I seldom cook Indian cuisine at home because many of its dishes call for a wide array of spices, some less common and more exotic than others. It doesn’t quite make sense to procure a whole bottle no matter how small it might be when the recipe calls for only a pinch. Seemingly insignificant but often too much to miss as the concoction build on these small components that results in the complex bouquet of flavours and aromas we get in the final dish. But most of it goes to waste when left unused as it would be eons when the mood calls for these spices to be used again, of which they would have gone pass their prime or even expired. But there are a few dishes which are reasonably simple enough to whip up at home without the hassle of having to hoard a large variety of spices. Butter chicken is most certainly one of them and nothing goes better with butter chicken then a couple of freshly made naans which are fluffy and soft inside while being crisp and crusty outside.
Mondays are usually “reserved” for unwinding after the weekend kueh making frenzy. Some “me time” to do some gardening, whip up some of my favorite dishes (I am a creature of comfort) while some keyboard music like Bach’s Goldberg variations or 古琴 tunes like 潇湘水云 or 渔樵问答 play in the background. Yesterday was Cho Seong Jin’s Debussy “Suite Bergamasque” (yes where the famous “Claire de Lune” came from) while I dig in some 蒜泥白肉, 番茄滑蛋 and homegrown sweet potato leaves and sambal udang kering stir fry. Eclectic yet sublime…
Biryani or “Briyani” as it is being pronounced by some folks here in Singapore, is what I looked forward to enjoy on Fridays as it was offered only on this day in the past. Nowadays many hawker stalls have it on their daily menu. It is synonymously associated with the Indian Muslim food stalls here in Singapore alongside Roti Prata or “Indian Rojak”, where the mutton curry and the basmati rice are cooked separately though the traditional way of preparing this dish in India and parts of Middle East is to have them cooked together. Here’s my take of this very traditional dish from my very own kitchen…
I had some time after completing my nyonya kueh orders yesterday morning and quickly went to the wet market near my place to get some ingredients to make some 饺子 which I have been craving for some time now. Depending on where you are from, they may be called Chinese dumplings which is the generic name given to a lot of Chinese dishes where some filling is wrapped with an outer layer. Think 粽子， 云吞， 馄饨，蛋饺， 燕饺， 汤圆, 丸子, 元宵 are all called “Chinese dumplings”!!! These which I made yesterday were first lightly pan-fried before being steamed in a starch slurry hence lending to their name 煎饺 or 锅贴 in Chinese. The starch slurry crisps up as it dries up to for a uber thin lacy layer which resembles the crystalline structures of snowflakes thus giving them the name 冰花煎饺. The Japanese version is called 羽根つき餃子 Hanetsuki Gyoza cos of their feather-like appeal likening gyozas with wings!
We love steamboat be it Japanese shabu shabu and sukiyaki style, or more Chinese versions with collagen broth. So a while ago when I chanced upon a lunch buffet for 2 promo for szechuan mala steamboat at 谭鱼头 Tanyoto Restaurant on one of our local restaurant reservation apps, I wasted no time to book a seating for both of us.
We flew in on a red-eye flight and arrived at Narita and managed to check in rather early in the morning at our apartment at Ikebukuro on our recent trip to Tokyo last month, and thought we could swing by Mutekiya for a quick ramen fix before getting on with our itinerary planned for the day. Despite being an hour early to the usual lunch peak hour, the queue outside the famed ramen shop just a stone’s throw away from Seibu Ikebukuro had already developed with more than 20 diners, mostly visitors to the metropolitan like us waiting to be ushered into the shop. Not wanting to waste time since we’d already had Mutekiya on several occasions and blogged about it before, we decided to look into the other recommendations I’d jotted on our dining list and this was when Uchouten came to mind. It is a 洋食屋 which we had wanted to visit since our last trip back to Tokyo and it seems like the perfect opportunity to do so now..
From my observations, the Japanese line of patissiers and patissieres can be broadly divided into two categories. There are those who innovate and improvise, bringing together familiar “oriental” elements be it in ingredients or technique with the art of French pastry making, adapting to bring forth and open up greater possibilities and potentials yet at the same time making the creations more “acceptable” and attuned to the palates and taste buds of the local crowd. Then there are those who choose to stay firm and close to ground zero, bringing what they have learnt and absorbed from their years of apprenticeship in France back to Japan and introduce to the home audience the very essence of French pastry making in an utmost unbashful and unadulterated manner. Both have their loyal fans and followers, and both must be commended for their efforts to scale greater heights and also preserve the pertinent traditions and methods that define the very soul of pastry arts. From what I see, Chef Norihiko Terai 寺井則彦 of Patisserie Francaise Aigre Douce エーグル・ドゥース belongs to the latter…