Attempting to copy Mrs. Yeti’s Kichidi

I first learnt of kichidi while eating at Mrs Y.’s table. I can’t believe I never knew of this before!

Funny isn’t it, comfort food takes similar forms and evokes similar feelings despite which cuisine it originates from. I think an ill version of me would be just as happy eating kichidi as Chinese porridge. Well maybe say, 80% as happy. That’s still pretty close. A healthy me would also be happy because both taste pretty good. I happily ate mine with accompanying dishes while at Mrs Y’s, when I recreated this at home I was too hungry and ate it straight from the pot. Shh.

As much as I’d like to say this is Mrs Y’s original recipe, it isn’t. This is because she appears to make it very fast and when I tried to watch her one time I lost track.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

Kichidi

Adapted from Padhu’s Kitchen, changing a few ingredients and the rice:dhal ratio. 

I’ve also made this recipe with loads of ingredients missing and it still tasted pretty nice – I’ve marked those that I’ve tried it without. I’d suggest you don’t try making it so bare bones that all of the stuff is left out at the same time though

1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup dhal – I used the orange dhal
2 cups water – I used 1:2 for each of the rice and dhal so check what your rice and dhal packet says 

1 teasp mustard seeds – without is okay
1 teasp cumin seeds
1/4 teasp whole black pepper (or just black pepper if you don’t have it whole)
A few curry leaves – without is okay
A pinch of hing (asafoetida) – without is okay

1 onion, chopped
2 dried chillies – technically you should use one green chilli, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 a thumb of ginger, chopped
1 tomato, chopped – original recipe doesn’t have this, but it is a nice option if you want it

1/4 teasp turmeric powder – without is okay
1 teasp chilli powder
1/2 teasp coriander powder – without is okay
1/4 teasp garam masala

Other utensils: pressure cooker or a lot of patience.

  1. Fry the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in a little oil over medium heat, until they start to dance. Then, add in the black pepper, curry leaves, and hing (if using). Give it a bit of a stir until it smells nice.
  2. Add the onion, cook until it goes a bit transparant and soft.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, and dry/fresh chilli. Fry until fragrant. Add tomato and cook until soft if using.
  4. Add all the powders, give it a quick stir for a couple of seconds.
  5. Add the rice and dhal, and fry it until coated with oil. Add some salt to taste.
  6. Add the water, and close the lid on the pressure cooker. Cook on high for 9 minutes.  If you don’t a pressure cooker, close the lid on your pot and be prepared to wait around 20 minutes. Taste and salt as needed.

After that you can garnish with fried onions, or coriander, or a top-up garnish (see the original author’s link). I didn’t do any of these because I was already happy with the taste 🙂

Cure-All for All that Ails

Cure-all of the ancients. Need I say more?


Yum yum sniff croak

 

Fine, I will. This is what I have when I’ve caught a sore throat, flu, or anything else unpleasant (that still allows me to eat). It makes all stomachs happy and even third parties will attest to its healing properties.

It is also very comforting in winter when the world is cold and cruel outside. (Psychological medicine?)

Basic Chinese Porridge (Congee / “Chook”)

I always struggle to remember my basic Chinese porridge recipe just when I need it – when I’m sick and my brain is fuddled. So, when making it as a healthy person, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write everything down (finally!).  

If you’re not sick, serve congee with a couple of sides: for example, sweet soya sauce fried fish, or a stir fried vege. Something with a strong taste can be nice (though not sambal / curry in my view). Today I served with a simple sesame-sugar long bean side.

4 cloves garlic
1.5 cm ginger
1 egg
2 dessert spoons soya sauce
1.5 rice cups of rice
7.5  rice cups water
1 any type of stock cube – or fresh if you have it 🙂

A handful of peanuts – optional, I don’t usually add this, just tried it out today
Any extras – cubed meat / fish, prawns (peeled), or veg

Sesame oil
A dash of white pepper

Yield: about 4 – 6 servings, depending on how much you eat each time.

