Food, Lamb

To New Beginnings – Moroccan Lamb Stew

Tomorrow is a new day for me as I begin my journey as a wife and partner to F, my dear husband-to-be. The past ten months has been quite a blur, to be honest – a sudden proposal, a career change, and now an upgrade from the current relationship status. In all honesty, I never thought this day would come. A morose piece back in 2016 saw myself questioning my life, my career and aspirations. As I start a new day tomorrow as a wife, it’s time I revive this site and make my love for food another chance.

This Moroccan Lamb Stew is a personal favourite dish of mine. The guests to my wedding to F would be receiving the harissa mix as a favour, and of course the most practical wedding favour would be a spice mix for my guests to cook with! Cut me some slack with the video cos I haven’t been in front of the camera for a long time.

Alternatively, feel free to save this recipe card and save it to your growing list of IG story recipe cards!

For the harissa:

1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
1 teaspoons ground caraway seeds

For couscous:

2 Cups Boiling Water
2 Cups Couscous
Celery Leaves for Garnish

Method:

  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper on a plate and coat the beef pieces.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven and brown beef evenly in batches.
  3. Pour off excess drippings.
  4. Sprinkle harissa over the beef.
  5. Add the carrot, garlic, ginger, water and beef stock. Add tomatoes.
  6. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and cook to 1 to 1 and a half hours.
  7. Add apricots and cook an additional 15 minutes on the stovetop.
  8. Meanwhile, boil 2 cups of water and mix with couscous.
  9. Stir couscous well and let the mixture sit until all the water is absorbed.
  10. Add in 2 tablespoons of butter and a pinch of salt and stir well.
  11. Serve with couscous and garnish with celery sprigs and serve with harissa.

 

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Recipes from the Heart

Kurious Kravings for Kway Teow Goreng

I have this bad habit of just cooking whatever I am craving for instead of buying it off from a shop somewhere, just like a normal person does. But you know what, it’s worth it and it has paid off because as tedious as it is to cook it on my own, there’s an immense sense of satisfaction when it gets in my tummy. Call me crazy, but trust me when I say there are other people worse than me.

As of late, a few of my friends who just got their new homes or recently changed their status to being a wife or having to manage a household have requested that I share or teach them how to cook because I seem to make cooking so easy. Not forgetting the few friends who have personally requested that I live with them just so I can cook for them on a daily basis. I make a great Couchsurfer by the way cos I’d be willing to wake up early just to make a delicious breakfast for y’all.

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So for you guys who don’t follow me on Instagram, here’s my twist to Kway Teow Goreng. Nothing fancy, but really just enough to fulfil them cravings and keeping it at bay.

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Method:

  1. Boil a kettle of water. Place kway teow noodles in a big bowl. Once water has come to a boil, pour the water over the kway teow and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Drain the water away and set aside.
  2. Heat about 5 tablespoons of oil in a wok on medium heat. Add in onion and fry for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add in ginger and garlic and fry for another 3 minutes.
  4. Add in chilli paste and continue frying until the spice mix is tempered for about 5-8 minutes.
  5. Add in chicken, let it cook for a further 5 minutes before adding the squid and fish cake.
  6. Add in the drained kway teow and oyster sauce, light soy sauce and kicap manis.
  7. Stir well. Add in chives.
  8. Serve with fried egg and limau kasturi.
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Uncategorized

Eid as a Struggling Single Twenty-Something

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As a child, I used to love celebrating Eid. I dreaded the fasting month of Ramadhan but I looked forward to new clothes, eating scrumptious rendang and ketupat, and of course, for many Asian kids – the collection of green packets filled with dollar dollar bills. Apart from visiting close relatives on the first day of Eid, you get to spend another day in Syawal with your closest friends from school visiting their houses.

It was kinda cool to bring your friends over when you were ten years old, dressed in the traditional baju kurung going around the neighbourhood and coming home at the end of the day with your bag bursting with green packets. You would know which house gave the envelope, and if you get at least $5 from that house, you’re definitely going back there again the year after.

As I grew older, however, the enjoyment of Eid started to fade away. At fifteen, I despised celebrating Eidulfitri. Eidulftri would be torturous for me since I had to appeased my newly divorced parents – I couldn’t spend more than 2 hours at my dad’s place or I’ll never hear the end of my mum’s wrath. My sisters were busy with their own families, making sure they visit the in-laws before making their way to my mum’s. And for some reason, you start not liking your relatives. I remember bursting out at my sister for coming so late int the afternoon and my make up was already ruined from the frustration of waiting around. The first day of Eid as a hormonal teenager was basically me playing the waiting game.

Eid started to change as I entered my twenties. While it was still as boring as when I was a teenager, I began to prepare the house the house willingly. I bought flowers, new cushion covers, and occasionally curtains to slowly make the house into a home. I volunteered help in the kitchen, making sure I picked up my mum’s recipes to her signature Eid dishes and perfecting them. I made cookies and sweet treats to offer to the guests coming over to my place and made sure there were all sorts of drinks available for them.

