Saturday, 10 August 2013

Pulut Bakar (Grilled glutinous rice)

Much like the pulut inti kuih, this pasar malam regular is also comprised of glutinous rice and a (savoury) filling wrapped in banana leaf. The tubes of this kuih is also grilled over charcoal fire before served, giving it the name (pulut bakar means grilled glutinous rice) and smokey flavour. When making it at home, a regular grill will be an acceptable substitute for coal grill.

2 cups of glutinous rice
1 cup of freshly grated coconut. Alternatively, use the same amount of dried desiccated coconut
1/2 small onion
1 garlic clove
2 slices of galangal
3 dried chilli
1/2 lemongrass
1 teaspoon belacan
1 tablespoon dried prawns
100ml water
Banana leaves and bamboo skewers or toothpicks for wrapping

Soak the glutinous rice in some water overnight. Drain the water, place rice in a steamer and steam for 50-60 minutes or until rice is cooked thoroughly, seasoning it with salt halfway through. Make sure the steamer does not run out of water.

Blend onion, garlic, chilli, galangal, lemongrass, belacan and dried prawns with the 100ml water until it forms a smooth paste. Fry the paste in a tablespoon of oil until fragrant. Add the coconut to this mixture, stir until all the desiccated coconut have evenly absorbed the spice mixture. Season with salt and take it off the heat.

Trim the banana leaves to about 15-20cm x 10cm strips. Flatten a tablespoon of rice on the topside (darker green) of the leaf, long ways. Leave 2cm of the leaf uncovered to enable it to be rolled. Heap a tablespoon of the spicy coconut filling onto the bed of rice, flatten with the back of the spoon. Roll the whole assembly tightly, much like you would when making sushi, and secure both ends of the rolls with toothpicks or staples.
Grill this indoors or on your barbecue for 3-4 minutes on both sides before serving. Don't worry if the banana leaf burns, that's not for eating.

Tip: Work on the rice while they are still warm. They are less malleable when cold, so if the rice cools before you are finished, put them back on the steamer for a few minutes.

Sothi (Coconut Curry)

Sothi is a quick curry to make and does not contain curry powders except turmeric, making it one of the mildest South Indian curries. Some versions of Thai green curry share some similarities with this dish, but sothi is closer to a lean soup to curry in consistency. This is one of my favourite ways to prepare the bottle gourd (also called calabash). However, tapioca shoots, spinach or thick slices of cabbage would work just as well in its place.

1 teaspoon spice mix (thalippu)
1 teaspoon fenugreek (additional to the ones in the spice mix)
1/2 onion, slice
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2-3 cm ginger, sliced
2-3 green or red chillies, optional
2 stalks curry leaves
2 small tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 bottle gourd, skinned, cut into rings and into smaller segments
150 g prawns (obviously, skip this ingredient to keep it vegetarian)
1 level teaspoon turmeric powder
200 ml coconut milk

Saute the onions, curry leaves, garlic, ginger and chillies in a tablespoon of oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the bottle gourd segments and a splash of water. Put the lid on and cook for about 10-12 minutes, adding water if necessary. Once the gourd is cooked, stir in the turmeric and prawns. Season with salt, drop the tomatoes into the curry, pour the coconut milk in and bring to a simmer. Take it off the heat once the prawns are pink and curled up, indicating they are done. Enjoy with white rice.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Ayam Percik (Grilled chicken)

Ayam percik, literally translated means 'sprinkled chicken', which refers to the way the sauce is dabbed onto the meat while it is being grilled over charcoal fire. Whole chicken is cut into quarters and marinated in a rich, spicy sauce full of spices and instead of skewers, they are bound onto sugar cane before cooking. The sweet cane juice helps enhance the flavour to the chicken pieces that cook to tender perfection thanks to the marinade. However, since I didn't have any sugar canes to hand, I replaced it with bamboo skewers.

Try this one when you've got your barbecue going next!

1/2 onion
3 garlic cloves
2 cm ginger
1" galangal
4-5 dried chillies
2 lemongrass
100ml coconut milk or yogurt
4 buah keras (candlenut)
1 tablespoon brown/palm sugar
1 teaspoon belacan
150ml water
1 tablespoon of mango puree, alternately, use juice of half a lime

2 chicken legs (thigh and drumstick attached)

Blend all the ingredients except chicken into a smooth paste. Season with salt and pepper, then marinate the chicken in the blended result for at least 2 hours (preferably overnight in the fridge if you have the time). Skewer the chicken pieces with two bamboo sticks each and grill on both sides until the juices from the chicken runs clear (takes 20-30 minutes, depending on size of the chicken pieces). Dab the chicken with the marinade while it is grilling, using a  crushed lemongrass as a brush. While the chicken is grilling, simmer the marinade and reduce it by half. When the chicken is cooked, coat it well with the reduced marinade before serving.