Category | Journal of Journeys

Indian Tapas Recipe

Posted on 09 September 2017 by admin

This third article on Indian Tapas will share simply, one of our favourite localised recipe. In the meantime, here are some to try at home whilst inviting friends over:

  • Tortilla Espanola – Spanish omelette with eggs, potatoes and onions
  • Huevos Rellenos de Atun – Devilled eggs with Tuna (sometimes with prawns)
  • Potatas Bravas – Blanched or fried potatoes with aioli sauce (and why not add in a sprinkle of Cajun or peperoni on top as well)
  • Aceitunas a la Madrilena – Herbed and spice red/ green olives
  • Banderillas – pickles, onions and peppers lined up prettily on a toothpick
  • Croquetas de Jamon – croquettes with chicken instead of ham bacon bits

 

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Evolution of Tapas, from Spain to the rest of the world!

Posted on 15 August 2017 by admin

The literal meaning of Tapas is “cover” or “coaster”.

According to legend, the story unfolds in Castille, Spain, the very land of the legendary Don Quixote. In those times, men would frequent taverns and drink red wine (did you know that the earliest archaeological evidence of wine production is in China in 7000 BC?).  Since there were flies around, food served in little plates were used to cover the glass of wine – which is where it derived its name from.

An alternative historical story recounts of King Alfonso X el Sabio (the Wise). He prohibited the serving of wine without an accompaniment of food to prevent drunkenness and misconduct. In the North of Spain, tapas is known as Pinchos – meaning stick – as the food is often on a stick.

Another story tells of how King Alfonso had stopped to rest in the town of Ventorillo del Chato during a long journey, and he ordered a glass of sherry. As there was a strong wind which blew dust in the air, he was served his glass of sherry covered by a slice of ham to prevent sand from contaminating the drink. The King liked it so much that he ordered seconds, exactly like the first, covered (tapa) with jamon.

Over time, the meaning of Tapas has evolved. Today it is widely known as an appetiser or snack which is consumed with a drink.

What about in Malaysia? The vision of bringing Indian street food to the elitist restaurants of the world have introduced a new breed of dishes in London, New York, Toronto and Sydney… and now, to Kuala Lumpur by our expert culinary chefs.

That is why, The Big Rajah himself, Dato’ Dr John William, went to Asia’s top restaurant in Bangkok (one of the top restaurants globally), to capture the essence and taste of the very best in the world and serve it to his countrymen back home.

In our next innovative series of food design, we will introduce our Indian Tapas Menu… all halal to the tickle the tastebuds of us Malaysians.

 

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Malaysian Tapas

Posted on 24 July 2017 by admin

Tapas – the delight of Malaysians. We are a nation spoiled with a wide array of selection when it comes to food. There are very few countries in the world that attest to such a buffet spread in our hotels and restaurants. Hence, we are quickly bored with a single type of food and we crave for variety. That makes buffets in Malaysia particular popular.

And here is where Tapas steps in.

With its origin in Spain, Tapas is an appetiser of snack taken with an evening drink. Traditional Spanish eateries offer tapas free of charge when a patron buys a drink and this fast-fading custom is still practiced in the North of Spain. Of course, this is music to our Malaysian ears – a variety of delicious Mediterranean food for FREE!

Today, “tapas” has taken the world by storm. One can go into a tapas bar in almost any developed country in the world. And tapas itself is ever evolving, from a Mediterranean apetiser to little servings of traditional food. In Malaysia, this exciting evolution will be seen to celebrate Indian, Chinese and Malay fusion food, all served in bite-size. Japanese sushi bars testify to this concept of bite-size food that offer plenty of variety.

Viva Tapas!

Keep an eye out for TBR’s upcoming selection of Indian Tapas designed by our expert culinary team. And look out for our next article on the Evolution of Tapas.

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The Complexity of Assam Laksa

Posted on 09 July 2013 by admin

It is no surprise that the assam laksa has been ranked 7th among the world’s 50 most delicious food according to CNN travel. Assam laksa is one of my absolute favourite authentic Malaysian dish. This delectable dish is known to originate from Penang island. You don’t find the assam laksa commonly made at home because it is such a complicated dish. I am definitely among the fortunate few to have a grandmother and father master the dish. Each time there’s assam laksa at home, I have no less than two servings per meal. It is so addictive!

