Alive and Cooking!! And a homemade pizza recipe.

Perhaps no one noticed, but it has been a little more than a month since I visited the bloggers world, let alone post a blog myself. There were several reasons. Firstly, I was having a little bit of a morning sickness that lasted the whole day. (Yay! I’m pregnant with my second one) :) Nothing too bad of a morning sickness. Just wasn’t having great appetite or interest in cooking or watching cook shows and pictures of it. It made me feel like throwing up. But I didn’t (thank God!). And then towards mid June, I went off to Malaysia (Yayy!!) but it was slightly of a bad time to go as we experienced one of the worst haze conditions in many many years. Oh well, we did have the last 3 days of our stay haze free. Either way, it was a good holiday where I got to visit family and friends and eat at my favourite places. Maybe I didn’t get to them all but I covered the important ones.

Now I am back to the land down under and it’s winter. Brrrr… Although the winter here isn’t as bad as it could be in other parts of the globe (and I should be grateful that I am lucky to get some sunshine during the winter days) but I’m just not used to the cold. You can’t blame me. I come from a tropical country. Sigh..but I suppose I’ll manage.

Food has become more fun now as I found, cooking keeps me warm. I could be imagining this or it’s just the feeling of keeping busy, I dunno. The heat from the wok or the warmth of the meal grilling in the oven is quite comforting really. This post is less of a food post. But I feel bad leaving it without one small recipe. Here is my quick and easy pizza dough recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 3/4 ~1 cup warm to hot water (but not boiling)
  • 2~3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sachet of dry yeast (7g)
  • pinch of salt

Method:

  1. Mix all dry ingredients together and finally adding the water to make a dough. I find some days I need more water than others but never needing more than 1 cup. I recommend kneading the dough with 3/4 cup of water first and add more if required.
  2. Once you have your dough in a ball, put in a big enough bowl and cling wrap the bowl and leave the bowl at warm spot. Not necessary under the sun or in the oven. Leave it for at 30~45mins.
  3. The dough will almost double in size. Punch the dough a few times to release the air pockets. And then roll it out onto a pizza tray. This recipe can get a you a large pizza. As for the toppings, just get creative and you can put extra cheese, extra ham, extra olives or extra everything and create a bomb of a pizza.Yum!!
  4. Bake pizza at 200 C for 30~45mins

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Sri Lankan String Hoppers, Sothi (Yellow Coconut Curry), Masala Fried Egg and Spicy Prawn Fritters

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I know, it looks like there is a lot on the plate. But believe me, this is quite a light meal. Perfect for dinner actually. This dish is a culinary specialty in Sri Lanka. Oddly though, in Sri Lanka, String Hoppers or Idiyappam is even served for breakfast.

The original string hoppers are made from plain rice flour. And over time, this was also introduced with wheat flour for a healthier option which produces a brown hue. More and more people are opting for the latter for health reasons, compromising the divine taste of the original white rice deliciousness. In Malaysia, the string hoppers are called putu mayam and has become somewhat a local delight eaten with grated coconut in brown sugar – something like a desert. This way of eating with sugar is an influence from the Kerala-Indians.

I really don’t want to bore you too much on the origins of the string hoppers. Instead, all I really want to do it tempt you into trying (if you never have) these delicious string hoppers. And if you have tried putu mayam, you should try it the Sri Lankan way. Once you taste the wonderfully steamed rice string hoppers in a sweet and sour coconut curry and a masala fried egg, you’ll never turn back. It explodes a few different taste buds at the same time and that’s why I love this so much!

However, making the string hoppers is not easy. It’s a painful process of kneading the dough in hot water and squeezing it out in this tiny wooden vessel and then steaming it over a water bath for 5~10minutes. The hardest part for me was the “squeezing” as it drained all the energy out of me. Thankfully, the husband lent a helping hand. :) After this episode, I was compelled to look for a more automated options to make this and there were a few and this one I liked best. Maybe, I should invest on this. http://www.oritha.com/naveeno-95-black-and-white-1-set-1.html

String Hoppers (Idiyappam)

  • 1 cup white rice flour (or idyappam flour)
  • 1 cup wheat flour (or wheat idiyappam flour)
  • 3 cups of hot water
  • 2 tsp salt

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Method:

  1. Mix both flour and salt in a bowl
  2. Add hot water into the flour while using the back of a wooden spoon, mixing the floor together. You will get a somewhat a crumbly dough
  3. Using your hands (maybe use plastic gloves), knead the dough a little till it becomes fully mixed and no floury lumps in them. It’s okay if it’s still mushy
  4. Squeeze out the string hoppers using your gadget to get a rounded shapes over a tray that you will use over your boiler. I used a pizza tray with holes and layered it with a baking paper
  5. Steam string hoppers for 5~10mins

