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Spices – Indian Claypot Rice (Sattisoru) @ Restoran Try To Eat, Rawang

Claypots have been used in traditional cooking for centuries and across many different cultures. It is said that the porous quality of clay helps to retain the food’s nutritional value, whilst also giving the dish an earthy aroma and deeper flavours.

Here in Malaysia, claypot chicken rice is very popular among the Chinese diaspora. It usually contains chopped pieces of chicken, salted fish, chives and Chinese sausage, drizzled over with dark soy sauce. The dish was traditionally eaten in Southern China as a dinner dish, and it was later brought over to Southeast Asia (Malaysia/Singapore) by Hokkien immigrants.

Indian-style claypot rice (sattisoru), however, is new to me. Perhaps it’s because I don’t eat Indian food often (blame it on my canto palate!), but I’ve been ignorant about its existence until recently, when I had to interview and write about a street chef in Rawang who sells sattisoru.

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You can find Spices Claypot Rice tucked within Restoran Try to Eat, a no-frills food court by the side of the road. Despite being the only Indian stall here, it attracts customers of all races. There’s a wide variety of dishes on offer, including their signature Claypot Mutton Masala (RM12), Chicken Masala, Prawn Masala and Chilli Chicken Masala. Less common ingredients like salted fish and sardine are also available, and there are vegetarian options for non-meat eaters.

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Spices is run by Janagaraju Arumugam, a young chef with a huge passion for food. Prior to opening Spices two years ago together with his wife, Jana worked as an engineer and had no F&B experience – so it was a big leap of faith.

“We started this as a part-time venture. My wife was a pharmacist and I was still working as an engineer. We’d only open our stall after we finished our day jobs, at 6pm,” he quips. Juggling two jobs was exhausting, but Jana keenly pushed forward. Eventually, he quit his job to run the stall full-time, and has since hired more people to help out at his stalls, of which there are four in the Klang Valley (aside from Rawang, he also has branches in Kota Kemuning, Selayang and Klang).

Why give up a cushy shop to be a chef-cum-businessman? Jana explains that as a boy, he used to help his mother out in the kitchen, and he recalls fondly how his mother’s love for her family shone through the dishes she made – something he is keen on preserving ever since she passed away. The dishes he serves at Spices are all based on recipes and techniques that were handed down by his late mother – and it truly shows in his cooking.

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Food photographer behind-the-scenes. It’s not easy taking shots especially when the chef is moving around – we had to retake some shots several times. Thank you Jana for your patience!

Cooking the claypot rice is an art in itself. Each order starts with a base of onion, potatoes, dried chili and masala paste, which is constantly stirred in the clay pot to bring out a mouthwatering aroma. Rice is
added last, after the liquid has simmered down, so it does not become soggy. Controlling the fire is also important, and because they are cooking it with a slow fire, it allows for a more even cooking process and the natural flavours of the ingredients to permeate through. Since everything is cooked to order, expect a wait of between 15 to 20 minutes.

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I tried two clay pot dishes – the mutton masala and the prawn masala. Between the two, I enjoyed the mutton masala more as the meat was tender and flavourful, having absorbed the flavours of the curry. The heat wasn’t obvious at first bite, but hits gradually and had me chugging down my sugarcane juice lol. Portions are hearty and can be shared between two people. You also get a whole boiled egg in each pot.

The masala paste is what makes the dish, as it contains over 20 spices such as cinnamon, pepper, coriander, cumin seeds and mace. The paste is ground in a central kitchen and distributed to the different stalls, so customers get a consistent quality and taste. It’s also free from additives, making it a healthier alternative to commercial mixes.

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More BTS. Photogs have it rough; they’re often the last to sit down (even after the journalist is done with the interview) because they have to take that perfect shot.

As for future plans, Jana is hoping to open five more stalls across Peninsular Malaysia, as well as a proper restaurant. All the best, Jana! Keep the passion alive. 🙂

SPICES CLAYPOT RICE

Restoran Try to Eat, 48, Jalan 1D, Taman Jati, 48000 Rawang, Selangor
Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (daily)

facebook.com/spicesclaypotrice

Note: I interviewed Jana for the November issue of Fireflyz, the inflight magazine for Firefly Airlines. This article features a few tweaks and some additional info I wasn’t able to fit in to the story.

