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Friday Foods: My Traditional Comfort Foods

I’ve always told my mother that I’m a city girl with a healthy appreciation for the traditional Malay foods. It’s the simple dishes, simple snacks that I like best and my comfort foods are generally easy to make. At least to me, anyway.

One of the things that I love at any time of the day is fritters, dough fritters, with anchovies and onions. At a recent visit to my late granny’s house, I discovered a variation to the traditional sambal belacan that goes superbly well with the dough fritters and boiled tapioca, another of my favourite traditional food.

Anchovy Fritters

Naili's corner
Actually, this isn’t a picture of the anchovy fritters. It’s a picture of a variation of it, using over-riped bananas.
Photo by amrufm

2 cups of flour
1/2 cup dried anchovies, pounded or chopped roughly in the food processor
1 small onion, diced
1 egg
About 3-4 cups of water
oil for deep frying

Add in the egg and the onions together. Smoosh the egg and the onions together with you hand, to break the onion bits into the egg.

Into the flour, add the water bit by bit until it’s enough to give a batter that’s thick enough to spoon. Add in the egg and onion mix, and the anchovies and mix well.

Heat up the oil on medium heat and when it’s hot enough, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the oil and fry until it’s golden brown. Drain and serve it hot with your favourite sauce.

Here’s a video on a how to do it:

Sambal Belacan
The usual sambal belacan.
Photo by irwandy

The variation to the normal sambal belacan that I love to have with the anchovy fritters are easy to make and I usually make a big batch to last me a week or so.

Sambal Lonte

4 green chillies, roughly chopped
4 red chillies, rouphly chopped
2-4 chilli padi
4 shallots
1 clove garlic
a handful of dried anchovies
3-5g of toasted belacan
2-3tbs oil
salt to taste

Heat up oil in a pan. Toss in the chillies, shallots, garlic, belacan and anchovies in. Pan fry until the anchovies are cooked, and the onions and garlic are soft and fragrant.

Transfer all the ingredients from the pan into a food processor or a mortar and blend/pound until you get a good, chunky paste. Do not add water if you’re using the food processor since you want the paste to be chunky.

Serve as accompaniment to anything actually.

I actually like to eat it on it’s own.

The Cats In My Life

I like cats, I really do but I also have a slight fear of them. How can one not be cautious when handling animals with sharp claws and teeth, and who wont think twice about eating you if you just happen to die and they don’t have any food? But for me, mostly it’s because of the teeth and claws.

Over the past couple of months, I’ve gotten over most of my fear of their claws. It helps when Dude keeps throwing his cats into my lap. I’ve gotten to the point where the cats can run all over me, climb over the back of the sofa right behind my head and having them sniff my feet. Heck, they can claw my knee too if they want, provided I’m wearing jeans.

Since I do talk about the cats relatively often, I thought why not introduce them. Also, since I can’t have cats at home, I get to have taste of what it means to have cats in the house.

First up is Mama Cat, Sadie, formerly known as Kitty.

sadie 1

Sadie is, according to Dude, a Balinese chocolate point. She’s fuzzy, smart, vocal and also rather fat.

Look at that face, isn’t she just the cutest? She’s almost 2 years old and I remember when I first saw her, she was about half the size she is now and not as dark.

sadie 2

Most of the time when I come over for a visit, I’ll find her in the dark corner under Dude’s desk, napping the day away. When she’s awake, she’d saunter over and plop herself down in front of who ever is free, expecting pettings, scratches and lovings from the lowly humans.

She makes me want to pick her up, stuff her in my bag and take her home but because she rarely gets her claws trimmed (she’s fussy like that), I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon.

Next is Baby Cat, Coco. Coco is the only surviving kitten of Sadie’s. The other two didn’t survive since Sadie was under a year old when she got knocked up by a roving Romeo. Coco was originally Harry, The Kitten Who Lived, until they realised that Harry was a female and so she became Coco.

coco 1

Coco is very energetic, running around and playing with her toys. She’s not a lap cat that’s for sure, and she’s one hell of a climber. I’ve never seen a cat climb as high and as quick as she does. One minute she’s on the floor and the next, she’s standing at the top of the cupboard, looking very proud of herself.

