Unit converter



The BloggerAid Cookbook

Chicken Korma

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.

Chicken Korma
Ingredients
  • 75 g raw cashew nuts (soak in 150 ml of hot/boiling water for 30 minutes)
  • a pinch of saffron threads (crush it with your fingers and soak it in 3 tbsp of hot milk for 20 minutes)
  • 700 g chicken breast, cut into chunks or big cubes (remove skin and fats)
  • 125 g plain yogurt (if you have greek yogurt, it is best as it has less water in it.)
  • 1 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp ginger paste
  • 150 ml single cream
  • some ghee or unsalted butter or vegetable oil
  • 5 pcs green cardamon pod, bruised it with your fingers
  • 5 cm cinnamon - break it into 2
  • 4 pcs cloves
  • 1 large onion (red or yellow), finely chopped
  • 1 pc green chilli (finely chopped), optional
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
Chicken Korma
Directions
  1. In a small bowl, mix yogurt (drained your plain yogurt in a muslin cloth to get rid of some water), gram flour, garlic and ginger paste together. In a ziplog bag, marinate the cubed chicken pieces with this mixture, making sure that every pieces is well coated. Leave it in the fridge for about 4 - 6 hours or overnight.
  2. Blend your cashew nuts with the soaked water and single cream until it is a puree.
  3. Heat up your wok or pot with some ghee or unsalted butter. I use vegetable oil.
  4. When wok is hot, stir fry the chopped onions together in cloves, cardamon and cinnamon for about 5 - 6 minutes (this is to remove the moisture in the onions).
  5. Stir in chilli powder and coriander powder until blend. Lower the fire.
  6. Add in the marinated chicken pieces. Turn up the heat to medium high and cook until the chicken pieces are opaque.
  7. Add salt and pour in 150 ml of warm water to cook the chicken. (Do not use cold water as it will impair the flavour and taste of dish.) Cover it and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
  8. Stir in the creamy cashew nut puree and let it simmer uncovered for about 6 minutes. Let it simmer longer if you prefer a thicker consistency.
  9. Add in the saffron milk. Reduce heat.
  10. Once the chicken is done, turn off the fire and stir in garam masala. The garam masala will enhance the flavour of this dish.
  11. Serve hot with saffron rice or plain rice.
Chicken Korma
The Verdict

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.

Notes

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.

Chicken Korma
5 comments on this post.

Green Papaya Curry

This month, the 4 Velveteers picked an easy challenge theme: 'Fruit' as in fruits fruits not the vegetables that are technically speaking fruits (so hold off your tomatoes). To spice up the challenge, it had to be a savoury dish. If fruit salad comes to your mind immediately, strike that out - it's the forbidden dish of the game. Ha Ha! We thought of everything.

For this month's challenge, I thought of making something with pineapple or mango or jackfruit or apples. Pierre kindly suggested Pineapple Rice but I have already posted that 3 years ago and have also done a simple stir-fry Pineapple Prawns, Coriander Pork with Pineapples and Rolled Roasted Pork with Dried Fruits . On top of that, my mom has been cooking pineapple savoury dish lately so I don't think my whole family wanted to eat another pineapple dish. Now jackfruit: the taste and texture is rather special. When I was a little girl and we were still living in a kampung (village), my mom used to cook this delicious jackfruit curry often, however that practically stopped once we moved to a housing flat. The last time she cooked this dish was back in the late 80s! The other childhood dish that I fondly remembered is green papaya curry. My mom used to cook it very often too as papaya plants were aplenty in our front and back garden. Back in the old days, a childhood friend of mine used to climb up our papaya plant to pluck the fruit for me. And she was very fast & agile too. I often wondered even till this day, how she managed to do that. I think if I ever climb one, I will snap it into two! For the life of me, I can't even climb a tree least a plant to save my life.

So I asked my mom to show me how to make this dish, however for some odd reason we couldn't find any green papaya in the markets nearby. In the end, we settled for one that looks the greenest among the sea of ripe papayas. My mom learnt how to cook this Green Papaya Curry from my paternal grandmother who used to make lots of delicious nonya dishes.

