Friday, August 27, 2010

Cara oh Cara....

It's a tradition in our family to bear gifts when we visit family and friends' homes. And we notice that people actually appreciate gifts that are made more than those that are bought. Especially here where authentic Malaysian food is hard to come by.

So, when we received invitation to have iftar at Aunty H's house a few days ago, we all crack our heads on what gifts to bring. How about home made food, said Brad. Typical of the boy, all he could think of is food, even in Ramadan. But everybody agrees with him.

And as usual with Mama, what she cooks depend very much on what's in the fridge. So, we end up with the following menu: Daging Masak Kicap (Beef in Soy Bean Sauce), Lemak Cili Api Telur Ikan dengan Nangka (Fish Roe and Young Jackfruit in hot coconut milk) and for dessert - Kuih Cara.

What's Kuih Cara?

For the uninitiated, Kuih Cara is a type of mini pancake (as the batter is very similar to pancake) that is cooked either as a sweet or savoury dessert. The sweet version normally uses daun pandan (aromatic screwpine leaves) as natural flavouring and colouring while the savoury version has meat in it. When I suggested that perhaps we should call this poffertjes a la Malaysia, everybody agrees too. Only nicer and more flavourful, I must say.

Kuih Cara Berlauk - the savoury version we made last week, the filling was made using minced beef and black pepper...yummm...

So far, we've made both versions this month. As I said earlier, depends on what's available in the fridge.

Am listing the recipe for the sweet version here. Don't blame me if you don't get it right. The trouble with Malaysian kuih is that it's easy to eat but mostly difficult to make. Here goes:

Kuih Cara Manis (sweet mini pancakes)

300g plain flour
3 cups coconut cream (not too thick)
4 pandan leaves (grated and juice squeezed)
1 egg
a pinch of salt
50g sugar
cooking oil spray

1. Put flour in mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Break egg into well and fold flour.
3. Pour in pandan juice and mix well.
4. Pour coconut cream, little at a time to form a smooth batter. Batter shouldn't be too thick or too thin....feel with your fingers. Oh, don't forget the pinch of salt. Mix well.
5. Heat Kuih Cara mould on the stove (we used two moulds so that we can finish off batter faster).
6. Spray cooking oil on mould. Don't spray too much, just enough to coat the "holes". (you can also use a brush with cooking oil if you don't have the spray type)
7. Spoon batter into the "holes", about 1 1/2 tablespoon if you're using the "belimbing" design (see ours). Less if you're using "cermai", just remember not to overdo it. Shouldn't overflow, OK?
8. Cover mould to quicken cooking process. We used a glass pot cover so we could see what was going on.
9. As soon as you see the sides beginning to cook, spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar into each kuih.

That indentation in the middle of the kuih indicated the point when we spoon the sugar in.

10. Use a small fork to dig out kuih once batter has gone all opaque. Let it cool before you eat them or else the hot molten sugar in the kuih will burn your tongue.

All cooked and cooling in the container.

Ready to eat. Usually, the kuih is displayed in pairs. Aren't they pretty?

Yummm...this is special. Fish Roe and Young Jackfruit cooked in hot (bird's eye chili) coconut cream. The fish roe is fresh from the fish shop but the young jackfruit is of the canned variety. Chili padi from our garden, OK?

Beef in Soybean Sauce...with black pepper, coriander and ginger too. Yummmm.....

burp....burp....burp.... purrr....meow!

Monday, August 23, 2010

BazRam in Sydney?

Sweet lass hawking their wares....yummy pau goreng inti sambal there.

We got quite excited when we heard the news. Who would have thought that Malaysian culture would spread that way....

Anyway, Mama took us to the Bazaar on Sunday. Of course, compared to TK's or Pak Mat's depiction of bazaars in their place, this one is sooooo teenie weenie and only happens on Sundays. However, it's the spirit that counts, people.

Sibuk macam the bazaar.

