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Indian Night set for Alexandra Park

Continuing with its international cuisine theme on race nights, Auckland’s Alexandra Park is hosting Indian Night on 24 March. “We’re slowly getting around the globe with the different evenings proving really popular. Tickets are also selling well for our Indian Night but we’ve still got availability,” says Joel Reichardt, Sales and Marketing Manager at Alexandra Park.

He says Alexandra Park has considerable success in delivery first-class Indian experiences, helped by its function centre being a popular venue for Indian weddings and Diwali events.

“Indian Aucklanders have a long and strong association with Alexandra Park. We’ve got our own onsite Indian chef and it’s well worth checking out the menu he has designed for Indian Night on our website. It’s comprehensive, authentic and it literally makes your mouth water.

“It’s set to be a great Friday night at the trots and rest assured no one will leave hungry.”

Alexandra Park’s Tasman Room will be beautifully decorated and its all-you-can-eat buffet package is just $60 per person, with the all-inclusive house drinks package just $99 per person.

“We think Indian Night is the perfect opportunity to have a lovely evening out with your family, friends, colleagues and partner.

“Rather than just heading to an Indian restaurant or cooking at home, we’re offering a fantastic and endless menu with the spectacle of great harness racing under lights. The atmosphere will be terrific.”

General admission into Alexandra Park as well as car-parking and race books remain free on the night.

The next internationally-themed cuisine race nights at Alexandra Park will be American Night on 21 April and Mexican Night on 5 May 2017.

Editor recommends Food Health Lifestyle News

Watch your salt

Too much salt in daily food can lead to high blood pressure which increases the risk of stroke, says a nutrition expert.

A high salt intake is also a risk factor for heart disease, kidney disease, and stomach cancer, and may also be a contributor to osteoporosis, warns nutritionist Nivedita Sharma Vij on the eve of Salt Awareness Week which runs from 11 to 17 March.

Salt_shakerThe Nutrient Reference Value for Australia and NZ recommends 2,300mg of sodium, or 6g of salt a day. “That’s about one teaspoonful of salt from all food sources. Just one cup of canned soup, for example, can contain more than 50% of the recommended daily sodium intake,” says the Auckland-based nutritionist.

As much as 75% of daily sodium intake comes from the processed and takeaway food that we eat.

“Too much salt in the diet is a leading cause of high blood pressure. High blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for stroke, being implicated in over 60% of cases.”

Mark Vivian, chief executive of Stroke Foundation, recommends reading the content labels of the foods before buying, and choosing the lower salt options more often, and steering clear of products high in salt. “Choosing more fresh foods and fewer packaged foods is a great way to reduce salt in the diet. Cutting down on salt will do everyone the world of good,” says Mark.

Nivedita suggests a few quick changes to diet to “shake the habit”:

Take the table salt off the table at work and at home for a week. Then continue the habit.

Add the salt at the end of your cooking. (Tip: taste your food and check if you really need it.)

Use low sodium salt and do not tell rest of the cooks in the house hold. Sneaky!

Season your food with fresh herbs and spices, or condiments. Tomato sauces, chutneys, marinades, instant noodles and soy sauces are packed with salt. (Use lemon, marinade meat with yogurt, herbs, ginger garlic or orange juice.)

Increase your fresh food consumption. Eat fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, unsalted nuts, milk with no added seasoning and salt. These foods are generally lower in salt than processed foods.

Read labels and look for sodium content: it should be less than 400mg/100gm and if you have high blood pressure then 120mg/100gm.

Look ‘invisible salt intake’ for seasonings added in the food – processed and packaged foods are usually high in sodium and hidden source of extra salt (Sodium Chloride).

For more information visit the New Zealand Stroke Foundation.

WASH 2013 poster

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Five guaranteed ways to lower cholesterol

How to lower cholesterol is one of the major concerns for Indians living abroad, especially those keen to lose weight. In fact, high cholesterol is one of the common health issues for NRIs and Indians worldwide.

The problem is also common among Americans. According to a media release by Proctor and Gamble, more than 102 million Americans have cholesterol levels that are considered borderline high-risk.

While cholesterol can lead to many illnesses, you can take some timely steps to control cholesterol. There are some guaranteed ways to lower cholesterol, as long as you are committed to lead a healthy life.

But before we look at the guaranteed ways to lower cholesterol, we must first understand what is cholesterol.

What is cholesterol

Every person has a waxy substance in many parts of their body. This is cholesterol. Not all cholesterol is bad. Not all cholesterol is fat. There are two types of cholesterol – HDL or good cholesterol, and LDL or bad cholesterol.

It is the Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) which is a cause of concern as it builds up in the arteries and causes heart disease. On the other hand, High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), or the good cholesterol, protects against heart attack.