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Noob Cook Makes Chicken Karaage – 100% Foolproof!

As much as I love food, I’ve never been much of a cook.

When I was younger, the kitchen was my mom’s domain (still is), and now that I’m older I just don’t have much interest in it. Since I live with family, making meals that I actually like (usually Western – pastas, pizza, steaks) is also difficult because I have to consider what my fam would eat (dad and bro have super Asian palates so every meal must have rice, dad doesn’t like cheese, mom dislikes fried food and can’t eat raw veggies, etc.).

Since I’m no longer dining out as much due to the pandemic, I haven’t had Japanese food in ages – so I thought of making some chicken karaage. As I’ve mentioned, I’m not much of a cook and I wasn’t expecting it to be anything wow, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much they tasted like the ones you can get from actual Japanese restos.

I adapted the original recipe from Rasa Malaysia, with a couple of tweaks. If a noob like me with little to no cooking experience can whip them up, I’m sure this will be a breeze for everyone else!

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Ingredients:

  • 2 chicken thighs, deboned
  • 3 inches ginger – grate and squeeze to get 2 tbsp ginger juice
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • a teaspoon of sugar (substitute for cooking sake)
  • cornflour

Method:

  1. cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces.
  2. combine ginger juice, soy sauce and sugar. Allow chicken to marinate overnight.
  3. coat chicken with cornflour. (I used a ziploc bag so it would coat evenly)
  4. Shake off excess cornflour.
  5. Heat oil to boil in a pot / wok. Fry chicken at medium heat until they float. Remove and allow to rest for a few minutes.
  6. Adjust to high heat. Fry chicken again until crispy and golden brown.
  7. Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve.

And that’s it! It’s super simple; and I was so happy the chicken turned out juicy and well-flavoured – didn’t need extra seasoning or anything. Is this what they call ‘the joys of cooking’? Or maybe I’m just excited because it’s fried chicken ha

The original recipe says to use four chicken thighs (about a lb), but because the thighs I bought were humongous (wtf are they feeding the chickens?), I only used two. You can use breast meat, but thigh meat tends to be more tender and juicier. Cooking sake helps to break down the meat, but if you’re going for a halal recipe / don’t have cooking sake, sugar works as well. The portion was enough for our fam of four (mom doesn’t like fried food and only had a bit) but I think I could have polished off this entire plate by myself lol. I think judging by regular portions, it’s good for 2-3 people.

If you’re trying this recipe, let me know how it turned out. Happy cooking! 🙂

Trying Out Kuala Lumpur’s OG Hokkien Mee: Kim Lian Kee @ Petaling Street / Chinatown KL

Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown has a storied history. Like many Malaysian cities with a rich tin mining heritage, it started off as a pioneer town, with a large Chinese migrant population. Although Malaya was then under British rule, the colonists often appointed overseers from within the respective communities – and in KL, a “Kapitan Cina” administered over the Chinese.

One of these Kapitans, Yap Ah Loy, is attributed to the founding of KL’s Chinatown. After devastating fires, floods and civil war between the Chinese (from the Hakka and Cantonese clans) for control of the tin mining trade, many of the miners and coolies were keen on skipping town. Yap  persuaded them to remain in KL and ply another trade: growing rice and crops. He opened a tapioca mill in Petaling Street, which allowed trade to recover. In Cantonese, Petaling Street is called ‘Chee Cheong Kai’ (starch factory street), a tribute to its beginnings.

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Over the years, Chinatown’s flavour changed (I wrote about this in a previous post, which you can check out here). It became less of a hub for Chinese culture and more of a cheap market for counterfeit goods, managed by foreign workers from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Vietnam, Indonesia, Pakistan and India. This loss of authenticity is the reason why I have not returned to Chinatown for many years – until recently. Times are hard, and the pandemic means that many foreign workers, whether legal or illegal, have been sent home. The street is much quieter now, and most of the stalls are manned by local Chinese again.

Thankfully, one thing that has remained unchanged through the years is food – and Petaling Street is home to many well-established, decades-old institutions, such as a 40-year-old muachi stall, a 2nd generation roast duck kiosk, wantan mee, and of course, Kim Lian Kee. 

