She’s down. She’s back in Malaysia. The one who has been 37 years old for the last 43 years. Yes, it is her – Aunty Val.
Wow! 80 and onto her 81st! These are just numbers as I can’t remember her ever changing! She is the same as when she was 20, 40, 60, 80. Always been there for all of us. I betcha she will be the same in the next 20.
“She is the same as always” means just that. One can never tell when she is serious or pulling a fast one. Her coming to Malaysia this time around was anyone’s guess. Dad and mum believed her when she told them that she was not. They gathered from our sibling and family discussions that she was indeed, making a trip to this side of the globe.
Dad called her using the Messenger app, and asked her once again, if the news of her impending trip was true. Mum, spoke with her, too. She told them no way was she going to travel with all “this covid virus strains and what have you”, making its rounds.
Mum called me on the phone and asked, “who said Aunty Val will be coming down (more like up. They are down under) to Malaysia? Dad just called her and she told him that she definitely was not making a trip this time.” She, too; fell for Aunty Val’s fib – “hook, line and sinker” (as dad would always say).
Little did Dad and mum know that Aunty Val was talking to them from the comforts of Aunty Maureen’s (dad, Aunty Maureen and Aunty Val are siblings) house. Aunty Val, the youngest of six brothers and sisters; had arrived in Malaysia that morning. She wanted to surprise dad on his 91st birthday (May 10th) by showing up at his doorstep.
On dad’s birthday, she was at the door to surprise both dad and mum. It was a good get together, where Aunty Maureen was there, too. Neil and Francis (Aunty Maureen’s sons, my cousins), and I; had planned this evening. We were in the thick of things as we were in the know of Aunty Val’s trip.
I think to keep the sanity of this world or what we can make out of the little of it, intact; none of her (Aunty Val’s) sons; or us, her nephews and nieces; followed in this prankster’s footsteps.😂
My brother, Malcolm and his wife Uma; hosted a gathering at their home with uncles, aunties, siblings, nephews and nieces last Saturday (May 20th); to celebrate Aunty Val’s 80th birthday (May 7th).
The evening drew to a close with everyone having had a great time. The food was excellent. There was a wide variety available. I decided not to talk about the food as it, in itself, could be a whole article.
To get all of us to come together was pretty special. Aunty Val, here’s wishing you the very best in your next 20. Another 20 years of being 37.
A Saturday morning. The batik influencer had some new pieces she wanted to put together. She sent her Singer sewing machine to a sewing machine service / repair and sales of new seeing machine shop. At that point, her sewing machine was working fine. She thought she’d send it in for a yearly service.
This service place was of great disappointment. After many, many phone calls and whatsapp messages, Jeannie got her machine back; which was 2.5 weeks later.
Jeannie wanted to get starting on her batik pieces yesterday. She tried working with the sewing machine. it didn’t work. This was the same Singer sewing machine that we got back from the service people that same day.
We sent the machine to another sewing machine service place, this time; somewhere in Puchong. Why “somewhere in Puchong”, is because we relied on Google maps for directions.
We told this service repairer (the second one, the Puchong guy) the ordeal we had to go through to service the machine, that we needed the machine working right away. He did a quick diagnosis and told us that it would take less than an hour to get it fixed.
So, the “Malaysian” in us and keen sense for food, soon found out a restaurant that looked pretty ok. I was attracted to try their conlo / wantan mee. Jeannie went for their Sarawak conlo noodles.
With the heat wave that we have been experiencing over the past few weeks, we welcomed the air-conditioning. This restaurant had air-conditioning. Yay!
The meal was so so. It looked fairly ok. At least I liked the crispy, fried wanton😁. I had red bean soup (cold) in place of a drink. It was so so, too, kind of watery. However, this is how it is normally prepared. I prefer to have it thick.
We went to the cashier to pay for our meal. Just opposite the cashier, was a long table laid out with various cakes and food sweets. These were already in slices in their packing for convenience of eating them right away. They looked good. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures. However, (you may have noticed that I use “however” more often in my articles than the word “but”), I picked up a pack of what I thought looked like marble cake, a pack of moist chocolate cake and a pack of 5 curry puffs – all for Laura (it seemed). The price for the meal (lunch), cakes and curry puffs came up to RM58. Reasonable, we think.
