Lazy beef rendang

Beef rendang

Gung hay fat choy! It’s Chinese New Year… but it’s not just Chinese New Year. It’s also lunar New Year in many other countries including Singapore and Malaysia, which inspired tonight’s meal.

Beef rendang has always seemed a bit intimidating for me to make, because recipes usually call for a bunch of ingredients that are difficult for me to obtain, such as candlenuts and kaffir lime leaves, and call for the cook to grind their own spice paste and braise the beef for as long as four hours. However, I really wanted beef rendang, so after consulting a bunch of recipes, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard to make a rendang with the ingredients in my kitchen, in a lot less time. The result was truly delicious and tasted just like the rendang I’ve had in restaurants. I served it with steamed rice and yu sheng (Singapoean New Year salad) – and my husband declared it probably his favourite meal ever and half-jokingly asked me to make it once a week. Continue reading

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Japanese curry: Gluten-free, low-FODMAP version

Japanese curry with riceCurry is one of Japan’s great comfort foods. Does that sound strange? I know curry is normally associated with South and Southeast Asia. Japanese cuisine, by contrast, doesn’t tend to use a lot of spices, especially not curry-like spices. Also, while I love Indian brinjal curry, red Thai curry, Malaysian penang curry, etc., they’re not foods I would want to curl up with on the couch on a cold winter’s day or eat by a campfire while camping.

Japanese curry is different. In fact, you might not want to consider it curry at all. It’s more of a hearty beef and potato stew that happens to be curry flavoured. Some Japanese curries contain ingredients that would make any self-respecting Indian or Thai chef want to cry. Ketchup, soy sauce, dashi, yogurt, honey, apples, raisins… Sound gross? You’re wrong. Virtually every Japanese person, from toddler to centenarian, loves karei. And so will you if you forget your ideas about what a proper curry should be and think of Japanese curry as another beast altogether. Continue reading

Afghan-style kale and spinach curry (sabzi)

Chopped greens in a pan with a wooden spoonWhen I lived in Toronto years ago, my place was right near an Afghan restaurant where the stars of the menu were kebabs, mantu dumplings with yogurt sauce, bolani stuffed flatbread, and kabuli pulao, a biryani-like rice and meat dish. I alternated between the mains but I usually ended up also getting a spinach side dish. I liked it but once I moved away from the area, I didn’t think about it again until I decided to make Afghan food last weekend. Then the spinach… er… I hesitate to call it a curry because the sauce is quite light, but I suppose that’s what it is – popped back into my mind.

Partly it was because I figured it would be easier than trying to figure out gluten-free versions of mantu or bolani. Partly it was because I thought it would be a nice healthy complement to the kabuli pulao I also planned to make. But suddenly I missed it. It was light and mildly spiced and went with any dish at the restaurant. But I hadn’t had it in years and I didn’t remember enough about it to try to recreate it from memory. Continue reading