A fine savour on simple pleasures

My aim is to reduce the tension in my mind by sharing my thoughts and experiences in the things that I love; which I could not express openly due to circumstances. Be it in doing stupid things, experimenting on new recipes, failings in research work, writings..just some doodle ranting stuff

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Manga review: 7 Seeds

7 Seeds has given me mixed feelings all the way. It's the first shoujo/josei manga that gives a tremendous impression on me (with the lack of non-cliches all shoujo mangas have). Even my hubby who loves seinen was impressed with the quality of the storyline of this manga. I'm puzzled that it didn't make the top 10 list of online manga reading sites. Maybe its a little too serious for the majority younger readers? (I don't think so..hmm..). There are times I'm sooo happy, and then I was crying due to sadness..The turbulent of emotions evoked by the storyline was powerful to me, which reminds me of One piece (which I believed is much better than one piece). The illustrations were beautiful and sparkling. I totally loved it!


Title: 7 Seeds
Status: Ongoing
Nationality: Japanese
 Genre: Drama, Josei, Psychological, Tragedy, Horror, Mystery, Action, Mature
Online reading source: mangafox

Written and illustrated by Tamura Yumi sensei, this manga brings a non-generic josei genre, which targeted on adult women's readers, while maintaining certain shoujo characteristics (with the big sparkly eyes and everything haha)..very little romance ensues, but still, the feelings are richly present among a number of characters. In 2007, this manga won the Shogakukan Manga Award under the category of shoujo manga. High quality scanlations are done by the Tsukihana group while summaries can be read at Megchan's blog, if you can't wait that is. I seriously recommend for you to go for the scanlation site itself, their works are top notch and one of the best I've seen amongst other scanlations, I could actually feel the love and the passion :) Currently at chappie 114 under the 'Awakening Insect' arc, this manga was update once or twice a month at around 30-40 page/update.

 To me, this manga has no lead. It spins from an arc to another arc where all the characters are similarly important, which is similar to George R.R. Martin's works on the Song of Ice and Fire novel series (although the characters were not as many). The setting was done some years ahead, after the world has survived a post-apocalyptic doomsday, where all humans are wiped out due to a big meteorite hitting earth. 5 groups of 7 young healthy men and women + 1 guide emerged from their cryogenic sleep and strive to survive the wilderness, hence, where the name '7 seeds' comes from. Each group were named after a season; summer, autumn, winter and spring. Their mission in life is to survive the harsh environment and repopulate (laughes! easier said then done). The Japanese government has placed 7 caches known as Fujiis scattered around Japan, where food, day to day survival gears, seeds, books and etcs, as a measure to help these chosen individuals to survive. Hence, by being able to reach these Fujiis, their survival may be guaranteed.

Each person in this manga is someone special/skillful in a certain field. Team Summer A was trained like crazy for this while being emotionally scarred due to excessive psychological torture. Team spring, autumn and winter were normal skillful people of different ages. While team summer B was a back-up team established after all 4 teams, which consists of 'rebellious' teens, just incase the characteristics of the 4 aforementioned teams were not suited to survive the future. This is always done in laboratory experimentations (my personal experience), which is called as the control group.

However, life is not a book correct? How well you plan ahead, it won't guarantee that it'll follow just the way you like it. That's how the drama unfolds.

Team Summer B, from left: Kaname (cap), Hotaru, Botan (guide), Semimaru, Arashi, Natsu; 
Back from right: Matsuri (pigtails), Chiamaki

 Team Spring, from left: Chisa (sitting), Momotarou, Haru, Fujiko, Hana, Mansaku

 Part of team Summer A, from left: Ayu (long hair), Koruri (curly short hair), Ango (black hair), Ryou (most right)

 Team Winter, from left: Kumakawa (guide), Mutsuki, Mitsuru, Fubuki

 The only surviving winter team member, Aramaki, an ex-Koshien pitcher

 Part of team Autumn, from left after Hana: Ran, Akane, Kurumi, Ryuusei

 The thing is, the mangaka hinted that other countries besides Japan, also have performed such tactics, providing a wider possibility for the plot to further expand. Although it is under josei, to me, men or women alike will enjoy this tremendously..maybe 17++..I don't want to reveal too much of the plot, dun wanna be a spoilsport haha. I'm always on edge when reading this manga, and I believe you will too.

