Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Savouring Mutton: Spices and All Things Nice


I've cooked mutton countless times in all sorts of styles, many of which I've come up with myself. Mixing and matching ingredients keeps things interesting so we don't get bored with the same old mutton dish. Do you agree? Eating the same kind of food or the same type of mutton dish can get dull?

Now, about cooking mutton. The ones I buy tend to be tough, making them hard to chew and eat after cooking, which hurts our gums and teeth. If you also buy tough mutton, you should start any mutton dish by pressure cooking it. If the mutton you buy is tender, you might not need to pressure cook it.

Fitness Bra Buying: Handy Tips


Let's get to the part of shopping for the appropriate fitness or sports bra (The Power of Sports Bra in Yoga) for your yoga sessions. Even if you've bought one before, there's always something new to discover. I've been there myself, so trust me, you're in good hands.

Budget

First things first, let's talk money. How much are you willing to spend? We don't want to splurge and regret it later, right? Fitness bras can range from around $15 to several hundred dollars. So, set your budget and decide how many bras you want to get within that range.

Monday, May 20, 2024

Japanese Vegetarian Cuisine: Delights from the Land of the Rising Sun


Whenever I travel, I love exploring different flavors, whether at fancy restaurants or street vendors. In Malaysia, there's no shortage of Japanese restaurants, and you can even find Japanese food at food courts. My favorite is the raw fresh cuts, known as "Sashimi," which is best at authentic Japanese restaurants. It's pricey, but worth it - delicious slices of seafood picked up with chopsticks, dipped in Japanese soy sauce and wasabi. What a mouth-melting delight! I usually go for the seafood varieties, and they're always a treat. Are you a fan of sashimi? If you are, I bet you know exactly what I'm talking about and how delicious it is.

Perth, Australia: Where Culture, Wildlife, and Sky-high Views Collide


Perth, nestled in the sunny corner of Australia, wears the crown as the vibrant capital of Western Australia. It's not just a city; it's a buzzing hive of activity. Especially for students looking to spread their wings, Perth is a top-notch destination, thanks in part to Curtin University, which is like a beacon of learning excellence.

Speaking of Curtin University, it holds a special place in my heart. That's where I honed my skills through their degree twinning program, collaborating with Metropolitan College, where I had lectured for a good 15 years. It's incredible how time flies, yet memories of lecturing Small Business 200 and Entrepreneurship 300 to eager students remain vivid, even though almost a decade has passed. Notably, I also underwent a week-long training at Curtin University Australia, acquiring essential lecturing skills and earning certification.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Hanoi, Vietnam: Unveiling Urban Wonders and Timeless Culture

From Ha Long Bay to Hanoi, our journey unfolded with anticipation (HCMH, Angkor Wat & Siem Reap), culminating in our arrival in the bustling city by 8.00 pm. Dinner was in a local fast food joint, known for its renowned Pho. However, as a vegetarian, I had to pass on the beef Pho that seemed to delight my fellow travelers. Instead, I savored a different dish, catered to meet the dietary preferences of myself and the other vegetarians in our group. The Beef Pho received widespread praise, with many enthusiastically approving of its flavor. For those Indians abstaining from beef, the Chicken Pho failed to impress. After dinner, some opted for night shopping, while I chose to unwind in my room before calling it a night.

Fried Rice/Nasi Goreng Medley: Mouthwatering Varieties


Its fried rice, also known as Nasi Goreng for us Malaysians. Doesn't it ring a familiar bell? Of course, it does, as we Malaysians can't go wrong with our cooking, oh-well, fried rice is always our savior. It's a cooking moment where you can toss in just about anything - seriously, the possibilities are endless

Got some leftover cooked rice hanging around from last night? Perfect! Day-old rice is the secret ingredient that gives your fried rice that unbeatable texture and brings out the flavors of all the other goodies you toss in there. And guess what? You can stash that leftover rice in the freezer too! Just pop it into a zip-lock bag or a sealed container. As and when needed, thaw it out and give it a quick steam or a sprinkle of water before microwaving -  easy peasy.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Bra-vo! The Power of Sports Bras in Yoga


Ever wondered why sports bras are a game-changer (Two-Piece Yoga Outfits) for your yoga practice? Especially for Zen Yoga, where we offer Corporate Yoga, Yoga Dance, and Prop Yoga, among other specialties, a sports bra is essential. Whether you're into these or any other activities involving stretching and toning, the support of a good sports bra is crucial. Just like a regular bra is part of your daily outfit, a sports bra is a must for your yoga routine. 

