Thursday, 30 August 2007

Celebrating 50 Years of Nationhood

Today is a momentous day to all Malaysians as Malaysia celebrates her Golden Jubilee. Malaysia's 50th year of independence is the grandest celebration that marks a significant milestone in the history of the nation that has a unique multicultural populace living in peace and harmony.

It’s sad that I have missed the one month celebration of spectacular and colourful events throughout the nation in conjunction with the Independence Day. Whatever it is, may I take this great opportunity to wish Malaysia and Malaysians scattered around the globe a very happy Merdeka Day.

Merdeka!!! Merdeka!!! Merdeka!!!

More details on the National Day Celebration

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Think Spice...Think Cumin

Guess what the second most popular spice is after black pepper. The answer is, CUMIN, the ancient spice that dates back to the Old Testament.

Cumin is a small dried fruit of an annual plant in the parsley family. Yes, it is a fruit and not a seed as how we have been calling it; cumin seeds. It is also often confused with caraway seeds that are milder to the taste, darker in colour, and smaller in size. Cumin is yellowish-brown in colour, uniformly elliptical and deeply furrowed. It is crescent-shaped, tapering at each extremity and at times, with tiny stalks attached.


Cumin is an aromatic spice with a distinctive, pungent, powerful, sharp and a slightly bitter flavour. The flavour is accentuated by toasting. It has a strong, warm and a spicy-sweet aroma. This is due to its 2.5 to 4% essential oil content. By storing it in an airtight container and placing in a cool, dry area, away from light, the flavour and aroma can be retained for up to six months.

Cumin can be used whole or ground into powder. Though native to the Mediterranean, it is a must in Indian, Mexican, Asian, Northern African, Middle Eastern and Latin American cooking. Cumin is also a key component in chilli powder, curry powder and garam masala. It is even burned with woods to smoke cheeses and meats. Cumin should be used with restraint as it can exclude all the other flavours in a dish.

With its digestive properties, cumin is the best appetizer of all the condiments. It is valuable in dyspepsia diarrhoea and hoarseness, and may relieve flatulence and colic. Being a high source of iron, it increases lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy. As a natural way, cumin is also believed to increase breast size. The Romans and the Greeks used it medicinally and cosmetically to induce a pallid complexion.

As my entry to the Think Spice Event, I am introducing cumin to the classic and easy Italian pesto sauce.

Cumin Spinach Pesto Pasta

What do we need:

1 cup pasta

1 bunch spinach
1/3 cup toasted almonds
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp cumin


How do we do it:

Wash the spinach leaves thoroughly and drain the water. Set aside.

Boil a pot full of water with a generous amount of salt. Cook the pasta in the boiling water to al dente or until the time specified on the pasta package. When cooked, drain and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil and fry the cumin seeds for 10 seconds until aromatic. Add the spinach and sauté just until tender. Transfer the cooked spinach into a food processor. Add onion, garlic, toasted almonds and grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse a few times. Slowly pour the remaining olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor. Blend until thick paste forms.

Pour the pesto onto the pasta, toss and serve hot.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

The Return...........

I have now returned home in Switzerland. It has been 2 weeks already but I still have not well settled. Life is no more the same. I am now a mother of 2, a preschooler and a baby.

Minding 2 children and nursing a baby definately needs extra energy. I concocted an energy booster to start up my tough day.

Banana Chocolate Milk

What do we need:

1 cup chocolate milk, chilled
1 large banana
1/2 cup corn flakes

How do we do it:

Blend the banana with the chocolate milk until smooth and frothy. Fill a tall glass with corn flakes. Pour the banana chocolate milk onto it. Top with chocolate sauce if desired.

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