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RayaFest 2018: Kak’mbang’s Peanut Sauce (Kuah Kacang)

Kak’mbang seriously makes the best kuah kacang.  We love it so much, whenever we see kuah kacang sold by vendors out there we never gave them a second look.  Of course Kak’mbang thinks everything she makes is just so-so, which is downright ridiculous.

Anyway, since there was a lot we needed to prep for Hari Raya, I volunteered to help Kak’mbang make her amazing kuah kacang this year.  She started without me so I didn’t get a shot of the ingredients, but thankfully I got everything else.  I’m so happy I managed to document yet another one of Kak’mbang’s yummy creations.

Selamat Hari Raya, everyone!

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RayaFest 2018: Pulut Lepa Terengganu

Being from Terengganu, I grew up thinking fish is a natural, common ingredient in so many local favorites; nasi lemak with sambal ikan tongkol, karipap, pulut panggang (we call ’em pulut lepa)… but *of course* fish is the main ingredient!

Wait… you guys have nasi lemak with chicken rendang and *gasp* paru (beef lung)? Karipap kentang? What is this orange coconut nonsense in this pulut panggang?!! Well, imagine how shocked I was discovering what them West-coast folks are eating.  This was probably when I was about 7 or 8 years old.

Anyway, fast forward to today, I really miss the East-coast pulut panggang with fish filling.  On very rare occassions someone managed to find it here in KL and I would eagerly wolf them down, but they mostly turned out quite underwhelming.  But we compromised anyway, because it was better than nothing.

Finally I thought, why not make it myself and serve it for Hari Raya? I looked around for recipes online, and combined with Kak’mbang’s knowledge and experience we managed to make a decent Terengganu-syle pulut lepa which Mummy and my aunties (all Terengganu natives) accepted as truly authentic.

Here it is, if you ever feel like having some Terengganu fare.  Do note that this recipe makes a lot, so feel free halving it.  Leftover fish filling can also be used in yummy Terengganu-style karipap.

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Ramadan Cooking: Eman’s Chicken Mandy

It’s the last weekend of Ramadan. Gosh, time really flies.  I wanted to make Chef Wan’s briyani gam with chicken kuzi, but I was missing a few ingredients and I’ll only be going to the market tomorrow.  Since I’ll also be eating out tomorrow, if I wanted to make something, tonight was my only window of opportunity to do so.  I decided on Eman’s chicken mandy, which I’ve been meaning to try for quite some time now.

I fell behind schedule and ended up rushing to have it ready for buka puasa, so this time I skipped the smoking process and completely forgot the fried onion and cilantro garnish.  Flavour-wise I think this was great, and the rice to water ratio was pretty spot on.  The original recipe called for saffron coloring which was supposed to give the chicken a nice reddish tone, but since I don’t have any on hand and have no idea where to get it, I’m thinking of using smoked paprika next time.

Will definitely make this again.

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Ramadan Cooking: Karnataka-style Chicken Briyani

Last Ramadan I was binging on Middle Eastern recipes, but this year I stumbled upon this YouTube channel called Get Curried and was intrigued by their selection of Indian recipes.  At first I wanted to try their butter chicken, but it’s the weekend and I should do something fancier and Mom also suggested I try making briyani.

This isn’t like the briyani I’m used to here in Malaysia.  The video says this is a style specific to the Karnataka state of India, and even then looking at the comments there are a bunch of Karnatakans claiming that theirs is more authentic than the rest, so I can’t comment on that.  Nonetheless the mixture of flavors from the yoghurt, cilantro and mint, and the heat from the cili padi was really interesting and yummy, and I loved how the rice turned out nicely moist without being mushy.

I found the planning stage most exciting when making this.  I started off by mixing the saffron milk, then prepped the ingredients for the green paste.  After marinating the chicken I set a small pot of water on the stove, and prepped the rest of the ingredients while the potatoes were boiling.  I soaked the rice, then put the pot of water for the rice on the stove, and started on the gravy while waiting for the water come to a boil, which would take about as much time as required for soaking the rice.  By the time it was time to add the chicken to the pot, the chicken has been marinating for an hour as planned.  So all the tasks were timed quite nicely and the dish was ready 10 minutes before it was time to break fast.  It was a lot of fun for me.

Do try this out, whenever you’re feeling like a different style of briyani.

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Ramadan Cooking: Shuraba (Meat and Oat Soup)

Mummy has been losing weight of late, and I’ve been trying out various soup recipes for her to have some variety in her diet.  I wanted to keep things interesting enough for her to want to eat, while at the same time provide her with all the necessary nutrition to stay healthy.

Since it’s fasting month and she might get even skinnier, I tried out this wonderful oat soup recipe by the Queen of Sheba.  It’s a soup which is pretty much a meal on its own, with healthy oats and protein from the meat.  At the same time it is really easy to eat, making it the perfect dish for sahur.  It is a bit heavy to have as a starter before a main course, so my family and I would dish out only very very small bowls during buka puasa.  

Try it out!