Mooted by the Malaysian Consulate in Sydney and held on the grounds of the Malaysia Hall in Randwick, students or their spouses were encouraged to set up stall and show us their culinary skills. Considering some ingredients for Malaysian cooking are hard to come by, the "entrepreneurs" didn't disappoint too much. While some dishes are way too different compared to the original (too much adaption here and there due to lack of ingredients I guess), some are quite authentic.

Hmm...their mothers would be proud of these blokes.

And people come from all over. We met people who came all the way from Penrith and Blacktown (about an hour and a half drive away) and there are those who come from Liverpool and Prestons (one hour away). Amazing, really, because publicity was none and the news spread through words of mouth only.

People came from all over to the bazaar.

If they were to hold more of the bazaars, the organisers should think of advertising it more. And it should be opened to everyone, not just Malaysians in Sydney. The Bangladeshi guys at the Caltex station next door thought they won't be allowed in....poor blokes. Mama took pity on them and gave them some of the "kuih" we bought. We got "Terima Kasih" and "Malaysia Bagus!" for that. Those blokes must have visited Malaysia in the past.

Food wise, there was a lot on offer. From Nasi Lemak to Nasi Kerabu and Nasi Permata (kinda like Nasi Minyak) and Nasi Ambang, and there was Soto Ayam, Mee Rojak, Pulut Kuning, Gulai Kawah, Kerabu Perut....and lots of "kuih" varieties - sweet and savoury - pau goreng, pulut udang, koleh kacang, bingka ubi, cara, seri muka etc etc etc.

Gulai Kawah in Sydney? That humongous wok (kawah) came all the way from Malaysia we were told.

We try to limit ourselves in the buying though...note that nobody was selling fish of any kind... for a cat, that's a tad disappointing. If there's another one next weekend, we'll surely be there again. purrr....meow!

Only one stall sells drinks though.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Him or Her?

Today is General Election day in Australia. Most eligible voters would have exercised their rights before 5pm today.

Tonight, we'll all be waiting with bated breath whether Labor will still be able to hold on to power. The party came into power in 2007, taking over from the Coalition (comprising Liberal, Democrats, National parties etc). The third voice is the Greens that hope to win more seats in the Senate so that they can become the power brokers.

Will it be Mr Abbott?

Or current PM Ms Gillard?

We'll only know the full results by midnight. In the meantime.....purrrr.....meow!

As of 11.25pm, the Prime Minister conceded that it's to close to call and will take several days to count all votes. At the time of speech, both parties have won 70 seats each, while the Greens have won one seat and Independents won three. Six seats were still undecided. So, it's a hung Parliament for now. Looks like Australia is following the UK and Canada now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Glorious East Coast Sojourn

It was short but glorious. Predictable but momentous.

For a totally indoor feline like me, any foray into the "outside" is deemed adventurous (...even crossing the threshold and sniffing the neighbours' shoes...) Thus, Mama's taking me "balik kampung" was an adventure that everyone was looking forward to.

First, make sure the cat stuffs are ready to go. Here, I was stretching my limbs before Mama puts me in the carrier bag before the journey from house to vehicle. Once inside the car, she'll usually set us free with the promise of not damaging Dad's leather seats.

Once Dad starts the engine, we were told to behave - no quarrelling, no spilling of kibbles, no poo-ing outside the box, no "are we there yet?"... What were we supposed to do then? Lie back and think of England? Then someone came up with a brilliant idea - let's test Mama's knowledge of the land, especially about the jungle and trees we'll be passing by all along the way. Marvelous.

We started the journey from KL to KT early on Saturday morning. There was heavy traffic all the way from home to the Gombak toll. Apparently there was an accident somewhere near Sri Gombak and motorists, as usual, slowed down to have a look-see. People, if you're not stopping to help, don't slow down! It's causing unnecessary gridlock.

Because of that, we missed breakfast and by the time we reach the R&R at the LPT, it was almost noon. So we had brunch instead.

Saw this very colourful pay phone at the R&R. I thought it was a toy but Mama assured me it was the real McCoy.

We found ourselves in Marang around tea time. We stopped for some refreshing coconut juice, pisang goreng and kerpok lekor....yummmm....

Then we bought some red-fleshed dragon fruits from this sweet uncle. He was a good salesman - Mama ended up buying heaps when originally she only wanted two.

