Oct 072017

On this date in 1806, Ralph Wedgwood, cousin to industrialist Josiah Wedgewood, received the first patent for carbon paper. His work, to some extent, duplicated (!) the work of Italian inventor Pellegrino Turri although the purposes of their independent inventions were quite different, and what eventually became carbon paper for typewriters was rather different from Wedgewood’s invention. Wedgewood was trying to help blind people write at a time when Braille writing was in the future (1821).

Wedgewood saturated thin paper with printer’s ink, and then dried it out between sheets of blotting paper. The dried “black paper” could then be placed between a tissue paper and a blank sheet of writing paper in Wedgwood’s “stylographic manifold writer.” A blind person could write between horizontal feeler wires on the apparatus. A metal stylus created a positive image on the lower sheet, as well as a mirror image on the upper tissue (which could also be read directly if the carbon paper was left underneath it).

It soon became apparent to Wedgwood that his “carbonated paper” could be used as an “apparatus for producing duplicates of writings.” Scottish engineer James Watt (steam engine engineer), had invented a tissue-copying process for business correspondence in 1779. But it required special inks and fluids and was a wet process for the user, so it didn’t catch on.  In 1808 Turri in Italy had complete work on a typewriter, also for use by the blind, and employed a form of carbon-impregnated paper as the ribbon.

Wedgwood marketed carbon paper, but it didn’t really catch on with business because there were two missing ingredients. First, Wedgewood’s carbon paper was two sided, which was unnecessary for making duplicates.  Single-sided carbon paper which did not require a special writing board and stylus came along around 1820. Second, carbon paper really came into its own in 1868 when Christopher Sholes received a patent for a machine that is the direct ancestor of the modern typewriter: https://www.bookofdaystales.com/birth-typewriter/  Carbon paper was the common way to make copies on a typewriter for around a century.  I used it when I first started typing in the late 1960s. By the 1970s it had been supplanted by the photocopying machine, and by the 1980s personal computers and printers took up the burden. I doubt that many people nowadays know that the abbreviation “cc” on emails stands for “carbon copy” nor do they know that the metaphor “carbon copy” (if anyone still uses it) had a literal meaning at one time.

For me, producing multiple identical copies of the same item or dish is anathema to my cooking style. I don’t plate up meals for my guests, making them all look the same, and even when I use muffin tins for things such as Yorkshire puddings they all come out looking different – and I like it that way. Professionals, on the other hand, whether it be a Michelin-starred chef making $300 plates or a fast food joint turning out cheeseburgers, have a commercial interest in replicating the same thing over and over. That’s not for me.  I don’t plate food usually because I want my guests to help themselves from common bowls, making their plates the way it suits them as individuals.

Where I do occasionally succumb is with cookie cutters – as a metaphor, a synonym for carbon copy, and can also be abbreviated “cc.”  I rarely use them for baked goods although at one time I had a whole drawer full of them. I prefer misshapen hand-dropped cookies to identical ones.  But when it comes to the garnishes for Japanese soups I still give in because my knife skills are not great.  Stainless steel cutters in the shape of flowers are very easy to use and delight guests, I find.  Cherry blossom, plum, and chrysanthemum were my favorites, but you can branch out as you choose.  Furthermore, if you like you can use these cutters for vegetables served any way you want. No skill required.

Jun 032015


On this date in 1839 in Humen in southern China, Lin Zexu (林则徐) destroyed 1.2 million kg of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War.

Lin was born in Houguan (侯官; modern Fuzhou, Fujian). The second son of the family, his father was Bin Re, a Chinese official active in the Qing dynasty. As a child, he was already “unusually brilliant”. In 1811, he received a jinshi degree in the imperial examination, and in the same year, he was appointed to the Hanlin Academy. He rose rapidly through various grades of provincial service. He was opposed to the opening of China but felt the need of a better knowledge of foreigners, which drove him to collect a great deal of material about the geography and cultures of the world. He later gave this material to Wei Yuan, who published the Illustrated Treatise on the Maritime Kingdoms in 1843. He became Governor-General of Hunan and Hubei in 1837, where he launched a suppression campaign against the trading of opium.