Sothi (Yellow Coconut Curry)

  • 1 tbsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 onion sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • 1~2 green chili halved and seeds removed (you can leave the seeds if you want more heat)
  • 1 tomato roughly chopped
  • 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 1/4~1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 cup of evaporated milk/light cream/milk
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • salt
  • 3~4 curry leaves
  • 1/2 a lime juice

Method:

  1. Fry the fenugreek seeds, onions and garlic in pan till the aroma is released from the seeds
  2. Add in the chilis, tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Let this come to a boil
  3. Then add in the coconut milk, tamarind paste and turmeric. The sothi will start to come together. Add salt and add in the milk. Do not let the sothi boil. Once the sothi has had enough heat, turn off the flame and add in the lime juice to finish off

Masala Fried Egg

  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Salt
  • 1 onion chopped fine
  • 1 green chili seeds removed and chopped fine
  • 3~4 curry leaves chopped fine
  • 4 eggs

Method:

  1. Mix the turmeric and chili powder with little water (~2tbsp) till it is easily dissolved and no longer lumpy
  2. Break in the eggs in the turmeric and chili mix. Beat it thoroughly with required salt.
  3. Fry the onions, chili and curry leaves in a pan till softened. Add in the egg batter and fry in omelettes.

Spicy Prawn Fritters

Method:

  1. Similar to the masala egg, coat prawns in chili powder and turmeric and salt. You can add some cajun crumbs if you like.
  2. Fry them thoroughly

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Nasi Goreng, Nasi Goreng, Nasi Goreng! (Fried Rice)

I don’t know what’s the fascination with Malaysians and fried rice, but there is at least 20 types of fried rice that I have had. There’s probably more than that, just that I didn’t know. There’s the chinese fried rice. Even within the chinese style, you’ve got a couple of versions. With pork, without pork, seafood, chicken, and the list goes on. And then you have the Malay style which uses belacan, anchovies, spicy, seafood, chicken, etc. And Malaysians are so influenced by the Thai flavours that you have Tom Yum fried rice, pineapple fried rice and etc. Not forgetting the mamak style too.

My personal favourite is the classic chinese fried rice, nasi goreng sambal belacan and nasi goreng kampung (village style). Today I’ll share the recipe for the chinese fried rice and belacan fried rice.

The thing about fried rice is that it’s better when the rice is a day or two older. As it will not turn into mushy fried rice. But in case you don’t have a day old rice, just cook your rice with a little less water so that you get a more grainier rice.

Chinese Fried Rice

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Ingredients:

  • Seafood or chicken or pork
  • Diced carrots
  • Corn
  • Peas (if you like, I don’t)
  • Garlic chopped
  • Shallots chopped
  • Green spring onion/Chives chopped for final garnish
  • Egg
  • Stir fry sauce/oyster sauce
  • Soy sauce
  • Chopped chilis (optional)
  • Rice

Method:

  1. Garlic and onions fried first. Throw in your seafood or meat
  2. Add the veges and then add the egg and scramble to bits
  3. Thrown in the rice and stir fry with a little bit stir fry sauce and soy sauce for taste.
  4. Just before turning off the heat, add your spring onion/chives. Walla, you’re done.

Nasi Goreng Belacan (Shrimp Fried Rice)

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Ingredients:

  • Belacan (Dried shrimps)
  • Prawns or chicken
  • Cabbage/Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Ground chili
  • Thick soy sauce
  • Fish sauce
  • Hot Chilis (optional)
  • Salt
  • Rice
  • Fried egg (Any style you want. Most people eat it with sunny side up, easy over or omelette)

Method:

  1. Fry the onions, garlic, ground chili, belacan and seafood/chicken in a pan
  2. Add the veges and chilis
  3. Once vege is cooked, add in the rice, thick soy sauce and fish sauce
  4. Stir fry till the rice is coated with all the sauce
  5. Once done, serve with fried egg

Homemade Chicken Briyani, Raita & Curry

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I have never made chicken briyani. It seemed like a complicated cooking process and was pretty much a recipe for failure. Or at least that was the impression I had. Also, having the luxury of buying briyani from a store pampered me all my life and that somehow never motivated me enough to cook it, up until now.

I must say, for a first timer, my briyani turned out to be really good!! I made a small mistake of overcooking the rice a tad bit and underestimating my chicken before I layered them together. Therefore, after combining both the chicken and rice, I had to cook it a little longer till the chicken was thoroughly cooked. Resulting in a slightly mushed rice. But since it tasted good, that small glitch was easily ignored.

