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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: 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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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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Weekend Cooking: Sausage and Chicken Jambalaya

After cycling through quite a few Middle Eastern dishes of late, I decided to revisit some of the old recipes I made but never got around to properly document.  This jambalaya recipe based on the one by Emeril Lagasse was particularly nostalgic for me, because this was one of the first dishes I made when I started cooking at home about 6 or 7 years ago.   There was a time when Kak’mbang going back to our hometown meant having takeout or delivery every day.  This dish was my first home cooked dinner for my family, and it was the start of many many more thereafter.

This dish is fairly foolproof and not difficult to make. All you need is patience, because you’ll be spending around 40 to 45 minutes stirring the stuff in the pot almost non-stop.  The result is a light, healthy one-pot meal, great for potlucks and gatherings.

The ingredients aren’t anything too fancy either – I usually get my Italian sausages from B.I.G. lately, but I used to frequent Village Grocer and I think theirs actually taste better.  Village Grocer also carries chicken Chorizo sausages as far as I know, and you can use that for a slightly spicier flavor.  Unlike commercially packed, mass market sausages which are very firm (and cooked, I’m guessing), premium sausages like those at B.I.G. or Village Grocer or the ones by Victoria Crest are raw and therefore can be quite challenging to slice when thawed.  I usually prefer to slice them when frozen to maintain their shape.

Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: Smoked Duck and Sausage Gumbo

I’m really trying hard to clear out stuff from my freezer.  It doesn’t help that I keep buying new ingredients, I know, but I still try.  I had a few smoked duck breasts sitting at the bottom of my freezer for ages, and I knew I had to make something that would do them justice.  I’ve used them in risotto before, and considered using them in aglio olio.  But I wanted to use them all up in one go, so I decided on this gumbo recipe I found on Saveur.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect when making this.  The ingredients looked simple enough, and given the rather tedious step of making a dark roux, I went on with it hoping it wasn’t for nothing.  When I finally tried it, served over steaming hot white rice, I was so pleasantly surprised.  The flavor was rich and dark and smoky and went so well with the plain rice.  All of us went for seconds.

The original recipe made a lot, so I halved the recipe and used ingredients I had on hand (and actually available in KL/Malaysia).  I couldn’t find mesquite seasoning anywhere, and making your own still seems like a pain, so I used barbecue seasoning instead.  The goal of this recipe is to create as much of that wonderful smoky flavor as possible, so do not sub that smoked paprika with sweet or hot (all three offer quite different flavors anyway), definitely use smoked duck instead of fresh, and find some good quality smoked sausages.  I made the mistake of using cheapo “smoked” sausages (see pic below), and was rather disappointed by the really meh texture, which resembled fishballs instead of meat and gristle.  The next time I make this (and I definitely will), I’ll use Victoria Crest’s smoked chicken sausages instead, which is available at the more upmarket grocers like B.I.G. and Village Grocer.  I’ll also be making the potato salad as well, which I hear is excellent when paired with this gumbo.

Try it out! Well worth the effort.

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GobbleFest 2017 Leftovers: Turkey Noodle Casserole

When there’s a turkey dinner there’s inevitably leftovers, which opens up opportunities for more culinary adventures.  I saved the carcass to make turkey stock later, and while some of the meat I planned to make yummy turkey waldorf salad with, for the family coming over for dinner tonight I decided to try this simple yet yummy looking recipe by The Kitchn.

I tweaked the ingredients based on the quantities I had on hand.  The results were still great, and guests cleaned out their plates and the whole tray of pasta, with enough for a few people to have seconds.  Give it a try!

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Eman’s Chicken Kabsa

Mummy wasn’t feeling well a few weekends back, and I was really worried because she took so long to recover and had such poor appetite.  I decided to make something nice for her for dinner, in hopes that she’d eat more.  I didn’t want to do a lamb dish, because I figured an elevated blood pressure was the last thing Mummy needed at that point.  Finally I settled for a hearty pot of her favourite lentil soup, as well as this chicken kabsa recipe by Saudi Food Eman.

This chicken kabsa was slightly different from the version I made previously.  I like how Eman finishes her chicken in the oven, for a crispier chicken.  I would add 1/4 cup each of chickpeas and jumbo raisins next time, because Mummy seems to like that.  Try this out if you don’t have any pre-made Kabsah spices on hand.  Enjoy!

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Weekend Cooking: Lamb Meghazlia Rice

This was on my To-Make list for a while now, and finally I managed to make it this week.  Use a mix of meat and bones for a more flavorful stock; I chose lamb shoulder chops specifically for this purpose.  If you’re not keen on making your own meghazlia spice mix, I’m sure subbing with your favorite spice mix such as bukhari, kabsah and the like works just as well.  A great dish which was quite simple to make and easy to eat, I’ll definitely be making this again.

Try it out!

Based on the recipe by Saudi Food Eman.

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