26 April 2013

Char Grilled Vegetables

We love our vegetables and don't really have a problem reaching our daily quota of 5-a-day. I for one am happy to eat lots of them raw and throughout this blog there are many posts dealing with vegetables in their natural state, for example the Simple Asian Carrot Salad or the Prawn and Mango Salad  or carpaccio of kohlrabi. Of course its not always possible or appropriate to eat vegetables without cooking them so as a plan B we would generally recommend roasting or baking.

Char grilled broccoli with flaked almond, garlic and chilli dressing.

Oven cooking brings out the natural sugars in most vegetables enhancing and intensifying their essential tastes and flavours but another method easily rivalling and perhaps even surpassing this wonderful caramelisation is to char grill. Here in this post we suggest two vegetables broccoli and baby aubergines. The former requires blanching (we think steaming is preferable) for a brief period and we mean brief, probably no more than two minutes maximum, whilst the latter can be placed directly on the char grill and cooked in one go. These two are only examples for illustrative purposes. Other vegetables which would work well are asparagus, courgettes, sweet potatoes, artichokes, fennel, red onions, spring onions, french beans.... the list is almost inexhaustible limited only by the boundaries of your imagination.

Char grilled baby aubergines with a tahini dip. 

There are just a few simple rules to follow. Vegetables should be sliced with at least one flat edge which allows maximum contact with the grilling pan and should be no more than a few millimetres thick. Those vegetables which require blanching, for example broccoli or fennel should be given short sharp shocks. Greens should be plunged into ice cold water following a brief steam to preserve their colour and then allowed to dry. All vegetables should be as dry as possible before being placed on the grill. Try to position the vegetables in such a way as to maximise the effect of the strips the grill pan will make. The pan itself should be smoking hot and a high heat maintained throughout the cooking process. Two or three minutes each side should be adequate but check the underside to see how it is doing. The intention is to burn but only up to the point where the flavour is enhanced by the caramelisation. If using any oil brush it on the vegetable not on the pan to prevent excessive smoking.

Finally a good dressing is essential in the case of the broccoli we suggest heating a little olive oil on a pan and frying some sliced cloves of garlic, chilli and flaked almonds until golden brown. Add a few drops of nut oil eg. hazelnut or walnut for an extra nutty flavour and seasoning.

For the aubergine we recommend a tahini dip consisting of tahini paste, olive oil, sweet vinegar, yoghurt, honey salt and a garnish of sesame seeds.

Posted by incredibly fed

19 April 2013

On yer Bike! Quick Chicken Biryani

The Flying Bicycle repair shop, George Town, Penang

Rice in all its various forms is the staple ingredient of all of the cuisines of Southern and Eastern Asia and Malaysian cooking is no exception. Here we have featured rice dishes a number of times in the past, Sushi rice (with Teriyaki Salmon) and fried rice, for example, but this one really is special. Biryani rice is a classic from India but it's name is actually derived from the Persian word berya(n) meaning fried or roasted as the dish itself was invented in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors, who were originally from Persia but who ruled the Indian sub-continent for centuries. It is usually served up with a cooling Raita made with cucumber and yoghurt as the rice alone can be slightly dry and spicy. There are many recipes and methods of preparation, some of which can be quite involved but we have developed a speedy version which despite the seemingly long list of ingredients takes only minutes to prepare. You'll be on yer bike in no time at all!!

The recipe we suggest here calls for uncooked chicken and cooked rice but you could substitute cooked chicken or lamb if you prefer. (It can also made with fish, mutton or vegetables, but the rice should always be Basmati as it's less starchy and gives a better finished product.) It's a handy one pan dish so minimises the washing up. We had it many times on our trips around Malaysia but back in London we served it recently to a good friend who comes from the Gower Peninsula, who came around to watch the Ireland v Wales rugby match and it went down a bomb!


3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
2 Cloves Garlic crushed
2 Bay Leaves
1 Cinnamon stick
1 Star Anise
4 Medium onions thinly sliced
Salt to taste
1 Tbsp minced ginger
1 tbsp Chilli flakes
1 Tbsp Turmeric powder
1 Tbsp Coriander powder
1 Tbsp Cumin powder
Half tbsp Black pepper
1 Tbsp Garam Masala
200 mls Coconut milk
2-4 chopped tomatoes or tsp paste
Handful of Peas/Mange touts (optional)
1 Kg Chicken chopped into bite size
400g Cooked Basmati rice


Handful Coriander leaves
Handful toasted Cashew nuts
Handful dried Shallots
Boiled eggs (optional)


