Thursday, 27 August 2015

A taste of victory at a football tournament

It's contagious.

On August 23, a day forever etched in my memory bank, SJCSC Super Girls (an all girls football team) won their first ever trophy at Sunarize International Junior Cup tournament 2015.
Their victory was a pleasant surprise considering the level of opposition,  from professional football academy and also because not many believed in an all girls team decked in pink and black jerseys, could play decent football.

They were the only local girls team and were pitted to compete against professional academy players which were mostly made up of boys and players from around the globe. Although these girls did well but it proved that they must work harder in training as a team.

Although Super Girls have been around for a couple of years, they are fairly unknown. So it is no surprise at every tournament, some snide remarks are audible seconds before kick off because in this country, football is a boys game. This tournament was no different though there was one particular incident worth noting. 

When the girls made it to the finals, the opposing team tried to throw them of their game with some mental abuse: calling them weak and saying stuff like "girls are cry babies." Amazingly these girls stood their ground and did not allow these taunts to invade their zen state of mind. That was the best moment for me. Watching them staying cool as cucumber while the boys were up to their mischief.

Their first match against Asia Pacific, was a good warm up for the girls. After scoring the first goal for the game, thanks to a penalty kick by Rania, Super Girls' captain, it was very hard for Asia Pacific to penetrate Super Girl's defense. With 60% ball possession, Super Girls had three missed attempt at scoring another goal. The match ended with Super Girls one goal and Asia Pacific nil. 

Next match against Taylor's was much tougher. This team was more organised and had a strong defense line. The boys were physically stronger and knocked many of the girls down with pure brute force. The result draw, one all.

The third match was once more against Asia Pacific and Super Girls won 2-1.

The final match was against Taylor's and the opposing team scored their first goal from a penalty kick. However just before the first half was over, supporters of Super Girls noticed the opposing team had an extra player on the pitch. So due to the error of judgement from the opposing team's coach, Super Girls were awarded victory with a walkover point. Needless to say, it wasn't the end we were hoping for but these girls were elated no matter.

Results in a flash
  1. Super Girls vs. MIFA (3-0)
  2. Super Girls vs. Asia Pacific (1-0)
  3. Super Girls vs. Taylor's (1-1)
  4. Super Girls vs. Asia Pacific (2-1)
  5. Super Girls vs. Taylor's (3-0)

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015


You've been around for 10,000 years.
You're uninvited but show up unannounced.
You're cumbersome and bothersome.
You're a challenge I don't need but must face.
You wreck havoc to my already hectic life.
How to win this battle against this ubiquitous insect?


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Monday, 24 August 2015

Masterchef Asia; For home cooks across Asia

Asian food is truly one of a kind. The smell, the texture and the exuberant colour display could send tingling sensations to your tummy. The invasion starts at your nostril from the aroma in the kitchen followed by salivation in the mouth region and before you know it, you have just had a bowl of lovely steamy, spiced curry. 

Asian food, you either like it or hate it. Just like our famous durian, the king of fruits

To put Asian food to test and decide which country has the best home-cook to offer, Masterchef; the world famous cooking show, has come up an English version of Masterchef Asia. A platform for contestants from across Asia to battle it out and showcase their skills, on air, under the guidance of three judges: Susur Lee, Bruno Menard and Audra Morrice

Fifteen contestants have been put under the grill in the Masterchef kitchen (Singapore) to off-site and overseas challenges. Many honed their skills episode after episode and those who faltered were eliminated at the end of each episode. Catch their tears, laughter and drama on Astro channel 709, September 3rd Thursday at 9pm.

Three out fifteen contestants are from Malaysia. Two homemakers; Jasbir Kaur, 54 & Sophia Zulkifli, 30 and the other a banker, Marcus Low, 24 years old. 

On August 20, these three contestants along with the MasterChef Asia judges; Susur Lee (Hong Kong culinary genius), Bruno Menard (3-Michelin Starred chef) and Audra Morrice (Australia Masterchef finalist) made a special appearance at the Westin Hotel KL. 

The contestants displayed their skills by attempting a timed mystery box challenge. Some of the ingredients I could name from the mystery box were prawns, radish, carrot, lime, pineapple, eggs, coconut milk, fresh herbs, ginger, oil, honey and soy sauce.

The winner of this challenge was Marcus who was the only one to dish out a dessert from the mystery box. He took a gamble and surprised the judges with his choice of pineapple fritters from the mystery box which was shouting, butter prawns.

