Pandan cake: Green on the inside, brown and caramelized on the outside
Making pandan chiffon cake is an art in itself. My mum uses the same recipe, same mould and same ingredients for the past 20 years, but every time the results would vary wildly. Baking it is almost like playing Russian roulette, sometimes it would rise gloriously to the occasion but at other times, it will end with my mum wailing about the failed product.
But this chiffon cake remains a favorite amongst most of my family members because it is light, fluffy and most importantly, the smell is absolutely divine, thanks to the pandan leaves, which also gives it its unique color.
Pandan is a bush-like plant typically found in Southeast Asia that spots a bright green color and a distinctive smell that is believed to help deter pests like cockroaches. The plant is widely used in local cooking to help enhance the taste of the food, though never directly consumed.
In this post, I am sharing my mum’s trustworthy recipe she has been using throughout all these years. You will need a chiffon cake mould for this. Despite the simplicity of ingredients, pandan cake is tricky to make because it is so light inside that makes the cake structure delicate and difficult to stand tall.
When I finished “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern, my first reaction was it felt more like young adult fiction rather than fantasy fiction, which to be honest, is not my favorite genre.
But there is simply this enduring factor about circuses and the mystical shadows of the night that drew me to the novel, and it was undoubtedly wonderful to be led into this magical world of Le Cirque des Rêves, or the Circus of Dreams, with its almost lyrical prose.
“You step into a bright, open courtyard surrounded by striped tents.
There are vendors traversing the crowd around you, selling refreshments and oddities, creations flavored with vanilla and honey, chocolate and cinnamon.
A contortionist in a sparkling black costume twists on a platform nearby, bending her body into impossible shapes.
A juggler tosses globes of black and white and silver high into the air, where they seem to hover before falling again into his hands, his attentive spectators applauding.
All bathed in glowing light.”
The main protagonists are Celia Bowen and Marco Alisdair, two magicians masking their real abilities to showcase their talents as illusionary tricks in the circus that only opens from past midnight to dawn. It is so secretive that its traveling locations are never known except when strange tents are set up overnight, locals will know the night circus has arrived. Read More
(Disclaimer: This was a book sent to me by the author for review but all opinions in this blog post are my honest reflections and I am not compensated for writing this.)
Debut novella “If I could tell you” by Singaporean author Li Jing-Jing could be distilled down and summarized in its epigraph:
“A multitude of people and yet solitude” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities
Set in the heartlands of Singapore at an old Housing Development Board (HDB) block, it explores the lives residing inside these public flat units.
This is a story rich in local flavor, where characters use local slang and dress up in singlet and slippers amidst the humid tropical Southeast Asian environment. And behind every closed door, is a unique set of problems that in spite of family and spousal support, isolates each individual from others.
“If I said to him, I am still the same person, he would have kept silent; to him, it would sound like the most transparent of lies. There would be nothing left for us to do but stop calling, stop pretending to talk on the phone. I was left with the most tenuous of ties with my family through him and even that would be lost, perhaps for good, if I opened my mouth and spoke.”
The overall content well-explored the melancholic thought of being alone, lost physically, mentally or spiritually in a big city, but the execution is less than desirable.
Curries taste vastly different depending on where you are having them and in Southeast Asia, we like it spicy and flavorful. In my family, we are used to handling it real hot and this might potentially sound crazy but eating spicy food does help to cool you down amidst the heat and intense humidity.
And Singaporeans love our curries so much that we have it…
- with various meats, fish, beef, chicken, or simply some vegetables
- during breakfast as a dip, as a soup base with noodles for lunch or as a main dish with rice for dinner.
- on all occasions – during weddings, parties and even at funerals (I kid you not)
You get it. Curry is THAT deeply ingrained into our national food psyche.
In case if you have not heard, Haruki Murakami is out with his new book ‘Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.’ This is Murakami’s first long novel in the past three years since last releasing his widely acclaimed book ’1Q84,’ which I absolutely adore as have reviewed in previous entries.
As a self-professed Murakami fan who went on my little ‘Murakami literary pilgrimage’ when I went to Tokyo (Click here for pictures), this is certainly one of the most exciting literary news I have heard in awhile.
And I know I am not in this alone. There was much hype surrounding the book prior to its release on April 12, with Asahi Shimbun reporting that a major Japanese publishing house has prepared 500 000 copies “in anticipation of high demand for Haruki Murakami’s latest novel, breaking the record of any first printing by the publisher.”
I remembered when I last read 1Q84, I was literally bringing it everywhere even when walking on the street or going to the toilet because the pseudo sci-fi romantic novel was brilliant at digging into deeper existential questions and questioning our self-consciousness. With the new 370-page book, the theme explored themes of loss and survival, casting the typical Murakami protagonist – a middle-aged loner and train geek Tsukuru Tazaki.
But alas, non-Japanese speaking fans like myself would have to contend with waiting for the English translation as there is still no word when it would be made available. But based on the last book’s experience, it might just be under a year before they will hit the shelves.
Let the (painful) wait begin.
(Click HERE for my 1Q84 review and HERE for my Murakami literary tour in Tokyo)