Prawn Momo (Dumpling) with Chili Oil & Prawn Broth: A taste of the hills

For as long as I can remember, the last week of the year always meant holidays- waking up late without the alarm bell ringing, lazing around, reflecting on the year gone by and gorging on good food. Over the years the circumstances may have changed but what remained constant is food being part of all the year end celebrations.

‘Momos’ as they are popularly known in India/ Nepal, are these juicy succulent meat fillings wrapped in a thin moist crescent-shaped wrap resembling a dumpling.

I still remember the first time I had momos/ dumplings, I was probably 11 or 12 and quite intrigued but also repulsed by the idea of chomping down a weird looking dough ball that was steamed and not fried. But one bite and god was I hooked! What the neighbourhood street shack sold was more of an onion momo than chicken, which I later realised as I grew up 😀 Nevertheless, I was totally in love.

Since then I have come a long way and have had my share of lip-smacking dumplings from amazing joints in Calcutta, the hills of Darjeeling, Nepal and Bhutan. Nothing is as comforting as freshly steamed momos dipped in spicy chili oil with a bowl of steaming hot clear soup. Nomnomnom….

The Nepalese ones remain my favourite because of their simplicity and use of fresh ingredients. On monsoon afternoons or on cold winter nights like now in Toronto, when my heart cries out for something piping hot, I can only think of momos.

These are so delicate and bursting with flavour, that you would find it difficult to stop as the juices ooze out with every bite 🙂

Ingredients (15-16 medium sized momos):

For stuffing:

14 large prawns deveined & shell removed, finely chopped (not minced)

3 tbsp finely chopped coriander

3 tbsp finely chopped green onion/ spring onion

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

2 finely chopped green chilies

1 tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 heaped tbsp butter

Salt & pepper to taste

For wrapper:

2 cups all purpose flour/ maida

1/2 tsp salt

Water to knead soft dough

For Chili Oil:

[The stunning chili oil recipe is by one of my favourite food bloggers Nambie. You can find this and more of her delicious recipes on YouTube under Eat Your Kappa]

3 tsp Chili flakes

3 tsp chilli powder/ paprika

1 tbsp white sesame seeds

1 cup olive oil (or any unflavoured oil)

3 large roughly chopped ginger pieces (about 1 inch each)

1 roughly chopped onion

Few sprigs of coriander leaves

2 roughly chopped spring onions

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp sichuan pepper

2 tbsp vinegar

1 tsp aniseed or fennel

1 large cinnamon

1 staranise

Salt & sugar to taste

For prawn broth:

2 tbsp oil

1/2 roughly chopped onion

2-3 large ginger chunks

1 fat garlic clove minced

1 roughly chopped carrot

1 tsp whole peppercorn

1 bay leaf

Prawn shells (of the 15 prawns)

1 chicken bullion

3 cups water

Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

Step 1

Start with the broth. Heat a deep bottomed pot with oil and add the bay leaf and peppercorns. Throw in the onion, ginger, minced garlic and carrots. Sauté for a while until fragrant. Now add the prawn shells and stir fry again until they release all the juices. Add 3 cups of water and a chicken bullion and let it simmer on low heat, uncovered and come to a boil. Keep removing the scum from time to time to keep the broth clear. Add salt and pepper and continue to simmer. In about 1-1.5 hours, the broth will be ready. Strain and serve in soup bowls, garnished with chopped green onions.

Step 2

Mix the chopped prawn with all the ingredients listed under ‘stuffing’ in a bowl and keep it marinated for at least 30 minutes.

Step 3

Mix the flour with salt and start kneading the dough by pouring water little at a time to ensure a soft dough. Keep it wrapped in a plastic for 15 mins.

Step 4

While we wait for the prawns and the dough ready to be used, let’s make the chili oil. In a bowl, add the chili flakes, chili powder, sesame seeds, salt and sugar and mix well.

Now heat a cup of oil in a wok until smoking hot and throw in roughly chopped veggies, bay leaves, sichuan pepper, fennel seeds, cinnamon and star anise. Let them fry well on medium heat. Once the veggies have browned and the spices cooked, strain the oil. Add the hot oil in the dry ingredients bowl and mix everything well with a spoon. Finally add some vinegar and viola! Your chili oil is ready.

This is such a life changing recipe by Nambie and you can store this oil for a couple of months.

Step 5

Time to make the momos/ dumplings!

Divide the dough into equal 15-16 portions and roll out very thinly. The wraps should be more thicker on the center but thinner on the outside. Take one wrap and place some prawn mix in the center with a spoon. To seal the momos securely, tap the edges of the wrap with some water on your finger. Start folding and pleating the wrap into your desired dumpling shape.

