The Occasional Cook

~ seeking peace one spice a day

Prawn Paella — May 31, 2020

Prawn Paella

There’s a new store in town that’s easily becoming a favourite. Australian wholesome food brand – Scoop – just landed on our shores and their latest outlet happens to be near enough for me to hop down easily. So last week after work I took a short outing and got several things there, including paella rice. The next day, I made prawn paella.

I adapted from a recipe I got from here so if you want the original, click below:

https://www.google.com.sg/amp/s/www.olivemagazine.com/recipes/fish-and-seafood/quick-prawn-paella/amp/

For me, the first thing which I did was to marinade huge prawns that I got from the supermarket with sea salt and garlic powder. Then using good butter, I fried the prawns till done. The result was very good because the aroma from the butter will seep into the prawns. Delicious sweet buttery garlicky prawns! Set aside after frying them.

For the rice, I followed the recipe in the site but omitted the onions. I used 2 cups of rice and 500ml of organic vegetable stock. The rice, however, you need to keep a good look out for it. If the water dries out faster than the rice is cooked, then add more water. Season with salt when you add more water.

Sauté garlic and capsicum. I omitted onions but please add them.
Add the paella rice.
Add a big pinch of saffron threads and one teaspoon of smoked paprika.
Add salt and two teaspoons of salt. Lower heat and simmer till rice is done.
When rice is almost done, add frozen peas and cover.
Make sure to taste the rice for doneness.
Arrange cooked prawns on bed of rice and sprinkle coriander/cilantro leaves.
I served with a side of baked chicken wings.

And there you have it! The recipe works but you’ve also got to use your common sense and adapt as you cook. One thing the website did not state is that you’ve got to have that crispy bottom rice which you have to get by turning up the heat after it’s done and ensuring the bottom of the rice is crispy and toasty, not burnt. I just regularly checked the bottom and patted the mixture down as I’m heating it up. The toasty bottom bit makes it all worthwhile! End off with a round of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Delicioso!

Chapati — May 28, 2020

Chapati

So finally I’ve decided to make chapati. With a mixer with the dough hook attached, this is a painless exercise.

The tricky part now is getting that ball of dough to a flattened round shape. Which of course I couldn’t, but the Helper did a much better job than me.

The recipe I followed couldn’t work because of the humidity level here. It’s like almost 98 percent humidity all the time. So I’ll give the original, and what it should be if you love in the tropics.

Original: 2 cups whole meal or atta flour, 3/4 cup warm water, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tbsp vegetable oil

My recipe that worked: 2 and 1/4 cup atta flour, 3/4 cup water, 3/4 tsp salt and 1 tbsp olive oil

Add all the ingredients in the mixing bowl, dry ones first. And then slowly incorporate water till a soft dough is formed. Line a bowl with olive oil and coat the dough with it. Leave to rest. I read that the longer it is allowed to rest, the softer the dough will be.

Even though I bought this wonderful mat from Amazon, I couldn’t keep to the round shape. 🤭
Place on a hot griddle without any oil or fat. I even bought this flat Indian chapati griddle a few months back before the lockdown. The dough will puff up. And when it does, flip over.
There’ll be pockets of coloured areas which is exactly how it’s supposed to be.
Serve with dhal.

And here, I have to special mention a wonderful literary text titled The Village by the Sea. It’s been a literature text for secondary schools here for decades and it also happens to be the text that I did as a student decades ago. As a tribute, I will post these:

Ayam Bul-Bul (Fried Chicken in Spicy Oil) — May 22, 2020

Ayam Bul-Bul (Fried Chicken in Spicy Oil)

I posted this about ten years ago but without accompanying steps. This is my childhood favourite! And I’m going to make this the kids’ favourite too. It’s a dry chicken dish which is oh so fragrant! The only problem is I think my family is the only one who cooks this – as in my extended family. I scoured the net and save for one person who has the same name dish, it wasn’t exactly the same. So here goes!

