Tag Archives: food

Rotiboy Coffee Bun

23 Aug

The Rotiboy Coffee Bun (Photo courtesy: Freddie)

Yes, it’s official. I’m still reeling from the fact that I am no longer in Malaysia *sigh*. Nevertheless, I think it’s only fair to share with the world, the fond memories I have of the people, food and culture of Malaysia.

There are four food smells that always work up your appetite, when you’re in Malaysia.

1. Famous Amos Cookies
2. J Co. Donuts
3. Saint Cinnamon Classic Chocolate Cinnabons
4. Rotiboy’s “downright-amazing-and-freshly-baked” Coffee Buns.

If you travelled to Malaysia and didn’t try EACH of these… you need a solid refund!

Nevertheless, today I’m going to talk about Rotiboy’s Coffee Buns. Available at all the Rotiboy outlets perforating Kaula Lumpur, my favourite outlet was the one at the magnificent Petronas Towers Shopping Mall… Suria KLCC. Petronas Towers… you might’ve heard of them. If not…here they are…on the map.

I still remember, as soon as you enter KLCC, you’re welcomed by the heavenly smell of coffee. For someone who gets migranes because of coffee, it’s bad news. But this smell is different. It’s the smell of fresh coffee, sugar, cream and butter. And of course, my favourite smell in the world… freshly baked bread. If I were given the chance, I’d love to set up my very own business of baked goodies…I’m guessing that’s what heaven would smell like. Anyway, I remember, on my way back from work, I’d queue up for 30 minutes, to grab two coffee buns, which used to be for approximately RM2.0 each, which is like less than a dollar. I’d watch the “rotiboys and rotigirls” work behind counters, envying them for being able to put smiles on so many faces.

The bun itself is quite big, albeit light and fluffy. Ond bite into the deep brown bun, and you’d break through the fragile yet crisp surface. The bun, as dark as it is on the outside, is almost a light tone of nude on the inside. It’s so fluffy that you can almost press the entire bun within the palm of you hand. But if you do so, how else would you enjoy it’s light, yet absolutely divine texture. The wafer-thin crust, the soft interior that smells like butter yet tastes like coffee *sigh*!

Rotiboy Coffee Bun is one of the best baked items found in Malaysia. The Buttermilk Boy is another favourite. Those who’ve tried it will nod in agreement…and those who haven’t…well…tsk tsk.


Askari Biryani’s Chicken Biryani

26 Jul

I LOVE biryani, not just any biryani… Sindhi, chicken biryani. For those who don’t know, biryani is basmati rice layered with a spicy meat gravy, and a variety of desi toppings…mainly, fried onions, sliced tomatoes, mint leaves, orange food colouring, kewra water (I need to google its English translation water made from screw pine) and split green chillies. I think it’s single-handedly the best dish served in Pakistan. Though it’s very easy to mess up this dish, those who have aced it, unconsciously earn the responsibility of creating it at every family gathering. Take it from someone who knows! Though I don’t regret being good at making it, I sometimes think I shouldn’t have boasted so much.

Anyway, coming back to this post, I don’t think I’ve had a biryani tastier than that available at Askari Biryani. Every plate comes with a piece of potato, a chicken piece and a generous helping of spicy rice. What’s great about Askari biryani is that every grain of rice served picks up on the spicy flavour of the chicken gravy, and best yet, the potato is sweet and spicy&soft and absolutely delightful. Priced at PKR 80 (less than a dollar), I feel that Askari biryani not only trumps the overly-priced and over-rated Student Biryani, I rank it among the best chicken biryanis in town. I mean just look at the colours (pardon the photography). How can this plate of food not tempt you enough to sacrifice all diets. If only there were an Askari-Biryani diet! I would’ve done it proud.

Note that Askari Biryani, the shop, is situated within the Askari IV premise… in the commercial area. Another menu item it sells is chicken curry, but it is not half as good as the biryani. Another thing, it’s not available all day. They make 20 plates in the afternoon (available from 1pm till 2pm) and 20 plates at night (starting at 8pm & wiped out by 9pm). So the next time you’re in the Askari IV area, be sure to try this amazing dish. Sindhi biryani… in its glory!


Directions to Askari Biryani

Agha’s Chicken Chili Dry and Egg Fried Rice

23 Jul

I am always hungry. That’s a fact that pretty much everyone I know has learnt to live with. I am, unfortunately, one of those who  (pardon the cliche but) live to eat.  So there I was at work, hungry as always, trying to resist giving into my carnal cravings. Of course, as obvious from the picture above, I failed. And I failed bad. Because anyone who knows a thing or two about dieting ( I have been on a perpetual diet since I was 10 years old), would tell you that rice is a big no-no!

Anyway, with all concerns about any diet or an impending wedding out of the window, I ordered Chinese food from a nearby lunch place – Agha’s.  This little fast food corner, at the heart of Karachi (junction between I.I. Chundigarh Roah and Ziauddin Ahmed Road), is a favourite at my workplace… not because their food tastes fantastic or anything but because they are just so damn fast at delivering the food, that it seems like the only reliable place to turn to in case of emergency. Which reminds me, Agha’s is also our permanent Plan B place for lunch. Whenever we find it difficult to agree on one place for lunch, we always decide on Agha’s… even though a lot of us have fallen prey to its not-so-impressive hygiene.

