Malaysia: Deconstructed Mee Goreng

On Saturday night we opted to have a Malaysian inspired dinner: Mee Goreng. The Mee refers to noodles and it is normal to use egg noodles, as I have coeliac disease I can’t eat them so we used flat rice noodles but to be fair any noodle would work. Similarly if you don’t have noodles to hand make this with rice and suddenly you have Nasi Goreng! Everything is adaptable!

Traditionally the noodles are fried in oil, but after a very long hot day fasting, fried food is very unappealing to me. I find I want the flavour of different food but I don’t want anything too heavy which is going to feel stodgy or make me sleepier than I already am. Made this way, this is light on the stomach but also filling.

Normally Mee Goreng is served with the noodles mixed into the sauce. In our house we are at extremes in terms of how hot and spicy we like our food. Often it is easier to serve something separately to allow those who like things mild to add more noodles and for those who like things spicy can add more heat. We served ours with a spicy chilli mellange on the side for the people who like heat.

3 Peppers
1 Big Tomato
1 Courgette
Sesame Oil
Sunflower Seeds
Sesame Seeds
2 Spring Onions
3 Chillis
200g rice Noodles
Handful baby spinach
Five Spice seasoning
1 bulb garlic
½ Onion
Slices of ginger

Finely chop onion and garlic and put in a wok or pan of sesame oil. Allow to brown, adding ginger and sesame seeds. (be careful, the pan might spit!)
Add small amount of water then slowly add sliced tomatoes, and allow to the mixture to simmer for 15 minutes approximately until the texture resembles a thick soup.
Empty the mixture into another bowl.
Stir fry the vegetables all together in a wok until cooked.
Boil Noodles for 5 minutes.
Plate and serve.
Serves 4

An Indian

Monday night, my mother cooked iftari for us so we indulged in true home cooking which made us feel truly loved, Alhumdulilah. She cooked keema aloo (Indian/Pakistani mince meat cooked in spices with potatoes) it is a dish my husband loves and yet one which my father-in-law cannot come to terms with. He repeats the same phrase every time my husband mentions this dish on the phone “ ..but how can you have a mince meat curry?” My husband views this dish as his childhood favourite meal of mince and tatties (now this I cannot get my head around this, plain boiled mince with boiled potatoes!) taken up a level.

My mum made a simple bougia of courgettes to accompany. Its really simple and one of my favourite vegetable dishes and best of all it can be done with any vegetable: a little oil, some whole cumin, whole coriander, whole cloves, whole black pepper then add some ginger, garlic and courgettes. Just add a little water until the courgettes begin to cook down and release their own water.

Finally my mum made a real treat for me, gulab jamon. Gulab jamon are little balls of milk solids which are gently fried until dark and then, like so many arab influenced desserts, are steeped in sugar syrup delicately flavoured with rose water or kerwa water. Surprisingly I have no memories of my mother making these for me when I was little simply because we always bought them from Ambala (an Indian/Pakistani sweet shop) however since becoming coeliac and prompted by Ambala’s refusal to state what their gulab jamon contains my lovely mother decided to make me some herself! If I ever do get to see what she does I promise to reveal all! In the mean time I’ll leave you with some lovely photos!

Chakalaka with Mealie Pap

Starvation and poverty is a very real problem and yet Ramadan is a time when people normally eat at more dinner parties than normal and as such consume food which is much heavier than normal on a daily basis. As I write this the news is on in the background and a Somali woman tells her story of walking for 30 days in search of food, fighting bandits, fighting off rapists and burying babies and children along the way. Subhan’Allah Ramadan is 30 days long and most of can’t even imagine going for casual walks while we are fasting with the promise of food at the end of the day let alone walking until we find food. I pray insh’Allah that Allah(swt) grants those affected by the drought safety, food, shelter, medicine, water and most of all the ability to self sustain and not be dependent on others.

Eating to excess is not good for the body nor is this good for those who have less than we do. Inshallah this Ramadan I intend for my family to have Chakalaka and Mealie Pap once to remind us that others are not as fortunate as us and others. I’ll be honest and tell you that this caused a discussion in my household. My husband’s view being that by having this meal in Ramadan we weren’t changing anything, nor were we doing anything to affect poverty away from our dinning table. I, however, disagree. I feel that just by having the discussion we were doing something. Inshallah the intention is for us to give the money that we would have spent on meat directly to a charity. Inshallah it is something and frankly that has to be better than stuffing ourselves when there really is no need.

Sura Al-A’raf “…and eat and drink, but waste not by extravagance, certainly (He) Allah likes not Al-Musrifun (Those who waste by extravagance)” (7:31)

Chakalaka may sound like a Bollywood song (Shakalaka baby) however, the origins of this meal lie in the townships of Soweto in South Africa. Traditionally this meal was a meal of poverty, a meal made of odds and ends to feed a family of many. Nowadays Chakalaka has been elevated to the tables of well-to-do South Africans as a spicy barbeque relish to be eaten on the side rather like cold spicy baked beans.