As much as I wish Eid is better now as I enter my mid-twenties, I realised that an awkward Eid is a common predicament between peers of my age. Perhaps it’s the having to part with copious amounts of money during the festive period – spending for the house and family, green packets for the little ones, awkward conversations with aunts and uncles who seem to nitpick on every aspect of your life. Or maybe it has got to do with spending Eid as a single woman, wondering when you’d be able to prepare for Eid excitedly for your kids and husband. Whatever the reason is, Eid as a struggling single twenty something is just plain boring.

I make do with baking cookies, cakes and occasionally help my mum prepare the traditional dishes we feast on the morning of Eid. House chores like literally scrubbing the floors get my mind off the fact that each Eid is the same as before – lonesome and boring. I try getting away from celebrating Eid by going to work, but I feel bad for my mum. Though to be honest, I’m quite happy working while everyone else celebrates.

One day, I’ll wake up on the morning of Eid excited to head to the mosque, dress my family up and head out for the rounds of visiting. One day, I’ll learn to appreciate the merry-making and spamming of family photos on Facebook and Instagram. One day, I’ll teach my daughter how to prepare the raya dishes and get my son to wash the windows and fix the curtains up. One day, I’ll be on my knees on the morning of Eid, with my head buried in my husband’s hand, asking for forgiveness and perhaps shedding a tear or two.

One day, that happy family portrait of mine will be hung on my wall just in time for Eid.

For now, I’ll be contented with spending the morning of Eid at home, with a cup of coffee and a bowl of lontong, watching reruns of Bujang Lapok on the telly with my three cats.

Eid Mubarak everyone.

 

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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Chocolate Never Disapppoints

The thing about keeping up with social media is that you tend to go through everything you wrote or uploaded in the past decade or so. While things I’ve written in my adolescence have since been buried, I think I only grew up in the last three years or so.

I used to write a lot. I wrote my heart out. I wrote my mind out. Writing kept me sane and my mind vibrant. I was always on a verbal diarrhoea. Writing was my way of communicating, even as a child. I was always told to keep my mouth shut, so I turned to writing. As I grew older however, I learned to keep quiet – even in my writing.

You see, I discovered photography. I discovered that life will always be throwing rotten lemons and tomatoes at you. I realised that no one really gives a hoots ass about what you have to say. Whatever struggles or cause you’re fighting for, there will be others who say you’re in no position to say the things you write about. I just gave up with writing because I could not deal with the naysayers.

Photographs, on the other hand, are amazing. They say a picture says a thousand words, which means with all of my photos combined, I would have published 10 papers or perhaps 3 novels. In another life, I could be a children’s book author if I had not been told that my stories were too wild, imaginative and far fetched without a local context (this happened to me when I was eight). In another life I could have been a journalist, if I had not been told that I don’t fit the bill as one. In another life, I would not have been the me I am today.

Perhaps I will continue disappointing those around me, or maybe I was meant for the thug life. Nothing good ever comes easy, am I right? I’m far from the success I want for myself. It’s not fair for someone else to tell me that I’m done and or that I should slow down. I will walk even faster, run if I must (though I literally hate running), just to prove a point that nothing good ever comes easy, and that time truly heals all wounds.

Just when we think we’ve figured things out, the universe throws us a curveball. So we have to improvise. We find happiness in unexpected places. We find our way back to the things that matter the most. The universe is funny that way. Sometimes it just has a way of making sure we wind up exactly where we belong.

– Grey’s Anatomy

I do find happiness in unexpected places. Some places, morbid. Others, bright and cheery. Whatever curveball the universe sends to me, I’ll be ready in a heartbeat.

Very Fudgy Chocolate Muffins

Adapted from Bright Eyed Baker

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Ingredients

2 cups plain flour

1 cup natural cocoa powder, sifted

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs plus 1 egg yolk

1 1/4 cups caster sugar

1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil (I used coconut oil)

1 1/2 cups sour cream (I used 1 1/2 cups milk with 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar)

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

10 1/2 ounces chocolate chips and/or chopped chocolate (I didn’t measure the amount of chocolates I used!)

Method

  1. Beat oil, sugar and vanilla together till fluffy.
  2. Add in eggs and yolk, gradually.
  3. Add in all the dry ingredients except for the chocolates, and alternate with the sour cream.
  4. Beat until well combined.
  5. Add in chocolate chips and mix well.
  6. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  7. Serve with ice cream!
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Food, Recipes from the Heart

Sea Salt Chocolate Tart

I miss baking. I had to force myself to get off my lazy arse to bake this. And that’s only because I had chocolates and some cream lying around in the fridge which I had to use before the expiry date. I’ve been very productive with my photography business, and I cannot thank God enough for making it happen for me.

If you noticed, I uploaded a few of my older articles onto this blog. I figured rather than let the articles go to waste, I should be letting you all read them! Sigh, blogging is so much more difficult now that there’s Instagram and Twitter. Wait, do people even use Facebook anymore?

This shall be a really quick post because as much I would love to share what’s been going on for me, I think I’ll let the photos do the talking again. Have fun with this recipe! It was major yums anyways.

