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The Great Idli Revival…

Yudhika's Durban tea party at Holi Cow...with Joanne Joseph.

Yudhika’s Durban tea party at Holi Cow…with Joanne Joseph.

There’s been a wave of enthusiasm about Idli…and some people have been asking what is this thing that makes everyone go a little dippy. A description doesn’t do them justice…they are steamed semolina cakes made with rice flour and fresh coconut. It’s a humble treat but an irresistible one!

I shared my recipe in the Post Newspaper a few weeks ago…I had been reminiscing about my childhood and the specialities that ‘oldies’ used to make….and I say ‘oldies’ fondly. I miss that feeling…eating and indulging in the food these ladies prepared could only leave you feeling loved in that very special way!

There’s been an overwhelming response to this recipe and a similar one to the snowball blog too…I was surprised that so many people shared the same sentiments about growing up in Durban and snowballs too! You can find the recipe here,

I had a group of phenomenal women around for a little Durban style tea party recently. We feasted on curry pies, samosas, idli and snowballs…what a treat to be in such great company but also to reconnect over the treasures that we relished from our childhood in Durban. Devi Sankaree, Joanne Joseph, Aasra Bramdeo, Krivani Pillay and Uveka Rangappa…thanks so much for a delightful afternoon at Holi Cow with loads of giggles!

Phenomenal women...Krivani Pillay SAFM, Devi Sankaree Govender - Carte Blanche, and Koo Govender - Phakama Women's Academy  enjoying the treats at Holi Cow!

Phenomenal women…Krivani Pillay SAFM, Devi Sankaree Govender – Carte Blanche, and Koo Govender – Phakama Women’s Academy…enjoying the treats at Holi Cow!

I have been making idli flat out since and there seems to be a bit of a revival…some people have rocked up at Holi Cow desperately seeking one, and others brought their kids over to give it a try…some have sent their kids to urgently collect! It gladdens my heart to know that there is so much love that can be shared through food.

I used fresh yeast for this recipe…you can use half the quantity of dried yeast if you prefer. I prefer the fresh yeast though….might be my imagination but I think there is a difference. I have to say that I can be quite superstitious and old fashioned with baking. There’s also been quite a few queries about where to get fresh yeast…it used to be available and kept in the refrigerated dairy section in supermarkets. With so few people baking, fresh yeast isn’t always available.

You can pop through to your local supermarket and get some from the bakery section. It is inexpensive and good supermarkets are happy to share…I normally get my yeast over the counter at the Broadacres Superspar or Hobart Superspar…I don’t think you would have much luck at Woolies or Checkers but the Spars are individually owned and there is a good chance they would help you out…you could also try your local bakery…it sounds like a schlep but it is worth the effort!

Steaming the idli in an AMC pan using the egg poacher

Steaming the idli in an AMC pan using the egg poacher

Now, you don’t have to run out and get an idli pot…I have one that I bought from India and it is nothing to hoo haa about. The pot is quite thin and rattles around on the hob….also the stacked idli stand leaves some of the dumplings squashed. I use an AMC egg poacher for this and it works perfectly. You do not need a fancy pot just for steaming them. It’s also better to steam them in one layer as they cook evenly and in the same time. If you are looking to start your AMC collection or adding to the existing one, click here for the latest AMC competition, https://yudhikayumyum.com/2015/05/04/cookware-for-queens-and-a-few-kings-too-the-amc-cookware-competition/

Take a browse through the blog….I love hearing from you and your comments point me in the right direction…so feel free to drop me a line or two!

Sweet Idli by Yudhika Sujanani

Sweet Idli by Yudhika Sujanani

Sweet Idli

Makes 18 – 24

Ingredients

10ml sugar
20g fresh yeast
500ml tepid water

250ml self raising flour
125ml rice flour
125ml semolina
250ml maize meal
2,5ml salt

225ml sugar
185ml desiccated coconut
125g melted butter

Here’s how

Place the sugar in a jug, add the fresh yeast and the water.
Stir well to dissolve and leave in a warm place.
Bubbles should appear on the surface – if not it means that the yeast is inactive.
Place the self raising flour in a mixing bowl.
Add the rice flour, semolina, maize meal and salt.
Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.
Stir well to combine and ensure the mixture is smooth.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place for 3 – 4 hours or until the mixture has doubled in volume.
The batter should have large bubbles on the surface.
Stir the sugar, desiccated coconut and melted butter into the batter
Bring 500ml water to boil in a 24cm AMC pot.
Place an insert ring with a 6 egg poacher on the pot.
Grease the poaching cups with non stick spray.
Spoon the batter into the cups – it should be about 3/4 full.
Cover with a tight fitting lid and steam for 12 – 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean with the idli is tested.
Serve hot with butter and syrup.

