Asian Dishes, Bread and Batter

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:

Asian Dishes, Poultry

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
Asian Dishes

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 👋🏽

Asian Dishes, Rice

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.

Asian Dishes, Noodles and Pasta

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!