Before we proceed to the recipe, here are some information about papaya:

  • It is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C, E & A.
  • Its seeds are edible (bet you didn't know that!) and have a sharp, spicy (pepperish) taste. According to Internet sources, the seeds are sometimes grounded and used as a substitute for black pepper.
  • It has quite high amount of pectin.
  • Young leaves of papaya can be steamed and eaten like spinach.

Green papayas are usually cooked in curries, stew or eaten as salads. Choose papayas with reddish-orange skin and that are slightly soft to the touch if you are eating it on the day of purchase. A few black spots on the surface are ok as they will not affect the taste. However avoid those that are bruised or overly soft. Store ripe papayas in the refrigerator and eat it within a day or two. For those that are green with some yellow patches, leave them at room temperature and they'll ripen in a few days. To speed up the ripening process, place them in a paper bag with a banana. (yeah, really!)

Green Papaya Curry
Ingredients
  • 1 small green papaya (peeled, deseeded, sliced or julienne)
  • 400 ml coconut milk (add milk if you prefer to have more gravy)
  • 10 shallots (peeled & quartered)
  • 3 garlic (peeled & quartered)
  • a bit of dried belachan/dried shrimp paste (optional)
  • 1 lemongrass (bruised)
  • some dried shrimps (optional)
  • ¼ tsp tumeric
  • pepper, light soya sauce & salt (for seasoning)
Green Papaya Curry
Directions
  1. Peel, cut the papaya into half and take out the seeds. Thinly slice the papaya or cut it into julienne (thin match stick size). Set aside.
  2. Soak the dried shrimps until soften. Then pound it a bit to mash it.
  3. Blend shallots, garlic, dried shrimp paste and tumeric together in a food processor into a paste. Set aside.
  4. Heat wok with some oil until hot.
  5. Stir fry the paste with the dried shrimps and bruised lemongrass under medium heat until it changes colour (the paste will turn light brown). It'll take about 15 minutes.
  6. Add in the sliced papaya, stir to mix the paste with the papaya.
  7. Season the papaya with light soya sauce, pepper & salt.
  8. Once the papaya soften, pour in the coconut milk.
  9. Let it boil a few times until the papaya is cooked (according to your liking - al dente or well cooked). Taste and adjust seasoning of dish to your preference.
  10. Serve hot with white rice.
Green Papaya CurryGreen Papaya Curry
The Verdict

Very aromatic with the sweet-spicy pepperish taste of coconut milk gravy. The papaya slices were cooked just right - not too soft and I could still taste the slight flavour of the papaya.

Note

For a spicy taste, you can replace pepper with one or two long red or green chili (deseed). Just cook it together with the paste.

Green Papaya Curry

The 4 Velveteers

The 4 Velveteers (started by Pamela, Aparna, Asha, and Alessio) are a group of food bloggers, who are passionate about a new dish/ style of cooking/ cuisine and food in general. Each month, we will share with you our recipes, experiences & verdicts on our blogs. If you are interested in joining The 4 Velveteers! in our monthly adventure, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment.

Do, check out what other Velveteers have created:

Alessio - Recipe Taster
Aparna - My Diverse Kitchen with her Eggless Vegetable Nut Loaf with sweet
Asha - Fork, Spoon & Knife
Ken - Hungry Rabbit NYC with his Skillet Roasted Sweet n Sour Pork
Madhuli - My Food Court with her Raw banana Cutlets & mix fruit chutney

11 comments on this post.

Tofu Curry

Woohoo! I'm back home in Singapore for summer vacation. What a relief to finally touch down at Changi Airport last evening! After a delay from taking off at CDG airport due to technical checks, we had a long 13 hours of very turbulent trip, sending poor Little One into waves of nausea through out the flight. It's one thing watching people throwing up in plane in a movie, it's another facing the real thing. Never had I had so many panic attacks each time she said these words: 'Mommy, I don't feel well. I feel like throwing up.' I was literally groping in panic for the paper bag in the seat pockets, so afraid of Murphy's Law playing up at me. Phew! Luckily, for me, her & the passengers on the flight, she didn't threw up at all. And surprise my family at their doorstep we did. Because of the jet lag, we let Little One stay up till near midnight (6 pm French time) last night as we didn't want her to wake up at 3 am bright & chirpy. This didn't quite work out but luckily I was able to convince her to go back to sleep until 9 am this morning.

