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.
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
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.
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.
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!!
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
Mix both flour and salt in a bowl
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
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
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
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
3~4 curry leaves
1/2 a lime juice
Fry the fenugreek seeds, onions and garlic in pan till the aroma is released from the seeds
Add in the chilis, tomatoes and 1 cup of water. Let this come to a boil
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
1 onion chopped fine
1 green chili seeds removed and chopped fine
3~4 curry leaves chopped fine
Mix the turmeric and chili powder with little water (~2tbsp) till it is easily dissolved and no longer lumpy
Break in the eggs in the turmeric and chili mix. Beat it thoroughly with required salt.
Fry the onions, chili and curry leaves in a pan till softened. Add in the egg batter and fry in omelettes.
Spicy Prawn Fritters
Similar to the masala egg, coat prawns in chili powder and turmeric and salt. You can add some cajun crumbs if you like.
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
Seafood or chicken or pork
Peas (if you like, I don’t)
Green spring onion/Chives chopped for final garnish
Stir fry sauce/oyster sauce
Chopped chilis (optional)
Garlic and onions fried first. Throw in your seafood or meat
Add the veges and then add the egg and scramble to bits
Thrown in the rice and stir fry with a little bit stir fry sauce and soy sauce for taste.
Just before turning off the heat, add your spring onion/chives. Walla, you’re done.
Nasi Goreng Belacan (Shrimp Fried Rice)
Belacan (Dried shrimps)
Prawns or chicken
Thick soy sauce
Hot Chilis (optional)
Fried egg (Any style you want. Most people eat it with sunny side up, easy over or omelette)
Fry the onions, garlic, ground chili, belacan and seafood/chicken in a pan
Add the veges and chilis
Once vege is cooked, add in the rice, thick soy sauce and fish sauce
Stir fry till the rice is coated with all the sauce
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.
1/2 packet chickpeas (you can use canned ones, but I just prefer the real deal)
3 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
Extra virgin olive oil
Soak your chickpeas overnight or at least 3 hours in a pot of water.
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
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.
Towards the last 2mins of boil, I add in the garlic into the pot just to steam it a little.
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.
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
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*
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).
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)
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)
Dark soy sauce for colour
Salt to taste
Fry the garlic in a wok with some oil before adding the prawns and fishballs
Add the sambal chili with prawn and fry some more
Once the prawns and fishballs are cooked, add the noodles and top it with the dark soy sauce
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
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.
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…
Firstly, 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…
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
Use the ginger juices and ginger bits to coat the chicken in a bowl and set aside
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.
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
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
Once the chicken is almost cooked, add in the coconut milk and stir in the curry.
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.
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.
Once in a while, I get inspired to do something creative. And when I say creative, it could just mean a good presentation and the cooking part could be the easiest task. This was one of those days. I visualized this meal before I started making it and glad that the outcome was exactly how I imagined it to be. The plus is that, it tastes just as divine. Though I’m hardly the pork chops person, I’m glad my husband enjoyed this thoroughly.
The pork chops for this dish is crumbed like they do it in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia. I was reminded of it when I watched Nigella making pork chops like this. I twisted her recipe a little by using cajun bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs. The cajun style bread crumbs is filled with herbs and spices that works so well.
2 pork tenderloin cutlets
cajun bread crumbs
2 cauliflower steaks (you can only get 2 steaks max from 1 whole cauliflower)
1/2 cup cream
2 cloves garlic chopped fine
Caramelize the cauliflower with olive oil and salt till both sides are cooked.
Beat an egg with salt and pepper, dunk your pork cutlets into the egg batter before rolling it on the bread crumbs. Fry the pork chops till both sides are pretty and bronze
Boil the peas in a pot till its cooked.
For the gravy; using the same pan that you cooked the pork chops, add more olive oil and saute the garlic before adding in the cream. Turn off the flame before the cream starts boiling. You can add some butter if you like.
The trick to getting the cutlets crispy on the outside and soft inside shall be revealed…
In fact, I can say it in a few words. You cannot have too damp of a filling. When your filling is soggy, the cutlet loses its shape when you fry as it soaks up too much oil – resulting in mushed cutlets. Keep the filling as dry as possible. Especially the mashed potatoes and the tuna has to be drained well from the can. Also, the exterior needs to be crisp when fried. A good bread crumb would do the trick. If you don’d have bread crumbs, you can always blitz cream cracker biscuits or even oats/cornflakes.
1 can of tuna in water (large) – flakes if you want this easier
2 medium sized potato skin removed (or 3 if potatoes are small)
1 large onion diced
1 green/red chili diced (without seeds)
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 egg yolk
1 egg white
salt to taste
Boil the potato in a pot till it’s ready to mash. Drain the potatoes thoroughly before mashing it.
Add drained tuna into mashed potatoes. Together with chili powder, turmeric and salt. I would taste for salt at this point rather than later but that’s just me.
Add in the onions, chili and egg yolk. Using your hand (which is the best), mash all the ingredients together. If you just had your nails manicured and don’t want it to stain then maybe get someone else to do it or use plastic gloves. Nothing like using the hands to integrate the potatoes and tuna.
