Literal home-cooked South Indian cuisine at UMAC House

Literal home-cooked South Indian cuisine at UMAC House

One of my favourite banana leaf rice restaurants is at located at a very odd place; hardly anyone knows its exact location.

Unless you’re familiar with the Universiti Malaya Academic Club, you too may not be able to locate the old bungalow which houses Umac House Banana Leaf Rice – hidden so well that it’s one of the few spots in Petaling Jaya with ample parking!

As its name would suggest, Umac has been a favourite haunt for the university’s students, but I suspect that a lot of the fans of this Indian food shop are either retirees who worked in UM umpteen years ago – because Saturday nights are relatively quiet there!

The old bungalow has been in use since the early 1970s, when Ungku Aziz Abdul Hamid served as the vice-chancellor of the university.

It was exactly a year ago when I was invited here by my friend Charles Raj. He had been telling me about this place for a long time, but because our schedules couldn’t meet, we only managed to make it there after a few months.

So, when we finally met up, I was surprised at the number of people having their lunch there. Although hardly known to the public, guests like me only discovered it through word of mouth, especially with the delicious food going for (relatively) cheap.

My personal favourite is Umac House’s sweet and sour mango chutney, which goes perfect with the banana leaf rice. You can also choose from a variety of vegetables, and a small cup of payasam is offered free every Friday.

A standard vegetarian set with four different types of vegetables, papadum and rice costs just RM6.50. Along with the vegetables, they also have deep-fried fish, chicken, squid and mutton. The piece of tenggiri fish that cost an additional RM7.

But prices aside, what is important here is that the food is authentic south Indian. The chef, Balakrishnan Subramaniam Govindasamy, grew up in Tamil Nadu, before working for over 20 years in a restaurant in Singapore.

Even better, proprietor Siva Ananthan told me that Umac House forbids monosodium glutamate being used in their food.

As with most Indian restaurants, only banana leaf rice is served during lunch hours, but in the evenings, they allow guest to pick from their à la carte menu.

Because it is a bungalow house with its proper kitchen, Umac House has its host of regulars due to its (literally) home-cooked food.

Siva’s sister, Ambiga, has been managing this place since last year. Siva is also managing two other canteens – one at the Colgate Palmolive factory in Petaling Jaya, and at the HSBC office in Cyberjaya.

Umac House can also provide the bungalow for special functions such as birthday parties. Siva told me that two couples recently used the rustic bungalow for their wedding receptions.

Umac House is located at No 1, Jalan 12/5, PJS 12, 46200 Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

Tel: +6012 952 1822
Business hours: Sundays 11am- 3.30pm; Mondays- Saturdays 11am – 11pm
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/j76woVrML2J2
Waze location: https://waze.com/ul/hw2839p6q3

Quick Yet Healthy Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Quick Yet Healthy Ideas for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Many of us struggle with eating healthy. “Why”, you ask? These are the common answers I would get:

“I got no time la….”

or

“I don’t know how to eat healthy la…”

I thought what better way to address this than to share with you a meal plan that includes easy recipes. Eating healthy can’t get any easier than this… It takes 15 minutes or less to prepare these simple yet flavourful dishes. I’ve touched on how important it is to eat whole food in my previous articles; My Tips to Guilt-Free Eating and 2 Simple Habits to Rid Cellulites. Today, I’ll be showing you simple ways you can use whole food to create beautiful meals.  

Here are 15-minute recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with desserts and snacks. I promise you, you’ll not say eating healthy is boring, inconvenient or time-consuming ever again… 😉


 

Breakfast

Sesame-Chilli Poached Eggs on Toast

⏰ 5 minutes

This is a simple way to get your protein, carbs, fiber and greens in the morning. All you need is 5 minutes and a simple cooking technique…

Recipe  👇

Ingredients:

  • 1 Slice of Toasted Sprouted Bread
  • 1 Egg
  • ¼ tsp of Sesame Oil
  • 1 Pinch of Chilli Flakes
  • 1 Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt / Sea Salt
  • Sprinkle of Chopped Coriander (chopped)

Directions:

  1. Break egg into a bowl of salted water.
  2. Heat it up in the microwave for 90 seconds.
  3. Lift up poached egg with a slotted spoon/spatula and onto toasted bread
  4. Enjoy with sprinkles of coriander, chilli flakes, sesame oil and salt.

