Mild Potato Curry

This mild potato curry is quick and easy to make. Recently on a rainy Sydney day we were in the mood for an Indian breakfast, or more accurately brunch, so I made this accompanied by my Red Lentil DhalEasy Wholemeal Roti and Coconut Sambal. The resulting meal took us straight back to the streets of India  where these types of vegetarian combinations are favourites for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

This Potato Curry is also a good staple side dish that can be whipped up quickly and is particularly nice with grilled fish.

Prep time: 5 minutes Cooking time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
2 medium size potatoes peeled and cut into smallish cubes
1 onion diced
1 tomato cut into large chunks
8 curry leaves (optional)
2 cloves garlic and same amount of ginger crushed into paste
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
1 stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon cummin seeds
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cummin powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup of water
coriander to garnish

Method
Boil potatoes first for 10 minutes in salted water(1/2 tspn salt) to which you have added 1/2 teaspoon of the turmeric powder. The potatoes should be almost cooked, but not too soft and they will be a beautiful golden colour from the turmeric in the water.

Drain potatoes in a colander and set aside.

Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and add cinnamon stick, cummin seeds, curry leaves if using and mustard seeds and fry until mustard seeds start to pop. Be careful not to burn, remove from heat if necessary and add onions.

Cook onions over medium heat until transparent, add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 minute.

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Add to tomato, chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon, turmeric 1/2 teaspoon salt, cummin powder and mix through until spices just start to change colour, add potatoes and gently coat with onion spice mixture then add water and simmer until reduced and potatoes are tender and almost breaking up (about 5 minutes).

Garnish with coriander and serve.

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Indian breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner!

Review: Bali Asli Fishing and Cooking Class experience

This is the second cooking class experience that I have done through Bali Asli, which is based up in the hills of East Bali overlooking Mt Agung.

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The Jungkung, traditional Balinese fishing boat, that took us out for our fishing experience.

This time we chose the Fishing Experience package that combines a morning boat trip departing at 8am from White Sand Beach, near Jasri village and out into the surrounding bay. We were picked up from Turtle Bay Hideaway and driven right down to White Sand beach where a local fisherman was waiting for us with his Jungkung(traditional Balinese outrigger fishing boat). We were pushed out into the water by a number of other fisherman and soon were speeding along to our first fishing spot as the sun climbed higher into the sky over the glistening waters.

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Great views out to island outcrops and back to the shore in the waters off Jasri, East Bali

We were given substantial hand reels and bait to use in our endeavours to catch fish, but despite trying a number of spots we only managed to catch one small fish which we threw back. The currents were really strong, swirling the waters in the bay, which our local expert told us was “no good” for fishing. The local fishermen go out at 5am – early bird …and all that!

The boat trip itself was really enjoyable as we got great views back to the shore and close up to some of the island outcrops. Lovely way to start the day.

Afterwards we were driven up through some of the towns of East Bali, like Amlapura, with beautiful gardens and spotless streets winding up the hills to the stunning location of Bali Asli, which is owned and run by Australian expat Penelope Williams.

There we were greeted with a cooling drink and morning tea goodies including Sumping (steamed coconut custard cakes with ripe jackfruit) and Nangke Goreng (battered, fried jackfruit fritters) – both delicious. This was to get our energy up for the pounding of the Bumbu Bali (spice paste), mouldings of chicken satays, wrapping of fish and tofu in banana leaves, mixing of salad and stir frying of Nasi Goreng which was to come!

Dewa, one of the senior chefs at Bali Asli restaurant, first sat us down and explained the various herbs and spices we would be using, before taking us on a short tour of the garden where much of the restaurants herbs and vegetables are grown.

We were then allocated our own work area and guided through the making of each dish with very helpful tips and a few tricks e.g how to make little banana boats and “money bags” for grilling of the fish and steaming of the tofu.

The cooking class itself goes for about 2 hours but the time flies and we were very pleased with ourselves when we sat down to eat all the delicious dishes we had cooked around 1pm.

Whilst I had done the same menu when I last visited Bali Asli, I still learnt a lot this time again, and as there were only 2 of us in the class this time we received much more personal attention.

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Pesah Be Pasih – spiced fish fillet in banana leaf parcel

The cooking experiences at Bali Asli are just that – total experiences, combining a great insight into Balinese tradition and culture with excellent advice, guidance through the step by step process for each dish, and the opportunity for personal hands-on practice, rather than just watching an instructor making everything.

On both occasions that I have participated I have thoroughly enjoyed the “immersion” experience (See review of Balinese Village Cooking Class Experience)and the beautiful drive up and back from Bali Asli with its stunning views across the green valleys and ricefields to Mt Agung.