The one and only time she would lounge on my lap, looking forlorn was when she first came back from the vet after being sterilised. She had the saddest look on her face.

coco 2

So these are the cats that helped me get over my fear, and are also the ones that leave me covered in cat hair half the time. They may not be mine but I do love them just the same.

Preview Screening of ‘Game Of Thrones’

GoT banner

Last week, I had the privilege of attending a preview for the latest show that HBOAsia is bringing in, the Game of Thrones. The event was held at ION Sky. This was the first time that I’d been able to attend an invite as I’ve always had classes during the last few events.

Anyway, I discovered that more than a few of my friends were also invited to attend the event. Dude came along as well as I was shameless enough to ask if I could bring a guest as I thought that he might enjoy the show. I met Sarah, Joelyn and Raven at { prologue } bookstore before the start of the event. After a couple of minutes of book browsing, Joelyn and Raven bid us goodbye and headed to the lounge where the event was held for cocktails, while Sarah, Dude and I met with Atiqah, the lovely young lady who invited us for the event.

We were told that since the canapĂ©s that were provided at the event were not halal, they had made arrangements for those of us who were going to break our fast. We met her at Meatworks and were informed that while the restaurant is certified halal, it’s not shown anywhere as the diners are allowed to bring their own bottle of wine or liquor, if they so choose.

lamb rack

Dinner was a most wonderful affair. The food was good and even Dude, who has exacting standards for steaks, said the food was wonderful. Once everyone had eaten, we headed up to the lounge to attend the preview.

Before that, we had to put on our tags to show that we were not gate-crashing the party.

hbo tags

The lounge was at the 55th floor of ION. I didn’t even know that the floors went up that high. When we arrived at the event area, it was like a disco, with strobe lights, drinks and music. I think Sarah said it best when she described it as, “A geek prom.” I met the guys from HereBeGeeks: Peter(@prodigialgeek), Alvin(@direcow) and Wailong(@kakitaraisho), Red Dot Diva(@syzzlyn) and Clicktokill(@clicktokill).

The wonderful people at HBOAsia actually made a replica of the Iron Throne from the series, where we could sit down and take pictures. They had a professional photographer who would take our pictures and print them out and give it back to us, in between two pieces of magnetic acrylic, like a paperweight thingy.

GoT like a boss

Yes, that’s me, sitting on the throne. Like a boss.

At around 8.30pm, everyone was seated and they played the first episode of the series. I didn’t know what to expect really as I’ve never read the books. It was brutal, bloody and gratuitous naked side boob shots. I loved it! The gratuitous violence and the amount of blood that was shed in just that first episode would slake anyone’s bloodthirst. It was most awesome! The episode ended too soon and with a cliff hanger that made me go, “WHAT?! THAT’S IT?! I WANT MORE!!!”

I seriously cannot wait for the next episode of the show.

We mingled a little bit more and took a more pictures but as it was getting late (and I had an early morning meeting the next day), we left. As we exited, we were handed swag bags that had a number of things that I really, really like. There was a foldable bag, that I’ve yet to unzip, a set of leather bookmarks with the crest of each House in the series imprinted into it, and a sword-shaped letter opener that came with its on sheath and stand.

swag 1swag 2swag 3

The blade had the title of the series etched into it too.

GoT sword

It’s one of the most interesting things I’ve ever gotten.

Anyway, I would say that if you like high fantasy, violence, sword-fights and sex, this is the show for you. It’s like an unsanitised version of Lord of The Rings.

Here’s a trailer for the show if you’ve not seen it yet.

I had a really great time at the event and I thoroughly enjoyed the show too. Thank you Atiqah, HBOAsia and their team for inviting me to this event. I can’t wait for the rest of the series.

Game of Thrones will premier on HBO on the 28th of August, 10pm. Watch it!