P.s My favourite sprouted bread is the 7-Grains Sprouted Bread from Adventist Bakery. They are available at Village Grocer and Jaya Grocer.


 

Lunch

SouthWest Nourish Plate

⏰ 15 minutes

One of the common causes of afternoon crashes is a carb-loaded meal. I personally dislike feeling lethargic and sleepy in the afternoon at work, so this is my perfect lunch to avoid those noon crashes. 

Recipe 👇

Ingredients:

  • 200g Chicken Breast (finely sliced)
  • 1 tsp Southwest Spice Powder
  • 1 Head Broccoli
  • 2 handful of Frozen Edamame
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil (for marination)
  • Sprinkle of Pink Himalayan Salt/Sea Salt
  • 1 Fist Size Sweet Potato (thinly sliced)

Directions:

  1. Marinade sliced chicken in 1 tsp of Southwest, salt and olive oil overnight/few hours.
  2. Grill sliced chicken on a pan (1 minute on each side)
  3. Steam broccoli and sliced sweet potato for 10 minutes and boil edamame for 1 minute.
  4. Assemble broccoli, sweet potato, edamame, and grilled chicken into a bowl.
  5. Pour chilli-lime dressing (recipe below) over the dish and enjoy!

P.s. You can get southwest spice (and many other amazing spice mixes and dried herbs) from Shaury’s Spices & Herbs from Damansara Uptown

Recipe for Chilli-Lime Dressing (⏰ 1 minute)

Serving Size: 1.5 Tbsp

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice
  • 2 Pinches of Chilli Flakes
  • ¼ Tbsp Raw Honey (more if desired)

Directions: Mix all ingredients together.


 

Dinner

Chilli-Lime Tuna Wrap w Fresh Cucumber

⏰ 15 minutes

After a long day at work, who’s got the energy left to be cooking up a storm in the kitchen… not me for sure! Get your dinner ready in 15 minutes with this zesty meal…

Recipe 👇

Serving Size: 1 Wrap

Ingredients:

  • Canned Tuna in Olive Oil (½ Can)
  • 1 Tbsp Chilli-Lime Dressing (from recipe above)
  • 4 Lettuce Leaves
  • ½ Handful Carrot (grated)
  • ½ Handful Cucumber (grated)
  • ½ Cucumber (sliced)
  • 1 Piece Wholemeal Wrap (or seaweed)

Directions:

  1. Mix 1-2 tbsp of chilli-lime dressing into tuna.
  2. Place lettuce leaves on a wrap, add carrots, grated cucumber and tuna mixture. Fold it into a wrap and enjoy.
  3. Add chilli-lime dressing onto sliced cucumber as a side salad and enjoy with the wrap.

P.s. I’ve used Roti Arab from Jaya Grocer. Prefer this over other wraps available in the market because it is made without preservatives and additives.


 

Snack

Hummus

⏰ 10 minutes

Who doesn’t like snacking between meals every now and then (or every day? 😉 ) You can kill 2 birds with one stone; satisfy your cravings + nourish your body! This snack is that one stone…😄

Recipe 👇

Ingredients:

  • 1 Can Chickpea
  • ½ Tsp Ground Cumin
  • ½ Tsp Pink Himalayan Salt/ Sea Salt
  • 5 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients into food processor.
  2. Blitz till it’s smooth.
  3. Enjoy with veggie sticks (celery, cucumber), fruits (apple), or rice cakes.

P.s You can use a blender for this if you do not have a food processor, you just got to add more olive oil to get the blender moving.