Went back to the sewing machine shop to check on Jeannie’s sewing machine. By the way, the restaurant is just next door, so we did not have to go far for food. The sewing machine was repaired. Jeannie tested it out and it was working like a gem. The problem / fault was that dust had built up around the foot air controller outlet, something which was overlooked by the other service people.
The time is nearly 6.00pm. We need to get ready in a short while for…yes…dinner. We are all (siblings, uncles and aunts, etc.) meeting at my brother’s and sister-in-law’s place – the reason: Aunty Val is here from Aussie land, so…gathering…of course. And food…more of course😋😂.
As for the people that first took the sewing machine in for service; I have asked that they refund me the payment less their transport charge and RM2 for 2 bobbins that they supplied. That is the least they can do as the owner is a friend. We will donate the refund to a charity. Waiting…
At the time of keyboard letter-tapping / penning this essay; I had wolfed down a peace of the marble cake and moist chocolate cake. Not bad (means “pretty good” or “can do”).
LEATHERPOTATO is going to be two years on the scene soon. I have had thousands of views from Over 75 countries.
From sharing my food experiences like cafes, restaurants and curry puffs to tech stuff. I figured I’d do something different. It’s a sort of an experiment.
I will make an announcement tomorrow. It’s going to be fun.
We can share ideas and views, too. For example: A.I. or Artificial Intelligence is the buzz phrase of the last 3 years. It was announced a couple of days ago that Elon Musk lead a large group of NGOs to warn of the dangers of the: 1. acceleration in the development of A.I. 2. if it got into the wrong hands, 3. it must be regulated 4. worse – if it cannot be controlled.
I have shared my thoughts and views on A.I. months ago. I have shared my thoughts and views on the over-dependence of the ever increasing intelligence of robots.
I will fill you in on the details tomorrow, March 31, 2023. Come and meet the renowned batik influencer, too.
Speaking of a Malaysian thing – Tan Sri Dato Seri Michelle Yeoh is the ooos and aahhs of news in Malaysia, possibly in South East Asia; even more in Hollywood. Yes, even in Hollywood. A girl / lass / lady from Perak (2); she has just won the Oscar for best actress at Hollywood’s Oscars’ 95th annual awards, recognizing actors, actresses and film etc. Congratulations to Michelle are in order for winning this and several other awards regarding film / movies, recently. She has acted in many great movies (I hear) alongside with star-studded actresses and actors.
Why “I hear” is because I have only watched two of her movies. One is with Pierce Brosnan in a James Bond movie driving around in a BMW 750i and riding a BMW 1200 Harley Davidson-styled bike. The other movie was Crazy Rich Asians. Both were excellent movies.
So, what’s this got to do with curry puffs? Nothing really. I guess it’s a Malaysian thing to get side-tracked.
In the 1960s and 70s; “currypuff” was popular with schoolboys. All wanted to have a currypuff (also known as “karipap”) hairstyle. With the help of a large amount of Brylcreem haircream to keep hair in place; the hair in front is combed back or curved to the side creating a puff shape in front. It looked cool then. Brylcreem made a killing in hair-cream sales. There are some guys still stuck in a time warp. You will know them by their “karipap hairstyles.
Oops! side-tracked again. Let’s just say this essay is the “un-cut” version.😉
Of late, something like (Not to worry. I am not about to get carried away with the use of this word) about a year ago, we (my wife, who is Jeannie; and I) have been buying curry puffs which are generally larger than their normal size. By this I mean. probably 2 or 3 times the normal size. All Malaysians and those in South East Asia will know what I am talking about.
Jeannie first started buying these curry puffs from a little shop located at the lower Ground Floor in Mid-Valley Shopping Centre (3). Those curry puffs are yummy. The quality of the product is always maintained – you are always assured of getting good stuff.
In these big curry puffs, you are assured of a generous slice of a hard boiled egg, together with chicken and curried potato in dried curry form. The pastry or crust that is the “body” of the curry puff is firm. Not like those very flaky type, pastries with very little filling inside (After a couple of bites, you can be forgiven if you ask, “Where’s the filling in this here curry puff?”). (Question mark?, quotation mark”, close bracket) full stop . – that’s a lot of punctuation marks)!! I think these curry puffs from the shop in Mid-Valley are / were selling for about US0.60 or RM2.75.
