Another cold and miserable January evening. Share prices are plumetting. Booo! A memory of sitting on a warm beach far away flashes through my head. You still gotta eat though: seeing how we are in the eye of the storm, recession-wise, I was thinking about how to be economical while being able to savour exotic, good and healthy food. On the way home from work I thought up this one; Carrot, Coriander and Red Chilli Soup. Filling, healthy, and the chilli gives a lovely warm kick through the sour sweet coriander & carrot mixture.

And here's a tip - buy your asian herbs & chillis loose in a Market or Emporium if you can. There's no point in buying a big bag of chillis in the supermarket only to use half of them and have the other half grow mouldy in the fridge. For example, I was able to get a bunch of fresh coriander for 0.85c in the Chinese emporium.

  • Carrots
  • 1-2 Red Chillis
  • 1 Potato
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Ginger (Or Galangal, about the size of the tip of your thumb)
  • Fresh Bunch of Coriander

Dice the carrots & potato and set aside. Mash the garlic, Deseeded Chilli, Coriander and Ginger (using a mortar) into a paste and set aside. Dry roast some cumin seeds and cinnamon bark - while they are getting fragrant, finely chop the onion. Turn the heat down, add a little oil and sweat the paste to release those badass flavours. After 2-3 minutes turn the heat up a bit & add the onion and fry until translucent. Then add the carrots & potato. Stir for a bit and then add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 20-25 minutes. Blast in a blender to liquefy the soup and return to the pot. Serve with some shavings of red chilli & sprigs of coriander for garnish.

You know what, it hasn't been this cold in a while. I feel like Scott of the Antarctic, blasted by icy winds while waiting for the #151. So be it, I suppose. And it could be worse - the coldest inhabited place in the world is Oymyakon in Eastern Russia, which once recorded -71C! Well, enough of the geography lesson and down to brass tacks.

I was in work the other day, subjected to the usual stream of buzzwords ('actioning an item' instead of 'doing something', or 'gaining traction by interacting cohesively' instead of 'working with someone') when I felt the need for a red curry, and a hot one at that. They do say that a hot curry will cause your brain to fire endorphins, or maybe it is just a nice placebo, either way I wanted a fix. The recipe for this wonderful Thai dish is below:

Thai Red Curry


  • Coriander seeds

  • Cinnamon bark

  • Cumin seeds

  • Red chilli peppers

  • Garlic cloves x 2

  • Galangal

  • Coriander Leaf

  • Shrimp Paste (optional)

Or if you're lazy or have no time, paste from a jar, such as Thai gold.


  • Coconut Milk

  • Lemongrass stalk (bashed)

  • Nam Pla (fish sauce)

  • Cane Sugar / Jaggery / Brown Sugar

  • Chicken x 2 breasts (or thigh meat if you wish - cheaper & more flavor)

  • Sweet potato

  • Green beans


Take the 1st 3 ingredients from the paste and heat in a dry saucepan over a medium heat until they are fragrant (you'll know by the smell). Then put these and the rest of the paste ingredients into a mortar and pestle (or a blender) and mash to a paste. Note, with a mortar and pestle, this may take a while but will be worth it.

Once you've got the paste ready, heat some oil in a wok to a low-medium heat and heat the paste. The point is to fry the paste and release the fragrance (but not to burn it!). Do this for a few minutes. Turn up the heat and add a little coconut milk. Stir and fry. Then add the chicken, coat in the paste and brown for a few minutes. Then add the rest of the coconut milk and the vegetables and the lemongrass stalk. Cook on a very very low heat for 10-15 minutes and there you go - it's ready. Serve with steamed rice.

Rice is a staple dish across Asia. It comes in various forms and colours and can be prepared in many ways.

It is a central item when serving Asian food. So here's a few tips for preparing / serving it. I prefer Basmati, but you can go for Long Grain, Jasmine or any other suitable variety.


Rice should be washed before cooking. As is demonstrated when washing, rice gives off a starchy white coating. The net result of washing is better cooked rice. To wash, simply pour the rice into a pot and add water. Then scrunch the rice with your hands. You will see the white, starchy stuff turn the water opaque. Scrunch for a minute or two, then drain off and add a new dose of water. Repeat the previous steps, scrunching, draining and refilling until the water starts to turn clear.