Step 1: Deep fry wings that have been marinated in turmeric and salt. And yes, we love the wingtip here in Asia. I can never understand when overseas food programmes remove the tip. That’s like the best part! Crunchy!
Step 2: In a wok, gently fry finely diced onions, curry leaves and about two heaped teaspoons of fennel. If you have cumin seeds do half and half but I ran out of cumin seeds. Fry till onions are translucent and the whole oil mixture smells fragrant.
Step 3: Add cut dried chillies based on preference.
Step 4: Add the fried wings. Sprinkle some powdered chilli. I used smoked paprika here. Add a tablespoon or two (depends on how much wings you have in there) of brown sugar. Mix well.
Make sure to stir very well so that all the oily spice mixture is coated to the wings. Best eaten fresh and hot with rice or just on its own. We love to this so much, we always make a big batch so we could have it over and over throughout the day as a snack!
Ayam Bul-Bul
Saudi Kabsa Chicken — May 17, 2020

Saudi Kabsa Chicken

The Girl asked for Arabic rice today. I usually make mandhi rice or some form of Arabic rice other than the National Saudi dish- kabsa. Why? Because nobody has taught me how!

But today, I took out a recipe from this amazing book called Feast and followed to the T her kabsa recipe. This recipe called for meat, but I used chicken instead.

Here’s the recipe from the book:

I’ve decided to use the pressure cooker instead. First, sautée the green chilli and onions. Fry until onions are soft. Then add tomato paste and ginger garlic paste. Stir well and then add the chicken to brown. Once browned, add the tomatoes, spices and water. Then pressure cook till done.

Remove chicken and set aside. Grill the chicken in the air fryer or oven when ready to serve.

Add the soaked basmati rice, grated carrots and salt to season. Cook till done.

To serve, fry some sultanas and almonds and sprinkle over rice and chicken. And it’s done! A simple simple dish to make but very flavourful!

Firstly, soften onions and the sole split green chilli till onions are soft. Add ginger garlic paste and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Stir well.
Then add chicken which has been cleaned and quartered skin side down fill nicely browned.
When the chicken is browned, turn over the chicken pieces and add in the spices and tomatoes.

I used a pressure cooker next but you can just add some water and salt, leave it to cook. Remove chicken once they are tender.

Cover with foil and set aside till ready to serve. Just about serving time, grill chicken in an air fryer or a hot oven till they nicely grilled.

Add carrots and rice and cook. Now, this is where I failed badly. Because I used a pressure cooker, I couldn’t gauge the liquid amount. And so the rice was a disaster. It was too soft and mushy. So I made another batch of rice, cooking it in the rice cooker instead. I followed the same steps but omitted the carrots this time round because I had used up all the carrots I had for the failed attempt. The rice cooker is always the best choice! I will never cook rice in a pressure cooker again. What a waste of food and effort!

This was the second batch of rice from the rice cooker. I transferred it to a steamer to steam and keep warm.
To serve, grill the chicken in the air fryer. It gives that smoky flavour. Place rice in a serving platter. Put the chicken on top of the bed of rice. Sprinkle almonds and raisins that have been fried in a bit of oil and butter till
golden. Delicious!
And if there’s some leftover, pack a box for your loved ones. In this case, for my Mama who’s living all by herself, alone. 😌

I must say that this recipe is for keeps. I ground the cardamom myself. As well as the black pepper. I thinking making your own spices do make a difference to the overall fragrance of the dish. Try this Saudi National dish and your lockdown days will be a tad cheerier. Ma’assalama 👋🏽

Pineapple Tarts — May 15, 2020

Pineapple Tarts

Every Chinese New Year or Hari Raya (Eid ul Fitr) will never be complete without families making and eating these delicious buttery sweet and sour pineapple tarts. And being in a beautiful multi-racial country, I get to enjoy everyone’s festivities many times over. ☺️

Earlier in the year before COVID-19 interrupted our lives, I already received a bottle of pineapple tarts from the office management for Chinese New Year. Now, with the Circuit Breaker in place and Hari Raya round the corner, I decided to finally conquer my fears and make my mother’s pineapple tart recipe.

