Saturday, 30 June 2012

Chicken Curry Pie

Is there some chicken curry from yesterday’s dinner in your fridge? Turn this leftover into a mouth-watering pie with minimal effort! It can also be frozen for a later date if you’re not one for having curry two nights in a row.

Chunks of chicken meat from the leftover curry, shredded
Some gravy from the curry (leave out the large bits of spices like star anise and cinnamon)
¾ cup of frozen peas
1 large carrot, diced
Store bought puff pastry, rolled out to 2mm thick (broad enough to cover the dish you wish to use for this pie)

Fry the carrots in a pan with a desert spoon of oil until they are soft. Pour in the chicken curry and meat and the peas. Heat through over medium-low heat. Fill this mixture into a pie or casserole dish and cover it with the rolled out puff pastry. Trim the excess pastry and use it to decorate the pie. Bake it in the over at 200 °C for about 20 minutes or until the pastry turns golden brown. Serve with more vegetables if desired.

Paul added roast potatoes to his portion of the pie

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Mango Lassi

Lassi, or yogurt drinks can be a very refreshing drink to cool down after a hot day. It can also be a way of calming your palate after a consuming particularly spicy dish. Most fruits and berries can be used to flavour the yogurt, but mango remains one of the most popular choice. Here's how you can knock some mango lassi up in your kitchen.


1 cup of yogurt
½ cup of fresh mango flesh
½ cup ice cubes
2 tablespoon Sunkist mango cordial

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender and enjoy it cold!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Spinach and Lentil Curry (Keerai Kari)

This has to be my favourite curry, but it is largely underrated. Spinach and lentil is nutritious, easy to prepare and beats all others when it comes to the perfect dip for roti canai (parata or parotta).

½ cup green lentils
½ cup yellow lentils
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic
3-4 dried chillies
1 fresh chilli, red or green (optional)
150g spinach leaves
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon spice mix (fenugreek, mustard seeds and fennel seeds)
2 stalks curry leaves

Soak the lentils for two hours. Wash and boil the lentils with garlic, fresh chilli, turmeric, a pinch of salt and a spoonful of oil until the lentils are cooked (they should squash easily when pressed between your finger and thumb). Fry the onions, dried chillies, spice mix and curry leaves for two minutes on low heat to allow the flavours to fuse with the oil. Pour the frying ingredients into the boiling lentils and remove the latter temporarily from heat. Add the washed spinach leaves and let it wilt for five minutes. Using a hand blender, blend the curry roughly. The curry goes back on medium fire and is boiled for 3-5 minutes. Season the curry with salt and pepper and serve with rice or roti.

Spinach curry served with rice and fried fish

Monday, 18 June 2012

Roti John Miso

Roti John is supposedly a dish born in Singapore during colonial times, fusing local flovours with British traditional ingredients. It could be more accurately described as a spicy eggy sandwich. A spoonful of miso compliments the egg's savoury taste beautifully.

2 soft finger rolls (hot dog buns)
2 eggs
2 spring onions, chopped
1 red bird's eye chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 teaspoon miso paste
a dash of white pepper
1 desert spoon oil

Beat the eggs, miso, chopped chilli and spring onions and white pepper well. You can add a pinch of salt, but the miso should contain enough salt for the dish.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Cut the roll in half, longways. Pour the egg in (half the mixture for each roll) and place the bread open on the mixture. Cook for a minute on low heat and turn over.

Garnish with Japanese mayonaise and chilli sauce.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Cucur Ikan Bilis (Anchovy fritters)

These fritters are the savoury cousin of cekodok and are often traditionally done with more effort than what I have got listed here. I skipped the grated vegetables for a simpler version that is just as tasty and can be prepared in less than ten minutes. So jot this down for when you need a quick hunger fix!


1 cup of flour
Just over ½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 red bird’s eye chilli (optional), de-seeded and chopped. Alternately, use regular red chilli or a ½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 spring onion, chopped
1 tablespoon of ikan bilis or small dried anchovies
Oil for deep or shallow frying

Anchovies, chopped chillies, spring onions and salt in the batter.

To prepare the batter quicker, use scissors to cut the chilli and spring onion. Whisk the water and flour together until it forms a smooth batter. Add all other ingredients to the batter and mix well. Heat some oil for frying in a pan on medium high heat.

Gently drop a spoonful of batter at a time into the oil and fry the fritters on both sides until golden; it should only take a minute or two on each side. Remove from heat and drain off excess oil with kitchen roll. Cucur ikan bilis is best served with chilli sauce or ketchup.

Tip: The batter keeps for a couple of days, so any extra mixture can be saved for another day.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Chicken Curry

South Indian curries tend to be more dilute and spicier than most, without compromising the flavours and taste. The key to a good curry is in balancing the flavours, aroma and using fresh ingredients. I would also advise using meat on the bone when making meat-based curries and allow them to simmer for some time; works better than stock cubes for flavour! This chicken curry is based on these techniques, and same applies to fish curries too.

While most curries are made with coconut milk or cream this recipe does not call for it, as I am adding ground cashew nuts for richness and body. Don’t let that stop you from adding a splash of coconut milk or regular milk in yours, especially if you want to calm the spice level down a notch.


