A blade shines in the darkest of the nights
My search for good Indian cuisine recipe continues even though I don't blog a lot these days. I have made a few dishes like chicken/prawn vindaloo, chicken tikka and chicken tiikka masala, etc. recipes that I have found from my cook books or on the net but sadly, none of it makes it to our list of 'Family favourites'. That is until I stumbled upon a video of an Indian lady showing us how to cook chicken korma - the dish that Pierre and Little One love. I checked her list of ingredients and it looked promisingly good. On top of that her instructions are also very clear.
From what I understand, korma is type of curry made up of yogurt, cream, or coconut milk and seed paste. It has both vegetarian and non-vegetarian version. This dish is a Mughlai cuisine of Northern India and Pakistan. And it is a very popular dish in Pakistani/Indian restaurants in Europe and even in Singapore.
This recipe is definitely a keeper and I truly encourages you to make this. Your guests will definitely rave about it and you won't regret it.
Sorry, there isn't any picture here as the photos that I took that night was really too ugly to be seen and posted here. I will take a good one when I make this again.
Very aromatic, creamy and smacking good. The chicken pieces have fully absorbed the flavour of the spices so with each bite, one can smell and taste their aroma. The garam masala really brings out this dish to its full flavour. Hubby loves it and had second helping. He even had it for lunch the next day. The only complaint he has is that gravy isn't as thick as he likes it. But overall, he loves this dish. My picky Little One loves it too. It's the only Indian dish that she tucks in heartily without whining about it being too spicy or too aromatic for her.
You can spice up this dish by adding one finely chopped green chilli to it just before serving.
The yogurt tenderise the chicken. From what I understand it is best to use Greek yogurt as it has less water content. However if you have only normal plain yogurt, just drain it in a muslin cloth. I made mine using normal plain yogurt.
For the above, I didn't have single cream so I used whipping cream (the Internet says it's the same ... maybe not?). My gravy didn't thicken, so I added 1 tsp of cornstarch to thicken it but it had little effects (yes, I cheated a little). I will try coconut cream next time instead of whipping cream.
I'll also replace cashew nuts with candlenuts as candlenuts is cheaper.
Please do not cook this dish with chicken skin on it. The skin prevents the spices from penetrating into the meat.
Happy April Fool's day, everyone! This day celebrated worldwide is however known in France as 'Poisson d'avril' (April Fish). On this day, like the rest of the world, jokes are played on family and friends and the medias are all so full of funny hoaxes - it's hard to know the reality from the jokes. For the children in France, it's the day where they have fun discretely sticking a paper shaped fish on their parents, teachers and friends back.
Dear Readers, you must be like me as curious as a cat wanting to know why it's call April Fish here. Well, sadly the story is kind of blurry, but is connected to the fact that in some part of France, the year-end was celebrated around 1st of April in the Middle-Age, and the end of Lent during which meat was forbidden and fish was the alternative. Oh, admit it, you feel kinda let down like me by the the lack of mystery surrounding this fish day.
Now guess who is all excited jumping out of bed this morning when I went to wake her up? Yes you guessed it right (sorry no price for guessing it right this time) - Little One! You see, it's her first 'Poisson d'avril'. So she was all excited this morning, jumped out of bed in excitement 'Mommy, it's Poisson d'avril' today!' 'We got to hurry up - dress up and make some fish.' Boy, was she fast in dressing up and finishing her breakfast! (record time) Quickly some fishes were cut out and coloured with a sticker tap on. Giggling with excitement, she just couldn't wait to reach school to stick one on the back of her teacher. Said teacher was sportive enough to pretend she didn't see that coming and turned her back for Little One to stick it on it. You should have seen that glee on her face when she did it and said 'Poisson d'avril' to her teacher and giggling non-stop. PRICELESS! I wish I could capture that moment on camera and freeze frame it forever. Then she went into her class and sticked another one on her best friend, Lise, giggling. Ahh... it's so wonderful to see things through the eyes of a 3 year old. Thank you dear daughter for reminding me what's like to be a child again. And who says we, adults, can't have fun like Little One. I dare you to stick a coloured paper shaped fish on your family, friends and colleagues next year - it'll be a nice French touch.