Make the cutlets into bite size balls. You can make them flat or rounded (like I did)
Next, coat the cutlets in egg whites before coating them in bread crumbs
Fry the cutlets in a pan with oil that reaches at least half the cutlet’s height. Fry till it’s bronzed on all sides evenly.
* This should give you at least 15~20 cutlets. Depending on the amount of potato you used and cutlet size. Usually eaten as a side dish for rice & curry. But I understand if you have the tendency to pop it into your mouth while it’s still hot from the pan *winks*
I always had my reservations, don’t ask me why, when it came to garlic chives. I never knew how it would taste and was a little skeptic on how to cook it. I put aside my reservations and am extremely happy that I discovered that garlic chives is not only so yummy, it has officially become my favourite stalk *winks*
Before I started cooking, I kept getting this amazing whiff from the freshly chopped chives. It was making me a little impatient as I wanted to cook and eat the chives so bad!! Anyway, you should not use the very end of the chives. I got rid of the last 3 inches of it which were the least green portion of the chives. Still not sure what I was going to do, I decided to peep into my refrigerator and found regular firm tofu and minced chicken. And I thought…hmm…this could work and I wasn’t wrong. The outcome was phenomenal!! Here is the recipe!
3 firm regular tofu cut into 8 cubes/each
1 bunch of garlic chives cut into 2.5 inches lengths
200 grams of minced chicken (I’m guessing any meat you have in hand should do the trick)
2 cloves of garlic sliced thin
3 tbsp of thick soy sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
Soy sauce to taste
I wanted the tofu to be hard and less flimsy when I stir fry. So, I pre-fried them in a pan turning them around each side till they had a nice golden hue on all sides. Once done, I kept aside
Next, I started to saute the garlic in a wok with some oil, before throwing in the minced chicken. Once the chicken was cooked, I splashed in the thick soy sauce, oyster sauce and salty soy sauce and gave it a good stir.
I threw in the chives and tofu into the wok and made sure the sauce was evenly coated on all the tofu cubes. I hardly took 15 minutes to make this dish. (Not to mention I was very impatient at this point)
This dish is best served with hot and steaming cup of rice. It’s gorgeous!
Being born Sri Lankan, did not expose me much to sambar since sambar is not on the menu. However, being in Malaysia exposed me to other Indian food and sambar is a staple side dish for banana leaf rice (yum) or thosai. My personal favourite is with rawa thosai as shown in the picture. My mother tried making the sambar on several occasions and sadly for her, it didn’t turn out very well. I don’t blame her since she has been cooking Sri Lankan dishes all her life.
Lucky for me, marrying into a Malayalee family imparted me with a few good recipes and one of them is the sambar (dhal curry). I never knew how simple it was to cook this up till I actually tried it myself. Okay, maybe I modified this recipe a little and it’s not entirely the Malayalee fashion but it’s just as good or better than restaurant standards. First and foremost, you will need the split Toor Dhal (yellowish) and sambar powder (preferably Baba’s) which you can get in any Indian groceries. Once you have this two basic ingredients, you can cook up a sambar in no time. The vegetables that go in doesn’t have to be as per recipe. You can tweak it with whatever vegetable you have in hand. There was a one time that I made a pumpkin sambar since I ran out of carrots and potatoes. Let me tell you, the pumpkin sambar was out of this world. So, don’t be too rigid with recipes, alright?
3 tbsp of grated coconut (ground very fine) – optional
1 tsp of tamarind paste (you can add more if you like it more sour)
Salt to taste
Special for tempering:
1 tsp black mustard seeds
4~5 curry leaves
3 dried chilis
1/2 red onion diced
If are making sambar with brinjal or okra, instead of putting it in the sambar, you can fry it together with the tempering ingredients and dump into sambar in the end.
Firstly, rince the dhal thoroughly and then boiling it in a pot under a medium flame with double the amount of water. Boil the dhal till it’s soft to mash with your fingers.
Most of the water would have evaporated. If you still have some water left, you can chose to keep this or just pour out the excess water.
Add more water till it’s triple the amount of dhal. Dump in all your onions, chili, vegetables and sambar powder into the sambar. Let this cook till you have cooked your vegetables through. Good idea to check the potato as it usually takes the longest. You want your potato to be soft and easy to mash so that when you eat, it just melts in your mouth.
Once your sambar is cooked, add salt, tamarind and coconut. If you feel your sambar is not thick enough, add more sambar powder. And if it’s too thick, add more water. Let the sambar simmer for another minute or two and then you can turn off the flame.
Assuming you are an excellent multi-tasker, while your sambar is cooking, you can fry all the tempering ingredients in a another pan till the onions are caramelized. If you are frying brinjal or okra with this, start frying the vegetable first before adding the tempering ingredients as the vegetables take a while to cook.
After your sambar is done, add the tempered ingredients into it. And walla! Sambar is done. I’re sure if you make a dilute version of this, you can turn it into a soup!