What’s Cooking?

Nutrition-packed meals for the family

A health survey recently revealed that a significant number of children in this country suffer from malnutrition (over 1.5 million) and anaemia, mostly due to their poor diets. It was noted that a large majority of children eat mostly sugar, coconut and rice, without meat, fish, leafy greens or vegetables. This is particularly tragic in a country where there is an abundance of vegetables and greens. While poverty may be a contributory reason for this, ignorance on the part of our housewives to provide a balanced meal for the family is also an important reason.

The following recipes have been selected to help housewives give their family more nutritious and balanced meals at low cost.
Let’s start with some dishes made with fish, since fish is low in fat but high in protein. Try these novel fish dishes which I’m sure will persuade your family to eat more of this nutritious food.

Fish curry with tomatoes
2½ lbs of any fish you like. If you can’t afford expensive fish, use cheap fish such as salayo or paraw. Even canned fish like sardines will do.
¼ cup onions chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
1 thin slice fresh ginger crushed
and chopped
2 medium ripe tomatoes diced
1 tsp paprika
Dash of dill seed
Coconut milk
2-3 carrots diced
Add turmeric to water and wash fish (if fresh) well. Drain water and set fish aside. In a shallow non stick skillet add the rest of the ingredients except the fish. On high heat bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat. Cover and cook until tomatoes, carrots are soft stirring occasionally. Add fish and spoon sauce over. Uncover and cook till fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Spoon tomato sauce over fish shaking skillet occasionally. Remove from heat and serve with rice, vegetables and some leafy greens or a salad.
Fish in mushroom sauce
Dash of turmeric powder
Any fish you like cut into fairly large pieces
1 tsp vegetable oil
½ cup chopped onions
1 thin slice fresh ginger, crushed and chopped
1 cup mushrooms sliced- prefer ably freshly picked or from a supermarket.
1½ cups chicken stock or soup made of chicken bullion cubes
Fresh lime juice to taste
¼ cup fresh dill chopped
Add turmeric to water. Wash fish well with lime and turmeric and set aside. Heat non stick skillet until warm. Add oil. Heat. On medium heat, sauté onions, garlic, ginger and mushrooms slightly. Stir. On high heat bring to boil. Reduce to medium heat. Uncover and cook till sauce is slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Add fish. Spoon fish over sauce. Reduce to low heat. Uncover and cook till fish flakes easily when tested with fork. Spoon sauce over fish and shake the pan occasionally. Remove from heat and serve with rice or pasta.
Mallums with a difference
Now, here are some ways of coaxing your children to eat more vegetables. Try turning them into tasty malluns, and I’m sure they will enjoy eating them for a change.
Bean Mallun
¾ lb beans
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
5-6 green chillies
2 tsp salt
4 oz grated coconut
3 oz small red onions
3 tbsp maldive fish finely pow dered
Wash the beans and remove strings. Shred fine cutting at a slant. Now chop the onions and green chillies. Except for the finely grated coconut, add the rest of the ingredients and cook on a low heat, till the beans are tender, but not dry. Add coconut and cook for about 10 min. over low heat. You can add some finely chopped tomatoes and fried sprats to add to the vitamin C and protein content.
Serves 8
Kos Mallum
1 lb medium ripe jak
½ oz green chillies
2 tsp salt
Sprig of curry leaves
4 oz coconut scraped
3 tsp mustard ground
2 tsp pepper corns
6-7 cloves garlic
2 oz onions
2 tsp turmeric
¾ pint water
2-3 nivithi leaves
Shred the jak very fine and wash well and put in pan. Chop onions, chillies and add to jak with salt, turmeric, water and curry leaves. Bring to boil and lower heat till jak is cooked and all the water absorbed. Now grind the garlic, coconut, mustard and pepper together and add to the boiled jak. Toss for a few minutes and take off the fire.
Here too throw in some fried sprats to add protein to the dish.
Papaw mallun
Do you know that papaw, which we usually eat as a fruit, can be turned into a mallun? A friend of mine gave me this recipe, which she said was enjoyed by her children. If you are diabetic, this mallun is a must in your diet. Eat it at least three times a week.
½ lb well seasoned papaw
¼ tsp turmeric
4-5 green chillies finely chopped
2 tsp salt
6 oz coconut scraped
6 pepper corns lightly smashed
2 medium ripe tomatoes
Sprats or maldive fish
Peel the papaw first and cut into fine slices. Wash well to remove any papain. Add turmeric in sufficient water to cover the papaw with salt and pepper corns, and cook till papaw is done. Now add the green chillies and ground coconut and cook for a few minutes. Fry the sprats or, if you are using maldive fish, grind fine and add to the mixture and let it cook for a few more minutes.
Greens sautéed in salad dressing
1 bunch fresh spinach
2 cups fresh greens torn up
2 cups cabbage leaves torn up
2 tomatoes
Mint leaves
Lime juice to taste
Wash greens well to remove sand. Drain. Pat dry with paper towels. Heat large non stick skillet on medium heat and add salad dressing. Saute until tender. Remove from heat and add lime juice to taste. Serve as a side dish.
Baked soybeans and mushrooms
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup diced mushrooms
1 cup chopped celery
1 tbsp soy flour
½ cup milk
1 egg
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 cups cooked soybeans
¼ tsp salt
Saute mushrooms and celery lightly in oil. Stir in flour and milk. Add beaten egg, bread crumbs, soybeans and seasoning. Mix thoroughly. Place in buttered loaf pan and bake in moderate oven until brown.
Serves 4-5
Soya vegetable stew
6 cups boiling water
1 small bunch celery chopped
5 carrots diced
1 small cabbage diced
2 medium sized onions diced
3-4 sprigs parsley
2 turnips
1 leek
3 small potatoes or sweet potatoes
1½ cups cooked dry soybeans
300 grams green beans
1 tbsp soy sauce or other seasoning
1 cinnamon stick
To boiling water, add celery, carrots, cabbage, turnips, leeks, parsley and onion. Lower heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Now add dry soybeans and let it cook for 2 min. Then add cornflower to thicken the gravy and serve while hot.
Serves 6-8 people
Soya rice pilau
1 can mushrooms
4 medium sized onions chopped
1 cup well boiled soy
¾ cup long grain rice
2 tsp sunflower oil
4 cups beef broth, or tomato juice
Saute mushrooms, onions, soy, rice in oil until brown. Add broth or stock and turn into a casserole. Cover and bake for one hour in moderate oven.
Serves 4-6