An ever-growing demand for tea and low demand for British products, combined with China’s acceptance of only silver (and not gold) in payment, resulted in large continuous trade deficits. Attempts by the British (Macartney in 1793), the Dutch (Van Braam in 1794), Russia (Golovkin in 1805) and the British yet again (Amherst in 1816) to negotiate access to the China market were resounding failures. After 1817, the British began counter-trading in Indian opium, as a way to both reduce the trade deficit and finally gain profit from the formerly money-losing Indian colony. Opium was most commonly used as a treatment for cholera. The Qing government originally tolerated the importation of opium because it imposed an indirect tax on Chinese subjects, while allowing the British to double tea exports from China to England, which profited the monopoly on tea exports of the Qing imperial treasury and its agents. However, by 1820, accelerated opium consumption reversed the flow of silver, just when the Qing imperial treasury needed to finance the suppression of rebellions within China. The Viceroy of Guangdong began efforts to constrain the trade, but due to large increases in the supply of opium, the long coast line of South China, and corruption (the Qing coastal navy was one of the largest smugglers of opium), these efforts failed. Meanwhile, memorials (official letters) received from officials such as Huang Juezi urged the Daoguang Emperor to take measures that would eliminate the opium trade.


A formidable bureaucrat known for his adherence to Confucian values, Lin was sent to Guangdong (Canton) as imperial commissioner by the emperor in late 1838 to halt the illegal importation of opium by the British. He arrived in March 1839 and made a huge impact on the opium trade within a matter of months. He arrested more than 1,700 Chinese opium dealers and confiscated over 70,000 opium pipes. He initially attempted to get foreign companies to forfeit their opium stores in exchange for tea, but this ultimately failed and Lin resorted to using force in the merchants’ enclave despite previous agreements and understandings. It took Lin a month and a half before the merchants gave up nearly 1.2 million kilograms (2.6 million pounds) of opium. Beginning 3 June 1839, 500 workers labored for 23 days in order to destroy all of it, mixing the opium with lime and salt and throwing it into the sea outside of Humen Town.


In 1839, Lin also wrote an extraordinary memorial to Queen Victoria in the form of an open letter published in Canton, urging her to end the opium trade. (full text

http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~phalsall/texts/com-lin.html )

The letter is filled with Confucian concepts of morality and spirituality. His primary line of argument is that China is providing Britain with valuable commodities such as tea, porcelain, spices and silk, while Britain sends only “poison” in return. Lin appears to have been unaware that opium was not banned in the Middle East, Europe and the Americas, and was commonly used for its medicinal rather than recreational effects. He accuses the “barbarians” (a reference to the private merchants) of coveting profit and lacking morality. His memorial expressed a desire that the Queen would act “in accordance with decent feeling” and support his efforts. He writes:

We find that your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. Yet there are barbarian ships that strive to come here for trade for the purpose of making a great profit. The wealth of China is used to profit the barbarians. That is to say, the great profit made by barbarians is all taken from the rightful share of China. By what right do they then in return use the poisonous drug to injure the Chinese people? Even though the barbarians may not necessarily intend to do us harm, yet in coveting profit to an extreme, they have no regard for injuring others. Let us ask, where is your conscience?

It’s probably just as well that the letter never arrived as I am sure Victoria would not have been amused. Neither Lin nor the emperor appreciated the depth or changed nature of the problem. They did not see the change in international trade structures, the commitment of the British government to protecting the interests of private traders (a commitment the Qing government would never have thought of), and the peril to the survival of the British traders posed when they surrendered their opium. Moreover, the British viewed the opening of China to free trade as a moral issue as well.


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Open hostilities between China and Britain started in 1839 in what later would be called “The First Opium War.” The immediate effect was that Lin banned all trade with Britain unless they signed a bond stopping all opium imports, and Elliot issued an order to British companies not to sign. Before this, Lin had pressured the Portuguese government of Macau, so the British found themselves without refuge, except for the bare and rocky harbors of Hong Kong. Soon, however, Qing imperial forces were faced with a British imperial force, which included the East India Company’s (EIC) steam warship Nemesis and improved weapons.


In late October, the Thomas Coutts arrived in China and sailed to Canton Province. This ship was owned by Quakers, who refused to deal in opium. The ship’s captain, Warner, believed Elliot had exceeded his legal authority when he banned the signing of the no opium trade bond. The captain negotiated with the governor of Canton and hoped that all British ships could unload their goods at Chuenpee, an island near Humen. To prevent other British ships from following the Thomas Coutts, Elliot ordered a blockade of the Pearl River. Fighting began on 3 November 1839, when a second British ship, the Royal Saxon, attempted to sail to Canton. Then the British Royal Navy ships HMS Volage and HMS Hyacinth fired a warning shot at the Royal Saxon.