If I put these two words, “curry puff” together – “currypuff”, a red line underlines the word on my screen because it does not recognize the 2 words as 1. But, you, the reader; can’t see the red line, can you?
Curry puffs could be likened as a staple food in Malaysia, just like rice. You can have it to go with your coffee, tea, lunch, break, relief stress, add stress (for those weight watchers), dinner, midnight snack, anytime, anywhere food. You can find curry puffs in most bakeries, local and fine dine restaurants, supermarkets, shops, etc. Some of the best curry puffs are sold in little stalls by the roadside. They are usually made on the spot or are homemade.
One amongst the many that comes to mind was the one in SS15, Subang Jaya (4). This semi-permanent, makeshift stall was one in a row of stalls by SS15. Their hottest selling items were the kacang vaadai and donut (shaped like donuts with the hole in the middle) vaadai. There were long queues of people everyday, waiting in line to purchase these yummies. The guy would pack these two types of vaadai in brown paper bags. He would also include a generous amount of green chili padi and curry leaves to give the food a hot and spicy, flavored effect. After being in that location for well over 10 years, they are no longer there; hence the meaning of “semi-permanent, makeshift”. The good news is that they have moved into a shop of their own nearby. This same shop houses the famous SS15 rojak seller. I am not sure why but when there is an Indian rojak seller, there is a cendol (5) seller within the vicinity. The cendol does compliment the very spicy, peanut sauce rojak. Their rojak and cendol are bestsellers, too.
Next on my list of must try are curry puffs with red and yellow sweet potato fillings; dried, spicy beef and chicken rendang fillings; and dried, spicy mutton veruval (6) with roasted cashew nut fillings. If you guys know where to get these, touch base with me to let me know.
More about curry puffs will be left for another essay / write-up. Let me know what types of curry puffs you like. What do you think about the more commercial flaky, pastry type or the hard, clam-shell type curry puffs. Are you in just for the fillings or does the pastry enclosure matter, too? Are you captivated or attracted to curry puffs by sight, meaning does looks set off your appetizer taste buds?
Till the next one.
NOTES: 1. Curry puff (Malay: Karipap, Epok-epok; Chinese: 咖哩角,咖哩餃; pinyin: gālí jiǎo; Thai: กะหรี่ปั๊บ, RTGS: karipap, pronounced [kā.rìː.páp]) is a snack of Maritime Southeast Asian origin. It is a small pie consisting of curry with chicken and potatoes in a deep-fried or baked pastry shell. The consistency of the curry is quite thick to prevent it from oozing out of the snack. The pap or puff reflects the Fujian Chinese dialect 泡 (pop), which means bubble, blister and puffed. It is a truly Southeast Asian snack as it has Indian, Chinese or Malay elements. In Malaysia, curry puffs are commonly known as karipap and sold freshly fried at many Malay, Chinese and Indian food stalls and even at trendy cafes. In Singapore, curry puffs are commonly seen in pasar malams, bakeries and food stalls in shopping centres. Wikipedia
2. Perak is one of the 13 states in Malaysia. 3. Located in Kuala Lumpur. 4. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. 5. Vaadai, rojak and cendol are local snacks and drinks. 6. Veruval is an Indian styled food usually a chicken or mutton styled dish and potently spicy hot.
It has been just over two weeks since I announced that I will be penning on paper…hold on..no paper…tapping the keys on the Logi MX Keys to come out with an essay.
Along the way, other writing assignments and some on financial planning, too; came up that required immediate attention. They were urgent and important.
So, my karipap or curry puff story is coming up. working on it. looks like a mess. Got all the ingredients together but it seems to fall a part. Maybe, the dough is not right or the temperature to bake it.
While I’m working on it in this humid and I mean humid weather…Black rain clouds…lots of loud thunder, heavy rain for about 3.398 seconds…then the humidity…
Yeah, while I’m working on this article, I decided to have some Musang King (close to authentic Musang King durian) ice-cream to help neutralize the humidity. Then, followed by black coffee…
For those of you who have yet to try Musang King Durian ice-cream, go find some at an ice-cream parlour nearest to you.