The Home Stretch: The Last Week Of Ramadan

Three weeks into Ramadan and now we’re coming into the last eight days of the holy month.

It’s a different kind of challenge this year, where all I can think about is food. One would think that it’s normal when one is fasting but for me, it’s not. I’ve never had the problem with thinking about food or hunger and this is year is the first. The cravings for carb-laden food is so strong that even on days that I’m not fasting I’d still be craving for it.

So in this last week of Ramadan, time feels like it’s moving a lot faster. I’ve not made any Eid goodies this year due to actually being busy this year. I’m not even sure when my family will start with the pineapple tart making. The house needs to be put in order, ok, more like my stuff needs to disappear from the living room and placed somewhere where others don’t mess it up so that we can pretend that we’re not all pack rats.

Basically, my house is way behind on the Eid preparations and strangely, we’re not panicking. I think that’s because my grandma’s not up and about to crack the whip at everyone to get things going. I think it’s going to be a small celebration again this year, as everyone’s busy with their own thing.

I’m still not feeling the magical feeling that usually accompanies the last week of Ramadan but I guess that’s what it means to grow up.

Friday Foods: The Traditional Malay Fried Rice

Or better known as Nasi Goreng Kampung.

Nasi Goreng Special
Photo by hpgonline

The first time I had this was when I visited my late paternal grandmother and an aunt had made this. It was different from the fried rice I’ve known; it’s spicy, a little on the salty side and hits the spot and burns the tongue, just the way I like it.

2 bowls of cooked rice, preferably stored in the fridge over night
3 red chillies, cut into big chunks
2 shallots
1 clove of garlic
3g of toasted belacan (shrimp paste)
3 long beans, chopped into 1/4 inch lengths or shorter
1/2 carrot, diced into small cubes
1/2 cup dried anchovies
1 egg, scrambled
50g of shrimp, shelled
salt to taste
3-4tbs oil

Put the chilli, shallots, garlic, belacan and a pinch of salt into a food processor or a blender and blend everything until it’s smooth. Don’t add too much water when blending as it will take longer to cook to a thick paste. Alternatively, you can pound the mixture in a mortar and pestle, which is the traditional way to do it. Set the paste aside.

In a wok or pan, heat up some oil. Throw in the anchovies and fry until their brown and crispy. They burn rather easily so take care when frying. Drain and set the anchovies aside.

Fry the shrimp in the same oil that you fried the anchovies in. It won’t take long. Drain and set the shrimp aside.

Fry the pounded/blended paste in the same pan. Adding a little bit more oil will help with the frying, but not too much since it’ll make you fried rice too oily.

When the paste is fully cooked (because if it isn’t, your rice is just going to taste of raw chilli), add in the rice. The rice may be lumpy so break the lumps with your stirring utensil and stir to make sure that the rice is fully coated with the paste.

Add in the chopped vegetables. Stir the rice to mix in veggies and continue cooking until the veggies are cooked through.

When the fried rice is cooked to the point where the paste coating the rice granules is dry, stir in the scramble egg, cooked shrimp and fried anchovies.

Served hot with your choice of sambal or side dish.

Note: This is just the basic recipe for the fried rice. You can add in anything you want with it. Personally, I love adding in chopped up left over fried chicken from yesterday’s dinner and a lot, a lot of fried anchovies. I’ll usually add in a couple of chilli padi to give it that extra kick.

Friday Foods: Fried Maggi Noodles And Rice

Mmmm..maggi goreng (Fried Maggi Noodles) + Quick & Easy Fried Rice

Photo of fried Maggi noodles by Brian J Chong
Photo of fried rice by iriskh

What do you get when you combine two different things, two different dishes into one recipe? Something totally new. While I was in uni, a friend of mine came up with this recipe, incorporating fried instant noodles and rice together. It’s easy and superbly filling too.