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Busting my chops…

Chop Chutney by Yudhika Sujanani

Chop Chutney by Yudhika Sujanani

Success is not a destination…it is a journey. And I can truthfully say, that the road is not paved with success. There are gravel roads, highways and cobbled paths but there are more failures and disappointments than victories. I have never opted for the easier routes. It doesn’t sit comfortably but there are times that the road was clearly the wrong one. If we made all the right choices, we would definitely not work as hard. The lessons we learn often come from failure. There is so much we learn about our ‘inner circle’ only when we experience dismal failure…suddenly our good friends disappear and some of them stay close, encouraging and guiding us through the darkness. I am thankful for all the lessons…good, bad and ugly.

Looking back over the past decade, I have been busting my chops…learning lessons on my journey and persevering through. I started out in the food world when I was 14 years old…buttering bread and rolling cutlery in paper serviettes. I started out by just lending a hand in the kitchen…running errands and always assisting the weakest link in the food chain. But as I climbed the ladder, every rung came with it’s own lessons and a better view too. I eventually opened a restaurant and that also came with it’s lessons. I loved food but hated the restaurant admin that kept me out of the kitchen. I paid my school fees and learnt very quickly that if I wanted to serve delicious food, I would have to work on the admin in the day and chef during the dinner service. Welcome to the life of a restaurateur…seven years of double shifts and three kids I wasn’t putting to bed later, I sold Salaam Bombay to concentrate on the career I have now.

I started doing live cooking demos and became the brand ambassador to a large food corporate…I was still working double shifts but from home. I made samosas, thousands of them, for the Broadacres Superspar to fill up the financial gaps in my bank balance. The financial shortfalls was what led me to launch a range of spices called Curry Me Home at the same Spar. My first recipe book followed a few months later. Through this time, there was rejection, a few bad surprises and the road had been bumpy at the best of times.

I have busted my chops since I was 14, and there are people out there that assume that a strategic marriage is behind my success. Frankly, my marriages have been the failure that has fueled much of my drive to succeed. I have experienced my fair share of divorce ugliness but will not be a casualty of the process or ugliness that comes with it. Marriage to a wealthy man can provide financial stability but it will not provide you with knowledge and wisdom to succeed as an independent woman. The men that claim that their wives had married for money lack good common sense. Imagine the foolishness of a man who does this, raising questions about his wisdom and intelligence. There have been a few murmurs going around and either way, whatever people believe, I am going to take it a a compliment…because I am that resilient, smart and business savvy to succeed. And if I ever decide to become that gold digger, I am sure that I will be successful at that too.

As adults, we often speak of our sacrifices…quite recently and increasingly often, I watch my kids and think of how much they have sacrificed by not having me around as much as they would have liked. They complain sometimes but most often understand, accept and tolerate the workload that comes with the lifestyle we enjoy. But the lifestyle doesn’t come from what Indians refer to as ‘being a sponge’ or gold digger. If I opted in as a ‘sponge’, my kids would have had more time with me and definitely little respect!

I have worked double triple time and still do, never turning down work and being an entrepreneur 24/7. I am a cook, teacher, author, TV presenter, PR lady and manufacturer! I have always known that no matter how hard you work, there are always ‘those people’ who just love busting your chops! The petty, mindless comments and stupidity of the gossip, leaves me asking questions about the lack of education and imbecility! When the fits of giggles subside, I recognize that lives can be that empty!

All of this and I throw my hands in the air and declare, ‘To each chop, his own!’, I suppose! Which brings me back to the chops….here is my recipe for a golden oldie from Durban….Chop Chutney! This is a Sunday favourite but also a great way to recycle lamb chops after a weekend braai.