For more information, visit: http://www.baliasli.com.au

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Stunning views from Bali Asli, Karangasem, East Bali to Mt Agung

Review: Bali bliss at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri

I haven’t included accommodation reviews here before , but I am making an exception to share the very special experience that we recently had at Turtle Bay Hideaway in Jasri, East Bali.

The trip  to Turtle Bay in Jasri, East Bali takes around 2.5 hours from Ubud.

Admittedly, we stopped on the way for delicious Kambing(goat) satays at a buzzing warung(local restaurant/food stall) called PakseBali Kebangankku just outside of the town of Klungkung. Our long time driver and friend Wayan Suta told us that the goat satays here are renowned throughout the island and they certainly were a tasty brunch feast, straight from the charcoal grill to the plate with a delicious homemade satay sauce. The accompanying soup was rich and filled with chunks of tender goat meat and spices.

The drive to Jasri is on good roads throughout and takes you through some stunning Bali vistasacross ricefields and plantations and out to the ocean.

Having done extensive research to find a small, quiet resort near the ocean, without the artificial trappings or sky high prices of the five star resorts in Bali, we had decided to try the Eco-hotel Turtle Bay Hideaway, created by US expat owner Emerald Starr who has lived in Bali for 30 years.

We were warmly welcomed at the reception area and escorted through a beautiful, lush garden to Villa Mandala which is situated in the lower half of one of the 3 joglo style tribal houses, brought by Emerald from Sulawesi, that are strategically placed along the property for optimal ocean views and maximum privacy.

We actually caught our breaths seeing the 180 degree view of the ocean from the front of the villa. The ocean is literally at the end of an expanse of lawn and you can even see it lying in the massive King size bed inside. The large oceanside infinity swimming pool is positioned between the 2 larger  villas, with the 3rd “honeymoon” villa featuring it’s own smaller, private pool by the ocean.Our villa was very tastefully decorated, with a beautiful indoor/outdoor bathroom and excellent shower, and surrounded on each side for privacy by the lush garden plantings.

Our  welcoming host explained the lie of the land to us, including the fact that there is no restaurant so all meals are served at the villa as room service, or at a choice of dining locations along the seafront or in the gardens. As the meals are prepared using freshly procured ingredients from local fishermen and Turtle Bay’s own organic garden, a few hours notice needs to be given for the preparation of meals and breakfast is ordered the night before. Unlike many “breakfast included” villas in Bali, there is a wide range of choices too.

For our first meal we chose papaya salad, fishcakes and a light coconut based fish curry. The menu includes Asian inspired and western favourites. Whilst not extensive there are more than enough choices to satisfy individual tastes.

Our breakfasts were filled with the best tasting tropical fruits, freshly made crepes and eggs or omelettes. A highlight for me was drinking the juice of a young coconut and then eating the sweet, soft flesh with a spoon!

The Thai Tom Yam Goong soup was very authentic with lots of fresh prawns as well as galangal and kaffir lime leaves. It was obvious that the deliciously flavoured clear broth had been made using homemade fish stock.

The Prawns with Balinese sauce, the Ayam Goreng nuggets made with chicken breast, and the Orange Cake with Vanilla Ice-cream were all great picks on the menu. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get to try the banana and chocolate pie for dessert.

We found with all the food we ordered that the freshness of the ingredients shone through.  It is organic, home style cooking that goes perfectly with the natural setting. Prices of food and drinks were extremely good value for money too.

There are a number of activities that can be organised from the resort, but we chose only to leave to explore the neighbouring village and to visit the Uforia organic chocolate factory next door.(of course,we taste tested about 12 different types and bought bars of all our favourites!) You cannot swim in the ocean at Turtle Bay, but the once undiscovered and now very popular, White Sand Beach is 10 minutes away drive and is a gorgeous swimming spot. We were just as happy lolling in the pool.

Turtle Bay only accommodates 12-14 guests in total so the experience is very personalised. The manager Made and his team are friendly, polite, caring and provide excellent service with all meals delivered right on time and the rooms kept spotlessly clean.

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View of sunrise from Villa Mandala at Turtle Bay Hideaway, Jasri, East Bali

Our days at Turtle Bay were totally relaxing – reading, swimming, yoga on the verandah overlooking the ocean, great massages and going to sleep with the sound of the waves crashing on the sea wall. We were lucky to get clear skies at night and be able to see the night sky fill up with brightly shining stars and to wake up to magnicent sunrises over the ocean.The immensity of the ocean and sky fill in the days much better than any manmade entertainment. Mind you, the WiFi service is good too.

