June 2017

Viewing posts from June , 2017

Ramadan Cooking: Lamb Makhtoom

It’s almost the end of Ramadan, and I was hoping to cook a few more dishes before I’m no longer allowed to leave work an hour earlier.  I found a YouTube channel called Saudi Food Eman, and I really liked her videos.  This lamb makhtoom looked simple enough to make, and I happened to have some lamb stashed in the freezer from my trip to the market last weekend.

The original recipe called for lamb ribs, but premium lamb French cutlets cost and arm an a leg at B.I.G. (RM200/kg! Ohmigosh!), and the ribs I saw at the market were just too skinny with barely any meat.  Update: I just realized that the correct cut to ask for at my wet market butcher was lamb chops, not ribs.  RM43/kg, not bad at all!  I made this dish again with ribs, and could definitely taste the difference.  The bones added really good flavor to the sauce, and there’s just some strange satisfaction in gnawing juicy meat off the bone.  Don’t skimp on the cilantro, it adds such wonderful dimension to the dish.  

Eman said with lamb chops this dish would only need 10 minutes in the pressure cooker, but I noticed that with my Philips electric pressure cooker, even after 30 minutes it could still use a bit more cooking time.  My first time making this I used lamb shoulder chunks, and I also adjusted the cooking time accordingly.

Another first was using Arabic gum.  In Eman’s video she called it “mystic gum,” but after Googling around I discovered that the word she meant was mastic gum, also known as Arabic gum or Yemen gum.  It is apparently *not* the same as gum Arabic (like, seriously), which is also known as Acacia gum.  I didn’t know this at the time, and I ended up getting both the Arabic and acacia gum.  I used the acacia gum when I made this dish, actually.  Will need to make this again with the Arabic gum proper, to see if there’s any difference in taste.

I loved this dish. The flavor of the tomatoes were nicely infused into the meat, and the cinnamon gave it a lovely sweet aroma.  The tomatoes I had on hand were really small and I had to adjust to what I think the amount should be, but in the end I think there wasn’t enough liquid and the dish turned out a little salty (I still could eat a lot of it though).  Need to make this again to get it right.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Cornflakes Chicken

It was the last few days of Ramadan, and things were reaaaally slowing down at work.  As I was staring at my laptop screen wondering what work I should do for the day, an email came in from Nando’s with the subject line, “Take PERi-PERi sauce balik kampung this Hari Raya okay!” I clicked on it and found this recipe.  It looked simple enough, and B.I.G. is just right there to get groceries from, so I decided to make it when I got home from work.

I made mine using my air fryer instead of the oven.  I think I cut my chicken a bit too small, so that’s another thing I’d improve on next time.  Super simple and healthy.  Try it out!

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Ramadan Cooking: Chicken Kabsah with Rice

Usually during Ramadan I try to cook more often for my family.  Sometimes I make snacks and appetizers, and sometimes I try to make one-pot meals.  This year’s Ramadan, one of the first buka puasa dishes I made was this chicken kabsah.  My family loves Middle Eastern cuisine, but our favourite nasi Arab restaurant, Half Moon, is just too darn far for us to bother getting takeout from *and* still expect to be back home in time for tarawih prayers.  So, here I was, looking around for recipes on the Internet and finally choosing this one, with my own modifications.

Getting the rice to liquid ratio was a bit tricky for me.  During my first try making this, I underestimated how much liquid the vegetables and chicken would produce, and my rice ended up being soggy.  I also need to make sure I remember not to soak the rice like I usually do, which also would result in mushy rice.  I also prefer the chicken to be slightly crispier, so I browned the chicken first before adding the rice.

Overall I loved this dish, simple yet so comforting and delicious.  Something I’ll definitely make again and again.

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Ramadan Cooking: Chef Ammar’s Mandy Rice with Lamb Shank

Bought a few really nice lamb shanks (and a bunch of other things) from B.I.G. last Friday! They cost a lot more than from the TTDI wet market, but the quality looks top notch.  This weekend was quite busy for me to cook everything I bought, but at least I managed to make this lamb mandy by Chef Ammar.

Chef Ammar has made several iterations of this dish over the years; I even tried out a variation of his recipe a few years back.  This one was from his Ramadan cooking show last year and was a lot easier to follow, with clearer instructions and a more accurate list of ingredients.  I halved the recipe here because there’s only four of us, and modified the recipe a bit to suit my taste.  I also used my Philips HD2139 pressure cooker.

The lamb turned out super tender and flavorful, and the rice was delicious.  I noticed that the 3 lamb shanks fit quite snugly in my electric pressure cooker, so if I want to scale up this recipe for Aidilfitri celebrations, I’ll have to use my larger stovetop one.  In any case, good to know I did them lamb shanks justice!

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Ramadan Cooking: Potato Croquettes

Ever since Ramadan started, I’ve been taking my quick breaks walking through the aisles of Ben’s Independent Grocer (B.I.G.) almost every working day.  Sometimes (very rarely) I leave empty handed, but most of the time I would buy some fruit at half price or bread or some ingredient I could use to make something small for buka puasa.  So this time I bought a bag of panko breadcrumbs, and made another recipe from Chef Kamarul’s book.

