I have an ongoing affaire de cœur with Satay. It all started in 1996 on my first trip abroad. I stopped in Singapore en route to Malaysia where I was to conduct a 10-day training program on a programming technique called OLE/COM for the Malaysian government.
As is wont with most Indian vegetarians, I set off on the trip with apprehensions about food that will be available. I wanted to try the local cuisine but was also wary of what I might get to eat.
In Singapore, I was met by a friend who was a stricter vegetarian than I am (she ate no onion or garlic) and she introduced me to some Vegetarian non-Indian restaurants. Yes, yes, I ate at the redoubtable Komala Vilas sometime during my trip.
The first dish I tasted at lunch on the day I landed was Tofu Satay and I was instantly in love.
Later on when I travelled to Malaysia, I stayed on the outer edge of a city called Shah Alam that was just developing. In this city, there was the Holiday Inn where I was staying, there was the magnificent Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque and a mall nearby that had a few shops open. Finding something vegetarian to eat in the evenings was quite a bit of challenge. I cannot tell you how much boiled corn and how many French Fries I ate. 🙂
Towards the end of the course, during lunch I was chatting with the participants about my stay in Singapore and happened to mention how much I liked Satay. To my surprise, on the last day of the course, I was gifted 10 cans of Satay Sauce and about 1 Kg of Rambutan (a fruit that I quite enjoyed). I was quite touched by the gesture.
For many months to come after I returned to India, my family and friends ate Satay. 🙂 🙂
While there are many recipes for Satay Sauce, I make this version often. You can enjoy this sauce with grilled vegetables, pan-fried tofu or paneer, or even steamed vegetables.
As I was writing this post, my brother has had a significant amount of sauce with steamed rice!
Time: 45 Minutes
Makes: 2 Cups
- Peanuts – 1 Cup
- Lemon Grass (White Part) – 3
- Garlic Cloves – 2 Large
- Shallots or Madras Onion – 4
- Spicy Red Chillies – 5
- Galangal – 1″ piece (or 1/2″ Ginger)
- Brown Sugar – 1 tsp
- Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
- Soy Sauce – 1 tsp
- Tamarind Pulp – 2 tsp
- Peanut Oil or Sesame Oil – 1 tbsp
- Salt to Taste
- Soak the chillies in just enough water to cover them for 10 minutes.
- Roastanddeskin the peanuts.
- In a wok or kadhai, over medium heat, dry roast the peanuts.
- Let the peanuts cool.
- Stand over a sink.
- Rub a few peanuts between your palms.
- Blow gently to get rid of the skin.
- Set aside the deskinned peanuts.
- Repeat the process till all peanuts are deskinned.
- Grind the peanuts to a coarse powder.
- Set aside.
- With a little water, grind the soaked red chillies, shallots, lemongrass, coriander powder, garlic, and garlic to a fine paste.
- In a wok, heat the oil.
- Add the spice paste and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes till it loses the raw taste.
- Add the soy sauce, sugar, and tamarind paste.
- Stir-fry for 2 minutes till the tamarind loses its raw taste.
- Add the peanut powder and 3/4 cup water.
- Add salt and mix well.
- Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Simmer till the mixture is thick but of pouring consistency.
- Serve with grilled vegetables, tofu or paneer.
- If you have peanut butter at home, use 1/2 cup of that instead of the peanuts. You can save a lot of time. I have found crunchy peanut the best as it lends some texture to the Satay sauce.
- Be careful with the amount of salt you add as the Soy Sauce has some.
- Be careful with the amount of Sugar you add as the sauce can quickly turn sweet.