The Qing navy’s official report claimed that the navy attempted to protect the British merchant vessel, also reporting a great victory for that day. In reality, they were out-classed by the Royal Naval vessels and many Chinese ships were sunk. Elliot reported that they were protecting their 29 ships in Chuenpee between the Qing batteries. Elliot knew that the Chinese would reject any contacts with the British and there would eventually be an attack with fire boats. Elliot ordered all ships to leave Chuenpee and head for Tung Lo Wan, 20 miles (30 km) from Macau, but the merchants preferred to harbor in Hong Kong.

In 1840, Elliot asked the Portuguese governor in Macau to let British ships load and unload their goods there in exchange for paying rent and any duties. The governor refused for fear that the Qing Government would discontinue supplying food and other necessities to Macau. On 14 January 1840, the Qing Emperor asked all foreigners in China to halt material assistance to the British in China. In retaliation, the British Government and EIC decided that they would attack Canton. The military cost would be paid by the British Government.


Some commentators claim that Lord Palmerston, the British Foreign Secretary, initiated the Opium War to maintain the principle of free trade. Britain certainly needed to uphold its reputation, its honor, and its commitment to global free trade. China was pressing Britain just when the British faced serious pressures in the Near East, on the Indian frontier, and in Latin America. In the end the government’s need to maintain its prestige abroad forced the decision to go to war.

But there were critics at home. William Gladstone denounced the war as “unjust and iniquitous” and criticized Lord Palmerston’s willingness “to protect an infamous contraband traffic.” The public and press in the United States and Britain expressed outrage that Britain was supporting the opium trade. Lord Palmerston justified military action by saying that no one could “say that he honestly believed the motive of the Chinese Government to have been the promotion of moral habits” and that the war was being fought to stem China’s balance of payments deficit. John Quincy Adams commented that opium was “a mere incident to the dispute… the cause of the war is the kowtow—the arrogant and insupportable pretensions of China that she will hold commercial intercourse with the rest of mankind not upon terms of equal reciprocity, but upon the insulting and degrading forms of the relations between lord and vassal.”

In June 1840, an expeditionary force of British Indian army troops aboard 15 barracks ships, four steam-powered gunboats and 25 smaller boats reached Canton from Singapore. The marines were headed by James Bremer. Bremer demanded the Qing Government compensate the British for losses suffered from interrupted trade.

British military superiority drew heavily on newly applied technology. British warships wrought havoc on coastal towns; the steam ship Nemesis was able to move against the winds and tides and support a gun platform with very heavy guns and congreve rockets. In addition, the British troops were the first to be armed with modern rifles, which fired more rapidly and with greater accuracy than matchlock muskets and artillery wielded by Manchu Bannermen and Han Green Standard Army troops, though Chinese cannons had been in use since previous dynasties.Following the orders of Lord Palmerston, a British expedition blockaded the mouth of the Pearl River and moved north to take Zhoushan. Led by Commodore J.J. Gordon Bremer in the Wellesley, they captured the empty city after an exchange of gunfire with shore batteries that caused only minor casualties.

Illustration Of Opium War Battle

The next year, 1841, the British captured the Bogue forts that guarded the mouth of the Pearl River—the waterway between Hong Kong and Canton. Meanwhile, at the far west in Tibet, the start of the Sino-Sikh war added another front to the strained Qing military. By January 1841, British forces commanded the high ground around Canton and defeated Bannermen at Ningbo and at the military post of Dinghai. In the same year the British made three unsuccessful attempts to capture the harbor of Keelung on the northeast coast of Taiwan.


Once the British took Canton, they sailed up the Yangtze and captured the emperor’s tax barges, a devastating blow since it slashed the revenue of the imperial court in Beijing to just a fraction of what it had been. By the middle of 1842, the British had defeated the Chinese at the mouth of their other great riverine trade route, the Yangtze, and occupied Shanghai. The war finally ended in August 1842, with the signing of China’s first Unequal Treaty, the Treaty of Nanking. In the supplementary Treaty of the Bogue, the Qing empire also recognized Britain as an equal to China and gave British subjects extraterritorial privileges in treaty ports. In 1844, the United States and France concluded similar treaties with China, the Treaty of Wanghia and Treaty of Whampoa respectively.