 

Dessert

Frozen Grapes

This is the easiest, simplest dessert. It is sweet, refreshing and it takes no effort at all. One easy way to get some antioxidants into your body.

#RecipeNotRecipe 👇

Ingredient:

Grapes

Directions:

  1. Wash, clean and pop them in the freezer for 6-8 hours.
  2. Enjoy them anytime you like!

 

There you go, my 5 simple dishes. I used to think cooking is time-consuming. Boy, am i wrong…

It still wows me every time I see how a beautiful, delicious plate of nourishing food can be created in just under 15 minutes.”

I hope these recipes will inspire you to experiment in the kitchen a bit more and enjoy eating real food. 

Remember to love someone with your time this week, share something good and positive, encourage a friend who needs a little boost, listen when it’s needed and give with a willing heart.

Lots of love, Erina

2 simple habits to rid “Cellulites”!

2 simple habits to rid “Cellulites”!

Let’s talk about those little bumps on our skin that we could all wish away.. Some people are more prone to cellulites than others (🙋 who is with me on this one?), we can only blame genetics for that…

I’ve learnt to not obsess over it and I’ve learnt to accept that it’s alright to have them. It’s funny how when you’re not intentional about something, everything just falls into place. And that’s my story with them cellulites.

I noticed the change and the reduction when I started adopting these habits. The sole purpose of incorporating them into my lifestyle was to take better care of my body and my health; cellulites reducing was just the cherry on top. I enjoy many other benefits from these habits that are far more important than that.

Habit #1: Eat Real Food

No joke, but as I started eating whole food and less processed food many years back, I’ve seen a tremendous change in my skin and those dimples.  One thing I’ve learnt over the years when it comes to anything is, there’s never a shortcut worth taking. I’ve gone down that path of shortcuts one too many times and this is what I’ve learnt 👇

“Shortcuts may work, but the results are never here to stay”

And don’t we all already know this: the beauty is always in its journey, not the outcome.

I’ve touched a little about eating “real food” or whole food in my previous write up here. I thought today I’ll get into it a little more. Many get confused with the word “whole food”. It just means food that is not processed and in its original form. They are mostly not in a packet. Anything you see in the “FRESH” section of the supermarket is the whole food.

“Whole food = The food itself is the ingredient, and the ingredient itself is the food.”

Eg: sweet potato, orange, pink Himalayan salt, salmon, etc. No adulteration of any kind on them!

You can enjoy delicious meals just by using whole food or food that has only whole food in its ingredient list (yes, check those ingredient lists people!). For those of you who aren’t used to cooking, it is definitely not a daunting task, don’t sweat it. Here are some of my favourite recipes that you can try if you have no idea where to begin…

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Nom Nom Nom. No time to cook during the week? Easy! Just meal prep this delicious Broccoli Quinoa on the weekend, and keep it stocked in your fridge, ready to be eaten anytime during the week. Stay tuned for next recipe coming up – it's def my fave meal to have at the moment. • Recipe for 15-minute Broccoli Quinoa Ingredients: 🌿1 Cup Red Quinoa 🌿2 Cups Water 🌿4 Heap Tbsp Roasted Garlic Dressing @thepantrybyerina 🌿2 Handfuls of Steamed Broccolis (chopped) 🌿Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt Optional: cherry tomatoes and coriander for garnishing. Directions: 1. Add quinoa and water in a saucepan. Heat up till it reaches boiling point, then let it simmer till all water is fully absorbed (takes about 10 minutes) 2. Add steamed broccoli, roasted garlic dressing and salt into cooked quinoa. Mix well. 3. Garnish with your favourite herb or greens. #eatwiththepantry

