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.