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For My Children...What I Cooked for You: Volume 1

For My Children...What I Cooked for You: Volume 1

Por B Bot

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For My Children...What I Cooked for You: Volume 1

Por B Bot

421 página
4 horas
Mar 7, 2013


For My Children . . . What I Cooked for You, in two volumes, is her third publication. The book is the result of a request by her children who wanted some record of all that had been cooked for them. Many friends had also asked for her to record her recipes, which some had enjoyed trying out. The book is a different cookbook in that it is full of advice, tips, and notes on how to go about cooking using her recipes. The main idea had been to help the children pick up the way she had cooked their favorite dishes. However, the book should also be useful for anyone learning to cook and for anyone else trying to understand how to cook Malay or Malaysian cuisine.
Mar 7, 2013

Sobre el autor

B Bot is a freelance writer of sorts, contributing articles on current issues as well as on academic matters over the past thirty-odd years. The decision to get serious about her writing came about only recently when she realized that it would be more satisfying to go beyond the brief and occasional articles she had been engaged in for so long.

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For My Children...What I Cooked for You - B Bot

For My Children…

What I Cooked For You

Volume 1

By B Bot

Photos by Jimmy Ong


1663 Liberty Drive

Bloomington, IN 47403


Phone: 1-800-839-8640

© 2013 B Bot. All Rights Reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,

or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author.

Published by AuthorHouse 02/22/2013

ISBN: 978-1-4772-3889-9 (e)

 978-1-4772-3889-9 (e)

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models,

and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.




Condiments, Sauces, Spreads, Etc.

Beef, Lamb And Chicken Dishes

Fish, Shellfish Etc.


This book took many years to complete, largely because I was torn between adopting the format of very successful cook books and trying to develop my own style. Eventually I decided to go my own way and set out what I did in a style I have always used when cooking for my children. I have also divided the book into two volumes, a decision dictated by printing problems, but this does not affect the original intent of the whole project.

What I have produced here is inspired by my daughter's reminder to record how I cooked what I had cooked for them all these years. Then too, over the years many friends used to ask me how I cooked certain dishes. In many cases, many recipes quickly given in text messages and verbally, always led to successful products. To quote a friend who asked me how I did tomato rice – Came out nicely. Hope it tastes as good as it looks. When I asked her later how it tasted, she added "I guess sedap (delicious) cos Eiman (her son) and Emery (her husband) had a few rounds. The rice came out nicely. Not lembik (soggy) or hard. Just nice."

So I decided that since such casual information could lead to success, writing it all down could help even more my own children and friends. I was also encouraged by the fact that my daughter's Filipino maid, who did not have a clue as to how to cook Malay food, could do it following my recipes!

I have many to thank for the completion of this book: my own children and their spouses, my loyal and hardworking housekeeper and cook of more than 14 years, Marlin and of course my own husband, Asmat, who is truly the best guide and advisor. No dish would remain as an item in our family dinners or at our table if Asmat did not approve of it. Special dishes would have to be approved by him first when being prepared for a big function and he could spot changes in spices quietly when something ran out. As for Marlin, together with my son's housekeeper of more 10 years, Lenie, she organised the sessions for the photo shoots for this book and most importantly, helped to remind me of some recipes I had long forgotten when the children moved out and we cooked less for them. Last but not least, Jimmy who took all the pictures. It was not just his patience that helped us through the sessions. There was the flair he had for arranging things so well that the pictures looked good without being too structured. I am glad I finally gave in to my daughter-in-law to do the photos professionally and engage him. I resisted for a long while but Jimmy was so sweet and not stuffy at all. He swung into the project minimising all tensions and pressures from the project and we had a good time together. Thanks are also due to my granddaughter, Alya, and my daughter Sara, who helped contribute some of the photos.

To my children - happy cooking! And do remember, if there are mistakes here and there, in the spirit of my notes on ‘repair jobs’, you should be able to figure it out.


