Tag Archives: spices

Soaked

One of the reasons how Countless Plates came to being was because there aren’t many sources for traditional Malay recipes online. I’m an avid foodblog reader and though it’s easy to google French and Italian fare, it just doesn’t make any sense to perpetually feed my family (with sambal belacan & petai palate) lasagnes, aglio olios, pizzas, stews and raviolis right?

Well, here’s a dish that I guess everyone with the same traditional taste can relate to: Nasi Rawon.

Each time I prepare this dish at home, I always see beaming faces eager to dig in. Yes, albeit at 5am. Why?

Steaming hot white rice – check!

Warm Rawon gravy – check!

Empeng Bilis – check!

Serunding – check!

Sambal Belacan – check!

Nasi Rawon has every element to appease almost every Melayu palate lol. It looks pretty straightforward but oh boy, the preparation is lengthy. But if it makes my family happy, it’s gotta be worth it!

Let’s begin with the basic Rawon gravy. This recipe makes a huge pot, and might I add, the flavours get more intense after about 2-3 days of reheating. So it’d be a great idea to save half the pot in the freezer for later.

For Broth:

1/2kg Beef Tripe

1/2kg Beef Brisket

2 litres Water

2 inch Ginger

1 large Onion

2 tsp Salt

For sautéeing:

3 tbsp Coriander Seeds

1 1/2 tbsp Fennel Seeds

1 tbsp Black Peppercorns

10 Shallots

2 Red onions

1 handful Buah Keluak meat

6 tbsp dried Chilli Paste

2 stalks Lemongrass

3 inch Galangal

4 Salam Leaves

4 Kaffir Lime Leaves

1 or 2 Dried Tamarind Sheets

In a huge pot, boil all the ingredients for the broth, till the meats are tender.

As for the sautéed spices, the procedure is similar to Ayam Korma’ – Toast and grind the coriander, fennel and black pepper seeds. Shallots, onions, buah keluak and dried chilli paste goes into the blender to form a smooth paste. You can toss your ground spices in as well.

Heat oil in a flat pan and pour the paste in. Be extra careful – it might splatter (most of the time it does). This process will take between 30-45 minutes. I’m risking sounding like a broken record but repeat after me, ensure that you see the oil seeping through the spices (naik bau/terbit minyak). Pound the lemongrass and galangal, loosely tear salam, kaffir lime leaves and tamarind sheets; they too, join the spicefest in the pan.

Keep the heat on. The aroma will intensify and most of the time, it makes me go a little weak in the knees! Pour all of your pan’s contents into the pot of broth. Stir and let it simmer for under an hour, and then you’re good to go!

Serve this Indonesian beef stew with some hot white rice.

Personally, I like my rice soaked in all that glorious goodness for a couple of minutes before lapping it up with all the sides that were mentioned in the checklist above. It goes well too, with a range of other sinful sides; from Fried Tempeh (fermented soy beans), Bagedil (mashed potatoes with spring onions and beef), Paru (beef lung) to Sambal Sotong (cured squid in chilli paste).

And just cos Ramadhan is partly about sharing, I’ll be a little generous with the recipe-sharing. I’m sure you’ve noticed the Empeng Bilis at the side?

Here are the few ingredients that go into it:

200g Silverfish*

4 chopped Garlic Cloves

2 thinly-sliced Large Onions

2 tbsp chopped Spring Onions

1 tbsp Dried Chilli Flakes

2 sliced Green Chillies

1 beaten Egg

3/4 cup Fritter Flour**

Water

*Silverfish are available in the supermarket’s fresh clingwrapped section. You know the refrigerated sections where the salmon are? Silverfish are slightly meatier than the usual anchovy and less salty too.

** I use Adabi’s Tepung Goreng Pisang for this but any kind of fritter flour is fine. Shortcut alert: If you don’t have it, use the same amount of plain flour and rice flour with 1/2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Add just enough water so the mixture combines. Too much moisture will cause the fritters to be a little flat and it’ll splatter in the oil. Heat your pan with oil, and fry a tablespoon of batter each. Ensure your oil’s hot enough or the Empeng Bilis will end up soggy. Not pretty!

