Friday, February 27, 2015

Fenugreek Chicken (Methi Chicken)

"February Potluck", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). For our potluck week, we are free to cook with our current or previous featured chefs. I've decided to cook with Madhur Jaffrey for our Potluck week, with one of her many dishes that I've bookmarked to try (one off the list now!), Fenugreek Chicken.

Fenugreek Chicken is a dish that I've been wanting to cook for ages. This lovely recipe is from her book "Curry Nation" and can also be found here. The recipe uses chicken thighs, but I''ve used chicken breast meat instead as that was what I had. And I've used a small tomato instead of chopped canned tomatoes, as I've ran out of canned tomatoes and only have one small tomato in my fridge. I've added a tablespoon of tomato paste to make up for it. The next time I would make sure that I have some canned chopped tomatoes ready or at least a few fresh ripe tomatoes available, as this dish is really nice, and I'm sure that the gravy would taste even better with more chopped tomatoes. The other changes I've made was to add a little more of chilli powder and garam masala and an additional tablespoon of dried fenugreek leaves, than the recipe calls for, as I'm all for bold flavours in a curry or spicy dish.

Dried Fenugreek Leaves (Kasuri Methi)

Have you used dried fenugreek leaves before? They are called as Kasuri Methi and are the dried leaves of the fenugreek plants. These dried leaves are really nice, they have a strong herby aroma with a distinctive taste, and provides delicious flavour to the gravy, hence the extra tablespoon!  This dish is easy to cook, and delicious! I love the taste of the dried fenugreek leaves in the gravy. The distinctive taste and aroma of the leaves really stands out, but in a very delicious way. This chicken dish is very good eaten with plain white rice and some side veggies. Yum!

Fenugreek Chicken (Methi Chicken)
(adapted from "Madhur Jaffrey's Curry Nation")
serves 4-6
4 tablespoons olive or sunflower oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated or crushed garlic
1 teaspoon peeled, finely grated root ginger
700gm (1 lb 9oz) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-1/2 centimetres (1 inch) chunks
4 tablespoons roughly chopped canned tomatoes
3-4 hot green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1-1/2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)

Set a 25 centimetre (10 inch) pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and, when it's hot, tip in the onion. Stir and fry for 10 minutes, or until it is light brown, then add the garlic and ginger. Stir and fry for two minutes.

Now add the chicken and brown for two minutes. Put in the tomatoes and green chillie. Stir for two minutes, then add the salt and turmeric. Mix well for five minutes before adding the chilli powder and garam masala. Stir and crumble in the dried fenugreek leaves. Mix in 360ml (13fl oz) of hot water, or enough just to cover the chicken, and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over a low heat for 20 minutes, then serve.

I'm linking this post with I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "February Potluck"

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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sek Bak (Nyonya Braised Pork Belly)

Gong Xi Fa Cai!  I'm back from my Chinese New Year break. Thank you for your CNY greetings! Hope that everyone had a good and wonderful re-union with family and friends during this festive celebration. 

Today, I'm sharing one of the dishes that my beloved late mom used to cook during Chinese New Year. Though I sometimes cook it at home anytime we feel like eating it, this Nyonya dish is usually "reserved" during Chinese New Year and special occasions during family get-together. 

Big pieces of pork belly are braised with spices, seasoned with black and light soy sauce and a small amount of sugar. We love to add peeled hard-boiled eggs, which are braised along with the pork belly, until the egg has turned brown all over from the long braising in the simmering sauce. 

One of the ingredients that is for this fragrant dish is, galangal. Peel the galangal and mash it lightly using a mortar and pestle. Do not replace this with ginger, the taste is not the same!

Sliced shallots and the lightly bruised galangal. 

The spices that gives a wonderful aroma to the dish ; cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise. 

Pieces of pork belly and hard-boiled eggs braising in the fragrant sauce. At the end of cooking time, slow-braising for about 1-1/2 hours, the pork belly will be tender and the sauce would have reduced and thickened.

Just before serving, slice the pork belly to thin slices and serve with the hard boiled eggs, with some of the delicious fragrant sauce poured over. The kids love to have the extra gravy over white rice. We would sometimes serve this dish with sliced fresh cucumbers and homemade chilli sauce, though most of the time we ate this without any chilli sauce. Either way, this dish is delicious!

Sek Bak
(by kitchen flavours)
2-3 pieces pork belly (about 1-1/2 kg)
4-6 hard boiled eggs, peeled
2 cinnamon stick (about 3" long)
5 star anise
10 cloves
8 shallots, peeled and sliced thinly
1 piece galangal, about the size of a small tomato
2 tablespoons cooking oil
3 cups water
2-3 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/4 cup light soy sauce (to taste)
1 tablespoon sugar (to taste)

  1. Heat cooking oil in a wok or a large saucepan. Fry the shallots over medium heat till light brown. Turn down heat to low, add in the cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and galangal. Stir for a about a minute till the spices are fragrant, taking care not to burn them. Add in water, bring to a boil.
  2. When the sauce has come to a boil, add in the dark soy sauce, light soy sauce and sugar. Stir and add in the pork belly pieces. Cover, bring to a boil, reduce heat and let it simmer, turning the pork belly every 20 minutes or so. After the first 30-40 minutes, add in the peeled hard-boiled eggs. Turn the eggs every now and then, taking care not break them. Add some warm water if the gravy appears dry. Taste and adjust accordingly, you may need a little more soy sauce or sugar. 
  3. Simmer till the pork belly is tender and the gravy has reduced and thickened, about 1-1/2 hours.
  4. Let pork belly cool to room temperature, slice to thin pieces and pour some of the lovely thickened sauce over the sliced pork belly, with the eggs at the side. Sliced fresh cucumbers and some chili sauce is lovely with this dish. Delicious over white rice. (The whole spices and galangal pieces are not meant to be eaten). 

I'm linking this post to Cook and Celebrate: CNY 2015 organised by Yen of Eat Your Heart Out, Diana of Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Gong Xi Fa Cai !!

I would like to wish all my Chinese friends and readers 

Gong Xi Fa Cai


Have a healthy and prosperous year!


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