Wednesday, August 25, 2010

In Ramadhan

In such a blessed month, I seem to relish Ramadhan so much. In retrospect, the fasting reminds all of us of the hardships suffered by those who are not so fortunate, and our zakat hopefully will, more or less, attempt to ease their suffering.

Despite the Ramadhan buffets offered by eateries in Alor Setar, I always opt to eat at home. Simply put, I cannot eat that much for breaking of fast. My break of fast mostly consist of water which I need to replenish after a hard and hot day of activities. So far, breaking fast at my parents saw me eating half plate of rice with something very simple, like sardine or dhalca...and 2 big glasses of pandan syrup.

My schedule gets more hectic during the Ramadhan month, my mornings to late afternoon spent finishing any tasks and/or assignment at the office, and I realy hate to finish today's assignments tomorrow. Around 4pm, my Ramadhan food-stall opens at Jalan Sultanah, and so far Alhamdulillah, sales has been very good. Late evenings are spent with the family and later making the Bengkang Susu.

I started with only 1 tray of Bengkang Susu and although a bit hesitant at first, I increased the supply to 2 trays. Alhamdulillah, so far I keep going home with empty trays. This year also saw Godam (Shepherd's Pie) and my sister's Black Pepper Beef Curry Puff totally sold out. I might just add another item to the menu or my Godam might run out of stock fast. Maybe Cornish Pie will be a good addition to it. I used to sell it about 3-4 years ago, and it was quite a hot item.

My stall was visited by somebody who happened to read this blog. Apparently she was looking for shepherd's pie, and found my blog, and from the blog, found my stall. Thank you for visiting my blog, and much thanks for visiting my stall as well.

Despite the upward trend trend in the price of milk, I still manage to sell Bengkang Susu at RM0.50 a slice. However I'm just hoping that the price will not go over RM40.00 next year, or I might have to increase the price, and if I do, it will be the first time I have to do it.

Before this week, I use to scout around the hypermarkets, looking for 2kg milk packs on promotion, but now I've decided to get them straight from the wholesaler. That actually saves time and I get to relax more with my family.

With all of that on my schedule, I never realized it has been 2 weeks of the fasting month already. National Day is just next week, and Hari Raya is 10 days after that. That's fast.

I guess that every Ramadhan makes me feel closer to my life=long dream, which is running a restaurant, not a posh elite one, just a simple eatery, with limited menu items. I might not have that courage and/or the resources to set that up, but running the food stall in Ramadhan? That is something I will always cherish.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ramadhan Food Stall, I'm Back...What, No Pasta??!

The traffic gets louder and louder, it seems, and when my cousin arrives with his big pot of Nasi Arab, there was a small traffic congestion. What am I doing? Oh yes, I’m back! My stall is open again, next to Chet’s (Syed Nasir) Nasi Arab stall.

I have to admit that I spent the past few months preparing the pies or godam, and the only difference this year is, there is no pasta, or baked macaroni with cheese. Yes, yes, I did get a surprised and sghast looks from my normal customers but what can I say? This year, I really have my hands full. This year I have to make the milk pudding (bengkang susu) as my wife is working and too tired to do it, and my sister’s schedule is as hectic as it is. So, after a day of crash course, as instructed by my wife, I did manage to produce my own bengkang susu.

There’s not much variety this year, only godam (beef shepherd’s pie), black pepper beef curry puff and bengkang susu. That’s it.

So, this Ramadhan, I’ll be in the kitchen after buka puasa to make the puddings, and in the kitchen again around 2p.m. to bake the pies, and I’ll be at the stall at 4 p.m., around the same time Chet arrives to set up his Nasi Arab Stall. We are at the same place like last year. Do drop by if you want to try something slightly different (in Alor Setar) for buka puasa.

See you there...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One Week To Ramadan: Filling Them Up

Ramadan is drawing up fast; in about 1 week, Muslims around the world will begin the fasting month. As usual, I've been very busy preparing for my usual fasting month Ramadan food stall. This year, it will be slightly different: as my wife will be very busy with work, I will be taking over the making of Bengkang Susu (Milk Pudding), something which I've never done before. I'm still learning under my wife's extremely patient tutelage.

I won't be making much variety this year, among the usual dish will be Godam, or our own localized Shepherd's Pie. This item may seem to be the easiest but don't be fooled, it takes patience and time, just like the Bengkang Susu. Luckily, since I've been making them for the past 4 years, I can make them slightly faster...and "slightly" is the key word.

I will share here my favorite beef-based filling for the pie, not the original as it is a trade secret, but it is up to everybody's imagination and taste on how to make it an "exploding" affair on your taste-buds.

For the filling:

500grams of minced beef (If frozen, try Ramly's. I've tried others but there's too much fat)
5-6 red onions, minced or sliced
2 Cloves Garlic (Optional)
Ground pepper (preferably coarse)
Spice/Herbs (Depends on your taste, you can use soy-sauce, Worcestershire, black pepper sauce, cumin and many more)
Beef Stock 3-4 cups
1-2 Spoonful flour
3-4 Spoonful oil
1 cup Mixed Vegetables (Optional)

Add Pepper to the beef and mix.
Heat the wok and pour the cooking oil in.
Once the oil is hot enough, put in the onions and stir fry until slightly brown
Add the beef and brown it by constantly stirring. Make sure the beef is not lumped.
Once the beef is fully cooked, put in the intended spice/herb/sauce to be wok and mix it around, cook for a further 4-5 minutes.Pour in the beef stock and keep stirring.
Let the beef and stock boil for about 1-2 minutes before adding the flour to the mixture, pending how thick you want the gravy to be.
When the gravy thickens, add in the mixed vege and salt to taste.

Once the filling is ready, it is best to let it rest for the next 10-15 minutes before using them in any pie. I usually use it when it is at room temperature. You can use
for pies, curry puffs, pastry and/or even buns.

As I have mentioned before, everything is up to your own design and desire, you don't have to follow the recipe exactly as above, let your imagination run wild every now and then because you yourself will know how your food is supposed to taste.

Try it, and you know an even better way/method of doing this, please let me know as well.

Note: I never use mixed-vege, it always results in my filling doesn't last as long as I want it to be.