I would highly recommend the beautiful Turtle Bay Hideaway if you are seeking a blissful Bali Oceanside retreat, without the hoopla of Seminyak or Nusa Dua, at a very affordable price.

 

 

Review: Smorgasbord of Indonesian specialities at Hujan Locale

Hujan  Locale in Ubud is the latest offering in Australian chef and entrepreneur Will Meryck’s “chain” of contemporary Asian restaurants in Bali, including Sarong and Mama San in Seminyak.

Tucked away in Jalan Sri Wedari, off the main street – Jalan Raya Ubud, the atmosphere is reminiscent of a Singapore ore Vietnam colonial interior, featuring a mix of wood, bamboo, tiles and even a chandelier.

The warm, inviting interior is filled with diners the night we visit. Bookings are highly advisable. We asked for a table upstairs which gets the through breeze and views over the street to one side and a Balinese family compound on the other.

The menu features a diversity of dishes inspired by the various regions of the Indonesian archipelago with most ingredients supplied by local farmers. It is a smorgasbord of Indonesian delights and uncompromising in it’s inclusion of chilli and spices, so would not recommend if you don’t like spicy food.

We choose the Pig Ear’s served with sambal spiced aioli and a crackling and the Gorengan or “fried platter” to start with. Admittedly, this was probably a wrong combination as both dishes feature deep frying but the tomato chilli sambal, lemon, green chillies and aioli provide fresh,spicy flavours.

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Crispy Pig’s Ears with crackling and sambal aioli

Our favourites were the corn fritters and fried tempeh with bites of fresh green chilli in-between which is as the locals do! The serving size of the starters is very generous and the Gorengan Platter which also features delicious lumpiah (Spring rolls) and average curry puffs could be further refined for a smaller and more focussed offering. I found the Pig’s Ears interesting but rather chewy and flavourless on their own but okay dipped in the aioli.

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Gorengan platter with fresh green chillies and tomato chilli sambal

The mains we ordered, on the other hand, were really delicious! We had the Kari Kambing Aceh – slow cooked Sumatran Lamb Curry (with Australian lamb) with roti canai, the Karangasem Sambal Udang – prawn sambal and Pelecing Kunkung – stir fried water spinach.

The lamb cooked in a rich sauce with star anise, cardamom and  curry leaves was “melt in your mouth” perfect. The roti canai was not of the soft, fluffy variety that we are accustomed to but crispy, still providing a good medium to dip into the curry sauce.

The prawns are cooked with the heads off but shells and tails still on. The shells come off easily and are delicious to chew on, the prawns themselves are perfectly cooked, tender and sweet cooked protected in their shells but still redolent of the spicy sambal sauce.

The Pelecing Kankung, stir fried water spinach features spicy chilli and hints of sambal belacan(shrimp paste) with roasted peanuts scattered on top, is a perfect green accompaniment to the other two dishes.

The overall experience of Hujan Locale was very pleasant and a good way to get a sense of the smorgasbord of tastes available in Indonesian regional specialities. Once again we were too full to try the desserts.

Spice Temple Cooking Class – Sydney Seafood School

On a cold and drizzly Monday night in Sydney I ventured down to the Sydney Fish Markets for a cooking class at their Seafood Cooking School. They offer a big variety of courses often featuring well known Chefs and I’d booked in to the class by Head Chef Andy Evans from the Neil Perry restaurant, Spice Temple. Both Andy Evans and Neil Perry have travelled extensively in regional China, and Spice Temple features their especially created recipes featuring regional Chinese cooking with a  spicy kick!

The amphitheatre at the Seafood School was full of enthusiastic foodies and the class started with Andy outlining the order of proceedings and the menu. We were each given a booklet with the 3 recipes we would be making: Tuna with Blackened Chilli Dressing, Prawn and Peanut Relish and Spanner Crab Omelette with Oyster Sauce.

The high tech set-up in the amphitheatre which has video screens displaying what is happening on the kitchen bench and stove makes it easy to watch the cooking demonstrations. It’s almost like watching a cooking show on TV live, with the knowledge in the back of your mind that it will be your turn soon.

Chef Andy Evans demonstrating recipes T Sydney Seafood School
Chef Andy Evans demonstrating recipes at Sydney Seafood School

During the demonstration, Andy gave us handy tips and hints which were helpful. For example he told us you should always use a wet knife when slicing raw fish like the tuna for the sashimi, how to properly clean coriander root and the circular motion to use when pounding the peanuts to crush them without making them too oily….

Another great technique he showed us was how to “crack” coconut cream split the oil from the “cream” and use that to fry the onion and spices for the Prawn and Peanut relish recipe.

