Moksi alesi (Surinamese)

A few weeks ago I made ‘Moksi alesi’ which means mixed rice. It is one of my favourite typical Surinamese meals and can be varied in different ways. You can prepare it with beans or vegetables (leaves) and with meat or fish or even both. You can also add coconut cream (or milk) if you like to give it a softer taste. My recipe for 4 persons is as follows:

400 grams of rice (washed)
200 ml coconut cream (or milk)
4 bouillon cubes
0,5 teaspoon black pepper
0,5 tomato (sliced)
1 onion (sliced)
3 pieces of garlic (chopped)
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons dried shrimps (soaked)
150 grams of black eyed peas (soaked)
100 grams of ham (cubed)
1 tablespoon celery (or parsley)
water

Heat the oil. Fry the onions first, then add the garlic. Add the tomato, black pepper, bouillon cubes, soaked shrimps, ham, black eyed peas, and celery. Stir until the tomato is almost dissolved. Then add the rice and coconut cream. Add water that measures 1.25 inches on top of the rice mixture (see more info under Tips) and stir thoroughly. Lower the heat when the water starts to cook. Stir again, put a lid on the pot and let it cook for about 10-15 minutes. Stir again after a while and half an hour after the rice starts to cook, the moksi alesi is done.

I served it with a grilled lamb chop and coleslaw. You can serve it with any kind of meat or fish and salad or vegetable you like.

Enjoy! Njang switie!

Rice cooking tip

This may be a weird tip, but it never fails to get perfectly steamed or cooked rice. It’s a simple technique we learned from our mom, who of course learned it from her mother. Our grandmother was Javanese so it must be an Indonesian thing.

Perfectly moist rice. Measure the quantity of rice in the pot with your index finger (straight) from the bottom to the surface. The rice may cover the top part of your finger, or you can use a ruler too if you can find one at that moment :). Add as much water as the level of rice, measuring the water in the same way. So if the rice level gets to the first part of your finger, the water level should be the same, measured from the surface of the rice to the surface of the water. I know, it’s a little bit weird, but your rice will never be too dry or soggy.

We normally use a rice cooker, but don’t panic if you don’t have one because you can still cook rice in a regular pot without burning it. That is, as long as you don’t walk away from the kitchen during the first part.  

Cooking rice in a regular pot. Using the same technique to measure your rice and water, put the pot on the stove using the highest setting. Once the water starts boiling, you have to monitor the liquid level, so don’t go anywhere! When the water is almost completely evaporated (10-15 minutes), cover the pot with the lid and turn the heat to the lowest setting so the rice can finish cooking for another 15-20 minutes. Of course the cooking time depends on the quantity of rice.

Rice’s done! Here’s another tip to let you know that the rice is completely cooked and not half done (or “al dente” like they do with pasta). Remove the lid and quickly press one finger on the surface of the cooked rice. If some grains stick to your finger the rice is only half done, because fully cooked rice will not stick to your fingers when you do this test. The key not to burn your fingers is to do it quickly.

There! Now you can cook perfect rice too!

Tofu with eggplant (Surinamese)

If you want to cook something that’s vegetarian, cheap and quick, this is the recipe for you!

180 grams of tofu (cut in cubes and fried)
1 eggplant (cut in cubes)
1 small onion (chopped)
4 pieces of garlic (chopped)
0,5 tomato (chopped)
2 salam leaves
0,5 tsp of sugar
3 tbsp of oil
3 tbsp of sweet soya sauce
3 bouillon cubes
a little bit of hot sauce
100 ml water

Heat the oil. Fry the onions a little bit, then add the garlic and fry all until it’s light brown. Add the tomato, hot sauce, bouillon cubes, salam leves, sugar and soya sauce. Fry all until the tomato is almost dissolved. Then add the tofu, stir for a short while and add the eggplant. Stir again, then add the water after a few minutes. Turn the heat low and cover the pot. Let it all cook while stirring now and then until the eggplant is soft, but not too soft. Serve with cooked rice.

Tip 1: If you’re not fond of the taste of tofu or eggplant you can camouflage it a little bit by adding some dried shrimp (soak and squeeze first) after frying the onion and garlic.

Tip 2: You can also vary this recipe by using another vegetable like cabbage, broccoli etc.

Njang switie! Enjoy!

Carrot muffins

Sometimes men need to stay out of the kitchen!

Last week while I was preheating the oven for my carrot muffins, a lot of smoke started to come out. After questioning my boyfriend, he admitted that a little “accident” had happened. He tried to reheat coagulated honey in a plastic bottle which exploded “a little bit.” So it had been the (burning) honey that was developing smoke in the oven. After a while the smoking stopped and I was able to bake these delicious carrot muffins. You can try to bake with the recipe below, but remember: Keep your boyfriend out of the kitchen!

250 g flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla

0,5 teaspoon salt

2,5 dl vegetable oil

250 g granulated sugar

3 eggs

300 grams carrots, grated

Preheat the oven at 180 degrees Celcius. Grease two muffin pans.

Sift the flour, bakingpowder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Mix the oil, sugar, vanilla and eggs with a mixer in another bowl. Add the sifted ingredients into the mix and stir with a wooden spoon.

Add the grated carrots and stir. Fill the muffin pans and bake them in 25 minutes.

Let the muffins cool for 5 minutes then take them out of the pans.

Serve as is or sprinkle some powdered sugar on top.

Enjoy!

Cooking herb guide

Basil is a fragrant herb that is very popular in Italian cooking. It is use in most tomato-based  sauces for pasta, and has a sweet and pungent flavour.

Bay leaves (dry) are a great addition to any soup, sauce, stew or casserole.

Chives are the smallest member of the onion family and look more like grass. 

Coriander (seeds, leaves) is a very popular herb used a lot in Indian, Thai, South American and Middle Eastern dishes.

Dill (seeds, leaves) leaves look feathery and have a sweet flavour that goes well with fish dishes, like smoked salmon. The brown seeds are much stronger in flavour and used in pickling mixtures, Indian dal curries made with lentils or other dry peas.

Marjoram is often mistaken for oregano because of its similar taste and appearance. It is actually a type of oregano.

Mint is used in cooking (soups, salads), medicine (cough medicine) and commercially manufactured products (peppermint, chewing gum).

Oregano is very popular in Italian cooking, and can be added to almost any dish.

Parsley is probably the most used herb in cooking, and has great nutritional and culinary value. It’s more used for garnishing.

Rosemary, a herb that came from the Mediterranean region. The name derived from the Latin “ros marinus” (“dew of the sea”), because it was first seen growing along the Mediterranean coast.

Sage is well known as one of the ingredients of sage and onion stuffing, traditionally served with roast turkey or roast goose on Christmas Day.

Tarragon is most popular in French cuisine. It is one of the main ingredients of “fines herbes”, “herbes provincales” and Béarnaise sauce. It goes very well with many chicken and fish dishes.

Thyme is also very popular in the Mediterranean and Southern European regions, especially in French cuisine. It can be mixed with parsley and bay leaves (bouquet garni) and added to soups, stocks, marinades and stews for a special herby flavour.

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