HDL in fact cleanses our system by removing cholesterol from the arteries and back to the liver where it’s passed from the body. As you can see when you read this article, you can maintain healthy levels of cholesterol with these guaranteed yet simple changes to lifestyle.

Remember, LDL cholesterol is bad for health, but HDL cholesterol or good cholesterol is not only good but is also essential for your health. Don’t assume that high cholesterol is bad for you, like high blood pressure. Please get your cholesterol checked regularly, and learn how to interpret the cholesterol numbers. Keep a record of your cholesterol levels.

Why cholesterol is bad for health?

Cholesterol associates with triglycerides to form plasma lipids. Triglycerides are the chemical form in which most fat exists in food as well as in the body, says American Heart Association. “Triglycerides in plasma are derived from fats eaten in foods or made in the body from other energy sources like carbohydrates. Calories ingested in a meal and not used immediately by tissues are converted to triglycerides and transported to fat cells to be stored.

“Hormones regulate the release of triglycerides from fat tissue so they meet the body’s needs for energy between meals.” AHA says.

“Excess triglycerides in plasma is called hypertriglyceridemia. It’s linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease in some people.”

Now let’s look at the easy ways of lowering cholesterol fast. These steps are recommended by Metamucil and Dr. Michael Roizen, Chairman of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.

Lower cholesterol

Five Easy Ways to Lower Cholesterol Fast

Walk more

Dr. Roizen recommends the use of a pedometer and walking or running more every day. “Grab a pedometer and watch the numbers roll as you make simple changes for your health and take the stairs, walk to work, or stroll around the neighbourhood to increase your physical activity for better heart health.

Pedometer can be a great motivator. “Tracking your progress throughout the day can be great inspiration to keep going, and walking is a simple and easy type of exercise to help lower cholesterol!

Get an exercise buddy

One of the main reasons why people fail to lose weight is lack of motivation. Dr Roizen appreciates that a healthy lifestyle requires motivation, encouragement and a friend to lean on.

“Grab an exercise buddy and support each other in the challenge to lower your cholesterol.”

You can go on long walks with your friend or partner. Make sure you encourage each other to try new types of physical activity to get the heart pumping and to keep cholesterol levels down! This togetherness not only helps physically but also creates a positive mental energy.

“Enjoy each other’s company and laugh – reduced levels of stress will help your heart too!”

Eat well

No, we are not recommending eating more, or eating junk food. We are just suggesting eating the right food. Increasing the intake of fiber can help you lower cholesterol. Of course, not all fiber is good. Viscous soluble fiber like psyllium fiber, the natural dietary fiber found in Metamucil, is proven to help lower total and “lousy” LDL cholesterol because it forms a thick gel that traps and helps remove some cholesterol, bile acids and waste in the gut.

“This is why I recommend my patients supplement low fat, low cholesterol diets with 7 grams of soluble fiber from psyllium daily.”

When fat is good

Avoid fatty food but there is one thing that’s good for you – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a polyunsaturated fatty acid. DHA is good for your heart. It improves heart function and helps lower Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL).

It also raises the levels of High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), or the ‘healthy’ cholesterol. Some of the popular sources of DHA are salmon, sardines and tuna. But if you don’t like seafood, don’t panic “Try fish oil supplements, or if you don’t like fishy taste, get them from vegetarian supplements made from algal DHA.”

Avoid dangerous foods

They say: you are what you eat. Be aware of what you are eating. Read food literature and familiarise yourself with what goes in your bread and pasta.

“Get to know your ingredients and read the nutrition labels thoroughly,” says Dr Roizen.

Do you know that there are hidden sugars and unhealthy ingredients in your food that can increase your weight, which can lead to high cholesterol. Avoid all foods that contain high levels of cholesterol, saturated fat and hidden sources of sugar such as high fructose corn syrup, some dextrins, or evaporated cane juice.


How does cholesterol affect health?

Lowering your cholesterol is the most important thing you can do to promote overall heart health. Too much cholesterol can result in atherosclerosis, which is when fat and cholesterol crowd the walls of the arteries,preventing adequate blood flow to parts of the body like the heart and brain, and resulting in signs and symptoms of heart disease, such as angina and heart attack

Whether you are 35 or 65, it is never too early or too late to start to reduce the risk of heart disease.

 How does fiber help heart?

Certain kinds of fiber lower cholesterol because they form a thick gel that traps and helps remove some cholesterol, bile acid and waste. Be sure to consume lots of soluble fiber, like beans, oats, barley or fruits. Most Americans only get 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day through their normal diet vs. the recommended 20 to 35 grams.

Also read:

Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha’s weight loss plan

What diet did Bollywood actress Sonam Kapoor follow to lose weight?

Four foods to stay in shape

(Editor’s note: Views expressed here are not of The Global Indian magazine. Seek medical advice.)

