Friday, February 27, 2009

Pine 'n' Coconut Pancake Rolls

I'd been manipulating lots of coconuts lately; coconut milk, grated coconut, curries, coconut oil, c-o-c-o-n-ut-s! It's a coincidence that I saw Toni Fiore of Totally Vegetarian shared a recipe of Korova Cookies in Delicious TV. In this episode, she used Coconut oil for the cookies instead of butter. I bet the cookies smelled coconuty... that is very fragrant! I used coconut because of it's abundance locally in my hometown and when you used it in cooking, it gives unique taste and fragrance in your recipes especially in curries.

Did you know that you can make your own coconut oil? It's just like making Ghee or clarified butter. You need to cook the fat or cream over medium heat until the coconut cream separates into 2 layers; A layer of transparent oil and the residue. Then filtered the oil into clean bottles. What's left behind are fully extracted solids, residue or crumbs (?) that is delicious and very fragrant. Normally, this scraps are thrown away but I kind of like it to sprinkle on top some hot desserts like ice-cream, Green beans in Coconut milk or just eat it like it's some kind of crunchies. Beware the heat though. Let the coconut residues cooled down first to avoid burnt tongue.

That's for another entry... Now, back to the recipe I made few days ago. The tired part was the scraping/grating with a hand grater the coconut meat from the coconut. I don't mind doing all that if the results made these pancake rolls yummylicious... Let's Rock 'n' Roll! :)

Pine 'n' Coconut Pancake Rolls
Serves about 12 pcs 10-inch round pancakes

300 g Pine Nuts
100 g Caster Sugar
1 whole Coconut ~ split into halves & grated or scraped coarsely

180 g Flour
250 ml Coconut Milk
150 ml Water
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbl Oil
1 Large Egg

1. Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan with medium heat until golden brown and fragrant. Stir the pine nuts regularly to avoid burnt and uneven browning. When it's done, remove the nuts from the heat. Pound coarsely (if you're using food processor, just 1-2 bursts are sufficient.)
2. Add in the sugar and mix well. Set aside.
3. For the pancake, mix all the ingredients in a mixing bowl until smooth batter achieved. Drain through a sieve to remove any lumps. Rest the pancake mix for 10 minutes.
4. In a round 10 inch non-stick pan, heat up a little oil. When the pan is hot enough, pour in about 1/4 cup of batter and swirl into a thin pancake. Use the same method to finish all the batter.
5. To assemble: It's just like rolling up Asian version of Kuih Dadar, Kuih Ketayap or Pandan Pancake Rolls (cooked shredded coconut in palm sugar rolled up in thin layer of greenish Pandan/Screwpine pancake.)Put some pine nut mix, about 2-3 teaspoons on one part of the pancake that's closer towards you. Add about 2-3 teaspoon of grated coconut on top of the nut mix (you can mix all together if it's convenient for you.)

Roll up the bottom portion of the pancake over the filling. Tug in the filling so that it forms an oblong shape. Now, fold in the open ends, so that the filling doesn't spill out from the sides. Tug in a a bit more to maintain the shape and roll it until the end of the pancake.

Note: You can use other types of nuts like peanut, cashew nut, hazelnut, any favourite nuts you fancy as your fillings. Just remember to toast the nuts (to bring out the flavour) until fragrant before pounding it coarsely.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chicken In Creamy Tomato Sauce

There's this little tiny ingredient that I used in this recipe that stirred hot debate in my country 4 years ago, much to my amusement and maybe to foodies abroad as well. This little itsy, bitsy ingredient had been used worldwide in cookies, bread, cakes, spice mixes and curries but illegal in some countries! You and I ate this 'secret' ingredient food in stollen, bagel, mohn, challah, Korma, Mutton Posto, Japanese's Shichimi Togarashi, medicinal purposes (yes, you saw it correctly!) and in artist's paints (surprised, surprised!) I'm refering to kaskas or khashkhash, paparounospori, pavot somnifère, haşhaş tohumu, etc... or better simply known as poppy seeds!

