A taste of Burma : CHICKEN KHOW SUEY

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to tell you about this stunner of a dish. If you’ve already skimmed through the list of ingredients, I know what you’re thinking. I won’t lie, this recipe does call for quite a few elements and steps, but I guarantee that you will not regret it.

Khow suey is essentially a Burmese noodle dish served with a subtly spiced coconut curry/soup that’s topped with an array of contrasting condiments. A bit like the Singaporean laksa. I know it sounds a little intimidating at first, but it didn’t take too long for this dish to sneak its way into my list of regulars.

Among the areas where my willpower is at its weakest, I think throwing in extra garlic reigns supreme. The recipe says 5, I go with 7. 6? 9. And then there’s also this thing for odd numbers. OCD, much? Yes, I think so. I know that I’m going to have my own version of “Chicken with 43 cloves of garlic” someday.

I’ve made this recipe from time to time using store-bought coconut milk, but if you have access to making a fresh batch at home, there’s nothing like it. The chillies might seem like a lot, but once the seeds have been taken out, you get more flavour than heat from them. Also, the coconut milk really tones down the fieriness too. If you’d like it milder anyway, reduce the number.

Every time I make this, nostalgia sets in and takes me right back to family dinners at home. This recipe (like many others), is from my mom’s collection that I brought back with me when I got married and moved to Chennai. Honestly, mine tastes almost as good as hers. And that’s saying a lot.

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Zest appeal : ORANGE-SCENTED BUTTERMILK SCONES

You know those important life-altering decisions that you take your time to ponder over? Like choosing your career path, moving to a new city, or getting married? I don’t think it’s normal that I say this, but I can handle those (We’re moving to Spain? Bring it on!) The ones that I spend agonizingly long hours mulling over are questions such as these – should I make a savoury scone or a sweet one? Brown sugar or white?

When it comes to bigger decisions, I feel it in my gut. And I just go with it. Unfortunately, adding lemon zest to scones is not something that the gods thought worthy of sending a sign out for, and the only feeling in my gut I got was the rumble in my belly.

I tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago without the addition of lemon zest and they came out pretty well. It had every favourable characteristic that is used to describe a good scone – light, fluffy and crumbly.

This idea, I came across by accident. I was flipping through the ‘Prevention’ magazine and saw a recipe for citrus-scented bread, and thought, why not try them with scones? Scones just as they are, work well with different flavourings since they have a neutral base, but I’ve only ever had them plain (sometimes with raisins in them) eaten with/without jam or preserve. Let me just say, the zest was a really pleasant surprise. Maybe I’ll try these citrusy scones with marmalade next time. Or just plain, dunked in tea..I’m going to need more time to think this through.

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Quintessentially British : BEER-BATTERED FISH WITH TARTARE SAUCE

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There are a lot of things that come to mind when I think of England. Tea houses. Knitting needles. Mind the gap. Dubstep. News agents. Chavs. Fish and chips. Black cabs. Quirky pub names (which I love, by the way – Bungalows and Bears?) James Bond. Chicken tikka (the irony :) )..I could go on. I’m sure not all of you out there have the same mental images that pop up in your head, but I think I can quite safely say that Fish and Chips was definitely one that figured in your list. On a side note, if Bungalows and bears ain’t quirky enough for you, check out this compilation.

I’m sorry for beating around the bush here, but my point is simple – if you’re looking for an easy fish recipe that is delicious to eat as it is simple to cook, look no further. I wouldn’t say that this recipe is purely authentic however, since I incorporated a few pinches of cayenne and paprika into the batter. The outcome – subtly spiced and gloriously crispy. An ode to one of my favourite places in the world. England, I hope to see you again some day.

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Christmas infusion : ORANGECELLO

I love the combination of orange and vodka. In this case, aesthetically, and taste wise. This is a spin on the traditional Limoncello, an Italian liqueur made using lemons and had as an after-meal digestivo.

Orangecello has a very intense orange flavour and you’d be surprised at how much flavour from these citrus beauties gets imparted into the vodka. It really does pack a punch! The addition of the amount of sugar is entirely up to you, so taste along as you go (I can’t promise you won’t be light-headed after the testing process though!) As the leniency with most infusions, it’s fair game to finesse them to fit your taste.

Typically, after the oranges release their oils into the alcohol, you strain the liquid and dispense with the zest. I just couldn’t get myself to, they looked so pretty! But anyway, the alcohol counters any mold or fungus that might form in other cases, but make sure you refrigerate it. These stay good for over a year, or so I’m told. In any case it’s quite unlikely that it’s going to stay around for that long in our household!

Mixed into cocktails to give it a tropical zing, or just sipped on its own if you’re in the mood for something stronger, this orangecello is sure to lift your spirits! Or play into it by pairing it with a lush dessert, like a citrus panna cotta or crème caramel, perhaps? This bottle went out to my lovely friends whose house we were invited to for Christmas dinner, but I made sure to stash some away for a posh drinking night. Continue reading