Friday, 31 October 2014

Powerful chickpeas

Chickpeas makes a good lunch, snack or dinner. It is packed with wholesome goodness and is very versatile. It is that it can be eaten warm or cold and is one of the easiest and mess-free food to pack. It can be left in your kids backpack, or in your car, or your kitchen counter all day until you are hungry enough to eat it.

There are many ways to prepare chickpeas, you can boil it with some salt and eat it, add it into your curry, make pakoras (Indian fritters) out of it, make vegetarian patties and so much more. And if you trying to cut out gluten and rice out of your diet, this could be a good substitute.

We made a warm, savoury and slightly spicy chickpeas salad using ingredients that are available throughout the year. So you can repeat this salad anytime you feel like it. Although it is a warm salad, you could serve it cold the following day. And it only gets better in the fridge as the flavours get a chance to mature.


1 1/2 - 2 cups chickpeas, soaked overnight  and boiled next day, till soft or you can opt for canned chickpeas (2 cans)
1 onion chopped
4 garlic cloves chopped
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 tablespoon whole cumin seed (jeera)
1 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
Some dried chilies or chili flakes
Handful fresh mint
Big bunch fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon juice
Oil for frying (1-2 tbs)
Salt to taste


Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add mustard and cumin seeds, and fry till the seeds starts popping. Once they are toasted, you will get a warm toasty fragrance and the cumin will turn slightly darker. Add onion and garlic, stirring frequently until it turns golden. Do not let it scorch or turn brown as this will make your dish taste bitter.

Add drained chickpeas and tomatoes and cook for a minute or two until the chickpeas are well coated with the seasoning and are shiny. Then add, chopped mint, parsley, lemon juice and toss or stir to combine well. Add salt to taste and serve either immediately, later or the next day. It will be good served at any temperature too and make great tiffin food too.

For more recipes, don't be shy to head over to my Recipes page

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Thursday, 30 October 2014

The (other) talk

It was just another evening with a simple dinner - baked foil fish with vegetables and pasta - but the night was particularly cooler than other nights, thanks to the unexpected heavy shower in the middle of a very dry season. Because of the heavy downpour, our daily trip to neighbourhood park was cancelled. I figured it would be good to have early dinner so I can put the kids to bed earlier than usual and get snuggling under the covers with my husband - it's not often I get days like these which remind me of my chilly days in Dublin. But who would have thought, the continuing light shower and thunder would have set the mood for a more sombre topic of discussion at the dining table. It was about death. 

Death of a loved one, to be more precise.

It wasn't planned. Neither my husband nor I had a chance to gather our thoughts on how to discuss death with my young children. Though we knew we had to at some point.

"Will she get better?" 

That's how it began.
My almost a tween daughter, very in tune with her emotions, was able to sense a change in the mood at the mere mention of her ailing grandmother. 

She knew her grandma's battle with cancer was a little different this time because it had robbed her of her grandma's happy, loving and fun self and replaced her with  frail looking, unhappy, bedridden and lifeless person. A person that looked like her grandma with lifeless eyes. 

Eyes are the window's to ones soul, I believe. Her grandma's eyes were supposed to be a projectory of the exciting life she lived, but these eyes we now gaze into  projected nothing more. They were just eyes merely looking back at us emptily.

"Will she get better?"

There was so much pain and courage heard in my child's little voice. It was as though she was afraid to ask her father and me this question. Perhaps she already knew the answer but  was afraid of affirmation.

Not willing to let her bear this pain alone, we both decided it was about time they knew exactly what was happening. We had not hidden any truth from them but kept the finer details of  their grandma's ailments from them because there was a sliver of hope that she, their grandma, might just come out triumphant from her battle with cancer, once more.

After a long pause with only the sound of forks and knives piercing the beautifully quiet night, my husband broke the silence with a sharp "No".

"What do you mean?", asked my bubbly and full of life eight year old child while her elder sister had fat tears rolling down her pink cheeks. The elder one immediately pushed away her half finished meal which had suddenly lost its appeal and kept her head low, trying her very best to put a stop to her tears that leaked like a broken faucet's.

All of a sudden everything had gone quiet again. Even the toddler who was earlier creating a ruckus by banging on her high chair with a plastic fork and knife, sensed the change in mood. She now puts down her plastic cutlery.

Unconvinced, my eight year old, who was increasingly getting uncomfortable with the awkwardness of the situation, kept repeating "no" while shaking her head. "This is too much! She will get better-lah, she did it once and she will do it again!" she kept repeating, with a tremble in her voice. Perhaps to block out what her dad had just revealed. But despite that brave front, she was at the verge of breaking down into an uncontrollable cry and avoided all eye contact with either one of us.

