Homemade Granola

I started making this at home, because people were guzzling lolly-sweet imported boxed cereal at the rate of a box every three days. It was stupidly expensive: 270 Thai baht for a standard box of “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs” or such like, or almost US $10. Every three days, mind you.

So anyway, switching to hippie nutritionally aware Tartar mum just-plain-cheap mode, I started making our own.

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How to make thosai – or it is dosai?

I always wanted to know how to make thosai. Or, as my Indian friends from India (not from Malaysia) would say, dosai.

Living in Petaling Jaya in the ‘80s, this was one of my favourite dinners, if someone was driving over to Oldtown: wafer-thin “paper thosai” large enough to wrap your head in, crisp and golden with a filling of masala potato.

However, friends would always say, “Nah… too much work.” Indeed – why make it at home when you can go out for a nice fresh one, cooked by a specialist. So we always ate shop thosai, unless friends made us some at their home. But this was rare. Generally they would pop over to their local Indian shop for it too.

Recently, my friend Unaicy kindly provided a recipe. Making it wasn’t so hard – it just came down to a matter of timing.

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Aunty Kuppu’s amazing vegetable pickle

The year was 1987.

The national daily I worked at, The Star, had just had its publishing licence revoked by the government.  Overnight, the entire newsroom was out of work. So, I’m sitting with my housemates – also reporters – in our shared house in Section 17, Petaling Jaya, mulling over matters of press freedom (lack of), and career prospects (apparently doomed), when Mrs Kuppusamy – Aunty Kuppu to us – suddenly shows up.

Aunty Kuppu had been a headmistress of Durian Daun Girls’ School in Malacca in the ’50s, an admired colleague of my mother’s, and later much-loved family friend. Despite the name – a legacy from her second husband – she was a Malacca nyonya: light-skinned, and (unusually) big-boned and tall. No matter the occasion, or lack of one, Aunty Kuppu’s formidable presence always brought an atmosphere of burlesque, with her sharp eye, quick wit and terrible jokes, delivered at a volume suitable for school assembly before PA systems came in. These were always interspersed with a braying “hah?…hah?” and perhaps an elbow-dig, in case you were slow to respond.

She didn’t say anything about the political situation on that occasion, which really was beyond words,  but she did give us a jar of her special homemade vegetable pickle – I guess, to cheer us up. It was so mind-blowingly good, I had to ask for the recipe.  Continue reading