– Preamble

– Advice

– Comparison of Recipe Styles

– A Look at the Past – Memories are Made of These

This and That (Some Notes and Tips)

– Preamble

– Trial and Error – the Best Lesson

– The Ying and the Yang Aspect

– Experiment with Finished Products

– Measurements

– Repair Jobs

– Meats (Beef, Chicken, Lamb)

– Handling Chicken

– Keeping Chicken Intact in Malay Dishes

– Salt

– Sugar

– Cleaning Shell Fish

– Handling Potatoes

– Mashed Potatoes

– Eggs

– Coconuts

– Draining Main Ingredients

– Dried Chillies (Lada Kering)

– Cooking with Dried Chillies (Lada Kering)

– Dried Salted Anchovies (Ikan Bilis) and Salted Fish (Ikan Kering)

– Noodles

– Shrimp Paste

Spices – Rempah (Make Your Own)

– Curry




Arissa / Harissa

Kanji / Asyura

– Thai Curry Paste

Garam Masala

Ingredients / Items Central in My Cooking

– Seasonings

– Garlic Oil

– Ground Coconut Paste (Nyiur Gula)

– Fried Coconut Flesh (Kerisik)

– Fried Small Onions / Shallots (Bawang Merah / Kecil)


It all began………

When my daughter Sarah left for her studies in England, I was asked for a quick recipe book on how to prepare her favourite dishes. My older daughter who was already in Ireland had never asked for it because she was staying with an Irish family. But she too started to ask for it at about the same time because she had moved into her own flat. My eldest, my son in America of course had never even mentioned it because he was living with his friends and clearly their arrangement was one where he was to do anything but the cooking. Nevertheless every now and then he would ring up asking how to bake a cookie or prepare a particular dish.

And so I set about the task….. penning furiously, details of what I had been cooking over all the years. Ringing constantly in my mind was the reminder to keep it simple and manageable and to remember that this was supposed to be for people who hardly knew the difference between a pot and a fry pan except when they saw it. I was also mindful of the problem of getting local ingredients overseas, and thus, parallel to the writing up of recipes was the attempt to pack for the children the key ingredients to ensure that these could keep well. From my days in Hawaii when I had to cook using whatever ingredients were available, I tried to fit in equivalents in terms of what would be the best substitutes in case the ingredients were not available. Thus in those days when raw ground nuts (kacang tanah) were not heard of, I suggested chunky peanut butter for my satay sauces. I was to find out later that the result was a preferred taste for those palates unaccustomed to the spicy flavours of the traditionally prepared dish.

My cooking experience……

As I went along, the recipes were no longer recipes. There were all sorts of tips and ‘secrets’ which Malays call ‘petua’ meaning some kind of ‘inside’ knowledge which, supposedly, only the experienced person knows. For me though, the tips evolved from my own experience of mistakes and disasters, and my learning about a lot of things along the way. Thus for example, I noted the difference between our local ‘beras briyani’ or basmati rice and that available in England. I also learnt recently of the difference between the rice when you buy it in the packs available in supermarkets, and that sold at the wet market in town.

So – to describe this as a recipe book or a cook book is not quite right. It is actually a record of my own cooking journey, of what I had learnt both from hand-me-down recipes and tips gleaned from my own experiences. You learn a lot when you stare at one soggy mess of what was supposed to be tomato rice, not salvageable at all because as inferred in the Malays phrase, "nasi sudah menjadi bubur" – a rice porridge can never become rice again.

I cannot call it a cookbook also because the only pretence to it being a cookbook is that I have attempted some categorization of the recipes. What I have here is actually a record of the dishes I have cooked for my children and which they have liked. Amongst the recipes are those for rather non-Malaysian dishes like roast lamb and fondue bourguignonne, that my children loved but which became a very expensive affair every time we had to eat out to get these dishes. Put plainly, I learnt to cook some of the more exotic dishes because it was cheaper to eat at home.

There was also the matter of hygiene. One of our favourite meals is the Chinese steam boat which we always ate in restaurants. One day, I happened to go early to the restaurant and saw stray dogs amongst the unwashed dishes, licking up the remains from what must have been lunch leftovers. That was enough reason to stop eating out for steamboat, and to do the meal at home!

I even ventured lately into making my own spices simply because from the window of my office block, in downtown Kuala Lumpur, I watched as ingredients were laid out on the streets to dry and then sold. Besides the sight of the ingredients being polluted by street dust and people, there was the horrific realisation of what must go into certain spices and ingredients so that they would keep for a long period.