Back to writing about curry puffs, a must have for Malaysians to go with their coffee, tea, lunch, break, relief stress, add stress (for those weight watchers), dinner, midnight snack, anytime food. And yeah… I am having some Malay kuih from “Ayunie Laura Kitchen“, too. Some of the perks for working late nights.
There are currypuffs. And then…there are currypuffs.
I will be sharing some thoughts on my recent currypuff experiences in an upcoming article that will be published real soon. Love the traditional…no, no, no. Nowadays, we can’t use the word “traditional”. That word is used even for homemade recipes. So, I love the simple currypuffs.
Send in your thoughts, experiences, pictures, recipes on the currypuffs that you like. I will try to include them in the article. You can send them to : email@example.com
Petaling Jaya, Friday evening. Time is 5.45pm. Petaling Jaya or Pee Jay more commonly known as “P.J.”. A satellite town that was thought up in the 1950s, to be the homes of all those people working in Kay El (no, we are not talking about a Superman movie). Kay El or popularly known as K.L. or Kuala Lumpur, was the capital of Malaysia.
So, living away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur was to have it’s advantages. The main advantage is coming home to the peace and quiet of your home, which was not too far away from your workplace. Great idea for the 1950s.
As I sit at my workstation, and my memories and thoughts sort of flow through my fingertips, to the Logitech MX Keys keyboard; I take frequent short breaks to go to the kitchen and snack on the last remnants of the walnuts we brought back from the U.S. When the packet was first opened, it had about 3lbs (1) of walnuts. Now, the balance of walnuts from that packet is in grams only. They say (Here we go again with “They say”. I keep wondering who are the “they”, the “experienced experts” who share their knowledge) that eating walnuts is good for health. This can be backed by several health and nutrition sites on the net.
Back to the “Friday evening. Time is 5.45pm.” Jeannie’s work ends at 5.00pm. We were on our way back from PJ to Subang Jaya after I picked (or “fetched”?, as it is more commonly heard in these parts) her up from her office. Subang Jaya, is a city that is 10 minutes away from Petaling Jaya. 10 minutes provided the traffic on the roads to and from it is very light. Peak hours are usually to and from office. Not really…Almost every hour is peak hour.
300 meters into our trip and we hit it. There was no way to avoid it, not in Petaling Jaya, that’s for sure. There was no unchartered route one could use to get out of it. There was no secret passage or tunnel. You cannot go under it. You cannot go over it. It was the infamous PJ traffic jam.
This would be the time radio stations will play the weirdest of music and have the most boring of talk shows aired. You can’t escape it other than to turn it off. Some people might try to brush up on their karaoke skills by singing along to songs that are bluetooth-ed from their smartphones. How much or how long can you sing? It takes at least an hour to get home. This traffic jam is everyday. Many people may have frayed nerves by time they reach home.
Traffic jams such as this has helped Jeannie and I come to a decision to have our dinner early. So, on this Friday evening; we decided to swing by this coffee shop.. I mean “restaurant”, which was a few meters off our route.
This coffee shop has been in that same place for decades. In the early 1980s, there was a stall operating out of this restaurant that used to sell rojak and the best tahu bakar (8) around. Uncle Al, dad’s younger brother living in Perth Australia; can attest to this. He will always bring up the time when, on one of his visits to Malaysia in the early 1980s; he and I came to this particular stall to buy rojak and tahu bakar. We were supposed to tapau (2) it back home to Aunty Maureen’s (dad’s sister) house for supper. It seems that most of the tahu bakar was eaten by me. I of course, deny such a thing ever happened. He will always relate this story whenever the subject of tahu bakar is brought up. (burp!)😉
The attraction of this restaurant today is its fried hokkien mee. We ordered mee / meehoon mixed, fried hokkien style. “What’s so special about this style of frying hokkien mee?”, you may ask. If you did not ask, then ask. I will tell you:
This is unique when the flames thrown up from the stove are huge and orangy in colour, blazing at times nearly 7 or 8 ft above the stove. When you see this, you can tell it is Hokkien style preparation. The huge flames that blare from under the wok, as though the chef…cook, I mean, is sword-fighting it. Clang, clang, hiss, sis, tong…The guy holds the wok with one hand and a long-handled ladle with the other. Holding the wok, he pulls, push, tosses the whole preparation in the air, which seems to land on the tossed food’s other side. Ladle in the other hand like a sword, he fights with the food preparation. he picks the garlic, lard, onions, a bit of oil and other condiments and stirs it into the food. Here, the agak-agak (7) style which means the amount goes by the feel or mood of the cook for that day. Somehow, it nearly always seems perfectly prepared.
