Convenient Cuisine (Part 1) - Aromatic Tomato Pilaf Rice, Javanese-Style Chicken Curry, Mediterranean Sardine Salad with Feta & Olives

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You’re busy, they’re easy. It’s unbelievable what canned or packet foods (bought off supermarket shelves) can do to tantalise your tastebuds.

Aromatic Tomato Pilaf Rice

Description: Aromatic Tomato Pilaf Rice

Preparation & cooking time: 45 minutes. Serves: 5


·         1 teaspoon ginger-garlic paste

·         1 large onion, chopped

·         8 whole cardamoms

·         1 teaspoon cumin powder

·         1 teaspoon cloves

·         3 pieces cinnamon sticks

·         2 to 3 green chillies, chopped

·         1 teaspoon chilli powder

·         ½ teaspoon turmeric powder

·         ½ cup tomato

·         1 cup fresh mint leaves

·         ½ cup fresh coriander leaves

·         2 cups long grain rice

(basmati) soaked in cold water for minutes

·         2 tablespoons oil or ghee

·         3 cups hot water

·         1 teaspoon salt


  1. Heat oil in a heavy, large pot. When the oil is hot add onions and whole spices.
  2. Stir try for a few minutes, add ginger and garlic paste. Add the green chillies.
  3. Reduce heat and add powdered spices, taking care not to burn.
  4. Add the tomato puree.
  5. Add the mint leaves and stir well. Cook for 5 to 8 minutes on medium heat.
  6. Add the rice and some salt to taste
  7. Stir till the oil is coated around the grains of rice.
  8. Add half the chopped coriander leaves and three cups of hot water.
  9. Cook on low heat with the lid on for about 25 minutes until the rice is cooked.

  1. Add the little hot water if the rice is not yet cooked. To serve, place the rice on a large tray or platter.
  2. Sprinkle with the remaining coriander leaves.
  3. For garnishing, pan fry some cashew nuts, almonds and sultanas with ghee and sprinkle on top of the rice before serving.

Our chefs prepared all these recipes with cans of tomato puree, sardines, tuna, baked beans, creamy sweet corn, mixed fruit cocktail and ready-to-use coconut milk. There are must-haves for every busy woman with a penchant for good, healthy and delicious food.

Javanese-Style Chicken Curry

Description: Javanese-Style Chicken Curry

Preparation time: 20 minutes, plus 1 hour for marinating.

Cooking time: 1 hour. Serves: 8


·         1 chicken (cut into medium- size pieces)

·         2 teaspoon grated garlic

·         2 teaspoon grated ginger

·         4 candlenuts, finely grated

·         1 teaspoon ground black pepper

·         5 teaspoon ground coriander

·         2 teaspoon ground cumin

·         ¼ cup cooking oil

·         3 big red onions, sliced

·         3 stems lemon grass

·         10 to 12 chilli padi

·         3 green chillies, chopped

·         A handful of lime leaves

·         1 packet coconut milk diluted

·         In ¾ cup water

·         Curry leaves

·         5 bay leaves

·         3 pieces cinnamon stick

·         1 packet coconut milk

·         1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, dissolved in cup water

·         Salt to taste


1.    In a bowl, combine ginger, garlic, black pepper, cumin, coriander and candlenuts and mix to a paste, adding a bit of oil.

2.    Rub this paste onto the chicken pieces and leave for an hour.

3.    Heat a bit of the oil and fry the onions till golden brown; remove and set aside. Heat oil in a kuali and fry chicken till it changes colour.

4.    Add diluted coconut milk, bay leaves, curry leaves, chopped green chillies and cinnamon stick. In a mortar and pestle, bruise the lemon grass and the chilli padi separately.

5.    Stir them into the chicken mixture and add salt. Cook uncovered for 30 minutes on a moderate flame.

6.    Add in the other packet of coconut milk and lime leaves. Stir thoroughly and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Tip: in place of coconut milk, you may use low-fat milk to get the same rich flavor.

Mediterranean Sardine Salad with Feta & Olives

Description: Mediterranean Sardine Salad with Feta & Olives

Preparation time: 15 minutes. Serve: 4


·         1 can sardines in oil

·         200g green coral lettuce, torn

·         150g cherry tomatoes, halved or whole

·         150g pitted black olives, drained and sliced or whole

·         200g feta cheese, crumbled

·         ½ cup fresh basil

·         ½ cup fresh mint

For the dressing:

·         Juice of 1 lemon

·         2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

·         1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

·         1 teaspoon mustard

·         1 teaspoon brown sugar

·         A pinch of dried basil

·         A pinch of dried rosemary


1.    Arrange green coral, cherry tomatoes, feta, basil and mint in a salad bowl.

2.    Combine dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and toss.

3.    Then top the salad with the sardines.

Tip: if you prefer, you can use raw mozzarella cubes instead of feta cheese.

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