Monday, May 31, 2010

A Delightful Afternoon with Rohani Jelani @ Bayan Indah

Rohani Jelani - a name I have known and respected since the 1980's. Yes, 1980's. Her food column in Her World magazine was my favourite read every month when I got hold of that magazine. I remember I used to drool over her glossy yummy photos and cut out her recipes to keep.

Rohani Jelani - food writer, food styler, recipe consultant, cook, cookery teacher, resort owner all rolled into one delightful vivacious package. So recently when I got an invitation to spend an afternoon with her at her gorgeous Culinary Resort - Bayan Indah, I practically whooped for joy! (Thank you, Babe_KL, for the intro!) It was a special "Private Class" organised for several bloggers to experience Bayan Indah first-hand and boy, were we a lucky lot!

Driving through the narrow and winding roads of an idyllic little kampung in Bukit Lanjan, we followed her super-detailed map to the dot and had no problem locating Bayan Indah. Beyond the white garden wall at the entrance, we were greeted by this...


Beautiful breath-taking lush greenery - every tree and plant in this place look darn happy & healthy... the fish in this natural pond were practically frolicking in joy too...


We were welcomed warmly by our gracious host, Rohani.... plus these....

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Yummy cake, pastries and Linkin, the comedian cat (he used to perform with Linkin' Park, his namesake)

A tour of Bayan Indah... gasps of admiration were heard all round ... how not to be wow'ed by these beautiful rooms, luxuriously fitted with modern amenities, yet retaining a warm rustic charm with Asian antiques and art pieces ... so inviting and so comfortable...

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I'll let the photos do the talking...

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Bayan Indah ... a culinary resort, a beautiful homestay with a difference - check them out for the unique activities that are available...

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The lush garden is thriving ...
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Fruits, flowers, vegetables, herbs...
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The view from the top...

Rohani is a wonderful host, regaling us with amusing stories and anecdotes of her experiences. We had so much fun chatting with her at the coffee table that we didn't realise a good hour had passed and the cooking hadn't even started! I mean, who would notice time passing when we were so enraptured with banana spirits and how to maim someone with permanent stains and stuff like that!

Taking cue from her able assistants (otherwise we won't finish even by tea time!), we then donned the denim aprons provided, which immediately transformed us into VHRCs (Very Hip & Rocking Cooks). Of course we had to look the part, you know ... because we were going to work in this very modern and professional kitchen...

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This is everyone's dream kitchen. It's fully equipped with a whole range of modern cookware and every imaginable kitchen tool and gadget. Oh, there's also the not-so-modern tool... the traditional "batu lesong"... for pounding your chillies, onions and stuff... which you really must use if you're cooking "Kampung Cuisine" like we did! Pounding with your hands will yield more delicious paste, I kid you not! Ask Rohani and see!

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I was impressed by the preparations that had gone into the cooking class. All ingredients for the recipes had been washed, peeled, measured and labelled in containers - all ready for us!

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VHRCs at work ... paying attention when Rohani showed us "this is how you clean a prawn... and this is how you fold the leaves of the herbs to shred them in an acceptable way"!

We worked in teams of 2 or 3, so that everyone got to cook his/her chosen recipe and also get to taste all the dishes cooked by everyone. I had the privilege of teaming up with Audrey Cooks and Alice Jom Makan and among the 3 of us, we did 4 recipes.

So... what did we cook?

Let's start with the Kerabus.

Kerabu Jantung Pisang
Jantung pisang (banana flower)... do not use the outer tough layers, use only the pale tender part.... boil that till tender before cutting it up and mixing it with sambal and shredded herbs, toasted coconut, lime juice... a wonderful local salad!

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Serve your Kerabu Jantung Pisang on the "petals" of the flower... taaa daaa!


Nasi Kerabu ... a pretty easy recipe except that you have to cut and shred the herbs very very thinly... otherwise Rohani will tell you that your herbs are thick enough to make blankets! All herbs used came straight from Rohani's herb garden - they can't get any fresher than that!

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Toss all your superthinly-cut herbs and some fried salted fish flakes with cooked rice and you'll get this plate of gorgeous fragrant Nasi Kerabu... every mouthful is a sensory orgasm on your palate, I guarantee you.


Now for the mains...

Ayam Percik. Everyone of us chose this recipe because it is such a popular and delicious item... we see lots of this being sold in Ramadhan bazaars but how do you actually cook it ahh? It seemed like lots of work, you know...

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... but at Rohani's, it's made really easy! In fact it was so easy that I did not hesitate to replicate this at home the very next day and my family had a verrrry satisfying Ayam Percik dinner!

Now, tell me.... isn't this the most beautifully-yummy plate of Ayam Percik you've ever seen? :-)


We're so proud of our Ayam Percik that we really must show you more... hehe!

