Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spiced Fried Chicken Drumsticks

If you are not up to complex cooking after a long tiring day at work, well here's a very simple fried chicken drumsticks recipe for you. It's so simple because I use powdered spices. All you need is a teaspoon each of turmeric powder, chili powder, cumin powder and coriander powder, and 3/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix it all evenly together on a large plate. Next, place 5 pieces of unfrozen chicken drumsticks which have been rinsed and drained off excess water onto the powdered spices and roll to coat all over. Randomly sprinkle with some tap water if necessary in order to damp the spices. Cover and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Heat 3/4 cup oil in a non-stick frying pan and shallow fry all sides of the drumsticks till browned and cooked.

Enjoy!...& till then,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Mom's Nyonya Ikan Cili Garam (Nyonya-style Fried Fish with Chili Paste)

Preparing Nyonya food is often considered a laborious task as the cuisine is synonymous with super heady aroma and spicy blend of various spices and ingredients prepared in the most traditional way - using stone mortar and pestle (lesung) or a very thick and heavy stone slab that comes with a stone rolling pin (batu giling). This perception that many hold is, well, quite true!..that is, depending on what you cook. Not all Nyonya or Peranakan food are difficult or require a long-drawn process to prepare. There are times that I just want a quick-fix Nyonya food and ikan cili garam is definitely one of my favorites in the super easy category. Unlike the older generation of Nyonyas who were known to be real fussy cooks who swear by the use of tools like the lesung and batu giling to bring out the best of taste and fragrance from the spices or ingredients, I am just thankful to whoever that invented the electric blender!

Below is my darling late Mom's recipe. She used to cook this sometimes 2 or 3 times a week and we were so contented with just a simple dish. Hers tasted fabulous because she would tirelessly pound all the ingredients by hand using lesung or batu giling. The only complain I have when I made this sometimes was when the chilies were not spicy enough. This is where comes the addition of bird's eye chilies (cili padi). The ingredients for the paste are extremely uncomplicated - only shallots, chilies and salt. However, never underestimate how simple and few ingredients can make a dish tastes oh so delicious!

The best types of fishes for this are ikan gelama (sorry! donch know what it's called in English), pomfret, mackerel, stingray or snapper. (The fish in the pics is ikan gelama, as we call here in Malaysia).

Mom's Recipe
2 fishes (whole or slices)
1/2 cup oil

Pound/blend together:
5 shallots
6 fresh chilies
3 fresh bird's eye chilies (cili padi)
1/2 tsp salt

- Heat the 1/2 cup oil in a non-stick frying pan. Fry the fish till brown. Drain off the oil and place the fried fish on a serving plate.
- Using the leftover oil from frying the fish, take about 3-4 tbsp and heat it up in a frying pan/wok. Pour in the blended chili paste and saute for 12-15 minutes over medium heat. Drain the oil and dish up the chili paste and pour over the fried fish. (Note: If you believe that life should be lived well, then dribble some of those oil from saute-ing the chili onto the fish too. Yumm yummm!)


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Lamb Korma Pilaf


This is my first time making lamb pilaf and thanks to Camellia Panjabi's "50 Great Curries of India", it turned out superb and delicious! The aromas of lamb cooked in korma gravy and the basmati rice in turmeric powder were fantastic. It's a truly wonderful recipe too good not to be shared. The recipe does need a rather long list of spices and condiments, but the result is going to worth all the efforts you have to make to get the ingredients complete and the time you have to spend in the kitchen preparing this flavorful Indian meal. A short intro in the recipe page about this lovely meal says:
'Lucknowi cuisine is a refined version of Moghul cuisine, with an accent of aromas, hence the mace, nutmeg, saffron and rosewater. Contrary to common belief, Lucknow is famous for its wide range of pulaos, rather than biryani. This pulao recipe is from the home of Bulu Hamied, who was born and raised in Lucknow'.
Serves 6-8

400g basmati rice
65ml oil
4 large onions, finely chopped
2.5 x 1cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 green chillies, chopped
5 cloves
5 cardamoms
5cm cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
1kg boneless lamb
1 tbsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 level tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tsps red chilli powder
3 pieces mace (I omitted this)
1/4 nutmeg powder
100ml full-fat plain yoghurt
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 tsp salt

For the rice
2 cassia leaves or bay leaves
1 tsp oil or butter
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 level tsp salt
a few strands of saffron
2 tbsp rosewater or milk

1. Wash the rice a few times. Leave the rice to soak in a bowl of water for 30 mins.

2. Heat the oil in a shallow pot or large pan. Fry the onions till they are medium to darkish brown. Add the ginger, garlic, chillies, cloves, cardamoms and cinnamon and fry for 2-3 mins. Add the lamb and stir fry over a low to medium heat, stirring continuously for at least 10-15 mins. The longer you do so, the better the taste.

3. Add the coriander powder, stir for 2 mins, then add the other spice powders and mix well. Add 65ml water and stir and let it simmer for 2 mins.

4. Whisk or whip the yoghurt with a fork and add to the pot. Add the tomatoes and salt. Stir, cover with a lid and leave to cook until the lamb is 90 per cent done, but checking every 15 mins or so to see if the pot has dried up completely. If it does, add 100ml water or more. When the lamb is done, it should have a thick spice coating, but not a runny gravy. (I added eggplants 15 mins before the lamb is done)

5. Drain the rice. Put in a separate pot with equal quantity of water (measure using a cup or bowl). Put the same volume of water to boil with the bay leaves. When boiling, add the oil, salt and turmeric powder. Then add the rice. Leave pot uncovered. When the water is absorbed, the rice will be three-quarters cooked.

6. Soak the saffron in 2 tbsp of rosewater or milk and set aside.

7. Take a large ovenproof serving dish. Brush the bottom with a little oil. Put half the rice in and spread it evenly. Then put the cooked lamb on top and spread over. Put the rest of the rice on top. Cover with lid and cook in preheated oven at 160 deg C for 20 mins. The rice will have cooked and absorbed some of the moisture from the korma. You will also get a curried rice at the bottom and the fragrant rice at the top, making a delectable korma and rice combination. Sprinkle the saffron and rosewater/milk on top.