Anyway, a few days before we flew off, I was busy doing my very late entry for Velveteers' Challenge - Mochi (Minty Green Tea with Strawberry & Nutella) as well as baking 2 chocolate velvet cakes (recipe coming soon) for Little One to celebrate her birthday together with 2 other classmates at school. Both the teachers and children loved it - what a relief to hear! Not that I doubted the cake but whenever I have to cook, specially for an event, I tend to screw things up with my closet perfectionist disorder. And on Sunday, we celebrated my sister-in-law's birthday with coconut prawns curry, tofu curry (recipe below) and a simple stir-fry brocolis with rice. Of course no birthday is done without a cake: Pierre loves the cake (recipe coming soon too) I baked for Little One's birthday so much that he requested me to make the same for his sister.

Now tofu is not one of the favourite food in my household. The last time I made an attempt to seduce Pierre into liking it, the result was totally flat. So after 3 years of tofu abstinence, I thought of re-introducing this infamous ingredient to his whole family on this birthday celebration. Quite a big risk as it was the first time I was making a curry out of a tofu (cooking by blind faith hoping everything will come together). But lucky me, by chance it happened that my sis-in-law and father-in-law like tofu.

Tofu Curry
Ingredients
  • 2 packet firm tofu (cut into 9 cubes each)
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1/2 tsp ground mustard)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • a bunch of curry leaves (fresh or dried - about 10)
  • 2 tsp ginger/garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chilli powder (more if you prefer it to be spicier)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 cup water (approx.)
  • a pinch of sugar
  • salt (for seasoning)
Directions
  1. Cut tofu into small cubes and pan-fry them dry on non-stick pan until light brown, delicately turning them often. This is to remove some water from the tofu.
  2. Add a little bit of oil into the pan and let the tofu brown a little by the oil. Remove and set a side.
  3. Heat up a little bit of oil in a wok or pot, add in the chopped onions and let it brown a little.
  4. Add ground black mustard, roasted cumin seeds and curry leaves. Stir-fry it with the onions for a minute or two.
  5. Stir in ginger and garlic paste. Cook until it is fragrant.
  6. Add ground coriander, turmeric powder, chilli powder and tomato paste. Stir to mix well before adding approximately 2 cups of water to it.
  7. Add a pinch of sugar and season it with salt.
  8. Let it cook for about 10 minutes.
  9. Add in the tofu, cover partially and let it cook for another 15-20 minutes to allow the curry to thicken and the tofu to soak up the curry flavour.
  10. Serve hot with rice.
Curry Tofu
The Verdict

The result was actually great and much better than my older tofu experiment! A very flavourful curry with a clear tomato background. Of course the faint tofu flavour takes a back-seat in this dish. Judging by the many times Pierre went for it, I say it's a great success. Everyone loves it.

Notes

When I cooked this dish, I didn't really measure the water - just add it in according to what I feel is correct amount. Basically it should more or less cover your tofu.

I happened to have in hand some coarsely ground roasted black mustard seeds and roasted cumin seeds. However if you don't have, you can pan-fry the black mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves first with oil. Once the seeds pops, add in the chopped onions.

Curry Tofu
13 comments on this post.

Curry Coconut Prawns

I had a wonderful week meeting up with the Food Bloggers at Food Bloggers Connect 2010. But the highlight of the week started with this hilarious conversation I had with the British officers at the border - me and my Singaporean accent (yes we chatted for quite a while, who cares about the other travellers waiting for their turn, right?):

