It is mentioned in Sanskrit text and the Bible. Pliny the Elder (23-79 A.D.) used the name Coriandrum after "coris", the Greek word for "bedbug" as it was said they both emitted a similar odour. Coriander is one of the herbs thought to have aphrodisiac qualities; the Chinese used it in love potions and in “The Thousand and One Nights” a man who had been childless for 40 years is cured with a coriander concoction. Spanish conquistadors introduced it to Mexico and Peru where it now commonly paired with chillies in the local cuisine.

The coriander leaves have a very different taste from the seeds, with citrus-like overtones. Some people perceive an unpleasant "soapy" taste or a rank smell and avoid eating the leaves. The fresh leaves are an essential ingredient in many South Asian foods (particularly chutneys), in Chinese dishes and in Mexican salsas and guacamole.

Chopped coriander leaves are also used as a garnish on cooked dishes such as dhal and many curries. As heat diminishes their flavour quickly, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish right before serving. The leaves also spoil quickly when removed from the plant, and lose their aroma when dried or frozen.

The dry fruits are known as coriander seeds. In some regions, the use of the word coriander in food preparation always refers to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant itself. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavour when crushed. It is also described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavoured. It is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Seeds can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly before grinding to enhance and alter the aroma. Like most spices, ground coriander seed loses its flavour quickly in storage and is best when ground as needed. For optimum flavour, whole coriander seed should be stored in a tightly sealed container away from sunlight and heat.

Coriander seed is a key in garam masala and Indian curries, which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin. Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are also eaten as a snack. It is also the main ingredient of the two south Indian gravies, sambhar and rasam.

Outside of Asia, coriander seed is an important spice for pickling vegetables, and making sausages in Germany and South Africa. In Russia and Central Europe coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread as an alternative to caraway. Coriander seeds are also used in brewing certain styles of beer, particularly some Belgian wheat beers. The coriander seeds are typically used in conjunction with orange peel to add a citrus character to these styles of beer. Having said this, it is not a common spice in Western cuisine.

Coriander roots have a deeper, more intense flavour than the leaves. They are used in a variety of Asian cuisines. They are commonly used in Thai dishes, including soups and curry pastes. In Malaysia, it is usually ground to make curry paste.

Coriander is considered an aid to the digestive system. It is an appetite stimulant and aids in the secretion of gastric juices. The essential oils of the cilantro leaves contain antibacterial properties and can be used as a fungicide. It is rich in vitamin C.


Coriander - Europe, Asia, Australasia
Cilantro - Latin America and United States

French: coriandre
German: Koriander
Italian: coriandolo
Spanish: cilantro, culantro
Arabic: kizbara
Burmese: nannambin (leaves), nannamzee (seed)
Chinese: hsiang tsai, yen-sui, yuen sai, yuin si tsoi (leaves)
Indian: dhanyia, dhuniah, kothimbir, kotimear, kotimli (seed)
dhania patta, dhania sabz, hara dhania (leaf)
Indonesian: ketumbar
Lao: phak hom pom
Malay: daun ketumba(r) (leaves), ketumba(r) (seed)
Sinhalese: kottamalli (seed), kottamalli kolle (leaves)
Tamil: kothamilee
Thai: pak chee (met)

Source: Wikipedia and The Epicentre

Wednesday, 12 August 2009


When it comes to china, I seem to be drawn to the ‘oriental’ patterns and this Rosina Queen’s trio in ‘Cathay’ design is one example. I could not find much info on this pottery house except that it was formerly known as George Warrilow and Sons, based in Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, England from 1887 to 1940. In 1941, it became Rosina Queen’s China and this pottery house is still in production – 122 years on. I believe that this pattern was made in the 1960s. Please correct me if I am wrong.

When it comes to buying china, I don’t go looking for those ‘collector’ pieces (but I won’t knock one back if I see it!) but rather, I buy those designs that appeal to me and bring me joy. That is what a collection should do….bring the collector happy thoughts…..

Sunday, 9 August 2009


I was very surprised with the reaction of the household (and mine too) when I made this dish. I thought it would be quite sweet and sickly actually….well, as it turned out, it is sweet yet not sickly and altogether yummy! The original recipe did not call for chillies or nutmeg but I added some. Maybe it was the chillies…. and freshly ground pepper that did the trick…..


600g skinless boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into cubes
Vegetable oil
2 large brown onions - diced
2 cloves garlic – diced minced
Thumb size ginger - grated
2 tbsp English style curry powder such as McKenzie’s
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg - optional
2 ripe mangoes or 1 large tin mango pieces – pureed (see my GLOSSARY post on MANGOES)
2 tbsp cider vinegar or white vinegar
5 to 6 dried chillies - optional
‘Hard’ vegetables such as carrots, celery, capsicum or zucchini (I used carrots and celery)
Small handful of raisins - optional
1/2 cup cream or coconut milk – I used coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Coriander or celery leaves to garnish


Heat some oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté about 5 minutes (or until soft and golden. Add in the garlic and ginger and sauté for another minute.

Add in the curry powder, cumin, nutmeg with ½ cup of water and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, 1 cup of water and the pureed mango. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove the pan from heat and using a hand held blender, puree the sauce. Alternatively, pour it into a blender and puree, then return the sauce to the pot. Simmer gently and add more water if required.

In a frying pan (with minimum oil), lightly brown the chicken along with the dried chillies and add to the sauce. You may omit this stage and add the chicken pieces and chillies straight into the simmering sauce*. Cover the pan and cook for 5 minutes. Add in the vegetables (however, if using celery, add it only about 2 minutes before lifting - I prefer my celery crunchy so I only add it into the pot just before lifting it off the heat).

Stir in the cream or coconut milk (along with raisins, if using) and cook until it starts to come to the boil (without actually boiling as this may curdle the cream). Season with salt and pepper, lift, garnish and serve over a plate of freshly cooked rice. Hmmmm…..

PS: If the dish is too sweet, add a little more vinegar. If not sweet enough, add a dash of sugar.

Note: You may also make a few batches of the sauce and freeze them for later use. The sauce works well with just vegetables too.

*The original recipe called for the chicken to be added straight into the sauce without browning it in the first instance.

VG’s rating: 3.5 stars