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Ramadan Cooking: Shrimp Scampi Pasta

I found some really nice (albeit expensive) shrimp at B.I.G. recently, and at the same time was having such a craving for pasta.  I’ve mentioned previously that I really love the shrimp scampi at Tony Roma’s, although over the years they seemed to have modified the recipe or something and even that has lost its appeal to me.  I’ve tried making it myself once before, using Tyler Florence’s recipe, but I found it to be just so-so.  This time, I stumbled upon this recipe by Rasa Malaysia and decided to work from there.

This being an Italian dish, the original recipe called for white wine, so as always I subbed it with apple juice.  I sometimes would dilute apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar as a substitute for white wine in soups and pies, but I found that in pasta dishes vinegar might make it turn out too acidic.  I also like to use cilantro instead of parsley especially for seafood dishes.  I doubled the amount of cayenne for a bit more heat.

The results were fabulous! Everyone had seconds.  When attempting this recipe, be sure to have all your ingredients on hand, measured and ready to go.  Once your shrimp is in the pan work fast – as soon as the shrimp turns fully opaque remove the pan from heat, to make sure they don’t overcook.  Give it a try!

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Ramadan Cooking: Moroccan Lamb Soup

I bought some lamb cubes some time back and never got around to cooking them.  Since it’s Ramadan and the evenings have been so rainy of late, I wanted to make something comforting and soupy.  Besides, Mummy is watching her health more carefully and no longer eats any red meat, so even though she’ll avoid this dish, it is just one of the many dishes we served with rice for our buka puasa meal.

I loved the broth, so flavourful yet the spices are not overpowering.  I flooded my rice with it, and i imagine this soup would also be excellent with bread.

The original recipe was intended for lamb shanks, but since I wanted to use up the lamb cubes in the freezer I just used that.  The meat turned out a bit tough even after simmering for 1 1/2 hours, so I wonder if I’ll give it 30 minutes in the pressure cooker next time.   Because it was already time to break fast and the meat wasn’t as tender as I had hoped, I skipped the shredding step.  Will make this again, using a couple of good quality shanks I hope.  Yums!

Adapted from a recipe on taste.com.au.

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Ramadan Cooking: Peri-peri Sausage Rolls

Ramadan mubarak, everyone! I can’t believe a year went by so fast.  Since I get off work an hour early, again I try to make small dishes like appetisers and snacks for breaking fast.  I still have a few bottles of Nando’s PERi-PERi sauce in the larder, so I looked through their website for ideas.  These sausage rolls looked so yummy, so away I went to Ben’s Independent Grocer during my half-hour afternoon break to buy what I needed.

A few things I did for this recipe: I used chicken cheese sausages and breadcrumbs with Italian herbs, and I think this made the rolls “taste like pizza”.  I also used Italian flat-leaf parsley instead of English (I wasn’t sure which one I was supposed to use until I came back and watched the video), which had a stronger flavor I didn’t fancy too much, so I’ll use English parsley next time.  In the spirit of Ramadan I gave the dish a slight Middle Eastern twist and used habbatus sauda in place of black sesame seeds.

Mind you this recipe makes quite a lot of filling, and depending on how big your bread is you might end up with multiple rolls instead of just one as stated in the original recipe.  I used Massimo white sandwich loaf, and ended up with four rolls in total.

Overall this was a delicious snack, great for moreh and sahur, as well as for potlucks and afternoon tea.  Give it a try!

Based on the recipe by Nando’s UK.

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Weekend Cooking: Pumpkin Soup

Mummy has her “seasons” of favorite foods.  Currently she’s into pumpkins, and every week we’d pick one up from the grocery store.  Kak’mbang has tried making all sorts of stuff with it, from sayur labu to pengat to bingka, and most recently delicious pumpkin pudding.  Mummy requested sayur labu every day, then got sick of it and moved on to pengat, and got sick of that one too.  She loves the bingka and the pudding, but these are desserts and Kak’mbang wanted more savoury options.  This was where I came in, and I offered to make pumpkin soup.

I looked through several options on the Internet, and found this one to be most interesting.  I’ve tweaked it here and there as always, using readily available ingredients and spices in my pantry.  The end result was a hearty, flavorful soup, a comforting dish which would have been excellent served with crusty bread.   I might use about 50% more chicken stock cubes next time and adjust the salt quantity accordingly, for even more oomph.  

Definitely making this again!

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Weekend Cooking: Paella

Tesco had some good shrimp and mussels in stock, and I really wanted to take my lovely Le Creuset casserole (thanks Tiff!) for a spin, so I decided to try making and perfecting a paella recipe.

I’ve made this twice now, but am still not fully satisfied with the results.  The first time I felt that the meats were not adequately seasoned and there was just way too much rice.  The second time, I used a bit too much liquid so the rice turned out a bit mushy.  Flavor-wise I think the rice was nice, but I really need to get the rice to liquid ratio right.

The following recipe has been tweaked with my notes on what I’d do differently next time.  From the base recipe I added a few more herbs to the stock mixture, and salt the chicken and shrimp a little for a bit more flavor.  I found using beef bacon resulted in a less salty dish and additional salt might be required, so I tried smoked chicken breast and it gave a nice smoky taste to the dish.  I also chopped my onions and bell peppers using a food processor, for a finer cut as well as to save me a lot of time. I’d use a spicier sausage next time, though, for a bit more kick.  Italian just tastes too herby and mild for me.

Try it out!

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