Friday, August 27, 2010

Cara oh Cara....

It's a tradition in our family to bear gifts when we visit family and friends' homes. And we notice that people actually appreciate gifts that are made more than those that are bought. Especially here where authentic Malaysian food is hard to come by.

So, when we received invitation to have iftar at Aunty H's house a few days ago, we all crack our heads on what gifts to bring. How about home made food, said Brad. Typical of the boy, all he could think of is food, even in Ramadan. But everybody agrees with him.

And as usual with Mama, what she cooks depend very much on what's in the fridge. So, we end up with the following menu: Daging Masak Kicap (Beef in Soy Bean Sauce), Lemak Cili Api Telur Ikan dengan Nangka (Fish Roe and Young Jackfruit in hot coconut milk) and for dessert - Kuih Cara.

What's Kuih Cara?

For the uninitiated, Kuih Cara is a type of mini pancake (as the batter is very similar to pancake) that is cooked either as a sweet or savoury dessert. The sweet version normally uses daun pandan (aromatic screwpine leaves) as natural flavouring and colouring while the savoury version has meat in it. When I suggested that perhaps we should call this poffertjes a la Malaysia, everybody agrees too. Only nicer and more flavourful, I must say.

Kuih Cara Berlauk - the savoury version we made last week, the filling was made using minced beef and black pepper...yummm...

So far, we've made both versions this month. As I said earlier, depends on what's available in the fridge.

Am listing the recipe for the sweet version here. Don't blame me if you don't get it right. The trouble with Malaysian kuih is that it's easy to eat but mostly difficult to make. Here goes:

Kuih Cara Manis (sweet mini pancakes)

300g plain flour
3 cups coconut cream (not too thick)
4 pandan leaves (grated and juice squeezed)
1 egg
a pinch of salt
50g sugar
cooking oil spray

1. Put flour in mixing bowl and make a well in the middle.
2. Break egg into well and fold flour.
3. Pour in pandan juice and mix well.
4. Pour coconut cream, little at a time to form a smooth batter. Batter shouldn't be too thick or too thin....feel with your fingers. Oh, don't forget the pinch of salt. Mix well.
5. Heat Kuih Cara mould on the stove (we used two moulds so that we can finish off batter faster).
6. Spray cooking oil on mould. Don't spray too much, just enough to coat the "holes". (you can also use a brush with cooking oil if you don't have the spray type)
7. Spoon batter into the "holes", about 1 1/2 tablespoon if you're using the "belimbing" design (see ours). Less if you're using "cermai", just remember not to overdo it. Shouldn't overflow, OK?
8. Cover mould to quicken cooking process. We used a glass pot cover so we could see what was going on.
9. As soon as you see the sides beginning to cook, spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of sugar into each kuih.

That indentation in the middle of the kuih indicated the point when we spoon the sugar in.

10. Use a small fork to dig out kuih once batter has gone all opaque. Let it cool before you eat them or else the hot molten sugar in the kuih will burn your tongue.

All cooked and cooling in the container.

Ready to eat. Usually, the kuih is displayed in pairs. Aren't they pretty?

Yummm...this is special. Fish Roe and Young Jackfruit cooked in hot (bird's eye chili) coconut cream. The fish roe is fresh from the fish shop but the young jackfruit is of the canned variety. Chili padi from our garden, OK?

Beef in Soybean Sauce...with black pepper, coriander and ginger too. Yummmm.....

burp....burp....burp.... purrr....meow!


Monyet King said...

where do you find jackfruit in Sydney ?

ninotaziz said...

Now I have to ask...did we really go to the same boarding school? I never learned to cook like that.

Oh, yes, you were at Cikgu Fawziah's elite whatchamacallit class while I was twirling cartwheels and marching in the sun, weren't you?

Pi Bani said...

Don't forget to give instructions on how to eat the cara manis - takut nanti ada air gula yang tersembur kena baju... ;)

~CovertOperations78~ said...

I love it when you write about food, Kitties! Mak Jah Corner near the SPCA in Ampang has lovely kuih cara -- both the savoury and sweet ones. But since Covert Mum is from Terengganu, my favourite kuihs are koleh kacang, akok, sekaya pulut and roti paung.

mokja said...

Dell : (Sigh)All looked yummy but my tummy wont allow me.
kakak,where's your pity for me.Ikan goreng tak nampak pun.Kalau ikan rebus lagi syedaaap.Hmm.

Ellen Whyte said...

Terrific pictures!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Your Highness,
The jackfruit we used here comes from cans....hehehe...there is a suburb called Cabramatta where we can actually get fresh jackfruit. The fruit is planted quite extensively in Queensland. I saw the trees when we visited the Tropical Fruit Farm near Gold Coast. purrrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Ninot,
You went to school with my Mama, not me! hahahaha... Anyway, my Mama said Kuih Cara was one of those taught in that elite whatchamacallit class. Pity you were not one of those chosen...but then who would do the cartwheeling and twirling, eh? Hey, we saw the rythmic gymnastic event at the just concluded Youth Olympic Games in Singapore and thought of you. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Pi,
Yeap...just put the whole kuih in your mouth. The dos and don'ts of this kuih would be similar to buah melaka, right? purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Mama is a stickler for tradition. So, her kuih must be as authentic as possible. Whenever back home, she always get disappointed with the commercially prepared kuihs. Oh yes....roti paung! Late Grandma used to make them...yummy...especially the one with inti kelapa. You love sekaya pulut? We're not allowed to eat pulut, lest our fur disappears. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dell, teloq ikan tu kan fishy juga! Next time we go fishing, OK? What do you fancy, steamed, sweet sour, tiga rasa? purrrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Mama's new toy helps me take fantastic pix. Hints: German brand. purrr....meow!

