Thursday, 30 May 2013

Chai and the dying of a culinary tradition

I opened up my Twinings Chai tea in front of my Indian Malaysian colleague R.  OH! she exclaimed, where do you get that tea from?  Turns out that her mother used to mix her own spices into tea leaves for masala chai tea.  After all, masala means 'spices'.

I asked R if she knew what is the proportion of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and ginger to mix into the tea.  She replied that she never thought to ask her mother when her mom was alive.  Ah.... there goes another family recipe.

I have mastered Sarawak kolo mee, Hainanese chicken rice and many Cantonese soup staples - lotus root, winter melon, old melon, cai gan, liu mei.  The Husband has perfected his Chinese sio bak (glazed pork belly with crispy skin) and his char siew (lean pork with sweet marinade).  Some years ago, we realise that our peers could turn out Jamie Olivier and Nigella's recipes at the drop of a hat, but our Asian dishes.... the comfort food that we grew up with.... are slowly and surely being lost as our grandmothers and grandfathers pass on.

The recipes I want to learn from my mom and aunts are
  • Braised mushrooms with dried scallop, dried oysters, and seaweed (fa cai)
  • Yong tau foo, vegatables stuffed with fishcake and minced pork mix
  • Curry chicken


  1. Yum.. you can make such complex dishes! :)

  2. hi OKC! you came out of your blogging wilderness :) Sarawak kolo mee, Hainanese chicken rice and soups are simple dishes, once I get the hang of it, that is.

    Complex dishes only mean the process of cooking it is mysterious... once one has learnt, it seems really simple. Like with learning of all new skills.