The day I cooked Asian food for my Italian guests

My mother is one of the most admirable women that I know.

She could single handedly cook for dozens of people and still look as fresh as a flower afterwards. On a regular basis. And she was happy and proud to do it! I still remember how she orchestrated Cart and my wedding solemnization, wedding lunch and dinner. Just looking at her burst of energy made me feel very tired.

rinaz's mum!

So when Cart asked me to cook for his colleague and his family, I felt genuinely excited at playing host. I thought about the recipes and decided to share some of the foods that I loved eating in Singapore. Besides, Italians know and are better at Italian food than I would be 🙂

Rinaz marketingli

Getting the ingredients for the dinner however, posed a challenge to me. With the help of my in laws, while I was able to source out a couple of Halal butcheries, and Asian vendors. But there were a few ingredients which was shockingly absent and I had to make do with substitutes or go without it.

So far, I have yet to see :

  • Fresh or canned baby peas
  • Fresh or canned baby corn
  • Curry leaves
  • Mixed dried whole spices
  • Kara coconut milk
  • Pandan leaves

Now how would I make Nasi Lemak?

rinaz cry

But coming back to the dinner, I started at about 4 pm with the preparation of the food – washing, cutting, frying, all before starting to cook. And Cart was busy with tidying the house. Together, we were so engrossed that we did not realise that time was flying by. All of a sudden, it was already 8 pm and the guests were already here.

And I still wasn’t ready! And I looked completely unglamorous in my t-shirt and track-pants. And the kitchen was like a war zone.

But at length, all the food was ready and I was ready to serve.

Lorenzo and family

And for dinner I made Chicken Curry!

Chicken Curry

Actually, its a fallacy that all Caucasians are not able to take hot food. Italians for example, enjoy eating Arrabbiata where one of the main ingredient is chilli. Cart’s colleague and his wife in fact, enjoyed the Chicken curry. Unfortunately, their daughter found it a tad bit too hot.

Roti Jala without the jala

And I made Roti jala which was supposed to be eaten together with the curry. In Malay, Roti means bread while Jala means net. Roti jala is supposed to have a lacy pattern. Unfortunately, my batter came out too thick and I couldn’t make the pattern.

sweet and sour fish

And then I served Sweet and Sour fish with some basmati rice where the family enjoyed a lot. My mum taught me to use tomato sauce and chilli sauce together but can you believe that I did not see even one bottle of chilli sauce in the supermarkets of Italy?

Chap chye

By the time I served Chap Chye, everyone was already too full to even touch it. I’m not too happy with how it turned out anyway since it was lacking in the baby peas and baby corn. It doesn’t look as colourful as it was supposed to be.

And since Cart was vegetarian, I made vegetarian versions of the Curry

Vegetarian Curry

I substituted the battered fish with battered eggplant instead for the sweet and sour fish. Turned out fine since Cart liked it 🙂

Sweet and Sour Eggplant

And for dessert, I made bananas in santan. Forgot to take a picture of it though. In any case, all of us were too stuffed to eat any-more. I think I was a little bit too ambitious in preparing the dinner.

Nevertheless, I was happy that the dinner went smoothly and we all had a lovely time.

After the guests left, I still had to clean up and do the dishes. And I went to be exhausted. It was tiring! How on earth does my mum do it on a regular basis?


But it does gives me the confidence of hosting more in the future. And I’m looking forward to host more. But the next time, I would definitely be better prepared.

Finally I feel more adult and actually married if that actually makes sense.


16 Replies to “The day I cooked Asian food for my Italian guests”

  1. Congratualtions! It looks absolutely gorgeous. And ambition is good. It is after all the asian thing to have guest come over and to overwhelm them with the sheer amount of food on the table 🙂

  2. Jerrick

    Overwhelm them with food? Actually thats the first time I’m hearing of such things 😛


    Thanks for the tip, I’ll try to search around in organic stores … worst comes to worst, there is always a backup plan … having them delivered from Singapore! 😀

  3. Ah, your cooking looks lovely =D And I know your pain about lack of chili sauce and other ingredients in European supermarkets! You have to fish for those things in tiny local stores with organic food – they tend to have the more unique stuff. Well, at least thats how it worked for me when I was still back in Europe ;D

  4. Clare

    Ok, now I will swirl my fake martini in my fake martini glass 😛


    I hoped they ejoyed it, was very nervous that things could go wrong …


    Ehm … not really my ambition in life 😛

  5. Your food looks delicious.

    I’ve cooked a few of my Filipino dishes for my husbands family and friends. I’m always a little nervous, but they always seem to enjoy it.

    They love my soups the most…


  6. Arrabbiata is a pasta dish made of tomato sauce and chilli, usually dried ones. Cart uses this peperoncino which looks like dried chilli padi. Its hot and spicy 🙂

    And about the Roti Jala, I think that the santan that they sell here is much too thick. Hence, its too clumpy when I try to make Roti Jala. I want my Kara Santan! I’ll try to remember to buy them when I come back in SG 😛

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