Hey guys, listen up as well. It's important to be aware of sports bras too. While they may not be a staple in your wardrobe, understanding their significance can help you support and encourage your fellow female yoga practitioners (Zen Yoga Style)

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Ha Long Bay Escapade: Nature's Splendor and Culinary Delights

The morning started with an unusually early wake-up call at 6.00am. We grabbed breakfast before embarking on the long drive to Ha Long Bay, setting off promptly at 8:00 am. Throughout the day, we made a few comfort stops and enjoyed lunch, but for the most part, we were seated on the coach, trying to shake off the fatigue that had accumulated from days of non-stop sightseeing. Did I manage to catch some shut-eye? You bet I did. Exhaustion from constant walking and exploring during this trip through Vietnam and Cambodia ( Siem Reap, Angkor Wat & HCMH) had taken its toll. 

As we journeyed towards Ha Long Bay, heavy rain slowed us down, prolonging our travel time. Finally, we arrived at our hotel around 9:00 pm, had dinner, and retreated to our rooms for some well-deserved rest. Amidst it all, some curious fellow travelers couldn't help but wonder why I was traveling alone and where my husband was, with a few even attempting to uncover my marital status. But honestly, I paid little attention to their inquiries - after all, Malaysians have a reputation for being quite inquisitive.

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Nasi Kerabu Kelantan: Culinary Marvel


What makes this Nasi Kerabu Kelantan so special? Well, all the herbs used in it, which give it that distinctive Kelantanese flavor, are grown by Ms. Nava herself. And here's the kicker - they're all organic. So, this dish isn't just tasty, it's a testament to Nava's passion to her urban garden. Can you believe it? At 60 years old, while managing her Zen, being the yoga instructor as well, and not neglecting her home affairs, she's out there in the dirt, making sure her herbs are top-notch. That's why this Nasi Kerabu Kelantan is truly one-of-a-kind and deserves all the praise it gets.

Besides the flavorful rice, the condiments served with this Malaysian dish are truly exceptional, all thanks to Ms. Nava's creativity. If you're expecting the same old Nasi Kerabu Kelantan you've had before, you might be disappointed. But if you appreciate culinary innovation (Bunga Kantan Raw Salad), you'll be applauding Ms. Nava's version.

Safaa (Taipan, Subang Jaya): Middle Eastern Cuisine


It's fascinating how much attention people give to food. Some folks are really particular about what they eat, unlike Ms. Nava, who's pretty laid-back about it. She might not fancy herself a food expert, but her choices speak for themselves. While some claim to be culinary adventurers, they still stick to their preferences most of the time. Sure, some people have dietary restrictions due to health reasons, but for others, it's simply a matter of being picky. They stick to what they know and love, avoiding adventurous new dishes. They frequent the same restaurants, order the same meals, yet still consider themselves food enthusiasts. Could Indians be included in this group? Let me know if I'm mistaken.

Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Petai/Stink Beans Recipes: Versatile Varieties


Petai, also known as Stink Beans, is like the marmite of the food world  -  you either love it or hate it. What divides opinions? Well, for starters, its pungent and long-lasting odor isn't exactly appealing. And let's not forget the aftermath - that distinct smell when you visit the restroom after indulging in petai? Let's just say, it's not for the faint-hearted. But amidst the polarizing views, there are die-hard fans like Ms. Nava from Malaysia, who can't get enough of petai. For her, it's a culinary delight worth savoring.

Yet, there's more to petai than meets the nose. Believe it or not, this humble bean holds a trove of benefits, including detox properties. In today's fast-paced world, where health is the new wealth, people are turning to petai as a quick fix. But is it really the magic bullet?

