Tag Archives: Rice

My Official Family Dish

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We hear about family motto’s and crests, maybe even an animal or color that identifies a family in certain ways, something that is so ‘my family’.

We all know musical families, sporty ones, adventurous families and quite ones, boisterous families and snobby ones, even organic ones…….attributes or activities that make us identify a family in a a certain way.

I don’t know how people identify my family, but if we had to assign official family themes, much like a national flower, sport, animal etc I would not have a clue what ours would be…..but I know what our official family dish would be.

A simple but extremely wholesome meal of ‘Hainanese Chicken Rice.”

We ALL loooove it.

I love to cook it coz it’s so easy, the kids go ‘AAAhhhh’…….never a protest, even the hubby smiles peacefully…..all is well !

Hainanese Chicken Rice is supposed to be the national dish of Singapore…..officially or not, I do not know.

All I know is that we love to eat it and prepare it any time.

There are tons of recipes for it all over the net ( read a very detailed description at http://steamykitchen.com/5068-hainanese-chicken-rice.html )

….but this is my simple version of it as taught to me by a friend in Malaysia.

I have adapted the traditional recipe to suit my family’s eating habits.

Traditionally a whole chicken is poached in water with soome ginger, garlic and onions. The stock is used to cook the rice.

However we rarely use the whole bird, but just buy boneless chicken breast.

Also, I always have chicken stock on hand in the freezer(recipe at the end of this page), so all I need to do is defrost a box full and use it in this recipe.

HAINANESE CHICKEN RICE

The Chicken

1/2 kg Boneless Chicken Breast

3-4 cloves garlic, crushed

1″ piece ginger, crushed

@ 2 tbs Light Soya Sauce

A dash of Chinese sesame oil

Salt (if needed)

-Marinade the chicken with the above ingredients and keep aside at least for an hour, more would be better.

-Place on a greased baking tray and grill for around 8 mins, then turn and grill the other side.

-Check with a fork to ensure it’s cooked.

( you could also steam the chicken, if you like)

Meanwhile, The Rice

2 cups rice

4-41/2 cups chicken stock (recipe below)

2-3 cloves garlic

1/2-1 ” ginger

1 long pandanus leaf*

Sesame Oil

– In a pan heat some sesame oil and sauteed the garlic till a little brown.

-Add ginger and the pandan leaf and sautee.

-Add rice and fry. Add salt if your stock does not have any.

-Add the stock and cook in a rice cooker till done.

The Sauce

I do not make a chilly sauce as some recipes mention, but make one by mixing,

2.5 parts light soya sauce : 2 parts sesame oil

( This more or less suits our taste, but play around with it and try what suits you. Also differnt brands of the sauce may differ in flavour)

Serve with

A boiled egg

Slices of cucumber

The above sauce, on the side

And a soup made with the chicken stock and some spring onion and cabbage.

Garnish the rice with some freshly chopped corriander leaves.

Sit back and enjoy………..

(Just to include some veggies in the meal, I normally make a Chinese greens stir fry along with this.)

Making Chicken Stock is super duper easy.

Start with @1/2 kg chicken bones.

( you could use the back and wings, if you use a whole bone-in chicken in your cooking)

2 lts water

1 bayleaf

6-8 whole peppercorn

Then remember this…..O-C-C-L

Onions-Carrot-Celery-Leek

1 large carrot, roughly chopped or cut into 3-4 pieces

1 large onion, quartered

1 stalk celery, with leaves

1/2 leek, roughly chopped

-Through all the ingredients into a large stock pot and bring to a boil.

-As the stock comes to a boil you will find a foam forming on the top. This is called the ‘scum’.

-Skim the scum of the surface of the stock and reduce to simmer.

-I simmer my stock for about 1 1/2 hours…..the longer you simmer it, the more intense the flavour.

Don’t even talk to me about doing it in a pressure cooker……it’s almost sacrilege!!!

Slowly simmered is the only way!

HOT TIP: Sautee the bones and veggies in a little oil or roast it in a low oven to caramelise before adding to the stock pot and you will have an even more intense flavour.

Once done, I cool the stock and put it into different boxes and freeze.

Defrost and use in soups, sauces and gravies…….and of course Hainanese Chicken Rice.

Resource Guide for Chennai:

Light Soya Sauce and Chinese Sesame Oil – Brand ‘Woh Hup’ or ‘Blue Elephant’ available at Nilgiris and Mercado

Pandanus Leaf * I have a stock of this from Singapore, but in Sri Lanka its called Rampe and it is called Screw Pine in English. In India we use Kewda water…..which comes from this leaf.