The war marked the start of what 20th century nationalists called the “Century of Humiliation”. The ease with which the British forces defeated the numerically superior Chinese armies damaged the Qing dynasty’s prestige. The Treaty of Nanking was a step to opening the lucrative Chinese market to global commerce and the opium trade. The interpretation of the war, which was long the standard in the People’s Republic of China, was summarized in 1976: The Opium War, “in which the Chinese people fought against British aggression, marked the beginning of modern Chinese history and the start of the Chinese people’s bourgeois-democratic revolution against imperialism and feudalism.”


The Treaty of Nanjing, the Supplementary Treaty of the Bogue, and two French and American agreements were all “unequaled treaties” signed between 1842 and 1844. The terms of these treaties undermined China’s traditional mechanisms of foreign relations and methods of controlled trade. Five ports were opened for trade, gunboats, and foreign residence: Guangzhou, Xiamen, Fuzhou, Ningbo, and Shanghai. Hong Kong was seized by the British and became a free and open port. Tariffs were abolished thus preventing the Chinese from raising future duties to protect domestic industries and extraterritorial practices exempted Westerners from Chinese law. This made them subject to their own civil and criminal laws of their home country. Most importantly, the opium problem was never addressed and after the treaty was signed opium addiction doubled. China was forced to pay 21 million silver taels as an indemnity, which was used to pay compensation for the traders’ opium destroyed by Commissioner Lin. A couple years after the treaties were signed internal rebellion began to threaten foreign trade. Due to the Qing government’s inability to control collection of taxes on imported goods, the British government convinced the Manchu court to allow Westerners to partake in government official affairs. By the 1850s the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, one of the most important bureaucracies in the Manchu Government, was partially staffed and managed by Western Foreigners. Some time between 1858 and 1860 opium was legalized.

Commissioner Lin, often referred to as “Lin the Clear Sky” for his moral probity, was made the scapegoat. He was blamed for ultimately failing to stem the tide of opium imports and usage as well as for provoking an unwinnable war through his rigidity and lack of understanding of the changing world. Nevertheless, as the Chinese nation formed in the 20th century, Lin became viewed as a hero, and has been immortalized at various locations around the world.

I talked about Cantonese cuisine a little while ago https://www.bookofdaystales.com/may-4th-movement/ and suggested that replicating recipes from China was virtually impossible, and that you could come here instead. I can’t really be quite so craven again so soon. What I can suggest is that when cooking Chinese food in the West you try to stick to traditional ingredients. Western meats – chicken, pork, and beef – are not quite the same, but will do. Western pork is not anywhere near as fatty or flavorful as Chinese pork, but is probably healthier. I’ve often had dishes in Yunnan where the “pork” was, in fact, little cubes of fat with no meat. Early on I learnt to say 没有过多的肥猪肉 – “not too much fat” to quizzical looks which I think meant “idiot foreigner.” Actually, Cantonese dishes are much less fatty than those from Yunnan. Chinese vegetables are not difficult to find in the West. The main principles I urge are not to use Western onions, carrots, or broccoli. For onions use only green onions (cut in 1” lengths), and broccoli rabe for broccoli.

In Buenos Aires I used to make a tasty dish of stir fried vegetables after one of my monthly outings to barrio chino. The limitation I had, and all Western cooks have, is that you cannot get the wok hot enough to do a really good job. Cooks in China use gas jets that look like blast furnaces, which can get the wok fiery hot in seconds. You’ll never replicate this at home. Anyway, do the best you can.


Fire up your wok until it smokes. You can use a heavy skillet if you must, but it will not get the ingredients cooked evenly like a nicely rounded wok where you can toss them freely. When the wok is smoking, add a tablespoon or two of vegetable oil (or lard) and swirl it around to coat the surface. Toss in your vegetables of choice cut in slices or bite sized pieces: green onions, minced garlic, bok choy, Chinese cabbage, Chinese mushrooms, lotus root, flowering chives, broccoli rabe, or whatever. Fry on the highest heat for about 2 minutes, tossing and stirring with a rounded spatula constantly. Then throw in flavoring sauce of choice. I used to use a mix of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and rice wine. For a “cleaner” taste I used chicken broth, rice wine, and a little rice starch. Toss again for a minute or so to coat the vegetables and reduce the sauce. Serve with steamed rice.

