Monday, August 02, 2021

Schezwan Noodles

 

Schezwan Noodles

A number of shortcuts were used in this recipe, but the Schezwan sauce was homemade, inspired by a YouTube video. In the video, dried red chilies were soaked in hot water, drained and then combined with a number of other ingredients and fried until the oil floated to the top. This looked like too much work so a substitution was made using red chili oil and Kashmiri mirch or hot paprika powder. 

Coleslaw mix is a huge bonus found in most supermarkets and consist of shredded red and green cabbage and carrots. This left me with little chopping to do and made the process go a lot faster.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Ohno Khawkswe and Kyaukyaw

Ohno Khawkswe

Memorial Day weekend this year brought warmer temperatures, but our nephew and niece from Florida wished they had brought their jackets with them. We celebrated the dawning of a new age, leaving behind the blight of Covid-19 shutdowns and related misery, with Burmese food for lunch. Even though our guests had not tried Burmese food before, they relished their steaming bowls of chicken and coconut noodle soup.

Noodles and Soup

We began by ladling noodles and soup into a bowl and then surveyed the host of garnishes that graced the table. 


With Garnishes

Working our way clockwise in the first picture, we had a choice of fresh lime cut in wedges, roasted and ground chili powder, minced cilantro or fresh coriander leaves, chopped boiled eggs, minced green onions, deep fried onions and deep fried garlic. Not shown in the picture were chili-garlic oil and roasted chickpea powder.

KyauKyaw for Dessert

For dessert we had KyauKyaw (chow-chaw), a cool and refreshing coconut jello that's made with agar-agar or seaweed gelatin.


Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Rice Noodles with Surimi in Black Bean and Garlic Sauce

Rice Noodles and Surimi

Rice noodles are comforting and filling and maybe because they're so thin, it seems healthy and okay to eat more of it. Singapore noodles are a favourite choice at Asian restaurants and that's made with rice noodles. It's easy to reconstitute these noodles at home, because all it takes is to blanch them in boiling hot water for 1 minute to soften. Drain noodles and place noodles in a saucepan, cover and set aside until ready to cook.

Surimi is also known as crab sticks or fake crab and is composed of different kinds of fish. I'm using surimi in place of shrimp because my husband has recently developed an allergy to shrimp.

Black bean sauce is quite salty so it may not be necessary to add any more salt.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Bhola's Alu Dom

 

Bhola's Alu Dum

A new item I haven't seen before at our Indian supermarket are packages of baby potatoes that are cooked, peeled and frozen. I've been dreaming of Bhola's alu dum we would gorge on in Darjeeling. Bhola had a food stall off the mall and his alu dum made a great after-school snack. They were delicious, bright red, piping hot, soft and spicy potatoes that made our eyes (and noses) water. 

I gathered all the red spices I could find in the spice cabinet but it needed a little something more so I added a teaspoon of sugar and 2 teaspoons of vinegar. With the help of a serrano chili, this alu dum came out tasting sweet, spicy and slightly sour. It will go well with hot steamed basmati rice or flat bread.

Tips

  • Make sure to prick each baby potato all over so flavours can penetrate to the center of each potato.
  • Onion paste will give more body to the gravy instead of minced onions. Cut an onion into four, blanch for 2 minutes and grind to a paste.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

Mohinga - Burmese Fish Noodle Soup

Mohinga


Mohinga - the soup

Noodles and Garnishes
Boiled fresh rice noodles
Chopped green onions
Pae Kyaw - split pea fritters
Chili flakes
Sliced hard-boiled eggs
Sliced onions
Minced cilantro

Noodles and Soup

Noodles, Soup and Garnishes

Monday, February 01, 2021

Chicken and Chayote Squash in Black Bean Sauce

 

Chicken and Squash
in Black Bean Sauce

Any kind of meat, fish or seafood tastes wonderful cooked in black bean sauce. Lee Kum Kee sauces are available at any Asian market and are of excellent quality.

Chayote Squash is found in abundance at the supermarkets nowadays and grows wild in Darjeeling where I spent my adolescence. It's a hardy vegetable that does not spoil in the fridge and is a favourite vegetable in our household. They're peeled and thinly sliced so they cook quickly.

Chayote Squash

Skinless and boneless chicken breasts are cut in bite-sized pieces and velveted which tenderizes the meat and keeps it looking a pristine white. Velveting simply means soaking in baking powder for 30 minutes then washing thoroughly to remove all traces of baking powder. The chicken is then marinated in oil, salt and corn starch for 10 minutes before tossing in hot oil just until the colour changes. 