These croquettes were lovely, and reminded me so much of the snack I love back in Japan.  I noticed that mixing the ingredients using the potato masher wasn’t so effective for me, so next time I’ll switch to a spatula or wooden spoon instead.  I’ll also stuff them with cheese or meat to make them more hearty.

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Ramadan Cooking: Murtabak Maggi

Back in boarding school, every year the Form 4 seniors would organize a food carnival to raise funds for their Graduation Night.  Every class would set up stalls selling all sorts of food, from the normal stuff like pasta or nasi goreng, to the more creative stuff like banana with Milo drizzle (my first time learning that chocolate and banana go super well together), and of course, murtabak Maggi.

I still remember standing there watching my seniors prepare my order.  Cooked plain Maggi instant noodles were tossed in a mixture of egg and burger patty meat.  I’ve never tasted anything like it, and it was awesome.  This was almost 20 years ago.

Over the years I tried making it a couple of times, but I just couldn’t get the ratio of the ingredients right.  The murtabak either came out too dry, or just didn’t come together at all and ending up being just a regular Maggi goreng.  

Since I’ve got some extra time to cook something for buka puasa, I tried making it again.  I used this recipe from the official Maggi website and gave it my own little twist, a tribute to that awesome version my seniors made.  Absolutely delicious!

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Ramadan Cooking: Air-Fried Banana Spring Rolls With Nutella Drizzle

I bought a bunch of pisang mas last weekend, and they were quite green then so I thought they would last a while.  By mid week they’ve started to become overripe, so Kak’mbang asked me to try out this recipe by Chef Kamarul from his book, Resepi 30 Minit Chef Kamarul.  Overall recipes from his book look super simple yet promising in terms of yumminess, and I really do need to use up those bananas, so I gave this a go, with a few small changes.

Mummy doesn’t really like deep fried foods, so I made mine using an air fryer.  I used red sugar instead of brown because it gives a richer flavor, although it does melt really fast and makes the bananas quite wet.  Here’s a tip – be sure to separate out the spring roll sheets upfront, so that you can quickly assemble the spring rolls and chuck ’em in the air fryer.  I made the mistake of (sloooowly) peeling the sheets as I went along, and because my banana mixture was wet, the first few that I assembled became rather soggy and burst during the cooking process.  I also saved some time by using simple Nutella instead of making my chocolate sauce from scratch.

The results were lovely.  The spring roll skin crisped very nicely in the air fryer, and the sweetness of the filling was just nice, letting the natural flavor of the bananas do most of the talking.  A good snack ready to eat within 30 minutes!

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Tech Adventures: Thunderbolt 3 External Graphics

Our desktops at home, Alexstrasza and Keristrasza, have seen little use  in the past years. Firstly, because the room they’re in got messed up by our cats. Secondly, because we’ve primarily moved to mobile and console gaming. Lastly, because lounging on a sofa or bed is much more comfortable than sitting in an IKEA work chair. 😛

Seeing how we prefer working on laptops instead of desktops nowadays, I shifted our future PC landscape plan to replace the obsolete PCs with laptops and some accessories to help them out. One of these accessories is an external Thunderbolt 3 GPU enclosure, to give our slim laptops a boost when playing games or rendering video. Essentially, I wanted to have a single portable device that I’ll bring to work and everywhere, while having the ability to hook it up at home and play AAA games on it.

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Ramadan Cooking: Chef Ammar’s Chicken Mandy with Rice and Arabic Salsa

I’ve been quite good about making something for buka puasa almost every day now, usually appetizers and snacks on weekdays, and a full meal on weekends.  I had a giant whole chicken in the freezer waiting for me to do something with, so I decided to try out Chef Ammar’s chicken mandy with rice.

I saw Chef Ammar make this dish from one of his shows I found on YouTube.  As always the ingredients list they displayed on screen differred from what he actually used on set, which was strange, so I had to figure out a few things on my own.

I made adjustments to the recipe written below after my first attempt at making this.  Overall I thought the rice was delicious and didn’t change a thing, but the flavor of the chicken from the other recipe I’ve tried was better.  The salsa was the perfect accompaniment to this dish, and I highly recommend taking just that little bit of extra time to make it.  Give it a try!

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Ramadan Cooking: Shorbat el Ads (Middle Eastern Lentil Soup)

Ramadan mubarak, everyone!  Because of the fasting month, we get to leave work an hour early, and this has given me the opportunity to be home early enough to make something for buka puasa.

When Mummy went for her umrah earlier this year, the place she was staying at served a nice lentil soup that she liked very much.  I figured it’d be nice to make her something that she likes, and despite not having much to go by in terms of description (“It’s a nice smooth puree.”), I searched around for possible recipes.  I needed something simple enough which uses fairly common ingredients, so I decided on this highly rated one on BBC Good Food.

This took me two tries to get right.  My first time making this, I halved the recipe but otherwise followed it as written.  While the flavor was very nice, the lentils weren’t tender enough despite the recipe’s reassurance that no pre-soaking was necessary.  I made this again the next day, this time soaking the lentils beforehand and then cooking it using my Philips electric pressure cooker.  The results were wonderful, and Mummy cleaned her bowl with her bread.

Update: Be sure to take your time to sautee the onions.  They should be nicely browned and caramelized after 5 minutes.  Makes a huge difference to the flavor!

A delicious, hearty soup which can be a meal of its own, and very authentic, as verified by my mom.  Give it a try!

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