A Record for my Family………

My children also have asked me to leave some records for them because they must sense the autumn of my years and that they would at least have something of what I have done all these many years with them. I too feel an intense and urgent need to do so because I remember with sadness what happened to my own mother-in-law’s book of carefully collected recipes written in her own handwriting – passed to the wife of her youngest son and thereafter to disappear forever. I remember the exercise book, thick and well worn, packed to the hilt with additional pages of recipes gained from relatives. These were recipes that were gems because they were written out carefully covering every aspect of the dish, amounts measured out in terms of finger sizes, and ringgit and sen. In this book, as a record and tribute to my mother-in-law, I also enclose some of the original recipes that she herself wrote out from her own collection and which guided me through some of my husband’s favourite foods. I must confess though that very soon in the learning process, I cut through the detail to get to the essentials because of my own particular problem with too little time to do so many things.

Cook Easily……

This brings me to the last point about this record – that I have taken the mystique and the ‘attendant’ drudgery of cooking because circumstances dictated that I do so. I never had the luxury of time to meander through the different processes of the cooking processes that my mother-in-law toiled through. She pounded diligently with mortar and pestle, and ground all her ingredients with the stone grinder. I thank the day the blender now known as the food processor was invented – where I could get things including chilli shrimp paste condiment (sambal belacan) done in a jiffy and get on with the hundreds of things I also had to do in my life at the office.


Why would I need to advise anyone on anything?

The reason is simple – to share from my experience the many things I learnt to appreciate and to watch out for. To let my children know what cooking should be about – and to make their decisions based on what they see and experience.

1. You have to be interested in what you eat and you have to be interested in cooking. If you depend on a maid, it may be a slow and painful process of imparting these skills and knowledge, which means that in the first place you yourself have to be quite proficient in cooking. Hopefully you are lucky enough to get a maid who can catch on fast and who can relate to recipes quickly.

2. In our Malaysian recipes, especially in mine, the instructions are clear enough BUT there is a need to understand the basic concept of tumis (browning) and the balance of ingredients because most ingredients especially in Malay dishes are quite pungent and too little or too much can lead to disasters. These ingredients include shrimp paste, (belacan), the juice from tamarind paste (asam jawa) and even dried prawns (udang kering). In one recipe for example, Noodles in Spicy Chilli Gravy ("Mee Rebus Kuah Merah"), often the gravy turned out to be very sour and almost brown. There was also a rather strong odour of dried prawns or fish. The gravy was also too thick making it overly spicy and sometimes unappetising. My husband often observed this and I finally realised what was wrong. There was too much of shrimp paste, (belacan) being used. And there was also an overdose of another pungent ingredient, salted bean paste (taucu). As for the gravy being too thick, it was a question of insufficient stock being balanced with the amount of onions and chillies used.

3. Experimenting never hurts – if it does not work out, try and ask yourself why. If it works, write it down in your notes of successful new recipes. For example, recently I tried a ‘stuffed sotong’ recipe given by my brother Champang. It was nice but I noticed my husband kept quiet, his only comment being that it was a bit tough. I found it nice but in my mind I noted that it was a bit bland for our palates. The key to this was that my husband did not rave over it and so it would not appear on the table except when he was not around. But if I wanted to the dish for him, I would have to do something to increase the spiciness.

4. Please do not see cooking as a chore – my recipes have reduced the task to the simplest of processes, some of which can be done well before hand so that the final preparations are a breeze. As an example, please see the recipes I quickly wrote down for my children before they left for England – recipes that were passed to the maid who was there with them. While one daughter commented that photos would have been a great help, the others found they could come close to getting the kind of dishes they used to enjoy at home. It also helped that there were tips on the equivalents in foreign supermarkets.

5. Planning is basic to kitchen work. Plan your meals properly and you can have a wonderfully easy and healthy life. This includes planning for ingredients to always be ready. Even dried ingredients should be prepared well in advance to take the chore out of cooking. I had passed this piece of advice to my massage lady and she is forever grateful that her life is so much easier because she had prepared ingredients as I had proposed.

6. This brings me to the very important aspect of refrigeration. Having good freezer units is so important – and in our kind of climate even dried ingredients need to be kept properly.

7. Packing for storage – please use bottles although for some of the drier ingredients good quality plastic ware would do as well.

8. MOST IMPORTANT – in Malay cooking, slow cooking is the key to the best results, especially if it involves meats. For other items such as fish, prawns and chicken, slow cooking of the main ingredients such as the spices, is very important before you add the fish, prawns or chicken. This enhances the flavours.

