Nasi Goreng ~ From the streets of Indonesia

Nasi = Rice, Goreng = Fried, the dish literally translates to fried rice. Let’s explore the streets of South East Asia and its glorious cuisine this week 🙂

Day old rice tossed with kecap manis (sweet soy sauce), belacan (shrimp paste) and leftover veggies/ meat creates this beautiful umami rich fried rice topped with a fried egg.

One of the most talked about dishes of south east Asia (with several dubious recipes floating online!), the authentic nasi goreng is rather simple- with only stir-fried left over rice and a fried egg, as served in most local eateries across the length & breadth of Indonesia and Malaysia.

But if you want to make it into a complete wholesome meal like I did, just throw in any left over veggie, some protein and you are sorted! But what’s not optional is the kecap manis and fried egg on top😋

Don’t fret if you don’t have kecap manis. Simply reduce dark soy sauce (preferably low sodium) and brown sugar in a pan on low heat until it becomes darker & sticky. Ta-da!
You can add this sweet soy sauce to a host of Asian stir fries😉 Meanwhile you could also check out the Asian aisles of your supermarket or any Asian grocer and get a bottle of this dark and luscious velvety goodness.

Shrimp paste (belacan) gives the dish its umami flavour and elevates its taste to the next level! You can skip it if you don’t have, but do give it a try once. It does smell funky but believe me it really makes a difference in the taste and is actually much subtler in flavour once cooked.

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

200 g boneless chicken cubes

2 portions of cooked rice, a day old (if you don’t have overnight leftover rice, simply cook fresh rice and allow it to cool in refrigerator for at least 3-4 hours, don’t skip this!)

2-3 tbsp kecap manis

2 tsp chopped Thai red chilies

2 tbsp chopped garlic

1 finely chopped medium sized onion or 2-3 shallots

1 large cup veggies of your choice (I used chopped red bell pepper, beans and carrots)

1/2 tsp belacan/ shrimp paste (you can add slightly more or reduce based on your preference)

2 eggs

Salt to taste

White oil for frying

Method:

Marinate the boneless chicken cubes with 1/2 tbsp kecap manis. Keep aside.

Heat a wok; once smoking hot, add oil and throw in the chopped shallots (or onion), garlic and Thai red chilies. Sauté for a while.

Now add the chicken and spread it in the wok to ensure that it sears nicely. Stir fry for a while until the chicken is nicely browned. Next add your veggies and continue to stir fry on high heat. Adjust the salt according to your taste (remember soy sauce has salt, so go easy).

Add a bit of shrimp paste if you have and mix everything together so that the paste is evenly combined with the chicken and veggies.

Now add leftover rice (preferably short-grained) and the remaining kecap manis and stir fry for some more time. the rice and veggies should look glazed and nicely coated with the sauce.

Meanwhile prepare two fried eggs in a wok (no salt needed).

Serve hot with fried egg, cucumber slices and prawn crackers🤍 Makan time now!

Ayam Goreng Sambal (Malaysian style Spicy Sambal Chicken)

Crispy and tender boneless chicken thighs smothered in Malaysian style spicy sambal. So sedap (tasty) 🤍

Local Malay and Indonesian fares are so deliciously appetising and dangerously addictive that there’s no going back ever once you taste them at the countless mamak shops (street side restaurants)😋

I was craving sambal ayam goreng today, so quickly tossed up some fried chicken pieces in homemade sambal. Hello weekend bingeing !

Try this recipe and get transported to the enigmatic winding streets of Kuala Lumpur.

Ingredients:

For the fried chicken

300 g boneless chicken thigh

1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste

1 tbsp kecap manis (dark sweet soy sauce)

1 tsp vinegar

1 egg beaten

2 tbsp cornflour

White oil for deep frying

For the spicy sambal

5-6 fat cloves of garlic crushed

5-6 shallots

1 lemongrass stalk finely sliced

1 inch piece of fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp turmeric powder)

2 inch piece of galangal (or fresh ginger)

2-3 dried red chilies soaked in hot water (you can add more or reduce depending on your heat tolerance)

1-2 fresh chilies (again add or reduce to your liking)

1 tsp fish sauce

2 tsp tamarind paste (without seeds)

2 tbsp brown sugar (or palm sugar)

Any white (neutral) oil

Method

Marinate the chicken thigh pieces with some salt, ginger-garlic paste, kecap manis, vinegar, 1 beaten egg and cornflour. Keep refrigerated for 30 mins.

