Tuesday, January 24, 2012

"Jai" and "Chai"

On the first day of Chinese New Year, we usually stay home because my step brother and his family will come to my house to “Bai nian” (Friends and relatives will call on each other to exchange greetings and wish another the happiest possible New Year. )


My mum on the other hand will welcome them with vegetarian food. On Chinese New Year's eve, my mum stayed up till almost midnight to cook the family’s all time favorite “jai”, a traditional "must have" dish in most Chinese families on the first day of Chinese New Year. She always cook "jai" one day ahead because it taste better the next day as flavors merge and intensify.


Click on the photo to get the recipe


Early morning yesterday, she was already in the wet kitchen, cooking up another storm.  Other vegetarian dishes that she served yesterday were:


deep fried roast duck, 
stew vegetarian pig intestines with spices and 
sweet sour vegetarian oysters. Reapeat: these were the vegetarian versions of these dishes.



Every year, we will eat vegetarian food only, on the first day of Chinese New Year and according to my mum, it is believed that abstaining from eating meat will not only enhance longevity but also purify and cleanse our body. For her, it is a way to honor a Buddhist tradition that no living things should be killed on this day.

Another Chinese New Year tradition that we still practice in our family, is serving tea to the elders on the first day. This year, our son, Nick served us tea in a different way. Instead of serving us the usual Chinese tea as in the past years, he came to our house yesterday afternoon well prepared, with all required ingredients to make us a tea called “chai” tea. It is actually black tea that is brewed strong with a combination of spices and is diluted with milk and sugar.  The spices used can vary from recipe to recipe, but usually consist of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, pepper and ginger. "Chai" tea is traditionally consumed hot and sweet. It was perfectly made with the right amount of spices and sweetness. Not only did it have a perfect taste, the effort put into doing this for us is more than perfect! Thanks Nick, we enjoyed the tea very much and appreciate your thoughtfulness.



My brother and his family, together with the boyfriend of my niece and the girlfriends of my nephews, came “bai nian” yesterday and stayed for an early dinner. We had another round of a hearty vegetarian meal together. Another day of good food, good company and good memories. 



My life may not be exactly like I want it to be at all times, but what I thought I wanted may not have let me enjoy the present moment like now. I never know when my present moments will come to a halt, so I have learned to want what I have. If eventually, I am lucky to have had what I wanted, then, it will impact my life with even more joy than now. Whatever the Dragon year will bring upon me seems not so important; what I know is, I had a great start of the year, bonding with my love ones.

55 comments:

  1. My mum also cook jai on the first day... so more or less my body was "purified" yesterday! hahahaa... (self-consoling!) but today, hoi leen, I will start to "wallop" what's on the table again!

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    1. I am sure your mum and my mum's jai taste the same, The Ipoh Jai taste. hehe Yes your body is purified, eat more jai, hehehe

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  2. Yeah Bananaz prefer to eat 'jai' on CNY I but ma family must have meat. If on my own would take only liquid food which I did once on a retreat for a week. GongXiFaCai & San Thai Kin Hong..~;).

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    1. I love Jai too. I can eat a lot and not feel guilty. Thanks for the CNY greetings. Good Health is most important. No health no wealth.

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  3. Happy New Year! I love reading about traditions and the foods that go with them.

    I also want to tell you that I made your rum balls (with Cherry Brandy instead) today and they are a wonderful hit with the family. Just delicious! Thank you for the recipe.

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    1. Lois, thanks for telling me that you made rum balls. I am so happy to know that your family enjoys them.

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  4. Wishing you and your family a roaring success, great health, peace, harmony and a compassionate spirit as we welcome the year of the dragon! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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    1. Thans so much. same goes to you and your family. Gong Xi Fa Cai.

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  5. Happy New Year! Another wonderful feast - I love the fact that it was all vegetarian and the reasons why you do it that way. Wonderful traditions. We are awaiting the imminent birth of a baby dragon grandchild.

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    1. Looking forward to read all about your baby dragon grandchild. YOu must be so excited!

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  6. Vegetarian? No, thanks... Hehehehehe!!!!

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  7. Ah...can comment using google. Cannot use wordpress.

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  8. Hi Quay Po, I've received your son's CD today, once again, I want to thank you for this special gift!

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    1. Great! thanks for letting me know. Hope you enjoy the music. Gong Xi Fa Cai to you and family.

