Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Kurma ayam

This recipe is for chicken kurma but beef can be substituted. Chicken takes 1 hour to cook. Beef takes a longer time to cook.

1 kg fresh chicken (cut into 8 pieces and clean; use half kg if less people)
4 medium potatoes
1 carrot (can omit)
1-2 small-medium tomatoes (can omit)
1 large white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 slice ginger
1 stalk lemon grass (serai)
1 tumeric leaf (daun kunyit)
3 stalks coriander (daun ketumbar)
3 stalks small celery (daun sup)
1 asam keping
3 small pieces star anise (3 kelopak bunga lawang)
3 pieces cloves (3 bunga cengkih)
1" cinnamon (kulit kayu manis)
2 cardamom pods (buah pelaga)
2 small shallots (bawang merah kecil) & 1 garlic - slice and fry for decor
3 tablespoonful cooking oil
hot boiling water
1 packet santan (can omit)
a little bit Knorr or Maggi flavouring (can omit)
1 small packet Adabi kurma (any brand will do; can also mix with a little curry powder for pedas)

1 big pot
1 wooden ladle (senduk kayu)

Cut chicken into small pieces and wash, strain off excess water and blood.
Chop large onion & slice garlic.
Heat pot, add oil and fry chopped large onion, sliced garlic, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, star anise, serai & daun kunyit.
Fry till onion & garlic are golden and fragrant.
Add dry kurma spices and stir (can also premix the kurma spices with water and add that).
Add water to avoid kurma spices from burning (nanti bau hangis & rasa pahit). Stir.
Let spices cook for 5-10 minutes till it becomes fragrant (tak rasa mentah & cepat basi).

Add santan and stir (can use 1 packet or half packet or omit).
Let santan cook (boil) once before adding chicken or salt. 

Add chicken pieces and stir. Add hot boiling water to cover all chicken pieces. (Do not use cold water.)
Let chicken pieces cook. Stir and top up with hot boiling water to cover chicken pieces. Repeat adding hot water till chicken pieces are almost done (almost cooked but not over cooked).

Add salt. (Do not add salt at the beginning when cooking chicken at it will make the chicken stiff and very salty. Chicken cooks faster and tastes better when cooked without salt - but add the salt later when chicken is almost cooked, add salt 5-10 minutes before adding potatoes. Do not forget to add salt.)

Peel potatoes and soak in water.
Cut each potato into 8 pieces (cut each piece into half till you get 8 pieces).
Clean a cut carrot into 1" long pieces.
Clean and cut each tomato into 4 pieces.
When chicken is almost cooked, add potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, celery, green chili, daun ketumbar, daun sup and asam keping.
Adjust salt to taste

Timing when to add salt is very important - know that potatoes absorb a lot of salt and water; chicken pieces absorb salt if there are no potatoes. Potatoes may turn out salty while chicken has no taste.
Do not add too much salt as potatoes are salty even though the gravy is not salty (kuah memang tak masin tapi ubi dah masin).

If kurma is too salty, add more hot water and do not dry down the gravy.

Let potatoes cook for 10 minutes.
Cooking time for potatoes will vary according to variety. Some potatoes take a long time to cook while many varieties cook within 10 minutes.
Pierce a piece of potato with a fork to check if it is cooked.
Switch off the fire when potatoes are done (cooked).
Dish out kurma into a big flat bowl and top with fried onion & garlic, chopped celery, etc.
Serve hot with rice.
Bon appetite!

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Ayam goreng

Fried chicken (ayam goreng) must be prepared fresh. Use fresh chicken if possible. The chicken can be prepared a day ahead before frying, and stored frozen. Thaw before use.

To make ayam goreng, follow the recipe below.

1kg fresh chicken (~RM12) - cut into 8 pieces or smaller (potong lapan atau kecil lagi)
3 cloves garlic (3 ulas bawang putih)
Salt-tumeric premix (garam-kunyit yang sudah siap dibancuh)
Very little MSG/Aji-no-moto (can omit)
Cooking oil

Crush garlic and mix with chicken pieces
Add salt-tumeric premix to chicken pieces and mix
Add MSG/Aji-no-moto (use sparingly as MSG causes migraine) and mix
Heat up oil in kuali/wok
Fry chicken pieces till golden
Serve hot with plain white rice

Fresh chicken 

Ayam goreng 

Sotong goreng

Cuttlefish (sotong) is an expensive ingredient in Malay cuisine but the Malay people are very good at cooking sotong.

