Thursday, June 23, 2016

Siakap Fish Curry with cauliflowers/ Phulkopi diye Bhetki mach'er jhol

Even though one can find visible differences, while travelling or residing in other countries, one gets evenly surprised, when faced with a familiar thing but with different name for it. And that exactly happened to me , when I was purchasing fish here , I noticed a familiar fish, but I was surprised to hear the name as Siakap.Now siakap reminded me something similar we get in Bengal- ‘Bhetki ‘ and I wasn’t  wrong either, when I made the fish curry with cauliflower. And yes it is bhetki but instead of bhetki , people over here call this fish -Siakap. To all of you, who don’t even have any clue, what I am talking of, if you have heard about Barramundi, then you know these all are different name for the same fish Bhetki. While there are various ways we prepare bhetki, one of our favourite way of consuming this fish is making a light and runny jhol/curry with cauliflower florets .And with warm cooked rice, this is a great meal combo one can have on a lazy and rainy afternoon.

Now to the recipe

Bhetki mach’er jhol phulkopi diye – Siakap fish curry with cauliflowers

Recipe requirements-( makes for 3-4 )

1 whole siakap/bhetki/Barramundi fish cut into 4-5 pieces
About 2-3 cups of cauliflower florets
1-2 medium size potatoes cut into long slices
 1 medium size onion
 1 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of turmeric powder
For marinating fish
¾ tsp of turmeric powder
Salt as per taste
For tempering
1 tsp of cumin seeds
2 dry red chillies
5-6 tbs of cooking oil/mustard oil
  1 tsp of Salt or as per taste

Clean Siakap /bhetki/barramundi  fish pieces well in water. Marinate them with turmeric powder and salt and keep aside.
Heat up a fry pan/wok/kadai, add in cauliflower florets and stir/fry them well till they turn light brownish. Take out and keep aside.
Add in more oil to it and slowly add in fish pieces and fry both sides well.Take out fish pieces.
In that oil itself, add cumin seeds, dry red pepper and finely chopped onions. Stir/fry it for 4-5 mints at med-high flame.
Now add in potato pieces, and keep on stir/fry for about 3-4 mints. Add in bird eye red chilly slit in between and finely chopped tomato pieces.
Add in all the dry spices- turmeric powder+red pepper powder+salt in a cup of water, mix it well.
Add this spices mixture to the above fried mix and keep on stir/fry for about 3-4 mints.
Add in more water if you need a light and runny curry/jhol.
Lower the flame and add in fried fish pieces and cauliflower florets. Cook it covered till potatoes are tender and once done switch off the flame. Let it sit there for about half an hour.

Serve and enjoy with warm cooked rice.

From archived post- Bhetki mach'er chop ...

Happy Cooking 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pan Fried Tofu with Ong Choi/Kolmi shak

Getting to know a new place takes time, more if you are not familiar with the local language. But that doesn’t mean, I shy away from interacting with local people over here. As my solo outings means most of the time grocery shopping for the family. One of those many outings, one day I was intrigued to a corner shop where there was hordes of people queuing to purchase something or probably many things. I thought since its holy Ramadan month over here, there must be something happening which I am not aware of. And as I went near, I saw myriad display of assorted, coloured and exotic little square blocks, stocked neatly besides each other. And as I saw those little beauties, the cook inside me, replied, here you go sweets and more sweets for you. I had no idea what exactly they are called, how they are made etc .So, I asked a graceful local Malay lady and with broken English she told me these are various assortments of sweets – ‘Malaysian Kuih’, also that they are called ‘Binga Ubi Kyu’ and ‘Tepung Pelita’ as that is what, I later choose to buy. She went to finish her grocery after that, even before I could thank her for her time and effort. And while I waited for my turn to pick sweets, another lady standing behind me in queue, who till now was a silent listener, took over, and told me how some of them are made, and if those sweets have eggs or not etc. Now after I have tasted those sweets, especially the coconut milk one- ‘Tepung Pelita’, I am craving more for them. I will leave the exact process of making it for some other day as that requires another detailed post.

As of now it’s stir/fried  Tofu with Ung Choi.I have used hard pressed tofu for this recipe, as I wanted tofu to be bit chunky.You can make it with normal tofu as well, but it will scatter through once the stir/fry is done.Ung Choi is Kolmi shak in Bengali. A nice and light cooked tofu with ung choi is very healthy and makes a great side-dish with warm cooked rice as well.

Now to the recipe

 Pan fried Tofu with Kolmi Shak/Ong choi

Recipe requirements-

About 500 gms – Ong choi/ kolmi saag –

250 gms of cubed hard tofu pieces or 2 cups of tofu pieces.

 1 medium size onion

 1 tsp of red pepper powder

½ tsp of turmeric powder

For tempering

1 tsp of panch phoron/ or nigella seeds

2 dry red chillies

3-4 tsp of cooking oil/mustard oil

 Salt as per taste


Wash ung choi /kolmi shak thoroughly well in running water to get rid of any dirt or mud.From the bottom side, discard 2 inch of the stem. Cut the leaves with tender stem finely. Again wash them well in water to make sure the dirt or mud is not present.