It definitely was a beautiful night to snuggle under the covers but not with my husband. Instead we spent the whole night holding our girls and listening to them talk about the wonderful things their grandma used to tell them. Every memory of time spent with her, listening to her exciting stories about her childhood and the childhood of their father. Each tear shed was healed by a beautiful memory.

I am glad my girls had the opportunity to be cherished, schooled, fed, dressed and spoilt by their grandma despite living in different states. These are the memories that are keeping them strong in this trying time. They are not afraid to approach her as she lays still on her deathbed because they know her so well and this new person, just a shell of her former self, does not scare them.

The eight year old has taken it upon herself to feed, bathe, massage, medicate and give comfort to her grandma. I am awed at her ability to provide comfort without flinching or showing any signs of disgust because it is not easy to care for the sick. My eldest child who loves grandma's cooking, helps to prepare food for her grandma and ensures the toddler doesn't bother grandma too much.

I believe all this is possible because of the time they had spent together. I believe this is their way of giving back for all that grandma has done for us and she has done A LOT!

May my kids stay strong together this way forever. May god bless me with the love and support my mothers have shown my kids so I can carry on their legacy, long after they are gone.

est, dear mom.
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Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Guest post : By your side, always

By Jagdesh Singh

It was dusk. He sat there, staring at the wall in front of him, her framed portrait looking wistfully towards infinity. It was a hand drawn portrait. The prayers emanated softly from his smartphone, by a faceless man with the calmness of a still wintery night accompanied by the sitar and the tabla. He nods ever so slightly as he understands and recognizes the verses being recited in a song like manner. He then picks up his half filled glass of bourbon whiskey with his left hand, originally on the rocks but the ice now melted, and sips it.

The air-condition unit hummed.
The traffic outside was still a notch higher than just being audible in the completely closed room.
The ceiling fan was at its lowest speed, a tiny creak from it like the sound of a mouse you typically hear in the attic repeats itself.

She was breathing hard, lying on the bed, angled such that she could straddle the pillow under her left thigh, avoiding her back to rest on the firm yet comfortable mattress. Her left arm outstretched a little as he continued to stroke her arm softly. Her contorted face displayed discomfort. Her voice was very soft as she complained to him about her stomach being bloated, causing more distress to her back as her muscles stretched slightly more.

He continues to stroke her arm as softly as he has been. He didn't answer her.
Perhaps, he hoped the medicine she had just taken would slowly take into effect and she would slowly ease into slumber.

Seeing my father touch my mother in such an intimate manner was very rare in all my 40 years of existence. In fact, displays of affection was something rather scoffed at by him, even with his offspring. A firm handshake with me for any good news would suffice, from doing well at studies to the birth of my 3 daughters. It wasn't phobia of the human touch. Rather, his hardened life as a child and teenager conditioned him and his siblings to be such, affectionate displays were luxurious in nature.

My sister was Papa's girl and he dotted over her well late into her teens. Overbearing at times but always justified in his mind. Still, a hug for her was reserved on her wedding day. Anything additional would've been in more private circumstances.

Pain management or palliative management for her was tantamount to us. It was tantamount to him more. He is now almost a shell of his former self. From being a man so proud, almost arrogantly, of his emotional strength that never affects his judgment and character, to a man constantly on the brink of breaking down. That hard and rough surface of his, of emotions, have been stripped down to this shell that exposes a man tortured with horror and sadness. Horror and sadness from helplessly seeing her transform from a zestful woman of life and vigor, of one that smiled to the world at every single good or bad moment throughout her life, to an anxious depressed shadow, wilting like a plucked flower within so little time.

They've been at each other's side for half a century now. She was the shy girl merely old enough to graduate from proper secondary school. He was the brash and straightforward young engineer working for the Public Works Department in the government. Both were enthralled with possibilities and promises of a decade old country, proud with their newly achieved independence from the British Empire. Elvis Priestly was king. The Beatles were the new British Empire. All these years and they've become darlings to everyone that have come to love their warmth and hospitality. Every one of their friends knew them to be 'them', a couple, one was always associated with the other, never alone in any scenario that life offered them.

And now, he stares at a near future of him no more with her by his side. To joke and laugh about others' idiosyncrasies. To travel and marvel. To spoil the grandchildren.

And so, this poignant moment that I happen to witness of him touching her and caressing her, was a slight jolt to my senses. The weight of what I was witnessing slowly bore down on my shoulders manifesting in me hunching forward. This is her deathbed, I thought to myself. That's what they, whoever they are, mean by being at the deathbed.