Heat the oil in a wok or deep sided pan and add cinnamon and star anise. As they start to crackle in the heat add the onions and sautee until translucent. Add the chicken pieces and fry until brown then add the turmeric, coriander, chilli flakes, cumin powder, black pepper and garam masala. Sautee for a further minute then pour in the coconut milk, tomatoes (and peas or mange touts). Simmer for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. When almost ready to serve stir in the cooked rice and mix gently. Turn into a serving dish and garnish with chopped coriander leaves, roasted cashew nuts and crispy shallots. Serve with raita (yoghurt, chopped cucumber and seasoning)

Posted by incredibly fed

12 April 2013

Malaysia's "Flying Bread" - Roti Canai

Melaka Minaret
The cuisine of most cultures around the world can usually be defined by its simple staple dishes such as bread and Malay cooking is no different. Although a largely rice based cuisine, the flat bread Roti Canai (pronounced Chanai) is very popular and is sold with various accompanying sauces from Mamak stalls run by Tamil Muslims at almost every street corner all down the Malay peninsula, Singapore and the Indonesian archipelago where it is sometimes known as Roti Prata. It is cheap and filling and as school kids we often stopped on the way home for a quick Teh (Pronounced Tay) Tarik and several rounds of roti canai and curry sauce to tide us over until the next meal time.
Curiously like so many popular dishes in Malaysia, both the tea drink and this definitive bread are thought to have been imported by Indian immigrants. The word "Roti" means bread in Hindi and Urdu whilst "canai" in Malay has come to mean "to roll out dough" although it is thought to originate from the Chennai (Madras) region of the Indian sub continent where many migrant workers to the Malay peninsula originated. In Chinese roti canai is often referred to as "flying bread" due to the way it is tossed and spun in the air to thin out the dough similar to an expert pizza maker! There are alternative methods but undoubtedly there is more than a little skill required in getting the correct shape and texture to the dough before frying. (We suggest watching a few posts on YouTube where there are many demonstrations which show the technique well). It is usually served with curry sauce or Dhal. (See the post "Cooking with Romesh") and washed down with ice cold sugar cane juice.

Roti Canai served with curry sauce and ice cold sugar cane juice. 

Serves four

2 Cups Plain flour
2 Tsps Salt
2 Tsp Sugar
1 Cup Water
1 Cup Cooking Oil


Mix sugar and salt in the water and add to the flour little by little mixing to make a dough. Knead until soft ensuring the texture is not sticky. Oil your hands with vegetable  oil and divide dough into palm sized balls, ensure the balls are well covered with oil and leave overnight. Next day oil a kneading board and flatten each dough ball into the size of a dinner plate. Flip like a pizza a few times until spread like thin paper. Take the edges and fold into the middle creating a square envelope shape. Pan fry on a well oiled skillet until golden brown. It is customary to fluff up the cooked pastry by crushing it between your hands. Serve with curry sauce or Dhal.

Posted by incredibly fed

5 April 2013

Belacan Beware!!!

Which came first the chicken or the egg? Last week our Easter post was, naturally all about the egg. Well here comes the chicken....
One day during my visit back to KL I was pottering around my sister's house when suddenly I was drawn into the kitchen by a pungent smell which assaulted my nostrils. The cook was cooking with an unmistakable ingredient, a shrimp paste commonly known as Belacan.  Belacan (pronounced "bell-achan") is an iconic element of South East Asian cooking and is widely used in Malay cuisine. But why beware of it? Well if I tell you it is made from fermented shrimp mixed with salt you might get the idea. Just one sniff will confirm this warning. It comes in a wet form as paste or can be sun dried into blocks but whichever you choose we urge a note of extreme caution! Keep it in an air tight container at all times. In its natural uncooked state it is quite foul smelling and will leave your fridge or food cupboard with an offensive odour which is almost impossible to remove. But have faith and don't be deterred as a cooking ingredient it confers a unique depth and richness of flavour quite indispensable to many of the region's dishes. At Incredibly Fed we use it many of our dishes but one of favourites is this one....

Belacan Chicken Wings Incredibly Fed Style! 
2 Kilo Chicken Wings (Tips removed)
4 Tbsp plain flour
4 Tbsp Corn Starch
4 Tbsp Rice Flour
1 Tbsp Ground Chilli Paste
1 Tbsp Garlic paste
1Tbsp Ginger paste
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tsp Sesame Oil
1 Tbsp Light Soy sauce
1 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
2 Tbsp Belacan paste
1 Tsp Black pepper
1Tbsp Sugar
Half Tsp Salt
Vegetable Oil to deep fry

Combine marinade ingredients in a large mixing bowl, mix well, add chicken pieces and ensure each is well coated. Transfer into an airtight container or sealed freezer bag and leave over night in the fridge.
Next day mix three flours in a bowl with pepper. Drain each piece of chicken so that each is quite dry and dip into flour. Shake off excess flour and deep fry in hot oil until cooked through and golden brown (approximately 6 - 8 minutes). Drain the chicken on kitchen paper and serve with sweet chilli sauce or your favourite dip!

Posted by incredibly fed