Handy hints

 Tips when making pickles or moju
• If you are making pickles or moju, choose good quality dry onions. Small red onions are best.
• When preparing moju or pickles, it is better to clean the onions without soaking in water.
• Never let onions soak too long in water to facilitate cleaning. If washed, onions must be well drained and wiped with a clean dry cloth before use.
• When storing pickles, moju and chutneys avoid using metal vessels of any form, as their high acid content can cause chemical reactions that may be poisonous.
• Use bottles or glass jars to store pickles and chutney. Make sure that the bottles are rinsed in hot water and wiped dry with a clean cloth.
What to look for when buying fish
• Bright bulging eyes
• Shining skin with a slimy texture
• Firm flesh
• Gills should be bright red or reddish and not [purple, blue or black
• No offensive smell
Buying prawns? Then make sure…
• Prawns are fresh. The prawn must be firm when you press it with your finger as in the case of fish.
• There should be no bad odour
• Avoid prawns that have developed an orange or bluish colour as this is the first sign of spoilage.
• Prawns, like fish, but unlike meat, should be washed several times in several changes of water to get rid of any odour.


Four-Course Executive Lunches

When time is of essence

By Shabna Cader
Everyone is always bustling about; no one really has the time to sit down and even enjoy a warm cup of coffee these days, mind you, not even enjoy a warm meal, definitely not a whole 4-course lunch. I bet it never occurred to any of you before, but lunch or any meal for that matter, doesn’t have to be made a big deal of, or even take a great amount of time. Lunches can be simple, yet fulfilling and much needed, and of course, where can all this be possible, but none other than at Cinnamon Lakeside.
As two of the top restaurants in town – both for two separate reasons; one being one of the best Singaporean Restaurants Colombo has to offer and the other specialising in authentic and exquisite Thai cuisine – the Executive Lunch deals on offer throughout the week from Monday to Friday, are a must-try.
The courses and meals chosen for the Executive Lunch are the ideal quantity. There are two meals on offer at both Royal Thai and Long Feng. Two meals that arrive sooner that you think, and will fill tummies that grumbled for nutrition after a hectic morning.