Bunga Kantan/Ginger Torch Bud Pineapple Cucumber Salad

Don’t you agree that cooking is all about inventing your own recipes rather than desperately trying to replicate others'? This is my cooking philosophy. Why, you ask? I believe in using up the ingredients I have instead of letting them go to waste. Whether it's fresh produce I've grown or items from the fridge, it's crucial to use them wisely. By doing so, you not only reduce waste but also let your creativity shine as you craft your own unique dishes.

 

How about a raw salad? It's convenient and saves time - just prepare the ingredients, then toss and stir. However, remember that raw salads should be eaten immediately. Otherwise, they lose their crunchiness and freshness, and won't look as appealing.

Siem Reap, Cambodia: Exploring Heritage and Human Stories

After a jam-packed day yesterday (Angkor Wat), waking up this morning felt like a bit of a challenge. But hey, that's the life of a traveler (Ho Chi Minh City). When you're on a tour, there's a schedule to stick to, and breakfast is usually a window from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. By 9:00 a.m., you better be packed and ready to hit the road for some sightseeing!

Our first stop today was Artisan d’Angkor, and let me tell you, it was something special. This place is all about giving back, providing support and training for underprivileged youth. Stepping into the workshop, we watched these talented individuals honing their craft with such focus and dedication. Despite our attempts in making eye contact with them, they were totally immersed in their work. Still, the experience left us in awe of their skills. After the workshop, we explored the shop, filled with handmade treasures. Sure, the prices were a bit higher than what you'd find elsewhere, but knowing that our purchases were making a difference made it all worthwhile.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Malaysian Sodhi (Indian Coconut Milk Stew)

Let's talk Sodhi - a flavorful Indian coconut stew that's a hit in many households (RASAM), including ours! It's like a cousin to MASAK LEMAK, a Malay coconut milk stew, but with its own twist. While Masak Lemak opts for fresh turmeric and lemongrass, Sodhi keeps it simple with turmeric powder, giving both dishes their vibrant yellow color. Sodhi is a regular at our table, often poured generously over rice and enjoyed with side dishes. There's something magical about scooping up that creamy goodness with your hands! 

Vegetarian Mutton Gastronomy: Five Tempting Recipes to Savor


In a world where dietary choices are as diverse as the people themselves, being a vegetarian has become more than just a trend - it's a lifestyle embraced by many. Everywhere you look, more and more individuals are opting for plant-based diets, some even committing to veganism. But amidst this surge in popularity, questions persist. Is being a vegetarian the epitome of modern coolness, or is it considered a sin to indulge in meat? And what about those who adhere to vegetarianism only on religious occasions - does it signify heightened religiosity, or is it merely a cultural tradition? And then there are the stereotypes - do all vegetarians embody the image of health-conscious individuals?

Pucuk Ubi Masak Lemak (Tapioca leaf In Coconut Gravy)


Growing up in the government quarters of Sungei Besi, just across from the army camp, I've always felt a deep connection to Malay culture. Surrounded by Malay neighbors, my siblings and I found ourselves immersed in Bahasa Malaysia more than Tamil. It was here that my love affair with Malay cuisine began, nurtured by the tantalizing aromas wafting from neighboring kitchens.

 

But it's curious how my Indian friends shy away from Malay dishes, as if I'm an Indian alien for loving Malay cuisine. Unlike me, they seem content to stick to their familiar Indian fare. Yet, I find myself drawn to the rich flavors of Malay food, much to their bemusement.

Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Unearthing Timeless Treasures

Off to Cambodia, there's one place you can't miss: Angkor Wat. The excitement builds, even the night before, fresh from HO CHI MINH CITY. I couldn't sleep; I was eager for morning to come. Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is one of the world's most famous landmarks. Our journey began with getting our passes, with choices from a day to a week of exploration. We chose a day. Walking into Angkor Wat, we followed a dusty road lined with towering stone pillars and sculptures. The temple's grandeur unfolded before us as we explored every corner.