1 packet Maggi instant noodles, curry flavour
1 bowl of rice, cooked and cold (preferably, yesterday’s leftovers)Yes!
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
50g prawns, cleaned and de-veined
a handful of mixed frozen vegetables (optional)
1 egg
1 tbs oyster sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbs oil

Boil the instant noodles according to the packet. Keep the seasoning aside to use later. When the noodles are cooked, drain and set aside.

Make scrambled eggs and set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok or pan that’s big enough for the dish. Fry the onion and garlic until it’s fragrant. Toss in the prawns and the frozen veg and fry until the prawns are cooked.

Add in the noodles and the rice. Stir it around a little and sprinkle the whole sachet of instant noodle seasoning all over the noodles and rice. Stir the rice/noodle mix to make sure that everything is covered in the seasoning. Add in the oyster sauce and mix well.

When the rice/noodles are well mixed with the seasoning and sauce, add in the scrambled eggs and mix thoroughly.

Taste and see if more salt and/or pepper is needed.

Served hot as a one-dish meal for any time of the day.

Note: Like all fried rice and fried noodle recipes, this one is just as flexible. You can add in anything you like, meat, fresh vegetables, processed mystery meat, you name it. I’ve only ever tried it with the curry flavoured instant noodles since it’s my favourite. If you do try it with other flavours, do let me know how it turns out.

Ceramic Mug Making Lesson

Over the weekend, my friends and I headed down to the Goodman Arts Centre for the adult mug making class. Ceramics/clay works was something most of us have not tried and we thought, why not?

On that scorching, Saturday afternoon, I met up with Sarah, Joelyn, Avariel and Raven at Mountbatten. Before this, I’ve never even heard of Mountbatten and didn’t even know how to get there, even though there’s a train station right smack in the middle of it.

When all of us were present, we made our way to the Arts Centre. That was when I saw this sign.

pick up my poo

I wish they put up this sign in all the neighbourhoods because the dog owners in my area just let their pets poop every where and leave it for innocent neighbours to step on their pet leavings. It’s gross.

Anyway, we had to cross the estuary and walk to the former School of the Arts (SOTA) campus, that was turned into the Goodman Art Centre.

The ceramics studio wasn’t the only thing that was at the Centre. They have a few other studios and the centre also houses the National Arts Council (NAC).

We made our way to the sales office of the ceramics studio and paid for the class and the 2-year membership too. We then headed to the studio for an introduction to what we’re about to do.


The studio was spacious, with a lot of equipment that I’ve never seen before. There was a grinder of sorts so that they could grind up unused excess clay for recycling, three different kilns and a pottery wheel. I’ve never seen those things up close before. Our instructor gave us a tour and showed us some of the works done by the other students and artists who use their facilities. It was interesting to see the different artworks and especially those done by young children. They were very good and very imaginative too.

in the ceramics studio

After the tour, she showed us how she made the plain mugs that we were going to use for the day’s class. She slapped on a lump of clay onto the wheel and with a little bit of water, she magically transformed that lump of clay into something else. Ok, so it wasn’t magical but for artless people like it, it seemed like magic.

pottery wheel

The mugs that we were going to work on were made the previous day as it needed some time to dry and harden so that it wouldn’t break so easily when handled by amateurs like us.

plain mugs

We sat at the table and listened carefully as she gave us instructions on what to do, like making the handles or how to decorate the mugs.

making handles

It was a very interesting experience and compared to the rest of them, my mug decoration work was shoddy at best. I don’t have imagination when it comes to art stuff like this so I just made what I like; cats. They weren’t even nice looking cats. Dude said they look like troll heads. Ah well, at least everyone will know that the troll cat heads mug in the house mine.

So once everyone was done with their own mugs, we left the mugs at the studio to dry for three weeks. The studio will also glaze it and fire it in their kiln for us, which are part of the package. If we want personalised glazing with different colours, we could come back in three weeks and colour the pieces ourselves, for an additional payment of $10.

I hope that after the glazing and firing, my mug wouldn’t look so bad. I would love to go back and learn to do more things at the ceramic studio.