Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Kit Perera’s Chicken & Eggplant Curry

Expert Sri Lankan Chef For A Night Kit Perera shares his Chicken & Eggplant Curry


Kit’s Curry Powder

3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
½ cinnamon quill, broken in to pieces
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon cardamom seeds
2 tablespoons dried curry leaves 
(if using fresh curry leaves, you can dry these in a frying pan over low heat for 2-3 minutes)

In a heavy based frying pan over low heat, separately dry roast the coriander, cumin and fennel seeds, stirring constantly until each becomes fairly dark brown, but not burnt. Set aside
Using a spice grinder or a blender, blend the roasted spices on high speed with the cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and curry leaves to a fine powder. Put in a bowl and mix well before transferring to an airtight container

Chicken and Eggplant Curry

Serves 4
Preparation 30 minutes
Cooking 45 minutes

For the Eggplant
1 small eggplant quartered lengthways
½ teaspoon turmeric
Olive oil for frying

Sprinkle the turmeric over eggplant slices
Heat a frying pan over high heat, add olive oil and fry the flesh side for 2 minutes on each and set aside (add more oil if needed)

For the Chicken
1kg skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon turmeric
Extra olive oil for frying

Put the olive oil and spices in to a bowl together with the chicken and mix well
Heat a frying pan over high heat, add olive oil and sear the chicken in batches. Set aside

For the curry
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 cardamom pods
2 dried chillies
1 sprig fresh curry leaves
½ cinnamon stick
1 piece lemongrass, bruised
1 teaspoon each crushed garlic and ginger
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon curry powder
Salt to taste

Heat oil in a saucepan over moderate heat, add cardamom pods, chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon stick and lemongrass stir-fry for 1 minute
Add the onion and fry until golden then add the garlic, ginger curry powder and spices and stir-fry for 1 minute
Add the chicken and coconut milk; mix well and season with salt
Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
Transfer to a baking dish; add the eggplant, mix well and bake on 180F for 15-20 minutes
Serve with steamed basmati rice.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Way to Gaetano

Dinner at Monzu is much more than a meal, writes Geraldine Johns.

Top left: Gaetano Spinosa and executive chef Flavia Nasimento.

We are at Gaetano’s house and all is well with the world.
   This is what was once Merediths. It’s still a restaurant of very high standing but in another realm.
   You may remember Gaetano Spinosa from the much missed O’Sarracino. If you do you will know of his accomplished pedigree, as well as his unstoppable habit of having a very much hands-on influence on your dining event. After a few stints elsewhere Spinosa has made this Dominion Road address his headquarters from which he imparts a taste of Napoli - all of it good.
   And it is here that he has imported all his skills: not just in the kitchen but in the entire surrounds.
Monzu means ‘Monsieur’ in Italian. Translated here it means more than that: an abundance of warmth and generosity; a feeling of belonging; a sense of coming home.
   Let me tell you what we ate. It will be different when you turn up, because the menu changes daily. It’s very much dependent on both whim and fresh produce. There is a written outline of what’s on offer (seven main pastas; three main meat or fish dishes), but my advice would be to pay great heed to Gaetano’s recommendation. Actually, you don’t have much choice; he will steer the menu for you. He is as much storyteller as host. So we will know about the dishes he first learnt of at his mother’s apron strings. And we will relish his take on that inspiration.

Tonight’s antipasti.

   Start, do, with the antipasti. Ours is the vegetarian version: little pockets of deliciousness that have you enjoying even the foods you might ordinarily avoid. Consider, for example, the seductive peperoni in padella.
   To the mains: the pasta e piselli (peas, onion and pecorino with white truffle cream) and the fresh pasta with homemade pork and fennel sausage. Both of them gorgeous. 
   To dine at Monzu is to enjoy more than a meal. It’s an experience that borders on the theatrical. It’s only been going three weeks when we take our seats, but it still feels like an old and well established friend.
   Solicitous at every turn, Gaetano will treat every table as his Number One guest. Those same attentions are reflected in the dishes. Credit must also go to executive chef Flavia Nascimento, who delivers on every promise.
   It’s Fathers’ Day in Italy on March 15. And in homage to that we get a dessert of zeppola di San  Giuseppe, a creamy custard-filled pastry which is truly celebratory.
   To dine at Monzu is to yield to Gaetano’s influence. That is not a bad thing.

