Delish beyond belief. Now craving South Indian cuisine.
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 inch knob ginger
2 green chilies (or more, according to taste)
2 handfuls urud dhal, washed, cleaned and soaked for 6 hours or overnight in water
Grind all of the above with minimum water added, adding it judiciously and a little at a time to get a batter that is thick and not runny, yet smoothly ground.
Mix in salt
Heat oil in a wok over a medium flame. When the oil is hot, drop rounded spoonfuls into the oil and fry till a golden brown, turning them over to even the browning. This will take a few minutes as the inside of the vadas or dumplings need to be cooked as well. Perhaps about 8 minutes ?
Remove from the water, gently squeeze them till a bit dry and arrange in a dish.
Drain on absorbent paper, then soak them in warm water for about 5 minutes. This will draw out the excess oil.
Whisk yogurt and water to a thick yet runny consistency, add the remaining ingredients.
Pour over the dumplings.
Tarka with urud dal, curry leaves, asephoetida (hing) powder – a pinch, mustard seeds and dried red chili.
Remove from the heat and ad 1/2 tsp red chili powder into the hot oil.
This quintessential southern American salad (or dessert) was a light and refreshing to end a light and refreshing plated dinner at the peak of Singapore’s hot, humid, steamy summer (having jettisoned the traditional cherries, marshmallows and cream).
I don’t know where I discovered the recipe years ago, but the slip of paper in my book had excellent scrawled beside it, so obviously it had been tried, tested and had come out tops …
It was fun rediscovering it : sourcing the freshest coconut in the wet market, watching the grim and focused vendor balance the coconut on a tin can, use a small knife in swift, precise, clean strokes to strip the brown pith off, slice through the meat, release the coconut water ; quartering it in two quick movements. (Fresh coconut is an absolute imperative, I gathered, from reading an interesting piece on ambrosia).
Examining a pile of pineapple from Malaysia. Seedless grapes from Chile. Black. Mandarins, tangerines, murcotts from Florida, Pakistan, Australia. Picking and choosing.
4 oranges, segmented, seeds and pith removed
grated zest of 1 orange, and juiced
1 tbsp clear honey or light muscovado sugar
small bunch of small seedless grapes, halved
1 small pineapple, cubed
chunk of fresh coconut, shaved into thin slices or a handful of fresh grated coconut
handful pecan halves
Add honey or sugar to the zest and juice, mix well.
Add grapes and pineapple to the orange segments and juice.
Stir coconut into salad.
Sprinkle with pecans before serving.
Ambrosia is traditionally served as part of the Thanksgiving meal in America. It is a perfect dessert after a rich main course.
When family visits, its food, drink and long conversations well into the afternoon.
Roast chicken with pumpkin and sweet potatoes
Blanched asparagus spears with brussel sprouts and diced prosciutto
Greek Salad (a variation)
The leaves were fresh and crisp, the avocado just right. Added pomegranate arils, cubed feta, sliced button mushrooms and quartered cherry tomatoes. And kalamata olives, black and green. With a dressing of olive oil, salt, pepper and a dash of raspberry vinaigrette.
So Mum has moved to Singapore and is being cared for. She has been very unwell and weak, and the mandate is to feed her but she is picky, picky, picky. Mealtimes, and she becomes mutinous, begins arguing, turns her face away, refuses to eat.
Vasu, her helper, has got into the cooking act and she gave me this recipe – a wonder taste enhancer – that goes well with anything, she says, it boosts flavour adding bite and piquancy to any Indian dish, vegetarian or otherwise.
So we tried Mum’s Kerala Fish Curry with cokum and she added a teaspoonful of this powder while it was cooking, and hallelujah, Mum is eating again !
Here is the recipe, with a bottle in reserve !
1/4 kg dry red chilies
1/4 kg coriander seeds (dhaniya)
100g black pepper corns
100 g cumin seeds (jeera)
100g chana dhal (split Bengal gram)
4 tsp hing (asaphoetida)
50g methi seeds (fenugreek)
100g haldi powder (turmeric)
Lightly dry roast (though Vasu says that’s not required) and blend to a fine powder. What she does insist, though, is that it be ground in an industrial grinder, like the ones available in the lanes of Chennai, but that is nigh impossible in Singapore, so the mixie it is !