Healthy Kitchen Smells Fresh

August 20, 2010

Beef Kerutuk

Filed under: Allergy Free, Asians, Cooking, Gluten-Free, Malaysians, Side Dishes — nshahida @ 11:51 pm

Beef  Kerutuk ( serves 3-5 hungry people)

My little headnotesif you are running out of time and want to make this dish quick as possible, slice the beef  ½ inch thick. And in the cooking method, please skip method #5 and 6. proceed to method #7. Because when the beef is sliced a bit thinner, it won’t take long to tender. I just love the chunk one because I think it’s more flavorful and succulent.

As for kerisik, this is a bit of challenge because you have to make it yourself ( see my kerisik recipe). If you are in M’sia or easy access of kerisik , usually available in groc in M’sia.. then get a bulk or two. If otherwise and you don’t have time to make one.. ( I usually make kerisik ahead of time , store  in a container and refrigerate and ready whenever I need it )  just toast the grated coconut till slightly dark brownish and ready to use for this dish. Or Just add an extra cup of coconut milk. Then you are good to go.


  • 1lbs beef  chunk, washed and drain excess liquid. ( see Notes)
  • 2-3 Tbsp chili paste (depending on how much heat you like in your food)
  • 1 Can thick Coconut milk (approximately 350mL)
  • 2-3 Tbsp Java sugar ( recommended ) or dark brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp medium sweet soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp coconut paste , Kerisik ( see Notes)
  • 3 small Asam Gelugur ( optional)

Spices and other ingredients:

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 3 star anise ( bunga lawang)
  • 3 cloves ( bunga cengkih)

Into a blender:

  • 1 medium size yellow onion, roughly chopped ( if you can find shallots , that would be great . 3 Shallots is called for or  1 medium purple onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 thumb size fresh ginger root
  • 3 Tbsp Korma spice
  • 1 Tbsp tumeric powder
  • 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper

– Blend these ingredients till smooth brownish paste is formed.

  • Salt , to taste
  • ¼ cup water ( if needed)
  • 2-3 Tbsp canola oil for sautéing .


1- Heat up a medium pot or cast iron on medium-high heat. Drizzle the oil and let it heated for sautéing .

2- Add in  cinnamon , cardamom , star anise and cloves. Sauté to fragrant.

3- Add the paste ( all ingredients that have been blended into a paste) , keep stirring and let it fragrant and the oil comes to the top. If it starts burning on the bottom, add some water and let it simmer.

4- Toss in the beef and Asam gelugur if using .

5- Add enough water to cover just right the top of the beef.. not too much water though. Cover the pot , reduce the heat to medium-low . This is to tenderize the meat slowly while absorbing the spices . it takes about 40 -60 minutes depending on how tough the meat is. ( See Notes)

6- When the meat becomes tender and the gravy has thicken, uncover the pot.

7-Add the coconut milk and continue to cook the meat and the coconut milk mixed well with the spices and come to thicken.

8- Add the salt, Java sugar, kerisik and soy sauce. Adjust the salt and sugar to your taste. Let it simmer about 8-15 minutes. Turn off the heat and ready to serve.

Serve with hot rice or sticky rice ( pulut) . Or may be you want to try something new… you are more than welcome to. 😀

Storing : This dish lasts up to a week and a half in the fridge. It can last longer if you keep it in a clean air tight container and freeze it, I would say a month. Just let it defrost in the fridge for a couple hours ( this you need to plan ahead of time) , pop up in the oven or microwave and heat up on stove.. whatever you prefer. Then it’s ready.. isn’t that easy peasy?  I hope so 😀


October 16, 2009

Healthy Kitchen Rendang Tok

Filed under: Allergy Free, Asians, Cooking, Gluten-Free, Malaysians, Side Dishes — nshahida @ 10:46 pm

Healthy Rendang

Don’t be mad at me if I tell you this rendang recipe is a new twist for health conscious people. Please have a first bite.. then tell me what you think. I have been thinking of making a healthy version rendang for a very long time, after I tasted one that my friend made back then in Minnesota, when I was in college. I was surprised, I mean really really surprised when she said she didn’t throw even a drop coconut milk and oil in her rendang. I could not tell the difference at all. The recipe? I didn’t get.. but she has inspired me a lot.

But why  took me years to try myself?  To get the rendang flavorful , spicy as the original authentic one yet keeping the saturated fat lower, quite tricky  to me. A few trial and errors helped me a lot to figure out the do’s and don’ts .

The trick here is kerisik ( coconut paste) that keep this rendang slightly creamy with coconutty flavor that you get from a normal rendang . I know kerisik still fatty , use it in moderation plus kerisik adds fiber to the rendang. 2-3 tablespoons would do the trick. Another must is shallots. Please see the head notes for details.

Of course, I will take other suggestions too.. feel free to share if you don’t mind.

For now, I can enjoy my rendang, , healthy kitchen rendang to be exact, with less guilty feeling without having to scarify the flavor. My husband loved it so much.. another bonus to me.

Rendang Tok(Chicken) -(Serves 5-6 people)

Shallot has very mild oniony flavor, slightly sweet and aromatic too. Mostly used in southeast Asian cookings .It’s a must for this recipe. So for the Kerisk.. please do not skip both for best result.You can find shallots in Asian grocery stores.. sometimes regular grocs market carry it, look at the fresh produce section. Slow cooking is very important to makesure the meat and the spices are incorporated well.