Sotong is a generic term and refers to the 5 forms: (i) small baby squids, (ii) medium cuttlefish, (iii) a bit larger cuttlefish with thick backbone, which is useful for budgerigars to sharpen their beaks, (iv) large flat dried cuttlefish which is sold in the dried form (contains boric acid), and (v) octopus. The octopus is also known as sotong gurita. The octopus is used in Malay story-telling to scare children.

Sotong must first be cleaned before cooking. Use fresh firm sotong which has no odour. Old sotong is limp and smelly.

To clean sotong, first separate the head from the body - pull them apart. Clean the body first, then clean the head pieces.

To clean the sotong body:
Slit open the sotong body and pull out the soft/hard backbone and discard. Some prefer to leave the purple skin on while some would prefer to remove it. Pull part all attachments to the inside wall and discard. Some prefer to keep the sotong egg and other parts. Clean all sand and unwanted stuff. Wash under running water and set aside to drain off excess water.

To clean the sotong head pieces:
Remove the shiny ink sac from the slimy inner mass without bursting it. Bursting the ink sac will result in a black ink that stains everything black, which is difficult to wash away. Squeeze the head to reveal the mouth parts and pull that out. Use a sharp knife to remove the eyes by cutting under each eye and pulling them out. Discard the shiny ink sac, mouth parts and eyes. Clean the head under running water and set aside. Some prefer to cut the tentacles short, some do not mind leaving them long.

Sotong can be cooked as sambal sotong or sotong goreng. Both are easy dishes.

To make sotong goreng (fried cuttlefish), follow this recipe below.

Clean 1kg sotong as described above
Cut into 1-inch rings or pieces
Drain to remove excess water
Mix sotong with salt-tumeric pre-mix
Slice thick slices of a large onion
Slice thick slices of a large green chili
2 Tabsp cooking oil

Heat up wok
Add sotong
Add water to sotong and cook on high fire till half done
When the gravy is almost gone, add oil and salt to taste
Adding a few grains of sugar will bind the spices to the sotong, and separates the oil
Mix and add sliced onions and chilies
Serve hot with plain white rice

1 kg Sotong @ RM12/kg 

Large onion slices and green chili 

Cooking sotong in gravy 

Sotong goreng


Catfish are plenty in the paddy fields especially during the monsoon season when the paddy fields are submerged for longer periods.

Catfish are a main protein source for most Malay villagers, in addition to ikan sepat which can be found in rivers.

Both catfish and ikan sepat are regarded as delicacies, and thus people are willing to pay a high price to obtain them. Some villagers have turned to fishing catfish and ikan sepat to earn a living. Ikan sepat is usually sold as dried salted form.

Catfish is belut in Kelantan or ikan semilang in other states (I don't think it is called ikan gemilang). They are sold in 2 sizes - adults or young. Most villagers prefer the young catfish as they are tender and are odourless. The adults ones can turn off some eaters as the flesh can be a bit smelly as it takes on the odour of the paddy fields. At Desa Murni in USM, the large adult catfish is sold for RM2.50 per fried fish.

The catfish must be carefully prepared. Clean the fish by removing the sting (sengat). Slit open the abdomen and remove the internal organs. Wash under running water. Add tamarind and salt and rub the mixture onto the catfish. Rub hard to remove the slimy material on the catfish skin. Wash and make 2-3 slits on each side of the cleaned catfish.

Cleaning the catfish. Slit open the abdomen and remove the internal organs 

Rub garam-kunyit (salt-tumeric) mixture on the fish and fry in deep oil till crispy. Serve catfish while still hot and crispy.

Crispy fried catfish at Rumah Tanah Merah 

Large catfish with sambal, from the students' hostel at Desa Murni, USM 

Friday, 16 December 2011

Sura (Bubur Asyura)

Aunty Ina made this Sura at home. This Sura is very sweet and soft - it hadn't set yet. She had used the usual stove and not kawah.