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Widely touted as the ‘birthplace’ of Hokkien Mee in Kuala Lumpur, Kim Lian Kee was founded by a Fujianese migrant, Wong Kim Lian in 1927. That makes it close to a 100 years old! The brand has since expanded all over Malaysia, with proper restaurants in malls and commercial areas. At Petaling Street, the ‘original’ hawker stall, which has outdoor seating, sits just across the road from a slightly more upscale-looking resto with air-conditioning. 

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The style of cooking and noodles may have Hokkien roots, but Hokkien Mee was created by the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora – and as such, you will not find it in China. Three places are known for their Hokkien Mee, and they are all slightly different: Penang’s version features thick noodles in a spicy broth made from prawn shells, prawn heads, prawn and pork ribs, served with pork slices, hard boiled eggs, kangkung, bean sprouts, fried shallots, sambal and lard. Singapore’s Hokkien Mee is stir-fried, lighter in colour and comes in a fragrant sauce made from stewing prawn heads, meat, clams and dried fish.

KL’s version, which is what Kim Lian Kee serves, is known as Hokkien char by Penangite Hokkiens, to differentiate it from the soupy one. It is stir-fried in a dark soy sauce together with ingredients such as pork, squid, fish cake, cabbage and lard. A good Hokkien Mee should be cooked over a charcoal fire, and the intense heat (wok hei) helps to seal in all of the flavours.

I had high hopes for KLK’s Hokkien Mee. Unfortunately, while it was decent, I would not say it is the BEST that I’ve ever tasted.  The noodles were nice and had bite, but they also had a strong bitter taste, likely from kan sui (lye, used in making yellow noodles). The yuet kong hor (moonlight kueyteow – raw egg on stir fried kuey teow noodles) was also just… okay. A tad disappointed, as I was expecting more from a place touting itself as the ‘birthplace’ of Hokkien Noodles. Oh well, you win some, you lose some.

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Aside from noodles, Kim Lian Kee has an extensive menu offering dai chow dishes like fried rice, fish and meat items, vegetables, tofu, etc. We got a fried rice with shrimp. Again, not bad but nothing wow either. The rice was a little hard. Uncle Roger would have a couple of things to say,

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The best item that we ordered (the bro agrees) was the fried chicken wings. They came in a set of three pieces, freshly fried and still piping hot. The chicken was marinated well and had great flavour, the insides were juicy, and the skin was crispy.

Our meal along with drinks came up to RM68, Considering that we were in a tourist area, I think it is still a fairly reasonable price.

Video below:

KIM LIAN KEE (PETALING STREET) 

92, Jalan Hang Lekir, City Centre, 50000 Kuala Lumpur.

Opening hours: 11AM – 11PM (closed Wednesdays)

*The original hawker stall is at No.42, across the road, and is only open at night from 5PM. 

**If you’re looking for awesome Hokkien Mee, I have two other suggestions. One is the Kim Lian Kee branch at Aeon Cheras Selatan, although I haven’t been back in 5 years so the quality may be different now), the other is Aik Yuen Hokkien Mee in Setapak, behind the Tawakal Hospital. The latter is literally a shack and looks dodgy af, but you know those are the kind of places that serve the best food lol.

***PS: I am now on Patreon! You can subscribe here. You can also follow me on other social media channels on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Your support would mean the world to me! 🙂

 

5 Must-Try Traditional Dishes In Selangor, Malaysia

Malaysia has 13 states and 2 Federal Territories, each with its own unique cuisine. Some are better known than others:  Penang for its assam laksa and char kuey teow, Negeri Sembilan for its Minang cuisine, Sarawak for its mee kolok, and Kuala Lumpur for its Kari Laksa. But despite being one of the country’s economic hubs and the gateway to Malaysia, Selangor food is often overlooked – which is a shame, as the state is home to a slew of gastronomical delights, drawn from the multicultural background of its inhabitants. The recipes for some of these dishes have been handed down through the centuries and perfected in modern times.

Whether you’re a native Selangor-ian or just visiting, here are five authentic Selangor dishes to indulge in for your next gastronomic adventure!

