Before I write any further, I just would like you all to know, I don't measure anything when cooking, when baking I do, but when it comes to cooking meals, I use a recipe as a guideline and add this and that to make it my own. I've been helping my mother in the kitchen since I was 5 years old and started really cooking a meal at 7 years old, my mother made sure of that! I wish I paid more attention when she taught me the more complicated recipes, but, spending time with her in the kitchen as a child taught me a lot, one thing though, she is a perfectionist and I'm far from it! To compare I think she's more like a French Chef and I'm more like an Italian Chef. Most importantly about cooking, is that you must love eating and food and don't be overthink it when trying a new recipe, just do it and don't overwhelm yourself by thinking too much about how hard it is. Season as you go and taste it.
These two recipes are popular for the Malays after Ramadan, weddings or special occasions. After Ramadan, the Malays will usually have Open Houses (where anyone is invited and welcome to eat, I mean anyone, you will be welcomed in most homes who is celebrating and have a meal if so happen you are in Malaysia after Ramadan during Eid Celebrations. Jemput makan (Please eat/Bon appetit). xoxo
Ayam Masak Merah - Malaysian Red Curry Chicken
Prep time - 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on skill level)
Cook time - Approximately 1 hour, more or less
1 Whole chicken - cut into about 20 pieces (no strict rule here, chicken with bones will taste better in the end and more nutritious)
2tsp Turmeric powder
1/2tsp Sea salt
Pinch of black pepper
Oil for panfrying
Add s&p and turmeric powder on chicken pieces and mix it all up, let it sit for about 15-30 minutes.
Add some oil into a pan, when hot, add chicken pieces (do not crowd the pan) and pan fry until both sides are browned/golden. Put aside.
One whole small packet of smoked Mexican peppers - deseeded
30 Dried chilies - deseeded
Wash peppers and put all into a pot, add about a tsp of salt and boil until peppers are soft.
Drain and puree in a mixer/blender with some sea salt and olive oil along with some of the water.
To be blended/pureed
10 Shallots, peeled
2-6 Fresh red chilies (the amount depending on how hot you'd like it to be)
1/4-1/2C of chili paste
3 Peeled garlic
1 Thumb size of fresh turmeric
1/2tsp Turmeric powder
1 1/2tsp Cumin powder
1 1/2tsp Fennel seeds
2 Sticks of lemongrass - thinly sliced
1 1/2 inch ginger - skinned and thinly sliced
Add all ingredients into a mixer or blender with a bit of water and blend/puree.
1 Whole onion, cut into rings
1 Small pack of cherry tomatoes or large tomato (diced)
1 Bunch/handful of mint
1 Stick of lemongrass - bruised
1/4-1/2C Evaporated milk/yogurt/cream/coconut milk
1/4C Tomato paste
Seasoning -salt&pepper, honey or sugar
Heat about 2Tbs oil into a wok or pot, when it's hot add the blended ingredients, let it simmer on low fire until the sauce caramelized (the oil breaks to the top of the sauce).
Add the panfried chicken pieces, stir and let it simmer until it's half cooked through about 15-20 minutes.
Add the onion rings, lemongrass, tomato paste, salt&pepper, honey or sugar, let it simmer and add coconut milk/yogurt/cream/evaporated milk.
Simmer until sauce thickens and chicken pieces are cooked and tender.
Don't forget to tastes as you go along and add seasoning accordingly.
Once cooked, serve and top with mint, you could also add mint during the cooking process.
Nasi Minyak - Rice Pilaf ala Tahirah
3 Cups Basmati rice - Soaked in water for 30 minutes-1 hour
5 Shallots, thinly sliced
2 Garlic minced
1 Thumb sized ginger, minced
1 Cinnamon stick, or 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
3-5 Pods of Cardamoms
3 Star Anise
A Pinch of saffron
6-8 Tbs Ghee
1 Cup Cream
1 Cup Water
2 Cups Chicken broth or Vegetable broth
1 Handful parsley - chopped
1tsp Good quality salt
First give Basmati rice a few rinses about 2-3 times and soak in water with some salt for about 30 minutes to an hour. Drain and set aside.
Next heat half of the ghee and add shallots, ginger, garlic until fragrant and slightly caramelized/changed color, add cinnamon stick or powder, cardamoms, star anise, cloves and fry it until fragrant, add saffron and rice.
Stir the rice with spices until it changes color and translucent.
Transfer rice to rice cooker, add yogurt, parsley, rest of ghee, cream, broth and water, season with salt and mix. Let it cook in the rice cooker.
Cucumber & Pineapple mint salad will go well with this meal or any kind of fresh salad.
Fried crispy shallots would be great when added on top of rice pilaf.
Mixed vegetable stir-fry goes well too.