Healthy Kitchen Smells Fresh

July 30, 2009

Roti Canai (Malaysian Paratha)

Filed under: Asians, Breads, Breakfasts, Cooking, Malaysians, Savories, Side Dishes, Snacks — nshahida @ 12:42 am

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I have never imagined myself making Roti Canai on my own. Thought roti canai is the most difficult thing to make.Grew up watching my aunt; from kneading to stretching this roti I knew I would fail this mission if I were to make one.

I wasn’t wrong at all. The first time, the 2nd also… is very predictable what would the outcome be… the bad one always goes to the chicken, you know it. Would I say Roti Canai is very tricky to make? Yes it is to me. But is it impossible? No, it is not. Because finally I made it, so can you.

To get the dough consistency correctly is what makes it adventurous,  I had to ask around including my mother-in-law(MIL) who makes  very good roti canai. With some of her tips I benefited, I should thank her. Oh yes, I did!!

Stretching roti canai.. It scared me big time. Safe to say, even more challenging, but not after several practices! Just like the one professional pizza makers do – they stretch and throw, almost exactly. I still remember, I learnt stretching and throwing my wet kitchen towel and got caught by hubby, he wondered what I was trying to do, some workout routine? Aha… may be!!  Well, it can also be done by stretching out the dough on a big plate till the dough gets really thin, according to my MIL. I think it’s a genius idea too!

The best part is when it just cooked – warm, flaky and soft. Serve it with Dhall Curry with dollop of Sambal (chili sauce)… or dip in anything… try with a little bit condensed milk, trust me… you couldn’t get any hyper-ly happier.

Now, isn’t it piece of cake!! You think?

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Roti Canai (Makes 8-9 medium size roti)

4 ½ cups all purpose flour ( Extra 1-2 teaspoons if needed)

1 tsp fine salt

1 cup water ( 250 mL)

1 large egg , room temperature

¼ cup condensed milk

1 Tablespoon melted butter

Enough canola or other cooking oil and butter for submerging/soaking / coating and stretching .

Methods:

1- In a large mixing bowl, mix all purpose flour with salt. Make a well in the center.

2- In a small bowl, stir together water, egg, condensed milk and melted butter until mixed.

3- Gradually pour in the mixture from small bowl ( wet mixture) into the prepared well in the large mixing bowl.

4- Using fingers to work the flour into the liquid until we can form a ball. Knead the dough until it is very smooth but we might notice the dough is a little sticky. Do not add flour just yet.. Keep kneading for about 10 minutes in total.

5- Cover the dough with kitchen towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.

( Note: This process helps the dough absorb the liquid evenly and to relax the gluten ever so slightly.)

6- Continue to knead the dough for another 8-10 minutes until elastic and feels like satin. Now, at this point.. we will notice that dough will be no longer sticky. BUT if it still is.. please add only one teaspoon. Continue kneading. Cover and let is rest once again for another 15 minutes. ( Kneading resting process helps minimizing development of the gluten and makes stretching and shaping the roti way easier without over tearing it.)

7- Knead the dough , this is to assure that all ingredients are evenly absorbed. At this point, we should be able to get a very elastic and smooth dough.

8- Divide the dough into half. Divide each half into 5-6, repeat with the other half, we will get 10-12 portion total. Form each portion into a ball.

Roti Canai How to's

9- Now, it’s an optional whether to coat the balls with butter or oil.

If we choose butter, grease the bottom of a large pan with generous amount of soften butter so the balls won’t stick. Then generously coat each ball with butter, please make sure that each of them are well coated otherwise they stick to each other.

If we choose submerge them in large amount of oil, simple!! Pour small amount of oil into a medium bowl.. enough to coat the bottom of the bowl. Add the balls , all of them.. yes, lay them stack on each other.. don’t worry, they won’t stick cause you will add more oil into the bowl enough to cover the top of the balls.

To my personal opinion, submerging into cooking oil is much easier to work  with , plus if coating with butter.. still we will need some amount of oil while working on the dough later.

10- Cover the bowl/pan with plastic wrap. Let them rest in the refrigerator for more than 4 hours. Preferably overnight, 12 hours.

