Kaddu Dalcha (pumpkin dal)

1 cup toor dal, soaked in water
1 tej patta (bay leaf)
2 cardamom pods, bruised
2 cloves
3 cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 dried chillies, broken
2 stalks curry leaves
200g pumpkin, cubed 2cm
1 onion, chopped
1 cm ginger, pounded
2 cloves garlic, pounded
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp chilli powder
2 tbls tamarind, soaked in water
1/2 tsp garam masala

Boil dal in fresh water to cover until pulpy.
Heat 2 tbls ghee and sizzle tej patta, cardamom,
cloves, cinnamon, cumin, mustard seeds, dried chillies
and curry leaves. Add pumpkin – fry.
Add onion, garlic and ginger – fry until golden.
Add turmeric and chilli powder – stir.
Add tamarind – boil then add dal – simmer 5 minutes.
Add garam masala.

Inspired by meal at Lakshmi Narayan Restaurant, Tirupati.

Char Tow Kway (stir-fried radish cake)

600g radish cake
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3 cloves garlic, pounded
1 tbls fish sauce
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 tbls sambal oelek
3 spring onions, chopped
200g bean sprouts
coriander leaves

Cut radish cake into small chunks and
fry in 3 tbls oil until lightly browned and crisp.
Add garlic – fry until aromatic.
Add fish sauce, pepper and sambal oelek – stir.
Pour in eggs and allow to set slightly.
Add bean sprouts and spring onions – stir well.
Serve garnished with coriander.

Inspired by meal in Jonker Walk night market – Melaka

Sayur-sayuran (vegetable stir-fry)

1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 or 2 cups cauliflower, in florets
1 carrot, sliced
1 or 2 cups wong bok, chunky cut
100g snow peas
1 small red capsicum, chunky cut
100g baby corn, halved
2 tomatoes, chunky cut
300g shimeji mushrooms
3 tbls oyster sauce
2 tsp cornflour, blended with water

Heat 2 tbls coconut oil and saute garlic
and onion until fragrant.
Add vegetables in above order – stir-fry
until tender.
Add 1/3 cup water and oyster sauce – simmer.
Thicken with cornflour.

Inspired by dish at Akob Patin House – Kuantan

Peanut Podi

3 tbls sesame seeds
4 fresh red chillies
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
salt to taste

Dry roast then pound sesame seeds.
Heat 2 tsp oil and saute chillies and asafoetida
3 minutes. Process all ingredients together to
make a course, crumbly mixture.

Inspired by meals at Maharaja Hotel, Chennai

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)
tea

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