There's a story to go with Sura (Bubur Asyura). Read about the story of Nabi Nuh a.s.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Peria katak for gout

I was watching a YouTube video and the crew visited the fresh market. A lady pointed to peria katak, medium-sized bittergourd. She said she had problems with her joints and sought help from her friends. Somebody told her to take juice from the small bittergourd. She tried taking juice extracted from peria katak and her joint pains disappeared and she was happy.

I visited the fresh market at Pulau Melaka and asked a stall owner about peria katak. There were 2 types of bittergourds (peria) that I saw - a medium and a small variety. The normal size one is referred to as peria. The small (almost) rounded bittergourd is called peria katak or frog bittergourd.

What a surprise! The lady in the YouTube video pointed to the medium-sized bittergourd as peria katak. Now the stall owner tells me, peria katak is actually the small rounded bittergourd, (and which resemble frogs!).  The peria katak is a small bittergourd, almost rounded and with pox-like skin. The peria katak resembles a frog, maybe a bullfrog!

Normal long soft peria (bittergourd) for blanching and frying.

Unusually small hardy peria katak (frog bittergourd) which the Malays use for controlling diabetes (kencing manis)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Kelantan salads (ulam)

Kelantan is very special when it comes to eating raw vegetables which are called ulam. Most people in Kelantan eat ulam daily and at every meal, whereas Malaysians in other states do not take vegetables daily or regularly. It pays to take a close look at why Kelantan people like to eat vegetables.

Today, 30 October 2011, my husband and I went to visit some fresh markets in Pulau Melaka and Binjai after work. It was drizzling which made the weather cool and I enjoyed my time out visiting the vegetable stalls and asking the stall owners. It feels good to talk to them as they are knowledgeable about the vegetables they sell.

Here are some interesting raw vegetables and salad greens or ulam in Kelantan.

Clockwise starting at 6 o'clock: Ulam for making nasi air/nasi bubur, tied bunches of praddee (looks like dandelion) and ulam pegaga 

The fruits are pauh ringan (small green unripe manggo) for making preserved manggo or shredded to make kerabu mangga, an appetizer. At the top are tied bunches of bendih (lady's fingers). At right are daun selom (top right) and praddee (Thai, bottom right) 

Back row from left: Kacang botol (four-angled bean), peria (bittergourd), jering, dried fish and limes in blue tray, and terung (small brinjals for ulam). Middle row: Medium terung, timun susu (young small cucumber for making jerkin) and praddee. Front row: Packaged blocks of ubi kayu - ready to boil, bunches of bendih (lady's finger) and daun selom. 

At left: Packs of small red cili padi (fiery hot chilies) for eating raw with budu or pounded/blended to make sambal. Foreground: Bunches of kacang botol. At the top are peria (the normal bittergourd) 

Bunga kunyit is actually flowers or florets from the temu lawak plant. Temu lawak resembles kunyit (tumeric) and smells of kunyit but it is used as a salad, ie eaten raw. This is the flower/florets from the temu lawak plant, and bunga kunyit is a misnomer but the flowers/florets are fragrant and smell like tumeric. These flowers/florets are edible and best eaten raw. Better still when the florets haven't fully bloomed. You eat the whole thing, including the white stems. They are really fresh and wonderful to eat raw. Just ask for "bunga kunyit" the next time you go to the market. They sell for RM2/bunch of 3 flowers/florets. 

Daun selom. From my first-year botany class, I think this is an ancient plant. It grows well in water and has a hollow stem. It is eaten raw and is crunchy. 

Daun serai kayu. These are fragrant leaves from quite a big tree. The leaves are shiny, waxy and have a thick look. They are actually paper-thin and feather-light leaves. They are shredded raw and used for making nasi kerabu etc. 

Ulam Raja. This is the most expensive salad or ulam. History has it that this salad was once served only for kings and normal people cannot take this salad. Nowadays, everybody is allowed to eat this salad. The plant resembles the poppy plant and has small golden flowers. It grows wild in sandy soil and only needs occasional watering. It propagates by seeds which are dispersed from the dried poppy flowers.

Praddee. This is a Siamese salad. The entire plant can be eaten (minus the roots), including the thick stems. It is crisp and eaten raw but can be cooked. It has short white roots and leaves of different shapes. It had small clusters of green flowers. This is a unique plant and I have never seen this plant before. It costs RM1/bunch. It is available from a stall at the Binjai junction. 