I will let you in on a secret: If there is not enough of clanging of the ladle against the wok, the food won’t be good. There is not enough effort and style put into that dish. So, next time you go for fried hokkien mee; these are some of the things to look out for.
On one of our visits to this restaurant, we learnt that there was a stall selling popiah. This is not just some ordinary popiah . This, I can with full confidence say is one of the best popiah I have ever eaten, certainly the best in these parts. The skin, the ingredients are always fresh and full-bodied. The sauce, the chili paste simply amazing. A bit of a warning though: this popiah is quite spicy. It is delicious all the same.
The food usually comes quite fast after we order. Tasty. Enjoyable. Get away from the maddening PJ crawl. Though we don’t really need an excuse to come and savor good, simple food.
By the time we get back on the road, the jams have quite gone. Traffic is still heavy but moving and tolerable. We reach home at around 8.00pm. Just in time for some coffee, drunk from my Hydro flask mug. With the lid on, it manages to keep the temperature of the drink for several hours.
Kuala Lumpur is a city in Malaysia
Petaling Jaya and Subang Jaya are cities in the state of Selangor, Malaysia
Hokkien mee, literally “Fujian noodles”, is a series of related Southeast Asian dishes that have their origins in the cuisine of China’s Fujian (Hokkien) province. Fried Hokkien prawn noodles, known locally as Hokkien mee, is a dish comprising thick yellow noodles friedin a rich prawn and pork stock and served with chilli and lime on the side. It is a popular local dish that has various accounts of its origins. wikipedia
High in protein, iron and fibre, this flavoursome stir-fry made with Vegie Delights Savory Mince is so nutritious and great for a quick, healthy meal. sanitarium.com
“Ho chiak” means very delicious in Hokkien
Popiah (薄餅) is a traditional snack believed to be of Chinese Hokkien origin. Popiah, which means “thin snack” or “pancake” in Teochew, refers to a spring roll made from thin flour skin wrapped around finely chopped vegetables and meat. Today, most popiah main ingredients include: Popiah skin, bean sauce, filling of finely grated and steamed or stir-fried turnip, jicama, bean sprouts, French beans, lettuce leaves, grated carrots, Chinese sausage slices, thinly sliced fried tofu, chopped peanuts or peanut powder, fried shallots, and shredded omelette. Variations. wikipedia
“Agag-agak” is Malay for estimate, vagueness, uncertainty. wiktionary
Chinese rojak made with a combination of fresh fruits, vegetables, you tiao tossed in sweet, savory, spicy, umami, nutty rojak sauce. Rojak is a popular street food. Grilled Crisp Tofu Pockets (Tahu Bakar) – Tahu bakar, or grilled crisp tofu pockets, is an Indonesian/Malaysian snack. rasamalaysia.com
It was a busy and tiring evening. The evening started by us (Jeannie and I) having to endure the traffic crawl for an hour in P.J. to Subang Jaya. A couple of drops of rain and almost everyone stops to take pictures of the raindrops.
Got back home with our sanity still in tack. Oh. Just kidding about what I said earlier about a couple of raindrops. It was a wee bit more than that.😉
Since the whole evening had promised loads of work to do in advance; I had to have a quick dinner. So, Jeannie helped rustle up something almost to go, after she asked if I was ok with the choice of food. Which I was, wa-a-y-y-y more than ok:
Main serving: German chicken sausages with roti canai. The side dishes were green cucumbers (unpeeled dark skin), KFC whipped potato and cherry tomatoes. Don’t know why they are called “cherry tomatoes”. They are bigger than cherries and almost always in the color of orange; not red or green. Beverage was hot (not piping or boiling hot; just drinkable hot) Ovaltine.
The meal was great. Managed to get some work done. Never ending. One of the mysteries of life. Not complaining.
