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Devilled Curry Prawns

 

This is an interesting recipe from a friend, Mr. Viki who is a well known poet and hails from Sri Lanka.

He is known to be a great cook and I have eaten some of his creations such as his cutlets both fish as well as vegetarian, they were excellent. He brought it when we went for a retreat so it was like fabulous picnic food.

On another occasion, when we wanted to celebrate a mutual friend’s birthday, we threw a potluck party and this is the dish that he had cooked and brought. It was soo good!

I asked him to share his recipe and this is it!

His recipe seems to have many ingredients but I can tell you it is worth the effort of cooking this dish. I have done the dish with little changes and it came out fantastic. It is a good party dish and goes so well with wine as a starter.

For most of us a steaming plate of rice is enough accompaniment. But if you remove the shells of the prawns, or reduce the chilies then it can be rolled into breads etc. I had some leftovers, which I spread on pizza dough and baked quickly. Oh my goodness – so delicious!

The dish is very spicy with plenty of chilies and fresh peppers and I loved it with just wine alone.  The recipe given here is exactly as Mr. Viki had given me.

Thank you Viki for a wonderful recipe. Wish to learn from you more!  My dear friends – make this dish and taste for yourself the superb flavors in this delicious prawn dish.

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AVOCADO SHAKE

AVOCADO SHAKE

 

The first time I had avocado was in Jakarta many years ago. I had gone on a 7 day cruise in Leisure World (Now this ship is no more) with a friend, Ms Mandy and she introduced the avocado as a miracle fruit. And this fruit was made into a shake which can be found in many cafes. street corners as well as restaurants in Jakarta. Her favourite way of saying something so shiok is “Shokudu”   Sometimes I  use this word when something is so out of this world in taste.

Yes I agree with her so much that this avocado shake is so shokudu in taste especially when gula Melaka (palm sugar) is added.

Back in Singapore then, hardly  could I find avocado except in specialty fruit shops and later the avocado shake was in the menu in Sanur Indonesian restaurant at Centrepoint, Orchard Road, Singapore. They used to make a fantastic avocado shake. Now somehow this drink has been so commercialized and I guess the ingredients are not authentic.

Now practically all kinds of fruit is available all year round due to imports from various countries.   We are very lucky too because I have seen the prices are sometimes much lower than the countries they have been imported from – could be due to economies of scale.

Avocado itself is so versatile. It grows in many countries. The common ones we find here are from South America, USA, Australia , Vietnam, and Indonesia. I have tried Sri Lankan varieties. They are much smaller but the Thai and Vietnamese variety tend to be the size of our palm. In Asian countries it is known as butter fruit. This is quite a suitable name because you can substitute mashed avocado for butter in your toast. Sometimes I sprinkle demerara sugar on my toast or even spread honey with it.  Because of its bland taste and the creaminess, butter can be substituted with avocado puree in cakes. I have tried some cakes and it did turn out well. So you can eat more cake as it contains no butter which is all fat. No need to feel guilty after eating cake!  I have done pancakes and waffles with avocado.  Do find time to check them out  in my blog.  Extremely delicious.

In my home, avocados sit on my fruit basket. Used daily for breakfast, shake and many times in salads.  I also make a Mexican dip known as guacomole.

As in most fruits, avocados ripen best off the tree. But here in Singapore I haven’t seen that so you’ll find that a lot of them are unripe when you shop. Choose avocados that feel heavy. The skin should be dark, with a hint of green, and taut, with no dents.

If a little ripe, when you hold an avocado, it will give a little give.

If avocados at the market are green and unripe, you can ripen them at home. Put them in a brown paper bag out of direct sunlight. Within three days they’ll be ripe and ready to eat. Press the skin gently. It will be tender but not too soft.

 

As for the shake you may put all the ingredients and blend and pour it into a glass, or if you want restaurant style, then the ingredients can be layered to make it so inviting. Of course you can stir and not stir too much to avoid too much of a certain ingredient.