600-800g chicken meat (on the bone if possible)
1 onion, sliced
5-6 garlic cloves
5-6 slices of ginger
1 large cinnamon stick
2-3 star anise
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 stalks of curry leaves, alternately you can use a few stalks of fresh, chopped coriander
2 large potatoes, skinned and cut into medium chunks
1 desert spoon turmeric powder
1-2 desert spoon chilli powder (use less or none if you prefer a mild curry)
4-5 desert spoon meat curry powder
2 desert spoon kurma curry powder
1 desert spoon coriander powder
2-3 large tomatoes, cut into quarters
5-6 cashew nuts, ground into a paste
½ lime juice
2-3 bowls of water

Clean and cut the chicken into small or medium pieces. Crush ginger and garlic into a paste using a mortar and pestle or a blender. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a wok over low heat. Sauté the cinnamon, fennel seeds and star anise for one minute, then add the onion, curry leaves and garlic and ginger paste. In two minutes, the sautéing ingredients should be fragrant, and the potatoes and chicken are added. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and leave the lid on for three to five minutes.

Mix all the curry powders with a bowl of water and pour it into the pot. Turn the heat up to medium and allow it simmer and boil for fifteen minutes. Spear the potatoes with a fork to check if they are cooked. When they are, add two more bowls of water (or to a desired thickness), tomatoes and ground cashew nuts to the boiling curry and allow to simmer for another ten minutes. Add lime juice and taste the curry, in case more seasoning is needed. Simmer for a few more minutes before removing from heat, and serve with roti or rice.

Tip: If using coconut cream or milk, add it about five minutes before taking the curry off the heat. Those who are substituting curry leaves with fresh coriander can add it to the curry at the same time as the tomatoes.

Chicken curry served with rice, french beans and papadum.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Pisang Goreng (Banana Fritters)

Pisang goreng or banana fritters are easily one of the widely favoured kuih for the afternoon cup of teh tarik (or other hot beverage) for most Malaysians when they are feeling indulgent. As bananas grow wild in that part of the world, a variety of bananas are also widely cultivated there. The ones normally used for frying are sweet with a hint of sharpness, such as pisang tanduk, pisang nangka and pisang nipah (these names are in Malay), but you can fry the Cavendish bananas available from your supermarkets too. Here's a quick simple recipe for it-

4-5 ripe bananas, sliced in half and/or cut into desired shape
¾ cup rice flour
¼ cup flour
pinch of salt
1½ cup water
Oil for deep frying

Whisk the water into the mixture of both flours and salt until smooth. Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan. Dip the banana slices in the batter and gently slide them into the hot oil, covering them with a generous coating of batter. Fry on both sides until golden, then remove from heat and drain off excess oil before tucking in.

Tip: To test whether the oil is hot enough for frying, pour a drop of the batter into it- if it fizzes up immediately, it is ready. Frying at high enough temperature will ensure your fritters are not soggy and soaked in oil when cooked, but careful not to burn it or yourself! 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Wantan Noodles (in soy sauce)

There are two types of wantan, or wonton noodles- one served in a clear broth and another dressed in a mixture of soy sauces with a side of meat filled wantan parcels in clear broth. The latter is normally served with slices of char siu, or barbecued pork, but I’m using fish balls and prawn wantan. Both uses the thin noodles that you can find in most oriental food shops.

As this is one of my favourite Malaysian (Chinese) dishes, I had an extra incentive to learn to make it. It helps that it’s quite easy to prepare!

200g wantan noodles, serves two persons
4-5 choy sum or pak choi
8 fish balls, halved

Sauce mixture
3 desert spoon sweet soy sauce
1½ desert spoon dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon oyster sauce
½ teaspoon mirin

10 wantan pastry
5 fresh large prawns, shelled, de-veined and chopped finely
1 teaspoon chopped chives
½ teaspoon garlic paste
1 teaspoon oyster sauce
A dash of white pepper

2 bowls of water
½ cube of chicken stock
1 teaspoon chopped chives, or spring onion
Pinch of salt and white pepper

To make the wantan, mix the chives, garlic and oyster sauce with the minced prawn and season with white pepper. Spoon a small amount of mixture onto the centre of the pastry, wet the edges with water and crimp the edges together to keep the filling in. This should make ten wantans.

Boil the broth ingredients in a pot for five minutes. The wantan parcels are dropped into this broth gently and boiled until they float up, which normally takes only two or three minutes. Take off the heat and serve in two individual bowls.

Bring a pot of water to boil, blanch the noodles, fish balls and the vegetables in less than a minute. Dress the noodles in the sauce mixture before serving up. 

Wantan noodles and prawn wantans in clear broth served with minced garlic and chopped red chilies. The garlic and chillies are doused in soy sauce and added to the main dish as condiment.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Spiced Chickpeas (Talippu)

Chickpeas can be a healthy and tasty snack. Here's a nice and simple way of spicing your regular can of chickpeas into a moreish nibble, using talippu, or spice mix.

1 can of chickpeas, drained (if using dried chickpeas, soak overnight and boil until they are cooked)
½ onion, sliced
1 stalk curry leaves
2-3 dried chillies
1 teaspoon spice mix (mixture of mustard seeds, fenugreek and fennel seeds)
Salt and pepper

Fry onions, curry leaves, dried chillies and spice mix is a tablespoon of oil over low heat to release the flavours. When the onions are brown, add the chickpeas and season. Heat through for three minutes and serve. It’s great as an appetiser or snack.