It’s a daunting task. You definitely need helpers at hand. However, you can halve the recipe or even quarter it and make a small batch. Here is the original recipe:

For the tart pastry:

1. 500g butter (use the best you have. I used French butter and I think that made all the difference)

2. 3 whole eggs (some people use 2 yolks and 1egg but that will result in a delicious but crumbly pastry. Delicious I know but difficult to handle)

3. 900g plain all-purpose flour

4. 1/4 tsp of yellow colouring. You can omit this.

For the pineapple filling: I cheated. I used a store bought ready made filling but added one pineapple of my own. To make your filling from scratch, you need to grate 2-3 fresh pineapples, and then cook it down on a Low flame till it becomes jelly like. Add sugar. You’ll know when it’s ready when all the liquid has evaporated and you can form balls from the pineapple.

And then the rest is easy. Laborious work but easy.

First step is to make the dough. Using a mixer is easiest but you can certainly make this using just a wooden spoon, and a lot of muscle power.

Prep your ingredients. The butter needs to be very soft so that you can cream it with the eggs.
Cream butter and eggs. Add flour slowly till you can form a soft dough.
Break the dough into four for easier handling and let it rest, covered, for at least two hours.

Once the dough is rested, it’ll be easy to roll. If you can’t roll it, just use your cleaned palms and pat down as much as you can’t and then, using a tart cookie mould, cut the shape.


This is my tart cutter. You can find other types. All you need is a cutter with an indentation hole in the centre for you to place your filling in.
Press hard and clean the edges. This cutter is not so good that’s why it’s hard to achieve a clean line. The more modern plastic ones will produce better results.
With your thumb, gently peel off the dough.
Tada!
Fill a tray of the dough first.
These pineapple jelly balls are too big but they will make an easier task later. From that pan of jelly, take a small scoop to form into balls. Then eyeball how much you need to fill the dough casing.
Once the pineapple jelly is in the dough, you can choose to do a topper with some dough. Roll out some dough till very thin and cut into shapes. Diamonds, flowers, or you can just omit this step.
Put a ready filled tray in the oven at 170 Celsius for 10- 15min or until the bottom is done. Don’t over bake or you’ll end up with a hard filling and pastry.
The first tart here, you can see where the edges of the pastry was not neatly cut. But many turned out OK so I was pleased.
Persevere and carry on. 500g of butter will make about 180-200 of this size tarts. That’s a lot! So if you’re just making for yourself, half the recipe.
But I like to give away some to close family and friends so that everyone can enjoy this decadent treat! 😍

Banana and Chocolate Bread — May 9, 2020

Banana and Chocolate Bread

https://tasty.co/recipe/one-bowl-chocolate-chip-banana-bread

Is this a bread or is it cake? Just now I baked a loaf of this cake bread thing following the above tasty recipe. Except I didn’t have chocolate chips (the entire freaking island is baking during this CB lockdown!) and all I had were some chocolate buttons. So I used that instead.

I must say I like this recipe. It’s easy to make. You don’t need any machine. Just a bowl and a spatula.

My cake bread top cracked a lot! I don’t know the reason for this but all I know is never to judge a book by its cover. This tasted very good despite its ugly countenance.

A beautiful batter. Make sure you grease well the entire loaf tin.
What a huge crater. Sigh.
Deliciously soft, moist banana chocolate bread cake. Yummy!
Bubur Lambok (Savoury Rice Porridge) — April 28, 2020

Bubur Lambok (Savoury Rice Porridge)

I don’t know the origins of this dish but once I came across an article that states this dish has been around for 200 years because apparently they found a recipe for it that dates that long ago.

Bubur lambok is a dish often served in Singapore and Malaysia, especially during the fasting month. I guess it’s the same concept as what the Pakistanis have – haleem, and well, other regions have their own porridge variants.

