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Two recipes to help you beat Covid-19 blues

Two recipes to help you beat Covid-19 blues

Published on

26 Mar 2022

Published by

The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Down with Covid-19 and recovering at home? If you feel well enough to cook or have a family member who can whip up a meal for you, here are two quick recipes to hasten your healing.


Take comfort in a bowl of pumpkin multigrain porridge or baked Indonesian-style chicken.


The porridge recipe is my own, after polling friends recently down with Covid-19 on what they craved most.


The chicken recipe is adapted from one by Changi General Hospital (CGH), which has the dish on its menu for Covid-19 patients.


Besides experiencing common symptoms like muscle pain, fatigue, headaches and sore throat, Covid-19 patients' sense of taste and smell may also be affected, resulting in a loss of appetite.


A menu offering a wide selection of flavours and textures can stimulate the taste buds and promote better nutritional intake, says CGH dietitian Goh Qiu Le.


The 29-year-old adds that it is crucial for patients to continue eating and drinking to support the body's fight against the virus.


Instead of food that is high in sugar or sodium, or deep-fried, he suggests using herbs and spices - such as black or white pepper, or garlic powder - to awaken the appetite. A heavier hand with spices provides an extra punch of flavour.


He also recommends using cooking methods that use as little cooking oil as possible, such as steaming, boiling, baking and grilling.


Pumpkin multigrain porridge


Instead of white rice, I go for multigrain rice for more varied texture and flavour. For this recipe, I use Greenmax Fine Multi Grains, available at Sheng Siong supermarkets ($4.45 for a 350g pack).


The mix comprises brown rice, oat, sorghum, buckwheat, wheat, barley, millet, pearl barley, pearl rice, black glutinous rice and Gordon euryale seed.


For tastier porridge, I use stock boiled from chicken bones. Changi General Hospital dietitian Goh Qiu Le suggests adding onion, carrot and celery.


If you are pressed for time, he says ready-to-use packaged chicken stock is a convenient alternative. Pick those that are labelled "low salt or low-sodium" or "reduced salt or reduced sodium".


If you use store-bought stock, reduce the amount of salt you use to season the porridge. I add chicken meat as a flavour booster. Dried whitebait is good as well, but do not use too much as it is high in sodium.




  • 4.7 litres water
  • 3 chicken carcasses (413g), remove excess fat
  • 20g ginger, cut into three slices
  • 150g inner chicken fillets
  • 11/2 cups of multigrain rice (200g)
  • 200g pumpkin, cut into 1.5cm cubes
  • 20g dried whitebait
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 5g spring onion, sliced
  • 5g coriander




1. Bring 1.2 litres of water to a boil and blanch the chicken carcasses. Discard the water.


2. Bring 3½ litres of water to a boil in a clean pot.


3. Place the chicken carcasses and ginger slices in the pot. Boil on high heat for 15 minutes.


4. Turn the heat down to medium-low and continue boiling for one hour.


5. Add chicken fillets into the pot. Cook for three minutes.


6. Remove the fillets. Once the meat has cooled, shred and set aside.


7. Strain and pour 2 litres of the stock into a clean pot. Bring to a boil.


8. Add the multigrain rice. Boil for an hour.


9. Place the pumpkin and whitebait in the porridge, and boil for five minutes.


9. Add the shredded chicken breast and stir. Bring the porridge to a simmering boil.


10. Season with salt.


11. Serve hot and garnished with spring onion and coriander.


Serves three to four


Baked Indonesian-style chicken


There is no chilli in this recipe adapted from Changi General Hospital's (CGH) version, but the medley of spices makes the dish appetising for anyone.


The hospital's senior executive chef Daniel Yeo, 58, says the recipe is inspired by opor ayam, an Indonesian dish of chicken cooked in coconut milk.


For a healthier version, CGH's recipe uses chicken breast meat and substitutes coconut milk with low-fat milk.


Baking the chicken also reduces the amount of milk required.


I use reduced-fat coconut milk for better flavour. Instead of chicken breast, I used chicken legs with skins on. It is not as healthy, but since it is for home recovery, I decide to make a tastier version.


I also up the quantities of ingredients in the spice paste to match the amount of chicken.


For a more vibrant colour, I add fresh turmeric to the spice paste. Use turmeric powder as a more convenient option.


CGH's recipe calls for the use of tamarind pulp mixed with water. For convenience, I go for Adabi Asam Jawa Xtra (Seedless Tamarind), a pasteurised tamarind paste that can be used without diluting with water. It is available at FairPrice supermarkets ($2.20 for 200g).




  • 4 chicken legs (963g)


For marinade


  • 1 Tbs seedless tamarind paste
  • Pinch of salt


For spice paste


  • 4 candlenuts
  • 4 stalks of lemongrass (use 5cm of the white root part)
  • 20g ginger, chopped
  • 4 Thai lime leaves, shredded finely
  • 10g fresh turmeric, chopped
  • 20g galangal, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 5 shallots, sliced
  • 1 Tbs water
  • 2 Tbs cooking oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 100ml reduced fat coconut milk
  • ¾ tsp salt




1. Cut the chicken legs into drumsticks and thighs. Place them in a bowl.


2. Add the tamarind paste and a pinch of salt. Mix well.


3. Leave the chicken to marinate in the fridge for 20 minutes.


4. While waiting, prepare the spice paste. In a grinder, place the candlenuts, lemograss, ginger, Thai lime leaves, fresh turmeric, galangal, garlic and shallots.


5. Add 1 Tbs of water to help the blades turn smoothly. Pulse and grind the mixture.


6. Heat the cooking oil in a frying pan.


7. Add the spice mixture and bay leaves.


8. Fry for eight minutes over low heat.


9. Add the ground coriander and cumin.


10. Add the coconut milk and continue frying for another three minutes.


11. Season with salt and and continue frying for one minute.


12. Turn off the heat and transfer the spice paste into a bowl. Let it cool.


13. Once the mixture has cooled, add it to the chicken and mix well.


14. Cover the chicken with clingwrap and refrigerate. Let it marinate for at least two hours.


15. Remove the chicken from the fridge 45 minutes before cooking.


16. Pre-heat the oven to 200 deg C.


17. Place the chicken on a wire rack on a foil-lined tray.


18. Place the tray on the lowest rack in the oven.


19. Lower the heat to 180 deg C. Bake the chicken, skin side down, for 20 minutes.


20. Turn the chicken over and continue cooking at 160 deg C for 30 minutes.


21. Turn the heat up to 180 deg C and cook for another 10 minutes.


22. Use a thin metal skewer to pierce the meat. It is cooked once the juices run clear.


Serve hot.


Serves four


Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.

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