11- We are ready for the adventure ; shaping, stretching and frying. Before that, remove the bowl/pan from the refrigerator, let them sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. Just so the dough will be easy to work on.

12- Working on the dough, we need a large working space – about 35 inch  or bigger table , counter top etc. With palm, press each balls to make 5 inch diameter disk, one at a time. Let them rest for another 5 – 8 minutes. ( yes, a lot of resting require to minize the gluten from developing.)

13- This time we will have to play with oil.. lotsa oil.. Oil the working surface/board .. including our hands.. oil them generously. Oil prevents friction between our hands and the dough and between the dough and the working surface. Oil also keeps the dough moist. This is very important method to be followed otherwise we will have difficulty to stretch the dough really thin and the dough will stick and messy and tearing everywhere.

14- Start with the first pressed dough, lay the dough on oiled working surface.Brush the dough with oil  or oil plus melted butter. Lightly press in middle of the dough with fingers, from the center.. start pulling and stretching the dough evenly. Be careful not to tear it esp in the middle because the tear will grow bigger as your stretch and you really need to start over. Just lightly press it until we get about 8-9 inches disk. If by chance the dough spring back when stretching, let it rest for 5 minutes and then come back.

15- If the dough gets dry, brush more oil. Then work at the edges, with the heel of palm, press the edges .. stretching the dough evenly so as not to tear it and working all around the dough in a circle.

16- Oil our hands and the dough again. Take the dough from one edge with one hand. Slam the dough quickly and working all around in circle the same way. This is what we call ‘kebar/tebar’ or stretching roti canai. Repeat until the dough gets really thin and translucent. There will be tears and holes at the edges, do not worry, they will be covered by the many layers on untorn part.

If this method is found tricky .. yes it is for the beginner. Here is another method we can try.

On oiled big plate, lay the dough in the middle. Stretch  dough (See step 14 and 15) until we get to edges of the plate. Keep oiling the dough if it start to dry out. Stretch and pull into thinner sheet.

17- Bring one side of the thin dough to center. The other side to center to form a long dough. . If we can get air trapped in the thin sheet at this point, don’t press air out as it would give a lighter fluffier result.

Roti Canai How to's 1

18. Hold one end upwards and the other end on the working surface. Swirl it down to form a  piece of  swirly turban . Let it rest for about 15 minutes, the longer the better ( reason? Because later we will  pat it to make a larger and thinner turban, so we need to rest the gluten again to make it easy to shape it.)

Repeat step no.13 – 18 with the rest of the balls.

19- Pat the turban dough with tips of our fingers. If needed,Only slightly stretching required. Pat until 10-12 inches disk is formed. Preheat  a medium pan on medium heat, pan fry/cook the roti . Flip on the other side when it start to bubble , slightly brown and crisp. Keep flipping until cooked. Repeat with the remaining.

20- Serve it warm with Dhall Curry with dollop of sambal or anything to your liking.

Roti Canai

Troubleshooting and Notes to success :

1- Whole wheat flour is not recommended for this recipe.

2- This is important to get a very elastic dough before resting it, too soft dough may cause lots of holes and tears on the thin dough. The right consistency of the dough is very crucial in making roti canai.

3-  I know, this roti canai method requires several of resting process but I can vouch you, iA.. the end result that make you thank yourself. It worth the waiting. Flaky, light and pliable soft roti canai is what we aim for.

4- Work the dough very quickly to avoid the dough from drying and tearing.

5- Brushing the dough with oil and butter makes our roti canai flakier and layery . Either way works just fine.

6- Do not overcook the roti canai cause it will get too flaky, dry out and crumbly.

Storing:

If cooked fully, store them in a clean and dry Ziploc, refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. If planned for longer storing, cooked the roti just until bubbled and slightly crisp , lay each half cooked roti canai on a parchment paper, stack on each other. Place in a Ziploc /freezer bag, double it. Freeze for up to 4 months.