  1. Mince ginger and garlic, then fry in a pot over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the rice (unrinsed), water, stock cube, and peanuts if using. Simmer with the lid on for about 20 minutes until it thickens. If it remains too thin, simmer with the lid off for a while.
  3. Add soya sauce, stir in.
  4. Crack in the egg, stir in.
  5. Add any extras – fish / meat, vege if using. Cover and simmer until fully cooked. Don’t stir! Add a little extra water if it is getting too thick.
  6. Sprinkle on a little sesame oil and white pepper, garnish and serve. I garnished with fried garlic flakes.
    Garnish options, if you have them on hand: 

    • Spring onion, chopped
    • Fried garlic
    • Fried onions
    • Fried ginger
    • Fish / chicken flosses
    • Fresh coriander
      …the list is endless!

Note: freezes well. Add a little water when you reheat.

As my “extra”, I added a little fish and mussels in a soya sauce-sesame marinade:

Fish and Mussels Soya Sauce-Sesame Marinade (for Chinese Porridge)

Inspired by Smoky Wok.

A handful of mixed fish cubes and mussels
3 tablesp soya sauce
1 tablesp sesame oil
1 teasp balsamic vinegar – I didn’t have Chinese vinegar, which would have been better
1/2 teasp sugar
A pinch of flour

  1. Mix everything up and leave it to sit while the rice is cooking. Then add during Step 5 (see above). 

Baked What’s-Left-In-The-Cupboard Rice

The story behind this is that I needed to use what was left behind in the cupboard, and it had to be something that went with the broccoli-feta thing. And I wanted rice, and you can’t really do Asian style rice with broccoli-feta. And I wanted something that would taste pretty nice, because I thought I was going to hate the broccoli-feta.

Ingredients check

This isn’t really a fair way to describe a happy accident. I don’t want you to think that I’d only made this because I wanted something that went with broccoli-feta. Actually, I made this because I needed something that would taste way more awesome than broccoli-feta to compensate for what I thought was going to be a veritable vegetable disaster.

It only marinated for about 15 minutes Partially cooking the seafood Starting the caramelisation process... Almost completely caramelised here Pre-baked rice Covered with cheese slices..grated would work too

That’s a pretty large set of shoes to fill, especially since this is a recipe which was entirely made up based on what was left in the cupboard. I’m happy to report that it did deliver.

Nice and crunchy on top

It’ll also be a pretty good one-pot meal if you add the vege directly into the rice. Don’t use broccoli though. Please? I suggest perhaps little cubes of eggplant. Soaked in salty water and dried. Then added into the rice.

As you can see it's a bit crumbly, not like the usual sticky baked rice

Baked Rice with Caramelised Onions and Spicy Seafood

Inspired by The Little Teochew. The method is mostly taken from there, but the ingredients used are pretty unrelated. You can pretty much put anything in here, depending on what you have in the cupboard. Not broccoli though.

1 cup rice – uncooked / raw. Equivalent to 2 cups cooked.
100g mixed seafood
1 red onion
A handful of raisins
A handful of cashewnuts – roasted, preferably unsalted. I used some from a snack packet.
1/2 a lime’s worth of juice – for the seafood marinade
1 tablesp of chilli flakes or less – for the seafood marinade
2-3 tablesp balsamic vinegar
1/2 – 1 teasp sugar – to caramelise the onions
1/4 cup water – optional, I didn’t add it because I like my rice less clumpy
Enough hard cheese to cover a baking dish – any cheese is alright really, I used cheddar but you can probably us mozeralla or something else

Oven temperature: approx 220 degrees C. Or you can use the grill setting.