Sep 162013


Today is Independence Day in Papua New Guinea, officially named the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, a nation in Oceania that occupies the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands.


Papua New Guinea is one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. According to recent data, 841 different languages are listed for the country, although 11 of these have no known living speakers. There may be at least as many different traditional societies, out of a population of about 6.3 million. It is also one of the most rural nations in the world, as only 18% of its people live in urban centers. The country is one of the world’s least explored, culturally and geographically, and many undiscovered species of plants and animals are thought to exist in the interior of Papua New Guinea. The territory has long been an anthropologist’s dream. Although dated, and a bit contrived, the documentary “Dead Birds” by Robert Gardner, about the Dani who live(d) in the central highlands, is worth a look to get an idea. “Trobriand Cricket” is also a good window into traditional culture and colonialism.  Here’s an excerpt: Trobriand Cricket


After being ruled by three external powers since 1884, Papua New Guinea established its sovereignty in 1975 after the demand of the United Nations that Australia cease to administer it. It became a separate Commonwealth realm on 16 September 1975 without incident.  It is now fully independent but, like all Commonwealth nations, Queen Elizabeth II is the nominal Head of State.

Human remains have been found which have been dated to about 50,000 BP although this is an estimate only. Agriculture developed in the New Guinea highlands around 7000 BCE, possibly indigenously, but more likely brought by immigrants.  A major migration of Austronesian speaking peoples came to coastal regions in roughly 500 BCE. This has been correlated with the introduction of pottery, pigs, and certain fishing techniques. More recently, in the 18th century, the sweet potato was taken to New Guinea, having been introduced to the Moluccas by Portuguese traders. The far higher crop yields from sweet potato gardens radically transformed traditional agriculture; sweet potato largely supplanted the previous staple, taro, and gave rise to a significant increase in population in the highlands.


Little was known in Europe about the island until the 19th century, although Portuguese and Spanish explorers, such as Dom Jorge de Meneses and Yñigo Ortiz de Retez, had encountered it as early as the 16th century. Traders from Southeast Asia had visited New Guinea beginning 5,000 years ago to collect bird of paradise plumes. The country’s dual name results from its complex administrative history before independence. The word papua is derived from an old local term of uncertain origin, and “New Guinea” (Nueva Guinea) was the name coined by the Spanish explorer Yñigo Ortiz de Retez. In 1545, he noted the resemblance of the people to those he had seen earlier along the Guinea coast of Africa. The northern half of the country was ruled as a colony for some decades by Germany, beginning in 1884, as German New Guinea. The southern half was colonized in the same year by the United Kingdom as British New Guinea, but in 1904 with the passage of the Papua Act, it was transferred to the newly formed Commonwealth of Australia who took on its administration.


Papua New Guinea is part of the Australasia ecozone, which also includes Australia, New Zealand, eastern Indonesia, and several Pacific island groups, including the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu (see post 30 July). Geologically, the island of New Guinea is a northern extension of the Indo-Australian tectonic plate, forming part of a single land mass which is Australia-New Guinea (also called Sahul or Meganesia). It is connected to the Australian segment by a shallow continental shelf across the Torres Strait, which in former ages was exposed as a land bridge, particularly during ice ages when sea levels were lower than at present. Consequently, many species of birds and mammals found on New Guinea have close genetic links with corresponding species found in Australia. One notable feature in common for the two landmasses is the existence of several species of marsupial mammals, including some kangaroos and possums, which are not found elsewhere.


Many of the other islands within Papua New Guinea territory, including New Britain, New Ireland, Bougainville, the Admiralty Islands, the Trobriand Islands, and the Louisiade Archipelago, were never linked to New Guinea by land bridges. As a consequence, they have their own flora and fauna; in particular, they lack many of the land mammals and flightless birds that are common to New Guinea and Australia.

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The indigenous population of Papua New Guinea is one of the most heterogeneous in the world. Papua New Guinea has several thousand separate communities, most with only a few hundred people. Divided by language, customs, and tradition, some of these communities have engaged in endemic warfare with their neighbors for centuries. The movie “Dead Birds” documents such warfare among the Dani.


