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ROAST TURKEY – TANTALISING DINNER FEAST

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Christmas and the  New Year  comes once a year and turkey is also allowed once a year into my house!

Usually we will have a formal sit down dinner. When my daughters were younger I used to put up a Christmas tree and they will decorate it with ornaments and wrap up the presents. Now my girls assist me with some of their favourite dishes. My elder daughter loves pate and makes it excellently. So it will be part of the first course.

Many friends have told me they don’t like turkey because it is dry and tasteless.

So I have decided to give a Christmas/New year  feast menu  and to roast a turkey which is moist and full of flavour.

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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…)

NUTRITIVE GOODNESS IN A MEAL

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Falafel is all about goodness, made totally of chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

Love it because it is one of the tastiest vegetarian food. It can be a starter or it can be the main meal.

I ate this  many years ago in London for the first time  in one of the Middle Eastern Cafés which are just about everywhere in the London streets.   It was good. It reminded me of  snacks that I ate  as a child but not the “’dressed up’’  kind.

I began to have a liking for such food and I started exploring the making of it as well as eating in places where  middle eastern food is served.    Not that I have tried all but the tastiest was in Amsterdam near a palace.  Really couldn’t remember the name of the restaurant though.

Now coming back to the making – many make the mistake of boiling or steaming the  dried chickpeas.

Absolute NO!  The dried chickpeas needs to be soaked preferably overnight and blended with some ingredients.

Form into canelles or lime sized balls, then just  deep fry, no need for crumbing or egg washing!

I have made it very easy for you to follow my recipe. Easy and yet  not short cutting the taste that comes with it.

Here I am using mini chapatis to wrap  it, but of course you may use any other wraps such as pita bread or soft tacos that are available in the supermarkets now.  Try and you will not be disappointed and you will have an accomplishment of feeding your friends and family a nutritious and tasty meal.

Serve it with Hummus ( a middle- eastern  dip) or simply grated  cucumber with yoghurt – delicious!

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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!!

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Ayam Belado

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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.

 

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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.

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Kangkong Moolie

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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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Simple Spinach Pilaf

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Spinach is a green vegetable that I became very fond of ever since I watched Popeye as a little girl. Popeye gets extreme strength every time he eats a can of spinach. I was intrigued then and till today it is one of my favourite vegetables.

It is a favourite not because of Popeye, but rather because it is such a versatile vegetable. One can do so much using this as a main ingredient (I will add more spinach recipes along the way)! It also has much nutrition and one of the few vegetables that contains iron, It is also easily available in the local markets as well as supermarkets.

 

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Spinach Pilaf pictured with Tauhu Sambal (recipe to feature soon on tummycalling!)

 

Some types of spinach can be eaten raw especially English spinach and salad spinach. Those are crisp and taste refreshing. The Indians love to use their spinach with cheese, lentils and even in some meat dishes as well. One popular Indian dish that sits on most North Indian restaurants’ menus is palak paneer (spinach cooked with Indian cheese).

What I have shown here is a rice dish cooked with spinach. I given it some richness by adding spices and almonds. It is suitable for vegetarians and it is a one pot meal. To make it wholesome, I usually serve with tauhu (beancurd) sambal or tauhu curry and a citrusy salad. It justs goes so well together.

Enjoy!

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Thai Green Curry Chicken

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As I have mentioned in my Thai Green Curry paste recipe, this is a dish that I have learnt from Thai friends and some chefs when I visited Thailand many years ago. I have received many good comments that this is one of the best and most authentic Thai curry that they have eaten. I always serve this curry with fluffy white jasmine rice. Just goes so well that you can just keep on eating and eating! And the baby eggplants and brinjals – they taste so great in this curry. Do make it and I am sure you too will be asked to make this curry more often!

 

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Olive Samba Rice

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This recipe was born because I wanted to use up a bottle of green olives that I had bought earlier.

Samba rice is a variety of rice from Sri Lanka and some parts of South India. There are several varieties of samba and it comes in red or the usual white rice. I suppose the red ones are unhulled and that accounts for the red colour. Samba rice can be identified from its oval shape and it is usually short-grain. It is very filling and a little corn-tasting and not so fluffy as the Thai rice.

 

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But then I like to add fibre to my cooking and surely samba rice fits the bill. I use samba rice for many recipes such as Dosa, (Indian pancakes served for breakfast) and for many kinds of flavoured rice where the cooked rice needs to be grainy in texture.

I must mention that as much as I do healthy dishes, I also love to eat totally devilish and full-of-butter desserts (more of this later)!

My olive samba rice is an easy one pot meal which can be eaten on its own or you may add a salad or a protein side dish. When I made this, I added a simple salad and my Spinach & Chicken Meatballs.

It is a nice dish to bring on a picnic as it can be eaten hot or cold. So enjoy and I suggest to read my notes below before attempting the recipe.

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