This is a very easy recipe that is packed with flavour and goes well with hot, steamed rice.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Phoolkop'r Bhortha - Cauliflower Mash

 

Phoolkopi'r Bhortha

This is the Bengali way of making Bhortha (Bharta in Hindi) or mashed vegetable. Phoolkopi is cauliflower, so this is Mashed Cauliflower. As you know, cauliflower has little flavour of its own and takes on the flavour and aroma of herbs and spices that are added to it. The overriding element in this dish is mustard oil that is added to the cauliflower while it's still hot from steaming. The pungency of mustard oil is what sets our bhorthas apart from bhartas from other parts of India. Another distinction is the addition of salt to taste along with raw, minced onions, green chilies, cilantro or coriander leaves and tomatoes that are mashed into the vegetable. It's a simple dish to assemble and takes center stage at any meal.

The leaves and stems from the base of the cauliflower are removed and the whole head of cauliflower is placed in a pressure cooker with 1/8 cup of vegetable broth or water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Salt is sprinkled over the cauliflower, the cover is put on, its brought to full pressure over high heat and then pressure cooked for 15 minutes over low heat after full pressure builds up. After removing from heat, always allow pressure to release naturally, for about ten minutes, before messing with the cover to prevent steam from burning your hands.

Use a masher like a 'daler kata' or lentils masher to mash the cauliflower and add all the aromatics before mixing it all together to make the bhortha. This bhortha  goes well with hot, steamed rice and is usually served as a first course or starter of a Bengali meal.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Won Ton Noodle Soup

 

Won Ton Noodle Soup

Sometimes, all it takes is a very simple soup to satisfy midnight or any-time-of-day cravings. For this reason, the freezer is always stocked with Korean mandu or  dumplings that are available all over town. Baby bok choy freezes well, so the leaves are separated, washed, dried and packaged in Ziploc bags for the freezer. Fresh Pad Thai noodles, available at Asian markets, are also a staple item stored in the fridge. 

This soup uses only 4 ingredients, not counting the seasonings, and takes no more than 10 minutes to assemble.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Khayan Thee Sipyan - Burmese Eggplant Curry

 

Khayan Thee Sipyan

Long cuts of eggplant combined with crab sauce, are simmered to a delectable softness nestled in a piquant gravy of sweet, sour and umami aromas and taste. If crab paste is not available, shrimp powder can be substituted.

Serve with hot, steamed rice, as a side dish. 

Friday, January 08, 2021

Stuffed Crepes

Stuffed Crepes

These stuffed crepes are also called Moghlai Parathas in India. 

Scrambled Eggs

To enrich this snack, ground meat could be cooked along with the scrambled eggs and crepes made larger to accommodate the bulkier filling.

Crepes

The inspiration video I followed had a simple recipe for making crepes, but do modify the amount of liquid to make a fairly runny batter so that the batter can spread to a desirable size.

Sunday, January 03, 2021

Fish Pulao

 

Fish Pulao

This is a simple and satisfying one pot meal of buttery rice and fresh fish. I used a combination of basa steaks and filleted tilapia to cater to my preference for bone-in fish and Hubby's preference for hassle-free filleted fish. Large discs of russet potatoes provide texture and wholesomeness to the dish.

This main dish uses a few, simple ingredients and comes together with little effort to produce a flavourful dish that goes well with fresh salad or raita.

Served with fresh
Tomatoes and Onions

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Sandwich Bread

 

Sandwich Bread


Bread Slices


Half a Loaf of Bread

Everyone seems to be making bread these days and there are countless You Tube videos demonstrating breadmaking techniques. GrandBoy#2 was spending the day with us and both he and Hubby love bread, so I spent the afternoon watching a video (link at the end of this page) and baking bread. For dinner we had Mexican pizza and also demolished half a loaf, straight out of the oven and slathered with butter. It was delicious and the house smelled heavenly! The slices shown above were cut from this half of the loaf.

When we were growing up in Burma, bread was breakfast food that we ate on the way to school. We would beg Mum to go easy on the butter and go crazy with the sugar or jam. Buttered toast with a sprinkling of sugar was comforting and diverted my attention from the stress of having to go to school. On the weekends or if we were recovering from a cold, we would dip our toast into sweetened milk. My memories of Mum's remedy for combating the 'flu was a triangle of toast that we dipped into chicken soup. It leaves me with a warm and fuzzy feeling towards Mum that is stamped into my memory. 

