From the Deccan Herald, Living, 26 November 2004

The subtle magic of spice
If you want the aroma of home ground spices pervading your house, check out these easy to try methods by PRAVEEN MULL.

As you enter an Indian home, you take inhale the aromas of freshly ground spices, and easily guess what’s cooking. Such is the magic of spices, and their importance in Indian cuisine. No wonder it is said “spices are the spice of Indian cuisine”.

In all, there are about 35 spices and condiments which are not only useful for providing flavour and aroma, but also possess nutritional and medicinal value. Retailer shelves are stacked with numerous ready made masalas in attractive packaging, making life easier for the busy working housewife of today. But, as any diehard Indian will vouch, the aromas and taste of freshly ground masalas, traditionally prepared as per our grandmother’s recipes and handed down from one generation to the next, are incomparable, be it the hot and spicy garam masala or the refreshing tea masala.

Here are recipes for some popular masalas:
Tea masala
Ingredients: 100 gms dry ginger (sonth), 25 gms cinnamon, 25 gms black pepper, 25 gms black cardamom, 25 gms green cardamom, 1 piece nutmeg (jaiphal), 1/2 tsp cloves.
Method: Grind the ingredients in a mixer. The resulting fine powder is your tea masala ready for making spiced tea. Store in an airtight jar.

Idli podi
Ingredients: 1 cup urad dal, 1 tablespoon chana dal, 15 whole red chillies, 1 teaspoon asafoetida, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon til oil for frying.
Method: Take the til oil in a kadai, and fry the urad dal, chana dal, whole red chillies and sesame seeds, each separately. Mix all the ingredients, including salt and asafoetida. Grind coarsely and store in an airtight jar.

Garam masala
Ingredients: 100 gms cummin seeds, 2 tablespoons black cardamom seeds, 1 tablespoon green cardamom seeds, 25 gms cinnamon, 25 gms cloves, 25 gms black pepper, 4 pcs bay leaves.
Method: Mix all the ingredients. Roast the mixture in a kadai for 2-3 minutes, and grind in a mixie. The masala is ready. Store in an airtight jar.

Milk masala
Ingredients: 150 gms almonds, 50 gms pistachio, 25 gms green cardamom, half piece nutmeg (jaiphal), 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon saffron.
Method: Soak almonds in warm water, remove skin and dry thoroughly. Remove seeds from cardamom. Grind all ingredients in a clean mixer. The milk masala is ready.Store in an airtight jar.

Chaat masala
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons cummin seeds, 15 pcs whole red chillies, 2 tablespoons mango powder (amchur), 1 teaspoon black salt, 1 teaspoon common salt.
Method: Roast cummin seeds and red chillies on a hot tawa for three minutes. Grind the mixture. Add the other ingredients and mix well. Use this masala for fruit chaat or papdi chaat.

Dhanshak masala
Ingredients: 100 gms coriander seeds, 50 gms cummin seeds, half cup whole red chillies, 10 gms mustard seeds, 10 gms fenugreek seeds, 10 gms phool pathar, 10 gms black pepper, 10 gms cinnamon, 10 gms cloves, 10 gms bay leaves, half teaspoon mace (javitri), 1 nutmeg (jaiphal), 10 gms poppy seeds (khaskhas).
Method: Dry roast all the ingredients, and grind the mixture. Store in an air tight container.
Thanks, NAT, for this ...

In the beginning God covered the earth with broccoli, cauliflower and spinach, combined with an abundance of green, yellow and red vegetables. He did this so that Man and Woman would live long and healthy lives. Then, using God's bountiful gifts, Satan created Chocolates and Ice cream.
And Satan said: "You want hot fudge with that ?"
And Man said: "Yes!"
And Woman said: "I'll have one, too...with sprinkles."
And low and behold they gained 10 pounds.

And God created the healthful yogurt that Woman might keep the figure that Man found so fair. And Satan brought forth white flour from the wheat and sugar from the cane , and combined them.
And Woman went from size 2 to size 14.

So God said: "Try my fresh green garden salad."
And Satan presented crumbled Cheese dressing and garlic toast on the side.
And Man and Woman unfastened their belts following the repast.

God then said: "I have sent you heart-healthy vegetables and olive oil in which to cook them." And Satan brought forth deep-fried banana chips, butter-dipped lobster chunks, and fried chicken so big it needed its own platter.
And Man's cholesterol went through the roof.

