AFC GRILLED : Chef Sean Connolly

An evening of good food.

Lap Cheong Watermelon Bites

An asian take on watermelon bites!

Baked Fish with Kiwi in Sweet and Sour Sauce

Add a twist to sweet and sour fish!

Semperit Pandan Cookies

Cute cookies for the festive season!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Curry Leaf


Mom's backyard is a treasure of fresh fruit, herbs and vegetables. This is a curry leaf tree (Murraya koenigii). It stands over 6ft at present and can grow as high as 20ft, some say. One of the sturdiest plant in our tropical climate!

Curry Leaf Tree

Curry leaves are widely used in Indian cooking and curried recipes. Fresh is best way to go for that vigorous aromatic whiff which I describe as an intense smell of toasted woody cinnamon and citrus. Dried leaves have been found to be mild in comparison and does not smell quite the same, in my opinion.

Storing it:

It's easy to find fresh leaves where I live so I often opt to air dry the extras in an effort not to waste.

- Leave it to dry in an airy, shady area. Then, store it in an airtight container. If you want that distinct aroma of fresh curry leaves, then this is not a great way to store it. If you wish to use them as a dried spice, this works out alright. It can be crushed or blended into powder form.

Below are some ideas on keeping the leaves fresh.

- Keep the leaves on the small stem. Wash, pat dry and spread it out on a paper towel. Allow it to dry fully. Then, layer the stems on paper towels in an air tight container. Cover and refrigerate.

You can still store it the same way if the leaves have been stripped from the small stems.  There is no need to layer it then. It should stay alright for a couple of weeks.

- Alternatively, you can check out this website which shows us step-by-step how to preserve the leaves in the fridge using newspaper and also how to microwave it dry into a crushed spice.

Spice Your Life:
Link :

- Seal it in a freezer zipper bag. To do this, wash the leaves and pat dry. Spread it out on a paper towel and allow it to dry fully. Put it in the bag, squeeze the air out and leave it in the freezer. It should last between one to two months.

I have read about preserving fresh herbs by freezing it in olive oil, butter or water, in ice cube trays. I don't know anyone who has done it this way for curry leaves but it's worth a try.

Curry Leaf

Using it: 
Where I live, fresh curry leaf is regularly used in cooking to add aroma. It is often left uneaten, and is discarded after use.

Ayurvedic medicinal teachings encourage us to eat curry leaves because of the benefit it brings health-wise. There have been scientific findings on its medicinal properties but how much of it is enough to produce a significant impact is largely unknown.

Some people eat the leaves raw. The leaf is not known to be pleasant tasting. That is perhaps one of the reasons why it is not largely consumed here other than as a flavouring ingredient.

If raw is not your thing, it can be chopped and stir-fried along with other vegetables or blended and mixed into a curry paste for cooking.

Curry leaves can also be made into a chutney. There are many ways you can work with it. Stirring in a couple of leaves into flavoured rice is one way to go.

For us, the curry leaf is also tossed in when making toasted nuts. It adds a bit of colour to that bowl of brownness. We also like including it in crispy snacks and chips.

When it is dried and crushed or in powder form, it makes a neat addition to many recipes like stews, savoury bakes and so forth. Dried leaves emit a slightly different fragrance, something in between lightly charred sweet and savoury. None of that distinct curry leaf aroma.

What you can do with the curry leaf is up to your imagination. I sometimes use fresh ones to garnish finished dishes as well.

The Back of a Curry Leaf

A Flowering Curry Leaf Tree

The curry leaf tree bears little berries that are edible. The seeds are said to be poisonous. So, eat only the outer layer. The berry starts out green, then it goes into a shade of red before ripening into a black coloured fruit.

Fruiting Curry Leaf Tree

These seeds can be planted, but it must be done when it is in its freshest form.

I won't get into the details of growing a curry leaf tree here because that is another topic altogether and deserves personal experience.

To end, are you planning to grow your own curry leaf tree? I know I am!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Quail Eggs And Onions


Onions. Ugh! I have a love-hate relationship with these tear-inducing edible bulbs. I don't go for chunky pieces but I can down a decent quantity of sliced onions in a burger or in spicy sambal . This (pictured below) is one of the ways I enjoy my onions.

