Traditional Dishes, Revisited

Whether they’re for Raya or a weekend family get-together, these creative recipes give old favourites a palate-fascinating twist.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Whether they’re for Raya or a weekend family get-together, these creative recipes give old favourites a palate-fascinating twist.

My Reading Room

"For better texture and flavour, mince a combination of skinless chicken thigh and breast meat."

Traditional Dishes, Revisited

Whether they’re for Raya or a weekend family get-together, these creative recipes give old favourites a palate-fascinating twist.


Prep 20 mins | Cook 30 mins | Serves 4

200 ml thick coconut milk
400 g mince chicken
2 tbsps kerisik (toasted desiccated coconut)
2 tbsps palm sugar (gula Melaka)
1 tbsp sugar
1 turmeric leaf, torn into shreds Salt to taste
1 box taco shells, heat according to packet instruction
8 salad leaves
12 cherry tomatoes, diced

200 g cheddar cheese, grated Some lime, to serve

5 fresh red chillies
2 chilli padis
5 shallots
2 cloves garlic
2 stalks lemongrass
2 cm fresh turmeric

2 cm galangal

1. SPICE PASTE Blend the spice paste ingredients together and set aside.
2. In a heavy-based pan, put coconut milk and the spice paste together. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 mins, stirring frequently. Add in chicken and cook for 6 mins or until mixture is thick, but not dry.
3. Add in kerisik, gula Melaka, sugar and turmeric leaves. Season with salt to taste and turn off heat.
4. Line taco shells with salad leaves, top with rendang mince, tomatoes and cheese. Serve with wedges of lime on the side.
My Reading Room

"When assembling the satay, lightly oil your hands to prevent chicken mixture from sticking."


Prep 30 mins | Cook 30 mins | Serves 6

50 g fresh grated coconut
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsps salt
1 tbsp chicken granules seasoning
800 g chicken mince
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped

12 lemongrass stalks

6 fresh chillies, deseeded
3 shallots
3 cloves garlic
1 cm fresh turmeric

2 candlenuts

6 fresh chilies
6 shallots
2 garlic
1 tsp toasted shrimp paste
100 g toasted groundnuts, grinded coarsely
100 ml water
50 ml thick coconut milk

2 tbsps palm sugar (gula Melaka) Salt, to taste

1. PEANUT SAUCE Blend chillies, shallots, garlic and shrimp paste together. Heat pan with 4 tbsps of oil till hot, saute until oil starts to separate. Add in groundnuts, water and coconut milk, and simmer for 2 to 3 mins. If it gets too thick, add in a few more spoonfuls of water. Lastly, add in sugar and salt to taste. Set aside.
2. SPICE PASTE Blend all ingredients together and set aside.
3. SATAY LILIT Heat pan with 2 tbsps of oil and fry the rempah ingredients until fragrant. Add in coconut and mix well. Season with salt, sugar and chicken seasoning. Transfer to a mixing bowl to cool. Mix in mince chicken and kaffir lime leaves and knead gently for a minute.
4. To assemble, lightly bruise the base of each lemongrass. Shape the mixture on the lemongrass stalk. Lightly brush some oil over it. Grill in the oven or over a grill pan until lightly golden brown on both sides and cooked through. Serve the satay with peanut sauce.
My Reading Room

"If preparing dish a day or two ahead, add in the vegetables and coconut milk on the day you’re serving the dish"


Prep 20 mins + Marinating | Cook 25 mins | Serves 4

4 pieces chicken thigh, cut into bite-sized pieces
50 ml yoghurt
1 tbsp garlic paste
1½ tbsps ground cumin
2 tsps ground coriander
2 tsps ground ginger
2 tbsps vegetable oil
3 tbsps butter, softened
1 onion, sliced
200 ml chicken stock
1 carrot, thickly sliced
100 g cabbage, cut into bite-sized pieces

2 tomatoes, cut into quarters 100 ml coconut milk Salt, to taste

1. In a large bowl, mix the yoghurt, garlic paste, cumin, coriander and ginger. Marinate the chicken pieces in the mixture for 30 mins.
2. Heat oil and butter in a heavy-based pan. Add onions and cook, stirring until onions are lightly browned. Add in marinated chicken and cook, stirring until chicken is half cooked, about 5 mins.
3. Add in the chicken stock and carrots, and simmer for 15 mins or until chicken is tender. Add in cabbage, tomatoes, chillies and coconut milk. Once vegetables are tender, season with salt to taste and turn off heat. Serve with rice.
My Reading Room