Sea Salt Chocolate Tart

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Tart base (Taken from BBC Good Food)

225g plain flour

100g unsalted butter

A pinch of salt

3 tbsp cold water

  1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  2. Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp water and mix to a firm dough.
  3. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.

Chocolate filling (Adapted from Jamie Oliver)

300g double cream

2 tsp caster sugar

A pinch of fine sea salt

200g 70% chocolate

  1. Heat the oven to 180 deg.
  2. Roll out the pastry made earlier onto a floured surface.
  3. Cover with baking paper, fill with dried beans and bake blind for 10-15 minutes, remove beans and bake again for 15 minutes until golden.
  4. Put the cream, sugar and salt in a pan and bring to the boil.
  5. Remove as soon as the mixture boils up.
  6. Off the heat, add the butter and chocolate. Stir until blended.
  7. Pour the chocolate onto the tart, and chill at room temperature for 2 hours before refrigerating it.
  8. Chill overnight. Sprinkle sea salt before serving.
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Musings

The One on Body Acceptance

“Do you know Shams?”

“Oh you mean the big, tall and loud girl? Yeah I know her.”

Big, tall and loud – that has become my identifier since I can ever remember. I grew up larger than most of my peers, and even as a child, I was bound to stand out from the rest. I never let it get to my head that the way I looked was more important than the person I am – that is until I hit puberty.

At thirteen, I grew a lot taller all of a sudden. My body developed way too quickly for my mind to adapt to. Boys and peer acceptance started to change the way I looked at myself. I was more conscious of my body, particularly how much I weigh and why I had a bigger built than my friends. I began hating the way I looked and starved my body of the nutrients I needed. For a short period of my adolescence, I kept a secret from everyone I knew – I was bulimic.

For a year, I coped with my parents’ divorce by vomiting out whatever I ate. I would not finish my food and run to the washroom after each meal on the pretext that my teeth hurt from my newly fixed braces. Truth is, I wanted to fit in and look like pretty like my skinny friends in school. I wanted a size 2 figure and long legs that never seem to end. I wanted to look like the models that graced magazine covers. I wanted a 24-inch waist so I could buy that pair of jeans everyone else in school had. I wanted to be everyone else but myself.

It was only when I realized that my bulimia was affecting my canoeing training that I stopped depriving my body of the nutrients and calories I need. I began focusing on my training and working out, supposedly losing weight the healthy way. At fifteen, I was at my fittest and slimmest. Then again, I still had people calling me fat, thick and big behind my back. And I still wasn’t happy.

Then at seventeen, I emotionally ate my way through junior college. I gained back all the weight I lost, with no regrets at all. Life was at a stand still through out the two years because I was just focusing on getting over with the A level exams. It was only when I was due to enter university at nineteen that I realized; I need to start taking care of myself.

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At my biggest in 2009/2010

I began loving my body by loving myself. I started treating my body like a temple (a mosque, if you prefer that analogy) and ate good food that no calories could be wasted on. Jamie Oliver keeps saying that if you want to eat, waste your calories only on good food made out of the freshest ingredients. I frequented the gym and did all sorts of sports activities from rock climbing, to Muay Thai to yoga. I challenged myself to push my physical limits by participating in marathons and scaling mountains. All I wanted to do was to be healthy and feel good.

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Gunung Ledang in 2010

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Conquering Kinabalu in June 2013

The past five years has had its fair share of ups and downs. I have had former partners telling me I was too fat for their liking so they had to leave me. I have had aunts and uncles telling me I did not fit in with the rest of the family because I was too tall and big. I have gotten my heart broken by people I loved because I did not fit the mould they call love.

The truth is, we live in a superficial world. We lust over beautiful images and we yearn for things that are almost impossible for us to achieve. We want to be surrounded by things that are only captivating to the eyes. We want to look like celebrities and wear what they are wearing. We so badly want to be accepted by society.

It took a long time to love myself but I had to. I want to empower women who were facing the same struggles as me. I want to let other women know that they were not fighting this battle themselves. I want them to know that the way they look does not matter, nor does the size of their dress or the number on the scale.

It is their heart that matters.

“Take advantage of five matters before five other matters: your youth, before you become old; and your health, before you fall sick; and your richness, before you become poor; and your free time before you become busy; and your life, before your death.”

Narrated by Ibn Abbas and reported by Al Hakim

Battling with body image issues may be your jihad and the test Allah has given you to heighten your faith in Him. Take that step to improve your health for the His sake so that you can use your time wisely to be a useful member of the ummah.

This goes out to my fellow big and beautiful sisters who may or may not be heartbroken simply because of the way they look:

“A woman is married for four reasons, i.e., her wealth, her family status, her beauty and her piety. So you should marry the pious woman otherwise you will be losers.”

Narrated by Abu Huraira, in Sahih al-Bukhari & Muslim

Beauty is after all, in the eye of the beholder. Love yourself, and love will come to you, inshaAllah.

This article was first published on The Shawl Label’s Sisterhood Project.

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