Malaysian cuisine is a melting pot of traditions from its Malay, Chinese, Indian, Indonesian and ethnic Bornean citizens, with heavy to light influences from Thai, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabian cuisines and British cuisines, to name a few. The condiments and spices used in cooking varies and this results in strong regional nuances.
There are two types of laksa: curry laksa and asam laksa. Curry laksa is a coconut milk curry soup with noodles, while asam laksa is a sour, most often tamarind-based, soup with noodles. I have tried to keep this vegan, (took inspiration from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More) and so did not use any of the traditional seasonings like shrimp paste. Here is my take on the classic.
The word “shorba” is of Persian origin and almost a dozen variations of the word exist. It is traditionally prepared by simmering meat or vegetables in boiling water along with salt and flavored with aromatic curry spices and herbs.
My recipe is an oldie but a goodie from the Indian chef Sanjeev Kapoor who has been the celebrity chef on one of the longest running food shows of its kind Khana Khazana. (In fact the show has been running since 2010 and has over 500 million viewers.) I remember watching this show on my visits to India. I have simplified the recipe so it is easier and you don’t have so many dishes to wash up!
This is a great soup to serve as a starter for a dinner party and I assure you will have your guests wanting more and the recipe.
500g carrots, peeled and cut into 2 centimetre chunks
I love the bold flavours of this curry – I have used typical Indian spices in the traditional way one would and the Thai part comes with blending coriander leaves, garlic and chilli. This is easy enough to prepare and is bursting with flavour – take your time to fry the onions and cooking down the tomatoes is what gives the richness.
The type of fish for a curry – my first preference is monk fish (they call it poor man’s lobster) but warehou or groper would work well.
A little tangy, a little spicy and a little sweet is how I would describe a prawn sambal. The ready to use sambal pastes you get in the supermarket are a bland version of this Malaysian dish packed with punchy flavours. The recipe is straightforward and because the prawns don’t need a whole lot of time to cook, the dish comes together in 45 minutes.
Hyderabad is an epitome of India’s unity in diversity culture. Very few cities in India have the privilege of having a distinctive cuisine. The Nizams governed this city for over two hundred years until 1948 and one of their princely legacies was establishing a Hyderabadi cuisine. This is a famous Hyderabadi vegetarian dish, the combination of spices representative of both Northern and Southern regions of India.
The Parsees fled from Persia about 1300 years ago and settled on the Coast of Gujarat. Others who in recent centuries arrived from Persia formed a distinct community in Mumbai and Dahanu, just to the north, where they are known as Iranis. The Parsees / Iranis have their distinct cuisine with sweet, hot and sour flavours equally balanced. Traditionally pathia or patia is served with yellow rice.
Prawns can be prepared in the same way. Just replace the
fish with 400 grams prawns.
Sometimes spelt Gong Bao, this is a spicy stir fried chicken
dish with its origins in Sichuan province of south west China. The Sichuan
peppercorns are a bit numbing but the combination of crunchy peanuts and juicy
spring onions, complement the juicy chicken. I have adapted this recipe from
Fuchsia Dunlop’s version in Every Grain of Rice.
400 grams chicken thigh fillets, cut into 1 cm cubes
There are a lot of flavours in common when it comes to
Mexican and Indian cuisine. Yes the extensive use of cumin, coriander, chilli
and tomato come to mind but there are some lesser known ones like tamarind that
feature regularly in both the cuisines. I was fascinated and looked into this
and learnt that when the Spanish colonized Mexico, they introduced flavours
like tamarind, sesame through the Moorish / African influence.
For the filling
400 grams paneer, grated
1 x 400 grams tin of black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
Laksa is a spicy noodle soup,
generally with wheat noodles, that is very popular all through South East Asia.
I have done my version with buckwheat noodles and yes there are quite a few
steps but the end result is flavour packed and well worth making it from
scratch. You wouldn’t want to use the readymade sachet mixes anymore.
400 grams salmon fillet, bones
removed, skin removed but saved