Pecal from www.maggi.com. my.v1

Pecal

Pecal is a common appetiser that can be found just about anywhere in Selangor. A traditional Javanese salad of sorts, it consists of vegetables topped with a mouth-watering peanut sauce that can also be served with Ketupat or Lontong (rice cubes). Pecal is easy to make, so you can try your hand at making it at home! Key ingredients include peanuts / groundnuts for the kuah (gravy), tofu, bean sprouts, long beans and cucumber.  

Nasi Ambeng

Nasi Ambeng by nona manis kitchen cyberjaya.v1.v1

Nasi Ambeng is made for sharing, as it is usually served on a platter for four to five people. It comes with side dishes such as chicken, fried noodles, long beans and sambal tempe accompanied by white rice. The dish is a common sight at festivals or large gatherings (kenduri).  

Sambal Taun

Sambal Tahun by salamisimon1 on blogspot.v1.v1

Another Selangor dish with Javanese roots is Sambal Taun or Sambal Tahun, which was brought over by early Javanese settlers. A copious amount of chilli is used to make sambal taun. Cow skin is often used as the main protein, but clams, cow lungs and anchovies can also be used, according to one’s preference. Other ingredients needed to complete the dish are red onions, garlic, shrimp paste, coconut milk, oil, tamarind paste and a pinch of salt and sugar.  

Wadai Kipeng

Wadai Kipeng by www. friedchillies.c om.v1

In the tongue of the Banjar people (who are originally from South Kalimantan in Indonesia), ‘Wadai’ means ‘Kuih’, while ‘Kipeng’ means pieces. Back in the day, the Banjar community traditionally served Wadai Kipeng as part of their Thanksgiving ceremony. This porridge-like dessert is made from glutinous rice flour, coconut, palm sugar, granulated sugar and pandan leaves – the perfect sweet ending to any meal.

Bahulu Kemboja by manis2012 on blogspot.v1.v1

Bahulu Kemboja

An all-time favourite snack, Bahulu Kemboja can be served for breakfast or tea. To maintain the moisture of the kuih, original pandan essence straight from the leaves has to be used, along with wheat flour, rice flour, coconut milk, eggs, sugar and salt, as well as a dash of sesame seeds as toppings.

For more interesting tidbits and tales about Selangor, visit www.selangor.travel. 

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Content courtesy of Tourism Selangor. Photos provided by Tourism Selangor, via friedchillies.com, salamisimon1, maggi.com.my, Nona Manis Kitchen Cyberjaya and Manis2012 on blogspot.

 

Treat Mum to a Five-Star Meal This Mother’s Day with These Round the World Recipes

Staying at home doesn’t mean that Mother’s Day celebrations have to be dim and boring. If anything, this is a great time to bond and do something thoughtful for mum, rather than the usual eating out at a fancy restaurant, or buying her an expensive gift. Better still, whip up dishes worthy of any five-star establishment with these quality recipes, shared by chefs from luxury hotels and restaurants around the world.

*Photos and recipes courtesy of respective restaurants and hotels. 

FOR THE MUM WHO LOVES DIM SUM 

Spring is in full bloom – and while a trip to Japan might be a no go, you can bring the beautiful cherry blossoms to mum in the form of Sui Tang Li‘s mouth-watering Cherry Blossom Dumplings. This restaurant at The Middle House is known for its vibrant menu inspired by Cantonese, Sichuan and Shanghainese delicacies. Made with beetroot, asparagus, winter bamboo shoots, mushrooms and shrimp, these Cherry Blossom Dumplings by Chef Tony is the perfect dish to surprise any dim sum-loving mum with.

Cherry Blossom Dumplings 2

Ingredients:

  • Wheat starch: 60g
  • Corn starch: 60g
  • Beetroot: 50g
  • Asparagus: 30g
  • Winter bamboo shoots: 30g
  • Mushroom: 30g
  • Shrimp: 300g
  • Egg: 3
  • Lard oil: 40g

Method (Video)

FOR THE MUM WHO ENJOYS CHINESE CUISINE 

If mum prefers the savoury and spicy flavours of Chinese cuisine, try these three recipes from Jing Yaa Tang, the Opposite House Beijing’s one-Michelin star restaurant.