Since all mosques are closed here during our ‘lockdown’ (yes, it’s called a Circuit Breaker here because it’s not a complete shut down of the economy … I think. Whatever.) and we can’t visit people, even our family members who are not living in the same household, there’s no way to get my hands on this savoury porridge.

So, I have to learn how to make it myself. 😌

And I must say, the result was fantastic! Thanks to my trusty Philips pressure cooker, the porridge turned out beautiful!

Prep all the ingredients you need on the counter.
Sautéing then onions, garlic and ginger pasted with lemon grass. Later, frying all the spices till fragrant. I’ll list down the steps below.
Instead of carrots or corn, I added a cup of dhal.
After that The Boy ran away with my phone so I had no more pictures till the final outcome.
The bubur lambok in a serving platter.

Having a bowl of delicious warm bubur (porridge) as an appetiser before I attacked that plate of chicken wings there!

Ingredients

1. 2 large onions, 4 garlic cloves, 2 cm ginger blended till fine.

2. 1 cinnamon stick, 4 cloves, 5 cardamoms, 2 star anise

3. 300g of minced beef

4. 1/2 cup dhal

5. 2 cups rice (here, I used 1 cup Japanese white rice and 1 cup brown Thai rice. But any short to medium grain rice will do. DO NOT use long grain basmati like rice. It won’t work to make porridge)

6. 1/2 tbsp meat curry powder, 2 teaspoons cumin powder, 1 tbsp coriander powder, white and black ground pepper

7. Finely chopped cilantro and Chinese parsley (about one cup). 1 stalk of lemongrass, bruised.

8. 1/2 cup fried shallots (bawang goreng). I get the ready made ones that are easily available here.

9. Ghee or olive oil (I used ghee today) and water plus salt to taste

10. One packet of coconut cream (200g)

Pressure Cooker Method

1. Turn on the sauté Low function. When the pot is hot, add about two tablespoons of ghee.

2. Fry the blended onion, garlic, ginger paste still it’s nicely done (when you see it sort of separates itself and there’s oil) together with the bruised lemongrass, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick and star anise.

3. Add the dry spices: meat curry powder, cumin and coriander powder. Black pepper.

4. Add the minced beef and fry everything till it’s all nicely cooked, with the oil separating from the whole dish.

5. Add now the raw rice and dhal.

6. Add water till near the top of the pot. Stir. Add salt.

7. I covered the lid at this stage and let the whole thing cook on slow with high heat for 2 hours. When I opened the lid to check and stir, the rice has nicely plumped up but it’s still not porridge consistency yet.

8. Add one packet of coconut cream, stir well.

9. Add the fried shallots, stir well.

10. Add a bit more salt and then cover the lid and pressure cook under the ‘risotto’ setting for 14 min

11. When I opened the lid, and I stirred and stirred the mixture, it was a beautiful porridge consistency. Add now the chopped parsley and coriander and stir.

Mee Hong Kong — April 27, 2020

Mee Hong Kong

This is one of those dishes that the name bears no link at all to the country it’s named after. Very much like ‘Singapore noodles’. Yet, this Mee Hong Kong is a popular yellow noodle dish popular in Malaysia and Singaporean Malays. I’ve never heard of my Chinese friends eat this. Unless they call it by another name. Hmmmm…I’ll ask my friends one day.

It’s a wet noodle dish. Not soupy, because the addition of the cornstarch slurry is supposed to make the soup thicken. Plus, the yellow alkaline noodles will absorb the liquid and make it…not dry? So basically it’s what the Malays will call a wet (basah) dish – not meant to be dry, neither is it meant to be soupy.

It’s very easy to make! All you need are proteins here and there (the best is to finish up whatever small amounts of prawns or squid or fishballs that you have), some greens like Chinese leafy pak choi or chye sim and yellow noodles.

The first step is to heat a wok. Then add a tablespoon of oil. When the oil is hot, add two heaped teaspoons of garlic and four thin slices of ginger. Before the garlic burns, quickly add thinly sliced beef. Stir fry. Add prawns. And then add lots of white pepper. Now, this dish calls for lots and lots of white pepper – about one tablespoon. Add water and let the mixture simmer.