Chops Chutney

Serves 4

Ingredients

1,4kg lamb chops
250ml water
15ml crushed ginger and garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
Salt to season

50ml sunflower oil
1 onion, finely chopped
5ml salt
1 sprig curry leaves
3 – 4 green chillies
10ml crushed ginger and garlic
5ml – 10ml red chilli powder
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2,5ml ground cumin
2,5ml ground coriander
2,5ml garam masala
1ml turmeric
Pinch of sugar
Fresh coriander, to garnish

Pour the water into a 30cm AMC gourmet roaster, then add the ginger and garlic.
Arrange the lamb chops in a single layer.
Add a cinnamon stick and bay leaf.
Simmer the chops until the water has evaporated and the meat is tender.
The fat from the chops should be left in the pan.
Fry the chops until golden brown and season with salt.
Pour off the excess oil.

Heat the sunflower oil in a 24cm AMC pot and fry the onions with salt until light golden brown.
Add the curry leaves and chillies, saute for a few seconds.
Stir the ginger and garlic into the pot and then add the red chilli powder.
Add the tomatoes, then the remaining spices.
Simmer until the sauce thickens and the tomatoes soften.
Sprinkle in the sugar and pour the cooked tomatoes into the pot with the lamb chops.
Toss the lamb chops in the tomato chutney to coat.
Garnish with fresh coriander and serve.

Burfee Bliss…an eggless cupcake!

Yudhika's Eggless Burfee Cupcakes...

Yudhika’s Eggless Burfee Cupcakes…

No matter how much time you spend in a kitchen, there are always some things that are not your forte. For me eggless baking has never come easy…perhaps my attempts are sabotaged by some of my first attempts which were always disastrous. From cakes that looked like rubber to cupcakes that felt like tennis balls…my earlier attempts made me cringe with embarrassment. Thankfully, much to the encouragement and constant requests from my readers and Facebook family, I come up with a cracker every now and then…don’t get me wrong, there are more disasters than victories.

When it comes to eggless cakes and bakes, I often find beautifully decorated cakes that can set you up for disappointment. One bite and the cake is either too dry, heavy and the bicarby bitterness overwhelming. I have been playing with a recipe for an eggless cupcake for a while and why not make a celebration cupcake? Last week, I did a feature in the Post Newspaper and featured my Eggless Burfee Cupcake creation. The recipe has been tested for a while and each time I made a batch, I thought of ways to improve the texture and flavour. Taking inspiration from an Indian speciality fudge, I added Klim and dessert cream to the recipe…it was one of those recipes that go something like this….a few tablespoons of that, let’s add a little cream, stir and check consistency, then a few pinches of cardamom….lick the spoon and, ‘Aha, it needs more sugar!’ For a quick and easy flop proof burfee recipe, click here, https://yudhikayumyum.com/2013/10/31/idiot-proof-burfee/ and check out my latest competition to win a 30cm skillet valued at R3200 from AMC Cookware here, https://yudhikayumyum.com/2015/05/04/cookware-for-queens-and-a-few-kings-too-the-amc-cookware-competition/

The baked burfee cupcakes...a little scone like on the surface!

The baked burfee cupcakes…a little scone like on the surface!

I develop recipes over the weekend and get my kids to take notes on my ramblings and document the recipe changes. I took a peek at these cupcakes while they were in the oven. They looked like scones and my heart sank momentarily. It’s a case of not judging a book by it’s cover…the scone like appearance masked the deliciously light, moist cakes. I topped them with a generous slathering of cream cheese frosting but you could use butter cream or whipped cream if you prefer.

Eggless Burfee Cupcakes....deliciously light and moreish!

Eggless Burfee Cupcakes….deliciously light and moreish!

Eggless Burfee Cupcakes

Makes 18

125g soft butter

125g sugar

100g Klim milk powder

100ml dessert cream

200ml full cream milk

5ml vanilla essence

210g cake flour

7,5ml baking powder

5ml bicarbonate of soda

Pinch of salt

2,5ml ground cardamom

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

In a free standing mixer or with a hand held beater, ream the butter until light in colour.

Add the sugar gradually and continue creaming until fluffly.

Stir the mix powder into the mixture and continue creaming

Gradually add the dessert cream.