Here is my simplified version. And it’s really easy to make. There is a whole load of ghee used in this recipe. If you are looking for a low fat meal, turn back now. And if you are on a diet, screw the diet?

Ingredients

  • Chicken as needed (I used 1/4 chicken, specifically the thigh and drumstick piece per person)
  • 2 cups basmathi rice (for 3 person)
  • 2 onions sliced very thin (I used a slicer)
  • 1 whole garlic chopped fine
  • 1 bunch of coriander chopped fine
  • 20~30 cashew nuts (you can also use raisins but I dont like the sweetness in my briyani)
  • 4 tbsp yogurt
  • 3 green chilis split half and seeds removed
  • 2 tomatoes diced
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • 6 star anise
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 cardamom
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin powder
  • Turmeric powder
  • Garam masala / curry powder
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Ground pepper
  • Salt
  • Ghee & Oil
  • Saffron (Optional)

Method

  1. Marinate the chicken with yogurt, most of the garlic and chopped coriander in a bowl. The longer you marinade the meat, the more tender it gets. But because I am impatient and am always cooking on the go, I did this first while preparing the rest of the ingredients. So that’s like just 30mins marination.
  2. In large non stick wok or dipped pan, fry the cashew nuts in 1 tbsp of ghee and 1 tbsp of oil (I used olive oil, but this is a matter of choice). Once the cashew nuts are golden brown, take them out and keep aside
  3. In the same wok, add another tbsp of ghee and oil, fry the thinly sliced onions (only use 3/4 of the onions you have prepared). Fry till the onions caramelize and brown and become slightly crisp. Do not burn. Take them out and keep aside
  4. Using the same wok, fry 1 cinnamon stick, 2 star anise, 4 cloves and 4 cardamom (slightly crush them first with the flat side of the knife to open it up) and a pinch of onions (just for flavour). Once the spices have toasted, add the rice and 1/2 tsp turmeric and let the rice take some heat. If you have saffron, this is the time to put it in. Only tossing the rice for a minute on the pan, dish out the rice and spices into a cooking pan and pour in 5 cups of water and 2 tsp salt and cook in medium heat for exactly 5mins and turn off flame. The idea is to get a half cooked rice. Drain the rice immediately. (This is the mistake I made as I let the rice sit in the water and it ended soaking up all the water)
  5. Now for the chicken, fry 2 cloves of chopped garlic, the balance of the onions, cinnamon stick, star anise in the wok. Add in the chilis and tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Let this boil for a while and then add bay leaves, 1 tbsp coriander powder, 1 tbsp curry powder, 1 tsp turmeric powder and 1 tbsp cumin powder. This will turn into a thick curry paste. At this point, add in the chicken together with all the marinate into the wok and close the lid. Let the chicken cook 3/4 through which is about 5~10mins. I forgot to mention, add salt…and make it a little saltier than usual as it will need to flavour the rice.
  6. If you feel that your curry is far too watery, remove some of the curry and add more of the spice mixes.
  7. In the same wok, add the drained rice (no need to remove the spices in it) over the chicken & its gravy, layer the top of the rice with the caramelized onions. Close the lid tight to create pressure cooking and let this cook on low to medium heat for 5~10mins till the rice is somewhat cooked.
  8. In a sauce pan, melt 2 tbsp of ghee and keep on standby
  9. When the briyani is ready, add in the cashew nuts and stir the gravy and rice together. Take the melted ghee and pour it all along the edges of the wok. This will create a crisp texture and add more flavour. Close the lid for another couple of minutes. Using your judgment based on how cooked is the rice. You dont want to over cook it or else it becomes mushy.
  10. Alternatively, you can also boil eggs and add into your briyani. To be served with raita. I made cucumber raita which is just grated cucumber with yogurt and salt. As for the curry, as mentioned in step #6, I scooped up 2 spoons of the gravy into another pan, added 1 cup of water and 1 tbsp of curry powder and let it boil till it was the consistency I wanted.

Home Made Kebab & Hummus

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The only thing I made in this ensemble is the hummus. Okay, I did partake in flavouring the chicken too. But, the rest was out of a bottle or was ready made. Having said that, the thing that made everything just bind together and bring the flavours intertwined is the hummus.

