Diabetic-friendly dishes: Our favourite foods, revised

  • Food
  • Sunday, 29 Nov 2015

Kerabu brown rice with chicken roll in percik sauce.

Columbia Asia has always been championing the cause for diabetes awareness through its CSR efforts. This year, the international healthcare company with 11 hospitals in Malaysia held a cook-off among its chefs to come up with healthy and diabetic-friendly dishes that are also mouth watering.

“Throughout the course of advocating diabetes awareness for the past years, we realised that it is a mission impossible for Malaysians to barter-trade their favourite foods for health. The good news now is that they don’t really have to part with tastiness because there are ways to enjoy food in a health-promoting manner,” said Columbia Asia-South East Asia CEO Kelvin Tan.

Committed to educating the community on the best way to eat healthy, nine chefs from across Columbia Asia’s facilities nationwide faced-off in the Columbia Asia Master Chef Challenge 2015. They worked closely with in-house dietitians to reinterpret favourite Malaysian recipes into a diabetic-safe meal plan without foregoing taste.

“We want to show the public that healthy and wholesome meals can taste delicious,” said Tan.

“Healthy eating is not limited to vegetarian and gluten-free options. Many of our dishes can be made healthier simply by making serving adjustments as well as replacing the sweetened and rich ingredients with more fibrous and less sweet alternatives,” said Columbia Asia dietitian, Kong Woan Fei.

“It’s okay to eat your favourite nasi lemak or char kway teow once in a while. The key is not to make deprivation your mantra but rather, moderation and substitution. We need to learn to eat more balanced meals by opting for healthier alternatives,” Kong added.


Chicken roll

60g chicken breast

5g spinach leaves

5g carrot, thinly sliced

5ml vegetable oil


1 stalk lemongrass, blended

5g ginger, blended

5g turmeric, blended

3g cumin seeds, blended

3g anise seeds, blended

3g curry leaves, blended

salt and pepper, to taste

Kerabu rice

5ml vegetable oil

1/2 medium egg white

5g garlic, chopped

80g cooked brown rice

20g long bean, finely sliced

20g cabbage, finely sliced

20g carrot, finely shredded

15g beansprouts

5g bunga kantan, finely sliced

5g lemongrass, finely sliced

5g turmeric leaf, finely sliced

3g red chilli, sliced

salt and pepper, to taste

Percik sauce

10g red chilli

30g onion

10g garlic

10g ginger

1 stalk lemongrass

5ml vegetable oil

5g turmeric powder

50ml low fat milk

1 piece tamarind

salt and pepper, to taste

For the chicken roll

Cut chicken into half. Cover chicken with plastic wrap and flatten it by lightly pounding it. Combine the marinade ingredients and use to season the chicken; set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, blanch spinach and carrot. Soak in iced water. Remove, drain and pat dry.

Place chicken flat on a board. Place spinach and carrot on the widest part of the chicken breast. Roll up and secure with toothpicks.

To cook

Preheat oven to 180°C. Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and pan-fry chicken rolls until lightly browned on all sides.

Place chicken rolls on a lined baking pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.

To prepare kerabu rice

Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Add egg white and scramble. Add garlic. Add rice and the rest of the ingredients and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Season to taste and stir for 1 minute.

For sauce

Blend chilli, onion, garlic, ginger and lemongrass to a paste. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and cook the paste until aromatic. Add turmeric powder and milk. Cook, stirring. Add tamarind. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve

Mould a portion of rice on the plate. Add 3-4 slices of the chicken roll and spoon sauce over. – Recipe by Chef Fauziah Pakwan Chik, Columbia Asia Hospital, Setapak

Nasi lemak with crispy cornflake chicken.
Nasi lemak with crispy cornflake chicken.



175g brown rice

150ml low fat milk

70ml trimmed coconut milk (optional)

3 pandan leaves, blended

salt, to taste

Crispy cornflake chicken

350g skinless chicken breast

1 medium egg, for coating

5g cornflakes, for coating

20g all-purpose flour, for coating

salt and pepper, to taste

coarsely ground black pepper, to taste

Fried kangkung

200g kangkung (water spinach)

1 small onion, sliced

1 red chilli, sliced

1 tbsp vegetable oil

Acar rampai

1 tbsp vegetable oil

75g cucumber, cut into strips

75g carrot, cut into strips

2 shallots

2 cloves garlic

2 whole star anise

2 cinnamon sticks

2 tsp curry powder

1 tbsp chilli sauce

1 tsp vinegar

salt and pepper, to taste


20g dried chillies

100g shallots

1 tbsp vegetable oil

salt, to taste

To cook the rice

Wash rice. Place rice and all the ingredients in a rice cooker and turn it on. When cooked, rest covered, for at least 15 minutes.

For cornflake chicken

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Slice chicken and coat with the flour, then the egg and lastly, cornflakes. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 8 minutes.

To fry kangkung

Heat oil in a non-stick frying and fry onion until fragrant. Add kangkung and chilli, and stir-fry briefly.

For acar rampai

Heat oil in a non-stick pan. Stir-fry all the ingredients together.

To make the sambal

Blend the chillies and shallots to a paste. Heat oil in a non-stick pan and fry the chilli paste until fragrant. Season to taste.

To serve

Serve the rice with slices of cornflake chicken, a little sambal, fried kangkung, acar. – Recipe by Chef Ravindran Mathavan, Columbia Asia Hospital, Seremban

Nasi dagang with baked fish curry.


Nasi dagang (3 servings)

100g brown rice, soaked at least 1 hour

100g low fat milk

1 small shallot, sliced

1 inch ginger, finely shredded

2 cloves garlic, ground

1 stalk lemongrass, ground

1 pandan leaf, knotted

1 tsp halba (fenugreek seeds)

Baked fish curry (1 serving)

100g mackerel or other fish fillet

100ml low fat milk

1 tsp coriander seeds

1 tsp dried chilli paste

1 small shallot

1 inch ginger

turmeric root

basil leaves

salt, to taste

To cook the rice

Cook drained rice and the rest of the ingredients in a rice cooker. After cooking, rest covered, for at least 15 minutes.

To make fish curry

Preheat oven at 180°C. Season fish with salt and turmeric powder. Place on lined baking tray. Bake for 8 minutes. You can also pan-fry the fish in a non-stick pan. Blend together the milk, coriander seeds, chilli paste, shallot, ginger and turmeric. Place in a saucepan and cook until gravy is thick. Season with basil and salt.

To serve

Place rice and fish on a plate and spoon curry over fish. Serve with cherry tomato halves, bitter gourd and cucumber slices. – Recipe by Chef Mahmor Abas, Columbia Asia Hospital, Nusajaya

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