Saturday, 28 April 2012

Cheesy Rice

If you haven’t had cheese and rice combo before now, this recipe suggestion may sound weird and unappealing. I was a sceptic too until I tried it recently, but I was pleasantly surprised at the result! There are various ways of cooking cheesy rice, which is also called rice casserole, but this is an express version for those who are up for broadening their horizons at half the time.

3 portions of cooked rice (I used leftovers, 1 bowl= 1 portion)
½ onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red chilli (optional), chopped
4 mushrooms, sliced
200g fresh prawns and squid, cleaned and cut into bit-size pieces
½ red pepper and ½ green pepper, diced
1 carrot, sliced
Olive oil
Salt and white pepper

Cheese sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup milk
1 cup grated mozzarella and cheddar cheese
Oregano, basil and garlic paste (or minced garlic) to taste

To make the sauce, fry butter and flour in a saucepan, stirring quickly over low heat. Whisk the mixture as you pour the milk in to avoid lumps. Turn the heat up to medium and bring it to boil before adding the cheeses, herbs and garlic paste. Simmer until the consistency (we don’t need very thick sauce for this dish) and taste is the sauce is to your liking, then remove from heat.

In a frying pan, sweat mushrooms and onion in generous amount of olive oil until the onion is transparent. Turn the heat to medium, and then add carrots, chillies, garlic and fry for two minutes before the peppers and rice go in. Stir well and season with salt and white pepper. Finally add the seafood and cook further for five minutes and remove from heat. Plate up the rice in a casserole or ovenproof dish and make a slight dent in the middle. Pour the cheese sauce over the rice and sprinkle some grated cheese over the top. Bake it at gas mark 5 (190°C) for 20 minutes or until the cheese is pleasantly browned. Garnish with chopped spring onion before dishing up. Serves 3-4 people.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Teh Tarik

Known as Malaysia's most popular drink, teh tarik, or pulled tea is fast becoming most tourists' new favourite too. Luckily, all you need to recreate this beverage at home is probably available in your nearest shops.

You'll need

  • tea bag(s), one per mug
  • condensed milk
  • two extra large mugs, or measuring jugs
Soak the tea bags in freshly boiled water for 2 minutes to allow it to brew, or longer for stronger tea. Remove the bags, and stir in a dessert spoonful of condensed milk per tea bag used. Pour the tea from one measuring jug to another and gradually  pull your containers apart- be careful not to spill hot liquid on yourself! The condensed milk will help the froth that forms to last longer. Enjoy the teh tarik with your favourite kuih.

French Beans

Here's my favourite way to prepare french beans (also known as green beans and squeaky beans, according to Wikipedia).

150g french beans, washed, ends trimmed and sliced diagonally
1/2 onion, diced
1 red chilli, sliced
1 egg
salt to taste

Sauté the onion and chilli in a spoonful of oil until nearly caramelised in a frying pan. Add the beans, season well and stir well. Leave it on medium heat until the beans are cooked, it should take about five minutes. Make a little well in the pan, add a splash of oil and break the egg into it. Leave it for a minute before stirring the beans over the egg. Works well as a great side dish to almost anything you're having.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Chicken Varuval

Varuval, or very dry curry requires very long, slow cooking and preferable in a good non-stick pan, but the result will be worth your while. This south Indian food is something you can find in nearly all non-vegetarian banana leaf restaurants*.

1/2 chicken, preferably still on its bones, cut into small pieces and cleaned
1 large onion, sliced
3 cm ginger
5 garlic cloves
3 dried chillies, coarsely chopped
a handful of curry leaves
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
2 tablespoon chilli powder
3/4 tablespoon turmeric powder
1 1/2 tablespoon meat curry powder
2 tomatoes, quartered 
salt and pepper

Blend the ginger and garlic into a paste. Heat two tablespoons of oil in a pan, fry the blended paste with fennel seeds, cinnamon and star anise. Next, the onions and chillies are added and fried for a minute before putting the chicken in. Place a lid on and leave it cooking for five minutes. 

Then add seasoning and stir in half the curry leaves. Mix the chilli, turmeric and curry powders with half a cup of water and pour the mixture into the pan. The tomatoes are added to the pan at this point. Put the lid back on and cook further for ten minutes.

Remove the lid and cook until most of the water has evaporated and the gravy is very dry, stirring occasionally to avoid it burning. Add the rest of the curry leaves just before removing the pan from heat. This chicken varuval is best served with rice.

* For those who aren't familiar with banana leaf cuisine, it is a South Indian custom of serving rice, curry and side dishes on a banana leaf used as a plate. Eaten with your right hand, food is said to taste better this way.