Hummus is a simple and easy dish to make. If you are throwing a party, you can make loads of this and stash some turkish bread in baskets for perfect party bites or starters.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 packet chickpeas (you can use canned ones, but I just prefer the real deal)
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Method:

  1. Soak your chickpeas overnight or at least 3 hours in a pot of water.
  2. Dish out the water you soaked the chickpeas and fill in your pot with new water to boil the chickpeas. The level of water should be slightly more than the level of chickpeas
  3. Boil boil boil for about 30mins or so with the lid on, till your chickpeas are soft and easy to mash. Don’t be alarmed if your water has reduced. No need to add more water.
  4. Towards the last 2mins of boil, I add in the garlic into the pot just to steam it a little.
  5. Once your chickpeas is ready, blitz the chickpeas with all the garlic. Add lemon juice and olive oil. Add the water from the chickpeas to lubricate the blending process.
  6. The amount of olive oil varies from 3 tbsp to 1/2 cup. You just add the oil as you go on till the blitz results is a silky looking hummus
  7. You can serve the hummus with more olive oil and toasted pine nuts and cayenne pepper. Or, you can just eat it just like that.

The middle eastern recipe calls for the use of Tahini. I have never used it because getting this was a little difficult. Fret not. The hummus tastes just as delicious without it.

For my kebab… I really used left over grilled chicken that I shredded and pan fried till golden brown with a little salt and pepper. I added 2 big spoons of hummus onto my wholemeal wrap, english spinach, grated mozzarella cheese, black olives, the chicken and nando’s peri-peri sauce. What happened after was almost poetry because the motion of me wrapping it up into a fat roll and bringing it to my mouth and taking a big juicy bite off this….ohh… All I can say is that, it was super yum!! Almost tastes like the kebabs you get from a middle eastern stall. *pats on my shoulder*

Tom Yum Soup (with Vermicelli Noodles)

I have never made Tom Yum from scratch. It was always a tom yum paste which I would tweak to my liking. But seeing this post on #highheelgourmet.com, I was tempted to try making it from scratch and boy was I happy or what with the results! i’m not going to post the recipe here since Miranti has done an amazing job explaining to finite detail on how to make this. Do go and try!

Her recipe is here…http://highheelgourmet.com/2013/04/25/tom-yum-goong/

And here is my Tom Yum Soup :)

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Chocolateria San Churro

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It only took me 5 months before I tried churros since coming to Australia! And boy have I missed out terribly… But I’m glad I saved my first experience at this small little cafe at Subiaco called Chocolateria San Churro. The churros comes in two type of sugar dusting. The plain ol’ white sugar or cinnamon sugar. Which the latter is a super thumbs up. To compliment the churros, they had many different dips. To play it safe, I took the recommended milk chocolate and caramel. The chocolate was light and delicious but I really liked the flavours in the caramel.

All in all, I enjoyed churros. Yummm…. Now, I’ll have to learn how to make it and post it here ;)

Mamak Mee Goreng (Yellow Fried Noodles)

This is a Malaysian favourite and it’s pure sin on a plate as it’s full of carbs, oil and would easily total up to 700 calories per serving. If you are too concerned about the dial on the weighing scale, then don’t even bother trying this.

The term “mamak” is referred to the Indian Muslim clan that created this dish. “Mamak” can be a derogatory term if used in that manner but somehow when you say “mamak” and “mee goreng” it is completely acceptable. The indian muslims in Malaysia are exceptional entrepreneurs. If you had been to Malaysia, you’ll know why. There’s a “mamak” restaurant or stall almost in every part of Malaysia. It’s the biggest food chain business and soon you know it, it’ll be heavily franchised too. One of my fav mamak shop called Ali Maju can be found in most township and is running 24/7 and even at 3am, their business is running well with the shop swamped with customers. And the guy making the mee goreng is constantly at his station, frying up plates and plates of mee goreng all night long…

Now that you know how famous this plate of noodles is, maybe you’d like to try it. The original mamak mee you get from the stalls is just plain noodles with fried prawn tofu, sawi and egg. My version of course has the goodies – prawns and fishballs or fishcakes (whichever that is in the fridge).

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of yellow noodles (If you are buying this in a chain store, it would say Singapore noodles)
  • 2 cloves of garlic sliced thin
  • 6~8 prawns, shells removed and deveined
  • 4~6 fishballs sliced to 3 (that’s 2 hemisphere and 1 flat circle)
  • 4 stalks of sawi cut into 3in lengths (If you can’t get sawi, you can use Kailan or choy sum)
  • 2 eggs
  • 4~6 small sized pre-fried tofu sliced to halves or threes (you can alternatively deep fry regular tofu if you can’t prefried tofu. It’s just a lot of work and oil required. I would recommend buying this ready made from the asian shop)
  • 2 tbsp of sambal chili with prawn (This is the most important ingredient. If you can’t find this, you might not get the similar taste. Use ground chili instead)