Don't panic and thinking of boycotting your favourite Indian, Indian Muslim or Middle Eastern restaurants or stop using on your traditional baking goods. Poppy seeds that come from ripe seeds contain no narcotic chemicals and it's safe to consume as its alkaloid content is very low (about 50 parts per million.)It's the dried latex from the unripe seed pods that opium is derived. You need to consume 1 kg or more of poppy seeds to get high and the taste is very bitter in large quantities but morphine could still be detected in the urine after such heavy consumption. There's no experiments to date to prove poppy seed consumption could lead to addiction :-P What about Coca-cola or Coke? There are interesting topics about poppy seeds, its' history and culinary uses in, the nutrition content of the seeds in Indianet and the Encyclopedia of Spices by The Epicentre.

As for me, I love Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines because of the combination of spices and herbs that made their food so addictive! Back to this recipe I wanted to share ;-P I used the Asian white poppy seed variety which is smaller, creamier and nutty than its Western Blue Poppy Seeds. You can use which ever available locally in your area. The purpose of the poppy seeds in this recipe is to thicken the gravy or sauce.

Chicken in Creamy Tomato Gravy
Serves 4-6 servings

1 tbl Cooking oil
1.5 kg Chicken meat - washed and cut to pieces (I used chicken thighs)
2 nos Onion - medium size, sliced into rings
1/2 tsp Ground Cloves
1 tsp Tumeric Powder
2 tsp Garam Masala
3 tsp Chilli Powder

To be blended until smooth with 2 tbl Coconut Milk:
4 cloves Garlic
1 tbl Fresh Ginger - finely chopped
1 tbl Poppy Seeds
2 tsp Fennel Seeds
3 pods Cardamom - smashed and reserved the black seeds

150 ml Coconut Milk - fresh 1st-pressed thick coconut from 1 coconut
1 pc Star Anise
1 pc Cinnamon Stick
4 nos Large Tomatoes - roughly chopped
1-2 nos Limes - quartered

1. Pat dry the chicken meat before frying.
2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan/pot. When it's hot, add in the chicken pieces slowly in batches into the pan. Cook for 5-10 minutes or until browned. Remove and keep aside in another plate. Continue to fry the rest of the chicken.
*When it's finished, remove some of the oil from the pan (the extra oil came from the chicken skin/fat) but use enough oil for the next step.
3. While the pot/pan is still hot, add in onions and stir-fry until golden in color. Stir in the grounded cloves, tumeric, garam masala and chilli powder. Stir for 1 minute and add in the pre-fried chicken pieces.
4. Add in the blended spice mixture, remaining of Coconut milk, star anise, cinnamon stick, chopped tomatoes and water. Give the chicken and spices a good stir so that the meat is well coated.
5. Cover the pot/pan and simmer in medium heat for 30-45 minutes or until the meat is tender and the gravy thickens to your preference. Serve with some quartered limes at the side with steamed rice and plain yogurt. You can even add some vegetables like cucumber, onions, okra, achar or pickles.

As the pots or pans use are different with individuals, the gravy may take longer to thicken. Since the chicken meat produced more liquid into the gravy, you need to adjust the time accordingly.
You can use packed or tinned coconut milk if you can't find fresh pressed coconut milk.
If you don't have grounded cloves, you can pound/grind about 1 tbl of cloves until fine. Scoop the powdered cloves into the required measurement and leveled the top.
Use quality cardamoms - discard any browned or dried seeds or pods.
Lastly, if you still unsure about the poppy seeds, you can use grounded Cashew Nuts, Pine Nuts or Candlenuts as thickening agent for this recipe :-P

I'm also sending this recipe to the event, ' Think Spice... Think Twice: Mastic Gum and Fennel Seeds' by Ivy of Kopiaste... to Greek Hospitality who is hosting this month's Think Spice, created by Sunita of Sunita's World.



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