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Growing obesity pushing up diabetes in India

Healthcare companies love India.

It is the second diabetes capital of the world after China, with the treatment market growing at a double-digit year-on-year growth rate, presenting both domestic and Multinational Companies (MNCs) with promising opportunities, states a new report by healthcare experts GBI Research.

India’s 2011 diabetic population was 61.3 million, but is set to increase at an alarming rate, with an estimate by the International Diabetes Federation placing the Indian diabetic population at around 101 million by 2030.


Increased disease awareness and compliance with treatment is hoped to restrain disease prevalence in India. But sedentary lifestyles, the adoption of Westernized culture, and longer lifespans are raising the prevalence of type 2 diabetes, or acquired diabetes, in the country.

India offers lucrative opportunities to both domestic and foreign pharmaceutical players with anti-diabetic product portfolios. The type 2 diabetes therapeutics market, although crowded with generics, is being viewed as a significant growth opportunity for newly patent-protected products, owing to high disease prevalence and considerable unmet need.

Many MNCs are engaged in setting up strategic marketing and distribution agreements with domestic players, in order to improve their patient base and market share in India.

Sun Pharma and Merck’s joint venture to bring new anti-diabetics to emerging markets, the USV-Novartis collaboration for the marketing of Galvus, the Lupin-Eli Lilly alliance for the marketing of insulin, and collaborations between Eli Lilly and Boehringer Ingelheim all represent examples of this.

MNCs succeed in expanding their patient base, while domestic companies benefit from the pharma giants’ strong sales forces and manufacturing capabilities. Given the impressive growth rate predicted for the diabetes therapeutics market in India, more strategic consolidations are expected to follow during the forecast period.

GBI Research’s analysis values the Indian anti-diabetes market in 2011 at $680.3m, and predicts growth at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.3% to reach a value of US$1.4b in 2018, due to the large and growing diabetes population in the country and anticipated launch of many first-in-class and novel molecules during the forecast period.

However, low treatment-seeking and diagnosis rates, poor compliance to medical care, rising healthcare costs and an increasingly competitive market are some of the key hurdles for India’s domestic diabetes market.


Food Health Lifestyle

How to stay healthy with busy lifestyle

How to lose weight

Too busy to work out? Too stressed to eat healthy? You can’t use those excuses any more to explain your poor health, bad eating habits and low energy levels. Let’s face it, if you are over-weight or even under-nourished, you will have less energy to deal with the hectic schedule you are leading, and you will be more susceptible to falling sick.

Here are some solutions to stay fit and healthy while still leading a busy life. These small steps provide an all-round solution to staying fit – exercise, food, sleep and water.

Eat well

Okay, we all are guilty of doing this – after a long day’s work, it is logical to pick up a burger on the way home, especially when the stomach is grumbling. Or you have back to back meetings during the day, and you want to skip your lunch. Don’t. Keep a bag of dry fruits, or a box of fruits at your desk. Keep a couple of bananas in the car. Stack up tinned tuna, nuts, whole grain crackers in your drawer. Keep unflavoured yoghurt, veggie sticks and hummus in the fridge at work. Don’t forget to put your name on them, otherwise it will disappear just when you need it.

How to lose weight

Pack your sandwich with you before leaving home in the morning. I know, mornings are so rushed, especially when you are trying to pack the kids away too. Make the sandwich the night before, or at least prepare the ingredients at night, if you don’t like a soggy sandwich.

Make a smoothie for breakfast. Here’s the easiest way to make a healthy smoothie – get some milk, banana, yoghurt, blueberries, rolled oats and a raw egg, beat them up and take it with you. For the more leisurely mornings or weekends, make some muffins or muesli bars.

What’s for dinner? The healthiest and fastest option is fish – rich in Omega oils. Just fry some salmon fillets with garlic salt. Of course, don’t deep fry it. Add some stir fried veggies to it with lemon juice. Want to make it even healthier? Add almonds to it.

If you still want to pick up a takeout, avoid deep fried, oily and salty stuff.


This is an often-repeated advice, but I can’t stress it enough – drink at least 8 to 9 glasses of water. But spread it out at regular intervals. It is easy to forget to drink water when you have lots of meetings. Carry your water bottle everywhere you go. Avoid coffee if you can. But if you have to drink coffee or Coke, which dehydrates your body, drink lots of water. Plan your day ahead, so that if you are going to be away from a water source, take a bottle with you. I always keep a water bottle in my car.


If you are like me, you will try to go for a run or hit the gym in the evening. By the time you get home, you are so tired that you skip the exercise. Or your kid needs to be taken to the doctor. I have found that the best time to get some exercise out of the way is the first thing in the morning, when your kids are still in bed. Put on your sneakers and hit the road. If you go to bed late, and can’t get up early, try to fit in just 10 to 15 minutes’ exercise in the morning, and then hit the road for 15 minutes in the lunch hour. By splitting your workout like this, you can mix and match activities – weights in the morning, run in the afternoon, yoga in the evening.

