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Chinese food rises to the next level at Bella & Yang in Yucaipa

20 Mar

Yes, Bella & Yang does sound like a figure skating couple, but in reality it’s the name of an authentic Chinese restaurant in Yucaipa serving the cuisine of Beijing and the Sichuan province including a number of dishes that rarely, if ever, have been available in the Inland Empire.

The chef has cooked for many years in Beijing and owner Bella also hails from China’s sprawling capital city.

There’s also another chef devoted to dumplings (bao), which are all handmade fresh to order. Dumplings are quite popular in northeastern China where Beijing is located.

The menu is quite comprehensive, so it will take a number of visits to do it justice.

During a recent visit, we began with pork dumplings, both pan-fried and steamed. These succulent morsels are served with a sauce comprised of soy, chile powder and vinegar and sometimes strips of fresh ginger.

The Luo Ding chicken is definitely worth savoring, with its blend of black mushrooms, snow peas, sliced chicken and black beans tossed with a Sichuan chile sauce and oyster sauce creating a slightly salty, spicy flavor that wraps around the tongue accentuating the flavors of the individual ingredients.

Perhaps my favorite dish of the evening was the spicy boiled fish. It sounds rather mundane, but it was anything but that. Fresh, exquisitely tender flounder filets were bathed in an oily red pepper sauce infused with Chinese rice wine and dotted with black beans, lettuce, ginger, fresh garlic and sliced green onions. The spice level can be adjusted to your preference — a classic Sichuan dish with the fieriness of dried red chiles and the lip-numbing effect of Sichuan peppercorns — truly a spectacular item worth savoring.

Probably the spiciest dish of the evening was the Yu Shiang pork. Pork strips are blended with the pleasing funk of fresh bamboo shoots, carrots, onions and green bell peppers bathed in a very fiery and pungent, sweet-and-sour garlicky sauce that is simultaneously take-your-breath-away hot from the presence of numerous pieces of dried red chiles and mouth tingling, a result of powdered Sichuan peppercorns. The sauce is made in advance, so if you are not a heat aficionado, you may want to pass on this dish.

Absolutely order the Di San Xian, a vegetarian dish from the city of Xian, with visuals that are striking — iridescent purple Chinese eggplant, bright green bell peppers and yellow potatoes diced and stir-fried until soft and creamy. Totally lacking in spiciness, it provides an excellent counterpoint to the two previous items.

Other items on the menu which sound intriguing include the braised beef served in a clay pot; stir-fried clams and black beans with garlic and ginger served in a spicy chile sauce; spicy cold shredded potato with vinegar and garlic; Ma Po tofu; and assorted noodle and rice dishes.

Beijing duck is likely to be added to the menu in the near future.

Other than Rui’s Shanghai Bistro in Redlands, nothing else in the east valley can rival the flavors of Bella & Yang for authentic Chinese food.

Indian food is terrible tweet sparks hot debate about racism

25 Jan

“Indian food is terrible and we pretend it isn’t,” said international affairs professor Tom Nichols.

Critics called his comment a tasteless generalisation.

The remark led to a wider discussion of the immigrant experience and how many in the US have experienced racism in relation to food.

Mr Nichols – who teaches at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island – posted his opinion after another Twitter user had asked for “controversial food opinions”.

Critics were quick to respond. “Do you not have taste buds?” asked celebrity chef Padma Lakshmi.

“Imagine going through life this flavourless,” wrote another commenter.

Preet Bharara, a former prosecutor from New York, tweeted: “Tom, I’ll take you to a place. We need to bring the country together. #ButterChickenSummit.”

The surprising truth about Indian food

Others said Mr Nichols had probably tried “less than 1%” of all Indian dishes, which come from a hugely diverse country. Mr Nichols later admitted that he had only ever eaten at Indian restaurants in the US and UK.

Mr Nichols’ initial tweet led to a wider discussion about the way food plays into the immigrant experience.

Some noted that in the US, international food – sometimes called “ethnic food” – is often marketed as “cheap eats”. Therefore many people are more familiar with pared-down, “Americanised” street dishes that lack authentic ingredients.

“There is no ‘Indian’ food’,” wrote one commenter.

“Also there is no curry flavour. There is no chai tea,” she added, referring to the fact that chai is simply a word meaning “tea” in Hindi, and “curry” is a style of dish, rather than a flavouring.

Others pointed out how smell and flavour have long been prevalent in racist comments towards minorities, and accused Mr Nichols of intolerance.

First-generation American Saira Rao wrote: “Having white people trash Indian food is extremely triggering as an Indian who has been told that I smell weird, that my food smells weird and that Indians [expletive] on the street which is why everything we are smells bad.”

As the story drew attention in Indian media, the hashtag #MyFavoriteIndianFood started trending.

US presidential candidate Kamala Harris, whose mother’s family hails from south India, shared a teaser for a cooking video with comedian Mindy Kaling using the hashtag.

But some foodies dismissed the row outright saying simply: “I see someone on twitter has racist views on Indian food. Well, more for me then.”

Others took similar issue with a “controversial food” tweet from ABC senior reporter Terry Moran, who said: “Chinese food is tired. It’s boring, gloppy, over-salted and utterly forgettable.”

One person replied to his tweet: “Oh Lord here we go again with bubble-inhabiting white guy, announcing his pathetic ignorance of an entire cuisine and its myriad regional varieties”.

Asian food lovers rounded on Moran, accusing him of having only eaten at takeout restaurants and never tasted authentic cuisine from the most populated country on Earth.

