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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

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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…)

Prawn Briyani

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I simply love to cook and eat briyani.  Once I told my close buddy that I can eat it every day and she gave me a startled look! I guess she was worried about all the calories in a plate of briyani!

I have to agree with her if it is not made by me.  There’s every reason to make a   briyani which can be nutritious with lower calories and most importantly not compromising on the taste.

The spices that I have used give a beautiful and heavenly aroma to the dish and of course adding lots of nutritious properties.

Briyani itself is a one-pot dish and can be very easy if you follow my steps to do it.

Briyani was introduced to India by the Persians and in India alone there must be hundreds of versions of briyani!

Every part of India has its own version. And yet you have the middle-eastern, African, Egyptian and south east Asian versions as well.  I ate the Egyptian goat briyani when I was there about 15 years ago.  I was invited by the chef into their huge kitchen and I was surprised to see huge pots being used as it is eaten everyday by many of their men.  1 goat can get into 1 pot! So imagine that!  The ladies do the bread – and I remember that I had some practice to make their flat bread in their charcoal stone ovens.  More of this later – please look out in my future posts.

Even in homes, each will have their own version of briyani.

I must say I have eaten briyani in most Indian restaurants in Singapore, and when I go overseas, always ordering briyani if it is in their menu.  Sadly yet to find the briyani that I want to eat again and again!

The best compliment came from a friend who lives in Melbourne (his family are all in Middle East and his wife is a fantastic cook).   He said the briyani that I cooked that day was the best he had eaten in all his life! I was very happy not because of the compliment but I could see his joy of happiness on his face. That was enough for me to cook for people who enjoy my food!

The Rice is the most important and is actually the hero ingredient.  Using Basmati rice gives a beautiful aroma, and its fluffy texture once it is cooked.  By the way in Sanskrit, Basmati means fragrance.

Today I have cooked Prawn Briyani .  It is slightly spicy – you can always increase or decrease the degree of spiciness.

My family members and I kept going for seconds and thirds as it was really flavourful and rather tasty.  So let’s start cooking or in my case continue eating!!

prawn briyani 1

 

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Vadai – nutritious street food

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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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Kangkong Moolie

kangkong mollie 1

 

Aha, this is one comfort food for me. I adapted this dish from Mrs Cardoza, my Secondary 2 Home Economics teacher in my convent days. During that time we had to go through Home Economics for 2 years in Secondary 1 and 2. After that you go on and take subjects that is relevant to your liking or course of study etc. I didn’t continue Home Economics after Secondary 2 (because I don’t mind cooking, but I disliked sewing and I preferred mathematics!).

Coming back to the Moolie, what I learnt then was Fish Moolie – a firm favourite in my family till today. But I adapted this dish to make the kangkong (morning glory or water convolvulus) the hero of the dish.  There is no spice and can be suitable for vegetarians. My mother used to call it by another name, Saar – which is very similar – always cooked when you want to eat lightly the day after heavy feasts or dinners.

 

kangkong mollie 3

 

It is a simple dish using either cream or coconut milk and the green leafy vegetable. And it is definitely comfort food. It goes very well with plain white rice and maybe a fried fish or another vegetable as a side dish. I did some variations this time, I added bonito flakes as the garnish and to add a Japanese flavour!

Aha! An Indian/Eurasian dish with Japanese flavour – just try it – you will get hooked too!

You only need about 5 minutes to cook this dish once you have the ingredients ready.

 

kangkong mollie 2

 

INGREDIENTS:

250 g kangkong, washed well and cut into long lengths, stems and leaves separated

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 tsp ginger strips

½ tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp coconut cream or milk

Salt to taste

1 tsp cooking oil

Bonito flakes, for garnishing, a small handful (optional)

 

METHOD:

Heat a pan, pour oil, add garlic and ginger strips, stir and add turmeric powder.

Add the kangkong stems first, stir and then add the leaves.

Add salt, coconut cream and 1 cup of water.

Let it simmer for a few minutes. Remove from stove.

Garnish with bonito flakes and serve immediately with plain white rice.

 

Notes:

You can add chicken or vegetable stock instead of 1 cup of water.

Bonito flakes are not necessary – the dish is as good as it is.

You may substitute coconut cream with skimmed or low fat milk.

Kangkong is the best green leafy vegetable for this dish, but spinach can be used also.

Chicken Korma

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Probably there are many versions of korma, but my version is simple, white and delicious.

There is no coriander or chilli powder in this curry. Korma is a Moghul creation which is flavoured with nuts, spices and rich cream. I have followed the Moghul tradition to make this curry (this recipe was given to me by a dear friend who is a great cook of Moghul cuisine), so it is very different from the ones that we get in the usual restaurants.

Even though it is different in looks, the korma is to die for! It goes very well with crusty bread, chappati, or any flatbread as well as simple, plain white rice. As it is very mild, non-spicy food eaters will love this curry! So when serving with rice, I always add a hot chutney to go with it.

 

chicken korma 1

 

This is a dish that I don’t really like to order whenever I go to a restaurant, because it always comes out as a fusion curry of sorts, or simply a gravy with coconut and coriander. And I never get the authentic korma. That’s a disappointment! The only restaurant that you can get a good korma is usually at a fine dining restaurant serving Moghul cuisine which is what I like very much! When the waiter brings it to you, the aroma of the korma hits you and you must dig in quickly!

My version is exactly that and you will see the difference immediately once you have made it.

It is fragrant, mild and aromatic! Make it and I want to hear from you!

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Bulgur Wheat Payasam

payasam 3

 

This is definitely one of my all-time quick payasams (payasam is creamy sweet porridge in the Tamil language). It is a go-to comfort food for me. It is very tasty, easy to make and needs very few ingredients. It is also versatile and you can add lots of dried fruits and nuts as well to make it a very nutritious food.

Bulgur wheat is a quick-cooking whole wheat grain which has been parboiled. It is nutritious and has a very pleasant nut-like flavour. This grain can be used as a substitute for rice, couscous or quinoa. Most middle eastern recipes use this wheat. One famous recipe is tabbouleh.

 

payasam 2
Bulgur wheat 

 

The recipe below serves 3 people or 4 small eaters.

I have given 2 methods of cooking, one on a normal stove and another for a faster method – the microwave. Both methods are very tasty. Try both methods and let me know which method you prefer!

 

payasam 4

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