‘Tis the season to be jolly! Roll out the red carpet for year-end feasting ideas and updates on where and how to make merry.
Words: Alice Yong
First coined in British India in 1844, the word ‘Eurasian’ initially referred to people of mixed British and Indian descent but later was expanded to include other mixed ethnicities such as Dutch Burghers (those with Dutch or German surnames) and the Kristang people of Malaysia (those with Portuguese ancestry). For the Kristang community, Christmas is incomplete without their customary dishes drawn from their Portuguese intermingled with Malay, Indian, Chinese and Nyonya (Straits Chinese) culinary influences.
A Chinese-influenced dish of braised pork, pigs’ ears and sometimes intestines in soy-galangal sauce with cinnamon, cloves and star anise served on a salad of cucumber, lettuce and tomato topped with homemade chilli, garlic and vinegar dressing.
Curry Debal/Devil’s Curry
Traditionally cooked on Boxing Day (December 26) as an ingenious way to make use of leftover meats from Christmas Day, the dish is prepared with a fiery-hot blend of dried chillies, mustard, turmeric powder, candlenuts, vinegar and galangal. Similar Eurasian flavours can be savoured at Top Hat restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. Try the Bon Natal platter by Chef Richard Moreira, a celebratory platter that includes cashew nut and raisin butter rice, assam prawns, lamb prune curry, acar awak (mixed pickles), sebak and chicken curry with kaffir lime. www.top-hat-restaurants.com
How does a hazelnut and chai yoghurt drink, luscious lemon gourmet yoghurt, or some rich haloumi sound? Now you can have it all from The Collective, a brand that specialises in epicurean flavoured yoghurts, yoghurt drinks and cheeses. Best of all, the handcrafted, probiotic and vegetarian range is completely gluten, gelatine and preservative-free! www.thecollective.com
Originally known as the Chinese gooseberry, the kiwifruit was first planted in New Zealand in 1906 by Mary Isabel Fraser following her visit to China. Just a serving (150g) of this little fruit gives you over 150% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C (twice as much as a 100g orange). Vitamin C helps to reduce fatigue and, enhances the body’s absorption of important minerals such as iron and calcium. Eating more kiwifruit also helps regulate bowel movement and reduces stomach discomfort after a heavy meal. Its fibre-rich content promotes the growth of benefi cial bacteria in the gut and the protease enzyme (actinidin) spurs food protein digestion, enabling better nutrient absorption in our bodies.
The fruit is also low in Glycemic index and serves as a natural source of folate that’s essential for formation of red blood cells, cell growth and nerve development. www.zespri.com
Feasting in Philippines
In the Philippines, the Yuletide feast includes bibingka – a sweet Christmas dessert made with rice fl our, coconut milk,salted egg, cheese and coconut; putò bumbóng – purple, sticky rice delicacy steamed in bamboo tubes, buttered and sprinkled with brown sugar and shredded dried coconut flesh; pandesal – bread rolls made of flour, eggs, east, sugar and salt, and hamón (Christmas ham). Drinks include coffee, salabát (a ginger tisane) and tsokoláte (thick Spanish-style hot chocolate). If you are not in Philippines during the Yuletide season, sample bibingka and other Christmassy treats at Delicious Café in Singapore and Malaysia throughout December. www.thedeliciousgroup.com
Dining Out of the Box
Game for some offbeat wining and dining options this festive season? Then join one of Deborah Cayetano’s pop-up dinners in Bali. Conceived to change the perception of where and how we dine out and as a method to push Bali’s best chefs to think out of the box, her surprising ‘pop-up’ dinners mean you’ll never know where you’ll be dining (it can be on land or at sea) and what specialities will appear on the menu. www.balisbestchefs.com
Executive chef Justin Wise pays homage to his classical French training and molecular gastronomy background to reinvigorate the food philosophy at The Point in Melbourne, Australia. Seasonable produce such as farmed Murray cod from Rutherglen, Queensland coral trout, crayfish from Port Campbell and Australia’s finest meat, seafood and other produce indicate both Wise’s and The Point’s commitment in bringing luxury back to dining. For the upcoming Christmas revelry, try the sumptuous four-course menu priced at AUD190 per person. www.thepointalbertpark.com.au
A lavish international buffet with traditional roast turkey takes the centre stage at Chatuchak Café, Centara Grand, Central Plaza Ladprao in Bangkok on Christmas Eve (THB650++ to THB1,300++ per person) and Christmas Day (THB1,500++ to THB1,300++ per person). You can also enjoy a four-course set dinner at Don Giovanni Italian Restaurant (THB1,600++ with a glass of Italian wine) or the Blue Sky, Bar & Restaurant (THB2,000++). On New Year’s Eve, eat, drink and welcome the New Year with sumptuous festive menus priced between THB2,500++ and THB4,100++ per person at Chatuchak Café, Don Giovanni and Blue Sky, Bar & Restaurant. www.centarahotelsresorts.com/cglb
Organic Products for Less
The Organic Trade Association offers five simple ways to buy organic products for less:
Scour local supermarkets Check your local supermarkets or farmer’s market for a greater variety of affordable organic food choices instead of restricting it to health food and specialty stores.
Multiple usages Several brands of USDA Organic products such as pasta sauces can be affordable when you maximise the usage of the basic product. Use the same sauce for a pasta dinner, sandwich spread or as a marinade.
Change and cut the waste Small changes in your eating habits such as reducing fast food meals and premium coffee purchases could make more money available for organic food. Make a list before your supermarket shopping trips to avoid impulse buying and cook often at home.
Consider loyalty programmes Most retailers offer reward programmes for customer loyalty, allowing you to earn points based on your purchases. Redeem the loyalty points for cash vouchers for purchase of organic food products.