Also, be on the lookout for small excuses to do exercise. Take stairs at work. Park the car a bit away while going for a meeting or grocery shopping. Walk to the colleague’s desk across the floor instead of emailing her. If your colleague shares the same passion, consider having a meeting with her over a walk around the block.


Our bodies recover and rebuild cells during sleep. It is absolutely crucial to get a good night’s sleep. Each person needs a different number of hours – but a minimum of six hours of sound sleep is crucial. Go to bed on time. Go to bed at the same time every night. A sleep deprived body produces chemicals that is harmful to our health. In fact, sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture for many centuries.

Say no

Finally, this is not a health tip, but has a direct impact on our health. We over-commit professionally and socially, and try to pack too much in our day. Learn to say no. Prioritise your commitments. Aim to reach your appointments before time. Look for excuses to laugh. All these things will reduce your stress levels, which will in turn improve your health.

Food Health Lifestyle

Miracle Indian foods for weight loss

Looking for Indian foods for weight loss? Here’s a list of 9 Indian foods for weight loss that will help you burn unwanted fat and get in shape for summer.  These tips are based on Ayurveda which contains  knowledge of Indian foods for weight loss based on ancient Indian practices.

Mustard oil

Forget olive oil. Use mustard oil for cook which is full of vitamins and antioxidants. It helps in lowering cholesterol because it has less saturated fat.


Traditional Indian meal is incomplete without buttermilk, which is nothing but yoghurt diluted with water. This is possibly the easiest Indian food to lose weight because it contains nutrients but is low on calories. It is also probiotic, which means it helps in digestion. It has less fat that whole milk.

Curry leaves

Did you grow up watching your mother use curry leaves and always thought that these leaves were for flavour? Think again. Curry leaves are a super Indian food for weight loss because they help remove fat and toxins from the body. And you don’t have to go overboard with this Indian food for weight loss. Just use a few leaves in your food every day.


Indian foods for weight loss

Turmeric is quite unique to Indian cooking but is one of the best Indian foods for weight loss. Turmeric increases metabolism – which is the speed at which our body burns fat. Numerous studies have show that curcumin, which is found in turmeric, works on genes that cause heart related health problems. It helps in reducing bad cholesteroal (LDL) while improving blood circulation.


Yes, honey is high in sugar which is not good. But it helps in fighting obesity. It helps in burning fat in the body. But don’t go overboard with honey. Just consume one table spoon of honey with hot water in the morning. New Zealand honey, also known as Manuka, is said to contain high levels of anti-oxidants which are good for weight loss and healthy living.

Moong dal

While Moong dal is not a very glamorous food for weight loss, but it is one of the cheapest and healthiest Indian foods for losing weight. Moong dal, or bean sprouts are rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains potassium, iron and calcium.

While very low it fat, it has plenty of fibre and protein.


Spicy Indian food is said to be good for losing weight. Chillies have capsaicin which is responsible for its spiciness and helps to increase the metabolism of the body.


Just like chillies, even cardamom is a super Indian food for weight loss – it helps increase metabolism of the body while also helping digestion.


Finally, garlic is frowned upon because of its smell, but Ayurveda says that it helps in burning fat because it contains allicin which has  anti-bacterial properties.

Other Indian foods for losing weight include millets, cinnamon and cloves.
Food Health Lifestyle

Ramadan – a month of fast and feast

Ramadan food ideas

Today marks the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan – the beginning of fasting for millions of Muslims around the world.

The Quran was revealed to the Prophet Mohammed during this ninth month of the Islamic calendar.

Its a month of introspection, a month to practice humility and in multi-cultural societies, it also brings a feeling of community.

Ramadan, or ramazan as it is known in some parts of world, is also known for a variety of food that’s available.

The month-long Islamic tradition of self-reflection gets observers fasting from sunrise to sunset. Two meals of the day are eaten – one just before the sunrise (suhoor), and the other soon after the sunset (iftar).

While the day progresses on an empty stomach, the late afternoon aroma of tasty food cooking feels the air with excitement.

Ramadan food ideas

And the month long celebration of fast and special food culminates with Eid-ul-Fitr which is often celebrated with a feast, in the loving company of  family and friends.

Most Muslims insist on eating halal food which is prepared following Islamic dietary regulations. However, the food itself is then influenced by local cultures and traditions. But the central part of most Ramadan food is dates.

Dates are used to break the fast every evening during the month of Ramadan. Medically, dates also help to restore blood sugar levels after a long day of fasting.

Given the importance of food during Ramadan, some Muslim countries have very strict food regulations during the month of Ramadan.

