Celebrating Epic Fails (with my Cosy Rogan Josh Pasta)
One day, when I was no more than 10 years old, my aunt asked me rather hurriedly to attend to her cooking. I laid down my books (there wasn’t Snapchat to disengage from back in the day) and went to her gas stove. I was hesitant, because I had never even fried an egg or cooked instant noodles before this. I wasn’t sure what to do with the fried rice that was cooking rapidly in the large wok. Perhaps my aunt saw that I started perspiring nervously or that I was just standing there with my mouth open, she reassured me that all I needed to do was give it a stir every now and then. My only job was to make sure that the fried rice did not get burnt. I poured my concentration into it and I was so glad that my great stirring skills had resulted in a rather tasty fried rice.
So fast forward to one day when my friends were discussing (discussing is a euphemism for bragging ^.^) what dish they could cook, my heart swelled with pride as I chimed in that I could cook too! Yes..! I could cook fried rice!
I didn’t attempt cooking until secondary school when we were required to cook a recipe off our Kemahiran Hidup (Living Skills) textbook.
I admit, I did not strategize this correctly. Instead of choosing a classmate who had done some time in the kitchen, I chose a goofball much like myself. Both of us combined, we had done a Grand Total of Zero time in the kitchen and have admitted to each other that we did not even know how to switch the gas stove on. I thought to myself, “This is going to be fun! Our dish would be so delicious.” As you can see, logic was not flourishing in my brains at that time. In fact, I was so carefree that logic and realism could not find fertile ground to grow in my brains.
We chose to cook Nasi Kerabu, a dish we have never cooked nor eaten before. We cooked and assembled the dish according to the recipe and could not wait to try what we imagined to be a superb dish. We have such a healthy sense of self belief.
As our class was drawing to an end, we tasted our Nasi Kerabu. It tasted like paper. It tasted like sand. Another friend asked me if I washed the ikan bilis before frying it. I said, “Huh, why? Isn’t it clean already?” Safe to say no one tried the food after that outburst. Undeterred, I poured a generous dollop of ketchup into my Nasi Kerabu for taste. Wow.. that must be a dish fit for games punishment. You know, the sort of games you play where the punishment is drinking Coke with soy sauce, wasabi, peanut, Twisties and chocolate. So I decided, cooking was not for me.
Many years later after I was married, I experimented in the kitchen. I was well aware of my culinary shortcomings and decided to use my husband as a tasting partner (synonymous to guinea pig). His praises were loud and effusive and only made me more confident to try more recipes.
This dish above is my refined Rogan Josh Pasta. I hit the nail on the head, then experimented some more, then failed, then got it right again, tweaked it til I was satisfied with it.
The instructions are quite tedious but it guarantees bold flavours, succulent meat and a clean aftertaste.
Here’s the recipe for two:
Boneless Chicken (mix dark and white meat)
Half can of tomato puree
3 tbsp of fennel seeds, 2 tsp of coriander seeds (toasted and then processed)
2 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder
7-8 cardamom pods (toasted and then processed)
1 cup of homemade chicken stock
Pasta & Greens
Pour tomato puree into pan (a teaspoon of oil to grease the pan will do)
Add fennel, coriander, cumin and cardamom powder (don’t add all, keep tasting the sauce and add more when you want the taste to be stronger)
Add stock and stir
Add sugar and salt to taste
Wait for this to cool, then coat the chicken and marinade for at least 2-3 hours. Keep most of the gravy on standby for tossing later
Pop chicken to roast in the microwave oven (It needs to have a steam function to keep the meat juicy, especially the white meat. The reason why this is not pan fried is because there is a huge loss of taste on the white meat when done so)
Once done, toss it with the remaining gravy and cooked pasta
Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with a side of blanched vege (The vege will be delicious once coated in the Rogan Josh gravy)
It has been a week of many epic fails for me so I thought I should share some goofy stories to commemorate it.
I hope you have a pleasant week :)