Some may not like too much sweetness or too much coconut cream. And this can be decided if the shake is layered accordingly. For me I prefer to mix all and drink it chilled or slurp it slowly so as to maximize the joy of tasting my favourite fruit shake.

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Sambal Belachan – So shiok!

Some years ago, I went to Janda Baik in Malaysia for a course on Awareness Before Change 

It was my Company that encouraged me to go for it. To go for this course was one of the best  decisions that I made – I should say. It changed my life, the way I think and what to do if I ever need to get what I want. I am not saying need. It is What I want!. I didn’t practise what I learnt because I don’t have any wants in life. If I had been the go getter probably I would be a multi millionaires now!

No! I was more intrigued by the lifestyle of the trainers, the Colonel and his beautiful petite wife and who they have become to be.

At Janda Baik, at lunch time, our long wooden table always carried a cane basket full of this winged beans which were plucked  from the garden or maybe from the jungle nearby.

I was not going to eat vegetables that were not cooked especially vegetables that I am not familiar with. But I was coersed by the Cooks that I should try as it is very good for health.  Decided to give a try and it was indeed very refreshing.  I was hooked!

Back in Singapore – I couldn’t find it for a long time. I wanted my girls to eat this vegetable because they enjoy raw food. And I got a friend to buy it at a local market. (now I can get it at the Kranji farm which has this organic vegetable and other varieties too). But to eat this raw one needs a sambal to go with it.

I notice most of our various cultures have some form of sambals/dips in the diet. Indians have their chutneys, pickles, Italians their various olive oil dips, Thais have their nam prik, nam pla and many more.

But I love a mean sambal belachan which can be eaten with raw vegetables, or stir fried or as an accompaniment to rice.

As a child in my grandma’s place in Bukit Timah, I have seen my Malay neighbours eating together as a group using one huge tray of food. They sit on the floor in a circle around the tray and enjoy their rice with boiled vegetables, sambal belachan and fried fish. It is a sight to behold. I remember allowing them into my grandma’s garden to pluck sweet potato leaves and tapioca and some other vegetables on a regular basis.

My grandma was a giver of food, just like my mum. I remember that almost daily, some people will come and ask for permission to pluck fruits and vegetables. We had plenty to eat and to give away too.

I remember too, when I was married and had my own place, there were just too many ladies fingers and brinjals in my backyard that I gave away daily. Sometimes I pack it and give to whoever I meet when I go for a walk or when I wanted to fetch my girls from school.

Somehow this habit of giving food has been instilled in me that I tend to cook more than necessary so that I can pack the leftovers for my guests to bring home too.

Now when I am teaching baking or cooking at my Potong Pasir Community Club, I also tend to cook extra and my student residents are just too happy to have more. And I do this teaching voluntarily too.   I remember my WEC Chairman, Ms Jenny Yong, telling me once when I initially started to teach about 5 ½ years ago, that we want happy residents.  I totally agree with her.

This joy of seeing others happy is just too great. Money definitely cannot buy that, right? (more…)

TOFU PANIYAARAM – A VILLAGE TREAT

tofu-paniyaaram-2

I tend to cook with whatever I have in my pantry or fridge.  So if friends drop by I will just do a quick snack, and this is one of them.

Tasty, easy and savoury!

If there are some vegetarians in the group, then I omit all meat/egg etc and make it totally vegetarian for all to enjoy.

I vaguely remember my mum making these but she had chopped long beans and some salted whitebaits in her paniyaaram.  Her vegetarian ones had cooked dhall (lentils) and vegetables.

If you are wondering what  paniyaaram is,  this is a tamil word for a food made of small balls of batter either fried or steamed.

Again there are so many versions, variations, sweet and savoury and all equally delicious.

My favourite is the Milk paniyaaram which I ate for the first time in a remote village in South India when I visited India as a tourist some 20 years ago.

