Am not a huge fan of sweet stuff for brekkie. The Nyonya in me loves Nasik Lemak, Laksa, Roti Canai and stuff like that for brekkie. But but but….I know…..those are not very healthy stuff to be eaten every day. So… in an effort to eat healthier stuff, I made this scrambled tofu for brekkie today, inspired by this link my sister sent me the other day. Easy peasy and pretty nice way to start the day with something mildly spicy and flavourful.
2 pieces firm tofu
1/4 yellow onion
2 pips garlic
1/2 red chilli (or more if you like it spicier)
1/2 tsp tumeric powder
5 cherry tomatoes (quartered)
Salt and pepper to taste
Squish the tofu into a mush i.e. break the tofu into tiny bits.
Heat up oil and saute chopped up garlic, onions and chilli.
Once fragrant, add in tumeric powder.
Add tofu and cherry tomatoes. Stir fry till tomatoes are soft.
Yummy enough for an encore. Would taste yummy with rice or bread or Puri. I recommend a side salad, as well as the fresh greens, will complement the savoury tofu nicely.
Took this last weekend while I was making a batch of sambal petai. I really like the vibrant colours of the half cooked petai with the big onions. And the smells from the combo of chillies, onions and petai is out of this world!
Simply because… this could be the first half cooked sambal petai wallpaper in the world. 🙂
A thoughtful friend, Jace, gave me some lovely fresh green cili padi some days back and I had dumped some into my Korean ramen. These little fiery babies were extra fragrant, unlike their common cousins. Since I had about a handful more, my mind started concocting some kind of green sambal. After clearing our overgrown “serai” (lemongrass), I decided to hit the kitchen to experiment a bit. The results? Son No. 1 liked it although it was a tad too spicy for him. For me, pedas is GOOD! (Pedas = spicy)
Here’s my simple recipe of Sambal Serai
20 cili padi (Bird’s Eye Chilli)
15 shallots (or 1 large red onion)
10 cloves garlic (or 1 head of garlic)
8 stalks lemongrass
1 1/2 tsp vegetarian belacan
Salt to taste
Blend everything into a paste.
Heat up the oil and pour the paste into the hot oil.
Using medium heat, fry it till it is slightly crispy. Keep stirring to avoid burning the sambal.
If the sambal is too spicy, add in some sugar to tame the flames.
For mine, I went for the saltier version of this sambal. Good with hot steamed rice and a simple stir fry vege like kangkung (water convolvulus). Apologies for the lack of beauty shots of the sambal as I did not realise that it turned out way better than expected. I just love the aromatic blend of the lemongrass with the shallots. Serai + shallots = 1 happy nose!
Nyonyas are famous for their kuehs. These are sought after as desserts for any meals, tea time, snack time, weddings and even funerals or wakes. When served at wakes and funerals, the bright colours such as red and yellow will be replaced with a more sombre blue colour, usually derived naturally from “bunga telang” or Butterfly Pea Flower.
As memory might fail me one day down the road, am gonna compile a list of well-loved Nyonya kueh.
A good kueh genggang has layers that you can peel one by one. It’s creamy flavour comes from the “santan” or coconut milk, flavoured with “pandan” (screwpine leaves). Some people call this “Kuih Lapis” but not to be confused with the Indonesian Kuih Lapis. Both are layer cakes but the Nyonya variety is steamed layer by layer, while the Indonesian version is baked.
One of the few that I like as it practically explodes in your mouth with “Gula Melaka” (palm sugar), leaving you in Gula Melaka ecstacy. The white bits covering the pandan green balls are grated coconut flesh. Totally love this with lotsa grated coconut. This is also known as “Buah Melaka.”
Good Ondeh-ondeh is soft and slightly chewy and the Gula Melaka must be liquefied and has almost like a caramel like taste.
There are 3 types of Kueh Kochi – the white, the green and the black. The white and green (pandan flavoured) variety are the 2 commonly seen ones while the black skinned one is Kueh Kochi Pulut Hitam (My fav! Yums!!) is less common as the skinned is made from black glutinous rice. The skin should be soft and slightly chewy with the consistency almost like melted mozzarella. The filling is desiccated coconut cooked with “Gula Melaka” and should be moist and. It’s wrapped in banana leaf, giving it an extra lovely aroma.
*Pulut Seri Kaya*
This is has a layer of “kaya” (egg and coconut jam) on the top and “pulut” (steamed glutinous rice) at the bottom. A nice combination of textures and flavours – smooth, creamy “kaya” with soft, chewy slightly saltish “pulut”. Some people may call this “Seri Muka.” I love those traditional Pulut Seri Kaya with pretty blue “Bunga Telang” decorating the pulut.