Kung Pao Chicken

Kung pao chicken 𨱣º¶∂°2

Ingredients:

  • Chicken thigh : 20g
  • Diced green onion: 50g
  • Cooked peanuts: 25g
  • Cooked cashew nuts : 25g
  • Sliced garlic : 5g
  • Sliced ginger: 5g
  • Dried chilli : 5g

Seasoning: 

  • (A) Salt (2g), rice wine (5g), sugar (1g), egg (1/3), corn flour (6g)
  • (B) Sugar (30g), salt (3g), rice vinegar (50g), corn flour (10g)

Method:

  1. Mix and pickle the diced chicken thigh with seasoning (A).
  2. Heat the oil in a heated wok, then fry the pickled chicken and diced green onion until the chicken is cooked.
  3. Lightly fry the sliced garlic and ginger and dried chilli.
  4. Add cooked chicken and onion, and then stir-fry the cooked peanuts, cashew nuts and seasoning (B).

Tips:

  1. Cook the fried chicken and diced onion for one minute to elevate the taste.
  2. Turn off the fire when adding the peanuts and cashew nuts to keep them crispy.

Mapo Tofu

Mushroom mapo tofu ¬È∆≈∂π∏Ø

Main ingredients:

  • Tofu (1pc)
  • Minced beef 50g

Ingredients:

  • Scallion 5g
  • Minced ginger 5g
  • Spring onion 5g
  • Fermented Soy bean 20g
  • Sugar 5g
  • Sesame oil 8g
  • Chili oil 8g
  • Rice wine 5g
  • Soy sauce 25g
  • Soy bean paste: 15g
  • Chili powder 8g
  • Sichuan peppercorn chili powder 3g

Method:

  1. Cut tofu into 3 cm cubes, boil with hot water for 5 minutes.
  2. Fry the minced beef until golden brown
  3. Fry ginger, scallion, soybean paste, chilli powder. Add tofu, rice wine and water until it covers 2/3 of the tofu. Add sugar, soy sauce and half of the minced beef, cook with low heat for 5 minutes, reduce the sauce and add fermented soybean, stir fry it for 2 minutes.
  4. Plate it and add another half of the minced beef, sprinkle the spring onion and Sichuan peppercorn chilli powder.

Braised beef brisket with potatoes 

Braised beef brisket with potatoes Õ¡∂π…’≈£ÎÓ (1)

Main ingredient: (for 4pax)

  • Beef brisket : 1.6kg
  • Potatoes: 600g

Ingredients:

  • seafood sauce: 65g
  • Oyster sauce: 65g
  • Rice wine: 30g
  • Bean paste: 16g
  • Soy sauce: 32g
  • Icing sugar: 24g
  • Ginger slice: 80g
  • Leek: 1 stem
  • Spice bag: 1

Method:

  1. Cut the beef brisket into 4cm squares, boil them for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Fry the ginger slice until golden
  3. Fry the leek until golden
  4. Fry the seafood sauce and add beef brisket until fragrant; add water until it covers the beef, then add spice bag, oyster sauce, soy sauce and a bit salt. Turn to low heat and stew for 2-2.5 hours.
  5. Skin potatoes, deep fry until golden, add into the beef stew and reduce the sauce.

Tips:

  1. Don’t add extra water when stewing the beef.
  2. When reducing the sauce, use low heat so the beef and potatoes can absorb the sauce better

FOR THE MUM WHO’S SHRIMPLY THE BEST 

Mums who love seafood will be absolutely thrilled by Capella Singapore’s Prawn Aglio Olio.  Inspired by the traditional Napoli pasta dish , it is perfumed with aromatic garlic and olive oil, and brought to life with white wine, cloves of garlic and delicious chicken stock.

Prawn Aglio Olio Pasta1

Ingredients 

  • 5pcs Prawn
  • 150g Linguini
  • 10g Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • ¼ cup Chicken Stock
  • Chilli Flakes
  • White Pepper Powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Italian Parsley

Method
1.Bring a large pot of water to boil. Season water with salt and add in the linguine. Drain and set aside.
2. Using a pan and medium heat, add olive oil and sear prawns until they are cooked on both sides.
3. Add in garlic, followed by chilli flakes.
4. Stirring frequently, add in white wine to deglaze, followed by chicken stock.
5. Add linguine to the sauce. Add white pepper powder and salt to taste. Toss well.
6.Serve with Italian parsley as garnish.