Then God brought forth the potato, naturally low in fat and brimming with potassium and good nutrition.
Then Satan peeled off the healthful skin, sliced the starchy centre into chips and deep-fried them in animal fats, adding copious quantities of salt.
And Man packed on more pounds.

God then brought forth running shoes so that his children might lose those extra pounds.
And Satan introduced cable TV with remote control so Man would not have to toil changing the channels.
And Man and Woman laughed and cried before the flickering light and started wearing stretchy lycra jogging suits.

God then gave lean beef so that Man might consume fewer calories and still satisfy his appetite. And Satan created McDonald's and the 99-cent double cheeseburger.
Then Satan said: "You want fries with that?" And Man replied: "Yes! And super size them !" And Satan said: "It is good."
And Man and Woman went into cardiac arrest.

God sighed...and created quadruple by-pass surgery.
Satan chuckled and created Medical Insurance !!
The list below has been making its rounds as a forwarded email lately ....Anyway, here it is. Try at your own risk. I have put Nekochan's remarks in red. So, do you agree with this list? Let me know what you think .....

1. CHOW KOAY TIEW - Jalan Imbi : the corner restaurant which is on the same row with Sakura, and opposite of Honda Kah Motor.
2. WANTAN MEE/KARI MEE - End of old Subang airport road, in the Subang New Village Town Centre.
3. TAPIOCA NOODLES& VEGETABLES - Old Klang Road : a shack which is nestled behind a chinese primary school, after the market and the post office (which would be on your left).
4. KARI MEE (LEMAK) - SS1, PJ : Alisan Restaurant (2nd shop from corner), facing the Lorenzo Furniture Shop.
5. ROAST DUCK RICE - Seapark : Sunrise Coffee Shop Totally agree!!
6. PRAWN MEE/KARIMEE/CHEE CHEONG FUN - Seapark : Coffee Shop near old Paramount Theatre.
7. CHICKEN RICE - Seapark: Coffee Shop opposite Seapark Market, run by 2 ladies whose husbands have since died.
8. FISH HEAD BEE HOON - Jln Gasing, PJ. Seng Kee Restaurant, in row of shops behind Lotus Restaurant. Some people have recommended the one at Ka Soh in Jalan Imbi too ...
9. MISCELLANEOUS - SS24 Tmn Megah: take the LDP and exit left after the Kelana Jaya LRT Station (towards"SS24"). a hawker centre with over 70 hawker stalls (!!) allserving different dishes, no duplicates (!!), which boast the best of eachkind in town (!!) not too difficult to locate. I think this place is called Ming Tien
10. YONG TAU FU - Ampang New Town/Ampang Village (there are 3 shops, so have your pick)
11. PAN MEE - Along Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman behind KahMotors.
12. HOKKIEN MEE - Petaling Street opposite Hong Leong Bank
13. CHAR SIEW RICE - Jalan Tung Shin
14. NASI KANDAR - Kayu Nasi Kandar Restaurant in Taipan, Subang with a branch in SS2 a coffee shop formerly known as Cheow Yang
15. Teh Tarik & roti - Taman Desa next to the water tank
16. If money is not an issue - Madam Kwan (Nasi Lemak & curry fish head) True, quite pricy but if you have overseas visitors and would like to take them to sample our local food in a 'cleaner' environment .....
17. Little Penang (chow Koay Tiew & Prawnmee) I'm assuming this is the one at Mid Valley. Penang food here is generally good, one of the better "Penang food" places in KL
18. Bak Kut Teh - Jalan Imbi behind hong leong bank
19. Satay - Naan Corner in Ampang, in between International School and RSPCA, called Nur Satay.
20. Banana Leaf - Kannas in SS2, behind Lisa De Inn hotel
21. Nasi Lemak - Suzi corner, next to Ampang city (used to be called Kerris)
22. Won Ton Mien/Char Siew - Jln Sungai Besi; on the way to PLUS. Only open at 7pm-2am, a car repair shop by day.
23. Beef Brisket noodles - Tengkat Tong Shin; runs parallel to Jalan Alor. Stall near the beginning of the road. Open at night till late.
24. Char Siew/Chicken rice - Tengkat Tong Shin; further up the road. Old prewar shop house. This has to be the drop dead unhealthiest piece of anything you can insert in your mouth in KL? but to die for. Chicken is strictly as filler to make sure you don't get a heart attack overdosing on char siew.
