Rice, biryani style

If I had saffron water to drizzle over the rice after cooking, and if I had used cashew nuts instead of peanuts, this would be a more authentic biryani. Well, whatever “authentic” means considering that biryani is found in the cuisines of more than a dozen countries, including the Philippines, and none is exactly the same as another. But I didn’t have saffron and cashew nuts so I had to content myself with calling this dish a biryani-style rice. At any rate, a lot of the traditional spices that go into cooking biryani went into this dish.

Rice, biryani style

The idea and procedure I got from Malaysian cook Sherson Lian who hosts 5 Rencah 5 Rasa on Asian Food Channel. I liked the way he sauteed everything in a pan then transferred all the ingredients to the rice cooker. Modern and practical cook, I thought. That’s exactly how I did my arroz blanco and arroz amarillo — never mind purists screaming that you have to do it in a pot over burning wood or something. What the heck, eh? It is 2012, after all. »

Southeast Asian food at Banana Leaf


My mother had been wanting to treat us to lunch-merienda-dinner for the longest time but finding a day when the girls would be free turned out to be a challenge. Weekends are already tight, it's almost the end of the term and the pig out date had to be rescheduled several times. Last weekend was a long one, we picked a day … »

Pulled pork curry with paratha


I've never had curry this good. Seriously. And just as Speedy was saying how bored he was with curried stews, I served this for lunch today and all he could say was how delicious it was.What is it?It is a curried dish, obviously. But, instead of a wet stew, you have a dry stew. The pork is pre-cooked, shredded … »

Roti John


When Speedy saw Bobby Chin making Roti John in an episode of Cafe Asia, he promised he'd make Roti John at home. And he did.A popular hawker food in Malaysia and Singapore, Roti John is a sandwich and omelet in one. Beef, eggs, chopped shallots and chili paste are stirred together and spread on a split French baguette. … »

Congee is rice porridge is arroz caldo


Last Thursday, Speedy and I were at the market. There was one stall selling premature chicken eggs (if we had left the house earlier, there would have been more stalls selling them but these things sell like hot cakes and I was lucky to still find some in that one stall) and I grabbed half a kilo. Not half a kilo of eggs … »

Sambal fried rice


Sambal is a chili-based sauce. It is found in the cuisine of many Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. To make sambal, chilis are crushed with other spices, sometimes with shrimps and fish, and ground to a paste.To make this fried rice, I combined sambal oelek (available in … »

Purple Cane Tea, Kuala Lumpur

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It's summertime in the Philippines. With most school children on their two-month break, many families take a vacation at this time of the year. Some go to their home towns; others fly out of the country to discover new places and experiences.Because of its proximity and lack of visa requirement, Malaysia is a popular … »

Old town mountain coffee

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I initiated a weekly habit in my family. Every Saturday night, we dine in a restaurant in town. A way of getting to know our neighborhood, really. We've been living in Antipolo for nine years and we're still unfamiliar with many of the establishments. We were once true-blue city folk, after all, and it hasn't been easy … »

In Penang: coconut tarts


Just about anywhere that the coconut plant thrives, one finds the coconut as an important part of the cuisine. Coconut milk and cream, for instance, are found in dishes native to the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, some parts of Africa and the Caribbean. And the similarities of some dishes are really … »

Siew pau, not siopao


In Penang, we stopped at a food store and, out front, on display were newly baked breads. One of them was called siew pau.I bought a few pieces and we ate them in the taxi on the way back to the pier. Delicious. The curious thing is how much siew pau sounds like siopao. Yet, the siew pau is baked and the bread is flaky … »