About the author:
Jagdesh Singh blogs at Incoherent Ramblings and his words can be seen at The Tomkins Times, Anfieldindex, LFC Day Trippers and We are Liverpool.  

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Sunday, 19 October 2014

Show me your moves! - DugroStar

The response for Dugrostar's talent search was overwhelming. It is great to know many parents place a lot importance on honing their child's artistic talent. This says a lot and goes to prove that we are not paper qualification chasers alone. It says that we also believe and know the importance of extracurricular activities.

Moving and dancing is a big part of my culture. If you know and have seen bhangra in action then you know exactly what I mean.
So when Dugrostar suggested that we show you what kind of moves we can strut, we delightfully obliged.

Immediately after my children's year end exam, we dived right into learning the steps for Dugrostar's catchy song. We trained so hard that it brought the rain and thunder. Looks like we have incidentally discovered rain dance. So if you ever need rain, be sure to follow the dance moves which is shared at the end of this post.

It was simply a beautiful evening and we thoroughly enjoyed dancing our shoes off in the rain while mummy burned some calories in a fun way. 
We have found the best rain dance!

For those who successfully submitted an entry for the Stage 1 of Dugrostar challenge, stay tuned because soon a total of 280 young finalist will be shortlisted for a live performance, which will be held from 24 October to 16 November, nationwide. 

KB Mall, Kelantan
24-25 October 2014
Plaza Merdeka, Sarawak
31 October-2 November 2014
Sunway Pyramid, Selangor
31 October-2 November 2014
One Borneo, Sabah
8-9 November 2014
Mahkota Parade, Malacca
7-9 November 2014
KSL Mall, Johor Bahru
7-9 November 2014
Queensbay Mall, Penang
14-16 November 2014

List of finalist who made it for live performances: (click on the location) updated 10 Nov

The prizes are: (for each live performance location)
  • first place winner will receive RM5,000 cash
  • second place winner will receive RM3,000 cash
  • third place winner will receive RM1,000 cash
  • consolation prizes for contestants at live performance.
Apart from the live mall performances to entertain the crowd (10am to 10pm), there will be exciting booths and family photo-taking activities too.

So if you are free, head over to the mall (as listed above) for a  family fun filled day to shake off your Monday blues because a family that chills together, stays together. 
If that reason alone is not enough, then come because according to one of the panel judges - En Az'farr, artistic activities play a big role in building social and communication confidence in the little ones. It opens up many learning possibilities for them. 

So do it for your little ones and let them get inspired by watching the lucky and brave 280 finalist who will be strutting and swaggering on stage for you. Lets show them our support and encourage them to give it their best.

Here is a short snippet of some of the dance moves you could be dancing off to.
Hope you will enjoy and groove to it as much as w did.
Happy Dugrostar to you! 
 Dance moves by our very own Dugrostar

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 Disclaimer: I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. Opinions shared here are all mine and mine alone.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Let's bare them to show support, seriously!?

It is quite easy to get support or a reaction by playing with a person's empathy. We easily feel for the less fortunate and those who are suffering. Many good campaign and charitable organizations flourished because of this. To help spread awareness and address the many causes that affect those around us.

Each with their own specific mission to make a difference in the lives of those in need of assistance - hunger, disaster relief, medical support all the way to empowering women and children. And we give as much as we can to these worthy causes so that the hardworking people from these organizations can carry on with their missions.

On 13th October this year, a whole day will be dedicated to support breast cancer awareness. With the rise in casualty and cases of women falling prey to breast cancer, awareness is good.

But I am not particularly thrilled with the theme for this campaign - No bra day in support of breast cancer awareness.

Why on earth would I, if I were a breast cancer patient, want to see people bearing their boobs and say that they are doing it for breast cancer. (Out of curiosity I googled nicknames for breast and I found hundreds of them! Like melons, Lucy and Ethel, jiggly and wiggly, the buoys and double trouble)

Don't get me wrong. I am all yay for the no bra day, it is liberating - for my breast - because having my ladies cupped in an underwired brassiere and sweating underneath my T-shirt in this hazy, hot and humid weather is no fun at all.

I'm usually off with the bra as soon as I walk into my house and can do it without removing my T-shirt. So don't be shocked if your hand accidentally finds a bra tucked under my cushion, on my bed, in my living room or even in my kitchen. That's how much I detest this constricting garment.
Bra to me is like a winter coat that you put on only when you're going out. Out of necessity, not so much for myself but for the people around me because one experience that showed me why I needed this uncomfortable additional piece of clothing for proper coverage.