The nostalgia associated with these memories kept me company while I made bread today. These days, plain buttered toast is my favorite part of any breakfast.
I halved the recipe in the video to make one loaf of bread.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

2020 Turkey Dinner

2020 Turkey Dinner


Even though turkey is the least favorite protein in our home, I was craving it since we didn't have it for Thanksgiving last year (we went to Kyoto Japanese Steak House instead). So we decided yesterday should be Turkey Day. It was a hurried decision, but I'm lucky to be blessed with an extremely cooperative Hubby who did all the shopping and cleaning up afterwards.

This being the year of Covid-19 restrictions, we couldn't have anyone over for dinner so I prepared everything, Hubby and I had one serving each of it all and I packed the rest for Son#3 who lives half an hour's drive away. My cravings were satisfied and we didn't have to suffer through a week of leftovers. Thank goodness for that!

The green beans casserole got an update with the addition of grated cheddar cheese and bacon and one new item, Corny Bread, was added. Whole baby potatoes and carrots were cooked along with the turkey in the last 45 minutes of baking. 

Our dinner also included dinner rolls, was washed down with hot apple cider and for dessert we had Apple Cobbler.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Suji Toast - Cream of Wheat Toast

 

Suji Toast

There are a myriad recipes for this popular breakfast dish on the internet. The video that inspired me is displayed at the end of this post. I found toasted suji at the Indian market which is what I used to make this. Our neighbourhood supermarket bakes their own Italian bread which was perfect because the crusty slices hold their shape and acted as a sponge for the topping. And according to my nephew, 'Iz bedder wid budder', so I used butter instead of oil to fry the toasts. The leftover batter can be made into little dosas. With less than 10 ingredients, breakfast is ready in under 30 minutes. 

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Chicken Haleem - Chicken and Lentil - Wheat Berries Stew

 

Chicken Haleem


A colleague at work first mentioned Haleem and how delicious it is. A one-pot meal that is hearty and wholesome, I've been wanting to try it out in my kitchen for a long time. The main ingredient in the haleem mix is the wheat berry or little grains of wheat which are tinier than the wheat that is ground into flour.

As is my practice, I scoured the internet for haleem recipes, watched a few videos and came up with a recipe that is far from authentic, but delicious anyway. I mixed wheat berries with panch mishali dal or 5 different varieties of lentils. This consisted of red/masoor dal, split chickpeas/channa dal, white/urad dal, yellow/moong dal and yellow split peas/toor dal.

I used minced or ground chicken, 1 cup of wheat berries and a quarter cup each of the 5 types of lentils. The chicken was made into a keema curry and the lentils were first toasted in a dry skillet, cooled and blended to a fine powder. The chicken keema and haleem mix were then combined with 3 cups of water and simmered over medium-low heat until thickened.

Haleem reminds me of a rich version of khichuri in which rice is replaced with wheat berries. Delicious and nutritious, we had it for dinner with steamed rice and for lunch over a bed of rice noodles with several garnishes.

Serve with Garnishes

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Apple Cobbler or Dump Cake

 

Apple Cobbler

A very easy dump cake using just a few ingredients, this dump cake was our dessert at Thanksgiving Dinner this year. It can be made with fruit pie filling of any variety. Since I watch my sugar intake, I used a can of Duncan Hines No Sugar Added Apple Pie Filling. To make your own pie filling, stew 2 cups chopped apples with a cup of sugar and a dash of salt. We liked this dump cake so much that the following week, I made a peach dump cake using no sugar added canned peach slices.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Masur Masala Bhindi - Red Lentils with Fried Okra

 

Masur Masala Bhindi

Masur dal or red lentils are the easiest lentils to make. They cook quickly and go well with any and all vegetables. Cooking the lentils with a bit of salt and turmeric separately then adding the stir-fried vegetables, gets this side dish on the table in less than half an hour.

There are a couple of ingredients in this recipe that are only available in an Indian market. Amchur is dried green mango that is ground to a fine powder. It's purpose is to reduce the mucus that is released while the okra cooks. If amchur is not available, leave it out, but make sure not to add anything to the okra until it's cooked. It will initially be slimy so fry it over medium heat and don't stir it too much. Wait until the okra browns before stirring. Add salt only when all signs of mucus disappear. Don't cover the okra while it's frying because the resulting condensation will make it more slimy. Notice that onions, tomatoes and green chilies are added after the okra cooks and all mucus disappears.