Line the momos in a bamboo steamer basket or on a steel stand in a deep bottom pan and steam for 15 minutes. You can even make them in your instant pot like I did. I placed a steel steamer basket inside the instant pot and used the steam function for 8 minutes to get the perfect dumplings.

Serve them hot with the chili oil and a side of prawn clear broth.

Step 6

Eat and get lost in the winding roads of the misty hills :))

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.

Down Memory Lane: Classic Shepherd’s Pie

Truth be told, there’s a lot of debate on the origins of the humble shepherd’s pie- whether it’s Irish or British! There are bits and pieces of history/ folklore surrounding this classic delicacy and there’s no one person or an event that gifted this hearty dish to the world.

Probably somewhere around the early 1800s, peasant housewives in Ireland and northern parts of England came up with the ingenious idea of putting the leftover meat from Sunday roasts to good use by making pies out of them. This clever practice avoided wastages, while families could enjoy something which is not only delicious and new but also filling and inexpensive.

Traditionally, shepherd’s pie uses minced lamb while cottage pie uses minced beef. The ground meat combined with veggies simmered in a rich gravy and topped with creamy mashed potato and grated parmesan results in a dish that is so comforting that it warms your soul.

Feel free to use ground turkey or chicken or even soy meat in case you want alternatives.

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the lamb gravy:

250g ground lamb

1 cup of mixed veggies like chopped celery, carrots and onions

2/3 cup frozen peas

3 fat garlic cloves minced

1/2 tsp dried rosemary leaves

1 tbsp dried thyme leaves

2 bay leaves

1 tbsp worcestershire sauce

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup chicken/ meat stock

2 tbsp Olive oil (or any white oil)

For the mashed potato:

450 gram boiled and mashed potatoes (preferably russet potatoes)

2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp sour cream

1 tsp dried parsley flakes

1/2 tsp garlic powder

4 tbsp grated parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Heat olive oil in a pot and sauté the chopped carrot, celery, onions along with minced garlic. Once fragrant, add thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Mix everything well.

Now add the ground lamb and throw in some green peas. Stir and let the meat cook until it’s no longer pink.

This is the time to add the worcestershire sauce (key!), tomato puree and the meat/ chicken stock. Cook for a while on medium heat and then cover and let it simmer nicely on low heat until the sauce thickens. Take off the heat once done.

Meanwhile, chop and boil the large potatoes and mash them with a fork. Mix in butter, sour cream, dried parsley, salt and pepper.

To assemble the dish, layer the cooked meat in a baking dish and top it with the mashed potato. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top and bake in a preheated oven for 20-25 mins at 200 degree C. Broil for another 3-4 mins for that beautiful golden colour on top 🙂

Wishing you all a merry Christmas & happy holidays!

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 🙂

 

Party Special ‘Spicy Chicken Drumsticks Curry’

Indian food is all about contrasting flavours. The way different spices and herbs come together in one dish is amazing and nothing less than a work of art. The once humble Indian chicken curry is now famous all over the world, but let me bust some myths here. There is really nothing called an Indian Chicken Curry because India is a land of cultural miscellany and so is the food- as diverse as it can get. So a chicken curry up north is dramatically different from its southern counterpart. In fact every state has a different take on the curry. So what you get in Jaipur will be quite different from the one in Kashmir or Calcutta or Amritsar or Hyderabad! So you see. You really can’t have a universal Indian Chicken curry.

Today I’ll sharing with you a recipe of my mum’s including her handy tips to cook the perfect chicken! This dish is a party winner and have been appreciated by many. I recently made a big bowl of it for our New Year’s party at a friend’s where we had a potluck night. I guess everyone loves potluck dinners. It’s half the work and double the fun 😀 and what better way to ring in the New Year than enjoying a hearty meal with friends and watching the spectacular fireworks from the terrace 🙂

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Recipe Ingredients:

  • 12-15 Chicken drumsticks
  • 3 medium sized tomatoes (chopped finely)
  • 6 fat cloves of garlic (crushed)
  • 1 inch ginger (crushed)
  • 3-4 slit green chilies (depending on your heat tolerance)
  • Whole garam masala for tempering (4 cloves, 5-6 green cardamom, 10 black pepper, 1 large stick of cinnamon)
  • 2 Bay leaf
  • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 3/4th tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp Kashmiri red chili powder (this gives the gravy a luscious dark red colour)
  • 1 ½ tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 ½ tsp Coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Sugar to taste
  • Fried onion juliennes (made from 6 large onions)
  • Fried cashews
  • Chopped coriander leaves
  • 4-5 tbsp Olive oil (you can use any white oil)

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Method:

Wash the chicken well. Heat a tbsp of oil in a deep kadhai/ wok and add the drumsticks. Sauté for couple of minutes until the chicken becomes golden brown. This retains the juices of the chicken which enhances its flavour (#Tip 1). Take out the pieces and the juice in a bowl.

