January 30, 2012

Chinese New Year 2012: Ushering in the Water Dragon with a Vegetarian Feast!

Happy Chinese New Year to You & Your Family!
Gong Hei Fatt Choi!
Gong Xi Fa Cai!
Keong Hee Huat Chai!

How have your Chinese New Year celebrations been so far? Mine has been blessed with loads of glorious food, time spent with family, relatives and friends, lots of gambling sessions, lou sangs, laughters and even tears (of joys.. that is!). Having a week of internet-less time really makes me realized how much time I spent on the web and how much I enjoyed my ‘simple’ time with my family… J

I had a few good days in KL and spent some in Penang with my family so you know what’s coming, right? Loads of food… but for now, I will start with my family tradition of every 1st day of the New Year where we dined ala vegetarian the whole day. Some of you may wonder why I never blog about Reunion dinner but my family and I always had our reunion dinner with another two families and most of the time; we will have it earlier and dine out. On the actual day before the New Year, we would usually dine on simple home cook meal as we would be exhausted from all the previous cleaning and running around preparation for the New Year.

This New Year, the younger generations have voiced out to take it easy and sleep in a bit before we all headed over to our eldest relative’s house for the 1st meal of the Dragon year. In addition, the younger generation has also volunteered to bring a dish each to contribute to the lunch to avoid the elders being overwork. Since I love curries, I decided to contribute a Vegetarian Mutton Rendang!

Here’s a glimpse of our 1st meal of the 1st day of the Dragon Year!

My first attempt at the Vegetarian Rendang Mutton turned out pretty good and I was really please with the results. Very creamy and redolent of lemongrass, chilies, galangal, turmeric and lots of coconut, the curry was not too spicy but just enough to make me downed lots of rice. I added fried potatoes and vegetarian mutton pieces that you can buy nowadays. Recipe is at the end of this post for those who is interested! J

Mushroom Soup by my cousin where the dark broth is just simmered with loads of dried shitake mushrooms and red dates.

Braised  Vegetables with Vermicelli and Fermented Bean Curd by my Mother-in-law where a plethora of vegetables are all stir fried and braised till soft for a natural vegetarian sweetness.

I love the Vegetarian Char Siew by my 4th Aunt for its sweetness and aromatic flavors!

The 4th aunt also made a Sweet and Sour Bean Curd Puff that was the first dish to be clean out. An irresistible classic in vegetarian form!!

Stir Fried Mixed Vegetable was another basic stir-fry of whatever vegetables you take fancy and flavored with a light seasoning of soy sauce and vegetarian oyster sauce.

Here’s the recipe for my curry taken from a magazine with slight additions…

Vegetarian Rendang Mutton
Adapted from Country Style Vegetarian Cuisine by Famous Cuisine Magazine

200g vegetarian mutton
150g potatoes
50g young coconut (grated white part only)
4 blades kaffir lime leaves (whole)
2 blades kaffir lime leaves (finely shredded)
1 tbsp red chili paste (add more if you like spicier)
2 tbsp vegetarian curry powder (mixed with 1 tbsp water into a paste, optional)
1 stem lemongrass (bruised)
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anises
5-7 cardamoms
250ml thick coconut milk
100ml water
Salt to season

6 dried chilies
5 red chilies
2 stem lemongrass
3 candlenuts
10g fresh galangal
10g fresh turmeric (or 1 tsp turmeric powder)
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp cooking oil
½ tsp salt

1.   Cut potatoes into chunks and deep fried them till crisp. Remove, drain well and keep aside.
2.   Stir-fry the shredded young coconut in a hot work (without oil) over a low heat until aromatic and golden brown. Dish out and set aside to cool.
3.   Blend all the ingredients for the Spices till fine. Add more water or oil to ensure that the paste is fairly smooth.
4.   Heat up 5 tbsp of cooking oil in a pot with medium heat, add in blended spice paste and stir till the oil and spices are aromatic and separates.
5.   Add in the red chili paste, vegetarian curry paste, lemongrass stem, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamoms, whole kaffir lime leaves and stir for another few minutes.
6.   Pour in water and coconut milk. Stir well and set to simmer over low heat until the gravy is thick and reduced. Add in the fried potatoes, vegetarian mutton and salt to season.
7.   Simmer for another few minutes, add in the golden brown shredded young coconut and shredded kaffir leaves, mix well and once the curry reaches another boiling stage, turn off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes before serving.

*For early preparation, you can fried the spice blended ingredients, fry the potatoes and fry the shredded young coconut one day in advance and store them in the fridge for a faster cooking time.
**The rendang keeps for another two days if you store the finished curry in the freezer. I had leftovers and the flavors were still great but the potatoes were too soft after reheating.

I had a great day to start of the Water Dragon Year… how about you? J


  1. The sweet and sour bean curd puff has always been one of my faves vegetarian dishes:D

  2. wah, vegetarian meal also looks so nice one ar.. yum!

  3. Vegetarian meal doesn't mean it canot be delicious ~ *mouth watering*^^

  4. Nikel: .. quite good!

    missyblurkit: oh yes.. its everyone's favorite in my family too!

    Isaac: vegetarian can be really yummy!

    Eunice: yep.. I agree!

  5. Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet!
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