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Special Ingredient Recipes

Aloe Vera Salad

Fresh Aloe Vera Summer Salad

Aloe Vera Salad  – A cooling fresh salad for the hot summer days. This is my brunch after my long morning walk! This salad wakes you up, refreshes you and cools you down. It is a great picnic salad or post workout salad.

Aloe Vera facilitates digestion and helps to rid the body of toxins. It has cooling and soothing properties. It improves the functioning of the kidneys, liver and gall bladder. It is also good for the skin. Aloe is used widespread in topical treatments but is also good taken internally in juice and salads.
Important: Pregnant women and young children (below five) are advised against taking aloe internally. I am sure google has the explanations as to why.

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Muhallabia | Light Middle Eastern Milk Pudding | مهليبة

 Muhallabia is a Middle Eastern Milk Pudding that is extremely light and extremely simple to make. My mom  has made Muhallabia  and many variation of it for years, and we always enjoy its super light feeling. You don’t feel overwhelmed by this sweet dessert at all, and it is therefore perfect after heavy meals and very popular for the same reason, during Ramadan. I have had this post in the making for so many months. I was waiting for Ramadan 2017, to post it. Here, I  show you how to make it with just milk, cornflour, cream and sugar. I do make it sometimes by adding a little ground rice that has been soaked in water overnight overnight, when I feel like slightly more thickened pudding, but usually this ‘super light’ texture is what I opt for. There are two important flavorings to the Muhallabia as well. Rose water and Orange Blossom water are used in precise measurements for that Middle Eastern touch, quite whimsical indeed!  I have seen many spellings of the dessert Mahalabia, Mouhalabieh,M’halabe and even more. Oh well مهليبة, it is in Arabic!

Check out the video for Muhallabia below!

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Beef Kare Kare | Filipino Stewed Beef in Peanut Butter Sauce




Beef Kare Kare is a rather unique way to cook beef. This Filipino dish combines stewed beef and  yummy stir fried vegetables with a delicious, taste-bud friendly sauce made of peanut butter and ‘bagoong’ – a sautéed dried shrimp paste! Sounds interesting? If you are a serious foodie, this is one dish that you must try out. If you like peanut butter, you will love it.

‘ Bagoong Guisado ‘ is a sautéed shrimp paste. This condiment is really quite tasty! Unlike Thai or Malaysian shrimp paste, it is sautéed, and comes in small bottles. You can even have it as a condiment along with your rice.

My filipina friend, Lyn tells me that I must add enough peanut butter to be able to taste it. It isn’t supposed to be a hidden flavor.  Two other special ingredients are used in Kare Kare. One being the Banana Blossom. Although I love it, I didn’t want that texture of the entire blossom affecting the smoothness of the dish so I used banana blossom flower that comes dried in packets. The second special ingredient, is Atsuete/ Annatto /Achiote Seeds. These seeds were introduced to Filipino cuisine by the Spanish and are often used as a natural coloring agent. The seeds have a mild peppery aroma, when fried, similar to sichuan pepper – I felt. They are also known as ‘Poor mans Saffron ‘ and can help to give rice a yellowish color similar to the color imparted by saffron, but much cheaper! When fried in oil, as in the Kare Kare, they give a nice reddish color. The seeds however must be removed after frying as they taste bitter.

Quite a unique sounding dish. Wouldn’t you say? It is quite yummy, I tell you .

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Vanpayar Ularthiyathu | Brown Bean and Shallots Mash

Vanpayar Ularthiyathu

Vanpayar Ularthiyathu

Vanpayar Ularthiyathu | Brown Bean and Shallots Mash

Vanpayar Ularthiyathu is the classic Kerala comfort food. The ‘brown beans’ (red cow peas / red gram / ‘red chawli’) are a brownish version of the ‘green bean’ or whole ‘mung dal’. It also looks similar in shape to the ‘black eyed bean’, except it’s smaller.

In Kerala, this dish is very often served with rice porridge, where the Kerala ‘Rose Rice’ is used: an indigenous variety of rice grown in Palakkad District of Kerala. It’s a chubbier grain and is found throughout Kerala and parts of Sri Lanka.

The beans are cooked prior to stir frying with a delicious blend of shallots, garlic, pepper and dried red chilli and then mashed lightly to add a very-yummy-creamy quality.

This vegetarian item may be served with rice or even chapatis, but the classic combo will forever be  Kanji and Payar ( Porridge and Beans). Poppadum’s , pickle and shallot chutney are also often served on the side. ‘Kanji and Payar’ is also often served when you are under the weather or suffering from an upset stomach.

vanpayar brown beans

brown beans

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Dill Pickles | Easy Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

dill pickles

Dill Pickles – Quick and Easy!