* If you simply add raw pieces of chicken to your cooked masalas, then it won’t taste that great. So this is a handy tip for you guys.

In the same kadhai, heat some oil. Add the onions and a pinch of salt. This softens the onion faster (#Tip 2). Deep fry them until they become dark brown in colour (remember not to over fry them, else they will turn bitter). Remove with a slotted spoon. Take half of the onions and make a paste in a blender. We will use it for our gravy. Keep the remaining for garnishing.

Now add some oil in the same wok. When it becomes hot, add a tsp of sugar. This makes the colour of the gravy red and glossy (#Tip 3). Once the sugar is caramelised, add the whole garam masala, and bay leaf. Saute till you get a lovely aroma of the spices, add slit chilies and the onion paste. Fry well for 2 minutes. Add crushed ginger and garlic. Cook until the raw smell is gone. Now throw in the tomatoes and stir for a minute and cover with a lid. Let it cook on a low-med flame for 3-4 minutes.

This is the time to add all the spices. Take a small cup, add turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder and red chili powder. Add some water and make a paste. This is done so that the masala won’t burn while frying (#Tip 4). Now add the paste into the kadhai. Fry for 3-4 minutes on a medium flame.

Now add the chicken pieces into the wok. Keep stirring for atleast 8-10 minutes or until you see oil separating from the spices. This is called ‘Koshano’ in Bengali/ bhuno in Hindi, basically sautéing :D. This step is very essential if you want velvety and succulent chicken (#Tip 5). Don’t add water during this stage.

Add 1 cup of water now and cover and cook on a low flame till the gravy thickens and clings onto the chicken drumsticks. The trick to making juicy, fall off the bone chicken requires cooking it on a low flame for a long time (#Tip 6).

The dish is ready. Garnish with chopped coriander, fried onions and cashew nuts. Serve hot with naan (Indian flat bread) or rice.

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Shorshe Chingri Bhape (Steamed prawns in mustard- green chilli sauce)

Golden beauty
Golden beauty

Since my arrival in KL, I have had an amazing food journey. This city is a melting pot of culture & thanks to that I have experienced not just Malay but Korean, Thai, Taiwanese, Indonesian, Cantonese, Singaporean & many more such cuisines. So mostly when the husband & I go out on weekends for dinner, we end up gorging on these. Someday I really wish to learn how to cook authentic Indonesian cuisine. I am so much in love with it because of its resemblance with Indian food, especially in the use of spices. Every dish bursting with flavours & there is a generous use of peanuts, cumin, chillis, coriander seeds, coconut, lime, shallots & peppers. See I told you! We Indians use all these ingredients for our daily meals.

Prawn Satay is one of my favourites. I have always had a weakness for prawns & this dish is exceptional but if you want to get the authentic taste then you must try it at some local joint instead of a fancy restaurant. I promise to share an authentic recipe of this dish soon.

So yes why am I telling you all this is because today I’ll be sharing a brilliant prawn recipe. An authentic dish from Bengal, India. I love how my ma or my mashi (mom’s sister) makes it & I am simply going to recreate it without making any changes. I guess few things are better left untouched to preserve tradition & nostalgia in my case 🙂

So Shorshe Chingri it is! This is a quintessential dish which every bengali worth his salt will have on the menu on any special occasion. The tartness of the mustard sauce will make your tastebuds dance 🙂 The word ‘shorshe’ means mustard & ‘bhape’ means steamed in English. So this dish is originally prepared in a steamer but I made it in a microwave & it tasted equally good.

Juicy succulent prawns
Juicy succulent prawns

Ingredients:

Ingredients for the dish
Ingredients for the dish

  • 15 medium to big sized prawns
  • 2 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 4-5 green chillis
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • Salt to taste

For this recipe its very important to use fresh prawns. Avoid frozen ones if possible.

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Such beauties 😉

Now wash the prawns & remove their shells. Carefully de-vein them. This step should be done without fail to avoid any allergic reaction.

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Now for the mustard paste- take 2 tbsp of mustard seeds in a bowl. Add 1 green chilli, some salt and a little warm water and keep aside for about 30 mins. Grind them into a smooth paste. You can add some more water if the mustard is too pungent for you. These days, mustard powder is readily available in the market & you just need to add some water to make a paste and use it.

Now in a microwave safe bowl, add the prawns, salt, turmeric powder, slit green chillis, mustard paste and mustard oil. Mix well and keep aside for 30 mins.

All set to go in the oven
All set to go in the oven

Now cover the bowl with a lid and cook for about 4-5 mins on high power. Take it out, give it a good stir & again cook for another 4 mins. Don’t overcook as the prawns will become hard.

Just before serving, drizzle some mustard oil for that extra kick. Serve hot with rice.

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