Trust me, navigating Angkor Wat is a breeze if you follow the signs, allowing you to fully admire and capture its beauty. Continuing inside, you'll stumble upon Angkor Thom, the fortified inner royal city constructed by King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. There's so much to admire until moving further can literally hold you back. Apart from posing and taking pictures for remembrance, it feels like you're in a lost city all by yourself. Thanks to my tour buddies for helping with my pictures; they were fascinated by my poses. Well, it's just me, but soon they were trying new poses too.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Ikan Balado


Ikan balado - the star of Indonesian dinner tables. It's basically a spicy fish dish that packs a punch. Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I reckon "balado" refers to the spicy sauce for any dish that begins and is included balado in the recipe name. There’s also Ikan Cabe Ijo, which is quite similar, but it swaps out the red chilies for green ones, giving it a green chili spiciness flavor profile.

 

You know, Indonesians and their love for chilies - they're inseparable, just like how Ms. Nava from Malaysia can't live without her spicy dishes. It's like if there's no heat in the food, it's just not the same. I learned about ikan balado during my trips to Indonesia and from chatting with Indonesians here in Malaysia. It's fascinating how both Malaysians and Indonesians go crazy for Sambal Belacan, or Sambal Terasi as they call it.

Steamed Fish Recipes: Exploring Asian Sensations


Hey there, fellow foodies! Today, I'm super excited to share with you some amazing steamed fish recipes that I've been experimenting with. I know sometimes cooking can feel a bit intimidating, but trust me, these recipes are totally doable, even for beginners. From the simplest steaming method to more elaborate creations, we're diving into the domain of flavors inspired by Asian cuisine. Think spicy, tangy, sweet, and salty all in one dish! Doesn't that sound mouthwatering?

And here's the best part - not only are these recipes delicious, but they're also packed with all the good stuff. We're talking protein, vitamins, and those heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. So not only will you be satisfying your taste buds, but you'll also be doing your body a favor.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Kuih Sagu Kukus (Steamed Sago Cake)

Recall our discussion on sago in "Effortless Malay Desserts"? Let's delve into it again, this time focusing on Kuih Kukus Sago/Steamed Sago Cakes. Despite their delightful flavor, they consistently turned out too sticky. Even after coating them with fresh grated coconut, they clung to fingers, prompting me to serve them in a saucer with a fork, which is actually how the cakes should be served, to prevent spillage and mess on the floor. Baffled by their stickiness, I experimented with various methods: steaming, cooking with water until thick, and chilling. Yet, none resolved the issue.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: Married Solo Traveler's Insights

Setting off on another Solo Adventure after a few quiet months (CHONBURI & BANGKOK) I packed my bags with excitement bubbling inside. This time, I was off to Vietnam and Cambodia for a 9-day tour. It was just me, joining a group (ROME & COMO) of strangers, but the idea of exploring new places made my heart race. At the airport, the local guide welcomed me, signaling the start of our journey together.

When we landed in Ho Chi Minh City around 2:30 pm, the city's energy hit me like a wave. After settling into my hotel room, I felt eyes on me as I joined the other travelers in the lobby. It was probably because I was the  only solo woman in the group. After freshening up, I was ready to dive into the city. Our guide suggested we check out the Ben Thanh Market, a short walk from our hotel. Despite feeling a bit nervous about wandering alone, I decided to go for it. Along the way, locals smiled cheekily and waved, making me feel welcomed and uneasy as well.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Kerabu Mangga (Mango Salad)


Growing up in Malaysia, one dish that always bring a burst of freshness to our dining table is Kerabu Mangga, or Mango Salad in English. It's a quintessential Malaysian, Malay-style raw salad that requires minimal cooking but delivers maximum flavor. The beauty of Kerabu Mangga lies in its simplicity - just toss and mix the ingredients together, and you're ready to indulge in a symphony of flavors and textures.

 

To me, Kerabu Mangga is more than just a salad - it's a nostalgic Malay dish. The combination of sweet and sour mango, the kick of spiciness from the chilies, the tanginess of shallots, the refreshing burst of mint leaves, and the satisfying crunch of roasted cashew nuts - it's a culinary experience that never fails to transport me to my Malaysian roots.

Nava's Zen: Two-Piece Yoga Outfits Challenge Indian Norms


Eight years ago, when I began my yoga practice, I found myself surrounded by mostly Indian yogis, and yes, they love to be known as all sorts of yogis or masters, instead of yoga instructors. They all dressed in faded t-shirts and faded multi-patterned, multi-colored yoga leggings. It seemed like wearing these clothes was just what you did in Indian yoga circles, and as I got more into yoga, I started dressing the same way.

