Saturday, February 27, 2010

Review: Mamak Chinatown

I have been wanting to try Mamak for ages, but it has always been too busy, and I have always found it too easy to head to the quick efficiency of Superbowl up the road. This time, I was in luck: It was an early Tuesday lunchtime, and there was no queue waiting outside.

I can't believe this place has been open since 2007! Where have I been the past few years?

It seats on rough estimate - 80 people, and the place is buzzing a happy noise of people enjoying hawker style food and good conversation.

Murtabak is a wrapped roti (Indian crepe) - I think they describe it has a hawker food, and one of their popular dishes. I got Murtabak Lamb $10.50, which contained lamb, cabbage and onions.

When it arrives, I can't help but feel a little disappointed. Because it is all wrapped up, it is hard to taste the roti on its own, and see how crispy it is. It is very eggy in flavour, with lovely nuggest of curried lamb peeking through.

I see a constant procession of the roti 'cones' (roti tisu)- served with either savoury sambals, or a scoop of icecream. Next time I'm in town, this will be on my list.

My Teh Halia (Stretched ginger tea) turns up first, it is very sweet and has an almost stewed 'tannic' flavour. It's fascinating watching the waiter pour the tea from jug to jug to give it a foamy head.
I like it. I'd love to stay for dessert, but unfortunately work calls.

15 Goulburn Street, Chinatown, Sydney
Ph: (02) 9211 1668

Open 7 days
Lunch: 11.30am - 2.30pm
Dinner: 5.30pm - 9.30pm
Open until 2am Friday and Saturday.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Recipe: Shish Kebab Marinade

Have you ever grated an onion?

I spotted this recipe in the weekend paper, had a craving, so I tried to make it.

Beef Shish Kebabs (Sun Herald, 17/1/2010, Karen Martini)
Serves 4-6 (8 kebabs)
2 brown onions, grated in a bowl with 2tbsp salt on top. Leave for 10 minutes, then strain and discard the solids.
1 tsp extra salt
4 cloves garlic
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp caraway seeds (I substituted Nigella seeds)
Pound the above ingredients in a mortar and pestle, then add
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 tsp harissa
Juice of 2 lemons
Onion 'juice'
1/2 bunch flat leafed parsley
1 bunch coriander (it's fine without it)
Then marinate the following for 4-6 hours:
900g scotch fillet, diced (I used whole steak)
Skewer and chargrill the kebabs (steak) over high heat for 3 minutes on each side until tender & just cooked.
Serve with plain yoghurt, drizzled with a little olive oil & freshly baked flatbread.

I thought that I could get away with dicing the onion, but you don't get the amount of onion 'juice' that you need. I then tried to retro-grate the onion by using my microplane and its attachment for grating very small things, but really: just grate the darn onion from the start.

I forgot to buy harissa, so substituted Indonesian chilli sauce (Brand: Capibu Jari Jempol Sambal Asli), which worked quite well. The smoked paprika added the smoky flavour, without needing to char the meat.

I found that adding the paprika after the lemon and onion juice worked better for me; if I I squashed it using the mortar and pestle, the paprika turned paste-like and didn't meld well with the marinade

You can marinate this overnight with beef, in accordance with the instructions, or you can spike them meat with a fork and marinate it in the time it takes to warm up the bbq. The flavour isn't as intense as an overnight marinade, but if you have some of this stuff lying around, it is quite acceptable.


Also - (attempt no. 3) don't try to take a shortcut by not straining the onion is also a mistake. I ended up with a kind of paste that the meat didn't really absorb as a flavour.