Which brings me to this chicken kebab. Well not, but bear with me, it's a slow day.
(Taken from Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail by Monish Gujral)
It's flavorful and the cardamom is definitely strong here! Thanks to the thick creamy cheese coating around the kebab, the chicken doesn't feel dry at all and is very succulent. Both Pierre & Little One loved it very much.
I have no idea what type of vinegar the author of the book used so I just replaced it with apple cider vinegar that I have in my pantry. It still turned out succulently delicious.
Grated Cheese - Please do not use prepackaged emmental grated cheese in this recipe like I did. They won't stick to your chicken in the marinate. What it calls for in this recipe is finely grated cheese. Or you can cut pre-grated emmental cheese further up with scissors to make it finer.
If you like kebab, try this too :
Canada is buzzing with excitment... an euphoria so different from the sombre mood that kicked off the Winter Olympic 2010 on 12 February, with the loss of life of a 21 year old Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili during a training run a few days earlier. For the first time in Canadian history, an olympic gold medal was won on home soil by Canadian mogul skier Alexandre Bilodeau. This is the 3rd Olympics held in Canada but the Canadians never won a gold in any of those Olympics. What a big celebration that must be for them!
We too, at BloggerAid, are buzzing with excitment of our own kind, cheering alongside all the athletes who have trained so vigorously and represent their respective countries. No, we aren't putting on our skiis or skates. Our sport is FOOD, so we'll be woking & whisking along with them in BloggerAid-CFF Culinary Olympics - an excellent idea by Val and Giz, the founders of BloggerAid :
« In many ways BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine (BACFF) members are also athletes. We represent over 60 international countries who have created and developed a communication and friendship that has brought our world a little closer together with a mission to raise awareness. What better way to come together than to create a Culinary Olympics where we can share our pride for our nations cuisine. »
Did we say FOOD? Now, you are talking to the right person. We, Singaporeans pride ourselves in knowing our food - it's sort of a National pride and past-time. Oh, an advice: never start a food conversation with a Singaporean. Go down that road if you dare but don't say I never warned you. Cuisine of almost all cultures can be found on this tiny island called Singapore. Hence we earn ourselves the name 'Food Paradise'. Bon! Today, we aren't going to talk about Singapore but France - the country of LOVE and its haute cuisine - as it is the place that I call my home today.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn some interesting facts about the country I'm representing, like:
All these calories burning winter sports commands a good winter dish to energize us back in form like Cheese Fondue or the Poulet à la crème (creamy chicken) that I'm going to introduce to you today. This recipe is traditional of the Bresse region and is particularly simple to dish up - created by Eliza Blanc, a very talented cook famously known as la mère Blanc who cooked exclusively with only simple and fresh products found in Bresse. In 1929, She was awarded a Star by the Guide of Michelin. In 1930, she was bestowed 1st prize in le Touring Club de France's culinary competition. And in 1933, the Prince of Gastronomy, Curnonsky declared that la mère Blanc is the best cook in the world. She was also the grandmother of great French chef Georges Blanc.
(from Ma Cuisine Des Saisons by Georges Blanc)
This dish is very rich, creamy and deliciously aromatic. The chicken has to be top quality here, you'll taste the difference. I would highly recommend to add in morsels of mushrooms (morilles is my favorite with this dish).
Alternatively, you can simply chop up the chicken pieces with bones on it and cook as per above but just add water instead of chicken stock. If you use a good quality chicken for this recipe, you won't need any commercial chicken stock to make this dish taste good. I didn't take out the chicken and sieve to filter out the spices from the sauce.
The members of BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine have published a cookbook BloggerAid CookBook where 100% of the proceeds target children and education through the World Food Programme called School Meals. The highly successful BloggerAid-Changing the Face of Famine Cookbook continues to be available through the Create Space e-store. The e-store is a direct connection of Amazon but the book cannot be found directly on the Amazon.com site. We have chosen to deal exclusively with Create Space where our children in the School Meals Programme will benefit the most! This professional cookbook makes an excellent gift for family and friends. So let's keep the momentum going. Tell your friends, who will tell 2 friends, who will tell another 2 friends...