  1. Cook your rice according to the instructions. Or better, use old rice.
  2. Sort out your seafood:
    1. Marinate the seafood in the lime juice and chilli. Add a pinch of salt. A Tabasco sauce marinade would probably work too (= soak it in some Tabasco sauce).
    2. Fry the seafood until partially cooked. You just want to make sure it’s fully cooked by the time you eat it later, basically. If you want you can skip this step but you’ll need to leave it in the oven longer. That would probably work.
  3. Sort out your balsamic sauce:
    1. Chop the onions, and brown over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil.
    2. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar. Stir occasionally, leaving it to caramelise. It’s done when the edges of the onion are a bit blackened, and it tastes good. Sweet yet tart.
  4. Mix the raisins, and cashewnuts into the rice.
  5. Put the rice into the pan with the balsamic sauce, and fry it for a bit. Then put it in the ovenproof dish. Add the water at this point and mix in. The water isn’t really necessary (I didn’t add it), but if you want it to clump together more then you should.
  6. Smooth out the rice and poke the seafood bits into it at various intervals.
  7. Cover the top with hard cheese. We used cheddar, and added a bit of grated parmasan and almond dukkah for good measure. Only because we had a little leftover. You don’t need to do that.
  8. Bake / grill until the cheese melts. Keep it in a little longer for a more crusty finish. If you haven’t cooked the seafood, you should probably leave it in the oven for a good 20 minutes.

The Pinnacle that is Nasi Lemak (and why you can’t climb it first time)

Moral of the story is: don’t expect to get it right the first time. Nasi lemak is HARD.

All the aunties of Malaysia, I’m sure that they’re laughing away at me for thinking I could get this iconic dish to work on my first attempt. Well, I guess I didn’t really expect it to work, I was just being optimistic. Like how, when someone asks me at 9pm how many hours of work I have left, I say 2, and I truly believe that’s the reality of the situation (it’s usually 4 hours, I generally underestimate by 2 hours).

Real proper nasi lemak makciks (aunties) train their whole lives to make nasi lemak. There are little nasi lemak schools in the kampungs (villages) where the little makciks start training at 4 years old, and a gnarly old makcik shouts at them over a loudspeaker: “Pound! Pound! Cepat cepat! (faster faster!)” That’s how a true nasi lemak is born, in the depths of a pestle and mortar. The sweet smiles of the nasi lemak makciks belie their biceps of steel. *

I used my faithful chopper, of course. Did you really expect otherwise?

Though I was at least pleased that this was recognisable as nasi lemak. Because on seeing it, people go: cucumbers, ikan bilis, red/brown stuff….Ohhh! It’s nasi lemak! Don’t ask why I went for this, I think I was bored, and also cold. Good enough reasons? Cold makes people do odd things. Yes, in my next post, I promise I won’t talk about the cold anymore. Agreed?

Advice to myself next time includes: don’t scrimp on the shallots (I was being cheap and didn’t want to buy a whole bag for 3 shallots), and add more sugar. Don’t forget the single garlic clove to be chopped into the sambal. Yes self, I know you think that one clove of garlic doesn’t really impart any garlic flavour because there isn’t enough of it, but I’m sure there is a reason behind its addition. Also don’t forget the peanuts. They’re an integral part of nasi lemak. Not clever.

More advice: try to get pandan leaves instead of giving up on the hunt so easily. Add a quarter of a chopped onion (raw, roughly chopped) into the rice before cooking. Also some whole peppercorns.

I intentionally left out the hard boiled eggs, because I don’t like them. Too bad, egg lovers of the world!

The rice turned out surprisingly well, fluffy and coconutty. Yay! And the sambal wasn’t half bad at all, considering all the forgotten ingredients 🙂

Nasi Lemak, Take #1

Borrowed and lazied up from Rasa Malaysia.

Rice

1 cup of rice, rinsed
1.5 cups of water, or however much you generally use to cook your rice, then add a little bit more.
1/2 bag of instant coconut milk – the entire packet made 150ml of coconut milk total
A pinch of salt

  1. Rinse the rice as per usual.
  2. Add the water. Drop in half the bag of instant coconut milk and salt, and mix properly to ensure there aren’t any powder clumps.
  3. Cook the rice how you usually would, in a rice cooker. Mine took slightly longer than usual.

