Salmon Puttu

Reminisce of Sura Puttu / Shark Puttu my mother occasionally cooked back home in Malaysia.

Ikan yu as we called it in Malay is a small shark fish, relatively an expensive fish to buy and they were only seasonally available in our local markets.

The cooking process was considerable tough. Mum used to cut them up in small pieces, boil them for good few minutes before vigorously de-skinning. When I helped, I often felt it was almost impossible to de-skin those rubbery, tough skin to get to that flavoursome flesh.

I have to admit, sustainable shark fishing was unheard of, nor did we think of the same for ANY of our food, back then.
In truthiness, I could be deemed an indirect criminal for creating demand.

Salmon Puttu is my way of satisfying the fish puttu buds that flare up ever so often…




Salmon fillets x 2 (I use Frozen Lidl Salmon, skinless and boneless).
1 red onion / 2-3 Shallots finely chopped
1 red chilli (reduce quantity as per taste) finely chopped / 1 tsp. chilli powder
1 ½ tsp. ginger garlic paste
½ inch ginger chopped
¼ tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. curry powder
Coriander leaves
Spring onions chopped
Curry leaves chopped (if available)
6-7 tbsp. cooking oil
¼-½ Lemon’s juice
Salt to taste


½ tsp. cumin seeds / jeera
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 small star anise
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 dried chilli (chopped) (optional)

1. Bring to boil some water in a milk pan, add the salmon, cook till fish is flaky, approx. 8 minutes, remove from water and once slightly cooled, mash them using a fork in a mixing bowl.
2. Add half of the onions, and rest of the ingredients (excluding spices and oil) to this, and set aside to soak / marinade for 15-20 mins.
3. In a non-stick frying pan, heat oil, and flavour with the spices.
4. Now add the remaining chopped onions, and once browned add the marinated salmon.
5. It’s important to stir constantly, non-stick pan helps, remember the fish is completely cooked, you are only looking to cook the remaining ingredients at this stage.
6. Add more oil if necessary. In a medium heat, you should aim to cook for approx. 10-13 minutes.
7. Puttu should be dry, so if deemed soggy, cook further. Salt to taste and garnish with coriander and spring onions.

Tastes gorgeous with plain boiled rice.
I leave the fresh chillies out of it when cooking for my babies…. 🙂

The true art of memory is the art of attention…
Samuel Johnson

I am glad I paid some attention in my mum’s kitchen,
To have a memory to share.



Till another memory from home,


Gol Gappa for Elevenses

Pani Puri or fondly known as Gol gappa…

Filled crispy mini puris dipped in sweet spicy tamarind water… 



I remember asking my husband about them after watching ‘Gol gappi’ session in one of my all time favi Hindi movie Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi..

But it stopped there.

Recent times, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to try them out at a Gujarati eatery. Few more visits later, last weekend I returned home with a pack of 50 mini puris.

I had the strong intentions to replicate or innovate.

Today these replicates were my Elevenses treat ! 

Fillings; chickpeas, chopped onions, coriander leaves, Indian mixture and a touch of masala powder.

Masala powder: Chilli powder ‘a little’ or chopped fresh chillies or chilli flakes or Chat Masala (available from Indian grocery shops).

There are variety of sauce/water versions served as dips.. I have tried the spicy water version, however I definitely preferred the sweet sour spicy tamarind water which I believe is known as Meetha Chutney, this is the recipe  I used.

As always, I am not a strict follower of measurements within cookery and use the ‘agak agak je la’ techniques (translates ‘as per individual taste’).
You should be able to buy freshly made mini puris from an Indian sweet shop or traditional eatery spots.

Definitely a treat that you could get easily hooked on…as I DID!

Happy weekend everyone..







Hot and Spicy Chicken curry

It’s raining and predicted to rain all day where I am..

The next village is now just partly visible from my kitchen window, covered in thick mist.

And it does feel quite wintery…a feel I get almost 350 days in the year! 🙂

Here’s a recipe to warm up the day.

Hot and spicy Chicken curry….