Once the beef and prawns are cooked in the stewing liquid, add your other proteins like fishballs and fish cakes. Season the mixture with a tablespoon of oyster sauce and a good dash of light soy sauce. Add a teaspoon of cornstarch slurry. Add yellow noodles (I have here two packets so that’s about 800g) and the leafy greens. Stir the mixture well.

The mixture of seasoned soupy proteins before the noodles and leafy greens are in.
The noodles done. Very soon, all that liquid will be absorbed by the yellow noodles.
This is best served very hot. It can’t be left out too Long and they definitely don’t keep well. Eat with a sprinkling of fried shallots and pickled chillies. Yummy!
Spinach, minced meat and cheese Spring Rolls — April 25, 2020

Spinach, minced meat and cheese Spring Rolls

I’m only posting this because the filling is good. The mistake is in the spring roll wrappers. They’re not meant for baking in the oven.

So next time I make this, I have got to have fillo pastry, no doubt about that!

For the filling, combing one package of frozen spinach together with one egg, half a tub of yogurt, three tablespoons of cooked minced meat of choice, add cheddar and mozzarella cheese and season with lots of black pepper and sea salt.

The filling should be soft and then place a tablespoon of filling onto two spring rolls and roll. Then you should seal the ends with flour paste. Spray oil on top and bake.

The result wasn’t bad because the filling was very good but it definitely wasn’t a crunchy experience. Next time I’ll try shallow frying the spring rolls. This will prevent the edges from opening compared to deep frying.

Spinach, minced meat and cheese Spring rolls! Delicious and healthy.
Epok-Epok — April 20, 2020

Epok-Epok

So I tried making epok-epok, or curry puffs again. This time I used another recipe and in smaller quantities I feel makes for a much better batch. Also, really, while being stuck at home, there’s only the five of us. And we get sick of eating the same foods so I try now to cook smaller portions.

The dough. I used 2 cups plain flour and 1 tsp of salt. Place them in a bowl. Then on the stove heat two heaped tablespoons of margarine. I used this cheap Planta brand which was a childhood staple back in the 80s before we began importing all the butter and margarine from Australia. Frankly, I didn’t like at all the smell of the melted vegetable margarine. Next time I’ll use real butter instead.

Anyway, into the bowl of flour goes the hot fat. Mix with a spoon till the liquid fat is thoroughly mixed. Add small amounts of water and mix to form a soft dough. By now you’ll need to use your hand. Knead till about smooth and then leave the dough to rest.

For the filling, the traditional way is to use potatoes. I had 5 potatoes cubed very small. Sautéed in oil blended garlic and onions. Add a tablespoon of meat curry powered mixes with water. Then add a tablespoon of ground cumin. Add the potatoes and cook till soft. Add water if the mixture becomes dry. I added also strips of meat that I had from the morning’s meat curry that we ate with roti prata (Indian fried bread). Make sure the mixture is not dry. Leave to cool.

Pinch small balls of dough, flatten and then roll out thin into a disc. Add the filling, fold and then fold in the edges.

Fry till golden brown in medium hot oil.

The dough as it is resting.
The filling as it is cooling.
The pastry after being filled, folded and trimmed. It’s not easy at first. But slowly we got the hang of it.
Fry in medium heat oil. Make sure the fire is not too hot.
It’s best served hot. Well, not too hot because you’ll burn your tongue. I was happy with the outcome, though appearance wise they don’t look pretty.
Lamb Shank with Creamy Mashed Potatoes — April 17, 2020

Lamb Shank with Creamy Mashed Potatoes

I love my new toy. This Philips pressure cooker is really idiot proof and makes my WFH (Work From Home) time easier.