The lady villager was so hospitable and refused to let me  go until I ate her milk paniyaaram and drank a cup of Indian coffee. I remember her serving me with a baby on her hips and with a wide smile on her face. This meal has been very  memorable for me, sometimes when I recollect, I think I can taste it again.   It was so so delicious. So it only shows that a  simple dish can be unforgettable till today. I will post her recipe sometime later.
Coming back to the paniyaaram, it is called  thus because you need a paniyaaram pan, it is similar to the Japanese takoyaki pan. Or for Malaysians similar to the older version of the Kueh bahulu pan.  The fried balls will retain a circular shape if using the paniyaaram pan.

takoyoki-pan

Japanese  Takoyoki panpaniyaaram-pan

Indian paniyaaram pan

 

If this pan is unavailable, don’t worry too much, just use any pan that you have which can be used to fry small balls of dough.  Use 2 spoons to form a ball and put it into the hot oil gently to fry.

Enjoy this simple recipe, my dear friends.  Do comment and subscribe so that you can receive all my recipes. (more…)

Roast leg of Lamb with indian spices

roast-leg-of-lamb-2-featured

Lamb is one meat that I love to cook, serve and eat. My family loves it and so do I.  Some friends say there is a peculiar smell even after it is cooked.  To me if lamb is cooked properly it becomes one of the most tastiest meats.

Most roast  lamb dishes do not have much spices but only with seasoning alone. ( most of the English and American roast lamb).  South Indians usually do not cook the whole lamb or roast leg of lamb.  But in north India it is special to cook it this way. There is one special dish called Rogan Josh which is very popular using the whole leg of lamb. I will post this recipe sometime later.

I dont cook lamb regularly even though it is our favourite meat. So when I prepare it, it has to be cooked perfectly so as to enjoy it tremendously.

So today I am doing a simplified roast leg of lamb using indian spices which is different and yet very tasty.

The main ingredient will be the whole leg of lamb.  Get the best meat that you can get from your butcher.

All my lamb dishes are all favourites among my family and friends.  When a potluck party comes along, I always  bring my lamb dish to be enjoyed.

Serve this roast lamb with a large green salad.  I have given step by step instructions on how to roast it perfectly.  Prepare a day ahead so that you can  get a perfect roast the next day! So do give it a try. (more…)

SO VERY REFRESHING…….

Still on Vietnamese food,  this is  another  favourite dish of mine and my family loves it too.  It is wholesome, fresh and so very easy once you prepare the ingredients.

It is a way of eating fresh vegetables in a palatable manner and it is  good for communal eating and sharing .  I like to do this for a party as it can be prepared in advance and not much cooking is required.

Besides it is great for hot summer days as it is so very refreshing.

I taught this dish in my cooking class recently and everyone raved about the simplicity of the fresh ingredients and the delicious sauce that came with it.  It was also deemed to be so easy to do by everyone.  So give it a try, my friends!

This sauce recipe is so very special as it came from a Australian friend  who knew this Vietnamese lady who whipped up this sauce.   I simply love this sauce.  I make more than enough each time and use it for other dishes as accompaniment.  The most easiest way is to pour this sauce onto Chinese rice rolls – chee cheong fun.  Simply divine!

vietnam rolls 1

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Hi-protein and nutritious dessert just for you!

VIETNAMESE BEAN DESSERT

 

I am lucky to have travelled extensively and I have been to Vietnam twice.  I enjoyed Vietnamese food served there and I still do.  Infact their cooking is very easy to adapt and their use of multiple fresh herbs really made me  happy. Well I like herbs a lot in my cooking too.

There are just so many savoury  dishes that I enjoyed but I would like to share a simple dessert which is easy and very tasty just like  kueh (generic term for Malaysian dessert)

This dessert cake is unlike western buttery cake. Instead it is more of a pudding than a cake. It is  so easy to make and it is delicious if you like beans. And when  it is made of beans, it becomes very nutritious – how often can we find protein rich desserts!  Surprisingly this dessert is not found in most Vietnamese restaurants.

This is one of the desserts that I taught in my community centre recently  and my participants enjoyed it so much.