Sambal

1 red onion – should’ve used shallots and a quarter of an onion! Oh well. I’ll make a proper attempt someday.
1/2 cup ikan bilis – people say they’re small anchovies, but anchovies taste different. I don’t know.
7 dried chillies – mine were smallish, you can use more. Deseed them or the hotness with overpower everything else
1/2 teasp belacan
1 tablesp asam jawa / tamarind
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 tablesp sugar – more to taste
A pinch of salt

  1. Rinse and fry the ikan bilis. Keep a few aside for later.
  2. Dump the belacan, half the onion, and the deseeded dried chillies into the chopper. Grind them down pretty well. If you want to be all proper, use a pestle and mortar. Probably you’re more hardcore than me.
  3. Soak the asam jawa in warm water for about 15 minutes. Mash it up good with a spoon so the water goes murky.
  4. Slice the other half of the red onion into rings.
  5. Fry the belacan paste until fragrant. Make sure to open a window!
  6. Add onion rings. Fry til soft.
  7. Add the ikan bilis (apart from the little bit you set aside). Keep frying.
  8. Add the asam jawa mixture, salt and sugar. Don’t add everything at once, keep tasting until you find a mixture you like. I followed the recipe exactly and thought that the sambal wasn’t sweet enough.
  9. Simmer on low heat until the mixture thickens.

Serve!

Cucumber
Remaining fried ikan bilis
Whole raw peanuts – Don’t forget!!
Egg
Banana leaf – hahah, yea right not in this climate

  1. Slice the cucumber, I like cucumber sticks
  2. Fry the peanuts with some salt. Don’t forget the peanuts!!
  3. Boil the egg. Cut into quarters. Don’t do it if you don’t like egg.
  4. Spread your imaginary banana leaf on a plate. Wipe it off and smooth it down, to remove imaginary dirt.
  5. Put some rice on the place. Surround the rice with a scoop of sambal, some ikan bilis, cucumber stick, and some peanuts. And a quarter of a boiled egg, or not.

* You should know better than to believe me by now. Really, I expected more of you.

Belacan Fried Rice

I made this dish for the sole purpose of feeding 25 people at a BBQ. I was kind of anxious because I hadn’t cooked for so many people in the longest time. What if it tasted like arse? What will I do with the leftovers? Oh, wait, that’s easy: there’re always poor scientists at the lab to give scraps to.

Also, I figured it was relatively easy to cook up. My grandma taught me how to fry rice before I left for university. I didn’t eat a lot of fried rice at university, but I guess it’s useful now! Thanks, Phor!

I didn’t follow any specific recipe just because my granny also doesn’t, but bear in mind these portions are for 25 people at a party who also had other things to eat, so you might want to divide the recipe by 3 if you want to make enough for 2-3 people for a simple lunch or dinner. I was also rather generous with the components of the fried rice. Some people only bother putting in peas and carrots and one prawn. I find that very irritating. I mean, really – eat properly!

Grandma’s Belacan Fried Rice
Serves 20-25 not-so-hungry people, will serve 10 hungry people

3 cups rice from the night before (this is very important as you don’t want mushy fried rice)
700g chicken breast meat, shredded
400g peeled prawns, whole
6 pieces of fish cake, chopped (optional. I added this out of generosity)
3 onions, diced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
6 eggs
Half a packet of sambal belacan paste (I use some local brand I found at NTUC)
2 packets of anchovy fried rice powder
Half a cup corn oil to begin with
As much chilli as you want
Half a pack of frozen vegetables (corn, peas and carrots). Thaw in water before cooking.
5 tbsp soy sauce

Note: if cooking for this many people, you might want to cook in separate batches just so you don’t overwhelm your wok (and yourself).

  1. Grease the wok generously with some corn oil. You won’t want the rice sticking unceremoniously. The wok needs to be hot for a good fry also.
  2. Fry the garlic and onions until golden brown
  3. Fry the chicken, eggs and prawns with the garlic and onion until golden brown
  4. Put in the sambal belacan and stir until it coats the rest of the ingredients evenly
  5. Put the rice in. Grease the rice with some more corn oil as the oil will have been absorbed by the meats at this point.
  6. Mix well!
  7. Once you see the rice beginning to cook with the heat, add the fish cake and some soy sauce according to your tastes. Turn the heat down at this point! I don’t like much soy sauce so I found 5 tbsps for such a large portion was enough.
  8. Add the fried rice powder.
  9. Mix well!
  10. Add the frozen veggies to the mix, allowing it to blend in with the rest. Don’t worry if it’s still cold; it will heat up in the rice.

