Saturday, March 28, 2009

Briyani Rice

I contributed this recipe for a vegan magazine which was featuring some Indian cuisine. This is a rice dish from Hyderabad that has influenced South Indian cuisine. Mainly cooked with basmati rice, this dish is almost always made with ghee (clarified butter) and spiced with cinnamon, cardamom and various aromatics. In Singapore, pandan leaves (screwpine leaves) are added. This is purely a southeast asian influence and is not traditional Indian herb.


1.5 tablespoon of canola/olive oil

35g raw cashew nuts, split lengthwise

15g raisins (optional)

2 inch cinnamon stick (abt 2g)

5 cardamon pods

5 cloves

1 star anise

2 bay leaf (optional)

1 blade of pandan (screwpine leaf) (optional)

1 stalk coriander, chopped

1 stalk mint, chopped

25g onion, sliced

15g garlic, grind into a paste

15g ginger, grind into a paste

1 green chilli, split lengthwise

100g tomatoes, diced

275g basmatic rice, washed and soaked in water for 15 mins

450ml water

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 pinch of saffron, steeped in a 1 tbsp of hot water

1 teaspoon rose water


1)  Heat the oil in a pot (big enough to cook rice in). Fry the cashews until golden brown. Remove from heat.

2) Fry the raisins next in the same oil. Once the raisins start to puff, remove them quickly to prevent burning.

3) In the remaining oil, add cinnamon, cardamom, clove, star anise, bay leaf, pandan, mint and coriander. Sauté in the oil until the spices release fragrance.

4) Add the onions next.  Sauté until golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger paste, tomatoes and chilli. Continue to sauté until the tomatoes disintegrate and the ginger and garlic paste is cooked.

5) Add the basmati rice to the mixture in the pot. Mix the basmati rice with the mixture until it is coated. Fry the rice in the pot for about 1 to 2 mins. Stir gently to prevent breaking of the rice and sticking to the bottom.

6)  Add the water and the salt. Close the pan. Leave it on low heat and let the rice cook.  When the rice has absorbed most of the water, pour in the saffron water and rose water. Add the cashews and raisins. Stir gently, scrapping the bottom.

7)  Close the pan and continue the low heat and let the rice absorb the water completely. Remove from heat. 

Note: Different grades of basmati rice needs different amounts of water. Please check package instructions. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cupcakes for People Association's Branding Exercise

This was a cupcake order that came through a friend as well for PA. There was a five colour and five value theme for this, so I had to wreck my brains to get this going properly. Altogether there were 120 cupcakes.

Strawberry Cake

This was a cake order from one of my friends, who I must thank for her continued support. She wanted a strawberry cake and so since the Korean strawberries were in season, I used them to make this cake. Nearly all 300g of strawberries went into this cake. 

Cupcakes for Bangle Ceremony

This was a cupcake order for a bangle ceremony. I did some drop flowers with leaves on the cupcakes. The wordings were as requested by the bride-to-be. 

Veg Travel -Vietnam

Okie... I've not been conscientious this month when it comes to blogging. Call it a seemingly busy month with assignments, cake orders and of course a week long trip to lovely Ho Chi Minh city. :) Hubby and I decided to break away from our comfort zone and do a backpacking trip to Vietnam. The initial plan was to go to Hanoi but since there are no daily flights there, we decided on Ho Chi Minh instead. I think perhaps, that was a good move because we found out later that South Vietnamese were generally nicer and genuine as compared to the North. (Based on travel research and talking to people on the trip). 

Though initally we approached HCM with trepidation,we had a blast renting a motorbike and touring the city with the millions of motorcycles on the road. HCM is a bustling city with over 5 million motorbike population. Of cos' this is a dream for hubby who is an avid motorcyclist. For once, we don't have to worry about cars on the road, and motorcycles rule the streets! This picture shows hubby trying to negotiate a turn on a super busy road!

We also visited quite a few places in HCM itself. The reunification palace, war remnants museum, ben than market, jade emperor pagoda and mariamman temple were some of the stops. Not to mention, we also took day trips to the Mekong delta, Cao Dai temple and Chu Chi Tunnels. Each trip was interesting and equally fascinating. In particular, we enjoyed our time at the famed Chu Chi Tunnels. Even though we had read scary reviews about it, its nothing compared to the actual experience. The tunnels are so small that I had to walk bowed while hubby had to do the 'duck' walk. The tunnels are also pitch black and initially there is an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia and panic. But once we calmed ourselves down, it was easier to go through the tunnel. It helped that we brought along a torchlight as well! Despite us just sampling 20m, it was a tiring experience! 

Hubby entering the tunnel

Picturesque Mekong Delta

Cai Dao Temple - A made in Vietnam religion

Vegetarian food was easy to come by in Ho Chi Minh city itself. However, when we went for day trips, we could not get veg food as easily. We do believe it could be because the tour company is not keen to make the necessary arrangements. This was the first time me and hubby had Vietnamese food and they have an interesting and healthy cuisine. All Vietnamese meal came with a serving of fresh vegetables on the side, such as beansprouts, spinach, banana flowers, basil and other herbs. It was a refreshing change from the heavy, spicy food we are used too. However, call it the Indian in me, after a couple of days, we grew a little tired of the rice noodles ;)

Some of the dishes we had :)

Lotus Rice

Baked Potato Skin with Cheese and Cauliflower

Tacos with Vietnamese Tea in the background

Fried Chilli Rice with some mock meat

Hue Noodles

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Vegan Almond Cookies

These cookie recipe is courtesy of Gina from KC. The cookies contains ground almonds and it is made with oil. Completely vegan and tastes really good. 

Recipe: (Courtesy of Gina)

100g flour
40g icing sugar, sifted
70 g almonds meal, dry roasted in a pan.
70ml corn oil


1) Add dry ingredients to a bowl.
2) Add the oil. Mix well with a fork until the dough comes together. If it is a little wet, add a tiny bit of flour.
3) Shape as desired.
4) Bake 10 - 15 mins at 180 Degree Celsius

Soccer Cupcakes

I had an order for soccer cupcakes for a soccer crazy 13 year old boy. Chocolate and Oreo cupcakes with vanilla frosting tinted green for the grass effect. I used Wilton's 'grass' tip for this.