The message was pretty clear: if you're doing yoga with Indians, wear faded stuff. Decency in temples for yoga, is part of respecting places of worship, which as a Hindu I honour. Yet, most stuck to the faded look. Some even resembled as though they are wearing their home clothes (HOME ATTIRE), and coming straight to temple yoga.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Mochakottai Karuvadu Kulumbu (Field Beans Salted Fish Curry)


As I peer into the earthen pot, brimming with the flavorful Mochakottai Karuvadu Kulumbu, my appetite awakens. I must admit, I have a soft spot for this Indian-style salted fish curry. Salted fish has always held a special charm for me, with its salty goodness. It's no surprise that I could happily indulge in it every day. Yet, I'm mindful of the health implications of too much saltiness.

 

But amidst these considerations, there's something comforting about a touch of saltiness, like an old friend. Making this curry is simple, without any fuss. My goal is always to make cooking a joy, not a chore.

Rangoon Creeper: Cultivating Zen Blooming Bliss


Rangoon Creeper, also known as Combretum Indicum, goes by many names like Drunken Sailor, Akar Dani, Chinese Honeysuckle, and Red Jasmine. It's like a breath of fresh air in Nava's Zen. Can you believe it? Even at 60, I find myself climbing the ladder to prune and trail my Rangoon Creeper. This lovely plant is native to tropical Southeast Asia, especially Burma (now Myanmar), where it got its common name, "Rangoon Creeper," in honor of the former capital, Rangoon, now known as Yangon. I remember when I visited Myanmar about 8 years ago; I didn't even notice any Rangoon Creeper. Maybe I wasn't paying attention, who knows?

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Siamese Laksa Lemak

Not your usual Siamese Laksa Lemak here! I like to spice things up with my own twist in the kitchen. My culinary journey has taken me through Thailand, picking up flavors from all corners (BANGKOK). From cookbooks to online recipes, from chatting with locals to exploring Thai markets, I've soaked it all in. But one thing's for sure, I don't just copy and paste recipes (MEE REBUS VEGETARIAN).

 

So, what makes my Laksa Lemak stand out? It's all about the ingredients. Picture this: Nava’s Zen basil leaves, fragrant kaffir lime leaves, zesty lemongrass, vibrant turmeric, fiery bird's eye chilies, and the unique torch bud ginger, Bunga Kantan (Turmeric Leaf, Chillies & Torch Ginger Bud). Sure, the list may seem long, but trust me, you can find them all right where you are. And if not, don't sweat it; just swap in whatever feels right. That's the beauty of cooking - being curious, experimenting, and making it your own.

Mee Rebus (Vegetarian)

Mee rebus is a well-loved noodle dish originating from Malaysia and Singapore. Its name, derived from Malay, translates to "boiled noodles." This dish consists of yellow noodles drenched in a flavorful gravy that strikes a delicate balance between sweetness and spice. The gravy is crafted from a blend of ingredients such as sweet potatoes, shrimp paste, dried shrimp, and a medley of spices. 


Common toppings include hard-boiled egg, fried tofu, green onions, bean sprouts, and occasionally crispy shallots. I've had the pleasure of trying various renditions of mee rebus, both from restaurants and street vendors. Interestingly, some of the most satisfying versions I've encountered have been from street vendors, often at a more affordable price. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Effortless Malay Desserts: Sweet Creations Made Simple


Get ready to embark on a sweet journey through the heart of Malaysia's dessert scene! Among the myriad of tantalizing treats (Indulgent Cheesecake Recipes), Malay desserts stand out with their unique flavors and effortless charm. Forget complicated recipes (Easiest Banana Chocolate Cake), today we're diving into the world of easy-to-make Malay delights that will leave your taste buds tingling with joy.