 Rating: 9.9/10

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Yue's Homemade Chilli Crab

 This is a lovely dish that Malaysians fall head over heels over it. No matter what race they are (chuckles!!). The other time I went to Pasar Borong Selangor, I craved for some crab dishes, and since its a full moon these few days, its an ideal time to buy some fat flower crabs for lunch yum2~ (happily dancing hula hoop). My hubby truly adores me and loves to pamper me with food (facepalm) and the (not-so) little me cannot stand temptations in terms of quality seafood ingredients. It makes my heart race while fetching for the wok on one hand and a chopper on another (laughing)

Before that, let me give you some tips on how to choose a good fat crab before cooking;

 Choosing the right flower crab for cooking !

1) choose the +-15th from the Islamic or Chinese lunar calender for marketing day. Or if you don't know how, juz gaze at the lovely moon, when it shone brightly in a big watermelon shape, go to the market the next day. This is because, more crabs could be caught during this time, hence, the price will drop slightly, and you have many many to choose from :)

2) smell them, and make sure they aren't fishy..this is to check the freshness

3) choose the female ones. How? turn it over, and check its booty haha. there's 2 kinds..the bluish one will have spiky booty (those are males, its a nono)..and another would be slightly brownish with dome-like or fan-like booty, usually larger than the bluish ones..these are the ones you should look for..if you're lucky, you'll get lotsa eggs yum2!

(an example of a male and female crab, it came from malaysiabest..i edited it abit for labeling)

4) pick the solid and heavy ones..if not you won't get enough meat out of it (sigh)

That's it :) Not that hard ait?

We bought 2 flower crabs..really heavy one ! these 2 already 0.8 kg !! (at that time its RM22-24/kg) the size determined the price..this is considered quite cheap compared to the size hohoho (laughing cockily)

Then lets proceed to how to clean a crab :)

How to clean a crab

1) use a small brush (as in  old toothbrush or equivalent - i always kept 1 handy huhu) and lotsa running water..scrub all the crooks and cranny to remove any dirt and grime from the surface

2) turn it on the booty side, flip open the butt, hold down with one hand gently, another hand grab the opposite part and tear away gently to distangle the cap/head from the body..DO NOT throw away any of the slime inside, wash thoroughly with running water only

3) use a heavy mortar stone and hit the elongated 'hand' and pincer of the crab..this is so that eat'll be easier to break during eating

4) cleave the body of the crab into two parts with a heavy chopper for easy access to the flesh

Its ready to be cooked !

Yue's Homemade Chilli Crab (3-4 servings, but we ate juz the 2 of us :P )


For crab preparation*
1-2 tbs curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 clove garlic  (mash/grind)
1 cm2 ginger (mash/grind)
a few dash of white pepper powder
generous amount of vege oil for deep-frying
a wee bit of water (make it like potato mash consistency)

Gravy making
2 big/yellow onions - julienne
4 cloves garlic - julienne
2-4 tbs chilli paste (2 = mild, 4 = moderately hot)
1 tbs oyster sauce
2 tbs ketchup
1 tbs chilli sauce
1/2 cube chicken stock
a dash of kicap lemak masin (kipas udang) - optional
salt and pepper to taste
1 large beaten egg


1) Dry the crabs in paper towels slightly. Use all the items in * to soil the surface of your crabs. Don't forget to scrub it to the surface of the flesh and the inner side of the cap. If you feel that its not enough, you can add a wee bit of curry powder sumore. Do not let it be watery k..

2) Prepare all the items for gravy making (you may take about 5-10 mins, hence, you can let the crab sit a while in the marination)

3) Heat vege oil in a wok. The amount? at which partially emerges the crab. I think its about 1 cup. At moderate fire, when its hot, fry the crab about 2 mins or so per side. Do not put in all crab. Fry one part at a time and put aside. Repeat until finish. Don't over cook :)

This is what a deep fried crab looks like

4) Remove part of the oil, leaving about 4-5 tbs. Fry the onions and garlic together until fragrant at high heat. No malas-malas k..keep on moving your hands as not to let them burn.