Panch phoron is the other ingredient that is available only in an Indian market. If it's not available, use whole fennel seeds and fennel seed powder which is made by dry-roasting a tablespoon of whole fennel seeds and grinding them to a fine powder.

Serve these lentils as a side dish for lunch or dinner. They go well with hot, steamed rice or any Indian bread.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Chaler Payesh - Rice Pudding

 

Chal'er Payesh

A comforting and deeply satisfying end to a meal, rice pudding is a favourite with young and old alike.

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Achari Begun - Pickled Eggplant

 

Achari Begun

Here's another tasty way to prepare eggplant. The internet is a prolific source for recipes, and this was featured in a video by Banglar Rannaghor. One modification I made was to use imli chutney in place of tamarind paste. A technique that impressed me was to toss and marinate the eggplant pieces with spices and 2-3 tablespoons of water before frying. This made a big difference in the time it took for the eggplant pieces to brown without absorbing a vast quantity of oil.

I used a big globe eggplant that was cut in half and sliced. Any variety of eggplant would work for this recipe, so use whatever is at hand. Serve as a side dish, accompanied by any Indian bread or hot, steamed rice.

Tuesday, November 03, 2020

Bhapa Maach - Steamed Fish in Mustard Gravy

 

Bhapa Maach

Translated from Bengali to English:
Bhapa - Steamed
Maach - Fish

Most of my cooking is influenced by three sources. First of all, Mum and my siblings, the internet and cookbooks. Check the end of this blog for a link to the original source on the internet or from a cookbook. Modifications and adjustments are necessary, depending upon the quantities of ingredients available and how much spice is tolerated by those being catered to.

The inspiration video used 2 different kinds of fish and shrimp in this dish. I used 2 fillets of tilapia and steamed the fish in a rice cooker. The addition of raw mustard oil gives this fish the pungent flavour of mustard without all the hard work of soaking and blending mustard seeds.

This dish is best served with freshly steamed Basmati rice.

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Creamy Yogurt Cake

 

Yogurt Cheese Cake

A creamy, practically guilt-free cheese cake that substitutes cream cheese with yogurt. I followed a Burmese video to make the cake. I was impressed with how delicious the cake turned out considering the minimal number of ingredients used.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Korean Japchae - Stir-Fried Glass Noodles with Meat and Vegetables

 

Japchae

Japchae is a Korean sweet and savoury dish, traditionally made with sweet potato noodles, lots of vegetables and meat. Vegetables must include onions, re-hydrated mushrooms, carrots and spinach or other greens.

Here's what you need

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Misti Alu'r Bhortha - Mashed Sweet Potatoes

 

Misti Alu'r Bhortha

Sweet potatoes are so comforting and tasty when they're baked. It's a lot easier to wash them, pierce with a fork or sharp-tipped knife all over, wrap in wax paper and microwave for 10 minutes, turning over at half time. Once they soften and the skin peels away easily, the sweet potato can be mashed with a fork and combined with mustard oil, minced onions, minced green chilies and salt. Several vegetables are steamed and mashed in this way into a bhortha. 

We'd run out of green chilies, but there's always a bottle of Priya green chili pickle in the fridge. It's the closest thing to kasundi because the sliced chilies are pickled in mustard sauce. This is what I used in this bhortha, so the flavour of mustard was accentuated.

Served as a first course to an Indian meal, bhortha goes well alongside lentils or dal with hot, steamed rice.

Dried Fruit and Nut Sprinkles

Dried Fruit & Nut Sprinkles

Called Choori in Hindi, this muesli-like mixture is made with left-over chapatis or tortillas. I found the recipe on the internet. 

Instead of using excess tortillas for bird food, they can be toasted and pulsed in a blender with nuts, desiccated coconut, dried fruits such as dates and raisins and sugar, unrefined sugar, coconut sugar or jaggery. Choori can be served as a breakfast cereal, sprinkled over ice cream or eaten as a snack. Cooled and stored in an air-tight container, Choori can last for several weeks.

I used a couple of excess flour tortillas and a mixture of ingredients that I had at home, including almonds, unsweetened and dried desiccated coconut, dates, raisins and coconut sugar. The ingredients were blended together to a grainy texture and seasoned with cardamom powder (you can also use cinnamon powder) to give it that unique Indian flavour. 

Sunday, August 09, 2020

Thai Pork Salad - Nam Sod


Nam-Sod


This is a popular salad item found on Thai menus that is generally made with minced pork, but also tastes great with minced chicken. It's light and delicious as a salad, but I always make extra so that I can add vermicelli noodles and carrots for lunch the next day.