Healthy Kitchen Smells Fresh

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.


August 20, 2009

Pizza Dough Recipe

Filed under: Bakings, Breads, Savories, Side Dishes — nshahida @ 1:18 am


To all muslim around the world including myself, Ramadhan Mubarak! Food blogging will be slowed a bit, I guess not only during this very blessed month.. the  previous months seemed to be in the same pace. I am sorry for that and not to forget, I owe updates to some posts.. iA will get to it whenever time permits.

When my sister, Sw asked me about a basic pizza dough recipe the other day, I realized I actually haven’t made pizza for a very long time; about a half year I might say. Thanks to her, that was a good wake up call.

I made pizza over the years and have discovered so many different recipes and to my surprise.. they are several kind of them – Neapolitan style and Chicago style ( deep dish) are most popular American fast food . I love to stick with the Neapolitan style which the pizza is baked at a very high temperature and crust itself kept thin but not too thin. The topping of course can be made variety , some people prefer the classic Italian pizza with tomato marinara sauce ,  slices mozzarella cheese, sprinkles of dried oregano leaves and may be  2-3 more add ins. If you like to go the other way such as curry pizza or chocolate drizzle pizza , please do so as long as you enjoy it.

Homemade caramelized Onions topping pizza

Homemade caramelized Onions topping pizza

I like my pizza variety such as caramelized onions on top, sometimes without cheese , loaded with veggies and meat if I wish to go healthier . However, despite of thousands of varieties, the Italian Classic is always on top of all. Anyway, here is one of my favorite never fail pizza dough recipes. This recipe is easier to handle and work with, if you are beginner, try this one and you will have every right to be proud of yourself.

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough

Source: The Professional Pastry Chef

The Bread Baker’s Apprentice

  • 1 teaspoons Instant dry yeast (or 30 g fresh yeast)
  • 1 ½ (360 mL) water, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons (5 g) white sugar
  • ¼ Tablespoons (60 mL) Extra virgin olive oil or Vegetable oil
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons (30 mL) honey ( or another 2 Tablespoons white sugar)
  • 4 ½ cups ( 570 g) all purpose flour or bread flour, more for dusting
  • Enough Semolina flour or cornmeal ( or all purpose flour if that is all you have) for baking sheet


1- In a large mixer bowl, dissolve the yeast in water by stirring with wooden spoon or fork. If using fresh yeast , squeezing the yeast with fingers .

2- Mix in the sugar, olive oil, salt and honey.

3- Add the flour and knead with dough hook ( I used my hands) until the dough has a smooth , elastic consistency, about 10 minutes.

4- Place the dough in an oiled bowl, turn coat both sides with oil, cover with plastic bag or damp kitchen towel, and let rise in warm and draft free place until slightly less than doubled in volume, about 40 – 50 minutes.

5- Place the dough, covered in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours ( the longer the better- this process makes our pizza dough more flavorful and also makes the dough easy to work with). Return to room temperature before proceeding, ( from my experience, it took me about 45 – 50 minutes but it depends on temperature in your kitchen.)

Pizza 1

6- At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, preheat the oven as hot as your oven can reach, at least 500 F / 260 Celsius. Dust the baking sheet with semolina flour or cornmeal or all purpose flour.

7- Divide the dough in 6 balls. On a floured board, roll and stretch the dough with your hands to make each piece into a circle, 10 to 12 inches (25 to 35 cm) in diameter . ( it depends how thick or thin you want your pizza, the thicker the smaller in diameter and vice versa). If the dough gets a little sticky, sprinkle a little bit more of flour, don’t forget to generously flour your hands, too.

( Note : you can definitely use a rolling pin to roll and stretch your pizza dough but from what I read from many pizza experts, they say stretching with hands give better texture to the final result, to be honest I see the different so try compare yourself)

Pizza 2

8- Top as desired, place it on a prepared thin baking sheet and bake in your preheated oven, bake one at a time. Allow the crust to brown on the bottom and the cheese melted, 10 – 12 minutes , another 2-3 minutes if not browned yet. Do not overbake the pizza.

Note: If you are in a hurry or your oven does not work , try grill it on your pan. On a stove, preheat your pan on high, sprinkle with semolina or cornmeal then place the pizza dough on the pan , let it brown and cook through.

July 30, 2009

Roti Canai (Malaysian Paratha)

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


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?


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 .


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.


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 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.


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)


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.

July 11, 2009

Pau or Steamed Buns with Bean Filling

Filed under: Asians, Breads, Breakfasts, Chinese, Desserts, Malaysians, Savories, Side Dishes, Snacks, Vegetarian — nshahida @ 8:41 pm


It’s been while I didn’t make this ..long enough to get me drool over a Chinese bun – what’s so called steamed bun or we Malaysians call Pau. I really enjoy this very moist but still chewy gummy ( in a good way) bun with balance of sweet salty creamy or sometimes savory filling.. really.. the filling is of your choice. I prefer bean filling that is not overly sweet, personally! also can be store bought or homemade. I adore the homemade one.