5) Lower down the fire to medium, add oyster sauce and stir until fragrant (2-3 mins). Then, the chilli paste, again, stir until the oil comes out to the surface (it'll take longer, 5 mins I guess). Add in the chilli sauce and ketchup with a dash of soy sauce (kicap lemak). If you don't have, you can substitute with light soy sauce with  a wee bit of dark soy sauce (ratio 1tbs:2 drops). But can just omit this altogether, since kicap lemak taste very differently compared to the conventional soy sauce. Do all these quickly, if not they'll burnt easily.

6) Stir well and add 1/2 cube of chicken stock, salt and pepper. Taste and adjust accordingly. It should taste a little stronger (because you didn't add crab yet). If its too dry, juz add a bit of water (2 tbs like that), we don't want it to be too watery, not nice.

7) Add in crab parts 1 by 1, soiled the surface, and push it to the side of the wok, no need to take it out. Do this to all crab parts until all are coated with the gravy (let the heat at medium low).

8) After all parts have been coated with the gravy, add in 1 beaten egg inside and stir profusely. This'll make the sharp gravy becomes 'soft' and creamy. Lovely.

9) Dish out !

10) Well, if you have some green onions for garnishing, it'll be perfect :) The tomato flower was not a nessescity (shrug). Juz a touch of red to make it prettier haha.

Lovely with warm steamed white rice..yum yum... (droooooling already..)

A must try !

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Restaurant review: Taktaz, Seri Kembangan

A review that I've kept postponing on writing..but is truly needed so that others can find this middle-eastern hidden jewel :) It was an old story, yet blooming freshly in my mind, made me recount the pleasant experience when I think of Iranian food. I've ravaged a fair number of middle eastern cuisine, believe me, and this one is considered one of the excellent ones (better than hadramawt I tell you! cheaper too). My hubby and I will always drive by Taktaz nearly every weekend when we went out, its because its located in an apartment complex opposite the South city plaza, the road connects us from Seri Kembangan to Bukit Jalil and KL, a good alternative road (with no toll) for entering the MRR2. Usually either we're late to some occasion (hence, have to speed up) or already full when on our way home.

Hence, on our way back from an event, at about 1045 pm, we suddenly got the urge to stop by and eat haha.. It's heaven intervention!

The restaurant was deserted, no customers, just a waitress. I think maybe its because its a bit late. Who will eat a big bulk of rice at 11 pm except us? =____=||| (ashamed of herself). As we, go through the menu, we realized this place also got pizza! what a lovely combination :) The ambient was serene and scenic with a touch of elegance to it. From outside, you won't realize how pretty the place is. (The signboard is white in colour with a red 'taktaz restaurant' written, very basic)

After a thorough flip of the menu, we decided to try something that hasn't been tried in other middle eastern restaurant and a pan of pizza of course huhu. We waited juz for a lil while before everything was ready..I think the pizza arrived after 10-15 mins, and later another  10 mins, the food :)

See the pizza counter on the bottom right? yeah! the waitress made the pizza on the spot over there (its outside the restaurant, open air). We're entertained huuu~

Our tea was ready (why is there so much sugar cube? O_____O) That made us wonder..

We ordered a set of traditional Iranian tea (RM 6.50). Its from the Ahmad tea sachet with mint leaves infusion. Although I'm truly confused by the number of sugar cubes given..hmm..its a mystery XDXD I tried for 2 cubes, juz incase if there's anything different, and I'm desperately in hypertonic mode already..can't stand the sweetness!! and I thought the sugar is something special..confirmed normal sugar cube haha

Yup, the glutton we are, as expected, we ordered something unbelievable. Just for the 2 of us. 1 barg, 1 bakhtiary, 1 chicken and 1 koobide kebab platter hahaha

Inclusive of 1 saffron rice..with a watery brownish gravy..which was nice..