Royal Thai
A chicken spring roll served with sweet chili sauce and the spicy mushroom soup with authentic Thai herbs is the first to arrive. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, the chicken spring roll was cooked and fried to the right amount and tasted great even without the sauce that did give it an additional touch of flavour. For those who have a soft spot for something extra spicy, the mushroom soup is the perfect choice – undoubtedly, it is also the right remedy for someone with a cold or heavy head, as together with all the Thai herbs, this soup provides relief along with succulent healthy mushrooms that are tasteful. This was certainly my favourite dish of the day.
The chicken fried rice served with spicy wok fried chicken, sautéed vegetables and wok friend cuttlefish was nothing too impressive but certainly filling. After such a hot and mouth-watering soup, the only item on the dish I enjoyed was the wok fried chicken with hot basil and chili.
Dessert was a bit interesting, as three small servings of Jasmine jelly was served with healthy slices of mango. Although the jelly was called Jasmine, there was only a hint of the flavour, whereas, there was more of a coconut taste to it along with perhaps droplets of honey. On the whole, it was pretty much alright, and a light ending to a hearty meal.

Long Feng
Singaporean food has never been known to be spicy, so I was well prepared to try some delicacies and dishes totally different to my usual palette for spicy food. Opting for the second menu held before me, the appetiser and soup, crispy chicken with chili and sesame, and the sweet corn soup, respectively, were rightly appreciated. As the previous appetiser had been justly crispy and tender, so was this, and indeed the frothy thick corn soup was added to my list of favourites.

Yet, the highlight of the Singaporean course was the main dish – once again succulent chicken, sliced lamb, Pak Choy and mushroom with young chow fried rice. The various sauces that had been used for each of the meat items (dry chilli and pepper sauce respectively), and also for the mushroom (oyster sauce), gave the entire meal a separate and whole new flavouring. Like Singaporean cuisine, this dish was certainly a mouthful of different flavours brought together in one plate, cooked, fried, and tempered to perfection, to make it a wonderful meal altogether.

Who can ever say no to a couple of spoons of dark and white chocolate mousse, especially when it’s the creamy and light kind? I know mousse is sometimes thick and heavy, but this one was indeed fluffy, and each mouthful was both light and rich at the same time.


Carving a name for himself

By Ursula Gonsalves
For many of us, food is merely delectable, once it’s set in front of us on a table, with cutlery to suit the occasion. For some of us, however, eating becomes more than a habit. “Food can be delectable, but it’s meant to be enjoyable as well. Food shouldn’t be something that you satisfy a hungry stomach with. It’s meant to satisfy all your senses”, states one of Sri Lanka’s most experienced culinary artistes, Jayalath Rupesinghe.

Jayalath has certainly managed to satisfy more than a hungry stomach, during his years as a culinary art expert. At just over 30, he has come a long way from the suburbs of Alawwa, a town almost 100 km away from Colombo. “Indeed, to be at the forefront today, as a culinary artiste, is a dream come true. My whole family was inclined towards creative backgrounds, which was probably how I nurtured a passion for art on my own.” Jayalath was educated at Paranagama Maha Vidyalaya, Alawwa, where he was part and parcel of an ordinary school life. “I studied hard and played hard. That’s how we were expected to live life. Always to our fullest potential. I was quite a good artist in school, but was also a good cricketer. That gave my childhood the perfect balance.”

Later on, having followed his father’s and brother’s footsteps as an artist, Jayalath discovered the skill of culinary artistry. Studying at the Hotel School in Nugegoda, Jayalath was able to secure a job at a leading hotel in Colombo. “The experience was quite rewarding. You could say that this was when I really discovered my passion for carving.” Jayalath was offered a job in Dubai soon after, and while working on developing his culinary skills, he also worked on various murals and paintings around town. He moved on to the Saudi Carlton, specialising in carving all forms of edibles such as chocolate, vegetable, butter and even ice carvings.
His big break came thereafter, when he was offered the position of Executive Chef in a US Military Base in Iraq. During his four-year tenure in the war zone, Jayalath managed to become one of the Base’s sought-after chefs. He earned many accolades, as his colleagues and employers alike, commended him on his impressive talent. Among Jayalath’s most famous carvings is a miniature version of the Statue of Liberty. “Those were some of the best work I’ve done so far”, he affirms.

He is presently back in Sri Lanka, offering his services for weddings and other grand occasions, mainly in ice carvings. “It becomes a passion after a while. You tend to raise the bar for your work, as well as yourself. This is why I have achieved so much in so little time. I love what I do. Culinary art to me is not a job, but merely an outlet for my creativity.”