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  • Dark soy sauce for colour
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  1. Fry the garlic in a wok with some oil before adding the prawns and fishballs
  2. Add the sambal chili with prawn and fry some more
  3. Once the prawns and fishballs are cooked, add the noodles and top it with the dark soy sauce
  4. Using your mad skills, stir in the noodles in the wok like a pro till the noodles is covered with all the sambal and dark soy sauce. The noodles takes about 5~10mins to cook. You can add in your salt now or wait after step #5 to salt
  5. Once noodles is cooked, beat 2 eggs in a bowl. Make some space in the centre of the wok and pour in the egg mixture. Give it some 10 seconds before stirring the noodles with the egg. The idea is to coat all the noodles with egg.
  6. Once egg is cooked, add in the tofu and sawi. Give it another minute for the sawi to get some heat. Don’t forget to check for seasoning one last time. And then you are done. Get ready with the fork to dig in! Yummm…

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Sardine Puffs

Nothing like a little scent of home and comfort of pastry puffs…

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I do owe an apology, more to myself rather than to you un-judging people, for not posting here in almost a week. I know for some bloggers, a week is perfectly normal but I was doing a daily post and suddenly having to go on a break like this seemed weird. I have been extremely tied up with friends visiting, the election drama in Malaysia, heartache that followed and etc.

The only thing that is comforting is food, what else. And this is the easiest thing to make which is quintessentially Malaysian.

Ingredients:

1 can of Sardine (you should be able to get this in any asian shop)

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1 red onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic chopped

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp lime juice

2~3 Pastry sheets

1 egg

Method:

1. Remove the skin and bones of the sardines. Do not throw away the tomato sauce

2. On a pan, fry the onions and garlic with some oil till softened. Add the chili powder and the sardines together with all the tomato sauce

3. Break up the sardine into pieces and add salt to taste. Once it’s cooked, turn off the heat and add the lime juice.

4. Cut your pastry sheets in a reasonable rectangular size (I cut 1 pastry sheets into 6 rectangles)

5. Add a good spoonful of the sardine on the pastry and roll up

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6. Beat the egg and use as egg wash on the top of the pastry. Bake pastries on a tray with baking sheets in the oven on 180 deg C for about 20~25mins till they become golden brown.

Ceylonese Style Chicken Curry

ImageFirstly, I apologize for the unappealing picture. You see, as soon as I finished cooking the curry, I just scooped up as much curry as possible on my plate before I devoured every bit of it. And I also had second helpings. Only once my tummy was full, I realized I didn’t take a photograph of the curry. Oopss! So, hurriedly, scooped up whatever curry that was left onto a plate and this is the picture you get. Most of the potatoes and bigger chicken pieces were already gone. Maybe I’ll update this post another time with a better picture. But here is the recipe for one of my favourite chicken curry – the ceylonese style!

It’s the perfect curry for rice or for dunking in your “roti”. It’s yum, creamy and spicy all at the same time. And it’s great for dinner parties as there will be more than enough curry to go around. Or maybe not…

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken cut into 12~16 pieces
  • Handful of ginger bashed in a pestle & mortar (if you don’t have pestle & mortar, fret not, just fine grate the ginger) – save all the ginger juices
  • 2~3 cinnamon sticks
  • 4~5 star anise
  • 250 ml coconut milk
  • 4~5 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1~2 soft tomato diced
  • 1 whole garlic chopped fine
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2~3 large potatoes skinned and cut into quarters
  • 1~2 chili halved and seeds removed
  • 4~5 curry leaves

Method:

  1. Use the ginger juices and ginger bits to coat the chicken in a bowl and set aside
  2. Toast the cinnamon sticks and star anise in pot with some oil. Once the aroma is released, add in the onions and garlic. Stirring constantly to avoid the garlic to over burn.
  3. Once the onion has caramelized, add in the chili, tomato and 2 cups of water. Add in the curry powder and chili powder and stir in till it becomes a thick paste
  4. Add the chicken together with the ginger and all. Also add in the potatoes. Stir in the curry paste all around the meat and then close the lid to let the chicken start cooking
  5. Once the chicken is almost cooked, add in the coconut milk and stir in the curry.
  6. Let the curry boil till the potatoes are cooked through. Check for salt and add the cumin powder. If needed, add more curry powder or if too thick, add some water. You can adjust this on your own discretion.
  7. At the end, add in the curry leaves and you are ready to serve the curry. I usually let the curry cook for about 30mins on the stove. And the last 10mins, I let it simmer with medium heat with the lid off and hood on. What happens is that the moisture starts to escape from the curry and slowly thickening the gravy. In the end, you will end up with only 3/4 liquid from what you started with.

*This should serve at least 5~6 person