Heat some oil in a wok for deep frying. Fry the chicken until nice and crunchy golden brown. Drain and keep aside on a plate.

Meanwhile prepare the sambal by grinding the garlic cloves, fresh turmeric, ginger (or galangal), soaked dried red chilies, fresh chilies, shallots and lemongrass stalk into a paste in a blender or a mortar-pestle if you have patience.

Now heat a wok with oil. Sauté the paste on low heat until the aromatics turn fragrant which may take 12-15 minutes. Now add little fish sauce, palm sugar (or brown sugar) and the tamarind paste (you can make it to your liking by adjusting the sugar and tamarind).


Once the oil releases from the spices, it’s time to add the fried chicken and toss them for a while. Serve hot with your favourite drinks or simple nasi putih (white rice) 🙂

Kari Ayam (Authentic Malaysian Chicken Curry)

Having lived in Malaysia for many years, I’ve grown to love the spices & herbs from this region. Laksa curry, Char kway teow, Kuih, Roti jala & the mighty Nasi lemak. Yummm🤍

One of my favourite comfort foods is rice with kari ayam- slightly spicy & a creamy chicken curry which I always keep going back to. The authentic ones are found in the ‘mamak’ shops, which are the street side eateries selling unpretentious authentic local delicacies.

Now there are few keys to a good chicken curry Malaysian style. For instance,

1. The meat curry powder– Malaysian meat curry powder is a spice blend which includes ground coriander, chili, fennel, cumin, star anise, clove, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, turmeric, white pepper and black pepper. I always used Baba’s meat curry powder back in Kuala Lumpur & thankfully got few boxes packed with me in Toronto which would last me for a long time. You could make your own blend at home which is super easy, by just following the many videos available on YouTube.
2. Candlenut– this is added to thicken the curry & lend a beautiful texture. You can substitute it with macadamia nuts like I did.


Something about this dish is highly addictive, I can’t really explain what exactly! So for now I’ll leave you with this lovely recipe given to me by my next door makcik (aunty in Malay language)😀

Ingredients:

  • 500 g Boneless chicken thigh, cut into curry style pieces
  • 4 heaped tablespoon Malaysian meat curry powder (recipe easily available on internet)
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 5 Shallots
  • 2½ Inch of fresh ginger
  • 5 Fat cloves of garlic
  • 4 Candlenuts (or 6-7 macadamia nuts)
  • 3 Dried red chilli
  • 1 Large cinnamon piece
  • 4 Cloves
  • 4 Cardamom (green)
  • 1 Star anise
  • 4 Sprigs of curry leaves
  • 3 Medium sized potatoes, halved
  • 1 Lemongrass stalk
  • 300 ml Coconut milk
  • 3 tbsps Olive oil (or any white oil)

Method:

Marinate chicken with 1 tbsp meat curry powder & 1 tbsp light soy sauce. Leave it aside for at least 15-20 mins.

Now for the aromatics, make a paste with the shallots, ginger, garlic, candlenuts, dried red chilies, remaining meat curry powder & little water. Heat 3 tbsps oil in a pot & sauté the whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise & few curry leaves.

Once fragrant, add the spice blend & fry until red & the oil separates. Throw in the marinated chicken & cook well on high heat for at least 5-10 mins.

Now add hot water according to the gravy consistency you want, & let it come to a boil.

Toss in the potato cubes, remaining fresh curry leaves & lemongrass & then lower the heat, simmering for at least 30 mins.

Finally add the coconut milk, salt & sugar (optional) & let it cook for another 5 mins before serving.