Officer: So you are staying in London for a week. What will you be doing there?
Me (all excited): Oh, I'm going there to attend FBC. There will be lots of FOOD bloggers at that event.
Officer: I see, FOOT Bloggers you say. So what is this meeting all about?
Me (babbling on): Oh we exchange notes, experience, recipes, take pictures of FOOD, share photography taking techniques, getting to know each other and exchange our blogs etc. I also have my own FOOD blog. (I said rather proudly)
Officer: Oh! So what do you blog about?
Me: Oh about FOOD, a bit of restaurant review but not much. Mainly FOOD, what I cook with, how it tastes, the result of my experience with the recipe, etc.
Officer: FOOT, yeah ??
Me: Yes, you know FOOD like : I show him the hand sign of eating.
Officer: Oh you mean FOOD. I thought you were talking about FEET. I was starting to wonder - recipes, photos and all with FOOT.
Me: Oh, no, not FOOT... Now that would be a bit of too fetish, isn't it?
Officer: Oh, don't worry. We are used to all sorts of things here working in this line. Talking about food, my wife baked 3 cakes last night and it's all for her office.
Me: Oh lucky her. A food blogger's dream - to be able to bake and give it away to others to eat.
Officer: You can say that again. Look at me, I got it all here (pointing to his waist and tummy).
Me: Oh, my husband complaints the same but he can't stop eating what I make. So your wife loves to cook. Do you like Indian food, Asian Food or French Food?
Officer: Oh yes, I love it.
Me: Here's my name card. You can find delicious Indian, Asian & French recipes in there. (So I gave the 2 officers my name card - what a start of a great day!)

Off I went with a big smile on my face to meet Sarka of Cooking Your Dream, Tiina of Sparkling Ink & Giulia of Jul's Kitchen (my bedmate for the weekend) at FBC 10. Sarka was so generous to offer her home for us to stay. We got to know each other better, had brainstorming sessions, exchange camera techniques etc. till late at night. Each night we slept only like 5 or 6 hours. We had a real blast together!

For me, the highlight of the FBC 10 was Friday evening & the Sunday session. Jaden of Steamy Kitchen talks on 'monetizing your blog' was very inspiring with her boundless enthusiasm on how she got started with nothing, worked to cookbook, TV shows after only 6 months into blogging and how she could earn enough by then to pay her household bills. It was truly awesome - every food bloggers dream come true. So much was learnt from Kerrin Rousset of My Kugelhopf & Julia Parsons of A Slice of Cherry Pie on 'how to get published & get feature work'. Thank you for sharing with us your tips and secrets of trade. Kerrin's boundless energy is infectious: she's like an Energizer rabbit - never stop moving. I'm so impressed by Julia's personality: so down-to-earth, open, very friendly and very approachable. Lastly, Niall Harbison's (lively personality with great sense of humour) talk on social media left all of us hungering for more information. I was kinda of disappointed that there wasn't any hands-on photography workshop as I was so looking forward to having one. Instead I found tables of fruits/cakes set up on the table for us to play with our camera mode by ourselves. Other than that, I got to finally meet several bloggers that I have known online for some time and lots of new bloggers!

Sarka's partner, Pavel, came home from his European conference trip and showed me one evening the difference of the aperture and shutters speed hands on with his camera and explained it in details. I greatly appreciated him taking the time to teach me. Now I know the difference. It's one thing listening to talks and reading from the manual, it's totally different when someone actually show it to you. On my last day in London, I cooked dinner for Sarka & Pavel and letting them taste my home (Singapore) & French food - Assam Fish (Singapore Nyonya), Curry Coconut Prawns (Indian - recipe below) & Moules Marinière (French) and last minute whip up dessert like this rich & delicious Lava Coffee Chocolate Cake that only took 10 minutes to make & 8 minutes to bake. Thank you Sarka & Pavel for hosting me for a week.

Curry Coconut Prawns
Ingredients
  • 2 mediume sized yellow onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ginger garlic paste
  • 800 g - 1 kg prawns (peeled)
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp chilli powder (more if you prefer spicer)
  • tumeric powder (a pinch)
  • salt
  • 200 ml coconut milk
Directions
  1. Heat wok or pan with some vegetable oil, stir-fry the chopped onions until lightly brown.
  2. Add in the garlic-ginger paste and stir till fragrant.
  3. Add in the prawns and mix it well with the onions and garlic-ginger paste.
  4. Mix in the coriander powder, chilli powder, salt & a pinch of tumeric powder.
  5. Cook it until it is slightly done and pour in the coconut milk.
  6. Stir to mix well and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  7. Serve hot with rice.
Curry Coconut PrawnsCurry Coconut PrawnsCurry Coconut Prawns
The Verdict

This truly is a great Indian dish, very aromatic and exotic. Unlike some other Indian recipes, this one is really simple and fast to put together, and yet it really taste authentic. The coconut milk doesn't overpower the flavour of the spices.