Fresh Kelantan salad/ulam 

Boiled Kelantan salad/ulam 

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Kelantan Breakfast

Kg Chicha Breakfast Medley

This is a lovely "vegetarian" breakfast for those who prefer some meat and more vegetarian taste. This is more like a Mediterranean dish but I made it at home in Kg Chicha. I made it for breakfast. I have not tasted it anywhere else. This recipe is original and really tastes good. Please try it.

2 large tomatoes (do not use the sour variety)
1 large white/yellow onion (use China/Holland/Belgian onion. Do not use red Bombay onion)
1 cucumber/ 1Cup mushroom (version 1 uses cucumber; version 2 uses frozen mushroom)
1-2 tablespoon ground beef (approx. 2in x 2in frozen ground beef)
1 Tablespoonful chopped spring onion (daun bawang)
<1/2 teaspoonful Oregano (use coarse Oregano, not powdered Oregano; use sparingly)
<1 teaspoonful fine salt (use less if possible)
<1/2 teaspoon powdered white pepper (omit if you are allergic to pepper; use sparingly)
1 Tablespoonful cooking oil
1 teaspoon kicap HABHAL masin (any soy sauce will do)

Wash and slice the tomatoes. Remove all seeds. Chop the tomato slices.
Wash and slice the onion. Chop the onion slices.
Wash and slice cucumber approx 1cm thick. Remove seeds. Chop the cucumber slices. 
OR Thaw and cut up mushroom.
Thaw ground beef in the microwave oven. Don't overcook.
Heat up kuali and add oil.
Fry ground beef till soft and cooked through.
Add chopped onion. Stir to cook till soft, transparent, and light brown.
Add chopped cucumber/mushroom. Stir to cook briefly.
Add salt. Stir.
Add chopped spring onion. Stir.
Add Oregano. Stir.
Add chopped tomatoes. Stir.
Add pepper. Stir.
Add kicap/soy sauce. Stir. [Adjust salt/soy sauce amount or ratio. Use less salt, more soy sauce.]
Switch off stove.
Scoop vegetable medley into a pretty bowl.
Serve hot with fresh hot toast or eat it as is.
Drink hot coffee with milk.
That's the best breakfast!
Bon appetite!

Basic ingredients for filling:

3 big tomatoes and 1 large onion 

1 large white Holland onion (bawang besar warna putih) 

Chopped white onion 

Chopped tomatoes 

Use one third of a ground beef sausage pack

Thaw the ground beef in the microwave oven (don't overcook) 

Dried coarse oregano leaves, white pepper powder, and HABHAL salty soy sauce 

Now decide whether to make v1 (plain filling), or v2 (cucumber) or v3 (mushroom) flavoured filling.

v1 - Plain ground beef filling

Basic ingredients: 1 onion, 2-3 tomatoes, spring onion, celery, a third ground beef 

Basic ground beef filling 

v2 - Cucumber-flavoured filling 

Fry onion first till soft. Add ground beef and cook till tender. Add cucumber. Do not overcook. 

After adding tomatoes 

Colourful, delicious cucumber filling 

v3 - Mushroom-flavoured filling

Frozen mushroom/Kulat putih @RM7.99/kg (12 Sept 2011) 

Fry onion. Fry ground beef. Add tomatoes and mushrooms. Do not overcook. 

Mushroom-flavoured filling 

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Cholesterol content of common foods

If you have a choice, would you rather die from heart attack (myocardial infarct/MI or sakit jantung) or stroke (lumpuh)? If you eat high-cholesterol food, then it is more likely that you will die of heart attack. If you eat high-cholesterol & high-fat food, then it is more likely that you will get stroke first and for a few years, before you finally die of heart attack. Do you have a choice? Yes. 

There is a big difference between cholesterol and fat. Both are lipids but they belong to different lipid classes and have different functions, with different outcomes. Both cholesterol and fat are essential (required in nutrition; kena makan). 

Cholesterol is a sterol, a special type of alcohol that is very stable in the body. Cholesterol is stable because it is a steroid, i.e., it contains the "steroid nucleus" - hexagonal rings A, B, C and D. We must eat cholesterol for hormone production and generation of new cells and tissues.

