Spinach Poriyal

1 bunch spinach, finely chopped
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 cup fresh shredded coconut

Heat 2 tbls oil and sizzle mustard seeds
and curry leaves. Add onion – fry until soft.
Add salt and chilli – fry 1 minute.
Add spinach – stir until wilted.
Add coconut – stir until well combined.

Inspired by the ‘meals hall’ at New College House – Madurai

Fuul Medammes (Aleppo style)

1 cup dried fava beans, soaked in water
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 tbls tahini
1/3 cup yoghurt
juice of 1/4 lemon
1 tomato, chopped
cumin powder OR paprika powder
2 tbls parsley, chopped
olive oil
pickled cucumbers
khoobz (flat bread)

Boil beans in fresh water to just cover until tender
– about 1 hour – add salt.
Meanwhile, combine garlic, tahini, yoghurt, lemon
juice and enough water to make a creamy sauce.
To serve, top each portion of hot beans with tahini
sauce, tomato, a sprinkle of cumin or paprika, parsley,
a generous splash of olive oil and sliced pickles.
Serve with khoobz.

Inspired by Hamed’s eatery on Sharia Zaki al-Arsuzi – Aleppo

Ikan Panggang (spicy grilled fish)

700g whole fish (any kind –
oily is best – mackerel, bonito…)
1 tbls kecap manis
1 tsp sambal oelek

Combine kecap manis and sambal oelek.
Splay fish and cover in sambal mix.
Drizzle with oil and grill or barbeque fish
until just cooked through and crispy.

Inspired by meals at Coaster Bungalows, Ohoililir – Pulau Kei

Cap Cai (stir-fried vegetables)

2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 or 2 red chillies, sliced
2 tsp ginger, chopped
1 small onion, sliced
100g whole school prawns
1 tbls oyster sauce
150g cauliflower, in florets
1 carrot, sliced
150g cabbage, cut in 4cm chunks
80g snow peas
2 dried shitake mushrooms, soaked in water*
1/2 cup mushroom stock*
1 tomato, cut in wedges
3 stalks gai lan, sliced
1 tsp Maggi seasoning
ground black pepper
2 tsp cornflour, blended with water

Heat 2 tbls oil and saute garlic, chilli, ginger and onion
until fragrant. Add prawns and oyster sauce – mix well.
Add cauliflower and carrots – stir 2 minutes.
Add sliced mushrooms, cabbage, snow peas, tomato
and gai lan – stir 1 minute.
Add stock, Maggi seasoning and pepper – bring to simmer
Thicken with cornflour and serve immediately.

Inspired by the multitude of warung across Indonesia.

Bhindi Masala (okra curry)

500g okra, chopped 1cm
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp urid dal
1 stalk curry leaves
2 green chillies, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 tbls tomato paste
2 tomatoes, chopped
1.5 tsp coriander powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp chilli powder
2 tbls tamarind, soaked in a little water
2 tsp jaggery

Heat 2 tbls oil and fry okra until golden – set aside.
Add 1 tbls oil to pan and sizzle mustard seeds, urid dal
and curry leaves. Add green chillies and onion – fry until soft.
Add tomato paste, tomatoes, coriander, turmeric and chilli powders
– mix well. Add strained tamarind, jaggery and okra with a little
water to make a thick gravy – cook 5 minutes until tender.

Inspired by Sachin’s Madras Cafe – Mumbai

Kuku (Persian omelette)

4 eggs, whisked
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
ground black pepper
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbls plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dill, chopped
1/2 cup coriander, chopped
1 leek/4 spring onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 cup youghurt
1 tsp dried mint
1 cucumber, sliced
torshe (pickled vegetables)
barbari (Persian flatbread)

Combine eggs, walnuts, fenugreek, pepper, turmeric,
flour and baking powder. Add herbs and leek – mix well.
Heat 1-2 tbls oil in a non-stick pan and make an omelette, flipping to brown both sides.
Slice in wedges to serve. Mix together garlic, yoghurt and dried mint and serve with
kuku, cucumber, torshe, barbari and tea.

Inspired by Farzad’s midnight meal in Semnan, Iran

Veg Bhath (vegetable coconut pillao)

1/3 cup fresh grated coconut
3 tbls coriander leaves
2 tbls mint leaves
2cm ginger
4 cloves garlic
3 green chillies
2cm cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
2 cloves
1/8 tsp turmeric
2 cardamon pods
1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
2cm cinnamon stick (extra)
2 cardamom pods (extra)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 cup peas
1 small potato, chopped
1 cup basmati rice
1 carrot, chopped
10 beans, chopped
1/2 cup cabbage, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbls coriander leaves (extra)

Puree together the first 12 ingredients with 2 tbls water to a rough paste – set aside.
Heat 1 tbls ghee & 1 tbls oil and sizzle tej patta, cinnamon & cardamom. Add onion and saute until golden.
Add masala puree and stir 5-10 minutes. Add potato, then rice, carrot, beans, cabbage and peas – stir 5 minutes.
Add salt, tomato & one and three quarter cups water – bring to simmer then cover and cook on low heat 10-15 minutes.
Add lemon juice and coriander leaves. Serve with any kind of raita.

Inspired by prasad offered in Devaraja Market – Mysore, Karnataka

Meen Kari (Keralan sour fish curry)

Any kind of fish can be used for this dish…

350g fish, cut in large (5cm) chunks
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tbls Kashmiri chilli powder
3 green chillies
3cm ginger
4 cloves garlic
6 Asian shallots
2 stalks curry leaves
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sugar
3 dried kokum petals, soaked in 1/2 cup water

Puree together green chillies, ginger, garlic and shallots.
Heat 2 tbls coconut oil and sizzle mustard and fenugreek seeds.
Add curry leaves, stir, then add green chilli puree and saute
10 minutes. Add turmeric, salt, sugar and strained kokum with
soaking liquid. Bring to simmer and add fish – cook 10 minutes
until fish is cooked and gravy has thickened.

Inspired by Gunpowder Restaurant Hauz Khaz – Delhi

Avial (Keralan vegetable curry)

4 cups (600g) mixed vegetables:
long beans-etc., cut into batons
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cup fresh or frozen grated coconut
6 Asian shallots
6 green chillies
2 stalks curry leaves
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 cup yoghurt
1 tbls coconut oil
1 stalk curry leaves extra

Puree together coconut, shallots, chillies,
curry leaves and cumin powder.
Cook vegetables in 1 or 2 cups water with turmeric
and salt until just tender (add taro and potato first).
Add coconut masala and cook a further 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add yoghurt.
Heat coconut oil and sizzle extra curry leaves –
add to vegetables.

Inspired by banana leaf meals at Hotel Ariya Bhavan, Kumily – Kerala

Taufu Fa (silken tofu in ginger syrup)

The spiciness of this sweet snack
depends on the age of the ginger and
length of the cooking time – the
older the ginger the stronger the flavour.

about 1cm fresh ginger, pounded
3/4 cup water
1/8 cup dark palm sugar
300g silken tofu

Combine water, ginger and palm sugar –
simmer 10 minutes. The longer the spicier.
Heat tofu in microwave and serve spooned
into large chunks with syrup poured over.

Inspired by street stall on Lorong Bukit Cina, Melaka