Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Tale of Shara's Chaotic Kitchen

Last night I cooked a Malaysian feast of epic proportions! It was quite silly of me tho. I went through the day thinking it'll be fine. I don't need that much time to cook this stuff. Right?


For all those novice cooks out there to put three main dishes + dessert: Chicken Rendang, Satay Sauce, Stir fried Vegetables and Sago pudding with Palm sugar and coconut milk on the table you need the WHOLE day. Or else you can just think about getting hired help or something. I started cooking at about 3 pm and my guests were coming at around 7 pm. I am the world's worst organiser but somehow I managed to cook everything from scratch! I think I would have done really well on one of those pressure tests on MasterChef haha..

I am quite AWESOME. I should crown myself Queen of all dinner parties! Why do I indulge in this self gratification, you ask? Its because I cooked and prepared four complicated dishes without any help! OK OK..I should stop gloating hehe.

I think the longest and most tedious part of the adventure was preparing all the ingredients. I never realized how much shallots these dishes required. Seriously how did the women of the days long gone manage to whip all of those goodies? Just imagine all that effort put into crushing and grinding the spices. I just turned my trusted blender ON and there it goes...crush crush, mix mix, grind grind...BBRRKK BRRKKK! Haha...thats the sound of my food processor nearly dying on me from a rock hard galangale (make sure you get young fresh galangale). Right in the middle of the most crucial part of preparing the food! I almost cried and was at the verge of giving up and wanting to just roll around on the kitchen floor crying out I've had enough! Yes I am that dramatic hehe...

OK enough venting! On to the food. After all of that preparing I finally started cooking...The Rendang was happily bubbling away on the stove. It didn't look that attractive but the taste was sublime! I remember how long it took my Mother to cook the rendang, everyone has their own preference of how wet the rendang should be. I like mine quite dry, I think all the flavour tend to have developed more at this stage.

This was particularly true with the Satay sauce. At its earlier stage it tasted quite wrong! I started to worry and thought about how much ingredients I have wasted if it didn't turn out OK. With the help of my trustee Kitchen Sidekick (FortuneCat) I persevered and adjusted the seasoning (4 tablespoons of sugar + 2 pinches of salt). It tasted great after a little bit of tinkering, especially the next day when we had it for lunch.

Unfortunately with the whirlwind of it all, I forgot to take pictures of the end product of my cooking adventure. I think I was distracted by the food and the cuteness of our friend's baby, Alicia. The only photos we managed to take was of the rendang in the wok. Oh well.. next time!

This picture not nice lahh...

Don't be disheartened by my rantings. Despite the challenges everything turned out great. My guests were happy, full and satisfied. There's nothing I love more than to cook for my family and friends. I look forward to more dinner parties. Perhaps with more experience my adventures would be more of a breeze.

Chicken Rendang Serves 5

You can ask your butcher to cut the chicken for you. It would make your life so much easier :)

Spice paste
5 Bird’s Eye Chillies
5 Fresh Red Chillies
5 stalks lemongrass, finely sliced
3 Candlenut
1 ½ inch ginger
1 inch galangale
1 inch fresh turmeric
10 shallots
4 cloves garlic
½ teaspoon black peppercorn

Key Ingredients
1.5 kg Chicken, cut into pieces of 12
2 pieces of Assam skin (Tamarind skin)
2 tablespoons Kerisik
2 1/2 cups thick coconut milk
2 tablespoons chilli paste
2 turmeric leaves, finely sliced
3 Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
Salt to taste

Stir fry Ingredients*
4 shallots, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1 stick of cinnamon
1 star anise
3 cloves
2 cardamom seeds

Grind all the spices for the paste into medium to fine paste. In a big heavy stainless steel pot or wok, heat the oil. When the oil is hot, stir fry the * ingredients until fragrance for 2 minutes. Then proceed to frying spice paste, fry it to a point where the oil starts to separate. Toss in the chicken and ensure the paste covers the chicken and cook it until the chicken cooked slightly.

Pour the coconut milk and let boil, add salt, Assam skin and kerisik. Cook with medium heat. The Rendang should be simmering slowly. Lastly, scatter the kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaves and stir. Cook for 2 hours depending on how wet or dry you would like the dish. If you like yours with more gravy I suggest that you turn off the heat after an hour.

I will post the recipes for the other dishes in the future.

Selamat Malam!


  1. well done! hehe.. i can imagine macam mana u kelam kabut kat dapur, but i know worth it bila tetamu kenyang makan masakkan u... :)
    keep it up..

  2. haha, memang haruk piruk lady...macam nak nangis! hehe

  3. Mmmm.. saya nak makan this feast every couple of weeks! This rendANG (incorrect australian pronunciation) was great, only trumped by the peanut sauce which was an even bigger hit. Never give up on a sauce too early; tinker with it!

  4. Your rendang looks FAB!
    Good job darling!
    You're always a great cook anyways
    (reminiscing our days in the hostel together)