July 26, 2009

Explosively Delicious Banana Muffins

Filed under: Bakings, Breads, Breakfasts, Cakes, Desserts, Snacks — nshahida @ 12:33 am

Banana Muffins

What would you make when your bananas go uber and unpleasantly juicy with the flesh oozes out from the cracked skin? Not so pleasant to be devoured just as is – though they smells great when they go overly ripen . If you ask me, I’d say Banana Bread at most . Can’t go wrong with banana bread with some favorite add ins of mine – bitter still sweet chocolate chip or bites of chopped toasted walnuts or spice it up with hint of cinnamon .. ginger it a little bit… or may be the combination of all. Plain as is , you ask me? Why not, right..

Whenever I wish to go on the fancy side.. I transform loaf size into muffin. How? Of course by scooping out the batter into a muffin pan.. then tadaaa!! let it be as fancy as I imagine. As long as the end result pleases everyone…

I adapted the recipe from Ina’s Tri-berry Breakfast muffin with some major alteration, it’s obvious.. isn’t it? I love this recipe and all I could think of is.. I’d make this over and over.

Or.. do you have any other suggestions?

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Banana Muffins (Makes 16-18 medium muffins)

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon ground ginger ( optional)
2/3 cup milk
2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup butter, melted and cooled

½ cup canola oil
3 over ripen medium bananas, ( about 1 cup)  mashed till smooth
1 cup white sugar

Add ins:

½ cup walnuts, Toasted and chopped

1/3 bittersweet choc chips

Methods:

1- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper liners.

2- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger (if using) together in a large bowl. Stir with your hand to be sure the ingredients are combined. In another bowl, combine the milk, mashed bananas, eggs, canola oil and melted butter. Make a well in the middle of the dry mixture, pour the wet mixture into the well, and stir until just combined. There will be some lumps but don’t overmix the batter! Add the chopped walnuts, choc chips and sugar and stir gently to combine.

3- Using a 2¼-inch ice cream scoop, spoon the batter into the muffin cups to fill the liners. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean and the tops are nicely browned.

July 24, 2009

Kuih Dangai ( Malaysian Coconut Macaroon Pie)

Freshly Baked Kuih Dangai

Months back, I promised a good friend of mine to make a Malay Kuih for her – Kuih Dangai. I am not sure if she still remember this but I gave a good laughed at myself because I ended up with an empty hand, nothing even a back up. I apologized and amazingly she didn’t mad at me at all !! No, I didn’t break my promise. The kuih wasn’t appetizingly edible to be presented, by it’s texture mainly. The gooey oozy and sticky result was not wasted; I forced myself and hubby to eat them all (We do this all the time so no food wasting) with the determination of I will try again till I get it . Scary thing I did to us .. sorry husband!

Honest to be told, I didn’t know how to make this kuih exactly by measurement.. how embarrassing!. Watching my grandma made this family favorite, I memorized the ingredients but the measurement is over my head, could not understand to measure by can , regular cup etc. So I have to figure out the exact consistency and of course using a standard measurement. With quite number of trial and errors and also scary moments for both me and hubby,  it eventually turned out as I’ve been after for,  I am so thankful for that!

The minor problem now, to make kuih dangai, there is a particular mold. I can’t remember what element the mold is made but it’s quite heavy and it comes in dual. If I can find it here, it will surely be a big party to celebrate because you can hardly find it anywhere lately in Malaysia, even. Reason? Kuih Dangai is a long forgotten kuih and not everyone makes this kuih.

No mold, No problem.. use what ever you have.. really! Sandwich toaster is what I would recommend because It looks almost the same and toast / cook the kuih evenly and nicely – crusty and toasty externally and very moist and mildly sweet in the inside.. just prefect.. just like the one with the real mold. I am pretty sure.. iA.  Did you just ask me what I used for my kuih dangai? I will explain later in the method section ..iA.

If you enjoy coconut macaroon , this is pretty much the same.. a Malaysian version, A Malaysian Macaroon Pie it is. The differences are kuih dangai is more fragrant, very toasty and rich in coconut flavor,  the sweetness is not overpowering. A big bonus, It is very simple to make too. You can ask your kids to make it for you, I suspect they will be amazed how easy it is to make… if only they know how to measure things!

One thing I learned though, I should make a promise something I know for sure or something I have experienced.