Top from left: pasta e piselli, peas, onion and pecorino with white truffle cream
fresh pasta with homemade pork and fennel sausage.
Below from left: stirring in the truffle cream; Zeppola di San Giuseppe 
with Giapo’s chocolate gelato.


365 Dominion Road, Mt Eden.
Phone (09) 623 3140.
Open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday from 6pm
Antipasti: $16 per person
Mains: $29 - $38
Dessert: $15


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Kit Perera’s Pumpkin Kale & Coconut Curry

Expert Sri Lankan Chef For A Night Kit Perera shares his 
Pumpkin, Kale and Coconut Curry
For the Pumpkin
400gm pumpkin, peeled, cut to bite size

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small chilli, finely sliced
½ tsp tumeric
½ tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
300ml coconut milk
salt to taste

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over high heat; fry mustard seeds and let them pop. Add curry leaves and onion. Turn down the heat to low, cook stirring for 2-3 minutes.   Add garlic and spices, cook for further 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add pumpkin, mix well. Add the coconut milk, stir and cook covered for 20-30 minutes or until pumpkin is cooked.

For the Kale and Coconut
4 leaves kale, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp dessicated coconut
½ tsp ground tumeric
salt to taste
Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat; add garlic and kale and fry for 3-4 minutes, stirring. Add coconut and turmeric, mix well and fry for further 2 minutes
Season with salt.

To assemble, plate the pumpkin and top with the kale and coconut.

Kit Perera is famous for his Sri Lankan food, even though he’s equally adept in French and Moroccan cuisines. He is unequivocally passionate about cooking as he is about cricket. Born in Sri Lanka, Kit became a professional cricketer, and this sporting career has taken him to England, Australia and New Zealand, where he’s coach and mentor up to Black Caps level. Kit’s Chef for the Night is a highly popular event where he cooks Sri Lankan food for select parties in the setting of their homes or a studio kitchen centre. He’s the perfect consummate host chef, with smashing anecdotes from his professional cricket career and his colourful travels.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Skade Award for Treble Cone Book

The International Skiing History Association has recently honoured the published history 
of Treble Cone by awarding the book the 
Skade Award. In recognising this book, the passionate efforts of a stubborn group of 
Kiwis were honoured, most especially the men who got things rolling in the late 1960s – 
Treble Cone founders Rod Aubrey, Ray Cleland, Murray Raffills, Don Ross and Sir Tim Wallis.
   The Skade Award is presented to outstanding works of regional ski history. This year, writer Matt Conway was recognised for Treble Cone (Clean Green Press), the history of the eponymous New Zealand ski resort. Awards night was at Springsboat Springs, Colarado. 
   Below are chapter openers from the book.
   The Treble Cone story is quite a saga with some wonderful twists and turns. It’s rare for what was essentially a club field to find a commercial footing without any government or corporate backing but that was the case for Treble Cone. What this amazing mountain had to offer inspired a devoted ski bum culture, shared family experiences, training visits from the likes of Hermann Maier and Bode Miller and the rapid development of Wanaka as a resort town.

Writer Matt Conway
Designer William Chen
Production Manager Gilbert van Reenen
Publisher Clean Green Press
Available from Treble Cone, bookshops in Wanaka, Queenstown and Dunedin