There really is no recipe to this. All I did was sautéed garlic and sliced white onions. And then brown the lamb shanks. Add carrots. And pressure cook for 40minutes. Prior to adding the lamb shanks into the pot, I had seasoned them generously with salt and black pepper mixture (my favourite Korean herb spice mixture which contains lots of black pepper, salt and some other minuscule herbs). Add a cup of water, stir in a cube of beef stock, a tablespoon of tomato purée and that’s it. Of course I wish I had fresh herbs but I really can’t afford lots of supermarket runs (the curve is not flattening!)

After the time is done, vent the steam, open the lid and voila! Fall off the bone tender lamb shanks! All in 40 minutes! As for the sauce that’s still in the pot, thicken it with a flour slurry.

Plate with creamy butter homemade mashed potatoes. Divine!

Maggi Goreng — April 13, 2020

Maggi Goreng

Maggi is like a brand that is so bought over by a huge business entity. It is so synonymous with many products here -instant noodles, ketchup, chilli sauce…

And one popular dish that is favoured by late night supper goers is freshly fried from the wok fried instant noodles or Maggi goreng. Served with a sunny side up. It’s comforting supper food.

Serve with fried egg and fried shallots. I added some more ketchup on my egg for added oomphness.
Strawberry Shortcake —

Strawberry Shortcake

I think many many years ago I posted a recipe for strawberry shortcake which The Girl did when she was young.

Time flies and now she’s a full blown teen who is working so hard for her exams. OK, comparatively harder than her younger days. So as a reward, I decided to bake for her strawberry shortcake.

I used this website to bake: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/easy-homemade-strawberry-shortcake/

Except that since we’re on lockdown (Circuit Breaker) here, I didn’t have buttermilk. So I substituted with milk plus lemon juice and let the mixture sit. It worked! And I didn’t want to waste the only packet of whipping cream I have in the freezer (I intend to save that for tiramisu) so I served these scones (they are scones essentially ya) with clotted cream and Korean strawberries that had been macerated in 1tbsp of sugar.

I followed the proportions for the dry ingredients to the T. That’s 3 cups of plain flour, 2 tbsp of baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar, 1tsp salt.
Then add in the wet ingredients and pat pat pat the dough. I didn’t use all of the buttermilk mixture because I didn’t need to. I suspect the humidity level here is Super high so it really depends on where you’re at.
Using a round pastry cutter, form circles. I got exactly ten for this batter! Perfect!
Before putting in the oven, brush the tops with buttermilk and bake till golden.
Cut in half and spread clotted cream and the macerated strawberries. For real strawberry shortcakes, use whipped cream.
A Tea Time Treat!
Rawon — April 10, 2020

Rawon

When I first started this food blog ten years ago in 2010, it was to have a space to store all my recipes with pictures so my daughter and son could cook some of my favourite and eventually I’m hoping their favourite dishes too.

But work has always kept me from doing this up properly. Being a working mom is no joke. But the kids are now teens (or one of them is a tween) and I’m now officially under lockdown or over here it’s called a Circut Breaker (CB) (and for Westerners who can’t understand all the snickering and inside jokes whenever you see or hear CB uttered by us, go find out why 😂) I can finally cook more and record my recipes.

Today, I finally finally learned how to cook this classic Indonesian specialty that is much loved by Singapore Malays too. I don’t see this dish in Malaysia often. I wonder why. Maybe we Singaporeans are nearer to Indonesia? Anyway, I grew up eating this dish. And so did my husband’s family. Last weekend the mother in law cooked it and today, I saw my mom cook it.

Rawon is made using this poisonous black Nut called keluak. It is sold raw which the Peranakans cook whole in their dishes such as Ayam Buah Keluak (chicken in Keluak nut) it Babi Buah Keluak (pork in Keluak nut). The Malays/Javanese do not cook it whole.

Rawon is made from blending the processed safe to eat Keluak fruit with onions, ground dried chillies, garlic, and ginger. A thick paste is formed.

It is then sautéed and then beef brisket is boiled in the sautéed mixture. My mom used a pressure cooker for this. It’s fast and convenient.

