Back in high school, my friends and I would often sneak out of class early to have chicken rice at our favourite chicken rice vendor. School would finish at 1pm but we would make our disappearance just after midday to ensure we got our feed before it was sold out. It was a risky venture but never in vain.
This recipe is a departure from your typical Hainanese chicken rice. It came about as a result of The Boyfriend refusing to eat steamed or boiled meat – he thinks it’s a complete waste. Blasphemy! Truth be told, there is reason to his madness. I wouldn’t trade my chicken rice for any other – at least while I’m in Australia. The roast chicken always comes out juicy on the inside, crispy and aromatic on the outside and the rice, full of flavour. It still comes as a shock to me at how this meal turns the most polite eater into a hungry cookie monster.
For the boyfriend’s birthday, we went to The Prophet for what was a rather pleasant evening out. The restaurant is well known for serving some of the best Lebanese in Perth and has been somewhere we had wanted to check out for a long time. We had a heck of a feast yet for $40 per person, I wasn’t sure if I’d go there again. Ever since then, I’ve been dusting the dust off Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem and getting my humus whipping, falafel rolling and spiced lamb grilling on.
This tabbouleh (also known as tabouli) is a quintessential middle eastern dish and one that’s really easy to make. There is a bit of patience involved but it’s well worth it (you might be able to just get away without all that manual labour with a decent food processor but I don’t own one so I can’t speak for it). The key to a good tabbouleh is fresh, crunchy herbs and no sloppiness. This means the herbs have to be finely chopped with a very sharp knife, onions and tomatoes drained before being added to the salad and the olive oil and lemon juice dressing added last, just before serving. Authentic tabbouleh maintains a 4:1 parsley to mint ratio, containing hardly any bulgur wheat and most definitely no cucumber or so I’ve read.
Bulgur wheat can be purchased from middle eastern shops. It comes in different coarseness and for this salad, you want it to be fine, comparable to cous cous. I got mine from my local Farmer Jack’s at Subiaco. For a gluten free option, I’d swap bulgur wheat for quinoa.
I have often made this coleslaw thinking to myself that I have made way too much. Never! Regardless of how much I’ve made, it always disappears. I mean, always. I am starting to think this coleslaw has the magical ability to defy everyone’s stomach space.
I’m SO full but I don’t care, I am going to keep eating this *chomp chomp chomp*.
The next time you’re going to throw a BBQ or desperate for a last minute dinner party idea, make this. You’ll be so chuffed with yourself.
But please don’t go destroying this by adding spring onion. Coleslaws with spring onions are abominable.
VEGAN HOT CHOCOLATE
When it’s cold and grey, there’s nothing I long for more than a decadent mug of hot chocolate be it the first thing in the morning or last thing before bed.
I concocted this recipe after an upsetting visit to my local supermarket a few months ago. It turned out I was better off searching for a leprechaun than a hot chocolate mix that wasn’t loaded with sugar and odd bits of diary. Who would’ve guessed the impossibility? After a little bit of simple guesswork, I got exactly what I wanted – a quick and easy diary-free, rich, guilt-free mug of hot chocolate. Yum!
HOMEMADE COCONUT YOGHURT
Ah, coconut yoghurt making has eluded me for a long time. I have tried various recipes, wasted too much coconut milk and eventually gave up. My heart sinks even further whenever I find myself standing in the middle of the dairy isle face-to-face with the deadly price tag of ready made ones – $15 for a small tub! It is an extortion that leaves me unable enjoy my favourite yoghurt in abundance for the rest of my life. Boo!
Well, not for much longer. I came across this brilliant recipe by LovingEarth recently and is a total game changer! I leapt with joy when I tasted my first ever spoonful. Thick and creamy yet delightfully light and subtly sweet and tangy. Too perfect. My favourite part about this recipe is its sheer simplicity. There’s none of the mucking and fiddling around with thickening agents and trying to achieve and maintain the right temperature with a water bath or oven at the lowest setting bla bla. It also lacks the sickly heaviness, unwanted additives, and that slightly odd aftertaste that you get with canned coconut cream or milk.
Oh, so many happy days ahead. I can now swim and smother myself from head to toe with the best non-diary invention ever. But I won’t. Instead, I’ll use my precious yoghurt in berry popsicles, smoothies and, and, AND mango lassi (recipe coming soon).
APPLE AND CRANBERRY GRANOLA
Despite having lived in Australia for the last six years, I still find it a painful chore to stomach white people food for breakfast. Jam on toast, milk and cereal, oat porridge? Pfft. I come from a land where lard-laden eggs noodles and fragrant rice served with spicy condiments summon the sleepy out of bed. What about bacon and eggs or maple-drenched pancakes? Nope, they’re all still a pale comparison to the wonderful richness and layers of flavours of a glorious Malaysian breakfast. Even the Boyfriend was quick to agree that laksa and roti canai are a far superior morning feed.
Unfortunately, for most days of the week, when one has to craftily hit the snooze button just enough times to attain maximum sleep without running late, the luxury of a gratifying breakfast is a forgotten wonder. It’ll have to be a quick no-fuss-and-thinking-required one, just like this apple cranberry granola – bingo! It has been our weekday answer to a convenient and sustaining breakfast. Rather pleasant on the taste buds too which has far exceeded my expectations. If anything, there is usually a slight panic when our great big granola jar starts running low. It’s usually along the line of, ‘Oh no, I have no idea what else I’m going to have for tomorrow. Must make moreee!’.
So, there you have it, the approval of two fussy morning eaters.
MOIST BANANA BREAD
There is always something rather alarming about the sight of a bunch of overripe bananas and a swarm of fruit flies threatening to colonise your living space. Before you know it, it becomes a race against time to do something about them. Something, anything. Anything but to throw them away. It doesn’t help that I am one who only likes their bananas just ripe and al dente. What am I to do with mushy, overwhelmingly strong bananas? If I had a baby, I would know exactly what to do. I would stuff it with all that overripe mush so it would grow up to forever resent me for that.
I usually just peel, bag and freeze them and worry about them later. They’ll eventually end up in a smoothie or two. But what if the freezer is already full of bagged bananas? Hmm. I suppose one will have to turn to baking by turning something unpalatable into something that is quite truly divine. Yes, divine. There are no better words to sum this soft, rich, flavourful and moist banana bread better. Do yourself a favour and bake this right now!