Combine the full cream milk and vanilla essence.

Sift the dry ingredients.

Add half the sifted flour to the mixing bowl and beat until smooth.

Add half the milk and mix well, followed by the remaining flour.

Pour the remaining milk and beat until smooth.

Divide the mixture into a cupcake pan, lined with paper cases.

Bake for 22 – 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when the cakes are tested.

Remove the cakes from the tin immediately and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Cream cheese frosting


120g soft butter


375ml icing sugar


230g plain cream cheese 


5ml Vanilla paste or extract

Tinted almonds, to decorate

For the frosting:

Cream butter and gradually add the icing sugar until light in colour.
Add the cream cheese and continue beating.
Add vanilla essence.
Continue beating until smooth – do not over-beat as the frosting can split.

Once the cupcakes have cooled, frost them using a spatula and decorate with tinted almonds.

‘Keep Mum and Carry On’…a message for Mother’s Day!

Yudhika Sujanani with Hetal, Rushil and Tanvi

Yudhika Sujanani with Hetal, Rushil and Tanvi

The world I grew up in was very different to the one I live in. I watched my mom and gran quietly go about their business of running a home even when things were falling apart. They would ‘Keep Mum’ and carry on. Keep Mum..it’s a code that Indian women live by and a phenomenon that makes no sense to me at all! Trained to see everything and say nothing, an Indian women is pushed to the very edge. I was warned as a child not to say anything and to never ask questions. If i ever raised a difficult topic with my mom or gran, their immediate response would be, ‘Keep quiet, your father/grandfather is going to hear you’. It frustrated me that no one wanted to discuss what was obviously huge issues. From domestic violence to alcohol abuse, financial disasters or gambling, there were no discussions.

I got into lots of trouble…asked too many questions and questioned what should not be questioned. My childhood was punctuated with beatings from my father. But I never kept mum, I would question and it would be like somebody pressed play, rewind and play again. I watched that movie too many times and the beatings did become easier to deal with. At first, it was unbearable to accept that a parent could behave in that way but the regularity of it numbs the soul and it becomes an out of body experience. There is no pain but I still think about how a parent could be so messed up. Nobody spoke about what really went on in their home and my situation wasn’t an exceptional case. It plagued the community and silenced women.

Life wasn’t a cake walk but I don’t regret the decisions I made, questions asked and the person I am today. It shocked everyone and it surprised or horrified them even more that I would make the same choices over again knowing that I would get another beating. So my childhood was spent living from one catastrophe to the next, one beating to the next. I was not allowed to complain about it to friends, neighbors or family members. That was considered as bringing shame upon your family. Is it possible to shame a family already living in shame? What happened at our house, stayed in our house. Life was lonely and the burden of keeping mum weighed heavily on my spirit. I felt ashamed through most of those years.

We live in a different world and parenting is different. Our kids question freely, tell us how they feel and blatantly tell us when we fail. It hurts to hear it but being a mum isn’t for sissies. Being a mum is different and so is being a daughter. Over the past 18 months I have taken a long hard look at myself after the worst arguments with my 15 year old daughter, Hetal. We lost each other over a dozen times thinking that there would be no way back. Hetal also had issues with her mom being a workaholic. It’s the world we live in but also a personality thing. Being a workaholic is not something to be proud of, it comes from my childhood fears and my children have to live with that. The issues left a huge crack in our family but miraculously it changed. Hetal came back into our world. It was a long hard road back but we took some time to appreciate each other, discovering facets of our complicated personalities. Life is tough for our kids too and my mistake was assuming that it was tougher for me. I got so caught up in the daily grind and assumed that she understood that.

My kids asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day and I said, ‘All I want is for you to be really happy’. I don’t want a day off from being a mum or to be left alone, fragrant soaps and body butters. I just want to take a day to appreciate each other, for the day to be filled with love and laughter. There is no special recipe in this post but a request that we find ingredients to make our relationships work! For this Mother’s Day, I would like for us to get to know our kids better, build a few bridges, break a few walls and share a few secrets. Our time with them is precious and I plan to make the most of it.

