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

La Bai Cai (spicy stir-fried cabbage)

4cm ginger, shredded
4 long red chillies, sliced
1/4 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
300g wong bok, roughly chopped
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp black rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp sesame oil

Heat 2 tbls oil and fry ginger, chillies and
peppercorns until fragrant.
Add cabbage – stir until wilted with golden edges.
Add sugar, vinegar and soy sauce – sir until combined.
Add sesame oil and serve immediately.

Recipe from home kitchen in Shuzheng village, Juizhaigou NP – Sichuan

Mooli Ka Raita (radish raita)

100g mooli (daikon radish), grated
ground black pepper
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
5 tbls yoghurt

Combine mooli, salt to taste and pepper.
Heat 1 tsp oil and sizzle mustard and cumin seeds
– pour over mooli. Add yoghurt and mix well.

Inspired by thali meal at RRR Restaurant, Mysore – Karnataka.

Sambal Telur (spicy eggs)

2 or 3 eggs, boiled and shelled
1 Asian shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tsp ginger, crushed
2 red chillies, sliced
1/2 tsp trasi powder (toasted shrimp paste)
1 tomato, chopped
1 tsp vinegar
1 tsp palm sugar
1 tbls soy sauce

Heat 2 tbls oil and fry shallot, garlic, ginger and chillies until
golden. Add trasi – mix well. Add tomato – cook until pulpy.
Add vinegar, sugar, soy sauce and 1/2 cup water –
simmer until thick and smooth.
Add eggs and heat through. Halve eggs to serve.

Inspired by ‘nasi campur’ at Warung Wardani, Denpasar – Bali

Gaeng Daeng (red curry paste)

8 large dried red chillies
1/2 tsp salt
3 coriander roots
2 tbls lemongrass, chopped
4 Asian shallots
6 cloves garlic
2 tsp galangal powder
1 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp ground white pepper
2 tsp gapi (shrimp paste)
rind of half a kaffir lime

Soak chillies in water several hours until soft – drain.
Pound or puree all ingredients together until
they form a smooth paste. Makes about 7 tbls.
Keep for 2 weeks in fridge or 6 months in freezer.

Inspired by paste vendors in Municipal Market, Trang – Southern Thailand

Gai Pad King (chicken ginger)

350g chicken meat, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
40g ginger, shredded
30g dried wood fungus, soaked until soft
1 tbls soy sauce
1 tbls fish sauce
1 tbls rice vinegar
1 tsp palm sugar
2 spring onions, sliced
1 long red chilli, sliced

Heat 2 tbls oil and fry chicken, then onion,
garlic and ginger until chicken is browned.
Add torn wood fungus, soy sauce, fish sauce
vinegar, sugar and spring onion whites – stir 3 minutes.
Mix in spring onion greens and serve.

Inspired by Ma Kin Ni eatery, Ko Mook – Southern Thailand

Sate Lilit (minced fish sate)

250g fish fillet, finely chopped
2 long red chillies
2 red bird’s eye chillies
1 tsp fresh galangal, chopped
1 tsp fresh turmeric, chopped
2 candlenuts, roasted
1 tsp lemongrass, sliced
1 clove garlic
3 Asian shallots
1/2 tsp palm sugar
2 tbls fresh shredded coconut
3 lime leaves, shredded
2 tbls coconut milk
1 egg
6 wide bamboo skewers, soaked in water

Puree together chillies, galangal, turmeric, candlenuts, lemongrass, garlic,
shallots and sugar. Heat 1 tbls oil and fry paste until aromatic – cool.
Combine cooled paste with fish, shredded coconut, lime leaves, 1 tbls coconut milk and egg.
Shape about 2 tbls of mixture around each skewer very firmly.
Barbeque, basting with extra tbls of coconut milk until cooked.

Inspired by nasi campur at Warung Wardani, Denpasar – Bali.

Mu-er Rou (wood fungus with pork and egg)

300g pork, sliced
2 tsp cornflour
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp rice wine
3 eggs, beaten
25g wood fungus, soaked in water until soft
40g ginger, shredded
1 leek, shredded
1 tbls rice wine
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp sugar

Combine pork with cornflour, soy sauce, sugar and
rice wine – marinate at least 15 minutes.
Heat 2 tbls oil and fry eggs into an omelette until
almost set, then stir into chunks and set aside.
Heat 1 tbls oil and stir-fry pork until browned,
move to one side of wok, add ginger and leek, stir well then mix with pork.
Add rice wine, then wood fungus (torn into small pieces if necessary).
Add cucumber, then soy sauce, sugar and eggs. Mix well.

Inspired by Zhong Ye Gong, eatery near Forbidden City – Beijing.

Plah Nam Prik Ma-muang (fried fish with green mango)

White fleshed fish like tilapia or catfish
is good for this recipe…

1 greenish mango, shredded
2 Asian shallots, sliced
1-2 long green chillies, sliced
2 tbls fish sauce
2 tbls lime juice
2 tbls palm sugar
1 whole fish (about 700g), splayed
cornflour
lettuce leaves to serve

Combine mango with shallots, chillies,
fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar.
Dust fish with cornflour and fry until cooked and crispy.
Serve on a bed of lettuce with mango relish on the side.

Inspired by Kaloang Home Kitchen, Thawet, Bangkok