The omelette that he made is a real show stopper and is absolutely delicious whilst being quick and easy to make. It does require frying in a large amount of hot oil and then discarding the oil before rolling the omelette and ingredients into a log shape. The resulting makes for a stunning buffet addition or shared main course dish. With only a few ingredients like egg, crabmeat, garlic chives, bean sprouts, oyster sauce and vegetable oil needed it is also relatively affordable dinner party menu item, whilst being REALLY impressive.

At the end of the demonstration Andy laid out the finished dishes for us students to file past and understand the benchmark for our attempts!

Tuna Sashimi with blackened chilli dressing
Tuna Sashimi with blackened chilli dressing
Prawn and peanut relish seved with cos lettuce "cups"
Prawn and peanut relish seved with cos lettuce “cups”
Stunning spanner crab omelette with oyster sauce
Stunning spanner crab omelette with oyster sauce

We split up into groups of five or six and moved into the cooking school’s first class kitchen set up. Each group had our own kitchen bench, gas stove, fridge fully stocked with all the ingredients we needed. My group was exemplary at team work and we quickly split up the responsibilities amongst us, helping each other as needed to keep a cracking pace as we went. You can actually reserve a bench you have a group of five or six when you book in to the class if you are going with a bunch of friends.

I was allocated the omelette to make and I can tell you I was nervous about what the outcome of the omelette rolling would be! Would mine end up as a mess of broken egg and crab instead of the beautiful log created by Andy. But with some the help of some timely tips while I was making the recipe from Cooking School assistant chefs I managed to turn out a result that was pretty damn close to the original! As you can see below, I do need to brush up on my oyster sauce pouring technique though – not quite as symmetrical as Andy’s!  (I have made the omelette one already at home but didn’t have oyster sauce so replaced it with kecap manis which was just as delicious)

My attempt at the Spanner crab omelette.
My attempt at the Spanner crab omelette.

After our cooking antics, we all moved to the dining area where we got to enjoy the results of our efforts and swop foodie stories with a bottle of complimentary wine.

The entire experience was fun and educational. The course was very professionally run and Andy Evans was an excellent instructor. He also stayed throughout the class visiting each bench in the kitchen and giving more hands on tips and assistance. I was given the course as a birthday present and would highly recommend it as a great gift for your foodie friends and an excellent way to learn about Australian seafood cooking in the great atmosphere of the Sydney Fish Markets if you are visiting Sydney.

Cooking fun at Sydney Seafood School
Cooking fun at Sydney Seafood School

Lau Pa Sat – Satay Street of Singapore

The hawker centre at Lau Pa Sat(old market) in the middle of Singapore’s CBD is situated in the original wet market building featuring beautiful colonial architecture. The original structure was relocated to this spot at 18 Raffles Quay from the waterfront in 1894 and a stunning clock tower which still chimes in the hour was added.

Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market
Beautiful colonial architecture of Lau Pa Sat hawker centre, originally a wet market

Now the building is home to a thriving hawker’s centre filled to the brim with stalls featuring cuisines from all over Asia and other parts of the world. Apparently at lunchtime all the local office workers flock to the centre for lunch.

Each evening the street in front of the Centre transforms hastily into what is know as Singapore’s Satay Street with stall after stall specialising in different styles of satay. The smoke from the charcoal fires fills the air with the it restive bbq aroma of satys cooking and plastic tables and chairs quickly become occupied with diners – locals and tourists alike!

A good tip is to sit towards the back of the street away from the cooking fires to avoid rhe smoke getting in your eyes and clothes. Also take wet wipes or extra napkins to avoid getting harassed by passing salespeople. We chose to eat at Stalls #7&8 which comes highly recommended. Table service is provided by waiters attached to each of the stalls. Servings are chosen by the number of sticks of satay and the mix of types you would like. We went for the mix of prawn, chicken, beef and mutton. Menus from other stalls in the hawker’s centre are also available so we ordered some rice and klankung to add a bit of green to our dinner.

Jugs of cold Tiger beer are $GD20 and the way to go if there are a few of you dining.

Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore
Charcoal grills set up for Satay Street market in front of Lau Pa Sat in Singapore

The satays arrive without fanfare but are some of the most delicious I have tasted. The spice mix on the prawn satays is especially good. The taste of the charcoal grilled meat With a delicious satay sauce is quintessially south-East asia.

Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the cbar coal grill with spicy satay sauce.
Mixed satay at Lau Pa Sat outdoor satay market straight from the char coal grill with spicy satay sauce.

A great way to get a quick, tasty and atmospheric dinner, in the midst of downtown Singapore, maybe before a visit to some of the amazing rooftop bars like One Altitude nearby?