Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Cool Cucumber Penne Salad for A Super Hot Summer Day 美味しい ^_^

Although this is my second summer in Japan, I can't say I'm half-way used to it. The high humidity is unbearable ( ̄へ ̄) 蒸し暑いね ( ̄へ ̄) Yesterday, I was munching on chocolate chip cookies while chatting with my husband. And I noticed that every chip on the cookie that I was holding was starting to melt!! I didn't even touch it! (●゚д゚●) That is how hot summer in Japan is!!


When I'm complaining about the heat, people are wondering why. They think how come a person from a tropical country like Indonesia can't stand this heat. The thing is where I come from the dry is season is indeed hot but it's dry. Bandung is located in highland, surrounded by mountain range. Though the sun is scorching hot, the cool breeze blows and brings relief. When I explain this, they begin to understand why my tropical body is screaming for help!! \(>o<)/


Anyway, apart from the sultry summer, the other thing that I am still learning to adapt is cooking. I sometimes cook something that, according to my husband, is not suitable for summer. Some dishes make his body feel dull. I myself never feel that way. Or rather, have not yet felt it. Or maybe my body is just too stupid or too slow to react (^-ェ-^).(my husband is a so-called Qui-Gon healer so it seems his body has totally changed because of that)


Before I moved to Japan, I'd never thought that there are so many things that rely on seasons in a four-seasoned country. In Indonesia I eat Nasi Goreng or Fried Rice anytime I want  (´・ω・`;) even in a hot day!


So today I decided to cook something cold for dinner. I've always loved pasta so why not having cold pasta? After about a few-minute browsing on the net, I found one! (I can never be thankful enough for the invention of internet!!) It's called "cool cucumber pasta" from: 
Sounds so refreshing in this sultry weather. But since I don't have mustard, garlic salt and parsley, I decided to use whatever available in the fridge and voila! Cool Cucumber Pasta a la Me!! (^-ェ-^)


Cool Cucumber Pasta a la Me

And to my surprise, my husband loved it!! He said "美味しいこれは" When he says that, I know it is ヽ(*⌒∇⌒*)ノ

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

ハンドメイドのプレゼント for my sweet former student

In my short time living in Tokyo (from November 2009 to march 2011), I got to teach English privately to a little Japanese girl named Suzuka Watanabe.


She is a very sweet and smart girl. Quite shy though. But I managed to make her come out of her shell and laugh (○⌒∇⌒○) It was such a delight having an English session with her. Unfortunately, this had to end because she had to prepare for examination of Junior High School entrance I think. And also because I was leaving Tokyo to move to Kurayoshi.


About a month after moving, I received a letter and a gift made by her... It was so touching
(・_・、) It was soooo sweet.


A letter written by Suzuka

a key chain or a pendant made by Suzuka as a present to me
Now two months has passed since I received the present. I felt guilty because I couldn't find the time to make something in return. So I made her しおり人形。I will send these tomorrow and I hope she will like them o(●´ω`●)o


My handmade しおり人形 for Suzuka. What do you think?

Of Indian Influence in Indonesia インドネシアに対するインドの影響

Though the Indian cuisine has barely managed to steal the attention of Indonesian taste buds, Bollywood or ボリウッド has done a much better job of stealing the attention of Indonesian viewers.


A video of a young policeman at the local police station in a city of Limboto, Gorontalo - a probably small insignificant spot far from the cosmopolitan Jakarta - was taped while on duty and lip-syncing Chaiya Chaiya a theme song from one of Bollywood's box office Dil Se. He is surely one of the many great fans of Sharukh Khan, the dashing Indian actor.


The popularity of Bollywood among the Indonesian is incredible. It may rival Hollywood's. Some private TV stations air Indian movies regularly and daily. Many of these moves have probably been re-run for God knows how many times. And yet, people are not fed up with them. The audience remain seated for over 2 hours and lulled by the captivating songs and dazzled by the handsome actors and beautiful actresses. They shed a tear when two lovers can't be together and cheer at a triumphant hero who, after numerous heroic endeavors, manages to save his true love from marrying the wrong guy, and so on and so forth.


Kuch Kuch Hota Hai made a big hit in Indonesia in 1998. Even those who looked down on Indian movies admitted that they had watched this movie more than once :-)

Apart from the 'invasion' of this modern Indian influence in Indonesia, a much ancient Indian influence actually reached the Indonesia's archipelago thousands of centuries ago. Hinduism came to Indonesia as early as first century, bringing a new religious perspective to the natives Indonesian who had been practicing indigenous animism and dynamism. Along with it, was introduced a caste system which became feudal system later on. Many powerful innovations were also introduced to improve and strengthen tradings, such as wet-rice cultivation, draft animals, wheeled vehicles to name a few. Literature wise, it was the introduction of Sanskrit. From political side, rose the Hindu kingdoms such as Majapahit, Tarumanegara, Kutai also Buddhist ones such as Sri Vijaya, Sailendra who maintained strong alliance with kingdoms in India through trading, diplomacy, and religions.