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Mushroom and Vegetable Curry

mushroomvegcurry 1

 

I do love simple vegetarian food,  I cook lots of vegetarian dishes almost daily and have a wide repertoire of recipes.  And each time I cook, it becomes a new dish as I tend to modify or add some new ingredient.

This  vegetarian dish is so simple, interestingly tasty and can be eaten on its own with a glass of wine.   Yes, I didn’t make a mistake here…..

This dish was cooked on a  day when I returned from a trip and I couldn’t bear to go out and eat lunch.  So looking at what I had in my pantry, came up with this dish.   As I didn’t feel like eating rice, I made prata to go with this vegetable dish.

I am not into mushrooms as in itself they taste very bland even though mushrooms can be meaty.   This adds a new dimension to simple potatoes and carrots to create the meatiness in a vegetarian dish.

I used Indian spices as the vegetables need to be cooked for  a little longer than other greens. So the spices tend to gel very well with the longer cooking time, thus giving a lovely curry.

As I said earlier, this dish can be eaten on its own or with any bread,  chappati, or prata.

It is a good accompaniment to rice with some soup or other gravy.

Once in a while it is a nice change to eat simple food.  So try this out and one might not miss any meat!

 

mushroomvegcurry 2

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Vadai – nutritious street food

vadai 3 featured

This is a snack in most indian homes and regularly taken as part of a breakfast item.  It is also a common street food.  It is crisp on the outside and soft inside.

It is very nutritious even though it is deep fried.  Looking deceptively simple but one of the most difficult snacks  to do as the texture varies according to the method used and how the urad dhal is prepared.

I have seen my mum prepare this for us  on a regular basis. I can remember that she laboriously grinds the soaked dhal using a grinding stone.

But once the vadais are fried and put on the table, the vadais will vanish so quickly,   because they are so delicious to eat with a cup of your favourite hot beverage.  And I always get extra vadais as it seems urad dhal strengthens a growing female teenager!

Now in this present day – no way I want to do laborious work.  And I am not that hardworking too  (sorry!)

I have given a lazy version or maybe a short cut way to do it  – pl read my notes below.

There are many variations but these are  the most common recipes.  Some of the variations that I do are as follows:

  1. Add some chopped prawns in the batter and fry  as usual.
  2. Add some chopped French beans or long beans to give a crunch
  3. Add extra chopped onions
  4. Commonly added ingredient is chopped spinach which is  nutritious in protein, iron and vitamin C.

You can use a 3 cm ice cream scoop, drop it in oil and deep fry like cocktail bites. Serve it with a mixture of chilli and tomato sauce.  Insert a cocktail stick into each vadai and viola!, served this way, you bring the simple vadai to another level.  ( It becomes ‘’atas ”  in the local language ( A simple snack served grandly).

Urad Dhal
Urad dhal

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Ayam Belado

ayam belado 2

 

Ayam belado means tangy chicken sambal in the Indonesian language.

Sambal refers to any dish that contains ground chilli paste which is cooked with some other ingredients to make it very palatable and appetising.  Most people I know drool over a very good sambal. You will drool over this too as it is ridiculously easy and tasty to make.

This chicken dish has been a family favourite for some time.  Simple as it is and goes very well with rice or chappati or other staples. I have actually tweaked the recipe which I got from a  friend’s mother, and she learnt it from her mother! Some recipes are generations old and soo good!

I wrote the recipe while she verbally gave me the ‘hows’ to do it.  In her recipe she used fresh red chillies and chilli padi (Bird’s eye chilli). This will make this dish very very hot.  You may want to try it especially those of you who love extremely hot food.  Or you may substitute red chillies to fresh green chillies .

I have tried many versions but this version is very simple, tested and tried many times over.

 

ayam belado 1

 

You may want to grind the ingredients for the ground paste in double portions as you can freeze it to do other variations of this dish, using squid, prawns or fish.  So go ahead and cook it and give me comments or if you have any questions, I will gladly answer them.

 ayam belado 3

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