The Crumpet Controversy…

The Crumpet Controversy by Yudhika Sujanani

The Crumpet Controversy by Yudhika Sujanani

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, it got me thinking about delicious recipes that my mom and gran would prepare! My gran always made fabulous crumpets and they are so good that she has to make them everyday when she comes to visit. I did watch her a few times and with most experienced Indian ladies, they cook and bake without measurements and my Nan is no different. They make everything look so easy and effortless. And it’s because they make it look so easy, that I did try to whip up a batch as an after school treat. Most of them were welded to the pan and scraping them off just led to lots of burning and trauma! The ones that did make it were hard and rubbery! I just had to pay more attention to Nan to get these right!

I use an AMC Chef’s Pan to cook these and grease it lightly with a mist of non-stick spray. Once the batter is in you could add a little melted butter to the pan but the spray on its own worked well enough. You can also use a AMC Cookware Skillet for this…and luckily enough, it’s the prize AMC are giving away…click here for more details on how to enter, https://yudhikayumyum.com/2015/05/04/cookware-for-queens-and-a-few-kings-too-the-amc-cookware-competition/

I posted a pic of the crumpets on Facebook. My English Champagne drinking friend, Carole Tate, declared that it wasn’t a crumpet after all! I was completely confused and decided to do a little investigating. English crumpets are different to Scottish ones, and there is much confusion over flapjacks, English muffins and Crumpets.

So let’s settle on calling these South African Crumpets which, by the way, are much like American flapjacks. They can be served dusted with cinnamon sugar, drizzled with syrup, and served in a stack topped with crispy bacon. Crumpets can also be served plain and smeared with a heavy dose of butter! It’s all good…it’s all delicious! These are easy enough for kids to make on Mother’s Day and here are a few other recipe ideas from my previous blog posts…For a meringue frosted cake and delicious scones click here – https://yudhikayumyum.com/2012/05/09/mothers-day-blues/

For those of you who are die hard English crumpet fans, apologies for calling this a crumpet. It’s what I have know it as my entire life. Let’s put the controversy aside, and bang out a batch…they are delicious by any name!

Since blogging is still ‘quite new’, I would love to hear from you so leave a message in the comments section when you drop by! And if you love the recipe, feel free to share it!

The crumpet stack - perfect for Mother's Day

The crumpet stack – perfect for Mother’s Day

Crumpets

Makes 24

Ingredients

500ml self raising flour
10ml baking powder
Pinch of salt
75ml sugar
250ml milk
250ml cold water
2 eggs
60ml melted butter

Cinnamon sugar, to dust
Butter and golden syrup, to serve

Here’s how:

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl.
Add the sugar.
Lightly whisk the milk, water and eggs to combine.
Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients.
Whisk the mixture until smooth, then pour in the butter.
Whisk once again to incorporate.
Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and leave the batter to rest for an hour.
Heat an AMC 28cm Chef’s Pan and grease with non stick spray.
Cook spoonfuls of the batter in the pan – I use an egg ring to keep them even in size.
When the crumpets bubble on the surface and are golden brown, turn then over and cook on the opposite side.
Grease the pan again with non-stick spray and repeat.
Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Serve with butter and golden syrup.

Post Christmas Blues….

Yudhika prepares a Christmas Strudel...

Yudhika prepares a Christmas Strudel…

I worked at the Broadacres Superspar over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day too….it has to be the most frantic days to be in store and it’s all hands on deck for the rush.  Turkey in every form imaginable….roulades, stuffed, deboned, unstuffed, turduckens and carved….you name it….and it was in store….not to mention gammon…gammon everywhere!

I have been posting post-Christmas recipes mainly using turkey….today I have a recipe that uses the last remaining slices of Christmas cake.  Don’t be too quick to write off this recipe…it is decadent and delicious!

 

Turfing out Christmas cake makes me sad….and it hurts the pocket too…all those good nuts and spices…not to mention the butter and brandy too!

 

This post-Christmas dessert will have you shining like a star!  I added more nuts, spices and Lindt chocolate to the filling and wrapped this in phyllo!  Use a bread knife to slice through the pastry…works like a charm and don’t be intimidated by this!  What I love about this recipe is also those delicious aromas that travel through the kitchen while it is in the oven!!!