Pat said...

I love posts that are full of food! Yummy!!!

I've seen that kuih cara before, but I didn't know its name until now. And your mama is right: nothing you find in the shops will come anywhere near the lovely ones she makes at home.

I looked at the recipe, and I can tell - they're delicious. You're really lucky cats :)

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Pat,
Oooh...Mama is so flattered by your praises....purrr....meow!

Unknown said...

Hello Tom, please tell me you are better now. Oh, and don't say I said this, but please ask the servants to go easy on the flash. Almost ALL of the pictures I have seen are bam bam flash on camera, no lighting, no beauty, boring, below average, cats ARE worth more (Pop over when those people are out of the house!)

Tell them to set the ISO at 800 - 1600 indoors or when its dim outside.

Tell them to leave the flask switched OFF.

Tell them to get down to your level more!! (ask them how THEY would like to be photographed from a hot-air balloon all the time)

Tell them to LOOK at the natural lighting and see if it looks NICE (they will KNOW when it is, almost everyone does)

Tell them to make sure the shutter speed is always as high as possible - the aperture does not really matter these days.

Tell them you learnt this from a pro Catographer, but ANY human can learn these simple things and not flood our screens with FLASH (ie clueless) pictures.

And Tom - make yourself clear.

Wonderful blog anyway, despite the silly food.

Al-Manar said...

By the look of it there isn't enough sugar in it. The amount of sugar should equal flour. With 500gm of sugar you will lick your way to bed.

Unknown said...

..what, no puteri mandi and tahi itek??

kay_leeda said...

What a feast!! Wahhh your Mama so terrer one lah. Must try yr Mama's kueh cara recipe. Mine can never turn out right :(

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Hey Corfubob,
Welcome to my world. Errr....we're not pro photographers, we're just amateur felines. OK? purrr....meow!

psst... can we sign up for lessons from you?

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Dear Pakcik,
My Mama said: kurangkan gula dalam makanan, lebihkan manis dalam senyuman. Though cats can only grin, not smile. purrrr.....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Abe Mat,
Duck eggs are so expensive here ($1.20/egg) that we will never ever try making tahi itek. Puteri Mandi also a no-no coz we'll have to grate the coconuts ourselves, unlike where you are where grated coconuts are easily available. Making kuih Melayu is so labour intensive over here. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Kay,
The problem with making thsi kuih, is to know the correct texture of the batter. Too thick, the kuih becomes keras like batu. Too thin, it will be so lembek and hard to dig out from the mould. purrr....meow!

Cheqna said...

I love cara, with sugar or the berlauk one..lama beno tak keluarkan acuan tu..kena korek from somewhere dlm store..hehe..

if jadi ur mama's neighbour sure she can pass me a piring or two whenever she's in d chef mood... [and may be then she can use her breadmaker more?.. :-)))]

TK said...

Yeayy..finally, a post on my favourite kuih.I loike I loike I loike. Your kuih cara looks tembat.Mesti sedap tu..

Lee said...

Hi Cat, your mom is a fantastic lady and cook. She is an artist and an architect with food from the fridge, ha ha.
First time I see cake cara.
Looks real good, and yes, its always nice to make, bake something give friends as presents than buying.

My isteri always bakes for X'mas, gives to friends.
I am the official cake taster....Lee.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Become your neighbour? Sure? You kan malu-malu kucing! purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

TK Sensei,
Your favourite kuih? Mine too. purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Uncle Lee,
If you live near us, you'll surely become Mama's cake taster too. purrr....meow!

Madam Tai Tai Again said...

Hi little one,

Returning the visit to your 'home'. What a lovely and handsome cat you are! I hope I got that right...that you are a tomcat and not a female one. Sorry...this is my first visit here. You can bet it won't be my last.

Talking about kuih cara - it's been sometime since I helped make them. When we were living in Dhaka and we didn't have bazaar ramadans there (kalau ada pun tak lalu nak makan), we had to make our own kuihs. I'm very bad at making kuihs. So I went to a friend's house, who I think make the best savoury kuih cara, and helped out. The reward was of course a tupperware of kuih cara to bring back home for berbuka.

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Oh dear! Don't I look like a Queen? I'm no Tomcat dahling! hehehehe....anyway, welcome to my world. Errr...if you remain my friend, there'll be more kuih coming your way. Just because.... purrr.....meow!

Unknown said...

Wow!! It has been decades since I had Kuih Cara. In fact, I had forgotten about it until I read your post. Thanks so much for the blast to my childhood!

Thanks for sharing the recipes too. I am sure you must be busy by now preparing Hari Raya goodies.

Take care and selamat berpuasa.


KG said...

tq for this recipe....dulu in uk i main hentam saja....hmmm first got to get the acuan!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Paula,
Our Hari Raya preparation is simple - catfood, catfood and catfood. hehehehe... purrr....meow!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Yani,
Acuan baulu also can...but Mama says never ever attempt using mini cupcake pan, OK? purrr....meow!

Anonymous said...

YUMMY YUMMY YUMMS YUMMS.. I can hear myself hankering for the savoury kueh cara here. Oh dear! mana nak dapat nih? Hope the Pasar Ramadhan has these today *ish ish*

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Andrea dear,
Wish you luck in finding that cara today....What hankering? The kay-po-chees would ask - are you with child? hehehehe... purrr....meow!

ninotaziz said...

Darling CiS
Sibuk buat kueh raya ke?

Selamat Hari Raya from us,
Rudi & Ninot
Iman Inas Irani Ilena Ikesha Bik
and Cruikshanks!

Cat-from-Sydney said...

Aunty Ninot,
Mama kita sibuk aje....macam-macam dia buat. purrr...meow!