9. Similarly, where a marinade is called for in any dish, try to marinate for as long as possible. The results will be better.

Comparison of Recipe Styles

I am not sure quite why, but I notice recipes of the past are so complicated and almost convoluted. In addition, memories of the cooking that went on in the past convey impressions of long hours over pots, uncertain and often very difficult processes, when a dish was being prepared. Perhaps it was because in the past everything was done manually and utensils were not exactly top mark. Your father’s favourite story is of how he had to help chop up the pineapples for the jam needed to make pineapple tarts. He had that look of happy achievement as his hand demonstrated how he held a knife in each hand, sitting at the chopping board and chopping away for a long time. According to him he had to spend a long time over the task because what was needed was very finely chopped pineapple.

Today, most people would have put the pineapple through a multipurpose blender with the broad blades to dice the pineapple finely. And the process would have been over in about 10 minutes, max!

I want to give you an example of a recipe which went through 3 stages, evolving into what I have suggested for you. It has been possible to make it simpler because these days, you can easily get pre-ground ingredients for certain dishes. The results have been almost the same, but the process is a more focused one that makes life easier for everyone. And the best part is that it means you can plan your meals in advance and even do the basic steps a day ahead so that you just cook when you are ready to do it.

The recipe I have chosen is Korma, (a dish of South or Central Asia origins) which is usually done with Chicken, Beef or Lamb.

In the past, following my mother-in-law’s recipe (translated):

Wash 1 chicken or 1 lb of lamb. Cut into small pieces and drain well.

Put the chicken or lamb into a pot.

Grind a handful of almonds and rub over the chicken.

Slice a big onion coarsely, fry in a little ghee. Do not fry for too long – this is just to soften it. Then add the onions and ghee into the pot without stirring it in yet.

Grind about 2 big onions or 6 small onions, and about 3 cloves of garlic.

Mix the ground mixture with the Korma spices – rub all over the chicken or lamb.

Squeeze the juice of 1 lime into one cup of evaporated milk, more if necessary to curdle the milk. Add to the chicken or lamb.

Coarsely chop spring onions (daun bawang) and add to the chicken or lamb. Add salt.

Allow the chicken or lamb to marinate – if possible for about 1 hour.

Then cook over a very small fire, stirring very carefully, especially if it is chicken.

If the mixture is too dry, add a bit of water a little at a time.

The dish is ready when the oil rises to the surface. Adjust the taste if necessary.

Then a recipe which came from a cooking class:

1. 1 chicken or 1 kg mutton or beef – cut into small pieces

2. ½ cup of yoghurt

3. 3 big onions

4. 8 pieces of green fresh green chillies (lada hijau basah / segar) cut into two

5. 1 small tin of evaporated milk

6. 10 pieces of almonds ground finely

7. A small bunch of coriander leaves (daun ketumbar)

8. 2 tablespoons of ghee

Grind the following:

1. 2 teaspoon of cumin (jintan putih)

2. 1 teaspoon of fennel / aniseed (jintan manis)

3. 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds (biji ketumbar)

4. ½ teaspoon of white pepper (lada putih)

5. 4 cloves of garlic (bawang putih)

6. 2" fresh ginger (halia)


1. Slice 1 big onion (bawang besar)

2. 7 pieces of cloves (bunga cengkih)

3. 5 pieces of cardamom pods(buah pelaga)

4. 1 piece of cinnamon (kayu manis)

5. 1 cup of water


The yoghurt is to be mixed with the chicken or meat. And half of the ground spices.

Heat the ghee in a pot, fry the sliced big onion, add the cardamom pods (buah pelaga), cinnamon (kayu manis) and cloves (bunga cengkih).

When fragrant add the remainder of the ground ingredients, milk, salt and 1 cup of water.

Add in the chicken, or meat, allow to simmer. If it gets dry add water a little at a time.

When tender, add the ground almonds.

When gravy is nice and thick and when chicken or meat is tender, add the mint leaves and the sliced green chillies (lada hijau basah / segar).

NB – I copied the recipe but later realised that item 3 – the 3 big onions – was never mentioned in the process. I suppose it was to be ground with the rest of the ingredients.

The ground ingredients make up the korma spices which are easily obtained in shops today. However, this recipe is useful if you cannot get the readymade spices.

Finally, my recipe as

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