Marcus prides himself on his unique ingredient pairings, which he clearly proved in this mystery box challenge. He believes Masterchef Asia will be his introduction to the culinary world.

Jasbir is the most senior contestant age wise, in this competition and is fondly known as the spice queen due to her in depth knowledge of spices. She hopes to inspire the younger generation by imparting her culinary skills of traditional Punjabi cuisine. She also plans to publish a cookbook focusing on traditional Punjabi food.

She made coconut marinated butter prawns served along with pickled radish and caramelised pineapples which won her two votes from the judges.  
Want to know her more? Read up on her interview with AsiaSamachar

Sophia hopes she can turn  her daily home cooking into entering the culinary world as a chef, caterer or a food critique.

A glimpse of Masterchef life through the eyes of the contestants

They are honoured to have been given this opportunity to learn from the judges. The show has given them so much confidence which has helped them become better cooks. They have learned how to work under pressure and gained new skills in terms of proper food preparations and management. Discipline and time management are very important aspects to be successful in this field and not to forget, a clean and tidy kitchen. 

The Masterchef Asia kitchen has many similarities to the Australian set. Food is delivered daily and vegetables as frequently as possible to ensure they are fresh and of best quality.
Quality of ingredients is very important to ensure good quality of food served.

Contestants are required to wear chef shoes which has a stainless steel tip and are slip resistant to ensure their safety while working. They each have their own workstation (but are randomly stationed in each episode) but share a common pantry and lounge.

Each episode challenge may take place in the Masterchef kitchen to off-site and overseas challenges. The 15 episode will culminate in one home-cook wining the title of the first ever Masterchef Asia. Winner will take home their very own cookbook, a USD$50,000 cash prize, USD$10,000 worth of unique leisure experiences in Singapore, USH$15,000 of Panasonic home appliances, a paid internship at one of Carlton Hotel Singapore's restaurant and a one week stay at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

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A peek into some of the drama from episode one to four.

(premiering September 3rd, Thursday at 9pm on Astro Ch 709)


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Caveman in the 21st century


I'm a modern day caveman with diabetes
I hunt for food in supermarket aisles
Without my knives, arrows and spears

I'm supposed to be a better you, dear homo sapien
But I ask thee for an intervention

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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

My blood type is coffee

Listen carefully. 
I don't have the time nor the patience to deal with you, humanely. 

This is for your own protection. 
You need to show me your cumulation.

Come on, everyone's got some! 
Spill the beans before I turn into your nightmare.

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Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Healthy snacking for growing children

Growing kids are always hungry! They keep eating and eating to fill their bellies and return for more after a short interval. Their stomach is like a bottomless pit and they'd eat anything when they are hungry.

My kids are young so it is easy to influence their choice of snacking. When they started school, not long ago, I learned that timing was everything. My kids are out of the house before sunrise and return only after 1pm. They would be ravenous by time I pick them up from school, so it was the perfect time for a healthy snack which they gladly gobbled up.

Instead of relying heavily on store bought, processed and sugary snacks, I opt for fresh produce, dairy, nuts and dried fruits. I would always mix and match these and come up with a healthy, on the go snack which my children can eat on their drive back home.

Smoothies are fairly easy and quite filling if you add some flaxseeds or other blended nut in them. You can also add some cooled cooked oats.

A simple smoothie recipe;

1 cup fresh fruits
1/2 cup frozen fruits (can be replaced with some ice cubes)
1 1/2 to 2 cups of milk or other liquids

You add all ingredients into a blender and blitz away. The amount of liquid depends on how thick you want your smoothie to be. If you like it very thick and creamy, reduce the liquid and otherwise.
To add more value to your smoothie, add cooled cooked oats (1/2 cup), 2 tablespoons flaxseeds and 1 tablespoon chia seeds.
Banana and kiwi smoothie
Frozen mango, strawberries and fresh milk smoothie served with chia seeds
Chilled fresh coconut water with its flesh and some frozen blueberries
Pink lady smoothie or you can turn this into ice cream too

On days I am short on time, I'd just chop up fruits and serve it cold with some yogurt and nuts. One of the best discoveries I made was frozen bananas. My freezer is always stacked with chopped fruits and when I was in a pinch, I just grabbed my tupperware full of frozen treats. It was a hit and is my eldest daughter's favourite especially on a hot summer day.
Frozen bananas
Fresh fruits with nuts and raisins
Fruits and nuts with fresh homemade yogurt

On days when they have their football training, I like to offer a much heavier snack, one that is packed with protein. 
Peanut butter banana smoothie
'Air-fried' tofu
Steamed sweet potato served with Feta cheese

Strata McMuffin

Most of these can be made in just minutes with some planning and advance prepping. Hope you would find some of my healthy snacking ideas useful and unique to be packed in your next healthy snacking choice or visit my Recipe page for more.

