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October 2017 Archive

The Festival Lights of Deepavali

The Festival Lights of Deepavali
Image Credit: timesofoman.com

Today marks the 3rd and largest day of The Hindu Festival of Lights: Deepavali. It is a Hindu celebration of victory of good over evil or light over darkness, characterised by lighting candles and decorating households over a period of 5 days. Deepavali, Diwali or Deepawali (depending on the region), is one of the largest global holidays to date and promotes giving, prosperity and thankfulness. To celebrate Deepavali, we have put together a list of things to do and see during the festivities. 

Dhanteras 

Approximately 18 days after Dussehra, Dhanteras is the first of 5 days that make up Deepavali celebrations. 

Dhanteras is believed to be the birthday of Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity) and Dhanvantari (God of Health and Healing). In their honour, diyas (lamps) are lit and remain burning throughout the night and into the following day to mark respect for the god's birthdays and request gifts of prosperity and healing.

On this day, connecting with family and friends and giving your house a good spring clean will get you ready for the celebrations of days 2 and 3.

Naraka Chaturdasi 

Naraka Chaturdasi is one of the most event filled days of Deepavali, and starts with prayers and decorations. The most exquisite of household décor is that of the Rangoli, colourful arrangements of powder and candles to create large art covering the walkways of the house and guiding the entrants.

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Image Credit: The Indian Express

This is in preparation for the arrival of Lakshmi, as she is believed to wonder the earth on Deepavali Eve. Doors, windows and gates are left open during the night to welcome her and candles are placed around the door and window frames to guide her way. 

Puja or prayers are central to the lead up to Deepavali, especially on Naraka Chaturdasi. After the house is prepared, and prayers are recited. These prayers may include a Vedic prayer from Brhadaranyaka Upanishad that praises light. This prayer translates to:

From untruth lead us to Truth.
From darkness lead us to Light.
From death lead us to Immortality.
Om Peace, Peace, Peace.

On this day, we suggest travelling into your city centre or localised Indian community. Without fail, celebration will be taking place. Get a good seat to view the fireworks, lantern displays, and rivers full of candles. Join in on the parades and singing and be sure to stay afterwards for the gigantic feast. It's a definite must-see and don't forget to take some to go!

Deepavali 

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Image Credit: Pinterest

The day of 'Deepavali' is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, and Sikhs and Newar Buddhists. It marks the celebration of light triumphing over evil, or good overcoming bad. Although each celebration is different and historically vary, they all indicate the importance of knowledge, self-improvement, reflection and gratitude. The celebratory aspects of Deepavali are not dissimilar to Naraka Chaturdasi, but are larger in scale and involve a lot more colour!

One of the largest aspects of Deepavali is the food! Some must-try dishes include:

Samosas - little pasty pockets of vegetables, mined meats, lentil and chickpeas are common in all regions during Deepavali. Their versatility means practically anything can make for a great samosa and we highly recommend trying them out at home!

Kaju Katli - ground cashew, sugar and cream slice, decorated with edible silver foil and cut into diamonds. These are not only beautiful to look at but taste amazingly with coffee or tea to top off a meal.

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Image Credit: OrderYourChoice

Chirote - these donut like pastries of rolled maida are cut, layered into circles and deep-fried. They are often stuffed with a sugary filling and coated with syrup or cinnamon sugar.

Aloo Tikki patties - these gorgeous patties are formed with shredded potato and any number of other accompaniments, like shallots or chickpeas, and then fried. Not only are these both snacks and main meal options but the best part? The dips and condiments. Do not skip on the yoghurt and hot mint sauce when preparing these!

Anything and everything is up for grabs, so be sure to prep as much as you can. We recommend cooking up a feast today! To make the day a little easier, use our Indian range for a traditional flavour and aroma, without the stress of making a base. 

We recommend cooking up a feast today! To make the day a little easier, use our Indian range for a traditional flavour and aroma, without the stress of making a base.
 

The Ultimate Thailand Sweets Guide

The Ultimate Thailand Sweets Guide
                                                                        Image Credit: Bangkok.com

With so much variety among Thai desserts or Thai khanom, knowing where to start can be difficult. To get the most out of everything Thai desserts have to offer, we have narrowed it down to the Ultimate Guide of all that is sweet in Thailand; the best of the best and noteworthy dishes to test out at home! 

Sticky Rice

Sticky rice is incredibly popular across the Thai dessert spectrum and is often the cornerstone of many popular dishes. Although it is not exclusively a dessert accompaniment, its focus in sweet dishes and the distinct flavour, fluffy texture and surprising richness makes it one of our ultimate must-try's.

Thai sticky rice is prepared with a specific grain, often just referred to as Thai sticky rice, which is much larger and more turgid when steamed (much like gummy worm texture). This is to ensure the rice is moist and has that sticky feel. It is first soaked overnight and then steamed in a teeneung khao neow, a large, conical bamboo basket. The weave of the basket traps steam and allow it to rise evenly and cook the rice perfectly.  

Our recommendation is Khao Mak, a Thai fermented sticky rice with a touch of natural alcohol, often wrapped in banana leaves. The sweet alcoholic taste is optimal for adults when accompanied by Look-pang - a starchy, garlic and galangal ball that counteracts the strength of the alcohol taste.