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When I first made this, it became my obsession for days. Yes, I had this same thing for breakfast and lunch for few days in a row, no kidding! 😅 This is a perfect “meal prep” meal. As long as you've got your quinoa cooked and kept in fridge, you can make this easily in minutes! • Recipe for 15-minute Seaweed Quinoa Roll Ingredients: 🍣 Sheet of Seaweed 🍣 Broccoli Quinoa (recipe in previous post) 🍣 Sliced carrots and cucumber 🍣 Black Sesame Seeds Directions: 1. Place seaweed on flat surface. 2. Add broccoli quinoa on seaweed, even out quinoa to make rolling easier later on. 3. Place carrots and cucumber slices, and sprinkle black sesame seeds. 4. Roll it up and enjoy it just like that or cut it up into sushi rolls. #eatwiththepantry

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Habit #2: Dry Brushing

This habit is a little more current to me, but oh boy do I see the difference! You know when they say dry brushing is for detoxification? Whoever they are, they got it right… When I explored wellness a little more last year (yep, I did all that homemade scrub, homemade mask, and even DIY facial steam!), that’s when I got onto the whole “Dry Brushing” wagon. These are some of the health benefits I found when I looked it up:

👉 Clean pores and minimize pores

👉 Get rid of dead skin cells (exfoliation)

👉 Lymphatic support (detoxifies!)

👉 Energy Boost

I mean, how can anyone resist that? 😅

I started doing it daily before a shower and the reduction of cellulite happen pretty quickly with this one. Check out how to dry brush effectively and go try it out y’all, you can thank me later 😆

Tip: Always lather up with moisturizer after a shower if you’re dry brushing to keep skin moist and smooth.

There you go, the 2 habits I’ve adopted that has helped in reducing my cellulite over time. I hope they will help you with yours too. But remember, don’t obsess over it. Take care of your health first, and everything else will fall into place. Cellulite or not, you’re just the way you should be, nothing more and nothing less. #perfectimperfections #loveyourdimples 😉

Have a good week ahead! As always, remember to love, share, encourage, listen and give 😘

Lots of love, Erina

Lau Char is keeping the ancient art of Chinese tea alive

Lau Char is keeping the ancient art of Chinese tea alive

Liu Yen Haw may only be 19 years old, but the retail manager of Lau Char Trading in Kepong is already masterful at preparing a good pot of Chinese tea and serving it to his guests.

He has been enjoying Chinese tea since he was 15. On the art of brewing Chinese tea, he says the quality of tea brewed reflects the true character of a person, and how much patience and inner peace one has.

This was also affirmed by his manager, Cody Tan, who I met about six years ago. Tan was also just a young boy when he started involving himself in the tea business.

It proves one thing – the people learning to appreciate the art of Chinese tea are getting younger. In fact, it is interesting to learn that even people from other ethnic communities are also learning to enjoy the art of drinking Chinese tea.

At one buka puasa event at a local masjid that I was invited to last year, some of our Muslim friends told me that they love the silky feel of the Chinese tea, when it is brewed properly.

While talking about Chinese tea and how well it complements his biryani, one of the directors of Hyderabad Recipes, Jasbeer Singh Kaura, told me that he frequently drinks pu’er tea in his office.

Based on my research, pu’er is a variety of fermented tea grown and produced in the Yunnan province of China. Interestingly, most of the tea comes from a town called Pu’er, which was named after the tea.

Liu bao is mainly from Guangxi province and has a longer history compared to pu’er tea.

Personally, I am also a fan of pu’er tea, because of its mellow yet powerful taste. It is a little sweet, compared to the slightly more bitter taste of unfermented or green tea, despite it being good for digestion.

After a heavy meal – like a sumptuous plate of biryani – pu’er is a good relief for the bloating sensation. This is where Xiaguan Tuocha comes in very handy indeed.

The longer the pu’er tea ages, the smoother is the taste of the tea. However, according to Tan, it is the aging of the unfermented tea that fetches a bigger value.

About a decade ago, the price of pu’er was only RM20 for a 357g cake, but the price has now increased tenfold.