and, 1 dill rice (both rice with the meat galore platter = RM 65.90)

I don't know what's a barg, bakhtiary or koobide..but all those are meats of different flavour..maybe grilled differently with a number of marinations..I don't know which one, some tastes like beef, got lean ones, and ground ones..and chicken intermittent with beef as well..I sincere don't know if there's lamb in those assortments or not..if there is, I didn't catch the signature aroma. Nonetheless, the meat was succulent and tender, and the marination was perfect! The lime, onion and oh, the pink thingy truly compliments the meats. Its a wonderous  moment, each mouthful we savoured with happiness and gratitude. I feel like flying haha

A lovely pizza of lamb with mushroom (L) =  RM 17.00..the size is actually regular when compared to dominos

And the pizza...OMG...it was sooooo tender and juicy!..unbelievable! It's the best pizza I've ever tasted so far..Better than dominos, better than papa john's and definitely better than pizza hut. The dough was fluffly yet crunchy and the toppings were generous! After only eating this once, I've actually promoted it to a lot of people haha

Can't you believe it? We finished em all. (pats2 tummy). Even the owner came out to look at us, curiously looking at our sizes which were in-proportional to the lovely food we partake (we're juz 2 persons, husband and wife of course). hahaha.

Actually if the food is lousy, we won't have the heart to finish em (shrug). Finishing all these signifies the food is superb!

Thumbs up!

Taktaz Restaurant
No.B.G.3 Taman Persiaran Serdang Perdana,
Seri Kembangan, 43300 Selangor. (Opposite of South City Plaza)
GPS coordinate : 3.01158, 101.73324
Tel : +603 - 8941 3364
 Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/pages/TAKTAZ-Restaurant-in-Malaysia-Iranian-Food/158833524399

Operating Hours:
Daily : 12.00pm - 12.00am

Rating: 9/10

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Kungpao chicken!! Haiyah!

The first time I made kungpao chicken was a a year or so ago.. its already my fifth or sixth time. I think I randomly referred to a series of foodblogs for this..some were stated at my reference corner. I didn't exactly follow any one of the instructions, but I juz read through and juz go for whatever available in my humble kitchen huhu. Now, it has become one of the all-time favourite of my hubby..The thick savoury taste balanced the slightly spicy taste..and when you munch on a cashew nut, its a bonus! haha..for us, we even ate the fried dry chilies for a higher level of spicy kick! to us, its quite bland if its not for the chillies..but beware to the brave ones, the spiciness comes a bit later in your stomach, and too much of em, it'll hurt..drink some milk to appease the pain lol (or some gaviscon :P)

Do you know why I wanted to try to make this for the first time? Its an absurd reason. Its SimSocial's fault. One of the dish learnt in cooking skill section when you already have a stove is 'kungpao chicken'. So I took an interest because of that haha. Its the same with some of the other dishes like the 'tuscan soup', 'egg benedict', 'devil's egg', as well as  a variety of other food *laughing*. That came from another cooking game I tried before. Who said playing games are a waste of time?

 Kungpao Chicken

Serves 3-4


For marination sauce
3 tbs dark thick soy sauce or molasses (the kind that didn't taste much but very dark in colour)
2 tbs honey
2 tbs light soy sauce
1 tbs vinegar (use whatever, i used apple cider vinegar with the mother, for health reasons haha..if dun have, you can opt for 2 squeezed lime juice)
2 pinch of salt
dash of pepper
2 tbs corn starch
~ mix all this together into a thick solution (hmm..did i miss anything?..dun think so..)

For frying
3 tbs vege oil
2 tbs julienned ginger
3 cloves of garlic - julienned
5-8 dried chillies (do not immerse in water or cut if you dont want the seeds to come out)
1/4 c whole cashew nuts
2 sprigs of green onion (cut to 1 inch in length)

oh..most importantly, 1 piece of cubed chicken breast (don't cut to small, not so nice woh) 


1. Taste your marination. Is the taste balanced between sweet, sour and salty? If not, adjust accordingly. It will taste strong although balanced, but don't worry, it won't do you any harm. If too light, add a wee bit of light soy sauce.