8 Of Our Best Recipes For Garlic Lovers To Try

26 Nov

There are two or three ingredients that get wonderfully assimilated in the kitchens and palates of regions around the world and garlic is one of them. One of the most widely used flavour-enhancers by various global cuisines, garlic is essentially an underground root bulb, similar to onions, leeks and shallots. Did you know that it is also one of the oldest cultivated plants by humans? This is probably another reason for garlic’s widespread appeal and its indispensable nature, when it comes to cooking a wide variety of dishes. One can recognise the smell of garlic from quite a distance, due to its uniquely pungent aroma that is quite strong. But not everyone loves this versatile underground vegetable. Some people may crinkle their noses if their dishes turn out to be too ‘garlicky’.
But if you are anything like us, you could probably vouch for the delicious transformation that even a little bit of garlic can bring about in a dish. Although not everyone may find the taste and flavour of garlic desirable and tasty, it sure comes with a whole range of health benefits as well. This is why a number of ancient medicinal systems revere garlic and include it in a number of home remedies for big and small ailments. Strictly from a cooking point of view though, garlic has been a highly-valued commodity that is used in both fresh and dried forms in kitchens around the world.

Best Garlic Recipes

There are a number of classic garlic dishes that the world has come to love and if you’re someone who loves the smell and taste of garlic then you’ll love what we have in store for you- eight of our best, most-loved garlic recipes to try!

From fried rice to garlic bread, our recipes make the best of garlic’s delicious pungency, making this unassuming ingredient shine on:

1. Egg and Garlic Fried Rice Recipe
One of the most dependable weekend indulgence, this egg and garlic fried rice is both comforting and delicious. Make this for friends for a weekend get-together and enjoy with a side of sautéed vegetables and meat or a generous helping of the spicy Sichuan sauce.

2. Garlic Prawns Recipe
This dish is so delicious, you won’t believe how incredibly easy it is to make! All you need to do is marinate your de-shelled prawns in a garlic marinade and then cook them in sesame oil, till they’re well done.

3. Soya Garlic Chicken Recipe
A delicious Main, this soya garlic chicken is sure to satiate your cravings for some Indian-style Chinese food. A relatively simple recipe, this one will fit in well at a sumptuous family dinner as well as a quiet weekend meal for two.

4. Garlic Lamb Chops Recipe
You may want to reserve this one for a slightly fancier occasion. You can fool your guests into thinking you are a pro-chef by making this simple, yet delicious red meat dish that is sure to leave anyone impressed.

5. Chilli Garlic Wings Recipe
This recipe is for the time you have to prepare for a game night at your house. All you need to do is prepare a simple garlic-flavoured batter for your wings, marinate them in the batter and then deep-fry and serve fresh off the wok!

6. Chilli Garlic Fish Recipe
Another beloved protein that garlic can be best buds with is fish. This recipe is cooked with boneless basa that is marinated in a yummy marinade of tahini, garlic, chili, etc., and then grilled till the fish is cooked through.

7. Mushrooms In Hot Garlic Sauce Recipe
A delicious vegetarian Main, mushrooms in hot garlic sauce makes for a great curry for when you need a break from the regular lentil curries. It’s easy to prepare and tastes great with both rice and flatbreads.

8. Multi-Grain Garlic Bread Recipe
Arguably one of the best all-occasion appetisers, garlic bread is loved by almost everyone. The delicious crisp bread, topped with baked cheese and crushed garlic cloves is irresistible.

How You Could Add Cherries To It

25 Sep


By the year 2030, about 98 million Indians are estimated to develop diabetes, according to a study published in the journal Lancet. Diabetes is fast becoming one of the most rampant causes of concern in the world of health and nutrition. It is characterised by elevated blood sugar (glucose) levels. If you are a diabetic, or know someone who is suffering from the condition, you would know that diabetics need to be extra careful about their diet. Sugary food, processed food, aerated beverages are packed with added sugar that could cause blood sugar fluctuations. It is advisable for diabetics to load up on local, seasonal fruits and vegetables; preferably the foods with a low glycaemic index. Fresh cherries may do wonders to keep your blood sugar spikes in control.

Sure, you have seen them sitting pretty on desserts, but on their own, cherries are a treasure trove of antioxidants and minerals. Cherries are packed with anti-inflammatory properties that could help relieve pain and discomfort in the body. Packed with antioxidants, they may also help bolster your immunity. Cherries contain significant amount of melatonin, essential for a smooth sleep-wake cycle. Additionally, they could be an ideal choice for diabetics too. According to the book, ‘Healing Foods’ by DK Publishing House, “Tart cherries may be useful in treating diabetes. Their abundant antioxidant anthocyanins can increase insulin production, helping regulate blood sugar levels.”

As per a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, anthocyanins present in cherries, may significantly pump up insulin production. Cherries are also high on fibres and have a low GI value. The natural sugar present in cherries metabolises slowly and prevents sugar spikes.

Here’s how you can include it in your diabetic diet:

1. Smoothies
Take some yogurt, some fresh pitted cherries, strawberries, blueberries, chia seeds and almonds in a blender and blend until smooth. It is advisable not to add sugar or honey in your smoothie, for it may elevate your blood sugar levels.

2. Salads
You can toss some fresh cherries in your green leafy salad (Think: arugula, lettuce and rocket leaves). Throw in some feta, some seeds and healthy dressing of your choice and you are good to go.

3. Cereals
Morning cereals need not always be a bland and boring affair. Top them with fresh cherries and nuts, and enjoy the yumminess.

4. Yogurt
Yogurt with fresh fruits is any day a better alternative to packaged flavoured yogurt you find in market. Take some pitted cherries and use them to top your bowl of yogurt. We bet you are going to love this fruity punch!