Making these Chinese steamed bun isn’t tricky at all  if you do a lot bread baking or not.. I agree, the recipe might be a little different.. it really depends on how you want it. I mean, the type of flour calls for the recipes is varied. For instance, if you are like me, be it slightlychewy , fluffy and soft at the same time, regular all purpose flour is all you need. For more on fluffier cakey like, you might want to grab some sort of low gluten flour – cake or superfine flour. It’s all up to your preferences.


For pleating, again, is up to your own creativity. I love making it the way Chinese make their steamed bun or the like. There is art of making it. Just like karipap , takes some times to master the skill that you will finally proud of yourself. Or, another choice, make it snappy simple! Wrap the filling up, roll it then in one second you are ready for steaming.. can’t get any easier. It still ends you with a good result anyway .Especially when it just comes out from the steamer – adorable fresh looking and warm soft fluffy bun with the filling on each bite. Can’t get over it !


For the recipe, I adapted from few collection of Chinese/Asian cook books and some online recipes. Came up with the combination of all and that’s what I’ve been using so far ; with the result I after for.

Bean Paste

Bean Filling Paste. ( Makes 2 Cups)


  • 2 cups Dried green beans

(Soaked in water overnight, 8-12 hours. Cook till tender , drain to separate all the excess liquid and set aside)

  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon white sugar
  • Salt, to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil


1- On medium heat, In a medium sauce pan, add in the cooked drained green beans. Stir in light brown sugar, white sugar and salt. Let them cooked together and the sugar caramelized. Adjust the salt as needed.

2- Drizzle in canola oil, toss them to well incorporated. Turn off the heat.

3- Now it’s up to you, you may want to mash this bean mixture with potato masher. Mash until you get smooth mushy paste. Or another easier option, my personal favorite, put the mixture in the food processor, process till smooth consistency paste – not too crumbly or runny. DO NOT add any liquid to the mixture, if needed, pour in 1 tablespoon canola oil if the mixture is very crumbly and too pasty.

Ready to use or STORE in a clean dry container in the refrigerator up to 1 ½ week or freeze it for up to 3-4 month.

Steamed Bun ( Pau) (Makes 12-14 buns)


  • 4 ¼ cups all purpose flour, 2-3 Tablespoons extra as needed
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Instant Dry yeast
  • 3 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (or white sugar)
  • 250 mL ice cold water , 2 teaspoons extra as needed
The Simple Easy Method For Wrapping The filling

The Simple Easy Method For Wrapping The filling


1- In a large mixing bowl, mix well all purpose flour and baking powder. Then add in dry yeast.

2- Stir in honey or sugar, canola oil and pour in ½ cup of water. Mix everything together. Then add another ½ cup of water, mix until smooth and soft dough is formed, about 4 minutes.

3- Cover the bowl and let it sit for 15 minutes.

4- On lightly floured surface, knead the rested dough till soft and elastic dough is formed, about 8 minutes. ( if by chance, your dough is still sticky, add 1 teaspoon of flour , knead and add bit by bit of flour, keep kneading until the dough becomes smooth soft and elastic. Add 1 teaspoon of water if otherwise.)

I repeat Steps 3 and 4 one more time , just to assure all ingredients are well combined and the dough are really silky smooth.

5- Divided the dough into 12-14, roll into balls.

6- Spray a large baking pan or any large container to fit the balls. Sprinkle with a little bit of flour. Place the balls on the flour pan. Space each ball about 2 inches apart so that they won’t stick to each other as they rise. Cover with large plastic bags or wrap with plastic wrapper. Let them rest in the refrigerator for 8-12 hours. (or the balls can stay in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days, if not using after that, wrap them individually with plastic wrapper , place in a Ziploc/freezer bag and keep in the freezer for up to one month).

7- Take the balls out of refrigerator, 30-45 minutes in advance before working on it again. Let them sit at room temperature just so they rise almost double in volume.

If you choose the simple way, here is the method:

1- Roll up flat one ball at a time, spoon the filling (of your choice) , about 1 teaspoon in the middle of the dough. Wrap up the filling by stretching out the edges of the dough. Cover it tightly so that it’s wont ooze out while steaming. Repeat with the remaining.

2- Cover them with damp kitchen towel, or large plastic bag. Let them rest again, the last one for about 15-20 minutes, they rise again at this point. DO NOT let them rise too much, your steamed bun will fall while steaming and the skin wrinkle.. that’s not pretty, though won’t effect the taste.

3- While waiting them rise, heat the steamer on medium-high heat , makesure the steamer is hot, I mean really2 hot. Line the steamer pan with parchment paper or banana leave so the buns won’t stick to the pan.

4- Arrange the buns on the steamer pan, 3-4 dough balls at a time, depending on the size of your steamer. Make sure to space each ball, 2 inches apart just so they don’t stick to each other. Steam for about 20 minutes. Remove from the steamer and enjoy.

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