Cherry’s Little Kitchen

Food and Travel

Loving new flavours....

I moved to Singapore for five years after growing up on an island fishing village in Philippines. I hadn't experienced any dishes of other cultures. My dad was a fisherman so we survived on everyday seafood and rice.  As long as we had garlic, salt, and pepper!  We were very lucky to have soy sauce!

My first month in Singapore was the greatest challenge. I worked for a very religious and wealthy Indian family and I struggled with the new foods. I couldn't take these Dahls, Sai bajhi, Kichdhi, and other weird looking dishes.

After a few months of tasting and trying, Indian food became my favourite. I grew to love this food! I began to appreciate the spices and the fully rich flavours.  I also loved watching how they prepared their food.

I finally visited India in 2010 and lived there for six months. The family I worked for were doing a "Rasayana", or life rejuvination, at the Ayurveda Health Centre in Bangalore. We stayed at the Ayurveda Centre for three months.  The entire place was surrounded by herbs and trees that I had never seen before. Cinnamon, Eucalyptus, and all sort of nut trees, Ceylon teas and all different kind of herbs and spices were planted all over the place. I was so excited!  

(Rasayana is a traditional ayurveda therapy practiced to restore the vitality of your body to it's fullest capacity and to keep the body fit at any stage of life. Ancient Indian people used this therapy for individual body-constitution, a natural youthfulness, happiness, purity and inner growth. Interestingly, this practice is only effective when a person’s behavior is equally uplifting, their lifestyle is in harmony with nature, and the food and air they breathe is full of 'Prana.’)

Our first week session involved everything ranging from customized oil treatments, personal massages, custom-made meals, meditative practices, oral medication and supplements and herbal steams to various other hand-picked methods for delivering optimum care. 

According to Ayurveda, it is best to sip water throughout the day as opposed to drinking a lot at one time. Try sipping a small amount of warm or room temperature water during your meal instead of drinking excessively before or after. 

Practicing being a vegetarian for three months was one of my best experiences and drinking Indian Chai every morning and afternoon was absolutely divine.

 

 Indian Chai 

(serves 2-3)                                      

Ingredients:

3 tbsps. black tea

2 cups water

1cup whole milk

3 tsps. granulated sugar

3 cardamon pods

3 cloves  

2 star anise

small piece of cinnamon stick

half inch of ginger

 

Instructions:

1.) Bring water and milk to a simmer with the spices in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat to lowest setting and add tea and sugar.

2.) Steep until tea takes on a deep, pinky-tan colour, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Strain into a cup. Enjoy! 

 


Something sweet....

I love afternoon chai with a piece of cake 😘 here's some of my choice...

Pistachio and semolina cake

Ingredients:

1/2 cup pistachios,plus extra chopped to serve

1/2 cup LSA meal 

1 cup almond meal

1 cup semolina

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. ground cardamon

250 g unsalted butter, chopped, softened

1 cup caster sugar

4 eggs

1 lemon, zested+1tbsp juice

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract 

icing sugar for dusting(optional)

"For Syrup"

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 tbsp. water

 

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 180 degree celcius. Grease a 16x24cm baking tin with a baking paper.

2. Process pistachios in a food processor finely. Transfer to a bowl and stir in LSA meal, almond meal, semolina, baking powder and cardamon.

3. Process butter and sugar in food processor until smooth and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and process briefly until just combined. Fold in nut mixture, zest, lemon juice, vanilla until just combined. Spread batter into pan and smooth the surface. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden and cooked when tested with a skewer.

4. To make a syrup, stir sugar ,lemon juice and water  in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Simmer for 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.Remove from heat.

5. Remove cake from the oven and immediately drizzle with hot syrup.Set aside to cool.

6. To serve, remove cake from baking tin, cutting the edges are not necessary.Cut cake into squire pieces, sprinkle the extra pistachios and dust with icing sugar.

Super moist and super delicious.)