Quail Eggs and Onions

I went with quail eggs because I haven't had any in a long time. Quail eggs are really small in size and lovely to work with, cooking-wise. It has a pretty shell that is covered with splatters of dark brown spots. A very elegant egg, in my opinion.

If you're not a fan of quail eggs, then chicken egg is a good alternative because of its similar taste and texture. Serve it quartered instead.

This is how I made the above.


- 14 quail eggs (boiled)
- 2 medium-large onions (sliced)
- 1 red chili (sliced)
- ½ cup blended fresh chili
- ¼ tsp shrimp paste (dry fried or toasted)
- 1½ tbsp brown sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- Fresh coriander for garnishing

3 main ingredients


1) Heat oil in pan. Saute onions until slightly cooked.
2) Add blended chili, shrimp paste and sliced chili. Stir until combined.
3) Add brown sugar and salt. Stir well, let it cook for a little while and that's it!
4) Plate the onions. Place boiled quail eggs on top. Garnish with fresh coriander.

Quail Eggs and Onions

To liven things up a bit, decorate the dish with fresh coriander on top before serving.

Adding Fresh Coriander To Quail Eggs and Onions
Best eaten with rice!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Pineapple Curry and Baked Butter Rice


Whilst grocery shopping, I stumbled across a basket of pineapples being sold at RM1 for a whole fruit. What a bargain! I held one up. Memories of mum's pineapple dish came flooding in.

Pineapple Pajeri
is a childhood favourite. It is also spelt 'patcheri' or 'pacheri'. The origins of the recipe is unknown to me but it is mum's signature dish for 'open house' during Chinese New Year because it is highly sought after by friends and family.

Well, the RM1 pineapple followed me home (it did!), but I had to wait a couple of days for it to ripen before I could cook it. I knew what I wanted to make - a curry!

When it was time, I started racking my brains over what to pair the curry with. I stumbled across a recipe for butter rice whilst blog-walking. I knew it'd be a good match and it was. We cleared the dishes in one sitting.

I don't have mum's recipe for pineapple pajeri  so I made my version of pineapple yumminess, a rough idea I gleaned from years of observation which resulted in this dry pineapple curry dish.

Pineapple Curry and Butter Rice


- 1 small pineapple (2 cups, in chunks or cubed)
- 1 small-medium onion (chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic (chopped)
- 1 tbsp dried shrimps (rinsed and soaked for 5 minutes)
- 1½ tbsp curry powder
(add a bit of water or mix into blended chili to make a thick paste)
- 1½ tbsp blended fresh chili
- 1 tbsp kerisik (toasted coconut paste)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp fresh milk
- 3 star anise
- Pinch of salt
- Dash of light soy sauce
- Cooking oil


1) Heat oil in pan. Saute onion and garlic.
2) On medium heat, add curry powder/chili paste and star anise. Stir-fry until oil separates or until paste becomes a rich shiny brown.
3) Add kerisik and dried shrimps. Stir to combine.
4) Add pineapple and seasoning (sugar, salt and soy sauce).
Add a bit of water, if too dry. Stir lightly to combine the flavours.
5) Switch the fire off. Stir the milk in and serve.

Best eaten with rice, even better with butter rice!

Pineapple Curry

I found this butter rice recipe on Kitchen Flavours. It's fairly easy to do. Click here for the how-to.

Baked Butter Rice fresh out of the oven!

I made mine using leftover chicken soup and regular rice. It turned out really nice. Not soggy at all.

I baked it in a bread tin (8 x 4 x 2.5 inch), covered in butter-greased foil.This is just a rough idea of how I did it.

A quick stir-fry of chopped onions and bay leaves in a dollop of butter. Then, I added chopped garlic, a pinch of chili flakes and 1¾ cups pre-soaked rice, stirring well before pouring in 1 cup soup (leftover, only the liquid) and just under 3 cups water.

Once it boils, transfer all the ingredients into a foil-lined bread tin. Cover with foil. Baking at 175C for 40-45mins worked well for me. No burnt bottom or sides. Remember to adjust liquid measurements according to rice variety. This portion works in my favour.

I fluffed the rice using chopsticks.

Leftover Soup Baked Butter Rice
Nothing burnt.

All clear underneath!

Serve together with pineapple curry. Garnish with fresh coriander, if you like.

Pineapple Curry with Butter Rice


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