Shrimp Noodles with Bok Choy & Spring Onions

“Grow up, eat some chilli” as Seonkyoung Longest, the queen of Asian cuisine always says 😀 I followed her recipe to create this perfect street style shrimp chowmein or shrimp noodles with bok choy and spring onions (slightly modified). If there’s one dish I could eat all day, everyday, its got to be noodles. mmmmm !

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Growing up, whenever I was down or upset, my mum would cheer me up with a comforting bowl of noodles. Since then, it has pretty much been my constant soul food as life happened!

Do watch her YouTube channel for this and more lip smacking Asian food 🙂

 

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I have always been an ardent Asian food lover and living in Kuala Lumpur for more more than 5 years now, my love has grown by leaps and bounds. The truth is I have probably only scratched the surface on making or experiencing South East Asian food because its so rich and diverse! I am definitely learning more and more with each passing day.

So go ahead and try out this recipe. Whether you are a college student or a busy working woman, I can bet you won’t find any easier noodles recipe that tastes this awesome 😀

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Ingredients:

10-12 peeled and de-veined prawns/ shrimp (medium size is the best)

A pinch of black pepper

1 tbsp vinegar (any type would do)

1/2 cup chicken stock (if you don’t have, then simple warm water would do!)

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 thai red chilli chopped (lovely flavour yet low on heat)

5-6 fat cloves of garlic, chopped

1 inch of thinly julienne d ginger

3 medium sized diced shiitake mushroom

3 baby bok choy

3-4 spring onions, chopped into 2 inch long pieces

2-3 tbsp white oil for stir frying

A splash of sesame oil

Salt to taste

300-350 g cooked spaghetti or egg noodles (I used angel hair spaghetti)

Method:

Marinate the shrimps with vinegar and black pepper for at least 15 minutes. Heat a wok. Add oil and throw in the prawns to be stir fried for about a minute on high heat (important). Take them out and keep aside.

Add some more oil and heat up the wok again. Add chopped ginger, garlic and red chilies into the wok. Again carefully stir fry them for about a minute (make sure the heat is high and stir continuously). Now is the time to add the bok choy and mushrooms. Keep stir frying as you get the wonderful aroma.

Mix the oyster and dark soy sauce in the chicken stock to make the sauce for our chowmein. Now throw in the cooked (al dente) noodles and the sauce into the wok and keep stir frying. Let everything combine well. Add in the spring onion greens and mix again. Turn off the heat and add a splash of sesame oil for the final wonderful touch. That’s it! Voila 🙂

 

Welcoming the Chinese New Year at Absolute Thai Hot Pot, Mid Valley, KL

Gong Xi Fa Cai 🙂 

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Chinese New Year is undoubtedly the most important festival for the Chinese community. KL simply comes alive during these few days, with every nook and corner of the city being lit up, sales and discounts at shops, food stalls everywhere, beautiful decorations at malls, lion dances and fireworks!

Yesterday was the beginning of a long holiday for S and we decided to spend the next couple of days with friends- watching movies, going for drives, potlucks etc., basically chilling without a care 😀 We were at the Mid Valley mall and I suggested S & a friend that we go to Absolute Thai Hot Pot for dinner and they readily agreed. It’s rare that the husband would say no to Thai food 😛

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Our visit to this branch was a first, though we’ve been to a couple of their other outlets. Located at level 2, Center Court, its décor was all black which surprisingly had a very calming effect. We took a table near the corner from where we had a clear view of the outside. Although the restaurant was inside a mall, it felt as if we were sitting at a roadside open café.

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The menu was fairly exhaustive. We didn’t opt for their hotpot menu which was quite tempting, but settled for their usual fare instead.

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The menu

I have a thing for Chicken wrapped in Pandan leaves. It can be quite tricky though. You have to cook it just right to get the perfect texture- crunchy from the outside and soft, juicy inside. A little overcooked and what you have is an inedible hard piece of chicken. However, Absolute Thai nailed it. It was so delicious that it made us even hungrier.

