Nasi Lemak

There are many versions of nasi lemak out there and I remember buying 30-cent nasi lemak as a child. Even today, nasi lemak is relatively economical, provided you don’t ask for expensive side dishes. I’m leaning towards the traditional nasi lemak here.

Ikan kuning. What you’re seeing here is $1.50’s worth of ikan kuning. That’s really economical. I marinated them with tumeric and salt only.

I intended to buy ready-made fried peanuts and ikan bilis here, but couldn’t find any at the minimart. So into the frying pan went some cooking oil, ikan bilis and raw peanuts. How do you tell when it’s ready? Just smell.

When it’s about ready, toss a teaspoon of sugar and lt it caramelise. This component of nasi lemak is really cheap, but it takes a bit of time to prepare.

Ikan kuning is ready. How do you tell? Well, again, you can tell from the smell, but don’t wait for the burning smell. I prefer my ikan kuning a little moist and not dry and hard like what I find in most nasi lemaks sold outside.

I also fried an egg omelette with onions and red chilli. Also sliced some cucumber.

The most important part – the rice. It’s simple. Just add coconut milk and water to rice. I’m not a fan of artificial colouring, but my son insisted on “green rice”. So just one drop of apple green colouring. Notice I have real pandan leaves inside. The green colouring is not to con anyone.

I’ve used basmati rice here. The grains were still intact after cooking. No soggy nasi lemak for me. Very strong fragrance of coconut and pandan leaves as long as you’re not too stingy with those ingredients. Rice ready. Side dishes ready. Chilli paste ready. Enjoying cooking it for your family. The ingredients may be simple, but they are quite a hassle to prepare. Not worth it if you’re cooking just for yourself.

Pineapple Pulao

The small bag of spices for making pulao that I bought from Nepal is far from finished, so I decided to make good use of this last weekend. First, fry some butter with the pulao spices.

Next, you fry some basmati rice and cashew nuts with the butter and spices. Fry till everything is nice and fragrant.

Once the water is boiling, add saffron! A very expensive spice that I got from Kathmandu as well. Stir in some raisins and pineapple. I didn’t have bananas, but that should go very well with these spices as well. Don’t add any salt if your butter is salted. Otherwise, a small teaspoon is enough.

Basmati rice is cooked with 3-4 times its volume of water. Here you see an example of basmati rice cooked with just the right amount of water.

Finally, here’s the closeup view of my pineapple pulao. Very fragrant and sweet. Hope you like it.

© Chan Joon Yee

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Vegetarian Biryani

This didn’t come out of my kitchen, but I had dinner at the hawker centre next to Compass Point at Sengkang last night. I tried to order a chicken biryani at the Indian food stall, but was informed by the Filipina cashier that they were a vegetarian stall. OK, so I ordered their vegetarian biryani.

On the left, with the lid still on, we have Indian “coleslaw” which is cucumber pickled in yoghurt. The desert is a piece of very sweet fried dough. Next to it, that red stuff is actually a paneer gravy. Yes, cubes of white Indian cheese cooked in some red-dyed gravy. Then finally on the right, we have a bowl of mixed vegetables cooked in very thin coconut gravy.

The rice is quite OK, but I’ll have to say that I miss my curry chicken. Biryani just doesn’t taste right without the curry.