2. Marinate the cubed chickens with the  sauce + corn starch in it. Leave it in the fridge for 3-4 h. If I want to cook it for lunch, I prep the marination after breakfast, if for dinner, after lunch I prep the marination after lunch.

3. Pour in the oil in a wok (a bit only k), and fry the cashew nuts at low fire, remove and set aside.

4. Using the same oil, fry the dried chillies at medium fire until you can smell the spiciness, beware, if the oil too hot, it can expand the air within the chillies and it can burst. Like a shotgun. And, ur pitiful face will burn (talking from experience =___=|||). This should take less than 3-4 mins. The indication is, the wrinkled chillies became 'full'. You'll understand what I mean.

5. Add the ginger with the garlic, stir until aromatic.

6. Add in the marinated chicken WITH the marination alltogather. Stir well until the chicken became somewhat opaque (hard to see tho, since its all black and stuff..you get the jiff haha)

7. Check the taste, if bland, please adjust accordingly with salt, vinegar, and honey. Maintain the consistency at all time. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT add water.

8. Lastly toss in the fried cashew nuts and green onions and stir about a minute or so  

Dish out and add a wee bit of sesame seeds (and sesame oil if you have some) :D

Dinner is served ! (bows floridly)

Totally lovely with freshly steamed white rice and a cup of spinach soup..yum2 :)

....i wanna eat...(leper..)

Without accounting for the time of marination, you could prep this at 15 mins or so..which will make it perfect for a haphazard dinner hoh..tak tipu weh..


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Definition of Halal and Haram food

Owh, it has been a long time since I last updated here. I apologized sincerely (although I don't think there's anyone really reading it) (chuckles!). I became a research assistant (just contract though), and at the same time, was trying really hard to send in my thesis. Everything was done, now can just wait and pray to God that I could graduate soon (the chances is slim hmmm...) (sigh....=___=)

Back to today's topic!

Here is a good info that covers all aspects of halal and haram for a Muslim to consume. A lot of non-muslim friends were confused and actually even some of our muslims brothers and sisters are in the same category. I found this on facebook, really clear cut and thorough :) read up!


What is Halal ?

The following products are definitely Halal:

1. Milk (from cows, sheep, camels, and goats)
2. Honey
3. Fish
4. Plants which are not intoxicant
5. Fresh or naturally frozen vegetables
6. Fresh or dried fruits
7. Legumes and nuts like peanuts, cashew nuts, hazel nuts, walnuts, etc.
8. Grains such as wheat, rice, rye, barley, oat, etc.

Animals such as cows, sheep, goats, deer, moose, chickens, ducks, game birds, etc., are also Halal, but they must be Zabihah (slaughtered according to Islamic Rites) in order to be suitable for consumption. The procedure is as follows: the animal must be slaughtered by a Muslim. The animal should be put down on the ground (or held it if it is small) and its throat should be slit with a very sharp knife to make sure that the 3 main blood vessels are cut. While cutting the throat of the animal (without severing it), the person must pronounce the name of Allah or recite a blessing which contains the name of Allah, such as "Bismillah Allah-u-Akbar".


What is Haraam?

1. Meat from swine - pork, ham, gammon, bacon, etc

2. Pork-based products and by-products - sausages, gelatine etc

3. Animals improperly slaughtered, or already dead before slaughtering is due to take place

4. Animals killed in the name of anyone other than Allah.

5. Intoxicants

6. Most carnivorous animals, birds of prey and land animals without external ears (i.e., snakes, reptiles, worms, insects etc.)

7. Blood and blood by-products

8. Foods contaminated with any of the above products

While many things are clearly halal or clearly haraam, there are some things which are not clear. These items are considered questionable or suspect and more information is needed to categorise them as halal or haraam. Such items are often referred to as Mashbooh, which means doubtful or questionable. Food falling into this category should be treated as haraam until you know otherwise.