There's many ways of cooking rice. Boil-in-the bag, steamers, rice cookers - they're all out there. Here's my suggestion:

  1. Wash rice (see above)

  2. Pour rice into pot

  3. Pour water into pot so that there is roughly 1/3 an inch of water above the rice

  4. Bring the water & rice to the boil, let it boil until the water has reduced off

  5. Stir once, put the lid on the pot and bring the heat way down to as low as possible

  6. The rice will finish off after a few minutes and will be ready to serve


There are many ways to serve and/or cook rice. Plain is fine, but here are a few suggestions:

  • Add a dash of turmeric (at step 3 above) for yellow rice

  • Add 2 or 3 cardomom pods & cloves (at step 3 above) for flavour

  • Fry with egg, soy sauce & shallots to make fried rice

  • Add coconut milk (at step 3 above) to make coconut rice

Lentils are cheap, easy to prepare and go well with most things as a side dish. Lentils have been cultivated and consumed since ancient times. They come in many colours - pictured left are red lentils. They are an excellent source of protein, iron & fibre. They can be prepared in a number of dishes, from soups to stews, with or without accompanying vegetables and/or meat. This recipe wil show you how to make Red Lentil Dal.

  • 2-3 cups of red lentils
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Small stick of cinnamon (not powdered)
  • Dash of chilli powder
  • Fresh coriander
  • Oil for frying (Groundnut preferably)


Wash the lentils and remove any impurities. Put the lentils in a pot with water, bring to the boil and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Once finished, drain, mash to a creamy consistency and set aside. Chop the onions and garlic finely. Fry the cinnamon bark and onions in some oil until golden, then add the garlic and fry for a minute longer. Add the lentils and fry. Then add the chilli powder and salt & pepper to taste. At the end, mix in some roughly chopped fresh coriander leaf.

There's nothing tastier than this rich, spicy, coconut-ty, lemongrass-y meal. Beef Rendang (or Chicken) is a firm favorite in Indonesia & Malaysia. The dish itself comes from an ethnic group in Indonesia. It may have the makings of a curry what with the chilli and spices and all - but it isn't. If done properly, it comes out quite dry, with the chunks of beef coated in flakes of spice and the reduced sauce. It's best served with rice and bread (roti). If you're ever in St Kilda, Melbourne drop in to this place ( and try theirs. It's 100% yum.


  • Lemongrass - 1-2 stalks

  • Stewing Beef - 500g

  • Coriander Leaf - a handful

  • Shallots - 2

  • Galangal - a knob half the size of your thumb

  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves

  • Red Chilli Peppers - 3-4 depending on your taste

  • Turmeric Powder - a dash

  • Coconut Milk - a tin

  • Coconut Flakes - a cup full

  • Oil for frying - Groundnut or Sunflower

De-seed the chilli peppers. Put the Coriander, Garlic, Galangal and Red Chilli into a mortar & pestle and pound into a paste. If you don't have the time, or indeed a mortar & pestle, then use a blender. Set the paste aside.

Put the coconut flakes into a pan and dry roast them over a medium heat. Take them off when the flakes become golden and set aside. Put some oil in a wok, heat to medium then add the paste. The paste should fry here and become nice and fragrant. Turn down a bit to prevent the paste from burning. Now turn up the heat and add a little coconut milk, stir and fry for a minute or two longer. Then add the beef, toss and brown it in the mixture and then add some more coconut milk. Now add the flakes. Also, take the lemongrass stalks, bash with the side of a knife and add it to the pot. Bring to the boil and then turn it way, way down. It should be on a very low simmer.

Now let it cook for 2-3 hours minimum. Check from time to time to ensure it doesn't burn and add a little bit of water if it gets too dry.

Serve with rice and some roti bread. This also keeps quite well and can be made in advance.

Hi & Welcome to the blog,

This will be a collection of recipes, articles and entries for anything far east food related! That covers South & South East Asia. I'm a big fan of that part of the world, and I don't know about you - but a well prepared regional meal can bring you right back. Read on and enjoy...