Archive for June, 2007

This is a recipe for cucumber (timun in Malay) acha.

Some interesting pickling techniques to note here – salting overnight and weighting, for example. I don’t know much about pickling but learnt quite a few things when reading about Korean kimchee recently, and also the instructions in some macrobiotic cookbooks (pickles are an important part of the macrobiotic diet). For example, the vegetables have to be kept under the surface of the pickling liquid or else there is a chance of spoilage. However, because acha is not pickled for weeks & months, this isn’t so much of problem.

Acha Timun A

Acha Timun B

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There are no vegetables specified in the acha/achar recipes I have posted earlier, however this entry provides some guidance in this area, or simply follow the instruction to use ‘any kind of vegetable available’ :)!

Acha vegetables

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‘Achar’ is actually a Hindi/Urdu (Hindi: अचार, Urdu: اچار,) word for pickles; see here. It’s also spelt as acha, achaar, or acar in modern Malay spelling. The origins of the word also tell us about the diffusion of foods from South to Southeast Asia.

Here’s the basic barebones acha/achar recipe.


And several pages further on in the notebook, there are more acha notes:

Acha notes

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Malacca acha (achar) here, as compared to yesterday’s recipe for Penang acha.

The use of the word ‘kunit’ here for tumeric, makes me wonder if the ‘saffron water’ in the Penang acha recipe actually refers to turmeric, as saffron and turmeric are often confused with each other. Despite being both being yellow spices, they are in fact different plants.

The type of nuts are not specified, but I would guess that groundnuts or peanuts would be the type used. As with the Penang acha recipe, you are left to decide what vegetables you want to use.

Acha Malacca

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A whole series of acha (achar) recipes starting from today. We can think of acha as the local version of the pickled onions/cauliflower recipes I posted earlier.

Acha recipes labelled ‘Penang’ and ‘Malacca’, illustrate the regional differences and the very Straits Settlements-based nature of these Straits Chinese acha recipes.

The vegetables are not specified, but cucumber, carrots, cauliflower and cabbage are common ones to use for acha.

I’m not certain if ‘saffron juice’ in fact refers to the more commonly-used turmeric (kunyit), as the two are both yellow spices and often confused with each other. See my notes in the Malacca acha recipe.

Acha Penang

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This recipe was on a slip of paper inserted inside the notebook. I would date it to the early 1980s because of (1) the ball point pen used and (2) the paper is the yellowish, coarse paper that was used for cyclostyled documents – wow, that’s something we haven’t seen since the advent of photocopying! All my lower primary school worksheets were produced by cyclostyling on this kind of paper. Grandmother never wasted any scrap of paper; she would save shopping receipts to write on the back, and cut up used paper into note-sized sheets like this. Maybe this paper was once part of something that came from my grandfather’s office :)? The marks of a rusty paperclip on the top left hand side also give this little scrap of yellowed paper its character.

I’m unfamiliar with the use of bicarbonate of soda for marinating meat, must check up on this when I get the time.

Roast Pork Ribs

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Despite the similar-sounding name, these are not the egg skins for poh piah, but instead the western version :)! My guess is that it is some sort of crepe batter. The reference to using a ‘rotary beater’ in the first line is a dead giveaway that this is not the traditional poh piah eggg skin!

The partially-obscured word on the top left hand corner is “McCalls”. There are other recipes in the notebook also marked this way too. An internet search reveals that McCall’s was a very popular American women’s magazine, with a readership of 6 million in 1960. The influence of McCall’s recipes is evident from the long list of recipe and cookery instruction books published by McCalls over the years until the late 1990s.

Egg Rolls Wrappers

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BBQ Sauce

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