Archive | November, 2010

A Malaysian Thanksgiving

28 Nov

Happy belated Thanksgiving! As you might expect, Thanksgiving isn’t really celebrated in Malaysia (though I’m sure Malaysians would love a holiday that’s primarily about food), but Tom and I wanted to mark our first Thanksgiving overseas. Thanks to the large number of expats in KL, it was pretty easy to find all the fixin’s for a traditional feast. (They even have turkeys, although we opted for chicken due to size constraints.) Even better, I was able to figure out how to work the oven. (Not only is it in Celsius — thanks, Google conversions — but it has about five different settings, and you have to push some combination of buttons to get the thing to turn on.)

A little taste of home

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10 Nov

Not pretty, but pretty tasty.

Last Friday was the start of Deepavali, or Diwali, the (five-day) Hindu festival of lights, so I thought I’d do a post on murukku, a traditional Diwali food that I’d never heard of until I moved here. One of the radio stations had a PSA explaining the significance of Diwali, with the running joke being that the guy reading the script kept getting distracted by the murukku he was supposed to get afterwards. So it must be delicious, right? Tom brought this home from the office, and I was like, “Is that…MURUKKU?” Unfortunately, that’s only funny to people who have heard the PSA, which in my circle is just me and Tom.

Murukku is, indeed, delicious, though I don’t think it’s so irresistible that I wouldn’t be able to finish reading a paragraph about Diwali before diving in. (By the way, Diwali has the best holiday music ever. We went away for the long weekend and drove around a lot, and the radio was bumping with Bollywood-style Diwali songs. Beats the pants off of hearing “Sleigh Ride” for the 3,000th time.) It’s a mixture of rice and lentil flour with various Indian spices, extruded through a spaghetti-maker like thing and fried. It’s crunchy and savory and smells like the inside of a spice store or an Indian grocery. Great with beer. Not very photogenic, which is something a lot of Indian cuisine seems to suffer from.

If you’d like to give it a try, here’s a recipe, with much more appetizing photos. Be sure to let me know how it turns out!

Time to Eat the Doughnuts

9 Nov

J. Co is Indonesia’s answer to DuDo’s, offering delicious doughnuts and coffee with a uniquely Southeast Asian twist, which apparently means flavoring lots of things with avocado. (I actually don’t know if their coffee is any good, but I do know they have a avocado latte.)

Clockwise, from top left: Avocado DiCaprio, Kaya, Cheese Me Up, Mango Blitz, Miss Green T, Oreo

I got an assortment of the most intriguing flavors, including — yes — a cheese doughnut. (They also had cheese with chicken sausage, but there are some lines I just won’t cross.) First, a word about the doughnut “base” itself. I’m not usually a fan of store-bought doughnuts, because unless you’re lucky enough to be there at the moment they’re fried, they tend to be kind of soggy and greasy, and I really don’t like the hard frosting. Not with J. Co. I don’t think they’re fried at all, and they’re very light and fluffy, sort of like Krispy Kremes without all that glaze. The frosting had an appealingly soft texture, kind of like fresh royal icing.

Bafflingly, J. Co claims that their products are healthy. You know, antioxidants in the avocado frosting, and all that. And the cheese is from New Zealand, so it must be good for you! Here’s a play-by-play on these delicious, “nutritious” treats.

Avocado DiCaprio: Despite the violently green color of the frosting, it doesn’t taste much of avocado…until you get to the creamy center. If you’re the kind of weirdo who orders avocado bubble tea, or has made chocolate avocado frosting for a raw diet, you know that avocado and sweet is actually a pretty good combo.

Kaya: Kaya is a traditional Malaysian coconut spread, made by cooking coconut, sugar, and eggs into a kind of curd. The yellow blob in the middle of this doughnut tasted like coconut, but not much like kaya. Not what I expected.

Cheese Me Up: Yes, it really does taste like cheese. Processed cheese, to be exact. Like if you turned that “Gouda-flavored cheese food spread” into a goopy glaze. Not unpleasant, but not compelling enough to merit a second order. Maybe if it had chicken sausage on it?

Mango Blitz: Delicious! Light mango glaze with a whipped cream filling. The best part is that the glaze really tastes like mango, not mango jam or, as it usually is with fruit doughnuts, sugar.

Miss Green T: My favorite, if only because it’s green-tea-flavored. Surprisingly intense green tea flavor in the frosting. I wonder if the slimming properties of green tea outweigh the effects of eating doughnuts?

Oreo: It’s a doughnut covered in frosting with dark chocolate cookie crumbles. Not exactly a challenging flavor, but the crunch factor is good.

So the next time you’re swinging through Jakarta, KL, or Singapore, don’t forget to grab a dozen or so for the office. I’m sure people would love the cheese flavor.