Saturday, October 14, 2006

Easy Peasy Pajeri Nenas (Curried Pineapples)

Pajeri, pronounced as "parr-jurr-ree".
This dish looks really ugly, but tastes really yummy.
I usually don't like having pineapples in dishes (I especially hate them on pizzas), but eversince I had this dish at Taufik's aunts' house in Teluk Kumbar, Penang, I crave for it every ramadhan. It goes especially well with steaming hot rice and anything else. Everytime I eat this dish, it reminds me of having meals with Taufik's aunts at their house in Penang.

I learnt how to make this dish when I overheard a conversation at one of the melayu gatherings. One of the ladies were talking about how she made Pajeri Terung (Curried Brinjal) and that was the first time I discovered that making Pajeri is just like making your everyday curry, except that you use kerisik(fried coconut paste) and gula melaka (a sweetener made from coconut nectar).
The first time I made this, I had to call up a friend (winks at Gee) to ask if I had to use coconut milk (No). I was so happy that it turned out good and tasted exactly like what I had expected it to taste.. spicy, nutty and sweet. yum yum.
Okeh, enough stories, here's the recipe.

Pajeri nenas (curried pineapples)

half can pineapple slices
5 shallots sliced thinly
2 garlic pips sliced thinly
1 cinnamon stick
1 star annise
3 cardamom seeds
1 tablespoon of curry powder (i used meat curry powder)
3 tablespoons kerisik*
3 tablespoons gula melaka(can be substituted with brown sugar and/or molasses)
salt to taste

In a saucepan, heat up a little bit of oil and saute sliced shallots, garlic, cinnamon stick, star annise and cardamom seeds till fragrant. Once shallots start to brown, add in the curry powder with a few tablespoons of water and fry till a thin layer of oil seperates from the paste. Add a little bit of water just to stop the cooking, then add in the kerisik and gula melaka. Add salt to taste. Check for your desired consistency (I like mine really thick). Add more kerisik, gula melaka or water till the sauce reaches your desired consistency. Once sauce boils, add in the pineapples and let simmer for 5 minutes to allow the fruit to soak up the sauce.

Dish should taste curry-like, but slightly nutty and sweet, with a slightly gritty texture (from the kerisik). You can add more curry powder if you like your pajeri to be more spicy.

* How to make kerisik:
Fry fresh grated coconuts or dessicated coconuts in a dry frying pan till coconuts are browned. Use your mortar+pestle to ground the browned coconuts till it becomes fine and oily.
Kerisik is a great thickener for curries and gives it a nutty edge. Especially used for curries that are eaten with bread instead of rice (coz it sticks to the bread).

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