 

It really is quite easy, but I find that fried rice is largely dependent on the person cooking it, and that it is an accurate reflection of the cook because it’s such a versatile dish and you can add absolutely anything you want. Guests remarked that my fried rice was “quite nice” and “quite spicy” ha ha.

Happy eating!

Onigiri Onigiri Onigiri

Onigiri is such a funny word, I like to say it. Onigiri onigiri onigiri. I’m sure it isn’t that fun for normal people. Perhaps I’m just a little tired today.

I made onigiri a while back to take with me when I went for a day-long Red Cross event. I thought it was too exciting and cute a packed lunch to keep to myself until I made it again. It begged not to be hidden in drafts for that long, bouncing up and down on its springy rice bottom, imploring to be set free. Well onigiri, here you have your wish.

Onigiri with Tuna

You can really fill these with anything that’s relatively dry, and savoury. If you use a filling that’s too wet then the onigiri won’t hold its shape so well. Also, note that these freeze well and can keep for up to a week in the fridge. Eat them within the day if you take them out with you!

Guided by various pages on Just Hungry.

Sushi rice – 2 rice cups
Sushi vinegar – a quarter of a cup
Water – 2 and a quarter rice cups

Canned tuna – one can
Soya sauce – about two teaspoons, more if you like it a little stronger
Chilli flakes – half a teaspoon

Salt
Warm water – bearably hot, you need to use the salty water to mold the onigiri

Sushi rice

  1. Rinse the rice 3 times, by swilling water around in a bowl with the rice and then draining the water.
  2. Rub the grains together with your hands, as if scrubbing them. Then rinse with water.
  3. Drain in a sieve for about 30 minutes. I skipped this, but don’t as your rice will suffer for it.
  4. Put the rice in a rice cooker with the water, let it sit for about half an hour then turn on the rice cooker. I didn’t let it set for more than 5 minutes because I’m an impatient person, but for best results you should wait.
  5. Once the rice is done, mix in the sushi vinegar with a spatula. Try to fold it in as you would do to cake batter, and don’t squish the rice grains if you can help it.

Gooey chewy vinegar - yes I overdid the water a bit

Tuna filling
Do this while your rice is cooking. You need your rice to be hot when you shape your onigiri, or it won’t work.

  1. Drain the tuna. Flake it well with a fork.
  2. Mix in a couple of teaspoons of soya sauce, and chilli flakes.
  3. Taste, if you think it isn’t salty enough add a little more soya sauce.

It’s onigiri-making time!

  1. Wash your hands. And again. And under the nails too.
  2. Mix the warm water with a generous helping of salt. It should be salty like the sea. You don’t need a whole lot of water.
  3. Dip your hands in the salty water, make sure they are pretty damp. This stops the rice sticking to your hands.
  4. Grab a handful of rice, the size that you want your onigiri to be. Don’t make them too large or they won’t hold themselves together so well. About the amount that fits in a rice cup should be fine.
  5. Make an indentation in the middle of the rice. Hollow it out a bit with your thumb, then spoon in the tuna filling.
  6. Wrap the rice around the filling to make a ball, adding a bit more rice on top of the filling if you need to.
  7. To make the triangular shape, cup your hand so your thumb and the rest of your fingers forms a right angle, then push the onigiri into your (still wet and salty) palm to form the corner. Repeat for all three corners.

Yay onigiri!

You can either stop here, or add a wrapper of seaweed, or sprinkle on some sesame seed-seaweed mix (you can get this at Japanese food shops). Don’t wrap them with seaweed until you want to eat them, or the seaweed’ll get soggy. No one likes soggy seaweed.

Or, you can grill them!

Grilling onigiri

  1. Mix equal parts soya sauce and sesame oil (about a tablespoon each will do quite a few onigiri).
  2. Toast your onigiri on both sides in a hot, non-stick pan for a few minutes. You don’t need any oil for this.
  3. Brush on the soya sauce-sesame oil mixture.

Enjoy! They have a nice crunchy outer layer, and are extra tasty because of the soya sauce-sesame oil coating. Don’t forget to wrap your onigiri friends tightly in plastic wrap to keep them in shape and prevent them from drying out too much.

Any clues to the plural of onigiri? Onigiris? Onigirii?