The isolation created by the mountainous terrain is so great that some groups, until recently, were unaware of the existence of neighboring groups only a few kilometers away. The diversity, reflected in a folk saying, “For each village, a different culture,” is perhaps best shown in the local languages. Spoken mainly on the island of New Guinea, about 650 of these Papuan languages have been identified; of these, only 350-450 are related. The remainder of the Papuan languages seem to be totally unrelated either to each other or to the other major groupings. In addition, many languages belonging to Austronesian language group are used in Papua New Guinea, and in total, more than 800 languages are spoken in Papua New Guinea. Individual native languages are spoken by a few hundred to a few thousand, although Enga language, used in Enga Province, is spoken by around 130,000 people.


Tok Pisin (Melanesian Pidgin), a creole of English and some Austronesian languages, serves as the lingua franca for Papua New Guinea. English is the language of business and government, and all schooling from primary Grade 2 is in English. However, only a small percentage of the population speaks English fluently. The overall population density is low, although pockets of overpopulation exist. Papua New Guinea’s Western Province averages one person per square kilometer (3 per sq. mi.). The Simbu Province in the New Guinea highlands averages 20 persons per square kilometer (60 per sq. mi.) and has areas containing up to 200 people farming a square kilometer of land. The highlands have 40% of the population where the people are subsistence farmers.


The Trobriand Islands are part of the nation of Papua New Guinea.  The first anthropologist to study the Trobrianders was C.G. Seligman, who mainly focused on the Massim people of mainland New Guinea. Seligman was followed a number of years later by his student, the Polish born Bronis?aw Malinowski, who visited the islands during the First World War. Despite being a citizen of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which was at war with Australia who then controlled the Trobriand Islands, he was allowed to stay provided he checked in with authorities every now and then. Technically he should have gone to an intern camp in Australia. His descriptions of the kula exchange system, gardening, magic, and sexual practices are now all classics of modern anthropological research.  It was during his stay in the Trobriands that Malinowski created the, now normal, practice of participant-observer fieldwork. Previously anthropologists like Seligman had used interpreters, and paid local people to talk to them on the verandahs of their lodgings in order to learn about their customs.  Malinowski lived and worked sided by side with the Trobrianders, learning the language and participating in daily activities.

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It is the supreme “otherness” of Papua New Guinea which attracts the interest of anthropologists: the kula ring in which decorative armshells and necklaces (of no economic value) are endlessly traded around a series of islands in counter-rotating circles; warfare which is perpetual but which stops if someone is killed or if it is raining (because the warriors’ decorative hair feathers will be ruined); enocannibalism – the ritual eating of relatives when they die; Trobriand cricket (introduced by an English missionary) in which competition is fierce and yet it is predetermined that the home team always wins. The indigenous cultures of Papua New Guinea are an enigma which defy the norms of Western culture.


Probably the most traditional and widespread dish in Papua New Guinea is roast pork, slow roast in a pit or over hot coals as in most of the South Pacific. Otherwise recipes are blends of local ingredients and European methods of cooking (or else wholesale European imports).   So to celebrate you could either have a nice piece of roast pork (crisp skin essential) with mashed sweet potatoes (nothing wrong with that), or try this dish from Port Moresby, the capital. The peculiarity lies in the separate cooking of the vegetables using the same cooking water.  It does make a difference to the final taste. Sometimes cooks add a little curry powder.  Naturally this makes a good side dish for roast pork also.


Papua New Guinea Vegetables in Coconut Sauce


6 cups mixed vegetables (whatever is available, for example, you can use any of the following: carrots, fresh beans, sweet potato, zucchini, green or red peppers, eggplant, potatoes, and peas)
1 crushed clove garlic
2 fresh small hot chiles, seeded and chopped
½ cup fresh coconut milk
½ cup grated coconut
2 tbsp oil
curry powder to taste (optional)


Bring a cup of water to the boil in a medium sized saucepan.

Boil each vegetable separately in the same water.  When each is al dente, remove it with a slotted spoon and reserve. Top up the water if necessary as the cooking progresses. Reserve the cooking liquid when finished.

Add the garlic, chile, coconut milk, coconut, and oil (and curry powder if desired) to the vegetable cooking liquid, and bring to a simmer.  Add the vegetables and warm through for about five minutes.

Serve with boiled white or brown rice.

Serves 4