Saturday, June 23, 2007

I Cook (On Weekends) and I Love It!

To say that I love to cook is an understatement. One of the reasons why I look forward to weekends is because I get to do what I love doing - cooking tops writing for me. As I satisfy my craving and desire to cook, I satisfy my family’s appetite as well. Thankfully, my three boys (my husband and two sons) seem to anticipate also what I'd prepare for them. My worst critics are my sons. If they don't like what I prepare they won't even pretend. They don't eat - that's it.

I’m not afraid to experiment. Somehow, the years of trial and error (I have a lot!), reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows and surfing the net have made me confident to trust my instincts when it comes to playing around with different ingredients. I know I’m no gourmet. I wish I were. Given the chance, I’d take formal education to become a chef. That’s a dream, actually. When I was younger I also wanted to be a food writer.

The dishes I cook are your normal daily viands. I have a few tricks also when it comes to pasta dishes. And living in Cavite has made me fall in love for mussels (tahong). More than eating it, I love cooking it.

Today, June 23, for lunch I prepared chicken curry. The twist – added fresh basil. Last Father’s day, Erwin and I went to Mahogany Market in Tagaytay and bought some beef (very disappointing, it was so tough!) and herbs (basil and tarragon). I’ve always wanted to have my own herb garden and I’ve somehow started. I now have pandan, basil and tarragon. Using them is a different story. I’d better read and research more on this.

Anyway, the basil added a refreshing flavor and aroma to the dish. To complete the Indian touch, I also prepared grilled tortilla – an improvised naan.

Here’s how I did the Chicken curry with fresh basil and grilled tortilla


Fresh Chicken – cut to serving pieces
Cooking oil
Onions – Erwin is not so fond of onions but the dish will not be the same without it. So what I always do (with any dish I cook) is finely chop the onions and he has no problem with this so long as he does not see them.
Patis , salt and pepper – there’s a certain aroma and taste that patis brings to some dishes. After putting patis and the dish still does not have the saltiness I like, I add salt instead. Somehow this helps moderate the entire saltiness of the dish. If I add more patis the dish becomes too salty. I use freshly ground pepper. I love peppermills! I’m thinking of coming up with a collection of it eventually.
Curry powder– I bought a bottle of curry powder in Singapore. I’m very happy with the quality.
Fresh gata – ½ cup of pure coconut milk and 2 cups of the diluted one (pangalawang piga). I didn't use up all all the coconut milk (from 2 coconuts) because I'm making Ginataang Bilobilo later.
8 fresh basil leaves – I forgot the term of the chopping style but what I did is roll up the leaves together then chop. They came out like thin ribbons.
Tomatoes – I don’t put the tomatoes at the stage of sautéing. I add it when the dish is almost done. I like biting into chucks of tomatoes and tasting its sourness against the creaminess of the coconut milk.
Siling haba - the one used in sinigang

Eggplant and Okra - I didn't have any potatoes and carrots so I had to improvise. I used what was available. I wasn't sure if eggplant and okra would affect the taste of the dish so I fried them separately.

Tortilla – I use them also for pizza – my version of thin crust.

I did not put measurements because I did not measure. Well, most of the time I really don’t measure unless I’m following a recipe from a cookbook.


  1. In a skillet, heat oil then add the ginger and onions. Then add the garlic.
  2. Add chicken and sauté until chicken is almost cooked
  3. Add the curry powder
  4. Season with patis, salt and pepper
  5. Add the diluted coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes
  6. Add the fresh basil
  7. Add the pure coconut milk and siling haba and simmer for 5 minutes
  8. Add the tomatoes and fried vegetables and simmer for another 3 minutes

For the Tortilla, it’s very simple. Just grill it over fire. Be careful not to burn it.

The finish product… I think fresh lime can also be added. Squeeze the lime over upon serving.

I didn't know that basil can also be ornamental. I place the pot it in our living room and people are surprised when I say that it's actually an herb.

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