Enjoying Shish Kebab For 5 Years

Today, as my Muslim friends celebrate the end of Ramadan, I would like to write about one of my favorite meat dishes: shish kebab. I had the opportunity of enjoying lamb kebab for 5 years when I lived with my family in Central Asia. Nothing beats the taste of the lamb in that area!

The last time I was in Manila, a group of friends invited me to a nice Persian-Arabian theme restaurant and we ordered kebabs of various meat, except pork. I was excited that after many years I could satisfy my cravings for lamb kebabs. Sad to say, the kebabs were not that great. But it was,overall, a good dinner, though. Much credit goes to the wonderful fellowship we had around the table.

Lamb. chicken, beef, and seafood kebabs at a Persian-Arabian Restaurant.
Kebab, an Arabic word for "to burn or char", is a wide variety of meat dishes originating in turkey, Iraq and later adopted by the Middle East and Asia Minor, and now found worldwide. (Wikipedia). The traditional meat for kebab is lamb but now it can be of different meat including seafood and even veggies!

I know I have a photo of my favorite authentic kebab in Central Asia but I have to dig up my picture files from years ago before I can show it here. Anyways, I'm still happy with this latest one I have. It's still a delicious plate, isn't it?



Halo-Halo: Famous Dessert in the Philippines

Chowkings' famous halo-halo

If Malaysia has ais kacang, Korea has patbingsu and Japan has kakigori, Philiipines has "halo-halo". "Halo" ( hah-lo) in Filipino means "mix" , and if you google the 2 other shaved ice dessert mentioned earlier, you would agree that "halo-halo" has the richest mixture, that's why it's called halo-halo or mix-mix in literal translation. It is a mixture of shaved ice and evaporated milk added with boiled sweetened beans, banana, sago, macapuno, jackfruit, pinipig, and topped with leche flan, purple yam and/or  ice cream. Nothing can be richer than that!

So, whenever in the Philippines, don't forget to order this sweet treat. It helps in beating the heat.


Hot Pot, Shabu-Shabu and Mukata

Korean-Japanese Style complete with sushi bar, tempura and kimchi. 
MK, Sukishi, Shabushi, Sukiyaki. They come in different names but the theme is almost the same. This eat-all-you- can style of buffet is famous very famous in Bangkok. People line up and wait for their number to be called for seating. One may have to wait for two hours especially on paydays. It's not cheap (around 10USD/pax) but if you are a hearty eater, this is the best place to be. With fresh meat, seafood and veggies plus bottomless drinks, fresh fruits and ice cream for dessert, and other delicious pre-cooked dishes, I guess the price is right, only there's a time limit. You can enjoy all these for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Charcoal for grill meat and seafood and boiling veggies, or however you like it!
The one in second photo is better than the first because it has a grill for your meat. At this particular restaurant, they use charcoal instead of electric hot plate so the price is a bit more. I didn't notice the difference though, and they have more meat than veggies and fruit so I would not recommend this place. I didn't even remember the name of the place!

Thai Style called "Mukata". 
If you want to enjoy good food without hurting your budget, Thai local counterpart, Mukata, is the answer. It's the goodness of the first 2 options combined. It's not only the cheapest but they also have delicious Thai dishes on the side.


Coconut Ice Cream On the Road

Who would say "NO" to ice cream on a hot summer day, especially when you're on the road?
Here's a favorite treat when you're in Bangkok.

If you're passing by a stall/shop that sells young coconut, most likely that shop also sells coconut flavored ice cream served in a fresh coconut shell.

This creamy and delicious ice cream  is mixed with fresh and tender young coconut meat (sometimes with sticky rice) for only 20Baht (about 0.70 USD)! You can also ask to top it with peanuts for free!


Curry in Asian Dishes

This basic culinary element weaves Asian cultures.

Fish curry, chicken curry, and curried veggies on a Bangladeshi table.
I stayed in an international school dormitory for one summer where I was invited to different homes and enjoyed delicious, authentic meals from different parts of Asia: Nepal, Bangladesh and India. Every family served different food but one thing was common: curry.

In Malaysia, roti canai is best eaten by hand (right hand).
I lived in Malaysia for few years and, almost every day, I ate roti (bread) with curry sauce or kuah. Then when I moved to Thailand, I discovered that curried dishes are also part of the local diet.
Where does curry come from?  I did a little research and found out that curry comes from India, probably the southern part, because the word ‘curry’ itself comes from a Tamil word  "kari” (கறி) which means ‘gravy’ or sauce for rice. Most Indian curries include turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, garlic and chilies.

Tandoori Chicken with curry sauce.

Traditionally, these spices are toasted and ground for every meal but nowadays premixed curry spices are mostly used in many kitchens not just in Asia but all over the world. What I have in my kitchen now is in powder form. I also have a jar of ready- to-pour rendang curry from Malaysia. Curry spices also come in paste form and in premixed packages. Today in Malaysia, a batu giling, a thick, rectangular granite slab and a long rolling pin made of stone, is still used by some cooks to crushed together curry spices.
Potato salad with curry spice prepared for me by my Nepali host.

Curry has inspired many Asian cooks to create their own distinctive variations. Thai curry paste, or krung gaeng, is traditionally fried in oil-rich coconut cream. The frying must be done slowly until the paste is fragrant. Thai curries are fiery and complex. In Myanmar, curries are generally mild. In Vietnam, and in The Philippines where I grew up, curry is only a minor spice and the locals rely only on a mild premixed curry.
Beef curry serve in Cafe de Coral, Hongkong.
Curry is also used in China but in my five years living there, I cannot recall eating a curried dish maybe because it is mildly used compared to what I’ve tasted in other countries. My Japanese brother in-law, who used to be a chef, would always cook chicken curry using apple instead of potato. So his curry dish tastes a bit sweet. The first meal I had in my recent trip to Hong Kong was beef curry and I tasted more ginger than curry.

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