Of course, the idea is that you try it yourself…..but just incase your just too lazy, there’s always Bee’s Kopitiam in Chennai, with the bubbly Beebee Chong cooking up a yum version.

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Aunty Acca’s Buriyani

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Last month I received a beautiful gift from my sister.

A recipe book.

Not just any recipe book but ‘Cooking with Leila Viswasam.’Image

We never knew Aunty Acca as Leila…..only ever as Acca. 

Acca was the eldest Aunt-in-Law of my sister ML.

At the time of my sisters wedding, a host of relatives had flown down from Colombo Sri Lanka, armed with the most gorgeous orchids which were to serve as the wedding bouquets, buttonholes and head pieces.

Acca, was one of them, her effervescent personality endeared all the younger ones to her.

Her deeply religious side, endeared the older ones. Especially her devotion to St. Anthony, whom all of us true blue Bandraites pray to whenever we’ve lost something, always miraculously recovering the item, and offering up 13 loaves of bread on Tuesday, St. Antony’s Day.

All her family referred to her as Acca. All of us in Bandra thought that was her name, not realising that in Tamil it meant elder sister.

Acca, never corrected us, and to this day she still remains our Aunty Acca.

That was over 20 years ago. Her reputation as an unsurpassable cook had preceded her arrival in India.

After dining at her house, my sister had  requested Acca for the recipe of a particularly delicious fried fish that had been prepared that evening. We tried the recipe out at our home and it was soon our family favourite too! So much so, that at my sisters wedding reception, we served “Fillet of Fish Leila”……which proved to be as much a hit with the guests as it was with us. It soon became a standard on the menus of Majora…..my parents catering business. The recipe for this is also included in her book.

Much later, our family moved to Colombo for a few years. Acca welcomed us to her home with open arms. It was where we spent our first Christmas in SL, with D our baby only 2 weeks old.

She was one of the best cooks I ever met. Her recipes were great but there was so much of the elusive ingredients of love and generosity in her food that it reflected this in the intensity of its flavour.

Yesterday I tried out the Biriyani recipe from her book.

What I loved about the recipe was that it was perfectly balanced between easiness of preparation and flavour. It was a tasty ‘Buriyani’ as the Lankans call it, just the perfect recipe for a lazy weekend, when you don’t want to spend too much time in the kitchen but would like to make something ‘special’.  It does not pretend to be an authentic Indian preparation but rather a tasty meal. One that leaves you oh so satisfied, that all you need after it is a good siesta. Thats exactly what I did.

Aunty Acca’s Biriyani

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1 1/2 lb chicken

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp chilly powder

1/2 tsp saffron (by this I think she meant turmeric)

Cut the Chicken into 10-12 pieces. Wash, wipe and mix with the above ingredients and set aside.

B]

4tbs yoghurt

4 medium tomatoes

4 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger

2 small green peppers( I used green chillies)

2 tsp Corriander powder

1 tsp cummin powder

1 tsp black pepper powder

1/4 cup corriander leaves

( I also added 2 roughly chopped onions)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

Puree all the above ingredients in a food processor except the oil. Set aside.

Sautee the marinated chicken in oil till it changes colour and then add the mixture from the food processor. Simmer till the gravy begins to thicken. Remove from heat.

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C]

1 medium onion

2tbs oil

1 small cinnamon

4-6 cardamom

2 cups Basmathi or other long grain rice

Fry the sliced onions in oil along with the whole spices till golden brown.

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Add washed and drained rice. Add a cup of gravy from the chicken and enough of water to cover the rice and cook till done.

Serve the rice with the chicken arranged around it.

( I only partially cooked the chicken and mixed the chicken gravy and rice together with water and cooked it in a rice cooker)

I served the rice with boondi raita ( a staple from home), appalam and boiled eggs.( something I’ve picked up in Chennai.)

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Acca says at the end of the preface to her book: ….” I hope you enjoy your time trying out these recipes and your guests relish the results of your efforts. You will realize that as you continue to try out the recipes you will begin to make modifications to suit your taste, adding your favorite ingredients, flavors etc. You will then have your own personalized version of some of these dishes. If you derive as much pleasure trying out these recipes as I have had compiling them, I will feel amply rewarded.”

This to me sums up Acca’s unique and special personality.

Thank you Acca for the gift of your recipes, wherever you are, watch over and guide my humble efforts.