I made Nasi Rawon for Sahur as my family’s the kind that can’t get our engines revved up the next day without rice in our tummies. But I do have friends who do the opposite (have their rice meals during Iftar), so whatever rocks your boat really. Enjoy, lovelies! =)

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Filed under Dinner, Lunch, Recipes, Sahur Recipe

Familiar Flavour

As a child, my brother and I frequented our granny’s place when both our parents headed off to their 9-to-5. Lunch & dinner were usually prepared lovingly by her and she never failed to note our favourites, cook them and watch us both lap up our plates with glee.

Apart from the simple but satisfying combination of rice-butter-sunny-side up-&-dark-soy-sauce (Still my ultimate fave!), I fondly remember her preparing Ayam Korma’ at least twice a week, because it was a familiar flavour that topped my favourites list. I was already a foodie back when I was 7 lol!

Now, each time I prepare this dish, my mind forms a vivid recollection of her feeding me amid my rambling about events in school. Oh alright, sentimental memories and granny stories aside; here are the ingredients you’ll need for Ayam Korma’ as prepared by the wise ole lady herself – I have em all at my fingertips cos it’s a household staple!

For Spices mix:

3 tsp Coriander Seeds

1 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds

1 tsp White Peppercorn

1/2 Nutmeg

1 tbsp Korma’ spice powder

4 cloves Garlic (blend)

2 large Red Onions (blend)

2 stalks Lemongrass

1 inch Galangal

2 Kaffir Lime Leaves

1 Whole Chicken

1 cup (or less) Coconut Milk

For Garnish:

Coriander Leaves

Fried Shallots

Toast the 4 spices in a pan over a medium heat, to intensify the aroma. Roll them around so they don’t get burnt.

Here are some quick tips on dried spices:

When you’re cooking with spices like cumin, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and the likes, get the right proportions. Under-adding spices will result in a less aromatic dish, yet over-adding spices will overpower other ingredients and may even cause the dish to be bitter! Yikes!

Toasting spices helps to release their aroma. It is however, important to not burn it. Burning your spices too will result in a bitter dish, so do keep it under close watch.

In a mortar, grind the toasted spices with Korma’ spice powder. Once it’s well-grounded, mix it to the blended garlic cloves and onions. This fragrant mix is the foundation of the Ayam Korma’. Now, give yourself a pat on the back! =)

In a large pot, heat the oil before sautéeing the mixture. Pound the lemongrass stalks and galangal, and toss them into the pot. Remember the tip I mentioned in the Mee Bandung recipe? Ensure that you see the oil seeping through the spices, or “naik bau/terbit minyak” before proceeding to the next step. Once you’ve cleared that hurdle, your chicken is ready to dive right in! Rip the lime leaves and add it to the pot while you’re at it.

Here’s a useful rule that I abide by:

Avoid adding water when you add meat to sautéed spices. This will ensure that the meat will retain all the lovely flavours of your spice mix. Meat, especially beef and chicken, will release their juices into the spices as they cook, and forms the gravy. You’ll get tender meat and gravy that’s bursting with flavour and aroma, I promise!

Pour in half a cup of coconut milk, stir, cover the pot and let it simmer for 2 minutes. Intermittently add the rest of your coconut milk later. Give it a few minutes to simmer a little more. Once your poultry is cooked, sprinkle coriander leaves and fried shallots; cover the pot, get it off the fire and let it rest.

Serve with piping hot white rice, or if you can’t live a day without bread, why not? This is a great dish to serve during Aidilfitri too, alongside ketupat or lontong (traditional Malay rice cakes).

I wouldn’t say it’s a quick & easy recipe – let’s just say, you just have to constantly remind yourself that cooking is a labour of love (speaking from experience!). If you have a soft spot for familiar Malay home-cooked flavours, you’d know that Ayam Korma’ is undeniably good.

You’d also know that this recipe is definitely worth a try or two, yes?

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