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Pandan Leaves Chicken

The service was quite fast. As the waiter was bringing the other dishes to our table, I noticed S was glued to his phone looking at the highlights of a soccer match. Boys and their toys! After my stern look, he quickly put down his phone and beamed with delight looking at the food on the table.

Unfortunately the Tom Yam Soup with Seafood and Meehoon was the first thing I tasted. Why unfortunate? Because it was one of the worst tom yam soups I’ve ever had. It was so sour that all other flavours were overpowered and I felt as if I was biting on a piece of raw tamarind. I would never recommend it to anyone.

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Tom Yam Soup with Seafood and Meehoon (red base)

That made me somewhat skeptical about the other dishes we ordered. But my presumption was wrong thankfully. The Red Curry Roasted Duck was lip-smacking. The flavours were balanced perfectly. The sweet and spice quotient was just right and it tasted fabulous with plain white rice. The duck was quite soft, unlike a few other places I have had before, where it was hard and chewy.

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Red Curry Roasted Duck

The Green Curry Chicken was nice, so no complaints there but it wasn’t remarkable. I have had much better ones at other Thai restaurants in KL. S was busy removing chunky pieces of eggplant from the curry 😀  Otherwise he seemed to have enjoyed it.

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Green Curry Chicken

The best was saved for last. The Garlic and Black Pepper Fried rice with Fresh Crab was in one word heavenly! The crab was really fresh which elevated the dish to another level. It was mildly spiced and very juicy. The rice was perfectly seasoned with crushed black pepper and overall it was the best dish of the day.

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Garlic and Black Pepper Fried rice with Fresh Crab

Address: Mid Valley Megamall, 1, Lingkaran Syed Putra, Mid Valley City, 58000 Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Phone: +60 3-2201 5308

Open: 10am – 10pm

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BUMBU DESA: From the land of Kopi Luwak & Batik

Indonesia is my preferred destination for holidaying in the entire South East Asia. From the vibrant nightlife in Jakarta to the stunning natural beauty of Bali, the country has never ceased to spellbind me. So far Bali has been my favourite holiday spot. A land rich in culture, heritage, art & craft and of course food! My love for Indonesian food is pretty well known. The multitude of spices & herbs used in their food is what makes the cuisine a foodie’s delight. From their satays to bakso, gado-gado & rendang- every dish is scrumptious.

Few moments from my Bali trip 🙂

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Tanah lot, Bali

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Prawn Satay & Nasi Goreng Platter

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Grilled Tilapia

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A random flea market, Nusa Dua

I am always keen to try out new Indonesian eateries in town & when I learnt that Bumbu Desa, a popular restaurant chain in Indonesia has an outlet in KLCC, I decided to check it out. Honestly, this won’t be an exhaustive review as we sampled only a couple of dishes, but I can of course share my experience with you guys 🙂

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The restaurant is located on the 4th floor of Suria KLCC and with its warm lighting & elegant décor, it looked rather inviting. We were ushered in by a friendly wait staff and quickly asked for the menu as I was very hungry. There were many appetisers & main course to choose from but we decided to settle for their set menus (For a complete listing of their menu please visit Bumbu Desa Menu). I ordered Nasi Rabeg Kambing, which is a spicy mutton dish. The mutton came accompanied with Sayur Asem, Nasi, Peanut sauce (similar to gado-gado) & small disc shaped crackers.

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Nasi Rabeg Kambing

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A closer look

Sayur Asem is the perfect appetizer. Made with corn & squash, its sweet & sour taste made our tastebuds dance. Flavoured subtly, it is a very comforting soup. The peanut sauce was mildly spiced which balanced the hot & spicy mutton impeccably. About the mutton, I really have no words. Perfectly cooked, tender & juicy, & spicy without being too hot. I like my food very spicy, maybe my Indian palette is responsible for it, and so Indonesian food is an absolute winner for me & from whatever I had at Bumbu desa, I am coming back for sure, to try out more from their menu & give a better comprehensive review.

