Gaeng Kee-o Wan Neu-a (green beef curry)

350g lean beef, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbls green curry paste (see recipe)
3/4 cup coconut milk
4 kaffir lime leaves
3 tbls fish sauce
2 tsp palm sugar
6 round green Thai eggplants, quartered
big handful Thai basil

Heat 2 tbls coconut oil and sizzle garlic until
just coloured. Add curry paste and stir well.
Add coconut milk and torn lime leaves – simmer.
Add fish sauce, sugar and beef – stir until colour changes.
Add 1/2 cup water and eggplants – simmer 5 minutes.
Add basil and mix well until wilted.

Inspired by ‘Rattana’, stall in Nang Leung market – Bangkok.

Aloo Thekkady (potato and tomato masala)

1 tsp mustard seeds
3 dried red chillies, halved
2 stalks curry leaves
500g potatoes, cut in 2cm chunks
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp sugar
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp coriander powder
300g tomatoes, cut in chunks
1 tsp coconut vinegar
roti porota to serve, frozen ones from
an Indian grocer are quick to prepare

Heat 2 tbls oil and sizzle mustard seeds,
dried chillies and curry leaves.
Add potato – saute 2 to 3 minutes.
Add turmeric, chilli powder, sugar, garlic and coriander
– mix well, cover and cook until potatoes are tender.
Add tomatoes and vinegar – cook until just softened.
Serve with roti porota for breakfast.

Inspired by Hotel Ariya Bhavan, Kumily – Kerala

Sambal Tumis Kacang Panjang (snake bean sambal)

100g snake beans, cut 5cm
1 clove garlic
1 shallot
1 birds eye chilli
1 tsp galangal, chopped
1/2 tbls lemongrass, chopped
1/8 tsp trasi (shrimp paste)
1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/4 tsp coriander powder
1 salam leaf
1/4 cup coconut milk

Pound together garlic, shallot, chilli, galangal,
lemongrass, trasi, sugar and coriander powder.
Heat 1 tbls oil and saute this rempah paste 1 minute.
Add beans and stir-fry 5 minutes.
Add salam leaf and coconut milk – cook 10 minutes until dryish.

Replicated from Warung Wardani, Denpasar – Bali

Suan La Bai Cai (sour and spicy cabbage)

300g wong bok, sliced 5cm
1 tbls chilli bean paste
1/2 tbls ginger, pounded
2 tsp dried prawns
1 tsp sesame oil
‘SAUCE’
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls sugar
2 tbls black rice vinegar
1/2 tbls rice wine

Combine ‘sauce’ ingredients – set aside.
Pound dried prawns into floss.
Heat 1 tbls oil and fry chilli bean paste and ginger 15 seconds.
Add prawn floss – fry 15 seconds.
Add cabbage stalks – fry 1 minute.
Add cabbage leaves – fry 1 minute.
Add ‘sauce’ – stir. Add sesame oil and mix well.

Inspired by small eatery near Red Square – Beijing

Fu Rong Dan (egg fuyung)

6 eggs, beaten
25g wood fungus, soaked and shredded
110g minced pork
110g daikon, cut in matchsticks
110g green beans, sliced
2 cups wong bok, shredded
4 spring onions, shredded
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls rice wine
2 tsp sesame oil

Heat 2 tbls oil, add pork and stir 2 minutes.
Add wood fungus, daikon, beans, cabbage
and spring onion – stir 3 minutes.
Add pepper, soy sauce, rice wine and sesame oil – stir 1 minute.
Add eggs and flip gently into pieces when set and browned.

Recreated from Zhong Ye Gong, small eatery near Forbidden City – Beijing

Uttapam (South Indian pancake)

‘uttapam mix’ is sold in 500g packets in
Indian grocery stores – MTR brand is good.

160g uttapam mix
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 small onion, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
1 green chilli, chopped
1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped
sambar (see recipe) to serve
coconut chutni (see recipe) to serve

Combine uttapam mix with yoghurt and
about 1 cup water. Add chilli and coriander.
Heat 1/2 tbls oil in non-stick frying pan and
add half the batter to make to make a 1/2 cm
thick uttapam, top with onion and tomato.
Fry until crispy then flip using a plate and fry
until lightly browned. Repeat for second uttapam.
Serve each with a katori of sambar and chutni.

Recreated from Lakshmi Bhavan – Munnar, Kerala

Nariyal ki Chutni (coconut chutney)

1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen – NOT dessicated)
1 green chilli
1 tsp ginger
1 tbls chana dal, toasted
1/2 tsp urid dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 dried red chilli, halved
1 sprig curry leaves

Blend coconut, chilli, ginger and chana dal
with 1/4 cup water to a fine paste.
Heat 2 tsp oil and sizzle urid dal, mustard seeds,
dried chilli and curry leaves – mix into paste
and serve immediately OR store in fridge overnight.
Serve with idli or uttapam.

Inspired by every idli wallah across Tamil Nadu.

Sambar (South Indian lentil curry)

1 cup toor dal, soaked overnight
1 tsp turmeric powder
50g tamarind, soaked and strained
250g eggplant, cubed
1 tbls coriander seeds
1/2 tsp peppercorns
3 tsp urid dal
3 tsp chana dal
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
8 dried red chillies
4 tbls dessicated coconut
250g beans/drumstick/okra, trimmed
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp asafoetida
3 dry shallots, sliced
2 stalks curry leaves
400g tomatoes, diced
1 tsp garam masala
1 bunch coriander leaves, chopped

Boil dal in 5 cups of fresh water with turmeric until pulpy (1 hour).
Cook eggplant in tamarind water 10 minutes.
Roast and grind coriander, pepper, urid dal, chana dal, fenugreek, chilli and coconut –
add to eggplant with sliced beans, and cooked dal.
Heat 2 tbls oil and sizzle mustard seeds and asafoetida.
Add onion and curry leaves – fry until golden.
Add tomatoes, cook until oil separates then add to sambar – cook 5 minutes.
Add garam masala and coriander leaves.

Inspired by every meals hall and idli wallah across Tamil Nadu.

Shahi Paneer (cheese masala)

250-300g paneer
1 small onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, pounded
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tbls tomato paste
4 small tomatoes, pureed
1 tsp sugar
1/4 cup ghee (don’t skimp)

Heat 2 tbls oil and fry onion and garlic until golden.
Add ground spices and saute until fragrant – 30 seconds.
Add tomato paste then tomatoes – cook until oil separates.
Add sugar and crumble in paneer-  heat through.
Add ghee – cook 5 minutes.

Inspired by village eatery in Nahan, Himachal Pradesh.

Suan La Qie Zi (sour and spicy eggplant)

1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls black rice vinegar
1 tbls rice wine
1 tsp sugar
1 tbls water
2 tsp cornflour
2 Asian eggplants, roll cut
3 long red chillies, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tbls ginger, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
1 tbls chilli bean paste

Combine first 6 ingredients together – set aside.
Heat 2-3 tbls oil and fry eggplant until soft – push aside.
Add chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onion whites –
stir until fragrant.
Add chilli bean paste, stir 1 minute then mix in eggplants.
Add sauce mix, stir until well combined. Add spring onion greens to serve.

Inspired by vegetarian canteen at Baoguang Si, Chengdu – Sichuan