It was late afternoon when we reached our humble abode at the waterfront.

The view from our room. Is that Ayoh Wang's kampung of Pulau Duyong?

Where we frolicked for three days and two nights.

Mama persuaded some uncles to fish for us....kidding! This is an activity of some people we observed from the 10th floor. Of course I wish I had joined them.

Rambutans on trees - we passed by many such sights all over town.

Did a bit of shopping...

A sit-down durian session at Kkeda Payang...

Left KT on Monday morning to our next destination - Kuantan. Been ages since she's visited the town, Mama said. Booked at a seaside resort in Beserah.

Nasi Dagang @ Ladang breakfast. A hearty breakfast of rice and tuna curry for the long drive ahead.

Stop over at Aunty Ayu's place in Kerteh - just so we could visit the handsome Ubi.

Rendezvous with bloggers Aunty Ahan and Aunty Sherry in Beserah, Kuantan.

The meal we had with Aunty Ahan and Aunty Sherry. The main dish - steamed garoupa.... yummmm....

Where we spent the night in Kuantan.

Stopped for a late lunch at the R&R and stretched our limbs near these fruit trees. How thoughtful of the highway builder, eh?

Upon closer inspection - not quite ripe yet.

Euww!!! A big lizard lounging by the sink. We had a fun time chasing it.

Why this billboard? Future trip, perhaps?

Anyway, this is my last post before handing back the blog to Brad. Is Angelina still hibernating? Brad didn't say anything and I bet the usurper is enjoying the ride while it lasts. roar! roar! roar!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Teka Teki

What goes in your mind when you see this on the road?

Okay, whoever can give the right answer will receive a special gift from me. It's related to the pix above.

Now, when you see that timber-laden truck, think, where's the top and the bottom? The top will be the one bearing the crown of a tree while the bottom will be the base that supports a tree. Think....then tell me.

Oh, all beings are eligible to take part - monyets, moths, cats, snakes, iguanas, humans... roar! roar! roar!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ramadan Ritual

It has been a ritual of sorts in our family that the graves of loved ones get visited, cleaned and tidied up with holy verses recited by Mama and Dad before Ramadan. Last weekend saw us visiting Dad's parents' graves in Bukit Besar, Kuala Trengganu.

Rest in peace, GrandDad and GrandMa. We'll come visit whenever we can.

This neem tree made news sometime back when it produced copious latex, that some people say look as if the tree was crying. Perhaps it was crying for the lost old mosque.

The cemetery is next to the old Masjid Raja, which has since been demolished to make way for a new structure. What a travesty. We found the "new" mosque unfinished, the site abandoned with building materials strewn all over the place and rubbish left piling in the workers' quarters. We cry for the lost old mosque and we cry for the yet to be finished "new" mosque.

The "new" mosque - unfinished and abandoned.

They scooted off and left even the blueprint to rot.

The signboard says it all - work on the new mosque was supposed to be completed in April 2009 as work started in January 2008. It is now August 2010. The white wooden structure is the temporary "surau."

Our sources say the contractors been paid in full but didn't finish the job. Can someone do something? Or else we'll get our cat patrol in KT to swarm the local JKR office and do a poopful. roar! roar! roar!

Ramadan Mubarak everyone!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's Wrong with Tom?

Mama took Tom to the vet today. He's been acting weird, Mama said.

Well, weird as weird can be. Tom has a growth on his upper lip that looks like ulcer. As well that he's been scratching himself silly. So there are bald patches on his otherwise glossy bod. And he's been vomiting too, could be due to furball as a result of his excessive scratching and grooming.

Mama said the vet took some samples of his skin to determine the cause. In a previous visit, the vet said it was caused by fleas but now they suspect that it could be some sort of fungus. The vet also took some samples of Tom's blood, to check if he's diabetic - considering his age and body weight.

Hmmm.....I can imagine him trying to hide himself under Mama's arm pit while the vet goes about the business of checking him up. Well, get well soon, Tom. roar! roar! roar!

Why is it when boys are sick, they are sooooo 'manja'?