Moving on, I must tell you that, in all honesty, I am not a big fan of Chinese food. Its not so much that I don’t like it… it’s just that my taste buds are more attuned to spicy food. Also, I like intense flavours. I know some Chinese dishes are supposed to be really intense, but I think it’s a thing with us Pakistanis… we don’t feel done with food until we feel full. Any Chinese food always makes me feel light. I know it sounds crazy, because technically, it’s healthier to feel light after a meal. But to me personally, it’s more important to feel fed *shameless*.  I have never tasted real Chinese food, but I am pretty sure that it would be more unapproachable for me than the desi version of Chinese food that is so freely (and as many renown food critics would say, sacrilegiously) sold in Pakistan. In spite of my reservations for Chinese food being so explicitly etched in my mind, I still ordered the Chicken Chili Dry with Egg Fried Rice, which looked like the picture  above. The fluorescent green stuff did not come with the food; those are my chopsticks… which, by the way, are kiddy-size. Either that or my hands are really big.

Upon delivery, the  Chicken Chili Dry with Egg Fried Rice comes in a paper box, containing two plastic bags – one of the chicken, and the other for the rice. Most interestingly, also included in the package is coleslaw, ketchup and mint chutney. Now I don’t claim to be any expert on food, but I don’t think any of those four things (coleslaw, Chinese food, mint chutney or ketchup) go together. That’s just really wrong. No wonder we fall sick so frequently after eating from Agha’s. Anyway, I decided to completely stay away from all the three…um…things that were completely uncoordinated with the main dish.

Those who’ve had Chinese food in Pakistan would agree that it is loaded with oil and garam masala (which is a spice made up on five spices: cardamon, cinnamon, clove, star anise and some other things that I will have to confirm with my mother. I think it also contains something called barhi eliachi, which directly translates to big cardamon, but I’m not so sure of its English name). But you see, Agha’s is not your typical Pakistani fast-food eatery, where you find very spicy, oily and unhygienic food. It is all that and more. Apparently, it claims to specialise in Iranian, Pakistani and junk food as well. I could, upon request, indulge in the latter two. Iranian food from Agha’s is something I have officially sworn off after falling really sick.

Chicken Chili Dry with Egg Fried Rice at Agha’s is oily, tasteless (unless salt-pockets qualify as taste-makers) and very heavy. The rice, served separately had the right texture. So, not surprisingly, it was made of left-over rice. This, many chefs say, is a good thing, since leftover rice is slightly hardened on the surface and can withstand the heat of a wok. The chicken was unfortunately, not as I expected it to be. Considering it was my first time ordering this particular place, I am entitled to have expectations, am I not? Anyway, I was expecting the chicken to be cut in strips, cooked with some soya sauce, salt and pepper till crisp, and then lightly sauteed with chili strips. What I got was chicken cubes cooked with lots of onion, spring onion, garlic and chili. Still, compared to yesterday’s lunch, I would say today was an improvement… which is quite insulting for Pizza Hut. Sad, but true. I am making a note to myself to avoid ordering Chinese food from Agha’s unless it’s an absolute emergency. I think their BBQ and Pakistani food is their forte. Perhaps next time, I’ll order my favourite item from their menu – Chicken Boti (BBQ Chicken cubes). Hmm… let’s see.

You will wonder, after reading most of my blogs, why I continue to eat from places that make me sick. The answer to that is simple… what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.

UPDATE: Directions to Agha’s (A on the map)

Andaa-Daal Fry

22 Jul

Rising inflation poses a great threat to many of the large food businesses all across Pakistan. However, like many cities Lahore has a large presence of Dhabbas where one can find cheap,yet high quality food which is rather comforting in nature. Close to Jinnah hospital, in faisal town Lahore, one can gorge upon the very famous Andaa-Daal Fry. This simple dish made with channa daal and a nice infusion of egg is served with tandoori roti and is further accompanied with fresh salad and mint chutney. Madinah hotel is just one of the many Dhabbas that sells its version of the dish and it truly is a treat for any food lover who is looking for a low budget yet tasty dining experience.

Hygiene is not something that the sellers of this dish pay special attention too since the regular customers come from a humble background who are not likely to pay attention to such things. For those people who are particular about it, they should rather not venture into having the dish altogether. You might come across people who advice you to reinvent this dish at home but my suggestion to you would be otherwise. I don’t know why, but for some odd reason the taste a plate of Andaa-Daal fry holds at a dhabba can never be matched at home. The low hygiene environment, the cooking environment in general all sum up to give this simple dish a royal touch.

So, the next time you happen to be in faisal town, i would suggest you to drop by the Madinah hotel and do try this delicious marrige of daal and egg. Only after tasting this beautiful dish can one truly understand how comforting and satisfying can the most simplest of dishes be in life.