Notes

If you don't want it with too creamy coconut, add half coconut milk and half milk. Add the chilli powder according to how spicy you want it to be. It's always better to start with little bit of chili and add more if needed as we cannot reverse the spicy taste the other around.

To make garlic-ginger paste, just process the same amount of ginger & garlic together in the food process. Keep this paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Curry Coconut Prawns
26 comments on this post.

Cuban Roast Pork & Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

Not being able to surf everyday for a month was pure torture for a computer addict like myself... but only at the beginning. Once I got over my PC withdrawal syndrome, I started getting A LIFE. Yes, you heard me right. One of the things I have learnt from this is that I was way too addicted to the Internet than I was willing to acknowledge. Internet is good and helpful but as with everything, it has to be used with moderation, or it'll eat your life before you know it. If you have a family, the first in line is your precious little children, then your couplehood. And yes, sadly Little One was in that front line. Don't get me wrong. I do spent time with her but not as much as I thought I did. After this incident, Pierre & I agreed that whenever Little One is at home and awake, my computer will be switched off.

As some of you know from my previous post, I joined a group of expatriate ladies for a weekly chit-chat exchanging languages and cultural differences etc. It's from this group that I met Corinne who formed a small group of ladies passionate about cooking to meet once a month to cook. Each takes turn to cook something of their home cuisine at their place. And so today we bring you all the way to Cuba. Why Cuba? Two months ago, we met up at Robin's house. She is from New Orleans and it happened that her Cuban-born mom-in-law came for a visit. She taught all of us that day how to make Cuban Pork Roast. Robin's mom-in-law talked a little bit about her growing up in Cuba and how she managed to flee her country just before Castro took over the country and settled down in her new home at New Orleans. I could see that after all these years, talking about the past still pains her but she was happy to share her personal experience with us. We had a wonderful time talking and exchanging cultural habits, mannerism, upbringing, etc. It made me wish to have a chance to talk freely about the past with my grandparents, to know who were their parents, how and where did they grew up from, how they meet each other etc. Sadly they aren't here any more to answer any questions that I have in my heart. So dear readers, if your grandparents are still around today, seize the opportunity and get to know them better, for once they are gone, the secrets, the past history goes with them.

Cuban Roast Pork & Cuban Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
Ingredients

Roast Pork

  • 2 kg pork filet or pork roast
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 onions (chopped)
  • 4 cloves garlic (minced)
  • pinch of ground cumin (generous pinch)
  • a bit of olive oil
  • salt & pepper

Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

  • 500 g dried black beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 3 - 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • 1 green bell pepper (chopped)
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • 3 - 4 tbsp red/white wine
  • generous pinch of ground cumin
  • salt & pepper
Cuban Roast Pork & Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
Directions

Roast Pork

  1. In a big ziglog bag, mix the marinate: lemon juice, apple cide vinegar, chopped onions, a bit of olive oil, season with salt & pepper and a pinch of ground cumin together.
  2. Place pork in it and let it marinate over night in refrigerator for 12 to 14 hours, turning the bag over occasionally. This is to make sure it gets marinated evenly. Take out the meat from the refrigerator an hour or so before roasting it, allowing it to come to room temperature.
  3. Preheat the oven to 150°C (300°F - gas mark 2).
  4. Place the marinated pork in a roasting pan, pour the marinade over it and cover it with aluminium foil or put it in a crock pot.
  5. Roast it for about 3 hours, basting the roast with its juice every now and then. If juice dries out a bit, pour some wine or water and continue to bast the roast with it. Do not let the roast dries out.
  6. Uncover the roast a few minutes before it's done to let it get a bit brown on top.
  7. Once the roast is done, remove it from oven. Let it rest covered with an aluminium foil for 10-15 minutes before serving.
  8. Serve the pork slices with a bit of pan juice on top it with rice, panfried plantain & cuban black beans.

Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)

  1. Rinse the beans well. Soak it overnight covered with about 2 inches of water above the beans.
  2. The next day, cook the beans in its water. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer covered for about 2 hours or until beans are just tender or cooked. Add more WARM water to the pot if necessary. Never add cold water.
  3. Remove some of water that the beans cooked in, leaving about 2 inches of the liquid above the beans.
  4. Now starts preparing the sofrito: sauté chopped onions, crushed garlic and chopped green bell pepper together in a pan with some olive oil until fragrant.
  5. Sprinkle a generous pinch of ground cumin (more if you like) and season the sofrito with salt & pepper.
  6. Add the sofrito to the beans together with the bay leaves and red/white wine. Mash/crush the beans a little bit with a potato masher.
  7. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer partially covered for 1 or 2 hour or until the beans are tender and the liquid has thickened. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
  8. Reheat before serving it with rice if you cook it in advance.
Cuban Roast Pork & Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
The Verdict

I was pleasantly surprised at the first bite of the roast. The pork was so tender, succulent and very aromatic. Each bite just got me drooling for more. The beans were delicious and fragrant and the fried banana a nice sweet addition that makes the whole thing fruity and exotic.

Notes

The Black Beans (Frijoles Negros) takes some time to cook so make this first before the roast.

Cuban Roast Pork & Black Beans (Frijoles Negros)
9 comments on this post.

Afghani Murgh (Cheesy Chicken Kebab)

POISSON D'AVRIL!

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.

Afghani Murgh (Cheesy Chicken Kebab)

(Taken from Moti Mahal's Tandoori Trail by Monish Gujral)

Ingredients
  • 600 g chicken (cut into 8 pieces)
  • 2 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1tbsp vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/2 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp cheese (grated)
  • 2 tsp cardamom powder
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp white pepper powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 tbsp cream or crème fraîche
Preparation
Directions
  1. Make some incisions on the chicken pieces (simply poke some holes on it with your pointed sharp knife). In a big bowl, marinate the chicken pieces thoroughly with ginger-garlic paste, vinegar & salt. Keep aside for half an hour to an hour.
  2. In the meantime, blend cashew nuts with milk in food processor until you get a smooth paste.
  3. In another bowl, mix grated cheese, cardamom powder, salt and white pepper with cashew nuts milk paste. Add in the eggs and cream. Stir and mix until everything is well incorporated, giving a smooth paste.
  4. Pour this mixture onto the marinated chicken, making sure that each chicken pieces are well coated with the paste. Set it aside for an hour or until it is ready to be cooked.
  5. Soak your wooden skewers for about half an hour or an hour in water before using it. This is to prevent the wooden skewers from being burn in oven. (If you are using metal skewers, skip this part, of course.)
  6. Preheat oven under grill mode.
  7. Thread chicken pieces on skewers and place it under grill for 6 - 7 minutes.
  8. Turn chicken pieces over and baste it with oil. Let it grill for another 6 minutes or until chicken is tender.
  9. Alternatively you can cook it in a preheated oven at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  10. Serve it hot with mint chutney. (We just ate it with rice.)
Ready to grill!
The Verdict

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.

Afghani Murgh
Notes

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 :

16 comments on this post.

Poulet à la crème comme en Bresse (Creamy Chicken)

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:

  • Pierre Frédy, Baron de Coubertin (1 Jan 1863 - 2 Sept 1937) founded the International Olympic Committee in 1894 and was considered as the father of the modern Olympic Games. He also created the official Olympic Rings & Flag, wrote the Olympic Motto, Oath and Creed.
  • The first Olympic Winter Games, originally known as "Winter Sports Week" (but was later officially recognized as "Olympic Winter Games" in 1926) was held in Chamonix, France in 1924. It was a great success attracting 10,004 paying spectators.

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.

Poulet à la crème comme en Bresse (Creamy Chicken)

(from Ma Cuisine Des Saisons by Georges Blanc)