25. Fish balls - Tengkat Tong Shin; a little further up the road from char siew. Stall inside a coffee shop. This guy is good, look at the amount of people he employs to helpout!
26. Hokkien mee (KL style -thick, black, yummy Petaling Street; at the intersection opposite Hong Leong Bank. Full of porcine goodness. Still the gold standard of Hokkien mee.
27. Seafood noodles - Segambut; near Auto Bavaria. A big bowl full of noodles and assorted mussels, prawns, cuttlefish, fish etc. for reasonable price. Pick of soup, clear, tom yam, curry. Forget the rest, go for the curry. Soya bean with cincau not bad. Avoid on Sunday mornings. You will wait for an hour. Fried Chicken Rice (only on Weds and Sat)!!
28. Ploughman's Lunch - Finnegan's Seri Hartamas. A big plate filled with a pot of pate, slices of ham, pickle, onion, chunks of cheese, a slab of butter, 4 hunks of bread. If you are EXTREMELY hungry, this one's for you. It's a nice "lighter lunch" if you share it with someone else.
29. Chef's salad - Flagz; behind Souled Out. This salad is as all salads should be - crunchy FRESH veggies, and the dressing is to die for.Easily the best salad in town. And I don't even like salad. Beer is the freshest in town too, great bite.
30. Hokkien Mee (Penang style otherwise known as Prawn noodles) Champ's; Jalan Telawi 3, Bangsar Baru. Standard gone down somewhat recently, but still head and shoulders above all others in KL. You'll have to go to Penang to beat this. This is a LARGE serving .. be warned!
31. Char Kway Teow Bukit Damansara; behind Hock Lee supermarket, next to Shell. Corner stall inside coffee shop. Best in KL. The fellow has been frying for longer than I can recall, and he is so good that you may have to wait up to 45 minutes during lunchtime. Doesn't use too much oil almost perfect. As above, you'll have to go to Penang to beat this. Other stalls in the same shop not bad. I think this is the "famous" Steven's Char Koay Teow
32. Chicken Rice - Jalan Gasing; very close to the Federal Highway, same row as Southern Bank 2 shops one in the middle, one in the corner. Can't decide which is superior, but both are very good. Middle one has Ipoh taugeh. Corner one is known as Satellite, middle one is Ipoh Chicken Rice. Mixed reviews about both, just a matter of preference.
33. Bak Kut Teh - Klang, just about anywhere. Hokkien Association off the main highway leading to the heart of Klang is a good place to start for beginners.
34. Dim Sum - JW Marriott Hotel. Chinese restaurant here serves northern China style dim sum. Easily best dim sum in town. A little pricey.
35. Fish Head - off Jalan Sungai Besi; just past Won Ton Mien, turn left right after BP. Three shops clumped together. All look dilapidated but don't worry. Don't know what type of fish they get their heads from, but I suspect fresh water fish. Hot sauce fish head to die for. Extremely reasonable prices.
36. Bak Kut Teh - Segambut; go past Auto Bavaria, follow road all the way until you see a Chinese temple on your left. Enter the temple courtyard and you will see a tin shack where they serve bak kut teh. Not quite up there with Klang, but nothing to sneeze at. Go for yam rice rather than white rice. Fried Chicken Rice (only on Weds and Sat)!!
37. Nasi Kandar/Kerabu/Laut - Taman Tun; the other end of Secret Recipe in a store on the same block, usually with a van outside. Truly Kelantanese style. Only in the morning though. Unfortunately, this has since closed down. But I think that Cik Hasanah will still continue to sell from her little van outside the shop ... we can only hope...
38. Seafood - Pulau Carey; get to Jalan Banting and follow signs to Pulau Carey. Place called Kang Guan, just before the actual bridge onto the island. Cheap!
39. Nasi Lemak TangLin at Lake Gardens, near the Clinic/Hospital. Only open when government depts open. One of Nekochan's contenders for "Best Nasi Lemak" in town. However, you really have to get there very early in the morning, like by 7:30AM or earlier and on working Saturdays, I heard the queue starts before they even start at 7:00AM!!
40. Chicken Rice - Bing Restaurant in Sri Rampai. Wait till you drop to eat the chicken rice. Worth it.
WASHINGTON: An apple a day really does keep the doctor away, thanks to strong antioxidants that fight cell damage, US researchers reported on Tuesday.