Lately Pierre has been lamenting AGAIN (see my posts on Moghlai Murgh, Beef Madras, Balti Butter Chicken, Prawns in coconut gravy & Grilled Broiled Prawns) about lack of haute Indian cuisine in Clermont-Ferrand (or more generally, France) and yearning for his luscious, lip smacking favourite restaurant, the Shahi Maharani in Singapore. So strong was his longings that even while driving, I would catch him murmuring to himself 'ahhh... if only I can move 'Shahi Maharani here.' with a broad grin on his face. He even suggested (not once but several times and counting) that I ask the manager of the restaurant for a post in their kitchen when we are back in Singapore, so that I can learn how to cook like they do but at home to his majesty desire. LOL! This man has no shame when it comes to his food.
Now I'm going to let you in a little bit more just how popular we are at Shahi Maharani. Bear in mind that we only go back to Singapore once a year. Every year, upon arriving in Singapore, we would go immediately to lunch or dine there after dumping our luggages at my parents place. Not just the manager but the staff also recognise us immediately when we stepped into their restaurant saying 'Welcome back. Happy to see you again. How long are you staying in Singapore this time around? How's your little daughter? Oh, she didn't come along with you today? Hope to see her next time when you come by again.' Trying not to turn me off going there, Pierre would sneak in a lunch or dinner there once every week or thrice if he could rassle it out of me. And as our departure for France approach, so is our rising dinning frequency at this restaurant. To a point, the Manager even gave us a discount on our bill and sometimes a free drink. LOL! And on the last day in Singapore, we both would strike a bargain : Lunch at Shahi Maharani, Dinner with my family before we leave for the airport, and he dreaming of his favourite restaurant on the plane.
Since I can't bring Shahi Maharani to him, I told him to choose a recipe from this Indian cookbook that sweet Deeba (upon hearing that how much Pierre loves Indian food) gave me in London when we met at Food Blogger Connect last November. It was filled with delicious recipes and it was hard to pick one out of so many. So he decided to pick whichever recipe that he just happened to flip open the book and honest truth, we weren't disappointed at all.
(Taken from Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail by Monish Gujral)
The kebab is very tasty and aromatic - simply delicious, even though cardamom flavour is strong with this one! Like all grilled meat, the chicken breast is slightly dry yet very tender. It was so good that we had it for dinner and lunch the next day. We can't wait for warmer weather so that we can grill this outside. This recipe is definitely a keeper!
I didn't have gram flour, so I used cooked chickpeas (from a can) and mashed them. And add some olive oil to the creamy mixture. I also ground some green cardamon pods myself as I don't have it in powder form.
To make ginger & garlic paste: put equal amount of peeled garlic and ginger in food processor and process it. Add a bit of water if necessary to make a smooth paste. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freeze it in small quantity for later use. This can be used as marinate for meat, poultry and seafood or added to sauces.
Satay or sate, a very popular dish in Southeast Asian countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, etc. is made up of marinated meat (chicken, lamb, beef, pork, fish) skewered on wooden or bamboo sticks, barbecued and served with different types of spicy seasonings. Growing up in Singapore, I have eaten my fair share of satay in my life time and I'm still not tired of it. That gives you an idea just how good these satay are. LOL!
So when Daring Cooks January host, Cuppy of Cuppylicious announced that we are going to make Thai Satay this time around, I was thrilled. Although it isn't the first time I made home-made Satay, it is my first time making a Thai version - so it is still something new.
(Adapted from book 1000 Recipes by Martha Day)
Marinate for meats
Preparing the peanut sauce
I was surprised that it turned out better than I expected - on its own, the satay doesn't really stands out much (perhaps I'm comparing too much to the satay I'm used to in Singapore) but when combined with the peanut sauce - it's very good, heightening all the aroma of the dish.
Satay can be served as aperitif, entrée or main course.
Instead of meats, some marinate tofu, fish, prawns, etc. Why not?
If you don't have space in refrigerator, just put let your meat marinate with sauce in a ziplock bag.
There are 2 exciting things happening in my life right now. Firstly, I'm flying to London this Friday for my very first Food Bloggers Connect conference, meeting fellow bloggers that I have met through blogging, via Facebook and Twitter. The response to this meeting is tremendous, far more than we expected, with 70 confirmed attendees from all over the world. We are going to have lots of fun exchanging knowledge, getting to know each other and rock the house down that day. We are all so excited about it and counting down each day on Twitter. LOL!