Fat can exist as solid (lemak) or as oil (minyak), depending on temperature (suhu). The scientific name for fat is triacylglycerols, but in medicine we call it triglycerides. Triglycerides contain fatty acids and glycerol. Some fatty acids are essential for life. Without the supply of essential fatty acids in the diet, babies die, children grow up with problems etc etc etc. 

Cholesterol exists in all living cells. There is more cholesterol in animal cells, tissues and organs. Thus, animal products are said to be "high in cholesterol". On the other hand, products of plant origin are said to be "low in cholesterol". There is no such thing as "no cholesterol" if a product is made from living cells, tissues or organs. Sand, paper, cement, concrete, brick, glass, metal charcoal, activated charcoal, wood chips, BBQ blocks and water do not contain cholesterol but we can't eat these. 

Different food have different amount of cholesterol. Food can be grouped as "high-cholesterol", "medium-cholesterol" and "low-cholesterol". It is important to know the cholesterol content of the food we eat. This will help us know what to eat more and what to eat less. For better health, it is healthier to eat less of the dangerously high-cholesterol food and keep to the medium- and low-cholesterol food. If you are already eating lots of high-cholesterol food, then it is high time to make a switch and eat medium-cholesterol food. If you are already taking medium-cholesterol food and yet have health problems, then make a switch and eat low-cholesterol food. 

Having very low cholesterol will make us ugly (tak cantik, tak lawa, tak menawan, buruk macam kayu). We must continue to eat cholesterol for hormone production and generation of new cells and tissues, and to look pretty (cantik manis).

If we avoid all sources of cholesterol (and fat) for a long time, then we get another problem - gallstones (batu karang hempedu). Gallstone is very painful (sakit sebelah kanan). Gallstones are detected by ultrasound scan (pergi hospital dan buat ultrasound). Anyway, most people past age 50, have gallstone problem (ada batu karang hempedu). This manifest as feeling of bloatedness after meals (rasa kembung lepas makan, rasa senak, tak sedap duduk).

Rule #1: Avoid eating excessively high-cholesterol food.

Rule #2: Eat less high-cholesterol food and eat more medium-/low-cholesterol food.

Rule #3: Eat less medium-cholesterol food and eat more low-cholesterol food.

Rule #4: Eat generous amounts of low-cholesterol food for health.

Makanan yang mengandungi tinggi tahap kolesterol
fat red meat (daging, daging berlemak)
organ meat (organ dalaman)
hard cheese (keju keras)
whole milk (susu penuh krim)
whole yoghurt (yogurt penuh krim)
cream (krim)
eggs (telur)
shellfish (kerang)
crab (ketam)
prawns (udang)
lobster (udang galah)
squid (sotong)
chocolate (coklat)
butter (mentega)
lard (minyak babi)
coconut oil
hard margarine 

Red meat (daging warna merah) - "high cholesterol" 

Red meat with fat (daging merah berlemak) - "high cholesterol and high fat" 

Kuah kurma/kormah - "high cholesterol", and "high fat" if ghee (minyak sapi) is used. 

Kerutuk daging - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Kerutuk daging - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Kerutuk daging - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Kerutuk daging - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Fried beef (daging goreng) - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Fried beef (daging goreng) - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Fried beef with soy sauce (daging goreng kicap) - "High cholesterol, high fat and high salt" 

Squids/cuttlefish (sotong) - "High cholesterol" 

Sambal sotong dengan petai - "High cholesterol" 

Udang - "High cholesterol" 

Masak lemak udang - "High cholesterol and high fat" 

Sambal udang - "High cholesterol" 

Eggs (telur): Egg yolks (telur kuning) - "High cholesterol"
1 egg = 250 mg cholesterol.

Omelette (telur dadar) - "High cholesterol" 

Half-boiled eggs (telur masak separuh) - "High cholesterol" 

Half-boiled eggs (telur masak separuh) - "High cholesterol".
Roti sapu marjerin - "High fat" 

Telur puyuh - "High cholesterol" 

lean read meat
soft cheese
egg noodles (Maggi mee)

lean white meat (rabbit, turkey)
cottage cheese
soy milk
skimmed milk
low-fat yoghurt
fresh fruits
rice and other cereals
vegetable oil
olive oil
corn oil
soft margarine

Adapted from an old pamphlet, Know Your Cholesterol, by Boehringer-Mannheim, Germany
Note: This leaflet is published as a service to Family Medicine.

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