Category Archives: Food

The Indian-origin chef who will win hearts, and stomachs, at Rio

Dion Vengatass is part of the South African Olympic squad

India At Large staff

An Indian-origin chef will be part of South Africa’s Olympic squad and will charm the country’s athletes with his sumptuous dishes during their stay in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, reports IANS.

The South African Olympic squad of all races will be tasting cuisine of Dion Vengatass who is part of South African National Culinary Team, considered an honour for a chef. “Being part of a national culinary team is one of the greatest achievements for a chef in any country, so representing South Africa and wearing the national colours means a lot to me because I’ve always been a hardcore patriot. This is what I have worked for my entire career!” said an excited Vengatass.

Vengatass took up hotel-keeping and catering in high school after mastering the art of balancing flavours and respecting the ingredients from his grandmothers and aunts. One of his teachers, Majam, began to hone his unrefined talent to the extent that he ended up furthering his studies at the Swiss Hotel School.

“Living with my great-grandmother I was always exposed to the richness of Indian cooking. When I was young she used to let me grate onions or soak the rice for meals. When I became older she used to let me work with her spices to make curry,” Vengatass told Moneybags in an interview a few years ago.

Vengatass’ love for cooking, however, saw him undertake a self-study programme to become a chef. His role in the culinary team sees him in charge of the cold starter in the Hot Kitchen and the tapas items on the five course festive menu for the Cold Table.

Athletes are sure to love Vengatass’ speciality of a starter dish popularised by Cape Malay cuisine – poached crayfish, pressed carrot terrine, carrot mayonnaise and Malay curry sauce – which he says remind him of his childhood and Indian culinary heritage.

The 28th edition of the modern Olympic Games will be held in Rio de Janereio from August 5 to 21. A total of 306 medals are on stake and more than 10, 500 players will be participating in the grand event. A total of 137 athletes will be part of Team South Africa to participate in this year’s Olympics, according to South African Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).


A burger in honour of Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Sajjan

The snack has been named ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’


India At Large staff

Canada’s first Sikh defence minister Harjit Singh Sajjan now has a chicken burger named after him and it is called ‘The Minister of National Deliciousness’.

Sajjan tasted the burger for the first time at the Cannibal Cafe in Vancouver recently. Sajjan, who represents the riding of Vancouver-South, was in town for his government’s first ministers’ meeting. The politician decided to stop by the eatery to try out his namesake burger.

He later tweeted, “National Deliciousness indeed! Tried my namesake burger at Vancouver’s The Cannibal Cafe and was not disappointed.”

The master chef behind the burger, Zai Kitagawa, said that he started thinking of the burger right after Sajjan’s appointment. “If there’s a man that a Canadian can be proud of, it’s definitely Mr Sajjan,” he said.

The ‘Minister of National Deliciousness’ burger features a tandoori-spiced chicken patty smothered in butter chicken sauce, jalapeno and pressed yogurt with mint, cilantro, lettuce, tomato and cucumbers. Kitagawa even included onion pakodas to give the burger a Punjabi flavour.

The 45-year-old Sajjan was named Canada’s defence minister in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 30-member Liberal cabinet in November last year.

Before politics, Sajjan was a detective investigating gangs for the Vancouver Police Department and a regimental commander in the Canadian Armed Forces decorated for his service in Afghanistan. Sajjan was also the first Sikh-Canadian to command a Canadian army reserve regiment.

Sajjan was born in Bombeli, a village in the Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, India. He along with his mother and older sister immigrated to Canada in 1976 when he was five years old to rejoin their father who had left for British Columbia two years prior to work in a sawmill.

While his family was getting established in their new life in Canada, his mother worked on berry farms in BC’s Lower Mainland during the summer, and Sajjan and his sister would frequently join her. Sajjan grew up in a neighbourhood in South Vancouver. Sajjan’s father Kundan Sajjan was a police officer in India, and is a member of the World Sikh Organization (WSO), a Sikh advocacy group.