 

I made one of these and took a few slices through to Mrs Tarr at Broadacres…and we also had some turkey pie as well with it….I know I can count on her for feedback on new recipes….and well, I can honestly say that after a few festive recipe tastings, I knew I was going to get into trouble for tempting Mrs T….a troubled chef…or a troublesome one?

For more post-Christmas recipes, click here for a delicious turkey pasta…https://yudhikayumyum.com/2014/12/24/christmas-recycled-turkey-pasta/ or here for a hearty turkey pie, https://yudhikayumyum.com/2014/12/21/turkey-express/.  For the latest food inserts from Mela on SABC 2, click here, https://yudhikayumyum.com/sabc-2s-mela-videos/ and don’t forget to like the Mela page on Facebook for the latest recipes!

 

 

Christmas Strudel

 

500g phyllo pastry (12 sheets)

125g butter, melted

Ground cinnamon, to sprinkle

 

300 Christmas cake or pudding

75g hazelnuts

75g pecan nuts

125g dark chocolate, chopped – I used Lindt!

100g dried cranberries

5ml ground cinnamon

75g brown sugar

 

Icing sugar, to dust

Custard, to serve

 

 

 

Here’s how:

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Crumble the cake into a mixing bowl.

Add the hazelnuts, pecans, dark chocolate and cranberries.

Add 5ml ground cinnamon to the mixture and mix well.

Lay a sheet of phyllo pastry onto a work surface and brush with butter – reserve some butter for the top of the strudel

Place a sheet next to it with an overlap of about 4cm.

Brush the pastry with butter and repeat until all the layers are done.

Brush the top layer with butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar over the pastry.

Spread the crumbled cake mixture leaving a 3cm gap around the edges.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over the filling and reserve 30ml for topping the strudel.

Fold the pastry over the filling around the edges.

Roll the pastry with the filling as you would for a Swiss Roll.

Grease a large baking sheet with non stick spray.

Place the phyllo roll onto the baking sheet and brush with butter.

Sprinkle the reserved brown sugar over the roll and bake for 35 – 40 minutes.

The strudel should be golden brown and crispy.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Dust with icing sugar and slice into rounds with a serrated knife.

Serve with homemade custard.

The Great Durian Adventure

Yes…it smells quite awful! A ‘No Durian’ sign in Singapore

I have travelled through the East many times – I love everything about South East Asia, well almost everything anyway!  Everything except a nasty looking fruit called Durian.  Its known as the King of Fruits and looks like a medieval weapon….it has a thick stalk and the fruit is the size of a football.  Although the fruit is covered in wicked spikes, its not the appearance that makes me cross the road when I come across a vendor….it’s the nasty stench!

Durian is sold at markets and street vendor stalls all over Thailand.  It is sold in neat pre-packed segments and it looks tempting until you rip open the packaging.  Yes, its enough to make your eyes water.

I have not been able to find Durian in Samui this holiday.  I was keen on giving it a try since making a decision to be more adventurous.  All this talk of durian has made Rob curious too.

Its never been hard to find durian….the most sensible way to track it down is to walk in the direction that smells the most!  Stop walking when you find the delicate yellow flesh that smells like a load of rotting something.  Yes, it smells rotten.

We headed off to a few local markets or talaads (as it is known in Thai). We first tried the Fisherman’s Village market in Bhoput and then popped in to another one in Chaweng with no luck.  We visited the Laem Din market too…still nothing.  What rotten luck!

I was chatting to Martin Kunzmann (I have mentioned him before – he is the resident manager at Amari Palm Reef) and told him that I could not find any Durian.  A keen adventurer and explorer, he offered to lead us on a Durian hunt.  I was so excited.

After we had finished our delicious cooking demo with Chef Kanit, we headed off – Martin on a flash bike and us on our trusty moped.  We stopped at the local Chaweng market just to make sure there wasn’t a durian delivery and then took an inland road out to Mae Nam.  It was fantastic to get away from the buzz of the main Chaweng strip.  We travelled along the Ghost Road – Martin says it is where the old spirit houses are abandoned.  The road is lined with hundreds of them in various stages of decay.

Rob and I were thrilled to be experiencing a different part of the island.  We made another stop, Martin pulled over and said he got a durian whiff….false alarm – It was another Samui special…Stink Beans!!!!  Garlic makes your breath smell, asparagus makes your wee smell, stink beans makes everything smell.  It makes your breath, skin and even your poo smell really bad.  Martin tried to talk me into giving the stink beans a go….still on honeymoon, I thought that this might not be an appropriate time to acquire a devilish stink!