When I first saw this recipe something became very apparent to me – everyone has their very own chakalaka recipe. It just doesn’t have such a fantastic name! It’s the dish I make when I can’t be bothered to think too much about what to cook, when I want us all to eat the same thing and I am sure you have one too. Made with odds and ends it remains true to its township origins. I used things I normally have in my fridge. For this to be truly authentic I would suggest replacing the vegetables for those that you normally use. Please remember there are no rights and wrongs with the Chakalaka…go with the flow, do what you feel is right and please remember to have the discussion while you eat!

In a little OIL fry an onion with some peeled and chopped GARLIC and GINGER. Once they have gone translucent add 1 teaspoon of GARAM MASALA, TUMERIC, 2 chopped CHILLIES, 1 chopped CARROT, 2 chopped PEPPERS, 1 tin of BUTTER BEANS (drained and washed), 1 TIN OF TOMATOES, gently stir and allow to simmer for about 7 mins before adding SALT and PEPPER to taste and any green herbs that you may have to hand. Serve with mealie pap or rice or pasta.

Sehri Tortilla

This year, my husband and I have come up with the idea of Sehri bento boxes, prepared the evening before hand, filled with a variety of things to keep us filled up for the long day ahead. Inshallah this should cause less of a last minute rush in the mornings while we are half asleep before fajr. However, the fun of bento boxes does come in the preparation and variety. It is therefore best to make up batches of things, cut into individual portions and bag them individually and then freeze so that they are easily reachable.

An important point to remember when making items for sehri is to make sure that you use less salt. Salt makes you thirsty and when you can’t drink it can be a problem. In this recipe I have omitted salt however you can add some to suit your taste.

4 boiled medium sized new potatoes
2 large mushrooms
1 red pepper
½ an onion
3 eggs
25g of cheddar chopped into thick slices
A handful of fresh basil leaves
Fresh thyme (leaves only)
Spray oil
Normal cooking oil

1.Boil the potatoes, allow them to cool, before slicing them and placing them into a medium sized mixing bowl.

2.Slice the mushrooms, cook using spray oil in a small (8 inch) frying pan and then set aside in the mixing bowl with the potatoes. The frying pan should be an oven proof frying pan.

3.Slice the onion cook with spray oil, until golden and then add to the potatoes and mushrooms.

4.Dice the red pepper into 1cm pieces and cook with spray oil until the peppers are cooked but have retained some of their bite. Remove the pepper from the frying pan but do not place with the other vegetables.

5.Mix the three eggs, sliced basil and thyme into the potatoes, mushrooms and onion.

6.Cover the frying pan with a thin layer of oil (I used rapeseed oil, but any light cooking oil would do). Now return the pan to the heat and return the peppers to the frying pan, making sure to have an even spread covering the surface of the pan. Now pour in the egg mix into the frying pan.

7.Allow to cook on the stove for approximately 5 mins or until the edges have set, then push in the cheese on to the surface of the tortilla so that the cheese is slightly below the surface in some areas.
Finish off in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 10 mins or until the eggs have set in the centre. Remove from the oven.

8.Allow to cool before placing a plate larger than the frying pan. Place the plate on top of the frying pan and then flip over so that the frying pan is on top. Remove the frying pan, and slice into quarters. Allow to cool fully before wrapping individually and then placing into the freezer.

9.To defrost the tortilla remove the evening before required and place in a fridge so as to allow it to defrost fully and slowly.

Ramadan is coming!!!

With Ramadan just around the corner and in anticipation of this have decided to photograph our iftari every night and perhaps share a few foodie ideas.

To get the ball rolling I thought I would share a wholemeal rice pie filled with vegetables and cheese. This is ideal for sehri, where you’ve eaten alot the night before, can’t bring yourself to eat but know you will be hungry during the day. The wholemeal rice is essential as its slow burning properties will allow you to make it through the long days. This can easily be made in advance and kept in the freezer or fridge.

For this I had some whole meal rice (about 2 cup fulls of cooked whole meal rice) in the freezer which I defrosted, then bound together with egg and a pinch of herbs de provence. Once mixed together I just pressed it into a cake tin and then put it in the oven for 10mins at 180 degrees. The objective is just to set the rice.

Place a very thin layer of pesto on to the pie crust. Next up the vegetables, I had already pre grilled some peppers, courgettes and aubergines. Then just cut them into chunks, add in some chunks of feta, pepper and fresh tyme and basil, followed by a little olive oil. Then stir in two eggs. Pour into the whole meal rice pie crust. Just before you place in the oven slice up some mozzarella and dot around the top. Cook in the oven for 30 mins or until the egg is completely cooked.