My sister and I at Borobudur, an 8th century Buddhist monument built by the Sailendra family.
Although the power of the almighty Majapahit (マジャパヒト) declined, it doesn't mean that the relations between India and Indonesia was over. Trading was extremely lucrative. Small harbor states which were founded by rulers of unknown ethnicity began to rise. Located in the calm sea, the coast of North Java was protected from raged oceans, making it favorable among the traders India exchanged their brightly patterned cloth for cloves and nutmeg from the Spice islands. Even until now, the Indian merchants run some of textile companies and small textile shops in Indonesia.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Of Samosa and Indian cuisine (サモサとインドの料理に就いて)

I have a habit of visiting my parents in-law every weekend with my husband. They live in a town called Kotoura, about 30-minute drive from Kurayoshi where my husband and I live.

It's a short visit but it's a nice moment where we have dinner together with お父さん and お母さん and お祖母さん (father and mother and grandmother).

During dinner we eat and chat. Though it's actually my husband, parents in-law, and grandmother who do the talking most of the time. I am more of a listener as my Japanese is waaaaaay from being fluent. But I kind of can tell what they're talking about. Sometimes, my husband translates for me. But if it's too long he doesn't. Now I'm taking a Japanese lesson once a week so it's getting better. Yesterday, grandmother and I had our first conversation (@⌒▽⌒@) Well...not really a conversation. It was more like Q&A - a short one. But it was really nice because it was the first time we'd communicated without an interpreter (a.k.a. my husband). Grandmother pointed at the dish I'd made asking, "Harumaki?" And I said, "hai." And then I said again, "Jagaimo", which means potato. I know it sounds silly to be overjoyed by this but it meant a lot to me (@⌒▽⌒@) because I could say something and not only answer (@⌒▽⌒@)

The weekend dinner is also a time where I get to cook exotic dishes. Grandmother is especially fond of them. She's 94 years old now and isn't strong enough to take a trip to a restaurant for a special meal except for eating ramen because it doesn't take a long time to reach that restaurant. So, I try to cook different kind of dishes that she might like such as Indonesian, Italian, Chinese, etc. And yesterday I made Samosa , an Indian stuffed pastry, with apple chutney. And she loved it!! (@⌒▽⌒@)  I was sooo glad ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ

My homemade vegetable samosa and apple chutney
Samosa is the second Indian dish I've tried my hand at cooking besides vegetable curry. I've always loved Indian dishes. I love the smell of spices used in the dishes. It's intoxicating and exotic. Even the ice cream - kulfi - also includes some exotic spices. Plus I don't need to make the dish look pretty. I'm not that artistic when it comes to decorating food (I have to admit that I don't have the patience for decorating food :D). And the fact that now my husband and I have to travel far to enjoy an Indian meal, I might as well make it myself.

Talking about Indian food, funny thing is that  while living in Tokyo, I went to Indian restaurants more than I had been to in my home country, Indonesia. I was surprised at how easy to find an Indian restaurant in Tokyo. It seemed to me that every 区or ku has at least one Indian resto. From the like of soba stand - unassuming, inexpensive but delicious - to the expensive, and stylish one in Ginza for instance. Even at the cafeteria of Shibuya Town Hall, they served Indian curry!! I find it really interesting.

In contrast, it is not so in Indonesia, my home country, even though Indian culinary is popular in Japan. I find it baffling that despite having been heavily influenced by India historically and having  most of the spices in common, Indonesian taste buds still seem hard to agree with Indian cuisine. Many of Indonesian dishes are influenced by Indian, but Indian cuisine itself fails to become popular in Indonesia. For over 20 years having lived in Bandung, my hometown, I only found 2 Indian restaurants.

One inexpensive Indian restaurant I frequented back in my home country interestingly belonged to a Chinese Indonesian couple. They had lived in Singapore before, where they developed a craze for Indian dishes and decided to run an Indian restaurant when they moved back to Indonesia.

My favorite Indian restaurant in a shopping mall in Bandung. .

The lady owner. She's very friendly and warm.
I haven't visited the restaurant for over 4 years now, I think. I don't know if they're still running the business or not. I really hope they are. It's a pity if they don't because their food is so yummy and, most importantly, inexpensive.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

夏 Summer in the new house ヽ(‘ ∇‘ )ノ

This is my second summer in Japan.

Summer is called Natsu in Japanese. A season characterized by heat and high humidity. As someone who came from a tropical place like Indonesia, I'm used to the heat so it's fine. Bandung - the city I used to live before I got married - is situated in highland and surrounded by mountains. In dry season, the cool wind blows away the scorching heat of the sun and it's dry. But in Japan, summer is really humid. Our bodies are sticky with sweat ( ̄へ ̄) I remember my first summer in Tokyo last year. The heat and humidity was unbearable ()´д`() Even the wind was hot!! I felt as if I had been literally melting down. AC was on, blower was on... But hubby said last year's summer was unusually hotter in comparison to previous ones..

Luckily, now we have moved to Kurayoshi city - a rural city in Tottori prefecture. Our house is surrounded by mountains and greenery (⌒_⌒) Cool breeze alternates with the heat, serving as blower ヽ(^◇^*)/

A View from our window
Koinobori or 鯉幟, Koi-nobori which means "carp streamers". Wind socks which are made of paper or cloth and shaped like carps. Koinobori is flown during the festival of Children called Kodomo no Hi. These ones were flown at one neighbors across from our house.
mountains around our house