Stink beans – Smelly business!

We were now on our way to Mae Nam.  The hills got steeper and steeper and the moped got slower and slower.  Eventually, I had to get off and walk up a ‘Tour de France’ hill.  Spluttering and cursing after eating too much, I jumped on Martin’s bike –  I can best describe this as a cool looking retro vintage bike and boy, it is noisy!  It was a like a rocket up the hills and we met Rob at the top!

This is where our troubles started….on our way down the hill, we got caught in a tropical storm.  The raindrops were large and heavy enough to make the trees bend over.  We drove down the hill slowly, quietly kakking ourselves all the way.  The raindrops stinging our faces and soaking us to the skin.  We passed the durian trees (yes, actually with durians on them) and it was storming so badly, we could not even get a pic.

We got to the bottom off the hill and I never thought I would be so happy to spot a ‘Seven Eleven’.  For me, it was like a sign saying, ‘Welcome back to civilisation’!

We got back to a flooded Chaweng strip….the water was about 50cm deep.  It was chaotic….people were riding their bikes on the sidewalk and the pedestrians were wading through the street knee deep in muddy water.

Rob and our moped – riding on the pavement in Chaweng

I never got to find the durian in Samui, but I thoroughly enjoyed my adventure.  I saw a part of the island that was beautiful and far away from traffic and tourists!

Durians in Singapore – finally!!!

As luck would have it – I found durian in Singapore!

Sleepless in Samui…

Rob and I are in now in Koh Samui – we are living each day like it is our last!  What fun its been….we have been enjoying alternating waves of relaxation with bursts of activity that have led to lots of adventures and a few misadventures too.

 

Just another day in Samui

 

There is just always something to do in Samui – we started out with the compulsory Amari Palm Reef Brekkie.  Fried rice, eggs any way you want them, sushi, salads, pastries and stir fried chicken with young chilli.  I thought young chilli was mild – clearly not!  Yes, I am sure that the Amari staff are familiar with hangover cures and the young chilli can sort out just about any hangover.

I popped into the Breeze Spa for some decadent pampering and chose to have a Panpuri massage.  I eyed out the therapist who introduced herself in a soft melodious voice.  A petite therapist with a gentle, soft sing-song voice….thats what made me opt for a strong massage.  Rattana turned out to be stronger than I could have imagined.  I am sure that she could knead a teak plank into a soft, pliable mass.  I don’t think I could have moved even if there was a tsunami alert….I lay there like a sack of potatoes occasionally drooling into my pillow.  I had a swim to revive me and did a bit of shopping from the back of the Moped – nothing like retail therapy to raise energy levels!

We decided to get an early start to the evening so we would have time to take in a few different spots so we put on our glad rags –  a flash beach dress and slops for me, and for Rob – baggies, a tee shirt and his ever-present Moon Boot (achilles injury, long story).  We kicked off the evening at Villa La Moon overlooking the bay.  Rob spotted cheap beer and two litchi martinis for the price of one.  It’s the moped driver’s job not only to navigate the crazy traffic but also to keep an eagle eye out for Happy Hour(s) which are at different times in every different place.  We soaked in the beautiful view while I soaked up the martinis.

 

Litchi Martinis at Villa La Moon in Samui

 

 

We jumped back on the moped and dashed down the hill to the main street at Chaweng.  We noticed a sign saying ‘Walking Street’ which was bustling with people, music and barrow vendors selling everything from clothes to cocktails.

 

Gintonic and icy cold Singha at Chaweng’s Walking Street

I quickly found some chicken drummies flaming on a small fire while Rob tracked downed an ice cold Singha beer and a Gintonic (as the locals call it).  We also couldn’t resist trying out the Pad Thai which was prepared at lightening speed by an enthusiastic local, Nom Poon.

 

Nom Poon – the fastest Pad Thai in the East!