This almost forgotten kueh is made from pulut, grated coconut and black-eyed peas, wrapped in “daun nipah.” The aroma from the leave lends this traditional kueh its flavour. It mainly sweet, coconut-y from the grated coconuts, with a slight hint of saltiness. I love how the slightly mushy peas complements the grated coconut’s creaminess and the slight saltiness of the steamed glutinous rice. One of my favs but pity it’s not easily available in my area. But then again, could be a blessing in disguise that I can’t get it here or I will be eating this all the time. 😀
This looks like little Nasi Lemak packets. But when you open it, it has grated coconut cooked in “Gula Melaka” on top of blue and white steamed pulut. The fragrance from this kueh comes not only from the coconut and “Gula Melaka” but also from the banana leaf it is wrapped in. Somehow everything with banana leaf tastes and smells good! A good inti is one that is not overpoweringly sweet but has a nice coating of Gula Melaka making the inti somewhat moist, fragrant and sweet.
This is one of my top favs as it has both sweet and salty layers. The top layer is the white salty layer while the bottom layer is a fragrant sweet kaya layer. My perfect Kueh Talam should have an equal portion of salty, “lemak”white top layer and a beautiful pandan-scented sweet green bottom layer. It should be soft but not mushy.
This kueh gets my vote for the kueh with the funniest name. Bokwa is actually the equivalent of the Malay word “berkuah” (loosely translated as “with gravy”)”Apom” or also called “
“Apom” or also called “apam”, is similar to the Indian version of “apam”. Like its Indian cousin, the Nyonya’s “apom” has its signature blue streaks of “Bunga Telang”. The “apom” is made from fermented rice batter, traditionally made with coconut water left to ferment mixed with rice flour, to create that fluffy “apom” texture. A good “apom” will not have a smooth surface but one with many little holes and the cross section of the kueh should look like a honeycomb.
This unique disc-like kueh that is best eaten with its “kuah” (gravy-like dip) that’s made of “Gula Melaka”, bananas, “santan” (coconut milk) and “aromatised” with fresh pandan leaves. I know many Nyonyas prefer to use “Pisang Emas” or “Pisang Raja” to make the kuah as these 2 types of bananas are known to be very sweet and “wangi” (fragrant).
I think I’ll stop here for now or my keyboard will be flooded with drool. More on Nyonya kuehs in my next post. Till then, happy eating!
Where to get these favourites?
*Baba Charlie* 72, Jalan Tengkera Pantai 2C 75200 Melaka Business hours: 10:30pm – 3pm (closed on Thursdays) Tel: 019-666 2907 / 06-284 7209
*Debbie Teoh* https://www.facebook.com/debbie.teoh
[Debbie takes orders and it is best that you contact her about 1 week ahead.]
Have you ever ate something and you suddenly feel as though you were transported to another place and time? This happened to me when I had this. (Please don’t drool on your keyboard!)
At the first taste, I was instantaneously transported back to my Primary School tuckshop (canteen as it was called back in the 70’s). The gravy tasted so much like the Curry Mee we loved in those days. Our canteen Curry Mee didn’t have all the beancurd sheets, taupok (beancurd puff) and long beans but just some noodles, maybe 2 fishballs and fishcake. But it was the curry gravy that got all of us hooked to it. Those of us who like it spicier would add in spoonfuls of watery chilli sauce that was available for us to ladle onto our noodles.
Our little spot of happiness during Primary School was in the form of 30sen Curry Mee and 10sen Nasi Lemak. Life was so much simpler than. We were just contented with these humble food and playing with our little friends during recess. And it is these little friends who have taught me the value and meaning of friendship.
Am glad that this bowl of Curry Mee made me think of them and our friendship that has endured many years, across many seas and countless dramas. 🙂
Cheers to friends of the past, present and future!
P/S: To my primary schoolmates, I wish you guys can try this. Seriously tastes like Canteen Auntie’s Curry Mee.
Being the true Melaka Nyonya, our Nasi Lemak would not be complete without “kangkung” (water convolvulus). Thankfully, my IT dude friend and his missus managed to hunt down some. Made 2 different sambals to accommodate the non-petai eating diners. Decided to make a milder, sweeter Sambal Nenas for my non-petai eating friends and also for the friend whose sambal tolerance level is at the primary school.