Although Khao Mak is especially popular, variations on this one are endless - in Banana Leaf, in Bamboo, with Mango, with coconut milk, on its own. Like ice cream, it goes with everything! There is never too much and is so classical to Thai cuisine that you must try this one at home to believe how scrumptious it truly is!

Thong yip

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Image Credit: Pinterest

Egg yolk tarts differ in size, shape and sweetness and are often made for only the most special of occasions. Flower or Pinched Thong yip are often wedding treats or housewarming gifts. It is believed gifting Thong yip will ensure success, wealth and joy to the recipient. Thong means gold, while yip means 'to pick up'. It is said that consuming Thong yip will make everything you touch turn to gold and bring abundance into your household - yes please! 

Jelly

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Image Credit: Sweet Life Bakery

Jelly, second to sticky rice, is central to Thai desserts and is often found as an adornment on top of other popular desserts. 
Khanom Chun is the most popular, referred to as Thai Jello. It is created by combining sugar, coconut milk and flour, allowed to set in a biscuit/cookie pan overnight and served like a slice. 

Surprising to many, jelly is often combined not only with desserts but in sweet drinks, like Thai milk teas. Popular varieties of this dessert include Thai Jelly, Layered Coffee Jelly, Lychee Jelly and Coconut Jelly.

Thapthim krop

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Image Credit: bangsarbabe.com

Produced by colouring water chestnuts submerged in a sticky syrup, Thapthim krop is another famous Thai dessert. It directly translates to 'crispy rubies', as the chestnuts absorb the red colouring, appearing pearlescent and deliciously plump. It is most likely to be served with coconut milk and ice cubes, which adds a smoothness and some texture to the dessert - however, eating the beads of flavour by themselves is pretty tasty too!

Try it at home

At the centre of almost all Thai desserts is one key ingredient: coconut milk! The versatility of coconut milk in the region allows for a range of dishes to adapt the creamy and rich flavour with ease. To try any of our Thai Sweets or your own take on a Thai dessert, a good base is always the best place to start. Try our Coconut Cream ingredient sauce by simply adding water, and within seconds you have a base for your Thai dessert creations!

Food Ideas for Chinese Golden Week

Food Ideas for Chinese Golden Week

Image Credit: Pilot Jetsetter

Chinese National Day celebrates the founding of the People's Republic of China. National Day and the six following days, known as the 'Golden Week' holiday, are used by people to travel to their home towns and unite with family. Along with the extensive cultural music, socialising, and street parades that occur during the holiday - traditional foods are an enjoyable and memorable holiday perk which are crucial to national Chinese celebrations.

Hairy Crabs

Hairy Crabs are an essential 'must-try' of the Golden Week delicacy. At this time of year, hairy crustaceans dominate the Yangcheng Lake and are only available from October to December, they are in demand and can reach high prices! Hairy crabs can be steamed or sautéed, and are nearly always eaten with ginger tea or Huangjiu (Chinese yellow wine). To enjoy the full hairy crab experience cook it at home and pair the crabs with some soy sauce to give it a sweet blend of flavours.


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Image Credit: Ceair Oceania
Mooncakes

Mooncakes are almost completely unavoidable during Golden Week as they are served everywhere! Cooking and sharing the desserts at home with family members is a hallmark Golden Week tradition. The circular shape of the mooncakes is traditionally believed to represent family togetherness and unity, thus why they are often served during Golden Week. 

Depending on the region, moon cakes are served in a variety of flavours. Some of the main flavours include fruit, chocolate, cream cheese, great tea, vegetables, roast pork or seafood. To add a light, refreshing almond flavour to your fruit, chocolate, or green tea mooncake, add our Cantonese Almond Jelly to give it some extra flavour.

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Image Credit: Aus Macadamias 

Jianbing

Jianbing is an iconic street cuisine which has taken China by storm! Usually eaten at breakfast, it can be found at stalls on Chinese National Day but is best served at home while relaxing with family. It is a crispy fried snack made from a thin egg crepe boldly contrasted with savoury meat filling and lettuce. It is usually brushed with spicy hoisin and chilli sauces, and is often packed with cilantro, scallions and pickles to add some extra punch of flavour to the delicious snack. 

To make your Chinese Golden Week meals even tastier check our complete selection of Chinese products which will bring some extra flavour to your meal.

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The Festival Lights of Deepavali

The Festival Lights of Deepavali

Image Credit: timesofoman.comToday marks the 3rd and largest day of The Hindu Festival of Lights: Deepavali. It is a Hindu celebration of victory of good over evil or light over darkness, characterised by lighting candles and decorating households over a...

» Read more

The Ultimate Thailand Sweets Guide

The Ultimate Thailand Sweets Guide

                                                                        Image Credit: Bangkok.comWith so...

» Read more

Food Ideas for Chinese Golden Week

Food Ideas for Chinese Golden Week

Image Credit: Pilot Jetsetter Chinese National Day celebrates the founding of the People's Republic of China. National Day and the six following days, known as the 'Golden Week' holiday, are used by people to travel to their home towns and...

» Read more