“We will intensify our inspection drive during Ramadan,” says Sultan Taher, Head of the Food Inspection Section at The Food Control Department of the Dubai Municipality.

“As we have to be on high alert in relation to possible food safety incidents in Ramadan, we will categorically check and monitor groceries, malls and traditional kitchens.”

But its not just food safety that the administrators are worried about.  The Ramadan campaign for the year addresses two very important issues — food safety and food wastage, says  Khalid Mohammed Shareef Al Awadhi, Director of the department.

The department is advertising five rules:

Rule 1. Plan ahead for the amount of food you wish to prepare based on the number of people and serving size;

Rule 2. Limit the time between preparation and serving — the easiest and the safest way is to cook and serve immediately;

Rule 3. Store food safely after preparation — hot food should be held hot above 60 degree Celsius and cold food should be held cold below 5 degree Celsius. If this is not possible, food should be eaten within two hours after preparation;

Rule 4. Transport food safely in hot boxes or chilled vehicles. Follow Rule 3 for temperature control;

Rule 5. Buy safe: Don’t buy food/snacks that are sold in open condition on the street side and foods sold by unapproved vendors.

Cooked rice, meat, cut fruits, salads, desserts with milk, cream and eggs etc should always be held under temperature control as recommended above, says Asia Abdul Wahab Murad, Head of Development and Planning at the department.

“Cooked hot foods should be held at 60 degree Celsius and cold foods should be held below 5 degree Celsius. Such foods should be eaten within two hours of preparation if the facilities to store food at that temperature are not available.

“Since the weather is hot (in the Middle East), cold foods such as salads and desserts can become unsafe very fast. These are high-risk foods and should be kept chilled or prepared and eaten immediately. Such foods should not be left at room temperature for a long time.”


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Why is junk food bad for you

The success of junk food business has drawn a lot of attention to the industry and the food itself. Many denounce junk food due to its ill effect on consumers and the health of the world. Not only is junk food confirmed to be bad for the physical condition owing to high fat and likely health risks, but also its effect on employment. Let us have a look at some of the health issues associated with junk food.


Eating junk food and living a sedentary life paves the way to obesity. Obesity causes other problems such as cholesterol increase, jamming of the arteries, the increased risk of coronary diseases, apart from the general physical uneasiness posed by the additional weight. Junk food is also addictive and hence it is very hard to give up on the oily and greasy foods and fizzy drinks and go for better food options.

Junk food burger obesity

Junk food can cause heart-related health risks


Cholesterol in meat-containing junk food is very dangerous for health. Meat has plenty of cholesterol and hence it paves the way for build up of bad cholesterol. Cholesterol molecules can build up in the arteries and cause thickening or congestion of the arteries. Thickening of the arteries can lead to clogging of blood flow and this has an effect on blood pressure. In case the artery that transports blood to the heart gets clogged, it can cause a heart attack or even complete heart failure when there is a total obstruction of blood flow.

Blood pressure

Most of these quick and expedient meals hold high levels of sodium, which increases and worsens the risks of high blood pressure. Even though the body needs minimum levels of sodium, too much sodium can have a say in high blood pressure. Sodium can also cause the accumulation of fluids in case of people with cirrhosis, congestive heart failure, or kidney disease.

Therefore steady and habitual consumption of junk food can lead to an overall unhealthy condition. So watch vigilantly what you consume, especially at a fast-food restaurant. Even if you are on a high protein diet plan, being aware of the nutritional content is imperative. Also, keep portion sizes small, and keep the high-fat sauces and condiments to a minimum.


Recipe: Stir fried cabbage

Cabbage is often an underestimated vegetables.

“People are surprised at how tasty the humble cabbage can be when prepared properly with the right mix of spices,” says Auckland-based Malaysian chef Yougeswari Subramaniam.

Here, she shares her easy-to-prepare recipe for home cooks looking to make the most of a traditionally unsung vegetable.

Malaysian stir fried cabbageIngredients

¼ cabbage, in ¼ inch slices

1 tbsp oil

1 onion, diced

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp cumin

3-4 curry leaves

1 bunch coriander

Salt to taste


Heat oil to medium heat and once sizzling quickly add the onion, mustard seeds, curry leaves and cumin together. Sauté until the mixture becomes fragrant.

Add the turmeric and mix being careful not to burn. Quickly add the cabbage and stir. Continue stirring for 1-2 minutes. Add a pinch of salt and stir for another 1-2 minutes – more or less according to your preference.

Remove from heat and plate the dish. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Tips and tricks

Cabbage shouldn’t be chopped too thinly as this can result in overcooking and loss of flavour.

‘Minced lamb cabbage’ is a tasty alternative for those wanting a heartier meal. Add minced lamb together with the onion and cook through before adding the cabbage.