Decided to make “Kerabu Kacang Botol” as well. Erm…. More like an experiment. Thankfully, my lab rats reviewed and the experiment was considered a success.
For a Nasi Lemak, the sambal can make or break it. Besides the fragrant coconut rice, the sambal is the highlight for most people, me included. One of my friends posted about my Sambal Petai and Nasi Lemak on her Facebook and I have had requests for my recipe. As a true blue Nyonya who cooks using the “agak-agak method”, I was like “Yikes! I really dunno how many grams of this or that.” So, I went off to the nearest supermart and got MORE petai and spent an afternoon “quantifying” my Sambal Petai.
So…. here’s my recipe.
11 fresh red chillies
35 shallots (“Bawang Merah”)
20 candlenuts (“Buah Keras”)
3 cups petai
2 large yellow onions
400 ml tamarind juice (“Assam Jawa”)*
1 ½ tbsp salt
6 tbsp sugar
*made from 3 tbsp tamarind paste + 400ml water
Blend ingredients A into a paste.
Half and slice yellow onions into strips.
Heat up oil and once the oil is hot, sauté the blended paste. Keep stirring consistently to avoid burning the paste.
Once paste turns a darker red, add in petai and onions.
Add the tamarind juice.
Add salt and sugar to taste.
Use the food processor with a chopper function.
Soak the candlenuts to soften them before blending them.
If the paste looks watery, drain the excess water with a sieve.
Use more oil when cooking the paste. Spoon out excess oil once the sambal is ready by allowing it to sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Add birds eye chillies (“cili padi”) if prefer a spicier version.
For those who know me well enough, you will probably know by now that I love all things spicy and count Indian food as one of my favs. There is nothing I like better than a lovely vegetarian “thali”. Best enjoyed with all five of my digits, washed down with a nice frothy Teh Tarik Susu Lembu.
For those who are not in the know, the word “thali” actually means plate. (Hindi/Nepali: थाली, Tamil: தட்டு) It is essentially a round platter that is filled with several smaller little bowls (called “katori”) with food that is salty, sweet, sour, bitter and spicy. These little bowls are usually arranged around the bigger platter with some rice or chapati in the middle. Whether rice or chapati or even “puri” is served would depend on the region or restaurant that is serving the “thali”. Some restaurants I discovered would serve their “thali” on a banana leaf. Totally love “thali” on banana leaf as the aroma of the banana leaf enhances the whole thali experience.
Typical dishes of a thali are rice, roti, curries, vegetables, yoghurt (“tairu”), pappadums, pickles, “rasam” (Indian soup) and some places also serve salty fried chillies. (My fav!)
Recently, out of the blue, Son No. 2 decided that he wanted a thali. This was quite an unusual request as he is very loyal to his Roti Telur (Flatbread with egg). His “thali’ came with curried long beans, stir fried beansprouts, Sambal Taufu, Dhal curry (“sambar”), cucumber “salad”, fried bitter gourd and rasam. Oh yes, pappadums too.
Am usually not a fan of bitter gourd but the crunchy fried bitter gourd at Kari Kepala Ikan Raub* in Bentong, Pahang is probably one of the best I have tasted. I am a huge fan of their Sambal Taufu as it has just the right amount of onions and chillies. Actually, most of the dishes I have tried at this place is seriously yums.
So, why to I love “thali”?
Is it the Dhal curry that I instinctively drown my rice with?
Or is it because of the cucumber and onion raita that is the perfect match for firey sambal?
Or is it because of that mushy spinach that I love with a maddening passion?
Or the salty fried chillies that are so addictive?
The answer is “All of the above”. It is the various elements that make the “thali” oh-so-delish. All the different tastes, textures and flavours.
And one of the best part about “thali” is the huge portion that we just have to share it with our dining companions. And to share a good “thali” with great company is totally priceless!
I get asked a lot about what I eat. Many cannot imagine life without meat or at least, seafood. Many think that vegetarians eat only salad. Sorry to break it to you guys… we eat more than rabbit food. There is life beyond carrot sticks and celery.
So, am gonna share a fav that is easy and delish. It’s so simple that even my kids can make this themselves. I give you my version of Loaded Grilled Cheese Sandwich.
How to make it?
Chuck some sliced tomatoes and onions on your bread and then heap on tonnes of cheese. Pop it into the oven and enjoy the aroma.
Sprinkle some chilli flakes before serving.
Easy peasy. Selamat menjamu selera!
P/S: You can omit the chilli flakes and use black pepper if you are not big on spiciness.