 

Jarwat Pad Thai – check them out on facebook

Starz Cabaret was our next stop – with live appearances by Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, Madonna and Dianna Ross.  Maybe those litchi martini had more of a kick than I thought because Rob told me that the performers were actually Thai ‘Ladyboys’!  The drinks were expensive but there was no covert charge.  The show was entertaining and they extracted maximum laughs out of caricatures of the real artists’ performances.

 

Starz Cabaret – one of Chaweng’s main attractions!

We got back on the moped as the heavens opened for a short cloudburst so we popped in at the closest lively spot – The Solo Bar.  Rob was happy once again with our timing as Happy Hour lasted until 10pm and it was now 9.45pm.  We threw back a few half priced cocktails at double speed.  I tried something called ‘Land of Paradise’ – between this and the Bongo Guy the evening started getting rowdy.  There was a DJ playing some funky house tracks which we both normally hate.  Just as we were thinking of leaving, an athletic looking Thai muso set up his bongo drum and proceeded to get the entire bar rocking with his incredible energy. The bongo beat lifted the monotonous bass line and injected an excitement that got me off my bar stool.  Luckily, this was far from the Sandton Baron and anyone I knew.  I spent the next thirty minutes dancing my head off with my own cocktail mix of Indian, Arabic and Latin dance moves!  I don’t think I did too badly because not only was there lots of whistling and clapping but the Bongo Guy moved his setup to play right next to me.

Rob had seen this movie before so suggested that this would be a good time to move to the Reggae Bar on the other side of the lake.  There was a big Jamaican band playing mainly Reggae music.  I am constantly amazed at how big Reggae is in Thailand.  Bob Marley lives on in music, tee shirts, handbags, rasta caps and mainly in dreadlocks!!!  Rasta rebels of all ages from all countries congregate at this bar in their Che Guevara tee shirts singing songs like ‘No Woman, No Cry’.

It felt like time for a change of pace so we meandered on to one of the several dozen small pubs lining the side of the road for a game of pool.  The bar girls work hard to get you into their establishment but once you are in, the hard sell stops, and they leave you to get on with your game of pool and a quiet drink.  This particular place had no name and its main claim to fame was a laptop at the bar where you could choose the next song or three.

 

Robbie at the Hangover Bar

It was now about 2.30am and Rob was feeling quite peckish.  Another great thing about the island is that you are never far from a street vendor selling everything from satays to banana pancakes.  We had a few of both and decided that was enough for one night.

Just before we got back to the Amari we passed a brightly lit massage place with people still having foot massages.  I couldn’t resist a 3am foot rub and was snoring by 3.05.  We finally staggered back at around 4am and snuck in a quick illegal dip in the hotel pool before bed.

My last thought before I drifted off was, ‘Yay, breakfast in 5 hours!

How Yudhika Sujanani had a nice piece of ass for lunch!

Who would have thought that my culinary adventure in Italy would include eating donkey pasta?  Hard to believe?  Then read on…

After a long scenic walk around Verona, we crossed the Ponte Pietra back into the historic city centre.  There we found a cosy restaurant called Alcova del Frate where we were warmly welcomed by the charming owner, Massimo Perna.  I knew that horse meat was an Italian speciality but this was the first time that I had come across donkey on a menu.  Bigoli con Asino is local pasta with donkey meat.  I was very apprehensive about trying it but Rob convinced me to give it a bash.  Massimo claimed that I would find it to be the most tender meat I have ever eaten and likened the texture to butter. The meal was prepared by Chef Andrea who is a huge fan of Cape Town and the Clifton beauties!.  I was fascinated by the thickness of the fresh Bigoli and the fact that it boiled with no oil.  The donkey meat was prepared in almost a bolognese fashion with onions, carrots, celery and tomato.  While Chef Andrea was finishing the Bigoli with Asino, Massimo introduced us to some of the areas better known wines, including Soave, Valpolicella, and Amarone – known as the ‘King of Veronese Wines’.  The extremely high alcohol content of this wine (15 – 16 percent!) helped thaw the last remaining bits of ice from our extremities.

My Verdict?

Massimo was right – the meat was particularly tender, somewhat similar to beef but much richer with a more distinctive and original flavour. It’s not a meat that left a strong aftertaste as is sometimes the case with game.

Yudhika’s Bottom Line?

I loved it and would definitely order it again.  Rob was less thrilled, finding it too rich.
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