He married Kuljit Kaur Sajjan, a family doctor, in 1996, and has a son and a daughter with her.

Pics courtesy: Twitter

5 Indian dishes that got a Malaysian twist!

Roti canai, nasi kandar, maggi goring, pasembur and putu mayam are some of the many items that you’ll find at a ‘Mamak’ restaurant in Malaysia – cuisines that have their ‘base’ in India

India At Large staff

The contribution of the Indian community to Malaysian cuisine is enormous. Indian cuisine has had a strong influence on traditional Malay cuisine resulting in the popularity of curries in Malaysia. Indian restaurants are well received by Malaysians from all ethnic and religious backgrounds. They have become an important fixture in everyday Malaysian life and are the venue of choice for watching live televised football matches.

Mamak restaurants and stalls refer to eateries owned and staffed by Indian Muslims. The word ‘Mamak’ is sometimes erroneously used to describe any Indian restaurant.

Unlike Indian cuisine in the United Kingdom and other Western countries which tend to focus on North Indian cuisine, Indian cuisine in Malaysia is largely based on South Indian cuisine as the Malaysian Indian diaspora is overwhelmingly Tamil, although some northern dishes such as tandoori chicken and naan bread are common. Southern breakfast delicacies such as idli, vadai and dosa (spelled in Malaysia as ‘thosai‘) are common.

Here are a few Indian dishes unique to Malaysia…

Roti canai


Traditionally, roti canai is served with dhal (lentil curry) or any type of curry, such as mutton or chicken curry. However, the versatility of roti canai as the staple lends itself to many variations, either savoury or sweet, with a variety of toppings and fillings, which includes eggs, banana, sardines and onion. In Thailand, it is usually served sweet – typical fillings include condensed milk, peanut butter, jam and nutella, without the curry.


Nasi kandar


It is a meal of steamed rice which can be plain or mildly flavoured, and served with a variety of curries and side dishes. The word nasi kandar, came about from a time when nasi hawkers or vendors would balance a kandar pole on their shoulder with two huge containers of rice meals. The name has remained and today the word nasi kandar is seen on most Tamil Muslim or ‘Malaysian Mamak’ restaurants and Indian-Muslim stall meals. Nasi kandar is sold exclusively in Indian Muslim restaurants and the recipes are closely guarded secrets.


Maggi goreng


Maggi Goreng is a style of cooking instant noodles, in particular the Maggi product range, which is common in Malaysia. It is commonly served at Mamak food stalls in Malaysia. The traditional way of cooking Maggi noodles is to boil them in hot water and then to add a sachet of flavouring included with the noodles to the water to create stock. However, Maggi goreng is cooked by stir-frying them with vegetables and eggs. Sometimes, other ingredients such as tofu, sambal (spicy chilli relish), dark soy, and sometimes meat are added. A slice of lime is usually placed at the side of the plate as a garnish. Users also can add an additional flavour such as curry powder or any readily made paste to enhance the flavour.


Pasembur (Mamak rojak)


Pasembur is a Malaysian salad consisting of cucumber (shredded), potatoes, beancurd, turnip, bean sprouts, prawn fritters, spicy fried crab, fried octopus or other seafoods and served with a sweet and spicy nut sauce. The term pasembur is peculiar to Northern Peninsular Malaysia. It is especially associated with Penang where pasembur can be had along Gurney Drive. In other parts of Malaysia, the term Mamak rojak is commonly used.


Putu Mayam


The appam is a favourite breakfast dish in Tamil homes. Idiyappam is known as putu mayam in Malay and usually sold by mobile motorcycle vendors. The process for making putu mayam (also known as string hoppers in English) consists of mixing rice flour or idiyappam flour with water and/or coconut milk, and pressing the dough through a sieve to make vermicelli-like noodles. These are steamed, usually with the addition of juice from the aromatic pandan leaf (screwpine) as flavouring. The noodles are served with grated coconut and jaggery, or, preferably, gur (date palm sugar). In some areas, gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) is the favourite sweetener.