To add a kick to the dish add chopped green chillies (deseeded) when cooking the onion.

Yougeswari Subramaniam is owner and chef at Santhiya’s Malaysian restaurant in Auckland, New Zealand, and has been dishing up delicious Malaysian meals on banana leaves every Sunday for more than 18 years. Read why her Banana Leaf Sunday is been so popular with Kiwis for close to two decades.


Going bananas with Malaysian cooking

If you thought banana plant was good for its fruit alone, think again.

Banana leaves are extensively used in Indian and Asian cooking for a variety purposes – from decorative to culinary.

Native to South India, Malaysia and many other parts of Southeast Asia, the banana plant provides rich flavour and its leaves work well as a vessel, cooking receptacle and even flavour enhancer.

Grilled Snapper in banana leaf (Malaysian recipe)

The banana leaf is especially popular among Malaysian chefs, who use it for almost everything – from wrapping fish for steaming or grilling, to packaging up spices bought at hawker markets.

But here’s one use of the giant-sized leaf that may come as a surprise to unassuming culinary lovers: Indians and Malaysians use the leaf for plating food.

This tradition has been brought to New Zealand by Malaysian chefs and can be seen in a number of Malaysian restaurants throughout the country.

One in particular is Santhiya’s Malaysian restaurant in Auckland. Here owner and chef Yougeswari Subramaniam has been dishing up delicious Malaysian meals on banana leaves every Sunday for more than 18 years.

Subramaniam started the “All You Can Eat Banana Leaf Sundays” in 1993 when she opened Santhiya’s and has fed thousands of dedicated locals meals served on the banana leaf every Sunday since.

The Sunday menu gives customers a bare banana leaf ‘plate’. On these are served a range of speciality Malaysian dishes from a unique Sunday-only menu suited for serving in the authentic banana leaf style. As the chosen dishes gradually empty the wait staff top up the dish until you are saturated.

Subramaniam’s Sunday brunch keeps the place very busy.

Sunday is a day-off for everyone, the chef says. “After late nights on Saturday all people want to do is get up and fill up on as much food as they can – Sundays are a day to indulge.”

Her banana-leaf menu is a fusion of Malay and South Indian cooking. And it has stayed the same since 1993.

“My customers are so used to their favourites, from roti canai to a lamb curry. People look forward to their dishes and I’m too scared to take anything off the menu!”

Subramaniam earned her reputation for great food through another iconic Malaysian dish – roti.

When she came to New Zealand in 1991 from Ipoh, Malaysia, she started a home business of roti-making for friends and family.

She was soon making more than 500 rotis a week and realised there was the potential to expand her offering of tasty South-Indian inspired Malaysian cuisine.

The Banana Leaf’s most popular item is – surprising to some – a well-known South Indian-Malay cabbage dish simply known as ‘Stir-fried Cabbage’.

Subramaniam says people are surprised at how tasty cabbage can be when prepared properly with the right mix of spices.

Here she shares her easy-to-prepare recipe for home cooks looking to make the most of a traditionally unsung vegetable – stir fried cabbage.

Editor recommends Food News

Peter Gordon prepares Malaysian fusion

Malaysian cuisin peter Gordon

New Zealand’s celebrity chef Peter Gordon was seen preparing a fusion of crayfish and smoked coconut laksa for entree and roast Cambridge duck with kumara dumplings for main at dine by Peter Gordon at SkyCity in Auckland.

This was part of the launch of May-laysia, a month-long celebration of Malaysian cuisine featuring a series of epicurean events in Auckland and Wellington.

The event is part of the Malaysia Kitchen Programme, a campaign encouraging Kiwis to try Malaysian cuisine and offering an opportunity to feast on sublime Malaysian food for free at special events.

New Zealand’s 50 Malaysian restaurants offer food lovers Malaysian cuisine which is an interplay of Malay, Chinese and Indian food traditions. “Because Malaysia has been a key transit point in the ancient spice route, many cultures have influenced the country’s cuisine,” says a statement by Malaysia Kitchen.

Malaysian cuisin peter Gordon

New Zealand Chef Peter Gordon with Malaysian chefs Jai and Kalai

Two Auckland Malaysian chefs braved the heat in the kitchen to prepare classic Malaysian dishes such as satay, roti chanai and beef rendang.

Chefs Kalai Subramanian from Panmure’s Sri Puteri restaurant and Jacky Lam from Epsom’s KK restaurant were thrilled with the opportunity to work alongside Peter in the dine kitchen.

Gordon prepared a menu of crayfish and smoked coconut laksa (entrée) and a main comprising roast Cambridge duck with kumara dumplings, wok-fried bok choy, ginger and black beans and sweet-chilli squid. His tempting dessert was a coconut tapioca with mango and passionfruit, avocado yuzu sorbet and a coconut wafer.