The Keluak nut in a blender with onions. Later, we added the ground chilli paste, garlic and ginger slices.

Recipe (all approximations as with Malay/Asian cooking):

For the blended ingredients:

  • 2-3 medium sized 🧅
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 huge tablespoons of blended dried chillies (they sell ready made ones here but you can blend them yourself. Dried red chillies boiled full soft. Remove seeds. Blend till fine)
  • About an inch of fresh ginger
  • A packet of food ready made buah Keluak (this I am very sure you cannot get outside our region. For sure. But it’s something new to learn if you’ve never heard of it before!)

Method

  • Fry the blended ingredients in oil till fragrant and some oil separates from the mixtyre
  • Add 2 pieces of crushed lemon grass and 3 slices of galangal
  • Add the cubes beef brisket
  • if using the pressure cooker, then cover and pressure cook for 30 min
  • If not, add water to the beef and sautéed blended ingredients and boil till meat is tender
  • Once meat is tender, season with salt
  • Add two pieces of Assam gelugur (tamarind pieces) and one tablespoon of tamarind paste
  • Add fresh kaffir lime leaves and Bay leaves
  • If you’re using pressure cooker, there’ll be plenty of liquid. See if it’s sufficient for your liking.
  • Season again with salt
  • Some people add slices of Long beans and tomato wedges (like my mom). My MIL does not.
  • Add more water if you like more gravy and a thinner consistency

How to serve

Rawon here is served with other important accompaniments. They include:

  • Bergedil (fried potato patties)
  • Paru (marinated fried beef lungs)
  • Tempeh (fried tempeh)
  • Sambal belacan (fermented fish paste chilli)
  • Tahu (fried tofu)

Here is a plate of Rawon from when I visited my MIL. Her version and my mom’s are not far off at all. Both are tasty and delicious!

This is my plate from Mom’s version. I like it with loads of gravy. There’s the fried beef lung on the TOP left, the bergedil (potato patty) and tempeh. And a dolly of sambal belacan (fermented shrimp chilli ‘sauce’)

I’m keeping this recipe here so I can make it myself in future. The important thing is to buy the Keluak from a reliable seller who knows how to process this fruit well so it’s not that bitter but must importantly not poisonous!

Saffron Rice with Za’atar Chicken — March 20, 2020

Saffron Rice with Za’atar Chicken

Today’s simple dinner was inspired by sheer inertia. After staying home for several days cooking daily, I decided to create something simple yet delicious.

Saffron rice is really simple to make. This time round I used butter from an Indian store here. The butter is imported from India and it’s got a very strong flavour. Not good on bread or western type of cooking but for this rice, because it reminded me of ghee, I thought it made the rice more flavourful.

This is the brand of butter. I’ll never buy this again when this butter runs out because it’s just too strong for my daily use.

Add about 50g of butter together with a few swirls of olive oil into a saucepan. Add half a white onion finely chopped and a stick of cinnamon. Over low fire, cook the onions till very soft and translucent.
In a separate small bowl, add a pinch of saffron to some milk. In the saucepan with the softened onions now, add about 500 ml
of chicken stock (I used boxed ones) and two teaspoons of salt. Add the saffron milk mixture and stir well. Pour the liquid into two cups of washed basmati rice that have been sitting in a rice cooker. Close the rice cooker lid and press the ‘cook’ button. We Asians cannot live without a rice cooker! Hassle free staple every day!

For the za’atar chicken, marinade a small whole chicken with two tablespoons of za’atar spice blend, one whole lemon juice, salt and olive oil. Before roasting in the oven, marinade the chicken for a few hours.

And voila! The rice turned out perfect! It was flavourful and the chicken was tasty and juicy and crispy all at the same time.
I served this with a side of mesclun greens and a bowl of coriander, tomato, green chilli and lemon juice chutney made from scratch. Just blend one fresh tomato (roast them over a flame or in a pan first), two green chillies (depending on how hot you like), a bunch of coriander and one whole lemon juice. Season with some salt.