FOR THE MUM WITH A SWEET TOOTH 

If you’re looking for dessert to finish things off on a sweet note, Singita’s indulgent Double-Baked Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake, or Feast at EAST, Hong Kong’s Raspberry Butter Cake made with fresh raspberries and jam is sure to seal the deal.

Raspberry Butter Cake ingredients and method: 

Singita’s Double-Baked Flourless Chocolate Meringue Cake

Singita Flourless Double Chocolate Meringue Cake

Ingredients for the cake 

  • 250g butter
  • 350g dark chocolate
  • 300g brown sugar
  • 5 eggs, separated

Ingredients for the meringue

  • 4 egg whites
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 10ml vanilla essence
  • 5ml cornflour
  • 50g cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.Line a 20cm x 30cm x 5cm baking pan with baking paper
  2. Melt butter, chocolate and sugar together, stirring until the sugar has dissolved
  3. Remove from heat and mix in the egg yolks
  4. Whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold into the chocolate mixture
  5. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 40 minutes
  6. Then make the meringues by whisking egg whites, adding a little caster sugar at a time and then the vanilla essence until stiff peaks form
  7. In a separate bowl, sift cornflour and cocoa powder together and fold into the meringue
  8. Remove the chocolate cake from oven and reduce the temperature to 120 degrees
  9. Top the cake with the meringue and return to oven for 25 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

9 Must-Have Hari Raya Dishes For the Festive Season

Ramadan Kareem!

Last week marked the start of Ramadan, the holiest month in Islam, when Muslims around the world observe fasting from dawn until dusk. In Malaysia, this is usually a time for Ramadan bazaars – but these have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some states have come up with innovative ways to help traders, such as through delivery services – and while it may not come close to the festive atmosphere at an actual food bazaar, it’s the best option to ensure that we still get to enjoy some food, help out the traders and most importantly, keep safe and healthy.

After Ramadan comes Eid, known colloquially as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, on May 24. Just like Christmas is celebrated in Western countries as a time for family and togetherness, so is Hari Raya to Muslims. But with travel restrictions expected to be put into place to avoid an exodus of city folk returning to their hometowns (which might cause another wave of infections), members of the public are faced with a very bleak and lonely Hari Raya.

Not all is doom and gloom, however. An essential part of any celebration is food – and I’m pretty sure that we’ll still be able to enjoy some scrumptious Raya dishes: perhaps not at a friend’s open house or a family gathering, but from a restaurant, small-time traders (whom we should definitely support), or if you can make it at home – then all the better!

Rendang 

BlueGinger16022010-06.

Photo credit: Kyle Lam via Flickr

No Hari Raya celebration would be complete without rendang – a spicy slow-cooked meat dish braised in coconut milk and spices. There are many different ways to make it, depending on the state/region you’re from. (One thing it is not, however, is crispy.) Typically, a protein such as chicken, beef or lamb is used, but there are also versions made with seafood like fish, shrimp, crab, squid and cockles. The rendang that I am most familiar with is the regular rendang daging, which is drier than curry but still has plenty of gravy that is excellent with rice. A lot of work goes into making good rendang, with ingredients such as coconut milk (santan) and a paste of mixed ground spices such as ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chillies and more.

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The rendang from Negeri Sembilan – a state with a large Minangkabau diaspora – has a distinctively Padang influence, with heavy use of turmeric, chilli and santan which gives it a distinctively lighter colour. They also like to use smoked duck as the meat – another Negeri Sembilan specialty. Rendang Tok from the state of Perak, on the other hand, is very dry with little to no gravy, and uses a liberal amount of kerisik (pounded, toasted coconut) and larger chunks of meat that is slow-cooked until tender. My personal favourite? Rendang paru, made from cow lungs. Not very healthy, but t I only have it once a year. 😛

Lemang 

Lemang

Photo credit: zol m via Flickr 

A lot of Hari Raya dishes have strong flavours + gravy, and are made to be eaten with rice. So you definitely can’t miss out on lemang, essentially glutinous rice, salt and coconut milkin a hollowed-out piece of bamboo and grilled over an outdoor fire. You might think it’s easy to chuck rice into bamboo and grill it, but the ‘simplest’ things are often the hardest to execute. The bamboo can’t be too soft or it will break easily, but neither can it be too hard as it will take too long to cook the rice. Maintaining control of the fire and heat is essential, which can be challenging when you’re working with an open fire. The bamboo also has to be turned over constantly, to ensure the rice is cooked evenly and thoroughly. The final result? A slightly sticky, chewy rice with a smoky aftertaste – perfect to go with curry, rendang and serunding (meat floss). 