So no bra day is a good day. But doing it to support for breast cancer awareness, doesn't make much sense to me. I don't think anyone with a mastectomy would want other healthy and well-endowed women to bare their breasts. I would most certainly be offended, sad even because it would remind me of what I had lost. Say if you lost your thumb and suddenly hundreds of people march on the streets showcasing their thumbs, wouldn't that perhaps make you a little sad, angry or even jealous? Just saying.

I feel no bra day in no way adds any value to breast cancer awareness. Unless on that day there are free mammogram clinics, breast examinations or more information on breast cancer awareness.

This is the only point I am trying to make here. My breast are such an important part of my identity and that doesn't make me shallow. It simply implies that I am comfortable with them being part of who I am and not because they are a sexual object but a big part of my motherhood journey is linked to it.
Each person has their own comfort zone when it comes to their own body and how comfortable they are when they have to say goodbye to certain parts of 'themselves'. Opinions shared in this article, in no way is trying to influence how you feel about celebrating 'No Bra Day in Support of Breast Cancer Awareness' 

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Monday, 6 October 2014

Talent search - DugroStar

From the moment you hold your newborn in your arms right up to their adulthood, children will always be special to their parents. And everything they do, would be something worth talking about. I know, I have been there and done that (and pssstt, I am still doing it).
I cannot recall the countless times I bored my friends with stories of things that my children did whilst forcing them to watch videos of mini-me doing these things. But luckily for me, I have understanding friends who patiently watched these videos, over and over again.
If you are like me and have tons of videos and pictures showcasing your child's talent but are running out of people to show it off, fret not, Dugrostar is here.
With Dugrostar, every child gets to be a star! 
This opportunity is opened to children ages three to 10. There will be two age-based categories; three to six and six plus to 10.
As long as your child can sing, dance, play an instrument or perform a combination of these talent, you are sorted. You can send in an entry of your child performing solo or in a group of not more than six children.
To join this talent search is very easy and is absolutely free! No proof of purchase of any kind is necessary. As long as she has got talent, considered it a done deal.
There are three ways you can submit an entry for your child and DO NOT forget to include this unique code HH0012 when submitting your entry
  1. submit an online entry at*
  2. visit their nationwide roadshows and take opportunity of their live recording held at Dugrostar Recording Booths. You can get a detailed schedule of their roadshows by clicking here
  3. submit a completed registration form together with a recording of your child's performance on CD/DVD/USB** and mail it to Dugrostar c/o Ecopia Snd Bhd, NO. 27, Jalan 17/47, 46400 Petaling Jaya, Selangor. You should be able to get these registration forms from any major supermarket or you can download it from here.
"So what's the big fuss and why should I trouble myself to join this talent search?", you may wonder
The prizes are: (for each live performance location)
  • first place winner will receive RM5,000 cash
  • second place winner will receive RM3,000 cash
  • third place winner will receive RM1,000 cash
  • consolation prizes for contestants at live performance.
There are two phase in this talent search.
  • Phase 1 - The talent search which is running from now until October 12, 2014. In this phase judges would be looking at contestant's showmanship (40%). The way they present themselves, communication skills and choice of clothing selected for their entry. The other important aspect would be contestant's talent (60%) - voice, dance rhythm, quality of performance and potential.
  • Phase 2 - Live performances of selected contestants, 20 October to 16 November, 2014 
So what are you waiting for, grab your cameras or your handphones and start " celebrating his talent" to "be a Dugrostar" and to "be so much more!"
Good luck to you and I
Young diva who is constantly finding new ways to celebrate her talent and amuse us with her inexhaustible creative ways
Asked for star-like post and walla! She sure can be so much more than expected.

"Are you ready to be a Dugrostar!?" she screams
DO NOT forget to include this unique code HH0012 when submitting your entry

For more information please do not hesitate to drop me a comment or you can log on to or if your prefer talking to someone, call Dumex Careline 1800-38-1038
*Steps you need to follow to successfully send your entry:
  1. log on to
  2. click on "Pendaftaran" and the "Borang"
  3. fill in the form that appears
  4. key in the unique code HH0012 in the space highlighted "Kod Rujukan Video" before submitting your video un "File Video" and press "Hantar"
  5. You should receive an email or sms notification within a week.

**Child's performance should be timed to 2 minutes. You may include a short introductory of performer and this would not be counted as part of the 2 minutes performance limit and should not exceed 300MB. You may send more than one entry but each entry requires a new registration form.
**Submission is not proof of entry. If you do not see your video on the Dugrostar Gallery, then you are advised to call the Careline to check the status of your submission.

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