S had ordered Nasi Rendang Daging which he claimed was as good as the ones he had in Indonesia. The beef was succulent & tasted fabulous.

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Nasi Rendang Daging

The crackers in both the sets were unimpressive. They were neither crispy nor made any difference to the whole dish. I think one can do without it.

The wait staff was very friendly and obliged us every time we made any requests, from changing seats to clicking photographs, explaining the dish to us, etc. Do come and eat here if you want an authentic taste of Indonesia without burning a hole in your pocket.

6 Continue reading “BUMBU DESA: From the land of Kopi Luwak & Batik”

Sanook- A little thai gem

So guess who’s back from a hiatus 🙂

2016 has been a roller-coaster ride, some ups, many downs 😦 but that’s life. What I learned is that you should treasure each and every moment you spend with your dear ones and never let the passion in you die.

So I have decided to follow my love for all things food more fervently. Along with experimenting in the kitchen and sharing recipes, I would also dabble in restaurant (from small roadside shack to a 5 star) reviews specifically keeping in mind our Indian travelers. We Indians love to travel and South East Asia is one of our favourites. The enormous range of cuisines and flavours are simply overwhelming. From Nasi Lemak to Gado Gado, Bibimbap to Mee Goreng, Satays to Tutu cakes- one can’t even envisage the sheer variety on offer. So I will mostly tell you guys about places to eat keeping in mind our palette 😀 Basically a handy guide not just for travelers but also for Indians who are new to KL and plan to set base for a while.

That brings me to my very first restaurant review- Sanook (Pavilion Mall, KL)

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A Thai restaurant, Sanook is a small cozy eatery located at a corner in Pavilion mall, Bukit Bintang, KL. The other outlet is at Sunway Pyramid West Hotel. The husband and I, let’s call him S here, were craving for some Thai food, while we were pottering around the upscale mall. So we headed to the area that housed the most eateries. Looking around for some time, we finally spotted Sanook- a little further from Food Republic (food court at Pavilion). The lively décor and welcoming staff are hard to miss.

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The place was relatively empty for a Saturday and we were wondering if we made the right choice. But then they say, never judge a book by its cover, so we decided to check in anyway. The menu had many Thai starters and main courses to choose from, along with few options for sushi burgers. The husband ordered Original Pad Thai-Chicken, which is his favourite. In fact sometimes I wonder if he is on a secret mission to discover the best Pad Thai ever 😀 The pad thai looked delish and the portion was enough for one. The crunch of the peanuts, juiciness of the tender chicken, spice from the chilly, tang of the lemon along with the warm rice noodles, were a riot of flavours in the mouth. But what upset me in the beginning was that they didn’t serve lemon wedges with the noodles!! Isn’t it a crime? Pad thai without lemon?? But they made up for that with their taste. The pad thai was absolutely lip-smacking! I would have preferred a little more sprinkling of salt though, but S didn’t seem to mind. Overall it was very scrumptious.

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I had ordered for Tom Yum Seafood Fried rice and Spicy Red Curry Chicken in a peanut based sauce.The curry was not too spicy, but nonetheless flavourful with generous chunks of boneless chicken pieces. The coconut milk was very well balanced with the spices and the kaffir lime. None of the flavours were overpowering which I feel is the real hallmark of Thai food. But the insane number of chunky galangal pieces I found in my curry was sort of annoying and distracting me from enjoying the dish to the fullest. But overall, it was delightful.

20161218_142913Spicy Red Curry Chicken in a Peanut based sauce

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However the star of the night was definitely the fried rice. It was in fact one of the best tom yum rice I ever had. The fresh prawns, fleshy calamari, sharp kaffir lime leaves, fragrant lemongrass, spicy red chillis and the aroma of crushed shallots and garlic, in just the right measure is what made the dish mouthwatering. I just couldn’t have enough of it. In fact I wanted to pack some for home.

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Sanook is pretty easy on the pocket. A similar dinner for two would cost around 80-100RM. So do check this place out. I am definitely returning soon.

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