Read Gordon’s roast duck recipe.

Food Lifestyle News Study Abroad

Australians try the curry route to Indians’ hearts

Following racist attacks on Indians in Australia, many community initiatives are shaping up to encourage racial harmony.

One such effort is by a community group in Melbourne called Uniting Church, which has started monthly meetings between Indian students and the mainstream Australian community. The meetings attempt to encourage Indian students in Melbourne to talk about their hardships in Australia.

“We are a multi cultural society and initiatives like hosting dinners will help build cordial relations,” said the visiting educator of Uniting Church in Australia, Robert Bos, while talking to India’s Times of India newspaper.

Indian students are welcoming such initiatives, especially after failed attempts by the respective governments to address the safety concerns of Indians living in Australia.

The newspaper also quoted Bos saying that another local, Mia Northrop, has launched a ‘Vindaloo Against Violence’ campaign to curb hostility against Indians. Mia invites willing Australians to dinner at Indian restaurants, hosted specifically to encourage racial harmony.

Bos attended one of these dinners and observed that these events provide an opportunity to both Indians and Australians to understand each other and also enjoy Indian food, the newspaper reported.

He said not only Indians, but all the Asian students who come to Australia to study, make an important contribution to the country’s economy.

While the alleged racially-motivated attacks received heavy media coverage in India, some Indians living in Australia believe that the media reports were biased, and blew the issue out of proportion.

“Indian’s being assaulted in Australia was an issue which is highly blown up by the tabloid section of Indian Media,” Raj from Sydney commented on the Times of India story. “I, in fact, rarely, come by any article or news item, from Indian media which is objective or just gives you the facts, without trying to inflame the situation.

Raj goes on to share his personal experience in the comment. “I never felt threatened being here during this time. Most of them who were assaulted, were travelling in the poorer section of the city, where the crime rate is high, and when you are especially a new visitor to the country, that is something which you would resist from doing.

Raj also had a particular observation about the perpetrators of the attacks on Indians. “Those who were caught and found guilty of assaulting Indians, were mainly non-caucasians (non-whites).”

Food Global Indians

Little Indians to donate to earthquake fund

Two Indian restaurants are donating a part of their profits to help rebuild Christchurch.

One of the businesses affected by the Christchurch earthquake is donating a part of their national sales to the earthquake fund.

Little India, a popular Indian chain of restaurants in New Zealand, will donate 6.3 percent of its revenues earned in all its restaurants to the Christchurch Earthquake fund.

“The idea for the donation came to me last night when I was trying to sleep while thinking about Christchurch. Since the earthquake hit just over a week ago we have been trying to think of how we can help. ” Arjun Gill, Little India’s brand manager told The Global Indian magazine.

The restaurant chain will donate 6.3% of out total sales from 7 March to 14 March to the Christchurch Earthquake fund.

The Little Indians (from the back left: Mahesh Nath (Manager of the Merivale LI in Christchurch), Ranjit Jacob (Owner of the LI in Tauranga, Arjun Gill (Little India Brand Manager), Sukhi Gill (The founder of Little India), Mani Rai (Owner of Little India Nelson); Front from the left: Alex Cherian (owner of Little India Dunedin), Jose Palliapat (Owner of Little India Christchurch), Bobby Arora ( owner of little India Auckland)

But why exactly 6.3 percent? “As the magnitude of the Earthquake was 6.3 we thought that we could donate 6.3% of our turnover. I rang my father (Sukhi Gill, the founder of Little India) this morning to see if we could make this happen.

“I then rang all the restaurant owners to see if they were happy to do this also. Everyone said they would love to help in anyway they can.”

Little India runs 14 restaurants in New Zealand, three of which are in Christchurch. It’s city restaurant in Christchurch has been damaged following the earthquake, although the extent of damage is not yet known.

Gill wants other businesses to come forward and help. “I have also been trying to get any other business that can do what we are doing or something similar to do so.

“If we can all do just a little we will achieve a lot. So our customers can now enjoy a lovely curry and at the same time do a little bit for Christchurch at the same time.

“The more people we can feed between the 7th of March and the 14 March the more money we can make for Christchurch.”

What began as a fish-and-chips shop in New Zealand’s small town of Dunedin is now a leading Indian restaurant chain in New Zealand, with a branch in Melbourne, Australia. The restaurants are not only popular among the Kiwis, it is also patronised by Indians living in Australia and New Zealand.

After training in a family friend’s restaurant in Australia, co-founder Sukhi Gill returned and opened the first Little India restaurant in Dunedin in 1991.

“Our family’s recipes come from North India, the Punjab region, and the kitchen of our grandmother Premjit Kaur Gill,” says Arjun Gill. “She’s individually trained every one of Little India’s head chefs in her own kitchen in Chandigarh.”