Take out hard pressed tofu, discard water if any and make cubes out of the block.

Heat up a fry pan/ kadai .Add in cooking oil. Add in panch phoron , dry red chillies and temper the oil.Or if you are using nigella seeds /kalo jeerey then you can temper it with also.

Add in finely chopped onion.

Add in chopped ung choi/ kolmi shak and fry well or till they shrink and release some water.

Add in spices- red pepper powder, turmeric powder and salt, pinch of sugar.

Add in cubed hard pressed tofu and stir/fry it very gently. Do not try to move them frequently otherwise they will start to break. We need firm cubed pieces.

Cover the pan and lower the flame. Cook further for about 7-8 mints or till the leaves turn soft. One last stir very gently with the spatula and its ready to eat.

Serve with gram bhaat.

You can add freshly grounded cumin+ coriander powder as well for some extra flavour.

Another archived post for Ong Choi recipe here - Kolmi shak bhaja

Happy Cooking

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Prawn Mee Soup / Penang Hokkien Mee Soup- Our Way

As promised, here is a recipe, a more local recipe this time. Penang is part of Malaysia and this region is also blessed with diverse cuisine habits and culture, mainly Chinese influence as many early settlers in this region came from China. Although many settled here and adopted native languages, local food habits, inter-mingled with local populations, but somehow they also carried their food legacies with them where ever they went. I haven’t been to Penang myself, so I am not sure how Prawn mee is made in a traditional Penang home, but then it’s also a very popular street food/hawker food with many variations. I happened to taste it first when we went to a restaurant here in Kuala Lumpur. That warm and delicious prawn noodle soup lingered on my mind and my taste-buds for many days. I started looking for the recipe in internet, but couldn’t recall the name of the recipe. Then when we went again, second time in that same restaurant, I made sure to memorize the name this time- so the name was Prawn Mee/Har mee …...and that stayed with me…the name and the flavour.

Here I tried to re-create that taste in my own apartment kitchen. I really don’t know how authentic it can be, but the flavour of the noodle soup reminded me of that deliciously cooked prawn mee soup I had earlier in that restaurant. I have tried to make this soup with whatever I had at the time of making it and also to please our Indian taste buds so little variation is there. There are other authentic recipes out in internet as well.- Like this.

I also found out other minute details slowly with our endeavours during our weekend excursions. Penang Hokkien mee is what the soupy prawn noodle is known as Prawn Mee over here in KL. And when I ordered Hokkien mee here in KL, the dish turned out something different- more of drier stir/fry/ version which my daughter just loved it. There you see a very minute difference and the entire recipe turns out something else for you. Anyhow this is how I made it- Prawn Mee soup aka Penang Hokkien Mee Soup aka Har Mee soup. And Btw ‘Mee’ is dish containing noodles in it, word origin is Chinese. 

This is how we made it -

Prawn Mee- egg noodle soup recipe/ Penang Hokkien mee/Har Mee recipe

Cooking time – 1hr

Recipe requirements

(Serves 3-4)

For prawn stock

About 20-25 prawns – head and tails is also required

2-3 tsp of oil

 1tsp of fish sauce

Salt as per taste 

For chilli paste/spice paste

5-6 blanched prawn (head and tail removed)

4-5 garlic pods

8-10 birds red chillies

Salt as per taste

 For the main soup

 About 200 – 250 gms of thick rice noodles/ or yellow noodles/ egg noodles

2- 3 tsp of cooking oil

2 tsp of prepared spice paste

½ tsp of red pepper powder (add if you need spicier version)

2-3 tsp of palm sugar

6-7 shallots – or 2 onions

 3-4 garlic pods

½ inch ginger

2- 3 dry red chilly

2-3 tsp of cooking oil

Vegetables of your choice

Any green leaves - choi sum/Ong Choi/ amaranth/spinach etc. (blanched)

1 medium size carrot

1 cup of chopped yard long beans – 2-3 inch in length

 1 cup of bean sprouts

 Any other vegetables

 Hard boiled eggs to garnish (optional)


Home-made prawn stock- base of Prawn Mee soup recipe- made the soup with shrimps

 Take about 7-8 cups of water in a big heavy bottomed sauce pan. Add in salt, and cooking oil.

As the name suggest Prawn Mee , prawns are the main ingredients. Remove head and shells from prawns, clean it well in water. Blanch these cleaned and de-veined prawns for about 3-4 mints in above simmering water. Take out and set aside.

Now add in removed prawn heads and shells in to the above simmering pot. Add in fish sauce. Put the flame to medium-low and let it simmer for about 40- 50 mints. Take out and discard prawn heads and shells. This is your home-made prawn stock and it tastes absolutely delicious. (Many times pork fat or chicken pieces are also added)

Now add in all the vegetables of your choice, let it cook for 6-7 mints or till they just start turning pale. I like when they retain bit of crunchiness. Take them out and keep aside in separate bowls. We will use these blanched vegetables at the time of assembling the Prawn Mee soup.