This dish reflects the influence of Chinese and Malay cuisine. The proper term for it would perhaps be ‘Peranakan’. The story behind the name ‘laksa’ is uncertain. Some suggest that it could be derrived from the Chinese words for ‘spicy sand’ due to the sandy texture of the broth. Others believe it comes from the Hokkien word for ‘dirty’ which describes the appearance of the dish. Another notion is that it comes from the Hindi word ‘lakhshah’ which is a type of vermicelli. One thing we can be sure of is that it’s a true Malaysian dish!

What makes it so tantalising? The combination of the sweetness of the mackerel, the invigorating tanginess of lemongrass and ginger flower, the sourness of assam paste and leaves and chilli for spice equates to a dish of perfection. Garnish with julienned cucumber, sliced red onions, mint leaves, diced ginger flower and prawn paste and you’ll be in heaven!

Image via rasamalaysia

It is a complicated dish indeed because getting the right balance is tough unless you have the tastebuds for it. The most important ingredient is the fish. Some people would opt for sardine because they’re easier to debone but I assure you, mackarel gives the best flavour. Every part of the fish is important. First the fish is boiled until cooked. The water from boiling is then used for the broth. After that, the fish are deboned and the bones are pounded to be boiled again – a crucial step for complete flavour. Don’t worry about it tasting fishy. The lime balances it all.

The way some believe that the word ‘laksa’ originated from the Chinese words for ‘spicy sand’, is almost how the texture of the broth should be like. This sandy taste could be due to the flakiness of the fish and the blended ingredients such as chilli, ginger flower and lemongrass. If this texture is not achieved, the broth could be too watery. Knowing how intricate this dish is, I deeply appreciate every bowl. Now that you know as well, I hope you do too!

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Think Italian Food: Think Pasta, Pizza and Cappuccino? Think again.

Posted on 21 November 2012 by admin

Think Italian Food – Think Pasta, Pizza and Cappuccino? Think again.

When one thinks of Italian food, the first thoughts that immediately come to mind are commonly Italian cappucino, Italian pizza, Italian pasta… or for the more discerning, Italian gnocchi or polenta. However, very few of these dishes were invented before the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus in 1492 or the conquest of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century.

Was coffee a native plant in Italy or was it brought to Italy and finally expressed as mocha, cappucino or espresso? According to historical records, coffee was first discovered in Ethiopia by Ethopian farmers and herders. Its original name, bunn (or bunna) came from the Ethiopian Kingdom of Kaffa…where the Dutch finally adopted and called it “koffie”.

 

From Ethiopia, these coffee plants were then brought to Yemen and Egypt and spread through the Arab world through the Sufi Muslims, throughout Europe by the Ottoman Empire, and later to Indonesia and Latin America. The first coffee house was founded in Constatinople. Today, the World Bank estimates that there are around 500 million people involved in the coffee trade globally.

And what about Italian pasta, pizza, gnocchi and polenta – amongst the most staple and popular Italian food? The core ingredients are made from tomatoes, potatoes, maize and bell peppers – brought to Europe from South America by traders. Not forgetting chocolate too!

Tomatoes and corn were native to Mexico. Chocolate drinks originated from the Maya and Aztec empires in Peru (originally mixed with hot pepper!). Capsicum found its roots from Cuba. Potatoes from South American Indians of Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

The demands for these produce found a huge following from Spain, Italy, France, Holland to the British empire in the 15th century. However, the first recipe for Italian pasta with tomato sauce was written only in 1891 by Artusi in “La Scienza in Cucina”: a recipe for Neapolitan macaroni.

It is also here in Naples where the classic Margherita Pizza (tomatoes, basil and mozzarella) was first created by a baker called Raffaele Esposito. In 1889, while the King of Savoy, King Umberto 1 was traveling with his Queen, Queen Margherita from the South to the North of Italy, she was famished and all the shops were closed except for a baker. He was then commissioned to present 3 kinds of pizzas to the Queen – of which her favourite was the one made with mozzarella, basil and tomato. This pizza was then named in her honour, Pizza Margherita. It is even said that the the national Italian flag was evoked by the colours of this pizza – green (basil), red (tomatoes) and white (buffalo mozzarella).

Talk about a country so passionate about its food that it can see its food history displayed on its national flag!

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