Around the Bowl

Soups of the world – Recipes from around the globe & some creations of my own


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Nyonya Kari Ayam (Chicken Curry) and some good reading

A new curry recipe! Today I’m sharing a Chinese/Malaysian fusion chicken curry from Nyonya cuisine. Doing my research for the recipe; I became really intrigued by Nyonya cultural background and found some wonderful reading about it that I would like to briefly share with you in order to fully understand and appreciate this curry we are making today (*).

I’ve always thought that a country’s cuisine is a very holistic approach to discover its history, culture and idiosyncrasies; cooking something exotic (to us) is such a wonderful way of travelling without leaving your home, analogous to reading one of those great books that transport you to a different place. I can get so inspired by world’s cuisines that I get to experience a little obsession with the subject, searching, reading and going into expeditions to find ingredients and cook!

(*)The Peranakan or the Baba Nyonya community (also known as the Straits Chinese), evolved in the fifteenth century when the Chinese arrived in Malacca and intermarriage with local women took place. The Peranakan culture is a unique blend of two cultures – Malay and Chinese – intermixed into a fascinating synthesis with elements of Javanese, Batak, Thai and British cultures. Today, they are found throughout Malaysia and Singapore with strongholds in Malacca, Singapore and Penang.

The word Peranakan is derived from the Malay word ‘anak’ which means ‘child’. The term refers to the local-born as well as the offspring of foreigner-native union. Baba is the term for the male and Nyonya for the female.

Peranakan food is a wonderful combination of Malay and Chinese cuisine with influences from Indonesia, Thailand, India, Holland, Portugal and England. Nyonya food is clearly unique and Malaysian/Singaporean in identity. Using ingredients such as galangal, serai, chillies, tumeric, ginger, tau cheow, tamarind, lime juice, belachan, buah keras, gula Melaka; spices such as star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and leaves such as daun kesum, daun kaduk, daun cekok, daun limau perut and pandan.

(*)Extracted from: Lee, Su Kim, 2008. The Peranakan Culture: Resurgence or Dissapearance? SARI, Vol. 26, 161-170

I hope that after knowing a little more about this wonderful culture you feel like tasting it with the following unique curry recipe. Trust me, the flavour will surprise you, is neither Indian nor Thai, is just Nyonya, and it’s delicious!

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Indian Squid Curry – Madhur Jaffrey Recipe

I’ve already introduced my favourite Thai recipe book and today is the turn of my favourite Indian cuisine author.  I’m sharing a recipe from “Curry Easy” a fantastic recipe book from Madhur Jaffery. Her approach to Indian cooking is both simple and authentic at the same time. Her recipes turn out so good that we had drastically reduced our visits to Indian restaurants, because we found ourselves saying: what for? let’s cook it at home, that it tastes as good or sometimes even better than the restaurant food!

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Living in the coast, in a fisher’s town, the other day an indecent amount of fresh squid came to may hands (it was already clean fortunately). I didn’t know what to do with it! Although there are endless Spanish recipes to cook it, I’m not very experienced in preparing seafood, I find it quite difficult actually, that’s why I usually order it at restaurants instead of cooking it home. But this time  I remembered this Indian recipe that I never tried before and decided to face the challenge! I added my touch by including some fresh mushrooms and used stock instead of water for the sauce.

It is really easy and the result is amazing! Squid flavour is very strong, so make sure you like it or replace it by any other seafood or fish of your choice. The good thing is that I got to cook all the squid and this curry makes a great left-over or it can be freeze for future use.

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Indian Minced Beef Curry

As I’ve already told you, curries of every kind are a regular meal in our home, we love curries!

We usually freeze fish and meat after grocery shopping and once every few weeks we stop buying for a while to use all the frozen stock. This was the case, we had some mince beef that had to be used: I got creative an instead of making hamburgers I went for an Indian inspiration curry. The fact that we had 1 litre of low-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge also contributed to the idea…

It was delicious, and it is very easy to prepare. You can always replace minced beef with any other meat or vegetable protein that you have available.

I invite you to take a look at the recipe!

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Pork Vindaloo – a Classic Indian Curry

Considering that Indian cuisine is among my favourites, I am really wondering how is it possible that it took me 14 posts to publish my first Indian recipe! I guess I had so many recipes to share that it took me this long. Besides, we actually eat everything I publish here, so once in a while I cook something that is not soup in between (haha) making the waiting list longer.  I also have a little confession to make: last January, I cooked a delicious curry for my sweetheart birthday (along with Thai, Indian food is our choice when celebrating) that it was supposed to be in a post, but I didn’t like the pictures outcome so I’ve finally never published it.

I like Indian food that much that, when travelling, if I find an Indian Restaurant on my way, I have to try it! I’ve been to plenty, but here are some very good ones I specially enjoyed: Rasa Maricham at the Kings Cross Holiday Inn hotel in London with a varied menu from Kerala and very good service; Maharani Indian Restaurant in Camden, also in London, offers an excellent Anglo-Indian menu with great service. Finally, the very enjoyable Diwali Indian Restaurant in Dublin.

There are plenty of beautiful Indian soups that I will be sharing, but I’d like to start the Indian series with a legendary curry: Pork Vindaloo, I usually order lamb Vindaloo at Indian restaurants but today I’ve decided to try it at home with pork instead of lamb or chicken. Vindaloo is one of the spiciest Indian curries with a base of vinegar and garlic. It was brought to India by the Portuguese and later locally customised with the addition of chilli and more spices.

Anyway, it was about time I publish an Indian dish, so here it is!

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