Another Indian restaurant, Kohinoor in Auckland, has organised a fund-raiser dinner to support the earthquake fund on 17 March at 7.30pm.

“This Curry Club night is NZ$35, of which NZ$5 will be go towards the Christchurch earthquake fund as a small contribution we can make,” says Gurinder Singh of Kohinoor restaurant.

“The amount of donation we receive will be doubled by us and given for the cause. This is the minimum we can do for the people who have gone through agony.”

The dinner is being promoted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

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Experience Auckland’s culinary flavour

Malaysian Food Lamb Curry

While New Zealand offers plenty of tourist attractions, its ethnic food variety is unmatched, especially in the multi-ethnic city of Auckland.

Auckland’s central business district and the neighbouring Parnell and Ponsonby suburbs offer a rich choices for places to dine in, to suit all budgets.

For a taste of Malaysian cuisine in the City of Sails, there’s a hidden culinary gems – The Mustard Seed Malaysian Restaurant.

The restaurant was previously known as Bing’s Malaysian Restaurant.

The Mustard Seed offers a range of ethnic Malay, Chinese and Indian influenced dishes which are essentially the core of Malaysian cuisine. If you love Indian food, then Malaysin cuisine offer a great variation to experiment.

Malaysian Food Lamb Curry

Lamb Curry

Owners Tommy Ning and Joni Hoang are keen to demonstrate the wonderful tastes Malaysian food can bring to Kiwi diners and Indian tourists.

The Mustard Seed is a member of the Malaysia Kitchen Programme for New Zealand – a year-long campaign initiated by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) to educate consumers about Malaysian cuisine and to encourage trial.

It’s all about the experience, ambience and food offerings, says Ning. “The Mustard Seed brings this together for guests and foodies alike all in a beautiful four-star hotel setting.”

Malaysian food

Malaysian Chicken Curry Laksa

“We pride in serving authentic Malaysian cuisine and our three Malaysian chefs are very experienced in this space.

“They specialise in char kuey teow, beef rendang, chicken and lamb satay, curry and lamb varuval,” Ning says.

The Mustard Seed can sit 200 diners in a grand dome-shaped ceiling dining hall which is becoming rare sight in Auckland’s central business district.

Next time you are out to try out ethnic food in New Zealand, you know where to begin.

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Filter Coffee – An Inseparable Addiction for South Indians

Coffee, as you know, is a universal drink. There may not be any one not familiar with, even if they do not drink it. While there are many varieties for serving coffee, hot or cold; with or without milk or cream; strong or light; the fact remains, after a cup of coffee your nerves get the stimulus and you get a kick – for the content of coffee does the trick. Because of this scintillating effect, particularly in the early morning after brushing the teeth, a hot cup of coffee becomes a dire need for many South Indians.

Why South Indians? Geographically North India is situated inside severe tropical conditions and climatic changes – from oppressive summer to cold winter seasons, unlike South India. Due to this and owing to cultural aspects and age-old traditions, the colonial-cousin of coffee, namely tea, plays an important role as being the morning drink as well as one needed intermittently throughout the day.

Southern India, especially Tamil Nadu tilts in favour of coffee; and you cannot find a home in the middle-class and upper middle-class bracket that is not waking up with a cup of coffee in one hand and the daily newspaper in the other. This trend is mostly prevalent in the nearby state of Karnataka as well, where the popular coffee-growing region Goorg is situated. In Kerala most of the people go for Chaya – the other name for tea.

Talking of coffee, the most preferred choice for many is filter-coffee. Selected varieties of coffee seeds are ideal for making aromatic decoction; they are roasted in a way followed for decades; ground suitably – not so nice nor rough, but in between; added with a slight dose of chicory for thickness in decoction; and the popular brand of house-blend coffee powder for use in the filter is got ready. The secret why it is not ground nicely is, it will escape the filter-plate and join the coffee decoction below and make a mess of the coffee preparation.

South Indian women are experts in preparing the best decoction; add thick boiled milk; add half-sugar (more sugar will again spoil the coffee taste by its sweetness) and serve hot, steaming coffee to their family members, to win their hearts. In hosting guests visiting homes, coffee plays an important role; and so women are cautious in serving good filter-coffee, lest it will entail many comments and heartburns from them, bringing forth many unpleasantness later.

In the modern age there are many brands and varieties of instant-coffee powders available in the market. You can see those companies spend millions of money in advertising them in the media. But ironically these brands are advertised as one you cannot differentiate from filter-coffee and gives the same taste. So you can understand the superiority of a good, tasty, steaming, aromatic cup of filter-coffee, which will leave a lingering taste in your mouth ever after.

(Ramaswamy Sundaram is a South Indian freelance writer online; accredited Expert Author at this site; has turned out more than 3500 write ups on assorted niches and topics; you can contact him for your writing needs.)

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