The tea cakes that were manufactured around 2003 to 2005 now cost about RM300, while those that date back to the late 1990s can cost up to RM3,000! According to Tan,

“This, of course, depends on the market demand. Tea generally ages faster in Malaysia, because of a higher humidity.”

Lau Char’s tea business started in 2012, but it has since come a long way. They were initially representing Xiaguan Tuocha, but as of last year, they have added another feather to their cap by being appointed as sole distributor of Maosheng Liu Bao in Malaysia.

Because of the long business relationship, Xiaguan presented Tan’s late grandfather with a special souvenir of 35kg of compacted tea leaves for his involvement in organising Chinese calligraphy competitions in schools.

For a recent Penang exhibition, Tan brought along a tea compacting machine to give tea enthusiasts a firsthand experience of how tea leaves are compacted.

One thing that stood out for him on his recent visit to Maosheng was the respect for hygiene at its liu bao tea factory, which is dust-free. This, he said, totally changed his perception about the way Chinese tea is manufactured in modern China.

Most people are more familiar with the Cantonese name, lok po char, the term used by the Chinese settlers in Malaya.

Maosheng and Xiaguan are among the two largest tea manufacturers from China. Xiaguan has been around since 1902, and probably the first to introduce the pu’er series in China.

Besides these, Tan has also started his line of OEM-manufactured Chinese tea by Xiaguan, under the series known as Loong-Ma. Loong (dragon) represents China, and ma (horse) symbolises Malaysia. Loong-Ma, with its own special blend, is only available in Malaysia.

Walk-in guests are also welcome to learn more about Chinese tea from the staff.

Lau Char Trading Sdn Bhd is located at No 4 Jalan Besar, Kepong, 52100 Kuala Lumpur.

Penangites would be pleased to know that Lau Char has an outlet in Penang under the name Fumie Trading Sdn Bhd which is located at 277, Jalan CY Choy, 10300, Pulau Pinang.

Tel: 03-62631058
Websites: Lau Char
Facebook: Search for Tea Room Kl
Waze: Type Lau Char Trading Sdn Bhd

Getting the best of both worlds at Hyderabad Recipes

Getting the best of both worlds at Hyderabad Recipes

There is nothing like biryani from the source. We never flew to Hyderabad to taste biryani the way it was prepared for the Nizams, but we did go to the next best place: Hyderabad Recipes.

Our “flight” to Hyderabad Recipes was with two friends, Barnabas and Adelaine Boon, a couple in their sixties, to savour what has been called the best biryani in Kuala Lumpur. They told me that the biryani here was “an exception,” and I agree.

But I did something else. Because I wanted the couple to sample Mao Sheng Liu Bao tea as well, I brought along a Chinese tea set to Hyderabad Recipes – a practice which I hope will set a new trend here in Malaysia!

One of Hyderabad Recipes’ directors, Jasbeer Singh Kaura, and his very proactive operations manager, Jagannath, invited us to taste their “world famous dum biryani.” But later I found out that Jasbeer and I have something in common.

He told me that he has a Chinese tea set in his office – but it never occurred to him that biryani goes very well indeed with pu’er tea! As Barnabas put it:

“It is a perfect contrast between the spiciness of biryani with the mellow Chinese tea, which speaks of the calmness of the Oriental soul.”

Even Adelaine, who hardly eats mutton, agreed that the special mutton biryani lived up to its name, because of the soft texture, and the lack of the strong odour that puts many people off the meat.  

But the special chicken biryani was my favourite. Like a hidden treasure buried in the basmati rice, the chicken is slightly spicy, but went excellently with the Chinese tea. And it helps with digestion, too.

My suggestion is that if you are going to try out the food here at Hyderabad Recipes, you should bring along your favourite Chinese tea. They can even provide the pots and small cups at no corkage fee; otherwise, their masala tea is just as good to help with digestion.

If you are coming with a bigger group, I suggest you order their full portion BBQ platter, with tandoori chicken, grilled dory, prawns and mutton kebab. We were particularly mesmerised by the fish!