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    2. Good morning there!I've played the cd when I was surfing the Internet last night.I dont know much abt this type of music so I treat it just the same as the songs sung by Linkin Park(oh I hope I spell it correctly).Nick is such a sweet boy who would make chai tea to serve you&your hubby

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  9. Happy CNY! Nice to see someone else starting the New Year with vegetarian food. :)

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    1. Gong Xi Fa Cai. So you started the Dragon year with vegetarian food too?

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  10. beautiful post, wonderful dishes, you are so lucky to still have your mum to share good times with,

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    1. laurie, I am very lucky. My mum is a gem!

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  11. hi quay po, hope one day you can tackle all these vegetarian dishes and share the recipes with us here! i didnt eat jai but continue taking my bread and oat for breakfast. Healthy also, hor?

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    1. Yes I will. Bread and oat for breakfast is healthy. You are smart! hehe

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  12. I had that last night... one of my favorites.

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  13. The food all look so yummy! I can't help but follow :)
    Happy New Year!

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    1. Happy New Year and thanks for dropping by and the following.

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  14. Replies
    1. Yes man, all the food look good, don't they? hehe

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  15. I once tried Marsala tea which I think might be the same as Chai. I got hooked and wanted to make my own but failed.

    新年快乐.

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    1. I have not try making this Chai tea yet. I will get the recipe from my son and share with you.

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  16. Happy Lunar New Year!

    I love that you have vegetarian feast! Would love to join :>

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    1. Anh, come come, join us next Chinese New Year. Plan on a holiday to Malaysia.

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  17. I love the 'jai choy' and it is a must to have on the first day of Chinese New Year.
    Gong Hei Fatt Choy!

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    1. Ann, I want another round of "jai choy".. still eating lots of rich food. I want to stop but still got so many CNY lunches with friends to do.

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  18. I hear you, I hear you. We never know when the present may take us so it's best to appreciate it now, the only time we can do it any justice. :)

    Happy 4th Day of CNY, dear! :)

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    1. Kenny, today is the 6th day, still have stop "makaning"... "I am "Huating" sideways lah hehe.

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  19. I like this 斋菜! Luckily I could taste it when my sister in law brought it from her mother's house !

    GXFCai !

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    1. I am sure your the Jai your SIL brought from her mum's house is delcious! Lucky you:D

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  20. Replies
    1. Thanks Emily. I hope you are enjoying your CNY as much as I do:D

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  21. Whoo! Finally have some time to spread some blog love. I'm sure you feel the same every CNY ... 1st and 2nd days are all the crazy visits and eating. Left me totally zonked and feeling like a beached whale. Well, here I am wishing you a very prosperous one. I can only admire the stuff the vegetarians come up with made into the fantastic looking pieces of "faux" fish and meats. Unfortunately, my tummy doesn't quite agree with them.
    So happy you had a great celebration! Huggies! Oh wait .. that sounds like some diaper brand ... HUGS!

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    1. Ping, Glad you are less busy and have the time to visit your good old blogger friends. Long time no babies in the house and almost forget about Huggies is a diaper brand. HUGGIES back! hehe

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  22. Gong Xi Fa Cai! What a great way to welcome the lunar new year. I love your fish bowl set!

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    1. Thanks. The fist bowl set is my favorite too:D

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  23. So glad that you had such a wonderful moment during CNY!! I like masala chai too. Wishing you and your family a Healthy and Prosperous Dragon Year!

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    1. Thanks and same goes to you and your family. Hope you are enjoying CNY as much as I do.

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  24. That one is mixed veggies? Sourish ones?

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    1. No lah, this is not sourish. You don't eat much vegetables, do you?

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  25. Gong Hei Fatt Chooi Quaypocooks!

    I use to eat Jai with my uncle when I was kid, now he stay too far from my house already but still will visit him if my family go to find him hehe

    I miss the middle one "stew vegetarian pig intestines with spices" :)

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    1. Kian Fai, Thanks so much. I wish you "HUAT! HUAT! HUAT!" too. OMG, this stew veg pig intestines with spices taste better than the real one.

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  26. It all sounds wonderful, and such a great way to start the new year. I would enjoy tasting all this food! I love chai tea and often blend the chai spices and add them to many things like steel cut oats, coffee with cream, even added it to muah chee! :)

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  27. Ah yes, I love that tea too - 'Chai latte' at Coffee Bean and 'marsala tea' at banana leaf shop. The latter costs only a fraction of the former though both are the same thing. :)

    I love your last paragraph.

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