Ingredients
  • 1.8 kg whole chicken (deboned & cut meat into medium sized pieces)
  • olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 2 to 3 tbsp plain flour
  • ½ litre (500 ml) thick cream or thick crème fraîche
  • 3 egg yolks (to mix with thick creme)
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove
  • 1 small branch thym
  • ½ bay leaf
Poulet a la creme comme Bresse
Directions
  1. Put the chicken carcase in a pot with some water. Cover and let it brew. Keep some chicken stock aside.
  2. Salt and pepper the chicken pieces.
  3. Heat up some olive oil on a big pan or wok on high heat and lightly brown the chicken pieces.
  4. Add in the onion prick with a clove on it, thym and bay leaf.
  5. Add in a bit of butter or olive oil, stir in the plain flour. Mix, let it blend and cook for a minute or two.
  6. Add in some chicken stock, enough to cover the chicken pieces (half way) but not submerging it nor cover 3/4 of it.
  7. Stir and bring it to a boil. Stir to blend it together. Cover and cook under low heat for about 30 minutes.
  8. At the end of 30 minutes, take out the chicken pieces and put it aside - keep warm.
  9. Filter the sauce with sieve to filter out the herbs and spices n onions.
  10. Reheat the sauce, add in the thick cream already mixed with egg yolk. Stir to blend it. Cook it under low heat so that it doesn't boil.
  11. Adjust the consistence of the sauce according to your taste by diluting it with a bit more stock or thicken it with more cream.
  12. Adjust the seasoning according to taste and complete the seasoning with a light squeeze of lemon juice.
  13. Serve immediately hot with rice or pasta.
Poulet a la creme comme BressePoulet a la creme comme Bresse
The Verdict

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).

Notes

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.

Poulet a la creme comme Bresse

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...

BACFF
17 comments on this post.

Balti Chicken

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.

Balti Chicken

(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)

Ingredients
  • 1½ kg (3 lb) chicken (skinned & cut into 8 pieces)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 medium onions (sliced)
  • 3 medium tomatoes (halved & sliced)
  • 2.5 cm (1") cinnamon stick
  • 2 large black cardamons
  • 4 black peppercorns
  • ½ tsp black cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp garlic pulp
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp natural (plain) yogurt
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro (chopped)
  • 2 fresh green chilli (chopped - I only used 1)
balti Chicken
Drections
  1. Heat oil in wok or a deep round bottomed frying pan (skillet), stir-fry sliced onions until they are golden brown.
  2. Add in the tomatoes and stir well.
  3. Add the cinnamon stick, cardamons, peppercorns, black cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, garam masala, chilli powder and salt. Lower the heat and stir-fry for about 3 - 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chicken pieces, making sure that the pieces are well mixed and coated with the spices. Stir-fry for at least 7 minutes or until the spice mixture has completely penetrated the chicken pieces.
  5. Stir in the yogurt and mix well.
  6. Lower the heat and cover. Cook it gently for 15 minutes.
  7. Give it a stir once or twice to avoid food sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Finally add the lemon juice, fresh coriander (cilantro) and green chillies. Make sure it is well mixed.
  9. Serve at once with plain rice.
Balti Chicken
The Verdict

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.

Notes

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.

Balti Chicken
10 comments on this post.

Aloo Gosht (Delhi-styled lamb cooked with potatoes)

As all of you already know, Pierre and I love Indian food, besides cooking some at home, we frequent a lot of Indian restaurants too. The menus always have a lot of unfamilliar words that we can only understand thanks to the provided translation. As I was writing this post, I decided to do some search on what those we see most often mean.

Here is what I found: Batak (duck), Chingri (shrimps), Gosht (meat - invariably lamb), Jingha (prawn), Kofta (meat balls), Murgh (chicken), Nargis (boiled egg), Paneer (cheese), Bhindi (okra, ladies' fingers), Dall (lentils), Ghobi (cauliflower), Kumbi (mushrooms), Matar (peas), Saag (spinach); and "Aloo Gosht" means Potatoes with Meat. And this is what is simmering in our pot today.

It all started on twitter with a group of wonderful and good food blogging friends. We were twittering about food (what else) and such when I kept seeing the word 'Ghost' popping up. Whenever Jamie and Deeba mentioned about Jamie's Aloo Gosht, they would joke about Meeta seeing ghost when having this dish. Now that piqued my ninja curiosity wondering if Meeta really had some ghostly encounter with this dish. To my great disappointment, it was nothing of the kind. LOL! You see, Meeta was trying to compliment Jamie on her recent Aloo Gosht dish when she accidently typed Aloo Ghost instead, causing Jamie and Deeba teased her non stop about it. To be honest, I never really made the connection between gosht and ghost until Meeta let me in on the joke. It was then that I took a double look at the word 'GOSHT' - LOL. So here we are, I made our very own Aloo Ghost, oops, I mean Gosht.