Now other fantastic thing that happened to me is I finally made a friend, Sharon, in Clermont-Ferrand. Hard as it is for many of you to believe, but it has been a long and tiring journey for me trying make new friends and have some sort of social life in this new city for the past 2 years. It all happened last Wednesday when we stopped at KFC for lunch (the usual Wednesday routine) so that we can eat while Little One can play at the big playground with other kids there. All of sudden I heard a young woman with a very familiar accent talking to her son. I told Pierre that I wasn't sure if she was from Singapore or from Malaysia. Pierre was very excited for me (knowing that I have been very lonely here and missing friends) and coaxed me to speak to that young lady right away. I was kind of hesitant at first (after being rejected by people so many times, my skin has gone thin), then I plucked up courage and approached her... funnily, she made a move towards me at the same time. Turned out she has been living here for almost 3 years now and she, like me, thought she is the only Singaporean in this city. LOL! It was a blessing meeting her. I'm grateful to Sharon for introducing me to her weekly meeting with a group of lovely ladies (mainly wives of Michelin's expatriates), her child's playgroup as well as introducing me to courses at AVF (Accueil des villes Francaises) where I'm learning silk painting together with her. Thank you Sharon for your friendship, kindness and generosity.
The following recipe is a representative of what life has presented me at this moment - aromatic, sometimes tangy but the right amount of spiciness to keep me on my toes.
(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)
It was so aromatic while I was cooking it that it perfumed the whole house with it's aroma making everyone hungry and drooling, especially me. I personally love this dish - tangy, tint of spiciness, full of flavour and so are the chicken pieces.
Pierre finds it a bit too sour for him while I find it just right so I would suggest to add only 2 tbsp of lemon juice first and adjust the last tablesppon of lemon juice to your taste.
As I didn't have black cumin seeds nor black cardamom pods, I just use the normal cumin seeds and green cardamom that I have in my pantry. From what I understand, the difference in flavour is barely noticeable.
Cooking the chicken pieces with bones makes a dish more flavourful, however you can replace it with boneless and cubed chicken. In this case, the reduce the cooking time for step 4.
The good thing about having your own cooking blog is that you can quickly refer to certain recipes without having to flip to through your notes, cookbooks or surf the internet just to find that recipe. Having said that, my little family has finally had enough of me cooking the same old dishes from my blog, delicious as they may be... getting BORING, BORING, BORING!
Now cooking for my household isn't that easy too... hubby likes spicy food, is a sauce person, doesn't quite like fish with bones or crab (too much work to eat), is not a vegetable or soup person, etc. His loves meat and is a difficult man to cook for. Whereas Little One & I are the opposite, we like soup, vegetables, fish etc, however Little One can be equally difficult to cook for too. She loves pasta and rice. You would think 'oh that's easy then, just cook any meal that has pasta or rice.' Wrong! Mademoiselle has her days - good days, she eats everything presented to her, difficult days (which is often the case now) - she picks out everything off her rice or pasta and simply happily just eat plain rice or pasta with cheese much to my chagrin. And getting her to eat meat is another story - it's like serving her poison. She shows a clear sign she isn't a meat person since she was a baby.
You must be wondering how do we ever come to a compromise on our palate - well, apparently hubby and baby share a common love for PIZZA! Any mention of that send both of them into a joyful pizza dance, but not so for me. Since it's 2 vs 1 - I'm out voted. LOL! Both love cakes and cookies, a true blessing for me since I love to bake. I have to say in regards to bakeries, she's a true Daddy's girl for she has the same possessiveness about her sweets just like her papa. Just this evening, she told everyone at the table (grandparents included) not to touch her cake as it is only reserves for little ones like her, and if any adults eat it, it will make them sick to their stomach. LOL!
