Friday, February 13, 2009

Glad to be back....with Dates & Almonds Moon(cake) Cookies

“Celebrate the happiness that friends are always giving, make every day a holiday and celebrate just living!”

So I am back from Malaysia -Truly Asia, my short holiday with my best friend (read my hub). The last few days have been crazy, we’ve seen and done so much, I will try and give you a concise run down!

We reached Kuala Lumpur and drove down to surrounding villages/beach villas and also spent a day at Gentings- the world famous ‘city of entertainment’. As you must have guessed my bones refuse to budge anymore…lol. I am tired yet exhilarated and refreshed …all at the same time.
(No one can understand a woman…not even she herself! ;p)

Please pardon me for not sharing all my personal pictures and other details of our holidays in this post, as I have my apprehensions because of a previous bad experience. And since this is a Food Blog I will restrict my escapades to the culinary world alone.

Talking of food, what was most intriguing were the meal times here. Malaysians have four meals in a day, like most of us—breakfast, lunch, dinner (at 7.30 pm) and supper at around 11-12 pm in a Mamak Stall.
A Mamak Stall was the very first thing we saw in Malaysia (after the international airport that is), when our friends took us there for a midnight snack of Tea Tarek, Chicken satay, Roti Chennai and Nasi Lemak .

My first lunch was delightful here…the waiter travelling around with his trolly complete with dim sums in all varieties ..steamed, deep fried, sticky chicken rice-buns, some other tasty morsels the names of which I don’t remember yet their taste still lingers on my tongue.

Being high on soups I tried the famous Thai Laksa at the Food Republic here with lots of chilli (hot hot!) and Tom Yam at a Resturant. Ha Mee at Chinatown was a winner with prawns and stir fried noodles.
Malaysian food is basically a mix of different cuisines –Indian, Chinese, Islamic, Thai, Korean, Indonesian etc. so it has something for even the most picky eaters.
You can read more about this cuisine here.

Apart from the regular touristy things we also visited places like Chinatown, Little India that had some character and it was a pleasure browsing the streets.
Putrajaya was miraculously quiet and spotlessly clean. Although we could not enter the Putra mosque the domed structure was very overwhelming.
We were lucky as we visited KL during the Thai Possum festival and could see the serpentine queues of devotees piercing their bodies to prove the purity of their soul and get their wishes granted at the Batuk Caves. I was told that if at piercing ur cheeks/or other body parts like toungue etc no blood oozes that is an indication that your soul is pure. (I have no intentions of confirming this theory though.)

The KL tower was good but I was mesmerized by the renowned KLCC Twin Towers. Had read a lot about this engineering marvel and there I was walking on its bridge. The drive from KL to Gentings was picturesque and inundated with wonderful flowers and tress, very scenic and calming. The theme park was 'relatively' not very big but was surely fun. ‘Sky Venture’ was one of my favourite rides. We stopped at the Genting Temple on our return to KL and it was here that I saw the deep connection of Malaysia with India…the 18 immortals of the Malay Buddhism, all hailed from the ‘land of milk and honey’.

As for shopping I shopped more for food items than clothes/accessories as far as I can remember. Infact all my souveniers were also food items. ;p
Goji berries, dried guavas (something I had never seen before), large sunflower seeds, chicken floss, exotic nuts etc. And oh yes I bought some art & craft stuff too like the paper lanterns, paper mache birds and various kind of beautiful beads.(For those who don’t know, my creativity is also vented out in crafts and paintings!)
We returned the second day following the 15th day of the Chinese New Year and have been catching up on sleep since then. (Honestly I can sleep more ….snorezzzzzz!)

Ok I will not take any more of your time, ranting about my fun and frolic Malaysian holiday. Instead I will share with you what I made recently.
Note: I could not take pictures of all the stuff we ate, less people think I am crazy. My apologies to my readers!

I do not know the Chinese name of this cookie, so I call it the Moon Cookie because of the mooncake-mould imprints. The mooncake craziness is the direct result of me buying my first wooden mooncake mould, when we went to China (Shenzhen etc) last year.

This is another one from my ever growing list of culinary adventures. It was inspired by the cookies I bought at the Hong Kong Brands and Products Expo, around the time of CNY and couldn’t wait to duplicate it at home.
The only difference being that I baked them with dates and almonds paste instead of the orthodox lotus seeds’.
It is an unusual take on this traditional pastry that came out more crumbly like a cookie. Never the less a tasty treat and fun to make.

Dates & Almonds Moon(Cake) Cookies

For Pastry-
½ cup plain flour
½ cup almond meal
1 tbsp corn flour
½ cup fine sugar
1 tbsp rice flour
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
¼ cup margarine
2 tbsp or less buttermilk

For Filling-
¼ cup ground almonds
1 cup pitted dates, finely chopped and ground to a paste and cooked for a minute over low flame.
1 tsp ground cinnamon powder
2 tbsp golden syrup (can be substituted with brown sugar, adjust according to desired sweetness)

**Combine all the ingredients for the filling together in a bowl.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
In a large bowl combine the margarine and sugar and microwave them together for 30 seconds on high. Allow to cool.
Beat together the egg and buttermilk and add this to the cooled margarine+ sugar bowl.
Add the remaining dry ingredients to this bowl. Mix until well combined with a wooden spoon. Knead the dough onto a floured surface, adding extra flour until it forms a ball that can be easily handled.

Now for the fun part—
Divide the dough into small parts (according to your mould size); flatten and place a spoonful of the filling in the center. Pinch to close and place in a mooncake mould, which has been dredged with flour. Pat down well to completely cover the mould, then knock the mould to remove the cookie.