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Lemang periuk kera, which features rice stuffed into pitcher plants, has become very popular in the last couple of years – although naturalists discourage eating it due to fears that the plant will be over-collected in order to meet demands.

Ketupat 

Ketupat

Photo credit: Sham Hardy via Flickr 

Andddd we have the poster child for Hari Raya – ketupat, or compressed rice. The image of ketupat nasi, housed in iconic diamond-shaped containers woven out of palm leaves, is synonymous with Hari Raya in Malaysia. Like lemang, ketupat is meant to be eaten with all the savoury, curry and gravy-based dishes. Aside from ketupat nasi, there is also ketupat daun palas, which is triangular in shape and made with glutinous rice.  If you can’t get your fill of rice, look out for nasi impit which is basically rice compressed into squares – makes for easy eating! 

Masak Lemak 

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While it’s literally translated to ‘cooked in fat’, masak lemak actually refers to a style of cooking that incorporates coconut milk (yes, we use a lot of that here). The dish is usually prepared with meat such as chicken, beef, fish, seafood and even vegetables. Masak Lemak Cili Api is popular in Negeri Sembilan and has a vibrant yellow colour, with birds-eye chillies thrown in (they’re pretty spicy at 50,000 – 100,000 Scoville units!) alongside turmeric and other spices. For something milder on the palate, there’s Masak Lemak Putih, which is white in colour and often uses vegetables such as cabbage and pumpkin. 

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Masak lemak putih with pumpkin and spinach

Satay

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Satay may not be Hari Raya “exclusive”, but it is certainly part of any Hari Raya gathering worth its salt. And who doesn’t like smoky barbecued meat on skewers, grilled over a charcoal fire? Most common meats are chicken and beef, less common are lamb and seafood. Of course, you can’t miss out on the peanut sauce and nasi impit. Tone down the spice with some cucumber and onions.

Kambing Panggang 

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Again, not Raya exclusive, but you’ll often find it at major festivals in Malaysia celebrated by the Malay community. You’ll often find whole roasted lamb at Ramadan bazaars or at buka puasa/ Hari Raya buffets at hotels, served with black pepper or mushroom sauce.

Sambal based dishes

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Curry-based and masak lemak-based cooking form a large part of Malay and Indonesian cuisine. Rounding it off are sambal-based dishes, which are typically made from a sauce or paste featuring chilli, shrimp paste, garlic, ginger, shallots and other spices. Sambal dishes are very common during Hari Raya – my favourite being sambal sotong (squid), which comes in a spicy, rich and thick, sweet gravy.

Bubur 

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There’s something very hearty and comforting about the humble porridge – perhaps because it is easy to digest, tasty, and warms/fills the belly right up. There are both sweet and savoury variants. Bubur Lambuk, a spiced meat porridge, is a popular dish for breaking fast during Ramadan, and it is also served during Hari Raya. Again, like Rendang, different states have their own versions. The east coast of Peninsular Malaysia uses fish meat and fresh herbs such as fern and cassava leaves, while Bubur Lambuk Utara from the northern states of Malaysia contains egg, shredded chickens and nuts. Personally, I like dessert bubur that uses local fruits and ingredients, such as black sesame, mungbean, red bean and pengat pisang (banana porridge? although it’s more like a stew rather than a bubur per se).

Kuih-Muih 

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Ending this post on a sweet note, we have kuih muih. It’s hard to classify what kuih muih is as they come in all sorts of colours, shapes and flavours –  the best I can describe it is an assortment of cakes, sweets, cookies and snacks. Traditional favourites that are commonly seen during Raya include Kuih Koci – a glutinous rice dumpling with a palm sugar-filled centre, onde-onde (chewy glutinous rice balls with shredded coconut), kuih bakar (baked pandan cake), lepat pisang (steamed banana cake wrapped in banana leaves), talam ubi (tapioca cake) and kuih seri muka (a two layered white and green cake).

