Vegetarian Laksa

No more take away Laksa…

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Wow! the past four weeks have been such a roller coaster. New baby, crazy hormones, house full of family. Everyday feels like a surprise test, but thank God I love a good challenge. This lets me take everyday in my stride and keep me sane. Fortunately I have been blessed with some wonderful support from my family, which allows me to make time to do things I really enjoy, cooking being one of them. Every opportunity I get I sneak into my kitchen, ransack my fridge and try to whip up some lip smackingly delicious treats for my family. I know they say mum should sleep when bubs sleeps, but this mumma here loves to cook, eat and blog!!!

Recently for dinner I craved something spicy, soupy, with oodles of flavour and packed with a truck load of veggies. After a thorough fridge and pantry inspection I found the following – Tom Yum paste, curry powder, vermicelli noodles, coconut milk and assorted vegetables. This was only going to go one way, a cruise through South East Asia with a tasty bowl of Laksa. 

Although Laksa hails from Malaysia, it is a confluence of flavours from China, Thailand and Indonesia. My recipe today has a bit of twist, instead of Laksa paste, I have used Tom Yum paste. Traditionally one would not use Tom Yum paste in a laksa! However the ingredients that go into making Tom Yum paste particularly lemongrass and galangal make this paste a good choice when making a laksa. Particularly if you are time poor or just lazy and can’t be bothered making your own laksa paste from scratch. Although if you can’t find Tom Yum paste you can use Thai red curry paste or laksa paste too!

So without further ado find the list of ingredients below and the recipe too.

Ingredients: 16   Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • 200 gms of hokkien noodles
  • 200 gms of vermicelli noodles
  • 450 ml of coconut milk
  • 750 ml of vegetable/chicken stock
  • One heaped tom yum paste
  • Two tablespoons of curry powder (I used Clives of India Curry Powder)
  • One teaspoon of chilli powder
  • Two medium cinnamon sticks
  • Two to three kaffir lime leaves
  • One tablespoon of palm sugar
  • One medium brown onion, sliced
  • Two tablespoons of freshly grated ginger
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Assorted vegetables (I used bok choi, carrots, mushrooms, snow peas) 
  • Salt to season
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil

Heat oil in a wok. Add sliced onions and cook until translucent. Now add the grated ginger, cook until aromatic.

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Add Tom Yum paste, stir well and cook until the oil surfaces on the top. Now add curry powder, chilli powder and stir well again. Cook on a low heat for another two to three minutes.

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Time to add the coconut milk and vegetable stock. Followed by cinnamon sticks, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar and lemon juice. The lemon juice was my secret twist, it cuts through the richness of coconut milk and gives the dish a great flavour. Now lower to the heat, cover the wok with a lid and simmer the gravy for 10 to 15 minutes.

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The gravy is now ready. Add the sliced vegetables, give the gravy a good stir and let it simmer for another five to seven minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. While the gravy is simmering cook the noodles as per packet instructions.

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Your laksa is ready to serve. Place the noodles in a bowl and scoop the lip smackingly delicious gravy and vegetables on top. Garnish with fresh coriander and crispy shallots. Serve warm and enjoy the heartwarming goodness of this beautiful dish.

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Curried Carrot Soup

Why work hard, when you can work smart…

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I have never been one to take shortcuts in life, but I do abide by a philosophy which says ‘why work hard, when you can work smart’. This mantra holds especially true when I have had a hard long day at work and can’t be bothered cooking. While we all want our family and friends to think all the meals we prepare for them are a labour of love, wouldn’t it be nice if you could focus on adding more love and a little less labour in your everyday cooking.

On a recent trip to Adelaide, one of the pantry ingredients in my mother in law’s kitchen has changed my culinary world forever! Clive of India Curry Powder!!! Of course in my Indian spice repertoire there was no such thing as curry powder. Talk about British efficiency they took our gazillion Indian spices, combined it into one and unashamedly called it Clive of India. Besides the curry powder, here’s a little bit of a History lesson for you, Clive of India also known as Major General Robert Clive is credited with securing India, and the wealth that followed, for the British crown. 

The growing awareness and love of Indian food has meant that more and more people are buying spices individually, mixing them themselves for curries and to be truly impressive, grinding the spices and herbs themselves too in a mortar and pestle. This is definitely the right way to make a curry, but on weekdays when most of us are working on reserves there should be no embarrassment in choosing convenience without compromising on flavour. This curry powder offers just that!

So what exactly does the curry powder entail? There are two varieties – one  the traditional curry powder which uses 11 different herbs and spices, such as, coriander, turmeric, fennel, black pepper, cumin, chilli powder, fenugreek, garlic granules, ginger and salt. The other one is the hot madras curry powder which has a bit of a kick to it and in addition to the spices in the traditional curry powder this includes cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and nutmeg.
248866By now I am sure I have made you a Clive of India convert and if not then continue to read because I recently used this magic powder in a Carrot Soup and it worked a treat. 

Ingredients: 10  Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves: 4

  • Six carrots, peeled and cubed
  • One brown onion, sliced
  • Four to five pods of garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 250 ml of light coconut cream
  • One large bay leaf
  • One tablespoon of hot madras curry powder
  • One vegetable stock cube
  • One litre of water
  • Three tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Salt to season

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In a large saucepan heat olive oil. Add the onion and bay leaf and cook until onions are translucent. Now add the garlic, cook the mixture for three to four minutes on a medium heat or until aromatic.

Add the carrots, hot madras curry powder, vegetable stock cube (you can replace this by using liquid vegetable/chicken stock instead of water) and season with salt as required. Place a lid on the pan and cook the carrots on a medium heat for seven to ten minutes.

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Now add one litre of water followed by the coconut cream. The coconut cream goes really well with the curry powder and elevates the flavour of this dish to a whole new level. If for some reason you don’t like the coconut flavour you can use normal cooking cream or even milk. Once again coven the saucepan with a lid and let the soup simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

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Finally using a stick blender blend the soup until smooth and creamy. I have garnished it with toasted black sesame seeds, you can also use fresh coriander, crispy shallots or just a swirl of cream as a garnish. 

Serve this lip smackingly delicious winter warmer with some crusty bread. Dig in and watch your winter blues vanish away.

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