My ultra random food cravings make it impossible for me to stick to a specific diet. Some days it’s pork belly and other days, cacio e pepe (love love love carbs).
The two times that I tried, was only because of my desperate measure to lose weight (the flab glides on once you turn 30 mind you)! In 2014, it was a 5 day juice cleanse (it involved 7am hot yoga every morning too) and in 2015, I went bonkers attempting the terrifying 10-day Mastercleanse (a colon clearing ritual that consisted of sustaining on a very intriguing type of lemonade – lemon juice, maple syrup, cayenne pepper and apple cider vinegar).
Only lesson I learnt from those times is balance and moderation. Too much of anything is never any good. Even if it is a super food. Take rice for example. Nutritionists may tell you brown rice trumps white rice but then brown rice is supposedly arsenic too. But before you go back to white rice, you find out it is not any better because it has a high glycemic index (GI) and would increase your risk of diabetes.
Don’t even get me started on gluten. ‘Gluten-free’ is suddenly the way to go even if you do not have celiac disease. News flash everyone; a gluten-free diet does not mean you are healthier. You might be saying no to many vitamins, minerals and fibre that are found in the whole grains you’re so busy avoiding. I say this only because I too, went through a brief phase, looking to eliminate gluten in my life. Of course I failed terribly because I love bread too damn much.
Food is a way of life, and more than anything else, the focus should be on whether you’re putting nourishing foods into your body. Call it clean eating, or healthy eating if you may, but it simply means preparing more food yourself. And though Daryl and I both have 9 to 5 jobs, we try our very best to cook more. Weekdays are more challenging, therefore we sometimes compensate by cooking more on the weekends. And we have been busy at it!
Last weekend, it was my turn to play chef. I pale in comparison to him, but I try my very best. I thought hard about what my menu was going to be. Decadent or wholesome? Mediterranean or Asian? It took me a week to finalise my dishes because two of my friends had dietary restrictions. One was a pescatarian and another, a lacto-vegetarian (in case you’re wondering, that means yes to milk and yoghurt but no to eggs, no to cheese with rennet and of course, meat and seafood). At the end of the day, my inner green domestic goddess revealed herself quite naturally despite the initial fretting of how I was to work within my limitation (because duh, I really do love my meats!) 😉
I just made the entire meal vegetarian, in order not to alienate my lovely friends.
Appetisers were sweet potato fries (hand-cut mind you), hummus (hand-soaked, hand-peeled, hand-made…. yes my hands were quite involved) and greek bruschetta.
Freshly boiled chickpeas is the way to go if you’re looking for that delicious thick creamy texture that’s reminiscent of the traditional Arabic style hummus. Which means, prep starts about a day earlier. The chickpeas have to be soaked overnight before boiling. For extra creaminess, throw in some bicarbonate soda in your soaking water. That allows the skin to separate easily. Hummus is basically a combination of boiled chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, garlic cloves, ground cumin, sumac, and olive oil. And you salt it to taste. Everything goes into the blender (but not before the ardous task of washing/peeling the skins off!). You don’t really need a recipe with hummus because it’s that easy. But here’s a rough guide of the ratio I used: 500g dry chickpeas, 250g tahnini, juice of 2 lemons, 2 garlic cloves, chopped, a dash of ground cumin and sumac. Add however much olive oil you want. You need it to make the paste wet enough for the blender to whirr smoothly.
Psst. The basil in the bruschetta was plucked from our very fragrant basil plant!
The main course – Tofu mushroom summer noodles were a hit and you can see how much Tanvi (the lacto-vegetarian) loved it.
Dessert was a simple summer berry chocolate chia seed pudding.
Five dishes, and four happy friends later, I think I have unlocked a personal achievement. My inner Donna Hay has come out to play. And if you like to join me, drop me an email at email@example.com because I want to seriously start a supperclub of sorts. No more talking about it. It’s time to put my whisk, ladle, spatula ya-da, ya-da where my pot and pan is!
Everyone tends to get highly superficial when it comes to things that go into their mouths. Just like natural selection in the human world, the selection of foods we consume has alot to do with colours.
Come on, there’s no need to deny the fact that you like good-looking food. We all do. It helps that the curry chicken is of a fiery orange red hue, and the punnet of strawberries, a deep crimson red. Foods have colours attached to them. You wouldn’t expect a chocolate brownie to be green would you? Likewise, I don’t think you’d be expecting a green steak when you order a medium rare ribeye.
However, it is fun to expect different colours when you know it’s a food that’s fun and cool. A food like onde onde.
We all know onde onde and most of us like it because of the oozing molten gula melaka (palm sugar) that squirts out if we bite too hard. Made out of glutinous rice flour, these mini balls usually come in green. But the green is usually not from natural colouring.
Onde onde is something that I love making because you get to see the balls developing from being a mere dough to something soft and sticky and filled with sweet lava. Ever since I came across an onde onde recipe that used sweet potatoes, I got hooked. Adding sweet potatoes to your onde onde dough just gives it a softer bite. The texture is pleasant and not so tough on your jaws – you need not chew as if it was bubble gum.
The previous times that I made these sweet potato onde onde, I used the traditional sweet potato we all know and love – the orange ones.
Orange onde onde seems to be passe because I’ve discovered how cool it’ll be to have purple onde onde. The most amazing thing is that it’s au naturel.
If orange sweet potatoes give you orange onde onde then purple sweet potatoes gives you purple sweet potatoes no? hahaha… yes, it’s quite obvious.
These sweet potatoes are really purple mind you. Purple on the outside and purple on the inside:
I kid you not! I didn’t dye these potatoes. They’re just purple by nature.
Purple happens to be my favourite colour and you should have seen the look on my face when I saw how beautiful the shade of purple was…
As purple as can be, and as purple as grapes and my retainer box.
Try as I might, I couldn’t shake off that look of awe on my face as I mashed the potatoes before adding them to the glutinous rice flour.
Trust me, there was no drop of artificial colouring. None, zilch, zero! Just 100% purple sweet potato.
After mixing the mashed up purple sweet potatoes with the flour, you’ll get a lovely purple dough which you roll into balls, stuff with gula melaka and boil in a pot of boiling water until it floats. Then you take them out and coat them with grated coconut, like so:
You’ll have to agree with me on this one, even if you’re not a fan of the colour purple – these onde onde are special aren’t they? Damn, the colour’s so cool! I know I sound like a fascinated school girl but hey, it’s not everyday you get to have natural purple coloured onde onde…
Seriously, I’m still amazed at the possibilities that await these coloured foods. I’m contented with my purple onde onde for now. Let’s see what else I can play around with… *rubs hands together in anticipation*…
Go here for the onde onde recipe.