So what binds hubby and I? Love for spices and spiciness. Little One has been prepared and trained for it since the day she entered our lives. And apparently she loves it too for I had 9 months of pure bliss savouring all sorts of spicy food. Once she started on solids, now and then we sneaked some spicy food on her plate without her knowledge. From experience, we found that once she knows it is spicy, she won't touch it or she will spit it out even though it is not that spicy. However there are times when she sees us tugging in our spicy food with such sheer delight that rouse her curiosity and she asks for bite, just like tonight's dinner. At first she was hesitant, but encouraged and coaxed by me, she gave it a try. Much to her own surprise and ours, she loved it and even asked for some on her rice. Now that's my true little ninja spirit.
(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)
This is not a "curry" in the sense that most western people think of it: there's no curry powder inside and it doesn't have the characteristic flavor. This is however a very aromatic and spicy dish and is definitely one of my favorite Indian recipe. It's also quite healthy as you can see from the ingredients - low fat and veggies but definitely not bland Everyone loves it, especially hubby who isn't a vegetable person.
I used normal vegetable oil and omitted onion seeds in above recipe as I couldn't find it anywhere in town. And also I only put 1 green chili, it's already a bit spicy so if you can't take spiciness, it's better to totally leave out the green chillies.
4 months have passed since we moved into our new house and it's beginning to look more and more like home. Off with the old wallpaper (in most of the rooms, the wallpaper have been there for 4 decades!), a fresh coat of paint... voilà: it looks a whole lot prettier and modern. All this is possible due to relentless effort of my parents-in-law, without them, it would have taken us a lot longer to get the house looking like home. THANK YOU Michèle & Patrick for all that you have done for us.
Early this week we hosted a lovely Canadian couple who were here to visit Michèle & Patrick. With so many people around the house, it was la fête (a party) for Little One. Basked in the adoration limelight of everyone, she shines like a true star and charmed the Canadian couple (needless to say, the grandparents are already under her spell). Since this couple had been to Singapore before, I decided to cook curry - something local for them, my mom's Nonya Chicken Curry (who learned it from my grandma) - a Peranarakan Cuisine.
Mmm...yummy. It really DOES tastes like the curry I have back home, so I guess this is a success. I had prepared a tiramusi for dessert, but it was a tough sell after everybody had gotten a second (and for some even third) portion of the curry.
If you can't find galangal (blue ginger) in your area, substitute it with another stalk of lemongrass. As for candle nuts, you can replace it with either raw cashew nuts or macadamia nuts or blanched almonds.
I hate cold weather especially when it's windy. Nantes has lots of these cold icy breeze that could even wake up a drunk from his drunken stupor. Brrr! I also hate it when it drizzles (it rains a lot here, coastal area and all that) - it's really no fun walking outside in the rain, with the cold icy wind blowing the rain at your face not just in one direction but at every angle - rendering your umbrella useless. Each time I step out of this house into the the cold is another step backward towards the healing process of my rather bad flu. I have more or less my voice back though it sounds more of a croak than a feminine voice, but am still coughing. For a food lover, it's an horrible condition as much of the taste of everything I eat gets lost.
Since my other half has been sick for awhile too, we haven't had much energy nor desire to cook anything fancy. We have been living on easy and quick to make food like roast beef, fish cakes, pasta and wraps. Ooh I love these wraps. They are so versatile, easy and quick to dish up. All you need is a few pieces of tortilla, some salad, avocado, corns, cheese, mayonnaise or any other dressing, meat - can be white or red or even smoked etc. Just put them all together and fold it up bottom first then sides ... voilà a nice wrap - nutritious and filling, a nice change from the usual sandwiches and salad. A whole, healthy meal in itself. Just leave it to your imagination to do your wrap.
For us, we like to do a chicken wrap with pan fried chicken coated with garam marsala, with some salad, cheese, corns and mayonnaise. Does anyone has good ideas of stuff to put in there?
Haven't been feeling that well for the past few days, and I'm so not inspired to cook at all. However we were left with a packet of chicken in our fridge that needed to be cooked as it was expiring today. Pierre was craving for breaded chicken and I decided to spice up the usual way we do it. The result of this experiment is surprising good, while staying simple.
The dish will obviously not win any cooking championship, but it's a quick and tasty way to prepare chicken. The addition of garam massala and chili gives a nice twist to the recipe.
Make your own bread crumbs by grating your old dried-out bread (well duh! but it is actually a lot better than the crumbs-in-a-box I've been buying before).