For more healthy snacks idea visit 

Disclaimer; this isn't a sponsored post

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Sunday, 2 August 2015

Chardi Kala; a constant state of bliss

I am addicted to social media, I confess. I pretty much know the what’s, where’s, why’s, when’s and how’s of most people in my virtual world, just by a click of a button or touch of a handheld screen. A new world which is neither good nor bad, it just is.

As per my morning ritual; a cuppa in one hand and my android in the other, I’d get a dose of my human connection and fill the void by scrolling down my timeline. Liking the status updates as I scroll down just like my dog marking his territory by pissing on every tree during his walk. Usually nothing out of the ordinary but when I came across pictures of my aunt, travelling with some of her friends, a sudden feeling of sorrow and joy engulfed me. I time travelled back in time, to a place when life seemed so much simpler than it is today.

She was the first person whom my husband, then boyfriend, confided to about me and she welcomed me with much love. She was and still is a loveable, approachable and full of emotions. A beautiful social butterfly that never lets anyone feel out of place. Her hearty and contagious laughter never ceased to entertain us. She is still that same person today only under different circumstances. She is what in Sikhism we like to refer to as a Chardi Kala person.

Chardi Kala is an important expression used to reflect the mental state of optimism and joy. To always be in high spirits, blissful and buoyant even in trying times; as a sign of contentment with the will of God.

My aunt is suffering from cancer. It is terminal and non reversible. There is nothing more the medical field can do except to keep her comfortable and pain free. Just reading these words alone would have many feeling sorry for her but not her.

She has vowed not to let cancer take over her life. In her own words she said “I feel that the little time I have left, I am going to enjoy every moment of it and I don’t have time for depression, for God has given me a life to live, so I am doing just that! Therefore live, love, forgive, forget, enjoy and laugh”

Wow! I mean seriously, how does one not be impressed by that? I had goosebumps all over my body and a sense of pride for personally knowing her. This strong and courageous person, is taking the bull by its horn and riding it. If this isn’t the true epitome of Chardi Kala then I don’t know what is.

Instead of staying in the hospital, she is back home caring for her family, planning a trip to Urulu with some of her friends and anxiously awaiting the birth of her second grandchild, due in August. Speaking to her over the phone would not give you the slightest hint that she is undergoing tremendous upheaval battling for her life. She still is the same old Dilip who would laugh her heart out, love like there is no tomorrow and travel until her feet swell up and she can move no more. She has even put up a note outside her door, urging visitors to wake her if they drop by unannounced because she felt bad missing out on the opportunity to meet some family and friends who came to visit her in the hospital and left without seeing her because she was asleep. That’s a gem of a person, who despite being in pain still cares for others and make them feel appreciated for taking time off their busy schedule to visit her.

I am a firm believer of six degrees of separation and there is no such thing as a coincidence. This aunt may not be related by blood but we are connected to each other in so many ways. She is my father in law’s sister, my mother in law’s sister, my husband’s confidant, my children’s grandmother and so much more. She has unknowingly returned my believe in being Chardi Kala is possible because not too long ago when my mother in law lost her battle to cancer things were very different and difficult.

Her final days were very hard on us and to be in constant high spirit was not possible. Those close to her were affected too when she began shutting herself in her room and refusing to meet anyone. Her cheerful and noisy house became a very a gloom and dispirited place. She, who used to repeat these very words to her son “Happiness is a choice. You can choose not to sulk and carry on, you know?” was somehow lost at making that choice. We blamed her sudden change of character to chemotherapy. Agreeing that the chemo had fried that circuitry in her that allowed her to make that choice but inevitably it dragged our high spirits down with her.

It was hard listening and agreeing to family and friends who coaxed us to stay high spirited at her funeral and words such as “be in Chardi Kala” carried no value then but not today. My mother in law may not have had the choice to be happy due to her condition but you and I certainly do. 
So live, love, forgive, forget, enjoy and laugh like how my aunt is doing. Don’t let something or someone take that away from you.

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