"Arabic flat bread or naan can also be used at the base for this pizza"


Prep 20 mins | Cook 1 hour | Serves 10

1 kg beef chuck, cut into bite-sized pieces (or beef cuts of your choice)
50 g meat curry powder
200 ml box coconut milk
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
500 ml water, extra if needed Palm sugar (gula Melaka), crushed, to taste
Sugar, to taste
Salt, to taste
3 tbsps kerisik (toasted desiccated coconut)
2 turmeric leaves, shredded

3 kaffir lime leaves

8 fresh chillies
2 chilli padis
3 stalks lemon grass, use white portion only
100 g shallots
30 g galangal

5 g garlic

2 pieces pizza base bread Arabic flat bread or naan can also be used at the base for this pizza.
2 tbsps olive oil
4 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into slices
200 g pizza mix cheese
1 medium-sized onion, sliced thinly
4 fresh chillies, red and green, cut into thin slices

1 turmeric leaf, shredded finely

1. Preheat oven to 200 C.
2. SPICE PASTE Blend all ingredients together and set aside.
3. In a heavy-based deep cooking pot, combine beef, curry powder, coconut milk, cinnamon stick, star anise, spice paste and water. Cook over medium low heat, stirring often until beef is tender, about 1½ hours, and gravy is thick. Add in hot water if gravy starts to thicken before beef is tender. Add in kerisik, turmeric leaf, kaffir lime leaf and season with palm sugar, sugar and salt to taste.
4. ASSEMBLY Lightly brush pizza base with olive oil, then spread the tomatoes, rendang beef, onions, pizza cheese, and chillies on the pizza. Bake for 10 to 12 mins until cheese melts and pizza crust is lightly brown in colour. Sprinkle over turmeric leaves.
My Reading Room

Prep 30 mins | Cook 30 mins | Serves 4

2 pieces hard bean curd (tau kwa), thinly sliced
1 large onion, thinly sliced
500 g turnip (bang kwang), coarsely shredded
200 g carrots, coarsely shredded
80 g French beans, thinly sliced
30 g chives, cut into 2-cm length
1 tbsp sugar
1½ tbsps salt
1 tsp ground white pepper
1 packet frozen spring roll sheets 125 mm X 125 mm
1 egg white, for brushing

2 cups oil, for deep frying

3 tbsps chunky peanut butter 8 tbsps hot water
2 tbsps white vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
2 tbsps crispy prawn chilli (store bought)

1 tbsp finely chopped spring onions

1. SPICY PEANUT DIP Combine all the ingredients well and season with salt to taste. Just before serving, sprinkle chopped coriander over dip.
2. Heat 3 tbsps of oil till hot, add in bean curd and stir-fry for 3 mins. Put aside. Using the same pan, fry onions for a minute, and add in a tbsp of oil if it is too dry. Add in turnip, carrots, French beans, chives, and stir-fry over high heat until just heated through. Add the fried bean curd back into the pan and season with sugar, salt and white pepper. Mix well and turn off heat. Set aside in a dish, discarding excess liquid.
3. To assemble the rolls, place 2 tbsps of filling diagonally across pastry sheets. Fold in the sides and roll it up. Brush the ends with egg white to seal. Repeat with the rest of the ingredients.
4. Deep fry spring rolls in hot oil around 4 mins or until crispy and lightly golden. Drain off excess oil on paper towel. Serve with peanut dip.
My Reading Room

"The steamed rice can also be eaten as a dessert. Instead of beef floss, serve it dipped with finelygrated gula Melaka."


Prep 30 mins | Cook 40 mins | Serves 4

500 g glutinous rice, soaked in water for at least 4 hours or overnight
5 tbsps red rice, rinsed and drained dry
100 ml thick coconut milk
2 tbsps freshly grated ginger
1½ tbsps salt
300 ml water
100 g fresh corn
8 pieces banana leaves, cut into 15 X 12.5 cm, blanched in hot water and wiped dry

8 x ¾-cm strips banana leaf, for tying Rendang (see Rendang Mince Chicken recipe) or beef floss to serve, optional

1. Combine glutinous rice, red rice, coconut milk, ginger, salt and water. Steam mixture over medium heat for 30 mins, stirring it once.
2. Add in fresh corn and mix well.
3. To wrap rice, lightly grease the smooth side of the banana leaf with vegetable oil. Spoon 5 tbsps of rice mixture and roll it up firmly. Fold in the sides and secure it with cut banana leaf strips.

4. Steam rolls for 40 mins. Cool slightly. Serve with beef floss or rendang.