{foods which are forbidden}: The Holy Qur'an, 5:3 - Forbidden to you (for food) are: dead meat, blood, the flesh of swine, and that on which hath been invoked the name of other than Allah; that which hath been killed by strangling, or by a violent blow, or by a headlong fall, or by being gored to death; that which hath been (partly) eaten by a wild animal; unless ye are able to slaughter it (in due form); that which is sacrificed on stone (altars)...
{prohibition of intoxicants): The Holy Qur'an, 5:90 - O ye who believe! Intoxicants and gambling, (dedication of) stones, and (divination by) arrows, are an abomination,- of Satan's handwork: eschew such (abomination), that ye may prosper.
(permissibility of seafood): The Holy Qur'an, 35:12 - Nor are the two bodies of flowing water alike,- the one palatable, sweet, and pleasant to drink, and the other, salt and bitter. Yet from each (kind of water) do ye eat flesh fresh and tender, and ye extract ornaments to wear; and thou seest the ships therein that plough the waves, that ye may seek (thus) of the Bounty of Allah that ye may be grateful.



It should be noted that the Qur'an specifies all intoxicants (not just alcohol) as being haraam. An intoxicant is, by definition, a substance eaten, drunk or smoked with the sole intention of becoming intoxicated, or a substance created with that purpose in mind. This basically means alcoholic drinks and narcotic drugs.

Any food which was made with an alcoholic drink (usually wine) is haraam because, although the food itself probably couldn't get you drunk, it's alcoholic ingredient was made for that purpose. In most cases this is obvious - for instance Coq au Vin (chicken in wine) or Beef and Ale Pie. In contrast, some seemingly innocent foods can be made using alcoholic drinks and are therefore haraam - examples are mince pies and teriyaki sauce. Always check the ingredients label!

In contrast, alcohol can be found in some halal foods, such as bread and soy sauce. These sometimes contain minute amounts of alcohol as a result of a natural reaction between certain chemicals during the manufacturing process (as opposed to alcoholic drinks being deliberately added to food to add flavour), and so couldn't be classed as haraam.

Some medicines and mouthwashes contain alcohol - if you can find an non-alcoholic alternative then use that instead. Medicines containing alcohol would be considered halal if there were no suitable alternatives available. It should be noted that only ethyl alcohol (such as methylated spirits and ethanol, the alcohol found in alcoholic drinks) are intoxicating and are therefore haraam. Other forms of alcohol (such as stearyl) are not intoxicating. These types of alcohol won't be found in any food or drink due to the fact that they are generally poisonous, but it is a point worth bearing in mind when buying household goods containing these.

Pork By-Products:

This includes ingredients such as gelatine, emulsifiers, fat and enzymes. All of these are haraam. They also have alternatives that are either halal or vegetarian that can just as easily be used in their place. Items that can contain these pork-based ingredients include:

Jelly / Jell-O desserts
Jelly / Gum sweets
A note for Muslims in Britain - some fish and chip shops cook their food in lard (pork fat) in the traditional way, especially Harry Ramsden's. As far as I know, most chip shops use vegetable oil, probably because it's cheaper. If you enjoy a good fish and chip dinner like me, you may as well cook it yourself.

Some medicines and supplements (especially Cod Liver Oil) also use gelatine as part of their capsules. It can be permissible to use these, but ONLY if there are no suitable alternatives.


The Qur'an states that everything from the sea is halal, including carnivores such as sharks. You'll see that the list I wrote above says MOST carnivorous animals are haraam. Marine predators seem to be the exception to this rule.

I have also seen some sources stating that prawns, crabs and other crustaceans are haraam based on other verses of the Qur'an which mentions that seawater is bitter. This is not true as the above verse states that all food from the sea is halal.


Some cheeses, including popular types such as Cheddar, are made with an ingredient called 'rennet'. Traditionally, this is obtained from the cow's stomach which, if the cow was not slaughtered according the Islamic rites, would render it haraam. Many cheeses nowadays are made using vegetable rennet, so always choose these if possible.



post note:
Sometimes, with the presence of a 'halal stamp' we can't truly justify the food product is truly halal or not, so we have to be more inquisitive and do not blindly rely on information given to us. Read the labels and judge :)


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