Ingredients (Enough for approx. 3-5 people)

Approx. 1 inch of ginger – sliced thin
2 cloves of garlic – sliced thin
2 tbsp. of ginger garlic paste
3 medium potatoes – cubed
3 medium tomatoes – chopped
1 ½ red onions sliced
2 packets of Chicken breast quarters (check it out from Tesco) – cut into small pieces and skin removed.
Once cleaned, add ¼ tsp. turmeric powder and 1 tsp. of ginger garlic paste to the chicken and coat well, leave aside for 15-20 mins.
(Approx. 0.6 kgs)
4-5 tbsp. cooking oil
450ml hot water
100ml coconut milk
Few curry leaves – if available.
Coriander leaves for garnish.

½ tsp. jeera
½ tsp. fennel seeds
1 dried chilli
2 cardamoms
1-2 star anise
1-2 inch of cinnamon sticks
2 cloves

And curry powders:
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. coriander powder
40g. Curry powder
6-8g of good chilli powder

Curry, chilli and masala powders – feel free to experiment with different brands to achieve the required taste and heat levels. I use Baba’s, Rajah’s or East End brands.

Rajah’s curry powder are quite spicy for me so I reduce the quantity accordingly. The above are for Baba’s brand which is comparatively milder to other brands mentioned.


1. On medium stove, heat oil and add the spices, add curry leaves if available. When it gets quite aromatic, add the onions and sliced garlic and ginger, fry till lightly browned, then add potatoes, let these cook for 30 seconds.
2.  Now add garam masala and coriander powder. Next add the marinated chicken, tomatoes and ginger garlic paste, stir well, cover and leave it to cook in its own juices for 1-2 min. The tomatoes and paste should provide enough liquid.
3. Once the chicken looks cooked on the top, add the curry and chilli powders. Stir well, it should look slightly oily. Keep stirring to avoid ingredients from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Do this for at least 30-60 seconds.
4. Now add the hot water, stir well, bring it to a boil, then cover and leave it to cook on the same medium heat for approx. 3 minutes.
5. Add the coconut milk, mix well, bring it to a boil and cook for a further 1 min.
6. Turn the stove to lowish heat (slightly above simmer point) and let the curry cook to bring out the best of flavours for 20-25mins. I typically set my timer accordingly.

Keep a check, the rate at which the liquid (curry) reduces depends on your stove and pot. If needed, add a little hot water (remember to always use hot water!!)

You could if preferred, thicken this curry by cooking on higher heat :-).
A note however: The approx. length of cooking indicated in recipe above helps to achieve a succulent chicken curry.

Add salt to taste and garnish with Coriander leaves before serving.

Serve with warm white basmati rice or breads…yummylious!

Enjoy cooking everyone!




Sambal Tofu

I still remember those hot Friday afternoons when I rush home from school for lunch time, having worked so hard (WELL that’s how I viewed my teen life to be 🙂 ), knackered and super happy its finally weekend!

Malaysian school finishes earlier on Fridays to allow Muslims to observe their Solat Jumaat secara berjemaah – Friday prayers together with other people in the community.
In the northern states of Peninsula Malaysia, Friday is a day off, hence your weekend starts on a Thursday.

Albeit all the traffic jams caused, I often find myself mesmerized at the beautiful sight where you find people coming together in hundreds to join in the Mosques.

Likewise Fridays are a prayer day for Hindus too, and in our household, my mum would typically cook a scrumptious vegetarian meal comprising sambar, two vegetable stir frys and or a sambal dish and a must have deep fried dish.
Appalams (or papadams) , yummy finger licking array of pickles and my sister’s favourite plain yogurt (tairu) serve as glorious extras.

This sambal tofu recipe I’m sharing today is one of our family’s favorite Friday dishes.

“Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it.”
L.M. Montgomery, The Story Girl


Main Ingredients

500g Firm tofu (I used Tofu King brand – Made in UK)
1 ½ medium white onions sliced – (keep a handful aside to add towards the end)
1 ½ large tomatoes chopped
1 clove garlic sliced
1 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
3-4 tbsp. vegetable oil
120ml boiling water (Approx. 8 tbsp)
3 tbsp. sweet chilli sauce.
1 tsp. lime leaves chopped (if available) / 1 stick of lemon grass
Handful of coriander leaves chopped
Salt to taste

1-2 star anise
3-4 Cardamoms

Curry powders:
½ tsp. turmeric powder.
2 tsp. chilli powder (adjust to individual heat level as required).
(I use Rajah or East End brand)


Prepare ahead:

Cube the firm tofu, sprinkle some turmeric powder and salt and keep aside for 5 mins.
Deep fry these cubes in vegetaable oil till lightly browned. Watch closely and do not let them overcook.
Remove and set aside.