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spring Rolls

YIN CHIEH (whom we all have affectionately called Aunty KK) sat down at the table during a late lunch and started making her famous spring rolls. I knew they were the best and watching her expertly make one after another with love and care, I realise why she has always sent some out as entrees.
   The skin is the Kulit Popiah from KG Pastry, made in Malaysia. The filling is a mixture of finely julienned cabbage, dried Chinese mushroom, carrot and chopped parsley stalks. With the basic salt and pepper seasoning and drizzled with oil this slaw mix does not have any garlic or onion, a Buddhist practice.
   The spring roll parcel is sealed with a liquid mix of flour. Yin Chieh makes around 80 spring rolls every 2 days. That’s a lot of hand-made spring rolls  but it’s easy to see know popular they are as entrees. There’s nothing more delicious than having freshly made spring rolls, with a sweet chilli dipping sauce.
   Start every meal at KK Malaysian with Spring Rolls. No better way!
KK Malaysian
463 Manukau Road
09 630 3555

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Westhaven In The Mist

WHEN THE FOG rolls in, the Waitemata Harbour turns ethereal. It’s my favourite time to go for a walk, sans dog. The fog over the weekend was more like a mist, ideal for an arty photo essay. It was thick enough to hold up and delay the Prime Minister’s flight to Rotorua to drum up more votes for this weekend’s General Elections 2014.
   On this side of the Bridge, there’s a stretch along the foreshore where the Harbour Board allows fishermen and anglers to cast their line. As the tide was coming in, there were already a handful of recreational souls trying their luck this early morning at 8am. Nestled under the Bridge approach is the Auckland Bridge Climb and Bungy.
   The Westhaven Marina is stunning. On this misty morning, the water is very still and the reflections of the myriad of yachts mirror-like. This area is home to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club. I remember when New Zealand held the Americas Cup, we had functions there where the Auld  Mug was proudly displayed (incidentally damaged in a sledgehammer attack in 1997).

   The area is also home to the Richmond Yacht Club and the small but perfectly formed Victoria Cruising Club. This morning, the Royal New Zealand flag was being raised and Marina buntings were flapping in the breeze that was building up. A couple were going through their waltz moves in the carpark. Waltzing in the mist, so to speak.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Baram Regatta

THE BARAM REGATTA defines what this rich cultural riverine tract of Sarawak is. This famous regatta is now held once every 3 years and this year is from Thursday 21 August to Saturday 23 August. Festivities include cultural performances, traditional sports competition, Baram Idol, beauty pageants, exhibitions and native craft stalls.
   The Baram River rises from the highlands and passing through riverine settlements of longhouses. There are five major tribal groups that have given this region it’s cultural identity, Iban, Kelabit, Kayan, Kenyah and Penan. The Baram Regatta is held in Marudi, the furthest upriver trading post on the Baram and services all the longhouses in the Tutoh, Tinjar and Baram river basins. Nowadays, roads reach further upriver but Marudi still maintains its trading focus. The Baram Regatta was promulgated since the peace-making treaty to end tribal wars of over 115 years back. What better way to end hostilities by having regatta every couple of years in the spirit of friendly rivalry. 
   I must say being at any Baram Regatta is the crowning glory of the Sarawak cultural experience, memories of the one regatta in Marudi in my youth will never be forgotten. I managed to design the commemorative badges (without any design training yet) and since I still have these badges and photographs taken back then, I recall the happy times spent at the regatta with now life-long friends. 
   We would watch the races from the vantage point near Fort Hose up the hill on the banks of the Baram, looking across to Lubok Nibong. 
   We hear the chants as teams from different longhouses and tribes would set out to outrace each other, and we would gasp when there’s an occasional capsize or collision. There would even be an (army) helicopter hovering in the sky like a dragonfly.
   Carol Brooks, a then Peace Corp science teacher at Marudi Secondary School posted on my Facebook page: My last Baram Regatta was in 1972 when the Orang Putih longboat team entered. They got off to a great start but steering was a challenge as their boat veered straight to the riverbank! Lots of laughter and fun!
   The town square was abuzz with native cultural dances and stage shows, and stalls selling native craftwork from upriver. It was a good time to try buy carvings, ikat (woven fabric), beadwork and the rich array of native crafts. You could even buy blowpipes. And there were a lot of stalls selling traditional foods. What’s there not to love?
   I'm very envious of friends who have made a special trip back to Marudi to re-live this spectacular regatta.