Dill Pickles | Easy Homemade Refrigerator Pickles (with slideshow)

 

These dill pickles are my favorite instant pickles..  They may be used just after 24 hours. It’s no doubt that home made products, usually beat the flavor and reliability of store bought.  Pickles are no exception!  And the dill pickles from the store usually contain too much sugar and artificial coloring!  Make your own fresh, crunchy dill pickles, that require no special pickling equipment and temperature control.  You will be surprised how easy they are to make.  First time I made these, I was amazed at how good they were.  Fresh and crunchy, retaining the nutrients of the fresh cucumber.

Obviously, Dill weed is essential in making the pickles.  Fresh is always preferred but the dried herb may be used if you can’t find it!  And when it comes to pickling cucumbers, they say the the kind of cucumber that make you burp, are best for making pickles, due to the higher lever of cucurbitacin.  You can use whole cucumbers, spears or slices.  I tried a few varieties and I found these snacking baby cucumbers to be the best for my pickles.  If I want to use them for burgers, I simply slice them up after pickling.  We use these pickles in salads on a regular basis.

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Asparagus Dip | Creamy Simple Asparagus Spread

asparagus dip

Asparagus Dip

Asparagus Dip | Creamy Simple Asparagus Spread

 

This Asparagus dip, is extremely quick and easy to make! Quite tasty and even kids will enjoy this vegetable in spreadable form!  I am always looking for ways to get the kids to eat certain veggies.. Sometimes, a dip is the easiest way to achieve this. Creamy and tasty, its super, served with toasted pita wedges.

Asparagus is a member of the lily family and has been found to be an aphrodisiac, since ancient times.  It is packed with nutrients. High in vitamin K, folate, vitamin C, beta -carotene, vitamin E, zinc, manganese and selenium.

It’s also especially rich in detoxifying compound, glutathione, which can help destroy carcinogens. For this reason, asparagus may help fight or protect against certain cancers.

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Gambooge | Fish Tamarind

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Gambooge | Fish Tamarind ripe fruit

Gambooge | Fish Tamarind

Gambooge | Fish Tamarind

Gambooge  – Also known as Garcinia gummi-gutta,  Garcinia cambogia (a former scientific name), Brindleberry, Kudampuli, Pot Tamarind, Malabar Tamarind or  Fish Tamarind. This fruit looks like a small green pumpkin. The ripe fruit is yellow.
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Fish Roe Fry | Kerala Palinjeen Fry

fish roe fry

Fish Roe Fry | Kerala ‘Palinjeen’ Fry

Fish Roe Fry is a favorite in our house. Whenever I get good fish roe (Fish Eggs), I usually prepare it in this way. Both female fish roe (Hard Roe) and male fish roe (Soft Roe), may be used.. In the picture, I have used only the Hard Roe of King Fish. The roe is cooked in spiced and seasoned coconut milk before frying (scrambling) in coconut oil. Yum!

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Salted Egg Yolk Chicken | Batter Fried Chicken in Egg Yolk Sauce

Salted Egg Yolk Chicken is a delicious and rich tasting fried chicken in a special creamy sauce that is very popular and trendy here in Singapore. The salted egg yolk sauce is also used in many other dishes, prawns, crabs, rice etc…

Salted eggs are a preserved food product, very common in Chinese cooking. Duck Eggs or Chicken Eggs are soaked in brine or packed in salted charcoal to preserve them. The eggs are sold in the supermarket, often covered with a thick layer of salted charcoal paste. Sometimes, they are sold with the salted paste, removed and vacuum packed. I have seen salted eggs in Philippines cuisine as well, where they undergo a similar process. These are dyed pink to be be distinguished from the fresh eggs.

I was introduced to cooking with these by my friend in Singapore, Michelle. These preserved eggs have a briny aroma and the yolk is bright orange in color as well as firm textured!  The whites are quite salty and the yolk has a rich and less salty flavor. There are many dishes that use these salted eggs, and are popularly used in the Chinese Mooncakes. The salted eggs, from chicken taste somewhat different, the yolk being less rich. Do check out the step by step pics in brief or the full video below.

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Katira Drink | Special Ramadan Drink




Katira Drink –  Perfect for Ramadan! This Refreshing, Rehydrating and Cooling Drink is a Hunger Buster too! Known simply as Katira Drink here in Singapore, it is loaded with some cooling ingredients. This drink is popularly served during the Month of Ramadan, when it is time to break the fast for the day.. Simply put, it is a Rose flavored milk with the added cooling benefits of Gum Tragacanth, Basil Seeds and Malva Nut. In Singapore evaporated milk and rose water is used along with rock sugar to flavor the milk… but this is an acquired taste. My family prefers a good rose syrup and very light milk.. that is a combination of cold skimmed milk and iced water. Check out the video to have a look at the ingredients used.

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