Comfort Food in A Time Of Lockdown

KL Stories
Comfort Food in A Time Of Lockdown
April 6, 2020

As Malaysia’s Restricted Movement Order (RMO) enters its fourth week, amateur cooks stuck at home are sharing their favourite comfort food recipes.

With a focus on minimal ingredients and preparation but maximum taste, these homemade dishes, both local and western, are perfect even for total beginners. 


Meals for the whole family

Lim Cheng Yee, who grew up with parents who ran a restaurant in Ipoh, recommends stir-fried chicken breast with broccoli. 

“With a family of three and a child who is a finicky eater, I just want a dish the whole family will enjoy with minimal fuss and resources,” Cheng Yee says.

Cut 500g of chicken breast into 2-inch strips. Marinate with ½ teaspoon of salt. Heat a large stainless-steel skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ a tablespoon of coconut oil, and let it warm for a few seconds then cook for 2 minutes. Add the chicken and stir fry until it is brown. Scoop it up and put aside.

Add more oil to the same skillet and 4 cloves of minced garlic. Add 3 cups of bite-sized broccoli florets and stir fry for 2 minutes. Add water into the skillet until it covers a quarter of the broccoli. Cover the skillet with a lid until the broccoli has softened.

“I cook it really soft to accommodate my child, so the timing for this depends on your preference,” Cheng Yee adds.

Put the chicken back into the skillet with the broccoli. Cook for 2 minutes. The broccoli should be bright green. Remove the lid and stir, scraping up any bits of sauce or meat from the bottom of the skillet, and serve.

For businessman Suffian Suboh, the RMO has meant a chance to show off his culinary skills.

“I’m bringing out the best of quarantine cuisine,” laughs Suffian, who is also a father.

His Pasta Alfredo is a sure-fire hit with the family, from grandparents to toddlers. This easy-peasy cheesy favourite is a much-requested dish in his household.

Boil spaghetti, and make sure to salt the water. Melt as much butter as you want in a pan. Throw in thinly sliced garlic (5 cloves) and shallots (2). In a separate bowl, mix a small serving of yoghurt and milk in a 1:1 ratio, and throw into the pan. Lower heat, and be careful not to curdle the mix. Throw in half a cup of parmesan cheese and stir. Then add some chopped parsley. Add the cooked and drained spaghetti, mix well, and serve. Add vegetables for some healthy goodness - spinach or mushrooms work well, and you can also use frozen mixed veggies.

Dancer and mother, Mahani Izzati Suleiman, opts for a simplified Malaysian-style butter chicken to satisfy her multiracial family. Mahani uses coconut milk instead of evaporated milk in order to avoid processed foods with lots of added sugar. The result is a more tropical creaminess that no Malaysian could possibly resist!

Dip chicken in egg and panko breadcrumbs or flour. Fry until golden, then keep aside. In another pan, heat butter and fry some garlic and ginger until fragrant. Then throw in some curry leaves. You can also add cili padi if you want some kick.  

Pour half a cup of coconut milk and add in more butter. Then add a spoonful of sugar. Fry it until the coconut milk’s oil has started to separate. Throw in the chicken, mix well, and voilà!

“This is my go-to recipe, because it is delicious,” Mahani says. “I don’t know anyone that doesn’t like butter chicken!”


Sweet treats

Being stuck at home is the perfect opportunity to try your hand at scrumptious kuihs to treat yourself for surviving another day in lockdown.  

Mother of four, Sharifah Maryam Muhammad is constantly thinking of ways to use up leftovers and old food.

“We always end up with lots of overripe bananas, and this RMO period is no different,” she shares.  

Beyond making muffins or banana bread, the simplest option is cekodok also known as jemput-jemput; deep-fried banana balls beloved by children throughout the country.  

“It’s so simple and the ingredients are staples, so you won’t need a dedicated shopping trip,” says Sharifah Maryam, who lives in Subang.  

Take 8 pisang mas, the sweet baby banana variety local to Malaysia, and squash into a mush. Mix in a tablespoon of butter, a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Add a cup of plain or all-purpose flour and ½ a teaspoon of baking soda. Mix well. Deep fry the mixture in bite-sized balls until golden brown, and serve.


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