Because…

My promise  to make that kuih dangai has yet to reach because she (my friend aka sister) has moved away. The idea of mailing this kuih to her is not even appealing either or it will get sticky oozy again  or the worse.. non-edible at all . You can’t force people to eat a rotten food, it is sinful, isn’t it?

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Kuih Dangai ( Makes 4 wedges)

You can definitely double the portion, just double all ingredients mentioned. For baking/toasting , you can also use a regular baking dish for this kuih. If the portion doubled, fit in a bigger pan. This kuih is great to serve warm, it gets soggy when cooled. Pop in the oven or microwave or on stove for reheating.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups grated fresh coconut, press and drain off the juice ever so slightly until you obtain about 1/3 cup coconut milk ( keep it for other use)
  • ½ cup glutinous rice flour ( sweet rice flour)
  • 2 teaspoons white granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar, ( for sprinkling)  add 1-2 teaspoons for sweeter but no more than that.

Methods:

1- Preheat the oven to 400 F/ 205 Celsius .

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2- Grease well a small cast iron pan (yes, this is what I used) with canola oil. Set Aside.

3- In a mixing bowl, mix grated coconut, glutinous flour, white sugar and salt. Stir until well combined. It looks crumbly at this point. Take a scoop of the mixture, pack it up in your palm.. if it comes together, you are good to continue the next step. If otherwise, add 1 teaspoon of glutinous flour.. bit by bit until it comes together if pressing. ( DO NOT add too much flour to the mixture,  kuih dangai will be tough and taste more flour than coconut).

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4- In a well greased iron cast pan, scoop half of the coconut mixture in. Press with finger or spatula to fill and fit the pan fully. (why you want to do this? So the sugar won’t oozes to the bottom of the pan while baking.)

5- Sprinkle light brown sugar on the press mixture, leave out the edges about 1/2 inch apart.

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6- The other half of the mixture remained, repeat the same thing in step-4.

7- Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the edges browned and crispy.. the top browned and toasted. Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes so that caramelized brown sugar is settled  and then cut into wedges. Enjoy while it is still warm.

Note: If using sandwhich makers/toaster, do not toast too long.. 8-10 minutes should be good enough. Sandwhich makers cooks kuih dangai much faster because the heat is direct and comes from the top and the bottom.

If using cast iron, you can also toast/cook on a stove on low heat.

July 16, 2009

Gluten Free ‘Graham’ Crackers

Filed under: Allergy Free, Bakings, Cookies, Desserts, Gluten-Free, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetarian — nshahida @ 12:14 am

Gluten Free 'Graham' Crackers

When This graham crackers was made in the process  , I pondered for some variation that could be derived from the recipe.

Could that be allergen free or something? I questioned myself.

Perhaps!! I declared hesitantly

The answer was not a promise since I haven’t tried any gluten free crackers just yet. Thinking it would not hurt trying, I pursued with all possible ingredients that had been planned in mind. With “not too many but ok” baking with allergy free know-how, I continued my mission and hoped for the best.

When it first came out from the oven, the skeptical thought gushed in. I started to worry , it might fall apart. I remember I had an equal experience with this one too so I let it cool completely and be positive.

I didn’t get hurt or disappointed at all, big alhamdulillah.It finally holds up together wonderfully.  Indeed, I was so pleased it didn’t have to go to the trash plus it came out as planned, even better I’d say. The texture was perfect  and everything else.. alhamdulillah , not exactly but almost to say the least with  normal non allergen free graham cracker.

If you ask my  opinion, I’d choose this one over the regular one. The reason for that is indescribable until you try it yourself, you don’t even need me to say it here.

Just don’t overbaked them, they are quite fragile to touch right after baking , they get hardened as they cooled . Overbaking may end up teeth breaking crackers.

Crackers

Gluten Free ‘Graham’ Crackers  (Yields 12 small Crackers)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or white rice flour)
  • 1/4 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon  cinnamon powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)
  • 3 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoons Vegetable shortening or coconut oil
  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoons molasses (honey or another 2 tbsp brown sugar)
  • 2 – 3 teaspoons applesauce

Methods:

1- In a medium mixing bowl, Mix together the flours ( brown rice and buckwheat flour), cornstarch ,coconut flakes (if using) baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and gonger powder ( if using). Add shortening/ oil, stir and rub with tip of your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal, about 30 seconds or so.