Now, let's talk ingredients. When it comes to Malay desserts, simplicity is key. Here are some common local staples you'll need:

Monday, May 6, 2024

Bangkok, Thailand: Solo Adventures of a Lifetime

Returning to my cozy room at Pathumwan Princess Hotel after a day brimming with exploration in Ayutthaya, my craving for more of Bangkok led me to the doorstep of the travel agent's office (Chonburi to Pattaya). With eager anticipation, I decided for the world of entertainment with my first-ever Cabaret Show experience. Flashback to my youth, naïve and wide-eyed at 19, when I innocently tagged along with colleagues to witness a baffling Tiger Show during a trip to Hat Yai. Oh, the memories! But now, in my seasoned years, I was ready to embrace the sophistication of a Cabaret Show.

Before diving into the spectacle, I made a necessary pit stop at MBK Mall to satisfy my hunger. Laden with the quick bites, I returned to my room, relishing them before braving the infamous Bangkok traffic on our way to Calypso Cabaret Show. I traveled in a van alongside the other foreign tourists, as transportation was part of the package deal.

Saturday, May 4, 2024

Ayutthaya, Thailand: An Escapade Through History and Grandeur

Bright and early at 6 a.m (Bangkok)., I'm buzzing with anticipation for the adventure ahead! The tour guide's scheduled to swing by at 7 a.m., marking the start of my jam-packed one-day tour to Ayutthaya, all neatly pre-booked the day before. Ayutthaya has held a top spot on my bucket list for as long as I can remember, so you can bet I'm practically bouncing with excitement (Chonburi to Pattaya). Surrounded by fellow travelers, all of them seasoned Westerners, I find myself as the lone Indian in the mix, yet surprisingly, it feels like the perfect fit.

The hour-long journey to Ayutthaya is a breathtaking sight to behold, like stepping into a real-life postcard, with lush paddy fields stretching as far as the eye can see. Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage Centre, whispers tales of its illustrious past, even as its ancient ruins stand as silent witnesses, drawing visitors from every corner of the globe.

Friday, May 3, 2024

Rasam Variations: Unique Twists on a Classic Dish

Step into the world of Rasam, also known as Indian Pepper Soup, where every sip is worthy for the taste buds. It's a dish we adore, so much so that Rasam could easily become a daily ritual, perfectly complementing any meal. Packed with spices that work wonders for our well-being, this soup isn't just delicious - it's a health boost in a bowl.

In my kitchen, Rasam is a staple, and I always make a generous batch. Once cooked, I portion it out into containers and pop them in the freezer for later. Surprisingly, freezing Rasam doesn't compromise its flavors or nutrients. Back in the day, when fridges were a luxury, Rasam was left out to age gracefully, its robust spices preserving it for days.

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Zen Yoga Style: Elevate Your Yoga Outfits for Mindful Practice

Hey there, fellow yogis! Can we chat for a moment about something that's been on my mind lately? It's about outfits for our zen yoga sessions. At first, I'll admit, I found it a tad peculiar when clients asked about what to wear. I mean, shouldn't they already know, right? But then it hit me - as the founder of Nava's Zen, it's my job to provide guidance, not assumptions. So, let's dive into what to keep in mind when choosing your yoga outfits.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Bangkok, Thailand: A Journey of Temples and Wax Celebrities

Starting my Bangkok trip on a Monday morning without any prior room booking (Chonburi To Pattaya), I hitched a ride with my friend's colleague. Upon arrival, I attempted to secure a room at the lobby but was informed of no availability due to the year-end holiday season. Thankfully, the receptionist kindly recommended the Pathumwan Princess Hotel. Thankfully, I managed to book a room for 2 nights. The security measures at the hotel entrance put me at ease as I entered my room, greeted by comfort, and elegance.

After a brief respite, curiosity led me downstairs to stumble upon a travel agency nestled within the hotel lobby. Intrigued, I wandered in, only to be met with a curious question: why was I traveling solo? And thus, my journey truly commenced. Opting for a half-day tour of Bangkok's renowned temples, I followed the staff's suggestion to grab a quick lunch bite at the adjacent MBK Shopping Mall before being picked up by the tour guide.

Savouring Mutton: Spices and All Things Nice

I've cooked mutton countless times in all sorts of styles, many of which I've come up with myself. Mixing and matching ingredients ...