22 May 2006

A fairly decent copy....

Today I decided that I didn't want to eat desi food. I thought for ages about what to make, and for some odd reason, decided on the Pho Laksa I love at Indinine (Singapore).

Laksa is a famous Peranakan (Chinese-Malay) noodle soup from Malaysia and Singapore. Cooked noodles in a spicy curry-like gravy. The gravy could be sour or could have a coconut milk base. My favourite is the one made with coconut milk.

I trawled the net for laksa recipes, but soon realised that I didn't have access to a decent number of the ingredients they asked for. So I sat down, put on my thinking cap, looked at what I had, thought about what I'd eaten, trying to remember every nuance of that delicious dish, and I came up a fairly decent tasting version of my own.

Purists might argue that this is not the real Laksa. Keep in mind that I live in a corner of the woods where most groceries that I used to take for granted in Singy are not easily found. It still tastes real good. In fact, Arun really enjoyed it. And getting Arun to try something new is always an adventure in itself.

So, here we go!

My stripped-down-to-the-bare-basics Laksa
Serves 4

The curry-gravy base
6 -8 dry red chillis (or to taste)
1 cup boiling water
1 large onion
6 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger (galangal if you can get your hands on some)
4 stalks lemongrass
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp pepper
salt to taste
Oil for frying (I prefer gingelly/til oil)
1 cup water

Basil leaves (optional)
1 cup Coconut milk

1 bunch spring onions
1 small carrot
1 each of red and green pepper (capsicum)
1 small onion
8 French beans

1 packet rice or egg noodles (the flat mid-length ones are my favourite)

Cut vegetables in juliennes.
Heat oil in a wok, stirfry vegetables on a high flame and keep aside.
Soak the red chillis in boiling water for 15 minutes (or till they are soft). Drain chillis and reserve water.
Grind chillis, onion, ginger, garlic and the tender portion of the lemongrass, coriander and pepper to a smooth paste.
Heat oil. Add the curry paste and fry till it loses its raw smell (about 5 minutes).
Add water. If you'd like your curry really hot, add the reserved water from the chillis.
Add salt to taste and bring to a boil.
Add the stirfried vegetables and simmer for 2 minutes. Add Coconut milk and take the wok off the flame.
To serve, divide the cooked noodles into four serving bowls, and top with the curry soup. Garnish with basil if required.
Serve hot.

Somehow I never manage to get pics of the stuff I dish up... I really should. Makes for a boring food-blog otherwise!

16 May 2006

Did I remember to mention...

... that I cooked for a sushi-chef over the weekend and that he really adored aloo parathas and palak paneer?

Back again

Greetings from the boondocks of Japan....

Well, it is the back of beyond, but I'm starting to get used to it.

And of course, being a vegetarian, I'm missing Singapore something crazy. I miss Marche, Original Sin, Indinine, I even miss Komalas and (horrors) I miss Annalakshmi too.....

I desperately miss having access to large varieties (and quantities) of fresh vegetables. I miss the friendly neighbourhood grocery stores where I could get my hands on most spices I needed.

The vegetable sections of supermarkets here are, frankly, a joke! The quantities are incomprehensible to a desi vegetarian. I mean, who on earth buys french beans and Okra in bundles of 8 or 12?? Yesterday I felt like making a nice okra curry, but there were a total of 12 okra in the supermarket shelves... 12?? I can't wait to tell the assorted grandmothers back in India about this and watch them shake their heads in utter shock! Arun's gran was appalled that I get only 3 of the 11 aviyal vegetables here and no coconut or green chilis...

Ah well, so here's to an all new way of cooking!