A huge advocate of home-cooking, prolific cookbook author Marina Mustafa also believes in whipping up meals at home during Ramadan, a practice she and her family have adhered to for years.
“I’ve always cooked at home during Ramadan because my children enjoy it – they plan the menu every year too. And on top of cooking being an ongoing learning affair, it forces the family to be involved in the cooking process, so that is the time to bond, ” says Marina, who has authored over 12 cookbooks, including titles like Memorable Recipes for Malay Occasions and Hari Raya Classics.
Since Marina cooks at home, it’s been years since she went to a Ramadan bazaar as she believes that many of the offerings at the bazaars can easily be duplicated at home.
Like chilli coated popiah, for instance – a dish she herself discovered at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail Ramadan bazaar many years ago.
“When I went to the bazaar Ramadan in TTDI, there were long queues to buy the chilli popiah and I always used to line up to buy it, because it was so good! And I thought it was a good thing to cook at home, so I learnt how to make it at home. And nowadays, this popiah is not easily found in all the Ramadan bazaars, so I think it is a nice recipe for people to follow and keep, ” she says.
Ayam percik is another Ramadan bazaar staple that Marina learnt how to make from her mother.
“My mum and her friends used to go to each other’s houses for morning tea and learn new recipes. And a Kelantanese lady shared this ayam percik recipe with my mother and it has worked very well for my family.
“It’s a dish that is very popular in Ramadan bazaars, but is seemingly quite difficult to make. For me, I find it easy to just chuck it in the oven – in the Ramadan bazaars, they cook it over a hot fire, which gives it a nice smell. But I find that as the flavours are already quite intense, you don’t need to grill it over an open fire. I think in Ramadan bazaars, they have to do that, because there’s so much competition and smells sell!” says Marina, laughing.
4 whole chicken thighs
2.5cm ginger, blended
5 cloves garlic, blended
2 large onions, blended
3 lemongrass, blended
2.5cm galangal, blended
2.5cm turmeric root, blended
1/2 cup chilli paste
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup grated palm sugar
2 pieces tamarind slices
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sliced cilantro
Marinate the chicken thighs with blended ginger and garlic. Set aside.
To make the percik gravy, heat oil in a pot. Saute the blended onions, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric root and chilli paste until the oil separates.
Put in coconut milk, palm sugar, tamarind skin and season with salt. Stir till combined. Simmer the gravy until slightly thick. Leave to cool in the pot.
Place the chicken thighs on a baking tray. Pour a spoonful of the percik gravy over the chicken. Bake the chicken at 180ºC for 35 minutes while basting in between whenever the gravy dries up.
Sprinkle cilantro over the chicken. Serve with rice.
Makes 15 spring rolls
1/2 pack of spring rolls skin
2 tbsp cooking oil, to cook the filling
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
250g cleaned prawns
1/2 turnip, julienned
1 carrot, grated
1 cup beans sprouts
1 stalk Chinese celery
1 tsp salt
1 tsp white pepper
1 egg, beaten & used as a sealant
For the chilli coating
3 tbsp oil, to cook the chilli coating
1/2 cup chilli paste
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
To make the spring rolls
To make the filling, heat the oil in a pan. Saute the onion & garlic till it becomes limp and fragrant. Put in the prawns and fry for 1 minute until it turns pink.
Add in the turnip & carrot. Cook for a further 3 minutes till it becomes soft. Put in the bean sprouts and Chinese celery. Cook briefly. Flavour with salt and pepper.
Pour the cooled filling into a strainer over a bowl, to strain the liquid.
Place a layer of the spring roll skin on a clean surface. Scoop a tablespoon of filling onto the skin.
Roll the spring roll skin and flap the sides towards the inner part of the spring rolls. Seal the end of the filled spring roll skin with the beaten eggs. Continue filling, rolling and sealing the skins until all the filling has been used.
Deep fry the filled spring rolls in hot oil, turning until all sides are crisp and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
To make the chilli coating
For the chilli coating, heat oil in a pan. Put in the chilli paste and saute until the oil separates. Put in the sugar, salt and vinegar and cook on medium heat for 3 more minutes.
Turn off the flame and coat fried popiah in chilli. Enjoy!
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