Sunday, February 28, 2010

Great masala-chicken soup

This mom used to cook rice for the kids with a small pot. Last Saturday, when she arrived at the center for the day's cooking, she was pleasantly surprised to see two huge, shiny pots sitting together on the table, courtesy of John Whitfield, GM of Pacific Towing Ltd. She wanted to have a pic with one of them for posterity.

Two mothers begin the tough job of building fire to cook rice.

Three is better than two ... cooking 8kg of rice in a 30-liter pot over a makeshift, slow-burning firewood stove is never fun.

A long queue for the great Masala-Chicken soup, a special lunch meal of the day.

Kids await the Masala-chicken soup to be served.

Can't just wait for the steaming soup.

Nice to have a little picnic under the mango tree ...

Browsing our picture books while waiting for our soup ... we are told it's a new dish from Chef Uncle Fredo.

Melanie, 8, looks like she doesn't want this Coleman cordial cooler to be separated from her. Donated by our good friend John Whitfield, GM of Pacific Towing Ltd.

Hmmm ... what is left of the great Masala-Chicken Soup sponsored by our good friend CC Ang, GM for RH Hypermart, and his family. - All pictures by ALFREDO P HERNANDEZ

OUR SPONSORED especial Saturday lunch meal continues for the kids at the orphanage Tembari Children Center (TCC) Inc at ATS Oro Setttlement, 7 Mile, on the other side of the Jackson airport.

It was a great soup that we came up with last Saturday (Feb 26).

In fact, when I came home that afternoon from my cooking session with volunteer moms, I was inspired to repeat the recipe for my dinner. Yummmmy!

The volunteer moms are learning gradually the art of stir fry cooking, having been able to learn the new kitchen skill hands on. I have encouraged them to do the cooking themselves, closely following my so-called 1-2-3 cooking instructions.

The masala chicken soup was a great idea from my housemate Malaysian Narasiman Muniandy, our printing boss at The National newspaper. He suggested that I also introduce to the kids’ palates an Indian concoction.

Masala is actually a powder mix of various spices that included cinnamon stick, a favorite spice of mine and four other spices best-loved by Malaysians and Indians.

Volunteer moms and the kids couldn’t help but wrangle a third helping of the soup but, sorry, there were still a few kids that had yet to have their turn at the tall soup pot, waiting for soup cups in the hands of other kids to be emptied and cleansed.

The kids who had the first chance to get their scoops of the debut reddish soup must have taken a great time finishing their share, that when we ran out of cups, the kids on queue had to wait a few minutes.

The center is at the moment trying to organize what it needed in the kitchen, something it has never done until I introduced to the kids what I have called special Saturday lunch meal paid for, or shall we say, sponsored by kind-hearted, generous individuals.

Sponsors are doing this to let the kids enjoy at least once a week – on a Saturday – a delicious and nutritious meal.

Thanks a million to RH Hypermart general manager CC Ang and his family for sponsoring last Saturday’s lunch gig with the kids. It was his generous funding that enabled us to come up to the day’s menu – masala chicken soup, stir fry Chinese cabbage/carrots/mince pork, and the dish of the day – chicken wings in saucy sweet gravy and steamed rice.

The truth is that when he learned of my recipe, himself a food lover, he did not hesitate to chip in some more kina so I could achieve the great taste that the recipe packs.

From the previous Saturday’s attendance of only 51, our young diners shot up back to a high of 76 out of the 83 expected to show up, but didn’t for various reasons.

Two huge pots (30-litre capacity each) debuted for the lunch meal, along with a big water cooler (Coleman ski) courtesy of John Whitfield, GM of Pacific Towing Ltd.

John saw in a picture I emailed him earlier a small Coleman cooler that used to hold our cordial drinks. He thought that it won’t hold much drink to cover all the kids at the center, plus those others helping out in the soup kitchen.

Last week, John sent a 19-litrer Coleman ski and the kids were quite excited about it, knowing that their cordial will continue to flow without interruption.

Several new kitchen utensils, cups and bowls and plates were also used for the first time for this meal, with money used from the pocket of Robert Palomo, a manager with the Red Sea Housing Construction

Thanks also to John Villalba, a chemist at Pacific Industries, who sent bottles of Gold Point cordial drinks, a popular drink products the company produces here in POM and exports to our Pacific Islands neighbors. John and his wife Rachel are permanent Saturday sponsors and so is Narasiman, who has taken the second Saturday of the month.

Also, last Saturday was the first time that our young diners had steamed rice with delicious and nutritious side dish and a matching soup.

This was not the case before. They would only have sliced bread and tinned fish or cheap meat loaf for their lunch and watery cordial drinks, depending on how much fund TCC’s kitty would have for that particular meal. TCC is only getting K400 monthly grant from WeCare! for its operating fund, and another K400 monthly support for the children’s four-times-a-week lunch meal from vessel-towing company Pacific Towing Ltd. Naturally, this total grant of K800 is not enough to keep TCC afloat and provide decent meals to the kids.

We are happy that when myself, Rishabh, Hayward and Penny have approached different potential donors, they have been sympathetic to the nutritional needs of the children, and they have supported us by funding our Saturday lunches..

The K150 -- the basic cost of the Saturday meal -- from individual sponsors is doing great things to the center’s wards.

I know that these donors would be pleased to learn from this blog that their donation is directly helping improve the nutrition of the 83 orphans and abandoned children.

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