Tip: Keep your palms floured at all times while pressing the filled cookie dough into the mould.

Place on a lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool before consumption. Store in an air-tight container.
It tastes best if eaten after two days.

Sorry but I couldn’t help sharing this interesting piece on mooncakes—
Mooncakes were used as a medium by the Ming revolutionaries in their espionage effort to secretly distribute letters in order to overthrow the Mongolian rulers of China in the Yuan dynasty. The idea is said to be conceived by Zhu Yuanzhang and his advisor Liu Bowen, who circulated a rumor that a deadly plague was spreading and the only way to prevent it was to eat the special mooncakes. This prompted the quick distribution of the mooncakes, which were used to hide a secret message coordinating the Han Chinese revolt on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.
Another method of hiding the message was printed in the surface of mooncakes as a simple puzzle or mosaic. In order to read the encrypted message, each of the 4 mooncakes packaged together must be cut into 4 parts each. The 16 pieces of mooncake, must then be pieced together in such a fashion that the secret messages can be read. The pieces of mooncake are then eaten to destroy the message.

I share this wonderful recipe that I have duplicated, with Copycat Recipes at Palachinka. If you want to drool over more do stop by Jennifer- The Domestic Goddess' blog.

Edited: My in-laws are coming over to visit us tomorrow for a week, its their first visit here so will be busy again. Will try to post something , however if I don't please understand my inability! Love you guys. *hugs*


  1. Good to hear that u had a grt fun time Navi..I hope to go to Gentings sometime..But its like other end of the globe from here..:D
    The moon cake is abs wonderful..:)

  2. They are wonderful, thank you for the entry! I've never tasted anything like that in my life.

  3. Can guess u had great time in Malaysia, moon cookies looks gorgeous n delicious, lovely they r:)

  4. Malaysia and Singapore both fascinate whenever I read about them. One day, we will make a trip there. Great post, felt like I was there. I would visit there just to eat mamak's Roti Canai, slurp!! ;D

    Graet looking Moon cookies, love the design on top. Have a wonderful V day.

  5. Welcome back Navita! Looks like you had a fabulous time! Love the moon cookies! Btw, check the latest post at Alchemist Chef.

  6. Glad to have you back! :) n looks like u had a fun time in Malaysia..the cookies look soo delectable!

  7. navita, the cookies looks absolutely delish! love the filling.
    malaysia pictures were very good, hope u had lots of fun !

  8. Oh God the devotees at Thai poosam day . Did you go through this crowd? Love the Murugan (Supramania Lord) which is very famous, I wish one day to spot there. Lovely pict.They look so good ur moon cake!

  9. Wow! moon cookies r looking awesome & sure it taste great. Lovely recipe.

  10. Hi Navita!

    Wonderful photos and adventure from Malaysia! An awesome country to visit :)

    The moon cake looks nice and moist - perfect for every sweet occasion :)


  11. The slide show was interesting! Looks like you enjoyed your trip to the utmost! :-) These cookies looks gorgeous!

  12. Welcome home!! Your descriptions were making me drool!

    I love those filled cookies you made, but it's too much work for me. I really, really wish you lived next door to me! :)

  13. that is such a cute cake.. looks yummy.

  14. Glad you enjoyed your vacation... These cookies really sound tempting and delicious!

  15. How interesting! I loved the piece on the mooncake.

  16. Welcome back! These cookies look so pretty.

  17. I think I will start having supper. That sounds great. It is very interesting all the different cultures and their food.

  18. Oh they look amazing! Wish I could take a vacation- I need one so bad!

  19. Talking about breaks only makes me more lazy!! Those mooncakes look so delicious:)

  20. Thanks for sharing your trip with us, moon cookies, have to try them, look good.


  21. Hi first time to ur blog... u have a wonderful collection of recipes.... the photographa also look professional... great work... keep it up... :)

  22. Dead jealous of your trip and those are fabulous looking moon cookies (with a fabulous little bit of history to boot!) :)

  23. cookies look yumm..malaysia is indeed a nice place..

  24. The moon cakes look amazing, I've never had them homemade WOW, any tips where to get the pan to make them? I'd love to give this a try and I am sure darling hubs would love em.... this looks fabulous, it really does!

    As for the bad blogging experience.. I decided to be an open book in my writing and some pictures and bullies are cowards..

  25. Welcome back! Glad to hear that you had fun in Malaysia! I miss home~~

  26. Te han quedado unas galletas con un aspecto delicioso!!!! un beso

  27. Oh, I wish I knew you were coming to Malaysia. I would have taken you out for a meal! I'm glad you had fun :)

  28. Looks like you had such a wonderufl time in M'sai.

  29. Sounds like u had a great trip!! thanks for sharing ur time & pics with us.. That mooncake looks great yaar. Love the design with the mould.
    Oh YEah ! congrats on winning the Vday thing!! I bet u had a great day:-)

    BTW: having trouble with posting comments again.. this is the 3rd time i am back i think.

  30. Glad that u had wonderful trip......moon cake looks absolutely gorgeous and irresistible

  31. Glad to see to back after a wonderful trip.Those cookies look lot like the middle eastern mamoul cookies,love'em. I've an award for you here.:)

  32. Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time, glad to see you back. Oh and you brought gifts: yay for cookies with generous filling!!!

  33. Welcome back! Looks like you had a great time in Malaysia.

  34. I love date fillings. Your cakes are beautiful!


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