Chickening for pain and pleasure

19 04 2011

Flame-roasted vegetables... S-W-E-E-T!!!

BY MY eighth day in Singapore, I felt the need to check if what I had so far subjected my palate to – all the chilis I had gorged down – had scrubbed my tongue raw.

Apparently not.  So the masochistic facet of my personality gamely sat down for lunch with Friendship at Nando’s at Tanglin Mall.  Lunch had to be “hot” and I’m not talking temperatures here.

HOT... and I dont mean temperatures!

Nando’s, as their menu proudly suggests, is famous for their legendary Portugese Peri-Peri, chicken marinated for 24 hours in their special all-natural Peri-Peri spice and then flame-grilled to order.  Peri-Peri actually has African provenance as it is the name of the African bird’s eye chili.  And you know what they say about chilis – the smaller, the hotter.

Friendship and I spent quite a while deciding just how hot – or not – we’d want our food to be.  She cautioned me to “baste to my taste.”  For me it was easy, a toss up between “hot” and “extra hot”.  “Hot” translates to “treat with caution and respect” while “extra hot” was a no-nonsense “Beware!  Pyromaniacs only”

I was in no mood to channel Drew Barrymore circa early 80’s so “hot” Peri-Peri it was.

I asked for their combo meal of a quarter chicken and two regular sides.  From their considerable list, I picked the Portugese Rice and the Grilled Vegetables.

My quarter chicken combo, with Portugese Rice and Grilled Vegetables on the side.

 

The platter in the background is Friendship's lunch.

 

Friendship had the Chicken Kebab with Peri-Peri fries and Portugese Rice on the side. I think half of her rice went to me.

 

And oh, Friendship's kebab's grilled vegetables also became mine!

The meal came in a huge white serving platter, its pristine shade of mountain snow only disturbed ever so slightly by flecks of color in the many shades of the capsicum genus.  I couldn’t help but adore the cups that the two sides came in, their openings made by a beveled cut.  My cups runneth over, I told myself in a hushed voice, as the yellow-tainted rice and the glistening vegetables threatened to go overboard.  I prepared my fork to attack.

My grilled vegetables were threatening to go overboard!

 

Grilling sweetens vegetables. My appetite spared nothing from this cup – carrots, zucchini, capsicums, onions, everything!

And attack I did.  Though it didn’t take much effort to sink the tines of my dinner fork through the chicken breast.  The tenderness of the meat offered no resistance as the Peri-Peri sauce glided down with each piercing, in contrast to the steam that would escape.

I would take a piece of the meat, drench it even more in the hot sauce, spear a slice of carrot and a wedge of onion, and onto everything pile a little of the rice, some of the grains attemptiong to escape through the tines.  I put the whole thing in my mouth and immediately I felt transported.

To Africa by way ofPortugal, from a layover inSingapore.  Food can do that to you.

Nando's extensive line of special sauces are available at each table to allow you to continue to "baste to your taste" as you go through your sumptuous meal.

 

I really fell in love with the cups!

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Thai in a jiffy

19 04 2011

Lots of Thai sweet basil to tear into my Thai green curry chicken!

I ASSOCIATE memories with either one of two things – scent or food.  Rarely, I could associate both to a specific instance in the past.

I first fell in love with Thai Green Curry Chicken in 2003 when I learned how to make one after watching Tyler Florence on FoodNetwork.  I still know exactly what I need to whip up a mean green curry paste upon which to build the whole green curry chicken dish.

I know I need to toast coriander seeds, cumin seeds and whole black peppercorns in a dry skillet.  Once they begin to perfume the air around me, I’d tip them on to a coffee grinder and buzz them to a fine powder.  At this point, I know two things – that the coffee grinder I’d use for spices can never be used for coffee anymore, and that I know better not to open the grinder and put my nose near it to catch a whiff.  It will surely shoot straight to my brain.  That’s a kind of rush nobody wants.

I need to mix this spice blend with hot green chilis, shallots, garlic, sprigs of cilantro, stalks of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and a little dried shrimp paste.  A few whizzes in a food processor and everything ends up being whipped into a spiced and herbed frenzy!

The first and only chance I got to ask for my favorite Thai Green Curry Chicken in Singaporewas at Thai Express at Esplanade Mall.  It was exactly what I imagined it to be however unappealing it translated to its lone photo.

It was fiery hot – that I couldn’t forget.  Friendship could tell when I had to take a few sips of my drink – something I would only do at the end of the meal.  But the nice thing about it was that while the heat hit me first, it allowed for all the other layers of flavor to manifest themselves after the onslaught of fire.  Unlike the other “color” curries (red or yellow) of Thai cuisine, green curry is aromatic, really fragrant.  I credit the paste of cilantro, lemongrass and the kaffir lime leaves for this characteristic.  Together with lots of Thai sweet basil – you could see from the photo that I asked for an extra bowl that I tore into the dish tableside – they form a bouquet whose essence melts into the creaminess of the coconut cream and milk that renders this curry dish to have a more soupy consistency.

Which I never complain about as it is exactly what I need to douse plump long grains of steamed jasmine rice with.

My Thai green curry chicken at Thai Express

 

Friendship had this Thai BBQ chicken meal.

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.