2- In a large mixing bowl, whip the shortening, oil and sugar till smooth. Add in applesauce ,molasses,and vanilla. Mix well to combine.

3- Stir in the flour mixture into the large bowl ( wet ingredients) . Mix them to form a smooth soft dough… until the dough starts to come together in a ball, another 30 seconds. Scrape dough out.

3- Between 2 sheets of waxed or parchment paper, roll the dough 1/8-inch thick. Chill for at least 1 hour, until firm – several hours.

4- Preheat oven to 350F. Retrieve dough and roll it a bit more if it is not yet 1/8-inch thick. With a sharp knife or pizza cutter, score into 2 x 4 -inch squares. Leave the squares together; you can break them up after they’re baked. With a fork or toothpick, prick several holes in each cracker.

5- Bake for 20 minutes 0r until lightly browned at the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool on the pan. Do not overbake them.

July 15, 2009

Aromatic Sweet Sour Beef – Malaysian-Thai Style

Filed under: Asians, Cooking, Gluten-Free, Malaysians, Savories, Side Dishes — nshahida @ 12:06 am

Dark Sweet Sour Beef

We consume meat 3 times per month, sometimes less. When we plan a menu for beef,  we’d love to savor it with something decent.. Something reminds us of home, something Malaysian are always the best.

One of the varieties I usually make is this aromatic sweet sour beef that has hint of Thai flavor in it ; Kefir leaves , lemon grass and a must – Tamarind . Serve it with just hot plain rice and along with some steamed veggies, definitely my favorite of all time – very comforting. Alhamdulillah.

Enjoy!!

Sweet Sour Beef (Serves 4 people)

The Ingredients:

  • 1 lbs beef tenderloin ( thinly sliced, about ¼ inch thick)
  • Salt and tumeric , for seasoning.
  • 11/2  Tablespoon cooking oil

1- Wash the beef slices, pat dry with paper towel. Seasoned with salt and tumeric, let it sit for 15 minutes.

Usually, people stir fry this marinated beef with some amount of oil until it gets browned, tender and slightly crisp at the edges. But here is what I do to save my cooking oil and healthier, it works just fine:

2- Heat the oven to 400F/205 degree Celsius . Drizzle 2 tablespoons canola oil on a baking pan/tray. Arrange each piece of meat on the tray on single layer. Bake it till brown and crisp , about 20-25 minutes. Make sure not to overbaked them because the meat will get too crispy, dry and lack of flavor.

3- Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil until ready to use.

For the spicy paste:

  • 8 large shallots or 2 large yellow onions (preferably shallot)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons chili paste, reduced for less spicy , depends on how spicy you desire
  • 1 lemon grass, sliced chunk.

everything in a blender, blend to form a smooth paste consistency. Set aside.

Other Ingredients:

  • 3 Tablespoons tamarind pulps, Mix in ½ cup of warm water, squeeze with fork or tips of fingers till concentrate of tamarind juice is obtained. Remove the seeds.
  • 1 lemon grass, the root is pounded.
  • 1 large yellow or purple onion, slice into rings.
  • 3-4 fresh kefir leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chili sauce, optional, this makes the sauce thicker and glossy.
  • Salt and Sugar, to taste
  • 2 -3 Tablespoons cooking oil (canola, corn , vegetable oil , etc)

Methods:

1- On medium high heat, in a medium wok or sauce pan, heat the oil until hot.

2- Add in the spicy paste, stir in pounded lemon grass. Let them browned and fragrant.

3- Add in tamarind juice, soy sauce, salt and sugar. Stir them together till well incorporated. Let them bubble till the oil separated and floating on top. Adjust the salt and sugar to suit taste buds.

4- Reduce the heat to medium low, toss in the cooked/baked beef, kefir leaves and purple or yellow onion rings. If the sauce is too thick, add ¼ cup water. Let them bubble again, for about 3 minutes. Add the chili sauce, if using, stirring to well combined. Remove from the heat. It’s ready.

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