Rat brain cells exposed to the antioxidant -- in this case quercetin -- resisted damage much better than those not treated, the team at Cornell University in New York found.
Antioxidants are compounds that counteract the damage done by chemicals known as free radicals -- generated by sunlight, chemical reactions and the stress of day-to-day living.
The researchers say their study adds strength to the theory that the risk of developing Alzheimer's and similar brain diseases might be reduced by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Writing in the Dec 1 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the Cornell team said they soaked rat brain cells in either quercetin or vitamin C -- another potent antioxidant.
The cells were then exposed to hydrogen peroxide to mimic the type of oxidative cell damage that is believed to occur with Alzheimer's disease.

Brain cells that were treated with quercetin had significantly less damage than the cells treated with vitamin C and cells that were not treated with antioxidants.

"On the basis of serving size, fresh apples have some of the highest levels of quercetin when compared to other fruits and vegetables and may be among the best food choices for fighting Alzheimer's," C.Y. Lee, a professor and chairman of the Department of Food Science & Technology at Cornell University, who led the study, said in a statement.
"People should eat more apples, especially fresh ones," he added.

Lee said the skins of apples contain the highest levels of quercetin so juice is not necessarily the best source. In general, red apples tend to have more of the antioxidant than green or yellow ones, he said.

Other foods high in quercetin include onions, blueberries and cranberries. -- Reuters
While my first choice for a lovely afternoon Devonshire tea would normally be the very crowded Teapot Cafe in SS2, unfortunately, they are not open on Sundays.

So, last Sunday, in the midst of the whole country serving rendang and lemang, I had a sudden urge to have scones. Going through the trusted PDA under my notes on "Where to go on Sunday afternoons for tea" I found the entry for Flo @ Equatorial Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Flo is what many of us *ahem* older ones will remember as Blue Moon where Saturday evenings would find couples ballroom dancing. It was one of its kind in KL and I enjoyed going as a spectator. Unfortunately, they have since replaced it with the ultra modern chic Flo, the Lobby Lounge. Their blurb on their website reads "The hotel's new lobby lounge has a contemporary interior which is a blend of tropical warmth with a touch of casual elegance. Zen inspired elements of flowing water, circles of glowing light, tall French windows and plush sofa seating come together to create a tranquil, informal atmosphere for those seeking a brief respite from the daily hustle and bustle. "

It was a VERY quiet Sunday afternoon when we arrived and we were the only ones there for the Afternoon Tea and even then the food took ages to arrive!

You get a choice of tea including Earl Grey, Peppermint, Chamomile. Foodwise it's Smoked Salmon roll, cucumber sandwiches, some cookies and cakes, scones with cream, butter and jam. It's not great, but it's not bad either. My Greedy one was still hungry after all that so he ordered some Liver Parfait but was informed some 15 minutes later that it wasn't available. He promptly ordered the beef sandwich which was accompanied with some overfried french fries which were hard.

It was also slightly weird to have Afternoon Tea at such a contrasting atmosphere.

Anyway, the Tea cost RM28 per pax and is served every Sunday from 2pm-6pm.

* Am dying to try the Sunday Moet & Chandon Champagne Brunch at Étoile Bistro
Every Sunday, a Moet & Chandon Champagne Brunch will be presented with over 150 items on the buffet line as well as individual food stations. Highlights are our Chocolate Fountain with US Strawberries and Frozen Fruits, Raclette Cheese Counter, Wagyu Beef, Fresh Oysters and free-flow of Champagne. Also, complimentary Weekend Edition of the Asian Wall Street Journal, 10% off any magazine title and 2 hours free Internet access with own WiFi device.
RM199++ Full Brunch;
RM159++ Appetizer, Dessert, Champagne;
RM99++ Appetizer, Main Course & Dessert;
RM70++ Appetizer and Dessert;
RM39.95++ Children (5-12 years)
Available: Every Sunday, 11.30 am - 2.30 pm

Equatorial Hotel
Jalan Sultan Ismail
Kuala Lumpur
tel: 21617777