Chocolate Flan

 

INGREDIENTS FOR THE CAKE PART:

1 cup sugar

1 cup all- purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa 

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup boiling water

 

INGREDIENTS FOR FLAN:

200ml condensed milk (about half of the can)

187ml evaporated milk (about half of the can)

3 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup cream cheese

INGREDIENTS FOR CARAMEL:

1 cup brown sugar

1/4 water

DIRECTIONS:

1.) Preheat oven 180 degree celcius. In a heavy baking dish, fill it with water about 1/2-1 inch and put in the oven, making sure the chocolate flan mold or pan could fit in the dish that you're using.

2.) Prepare your caramel , add sugar and water in a saucepan on medium heat. When it starts to bubbles stir it with chopstick until the sugar dissolves and sauce start to ticken about 5-8 minutes. When the caramel is ready, pour this into your prepared cake pan, make sure the base are all coated. Set aside.

3.) In the large bowl stir sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add egg, milk, oil and vanilla and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and mix until it's smooth. Pour evenly into the prepared cake pan.

4.) For the flan, blend all the ingredients; evaporated milk, condensed milk, eggs, vanilla extract and cream cheese until smooth. Strain and pour them evenly over the chocolate cake batter.

5.) Cover the cake pan with aluminum foil and put into the center of the pre-heated heavy dish. Allow to cook for 1 hour and 30 minutes.

6.) Check when its cook using toothpick if it comes out clean. Now, uncover and allow to cool.

7.) Use knife to loosen the edges. Place a plate on top and flip it over.

 

 

Life in Mumbai

Moving to a place like Mumbai after living in the tranquil Ayurveda Retreat in Bangalore was absolutely shocking. It was different in every way.  The noise pollution was extreme but once I was used to it, I didn't mind it. In fact, I came to love Mumbai. I spent nearly a month in the city of Colaba and realized that there was so much more to discover. The culture, the heritage, arts and crafts, bazaars and the food. All around the city were small stalls selling flowers and garlands for puja (prayer). Eye-catching colors were everywhere with ladies in their sarees (Indian traditional dress) and dupatta (scarf).

Rail is the most popular and quickest way of commuting in Mumbai and is by far the best way to see the real India. Not surprisingly, the trains were extremely overcrowded, the doors constantly had passengers hanging out and their roofs were also fully occupied. From the moment I was on board, the whole experience was intense, confronting and uncomfortable but colourful, exciting and wonderful at the same time.

(Credit to my guide and Kewalram Chanrai Group).

Three months wasn't long enough but I learnt many things and added many more spices to my Indian cooking. There were so many mutton and lamb dishes that had complementary spices to bring out the best flavours of the meat. One such dish was classic slow cooked Karahi Gosht; a slow cooked lamb with fresh tomatoes, ginger, chillies and garam masala.

 

Karahi Gosht

(4-6 serves)

INGREDIENTS:

1kg lamb legs

5 garlic roughly chopped

11/2" ginger roughly chopped

4 tbl vegetable oil

500g red tomato thinly sliced

200g red onions thinly sliced

1tsp chilli powder

salt to taste

3tbl greek yoghurt

2tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1tsp black cumin seeds coarsely crushed

1tsp black pepper

1/4 tsp garam masala

2 green chillies

1tbl chopped coriander

1tbl chopped mint

1/2" ginger slivers for garnish(optional)

METHOD:

1.  Add lamb to a mixing bowl. Mince the ginger-garlic and add to the lamb. Mix evenly by hand and set aside for 2 hours or overnight if you have time.

2.  Heat the oil in the heavy bottom large saucepan on a medium heat. Add marinated lamb shanks, fry for 5 minutes, stirring to seal. Add tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes. Add onions chilli powder and stir well cooking further 5 minutes . Season to taste. Lower the heat, simmer for 45 minutes with the lid on. Stirring occasionally.

3. Add the greek yoghurt to a small bowl along with coriander, cumin, black pepper and turmeric, then mix well. Add this to the cooking pan. Gently stir and continue simmering on a low heat with the lid half over the pan for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

4. Turn the heat off. Add garam masala and garnish with coriander and mint leaves. Serve with basmati rice.  Enjoy while its warm.

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