The below recipe is a slightly modified version from the original version by Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking on Jamie's blog, Lifesafeast.

Aloo Gosht - Delhi-styled lamb cooked with potatoes
Ingredients
  • 7 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 175 g onions (finely chopped)
  • 1 fresh green chili (seeded and chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 1 thumb size ginger (finely chopped)
  • 1 kg lamb shoulder (cut into large cubes & keep the bone)
  • 350 g tomatoes (peeled and chopped, juices reserved with the tomatoes) or 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 tbs ground cumin
  • 2 tsps ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 tsps salt
  • 500 g potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • a bunch of coriander (roughly chopped)
  • 600 ml water
Aloo Gosht
Directions
  1. Heat up a large, heavy bottomed pan or wok with 7 tbsp of oil over heat high. When the oil is hot, stir fry the onions until golden brown.
  2. Add in green chilli, ginger and garlic in the pot and stir fry for a few minute.
  3. Mix in the cumin, coriander powder, turmeric, chilli, making sure it is well combined.
  4. Add the chunks of lamb including the bones (if any) to the pot making sure it is coated with above mixture. Stir it for about 5 minutes.
  5. Pour the chopped tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes), chopped fresh coriander & water and season it with salt. Stir to blend all in and bring it to a boil, sauce should thickened.
  6. Reduce heat to low and let it simmer partially covered for 1 hour or so. Add more water if you find it too concentrated.
  7. Add the potatoes and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until soft. Check seasoning to taste before serving.
  8. Serve hot with rice
Aloo Gosht
The Verdict

It's savory and very aromatic with just a teasing tint of spiciness in each spoonful. The meat is very tender. It's also a bit soupy and the broth is lightly tangy. My mom-in-law finds it very refreshing and umpf! A wonderful dish to have on a cold day!

Notes

In my above recipe I have reduced the quantity of water from the original recipe of 900 ml as I find my dish was way too soupy (very thin broth) to my liking and I had to simmer it uncovered for a long time to reduce water. I find that it is better to add less water first and dilute it later to your preference if one finds it too concentrated.

If you are using normal pot to cook the above recipe, cook step 5 until oil separates from the sauce and sauce thickens. However if you are using a non-stick wok or pot, oil will not separate from sauce.

If you have some very firm potatoes, you may let potatoes simmer together with the rest of the ingredients for an hour or so. As for me, the normal potatoes I had in my pantry just simply melt to pieces at the end of an hour or so of simmering.

Adjust the spiciness according to your taste. Omit the green chili totally if you can't take spiciness, but put more if you like it hot as I made it mild for my family. The chili powder I use in all my recipes is from grounded dried chilli. I understand that there are different version of chili powder available - some are a blend of chili with other spices.

Aloo Gosht
10 comments on this post.

Hot Chicken Curry

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.

Hot Chicken Curry

(taken from Indian - Shehzad Husain & Rafi Fernandez)

Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp corn oil
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • ¼ tsp onion seeds
  • 2 medium onions (chopped)
  • ½ tsp garlic pulp
  • ½ tsp ginger pulp
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 400 g (14 oz) canned tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 350 g chicken meat (cubed)
  • 2 tbsp fresh coriander/cilantro (chopped)
  • 3 fresh green chilli (cut into chunks), I only used 1.
  • ½ red bell pepper (cut into chunks)
  • ½ green bell pepper (cut into chunks)
Hot Chicken Curry
Directions
  1. Heat oil in a medium wok, fry the fenugreek and onion seeds until they turn a bit darker.
  2. Add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger and stir-fry for about 5 minutes until onions turn golden brown. Lower heat to very low.
  3. In the meantime, mix the ground coriander, chilli powder, salt, tomatoes & lemon juice together in a big bowl.
  4. Pour this mixture into the wok and turn the heat to medium. Stir-fry for about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for 5 - 7 minutes.
  6. Add the fresh coriander (cilantro), green chillies, red and green bell peppers.
  7. Lower the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes covered or until bell peppers and chicken are cooked.
  8. Serve hot with plain basmati rice or chapatis.
Hot Chicken CurryHot Chicken Curry
The Verdict

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.

Notes

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.

Hot Chicken CurryHot Chicken Curry
10 comments on this post.

Older posts...