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Prawns Masak Lemak with Pineapples ... this perennial Malay favourite was pretty easy to cook. We did ours in quite a jiffy and I hand-pounded the chillies/garlic/onions/turmeric too! ;-)


These were cooked by the other 2 teams comprising A Whiff of Lemongrass, Babe in the City_KL, FBB and A Lil Fat Monkey...

Masak Air Cekur Manis - sweet green vegetables cooked with pumpkin and some prawns for flavour...


Dessert - Onde Onde!
No fake colouring or essence in this. The natural colour and flavour came from freshly-picked pandan leaves and its juice extracted manually. Of course this tasted heavenly, especially when it's made lovingly by friends amidst laughter (and some "fun-poking")!


So, what do you think? Do you think we VHRCs did a good job?

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Once everything has been laid out and adequately photographed, it was makan time! Dig in, everybody! Ohhh... it was so good! The food, the company, the ambience... we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves immensely! This was not merely a cooking class - it was a total experience of food enjoyment at its best.


Truth be told, the goodbyes were done with much reluctance... hugs of appreciation went all round to Rohani and her friendly hospitable team - Wati and many thanks to Li Hsian too for organizing that lovely experience we all had.


I am definitely going back to Bayan Indah for more of Rohani Jelani, hehe! The problem is... I don't know which theme class to choose because she has so many (more than 50) up for selection!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Wesak - Vegetarian Meal at Home

Happy Wesak to all Buddhist friends!

It's customary to go vegetarian on Wesak Day. Buddhist temples will be serving vegetarian meals to all visitors on this day. Why, even Gordon Ramsay is cooking some special vegetarian dishes for our Prime Minister in Brickfields today!

Well, I decided to cook some simple vegetarian dishes today, too. The in-laws came over and we had a great lunch today, chatting and taking our time savouring these dishes...

Tomyum Vegetarian Fish


Sour spicy tomyum flavours soaking through the fried pieces of vegetarian fish... add in ladies' fingers and tomatoes for more bite...


Braised Tofu with Mushrooms & Sweet Peas... soft tofu, succulent mushrooms and crunchy peas - different textures blending nicely in a soya gravy...


Mixed Vegetables Curry... I used cabbage, long beans, aubergines, tomatoes, ladies' fingers and my all-time favourite - beancurd sheets...


Always have a Sweet Sour dish for the kids! Here I used baked beans, vegetarian fishballs and throw in some straw (enoki) mushrooms... the sweet sour gravy goes well with rice or noodles...


Fried Vegetarian Goose ... this is LL's favourite.


Ahh... of course we must have some carbs, too... a simple Fried Meehoon will do!


Nothing beats a home-cooked meal, really.

Enjoy the long weekend ahead!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Super Tanker Lunch!

I have often wondered about the inspiration that must be behind the coining of such a name as "Extra Super Tanker" for this restaurant. How does a super tanker, an extra one too, relate to a restaurant? Hmmm... really food for thought eh?

Anyway, this restaurant in Damansara Kim has been around for ages - since 2004 and they have also recently set up another one in Bukit Utama in Bandar Utama.

A belated birthday lunch - where shall we eat? That's the question which we face every time we have a special lunch. Since we're pretty tired of the food outlets in 1-Utama, I suggested we took a short drive over to Damansara Kim to try out this Extra Super Tanker. This place has been blogged so much that it's so easy to find out what their specialities are.

However, when I wanted to order some of their specialities (eg their "Thousand Layer Beancurd", "Roast Duck Chinese Sandwich Style", "Stewed Softbone Pork"), I was told that those had to be pre-ordered 1 day in advance. Oh bugger! Flipping through their menu, we decided on some "not so common" dishes and since it was a party of mostly ladies-who-keep-fit, we had to be mindful to order not-so-sinful dishes.

Fried Crabmet with Egg & Pine Nuts (RM25) served with Lettuce. Most other chinese restaurants would have added sharksfin into this (at a higher price too) but over here, I guess the Pine Nuts were the replacement.

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A most refreshing starter, I would say. However I did detect a wee hint of "burnt" flavour in the omelette but the crispy lettuce leaves did a good job camouflaging that. The fresh pine nuts added a light crunch to the lettuce wraps we popped hungrily into our mouths!


Moving on, since we didn't get to eat their Thousand Layer Beancurd, we had the Beancurd with Sea Cucumber & Meatballs (RM40). There were strips of spongy chewy sea cucumber braised with smooth cubes of beancurd in an oyster sauce-based gravy... but strange... I don't recall any meatballs in the dish, really! Or did they disappear before I got my chopsticks into this dish?!


Stir-fry Lily Bulbs Mixed Vegetables with Pine Nuts (RM12) - another healthy dish. There were more slices of crunchy lotus roots & celery than lily bulbs but then I didn't mind as I love lotus roots! Plump sweet peas and pine nuts do go well with the rest of the vegetables tossed in garlic over high heat in a wok.