  • 1/3 cup coconut paste (kerisik) ( See Notes)
  • 2 lbs ( approximately 1 kg) beef tenderloin, trim the fat and sliced ½ inch thick
  • 3 – 4 Tablespoons java brown sugar / palm sugar
  • 2 Asam gelugor
  • 5 kefir leaves or lime leaves (daun limau purut), torn
  • 2 tumeric leaves ( if available)
  • 1 stalk lemon grass, pounded
  • 2 Tablespoons match stick sliced fresh ginger
  • Salt to taste

Into a blender:

  • 15 dried red chili , soaked in hot water and drained or 2-3 Tablespoons chili paste
  • 8 shallots or 2 medium purple onion
  • 3 Tablespoons diced fresh ginger root
  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 2 Tablespoons sliced galangal
  • 2 fresh tumeric or 1 ½ teaspoon tumeric powder
  • 3 candlenuts ( buah keras) [optional]
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds }
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds }                            ground in a mortar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds}                             until fine
  • 1/2 Tablespoon black pepper seeds}
  • 2 star anise}
  • 3 cloves }

-Blend thoroughly to form a smooth paste.


1. Pour  the beef chunks, the paste and enough water to cover the beef into a large wok. Let them cooked slowly on low heat until the meat gets tender but still firm, about an hour.

2. When the meat becomes tender at this point, the gravy starts to thicken,  toss in the remaining of the ingredients; brown sugar/palm sugar, salt , coconut paste (kerisik), kefir leaves (daun limau purut) , sliced ginger root and asam gelugur. Adjust sugar and salt to taste. Let them continue to slowly cook on low heat.

8. Keep stirring , every 2-3 minutes to avoid burning on the bottom.

9. Continue stirring until almost all liquid is vaporized ,meat and spices are well blended. Rendang will look dark brown and pasty when it’s done. If you like your rendang slightly saucy , stop at the point you like your rendang . Most importantly, the meat is tender and the spice is well cooked.

10. Ready to serve with rice, pulut kuning (steamed glutinous rice)etc .

September 16, 2009

Asian Chicken Meat Balls

Filed under: Allergy Free, Asians, Cooking, Gluten-Free, Malaysians, Savories, Side Dishes, Snacks — nshahida @ 10:58 pm

Meat Balls

This is definitely my comfort food, one of the kinds. I love this chicken meat ball recipe, very Asian-y and of course healthy. This recipe was created in order to fulfill  my crave toward a good chicken ball, the one that suits my taste buds and diet. I didn’t want to throw this and that and end up with unpleasant flavorless chicken balls. So there I went, scanning my kitchen pantry and some pondering I did . I knew I wanted to go differently this time – ginger and cardamom were in my head. Grated carrot as the add in to boost up my fiber intake, since I love veggies…why not!

The ending was a surprise in delightfulness to me,  at least.. with punch of bright gingery flavor and hints of  cardamom, the meat itself so moist, flavorful and light , absolutely what I after for, perfecto Alhamdulillah!. This is a keeper. A plus, this recipe is kids friendly, too, cause you can hide the vegetables in the meat while they enjoying it without noticing. My 18 month toddler loves it.

How do we serve it? Enjoy it as snack, or to go with salad or along with pasta or rice.  Oh..I have an idea.. how about sandwich it! What do you think?

The Ingredients

Asian Chicken Meat Balls ( Makes 8-12 medium size balls)

It really is the ginger that makes this recipe an Asian flare but If you do not like ginger and cardamom at all, create you own by omitting or replacing  any of your favorite spices or herbs  such as cinnamon, chopped parsley , oregano and the like. The key is be moderate in adding spices or herbs so it will not be overpowering.


  • 1 lbs (about 2 Cups) minced chicken breast, if the meat is too wet, squeeze the juice slightly
  • ¾ cup grated carrots , the juice slightly squeezed ( about ¼ cup juice is obtained, set aside for other use.)
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tablespoons finely chopped scallions or green onion
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper powder ( add more for more heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch ( or all purpose flour)


1- Toss everything together in a medium mixing bowl. Lightly mix them to well combined. Scoop out a tablespoon of the mixture, form into a ball to makesure the mixture is easy to handle, if it crumbles.. add 1 teaspoon of the carrot juice or if it’s too wet and fall apart.. add 1 teaspoon cornstarch at a time until the mixture is easy to form. Cover the bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2- Scoop out 1 tablespoon of the meat mixture. Lightly roll it into a ball. ( be careful not to squeeze it or pack it up too much otherwise the chicken ball will lose it’s moist and tough in texture.. really.. we do not want that.) Place it on a big plate or baking sheet. Repeat the same thing with the remaining. You will finally get 8-12 balls depending on size actually.

3- Heat a medium pan or cast iron. Drizzle with 1 Tablespoon canola oil ( do this each batch). Let the oil heated.

4- Place 3-4 balls each batch on the heated pan. ( Do not overcrowd the pan if you want them seared well and not overcooked.) Let them cooked for 4-5 minutes , no more than that. Turn them over , and let cook on the other side for another 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and repeat step 3 with the remaining batch.

5- Serve while it still warm.

 I served my chicken meat balls along with rice porridge

I served my chicken meat balls along with rice porridge

Storing: If you have some leftovers, place them in a dry and clean Ziploc bag or container and sit up to a week in the refrigerator or 2-3 weeks (approximately) in the freezer.


1- Why we do not want to over cook them? To keep the meat tender , moist , sweet and flavorful.

2- If somehow you happen to notice your meat is undercooked, place it back on the pan, let cook for 1-2 minutes.

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.


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?


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.


  • 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.


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


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).


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.


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.


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


  • 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


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.

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