The Lavender essential oil which is very gently filling the room with its beautiful aroma; is being diffused through the diffuser (of course) in the corner of the room…
After what was a very sweet coffee evening on Saturday, with the white chocolate cake that at one glance looked like a serviette dispenser; which tasted very nice, the white chocolate cake, that is; at The Social in Empire Gallery Shopping Centre; Jeannie and I decided to go for very simple food at Kar Heong “Restoran” (the Bahasa Malaysia spelling for the word “restaurant”) at dinner time.
Describing the picture above clockwise, I had the plain noodles & soup since I don’t eat rice (I stopped eating rice 15 years ago), two plates (1 each for Jeannie and me) of steamed chicken breast meat, toothpicks (in the red capped dispenser), sweet black sauce in the green dispenser with black vertical lines, soy sauce, red chili sauce (a must have when you eat steamed chicken with or without rice), a little container of what looks like white pepper, a plate of towgey (bean sprouts) that is a delicious side dish for a meal like this (to the left of my iced coffee, more popularly known as “kopi peng” in these parts); two small saucers of the red chili sauce. a bowl of ginger (the ginger adds the balance in flavor to the chicken), my iced coffee and Jeannie’s hot coffee (at the top of the picture).
I found eating my noodles and soup which I think was “hor fun”, with plastic chopsticks and soup spoon quite tricky. I couldn’t seem to get the noodles and soup to stay on the spoon with the pair of chopsticks. The noodles just kept slipping off the spoon no matter what I did to try keeping it on. I picked up pieces of chicken with the chopsticks to put on the slippery noodles on the spoon, and then add the chili sauce and ginger to it. I had to use an ordinary commoner’s (haha 😁) spoon and fork, which didn’t make all that much of a difference. I ended up with splashes of soup drops on my shirt. Quite an adventure. This happens all the time. I have yet to master these skills.
Jeannie and I came to the same conclusion: the food was delicious. We finished every bit of it and we were full. Yes, we enjoyed our meal.
As for my soup-splashed stained, shirt; it happens all the time. There’s a funny little saying😏 between Laura, Jeannie and me: “Can’t take you out anywhere” 😂 whenever any of us spill something. 😁Jeannie was egging me on to come to have this meal for over a couple of months. Finally, we did.
There are two or three Kar Heong Restoran within the same vicinity. The restaurant that we had our dinner at is located in SS14, Subang Jaya.
When I got home at about 8.30pm, I had to go for my 10,000 step walk. I met with my neighbor Sim and his wife. They had just begun their walk, too; which they do after dinner. We had a nice chat along the way. The weather was good, quite cooling. We completed our walk within the hour. A good short workout.
NOTES: 1. Jeannie and Laura are family. 2. Subang Jaya is a city in the state of Selangor, Malaysia. 3. Jamie Oliver and I are not on the same level as food critics. He is for the cameras, audience and the moolah. I am just a plain simpleton, telling it as I see..em..taste it. Hahaha😂😂😋
Its the third day of the new year, Chinese New Year, that is. Malaysia being Malaysia; the choice for food is endless, regardless of festivities. Having said that, at festivals, as it is now, Chinese New Year or Lunar New Year; cookies and certain types of food are specially prepared only during this festivity. Love it.
However, today; Jeannie and I joined her parents, her sister Judy who is here in Malaysia for the holidays; and Jeannie’s and Judy’s cousin, Cecilia; her husband Siow and their son, for lunch at Kayu Nasi Kandar in Taipan, USJ Subang Jaya; today. The food was good. I abstained from rice…of course. Stopped eating rice since 2007.
Before long, it was dinner. I said to Jeannie, “It’s been a long time since we have had satay”. So, off we went to the Taj Curry House in SS12, Subang Jaya. The diva took our order of roti canai and Nescafe kurang manis (less sweet which means less sugar). We placed our order for 5 sticks each, of chicken and beef satay with the satay chef, or the griller…better known as “boss”.
The meal was very nice. The satay was well marinated, the beef more on the sweet side. We were kind of full by the end of the meal. Delicious! Total cost of the meal US$6.30.
As soon as I got back, which was about 8.15pm; I went for a short 7km walk to work off some of this meal. I joined Sim, my neighbor from a couple of streets away for the walk. It started to rain about 10 minutes after I started walking and then became intermittent. Our walk was cool and pleasant, though a bit wet.