In a separate pan, boil egg noodles/rice noodles or yellow noodles, whatever you are using for the soup. I have used thick rice noodles which takes longer to cook. I have added bit of turmeric powder to the simmering rice noodles, so that it soaks bit of colour. Tip- You can use any thick instant noodle as well available  in India- like ramen/Maggi/chef/patanjali etc.….

Now prepare the shrimp/spice paste

Blanch 4-5 prawns in the above simmering pot and take out in a bowl.

 In a food processor, blend 4-5 blanched prawns, garlic and red chilly together.

Put the fry pan on flame, add in cooking oil and fry this spice paste for about 8-10 mints at medium-high flame or till the oil separates out. Take out and put in bowl. Use 2 tsp of this paste for the prawn mee recipe and if you have left-over, store in fridge. This can be served with the soup as an accompaniment also. TIP- You can use ready-made sambal- chilli paste as well.

Chop all very finely –onion+ ginger+garlic. If you think a paste will work fine then you can do it as well.

In that fry pan, add more cooking oil, fry onion, garlic and ginger evenly. You can make a spice paste out of this also and mix it with above mentioned prawn spice paste.
Preparing Vegetables and Prawns for the soup

Add in all the blanched vegetables, blanched prawns, palm sugar, adjust salt and last but not the least shrimp spice paste. You can use sambal chilli as well if you don’t want to make home-made shrimp paste. Basically any paste which has dried shrimp paste can also be used. This shrimp paste adds the extra shrimp flavour. Coat all the prawns and vegetables well with the spices. Green leafy vegetables like – spinach, Ong choi, can also be added but they need to be cooked/blanched separately.

Assembling Prawn Mee soup

Now put cooked noodles, then top it with your choice of cooked vegetables and prawns, add in cooked prawn stock and garnish with cilantro and hardboiled egg.

This soup is known as Penang Hokkien Mee in Penang. In KL it is knowns as Prawn Mee or Har mee. However, if in KL and Singapore you order Hokkien Mee – they will serve you with fried noodles with prawn and it will be different as compared to Penang Hokkien Mee.

Happy Cooking Friends

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Cherry Banana Dates Cake

Last time I made cake, perhaps it was in UK. I have mentioned in my last blog-post, we have moved into a new country- Malaysia, it is rather enigmatic, but full of all the beautiful possibilities for me. Things which were once familiar to us in UK, have become almost on a verge of extinction for me. When I first thought of about this cake, fresh cherries were on my mind. And ripened juicy cherries are so abundant in UK, that god knows how many times I have bought them and made cherry cake umpteen times also. 

Now comes the challenge, new kitchen, unfamiliar oven, and here I am again struggling with basic cooking instructions. Add to top of that, I didn’t get fresh cherries here as well. I happened to pick glazed cherries packets on my last grocery shopping rounds here. I kept pressing all the oven buttons desperately, perhaps wrongly, even oven timer wasn’t following my advice. And as I huffed and puffed, stream of sweat started flowing down my cheeks, and I started feeling anxious. And as I was about to make a frantic call to our landlady, the oven on its own decided well, yes it’s time to rise and shine. Phew! The day was saved and the cake was made, as if I conquered that lost Treasure Island. My gold and my platinum was, seeing this cake beaming out of hot oven- fresh and moist, ‘ Cherry Banana Dates cake ‘, as if an oasis has opened up right in front of me and that enigmatic mirage just vanished out of my sight. One worry off my shoulder now!

Here how I made this cake.
Cherry Banana Dates Cake
Recipe requirements
 1 and ¾ cup of self-rising flour
¼ tsp of baking soda
¼ tsp of baking powder
 2tsp of vanilla essence
2 eggs
½ cup of fine granulated sugar
 2 fully ripened bananas
 ¼ cup of plain yogurt
 ¼ cup of melted butter
½ cup of chopped fresh cherries or glazed cherries (whichever is available)
½ cup of chopped dates

In a big mixing bowl. Sift self-rising flour, add in baking soda and baking powder. Mix well.
Now in a separate bowl, cream together butter and sugar well. Add in eggs, one at a time and whisk in gently. Now add in vanilla essence.
Add in ripened banana and mash them properly, keep on mixing all .Add in plain yogurt and gently fold in. Add in chopped glazed cherries and chopped dates. If you can get fresh cherries, you can use them.
Now add the flour mixture from time to time to make the cake batter. Use up all flour mixture to mix in with the above mixture.
Preheat oven at 175 deg C.
Prepare the cake tin. Brush butter evenly and then sprinkle flour to coat it well. Tap the cake tin so that the flour gets distributed evenly.
Pour the cake batter in to the prepared cake tin. Bake the cake in the middle rack for about 30-35 mints or till the centre of the cake is cooked through well. Check by inserting a toothpick, if it comes out clean, cake is baked well.

Take out the cake and let it cool. You can make frosting if you wish to, otherwise the cake is moist on its own.

Happy Cooking