 

What are some of your Hari Raya favourites? If you celebrate Eid in other parts of the world, let me know in the comments about some of your traditional dishes!

 

 

 

 

 

Facebook Group “Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ini” Entertains Malaysians With Cooking Fails During the MCO

Hey guys! It’s currently day 40 of the Movement Control Order here in Malaysia. Until the quarantine started, I had no idea I had this many Masterchefs in my friends’ list – judging from all the delicious-looking homemade food they’ve been posting or pictures of 3-ingredient cakes and Dalgona coffee lol.

What most people don’t post, however, are the fails they had to go through to perfect their recipes – unless, of course, if you’re in the Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni (Official) Facebook group. The group, which was started by Norlaila Dollah Ahmed, was initially started to document her own fails – but quickly became a source of entertainment for Malaysians during the quarantine. After being name-dropped by our Prime Minister on TV,  it now has over 1.6 million followers and plenty of hilarious content.  Just check out some of the postings:

Apparently ice cream

Playing with food, literally

A fat pretzel

Common sense is not common.. or maybe she just wanted them fresh

“Churros”

 

I can’t claim to be a very good cook, and I’m fairly certain that if I were to try some Internet recipes, the dishes would come out looking worse than some of those posted lmao. But I think it’s good to not take ourselves so seriously sometimes. Hope you’ve been entertained! For more posts, look up Masak Apa Tak Jadi Hari Ni on FB. 😉

 

 

 

 

Stir-Fried Longevity Noodles

Hey good people!

It’s Day 4 of the Restricted Movement Order in Malaysia. Things have been pretty uneventful in the house – been spending it working on stories, doing some part-time writing gigs, catching up on games (playing Shin Megami Tensei Devil Survivor rn) and sorting out some old photos. It’s difficult to keep away from negative news when my dad has been tuning in to the TV 24/7. Of course everyone is feeling worried about the recession hitting (which I’m sure it will with how things are going), but there’s nothing we can do about it now except play our part and hope that things resume some normalcy in the coming months.

But enough doom and gloom. I made some food! 😀

PS: I’m not the best cook, but I survived living on my own while I was at uni in the UK, so it’s not like I’m terrible at it or anything lol. But don’t expect gourmet-level recipes.

STIR-FRIED LONGEVITY NOODLES 

Longevity noodles, also known as e-fu noodles, are soft and silky wheat noodles that are often eaten at celebrations such as birthdays and weddings, since they symbolise longevity and prosperity. The strands are long and thick with a slightly chewy texture. You can easily get them at most Asian grocery stores. We had some leftover roast chicken from lunch, so I thought of tossing some ingredients together to make stir-fried noodles.

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 packet of longevity noodles
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 squid, cleaned and sliced into small pieces. Marinade with salt, pepper and sesame oil to taste
  • 4 pieces back bacon, sliced into strips
  • 1 bunch choy sum
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce + 1 tbsp concentrated chicken stock, mixed with 3 tbsp water
  • PS: we had roast chicken from lunch earlier, but you can replace it with a protein of your choice)

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Method: 

  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. Boil noodles for 8 minutes. Remove and blanch in cool water. This is to halt the cooking process and keep the noodles bouncy and al dente.
  3. Fry the back bacon until crisp. Set aside.
  4. Stir-fry garlic. Add in squid and stir fry quickly. Then add in vegetables, roast chicken and oyster sauce mix. `
  5. Add noodles in and toss everything evenly. Add water as needed if noodles look too dry.
  6. Garnish with back bacon. Serve.

 

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Tada!

It was quite tasty, if I do say so myself. lol

Getting fresh ingredients might be harder if the restricted movement order keeps up (some wet markets have been ordered to close since they can’t implement crowd control), so we’re trying to make fresh and healthy meals while we can, before resorting to canned / instant food.

I hope everyone is holding up well, wherever you are. If you do have access to fresh ingredients, then this is a great time to hone your cooking skills. Stay safe and healthy!