In a wok:

1. Heat oil, add spices to flavour the oil and brown the chopped garlic and sliced onions.
2. Next add the chopped tomatoes (you could also use tinned chopped tomatoes) and saute.
3. Add the ginger garlic paste, cover and cook for a few more seconds.
4. Add the turmeric and chilli powder, stir well, again cover and cook in the juices for approx. 15 seconds, before adding half (60ml) of the boiling water. Now cover and leave it to cook in medium heat for a few minutes till it thickens. Stir as necessary.
5. Add the lime leaves (if available) / lemon grass. Add the remaining boiling water, cover and cook in low heat for few more minutes.
6. You can now add the sweet chilli sauce, salt, and the handful of sliced onions you set aside earlier. Cook for a few more minutes, till the gravy thickens, now add in the fried tofu, lower the heat, coat well in gravy before serving.

Garnish with coriander leaves!

For a simplistic meal, serve with white boiled rice and sliced cucumbers.

Best wishes




Roti Bakar Gula

When I was munching away my ‘second’ breakfast at work, my intrigued boss asked me;

‘What you having?’

Hesitant for a moment, I uttered ‘Toast with abundance of butter sprinkled with caster sugar’…

I stopped and waited for her reactions..

None, I continued ‘Well I know I’m weird and wonderful..’ and smiled.

She hmmmned and with a smile bigger than mine replied;

’Gosh that sounds yumm!’

Splendid it was. A typical Malaysian breakfast which now my baby girl too adores, reminds me so much of my childhood.

Roti Bakar Gula or Sugared Bread Toast…best made with lightly salted butter and generous sprinkles of sugar is one of the permanent breakfast menu at local Kopitiams (in Hokkien or Hakka language, translates as Coffee Shop). And we had many of those around where I grew up in state of Perak.

I could still smell the coffees made at these rustic vintage shops…everything so droolingly tasty.

Goes so well with some freshly brewed coffee or teh O (black tea).

Roti Bakar Gula
Roti Bakar Gula

Pan Fried ‘Ikan Bakar’

An attempt to replicate the delicious Malay gastronomy; Ikan Bakar

Luxurious marinated, covered in banana leave then slowly burnt over the charcoal grills and served with sambal cili belacan.

In Malaysia, the typical ikan bakar would be made using Ikan Kembung (Indian Mackerel), although you could find almost every seafood and fish varieties served bakar.

As said, the original recipe requires cooking over the charcoal (and its flaming fire) to get that lovely burnt crust. To simplify the cooking, I have pan fried (and gently burnt it) on the stove.

A generally rule of thumb

10 minutes cooking time per inch of fish’s thickest point (turn over after 5 minutes).
You do not have to turn over if fish thickness is less than ½ inch.
Add additional 5 minutes if you are cooking the fish with sauce or in foil.

Mackerels arrive in Britain between May and October hence its one of the best summer food.

I used fresh whole mackerel from local supermarket, halved it and marinated them in turmeric powder, salt and ginger paste for about 30 minutes.

Other ingredients (per whole fish)

2 cloves of garlic
3 tbsp. vegetable oil
½ Lemon / Lime juice

Making Sambal Cili

Manually grind in mortar or electronically blitz:
1 red chili
1 green bird’s eye chili
2 shallots
½ clove garlic
½ Lemon juice (or tamarind juice if available)


1. Heat oil on medium, add garlic to infuse the oil. Add maximum of two halves of fish in pan, cover and cook each side for 7 minutes.
2. Sprinkle the fish with juice of lemon / lime. Then cook on medium to high heat, uncovered for another 3 minutes (to get that burnt crust) (turn over after 90 seconds). Press it down with spoon to encourage even cooking.

Best consume with generous servings of sambal cili and boiled rice!

Now if you are ever planning on a visit to Malaysia and liked the ikan bakar recipe above, do not leave without trialling out the Ikan Pari Bakar (Stingray Fish) with Sambal Cili Okra….yumminess to grander level 🙂