I grew up in Malaysia and Singapore. I was born in Kuching in the state of Sarawak located on upper part of the island of Borneo. Sarawak and Sabah are called East Malaysia, separated from Peninsula Malaysia by the South China Sea. In the island of Borneo, we have Brunei as one neighbour and Kalimantan (Indonesian state) as the other.
What has all these got to do about yoghurt, you may wonder.
During my childhood, as long as I can remember, we spent a month in Singapore every end of the final school term. Mum grew up in a farm house in Singapore. There was no direct bus into her family home and we had to take a 20 minutes or more walk from the bus stop into a ‘jungle’ route (as I called it) before we reached the house.
I hated it. It was like going back in time, from our big family home (dad’s side) right on the main street of Tabuan Rd, Kuching to this remote village called ‘Nee Soon’. The farm house had earthen floor on some parts and the rest was concrete. Outside the house, there were at least a dozen of rectangular fish ponds though I hardly see any fishes in them, filled with some water. To me, they looked shallow, not deep. One day, we heard the adults whispered that our little cousin fell into the pond and drowned. She was one of the daughters of mum’s younger sister, probably two or three year old when the accident happened many, may years ago. Since then, the fish ponds were left dry till they were destroyed when the house was demolished.
Today, the farmhouse village is gone. In the late 1980s, they renamed the town Yishun and Grandma’s farm house gave way to blocks of high rise. She was given a 3 bedroom HDB flat with easy bus access. I am not sure if she got any other compensation for giving up that huge farm house, the fish ponds, the fruit trees, the outdoor portaloo (toilet) and everything else.
Back to the present, I am supposed to share about Yoghurt.
I had my first taste of Vitagen, a cultured milk drink made by fermenting skim milk with billions of live probiotic cultures (good bacteria i.e. Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei) to help maintain a healthy digestive system. These were our treats when we were in Singapore and eventually we found we could buy these drinks at home in Kuching too. Yipee !
There was a ‘flash’ Supermarket called Ting & Ting located close to our school where the expats did their groceries shopping. That was where I bought my first tub of yoghurt. I was in secondary school. A small tub of Yoplait cost around ringgit $3.40 in early 1980s.
Yoghurts were so much dearer then in Sarawak compared to Singapore or Peninsula Malaysia the main reason being freight as all yoghurts at that time were probably imported. Today, they are easily available and can be made from home.
Sometime in the early 2000s, we started a Yoghurt Smoothie mobile kiosks selling ice blended drinks, yoghurt, pizzas and other finger foods. It was fulfilling to see that something you created yourself sprung to life and became the talk of the town. Someone even asked if our business was a franchise. At that time, I was working full time or I would have taken the business a step further to create a homegrown franchise !
During that time I was full on reading, researching all about yoghurt and its good bacteria. Experimenting with the culture, water temperatures to make the best yoghurt. Yoghurt is healthy eating and we used yoghurt drinks to replace soft drinks, yoghurt to replace ice cream, made ice blended yoghurt smoothies. In cooking we used yoghurt to replace coconut in curries and substitute for sour cream in baking.
Now back to the present.
I was reading an article saying that rather than use the ‘live’ yoghurt culture or those EasiYo Packs, you could use capsules of probiotic powder to make coconut yoghurt. This luxuriously creamy and tangy yoghurt is perfectly satisfying and makes for a wonderful dairy-free option.
I will check out on that and will post it as a sequel. There’s just so many things to write about this wonderful live food.
Disclaimer : Thank you to the various creators of these images. I do not own these images. The are for illustrations only to support my story. Please click on those images to take you to the source.
Yoghurt and reminiscence of the past ……….. of little borneo girl.