According to Jasbeer, he first discovered the magic of Hyderabadi food to be very good when he was based there.

“That’s why, together with two other partners, we decided to bring in the chefs from Hyderabad so that Malaysians can enjoy a meal of the authentic Hyderabadi food. One of my partners is in fact descended from the Nizams of Hyderabad. Using Hyderabad Recipes as a model, my partner has also expanded the business on his own since 2008 to establish some 126 franchisees around the world.”

Two of their signature dishes – the Hyderabadi fried chicken and Hyderabadi mutton fry – are best eaten with naan. As for naan toppings, you can choose from with garlic, chilli powder, sesame seed and mint leaves.

For desserts, though the gulab jamun reigns supreme for most, my personal preference is the carrot halwa, since I don’t have a sweet tooth.

And most amazingly, for a meal with for four adults and two children, the bill came up to just over RM100!

For the coming month of Ramadhan, their specials will include two flavours of chicken and mutton haleem. They also specialise in bheja fry (goat brains), malai paya (mutton soup), but these two dishes are only available for special orders and for catering purposes.

Hyderabad Recipes is located at No 78-1 Jalan Putra, near the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur. There is a nice parking lot just 50 metres away.

Tel: 03-40447786 (booking and catering)
Business hours: Mon-Sun: 10am – 10pm

Websites: Hyderabad
Facebook: Hyderabad Recipes
Waze: Type Hyderabad Recipes

Restoran Binjai brings the budu to BU

Restoran Binjai brings the budu to BU

While most Malaysians would agree that nasi lemak is a national dish, a large number would also agree that it isn’t necessarily as tasty as nasi kerabu golok or nasi dagang, especially if it comes straight from Kelantan and Terengganu.

But they probably haven’t tasted Restoran Binjai’s unique nasi lemak.

In previous articles, I highlighted Pok Nik Nasi Kukus Ayam Kampung in Taman Bukit Permai and Azizah Nasi Kukus Ayam Berempah in Bandar Sri Damansara.

It is this very ayam rempah that sets Binjai’s nasi lemak apart.

When my nine-year-old son tried the nasi lemak, he told me: “Daddy, this is great! Try it yourself,” pointing to the ayam rempah, which is leagues beyond the normal fried chicken you can find anywhere else.

Here, I also found their nasi kerabu à la Kelantan to be very good, if a little on the salty side.

However, restaurant owner, Izzman Hafiz, who hails from Binjai, Kelantan, told me that guests can always request the dishes to be less salty.

“It is just a matter of reducing the budu sauce,” he says. “It’s like chili. Some people like it with a lot of chili, others prefer it without.”

For kids, Binjai serves nasi dagang which can be prepared non-spicy. A plate of rice, with pickled carrot and cucumber, served with a piece of ikan tongkol cooked in high quality santan, costs just RM8.50.

Izzman started the restaurant together with his mother in 2008 when he was only 24 years old. The recipes are from Izzman’s own mother.

“We are well-known for our nasi kerabu since the day we started business here. Our regular patrons know what to expect. Some of them therefore even place their orders using Uber Eats.”

The Nasi Kerabu consists of rice coloured by Asian pigeonwings, desiccated coconut and about seven different types of ulam, bean sprouts and fish crackers, which only costs RM5.

However, you have the option of adding ayam rempah or ikan celup tepung to your dish.

They also serve nasi campur, which is mostly ready for the lunch crowd by 10am. By 12.30pm, they’re ready to start taking à la carte orders.

Restoran Binjai is located at a hidden corner of Oasis Business Centre at Lot G10, Jalan Changkat, Bandar Utama, 47800 Petaling Jaya.

Tel: 012-274 7353
Business hours: 7 days a week (7.30am – 7.30pm)
Facebook: Restoran Binjai (Original)
Instagram: @restoranbinjai
Order: Through Uber Eats
Waze: Type Restoran Binjai