More vegetables? Try their HK Cabbage with Yam in Soup (RM12). This was a bit of a letdown. First of all, there wasn't really enough liquid in this dish to warrant it as "soup". Then, the HK Cabbage aka Baby Lai-Pak were a tad overcooked - see how yellowish the leaves were? I guess the saving grace would be the soft powdery cubes of yam which were enhanced with the briny flavours of dried shrimps scattered in the "soup".

OK - Meat! We need some Meat! They had this special item that day - Braised Pork Ribs with Lotus Roots (RM20). Didn't I say I love lotus roots??! Lotus roots - there are the "local" ones and the ones imported from China. Use the young local versions for stir fries - they're crunchier and less fibrous. If you're making soups and stews, then you must use the more robust China ones - these are generally bigger-sized and denser in texture.

The restaurant made the right choices in their lotus roots - the chunky pieces of China lotus roots in the claypot of braised pork ribs were excellent. Still retaining their "bite", the pot of porky flavoured roots went brilliantly with white rice.


This plate of Special Yam Fried Rice (RM25) was good. Besides yam, there were chunks of "kai choy" (mustard leaves?) and salted eggyolks - all tossed with eggs & spring onions, resulting in a plate of uniquely fragrant fried rice.


More carbs appeared in the form of Vermicelli with Crab Meat in Thick Soup (RM15) aka Mee Suah cooked in a thick crabmeat broth, ala Sharksfin-style. Nothing much to shout about - the broth was thick with cornstarch.


Then came the Star Dish of the lunch - the very very sinful plate of Black Sauce Braised Pork Noodles! Now tell me - isn't this the most sinfully delicious plate of noodles you ever seen??


Here it is again...


This was not on their regular menu - it was a special item that their chef had cooked that day. Initially the ladies-who-keep-fit dared not dig into this - what with all those wicked & evil looking pieces of porcine delights sticking out like that! Well, they took one bite... and that's it - the noodles disappeared in record time!

After that plate of sublime noodles, I think everyone of us left the place with a "super tanker" in place of our tummies that day!

Do give them a call to order in advance if you want to try their specialities (mainly those marked with a red asterik in the menu)!

Restaurant Extra Super Tanker
48 Jalan SS20/10
Damansara Kim
474 Petaling Jaya
Tel: 03-77267768/69

Friday, May 21, 2010

BMW New 5-Series Launch Event

This post is a bit late.

This was the BMW New 5-series Launch event a couple of weeks ago. By now, you would have seen the adverts in the media or probably the car itself in the showrooms and have placed your bookings, or maybe even driving one on the road now.


Anyway, having never attended a car launch that came with dinner, I was curious. Yes, dinner. Plus the fact that they tried to make this so exclusive got me even more curious. It was strictly by invitation only wor... and each invitee can bring only one guest/partner. And it seems this launch event was over 3 days and all of the 3 days were full - that's what I was told lah... but then, later you can see the pic which showed many empty seats at the dinner tables.

Held in KLCC, it was a pretty impressive show. The registration area was almost pitch black and once we've got our names confirmed on the list, we were ushered through the entrance into a very very bright (it was so bright I almost had to put on my sunglasses!) hall exhibiting all the 5-series models that have been produced so far. It took a few moments for our eyes to get adjusted to the brightness and the colourful display of all the previous models of the 5-series...






Cocktails, beers, wines, champagnes & hard liquors were on free-flow... together with lots of canapes served by scurrying service crew while guests waited for dinner.


At last the curtains went up and everyone was ushered into another hall where long tables with flickering candle lights were set up. It looked like the great dining hall of Harry Potter's school - Hogwarts, really.



The menu was created by Chef Chris Bauer of Frangipanni, to be "a unique and beautiful exploration of local flavours combined with established fine European cuisine".



What were served and the accompanying wine...

Freshly schucked Oysters with Caviar, Lemon Pearls & Pickled Japanese Cucumber
with Cape Mentelle Sauvignon Semillon 2008


Tea-smoked Salmon with Echire Creme Fraiche, Confit Potatoes & Salmon Roe
with Cloudy Bay Chardonnay 2007

Black Rice Risotto with Grilled Prawn, Baby Squid & Black Mussel
with Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir 2007

Mandarin Orange Sorbet with Confit Zest

Grilled Betel Leaf-wrapped Tenderloin with Savoy Cabbage & Indonesian Black Nut Sauce
with Cape Mentelle Zinfandel 2006


The Triplet Dessert comprised of...

Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Mousse

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Dark Chocolate Sauce

French Toast with Roast Apple & Dulce De Leche Sauce

Entertainment was also provided as we wined and dined...


Right after dessert was served, the Star of the Night was unveiled...


Everyone surged forward and crowded round the Star...


It was really difficult to get good shots of the car! But then, by now I'm sure this power baby is no longer a mystery to everyone!


OK, now let me get back to my dream of cruising down the highways in my 535i...