Ning, Manchester - Norman Musa - Fish Curry Recipe (with video)

PUBLISHED: 13:48 07 January 2011 | UPDATED: 17:57 20 February 2013

Norman at work at the kitchen at Ning

Norman at work at the kitchen at Ning

Norman Musa is a Malaysian chef with big ambitions, as Emma Mayoh reports<br/>PHOTOGRAPHY BY KIRSTY THOMPSON - VIDEO COURTESY OF NING MANCHESTER

In just over four years Norman Musa has gone from being a quantity surveyor to opening his own restaurant. Hes got his own television show, cooked for a galaxy of star names and travelled the world as race chef for the Lotus Racing Formula One Team.

He has also cooked with the likes of Rick Stein and Michelin starred Indian chef Atul Kochhar, and has filmed with Gordon Ramsay for his upcoming Gordons Great Escape series.

Last year was a big one for Norman - he was nominated for a Manchester Chef of the Year Award, his restaurant, Ning, was nominated for Restaurant of the Year and he launched his own cookery book.

Norman, who grew up in Penang, said: Working for the Lotus team was very full on.We never stopped and it took time getting used to working with the other chefs. People would come and tap me on the shoulder and ask me about my food. Id turn around and realise it was someone like David Coulthard. Ive also cooked for people like Prince Andrew, Take That, the Sugababes. I love to showcase Malaysian food.

Norman initially trained as a quantity surveyor but realised it wasnt for him and has taught himself to cook through trial and error. A childhood spent around food helped, too. His parents ran a canteen in Malaysia and would cook for up to 2,000 people a day.

He explained: I got so much exposure to cooking at home and I always tried to help my mum in the kitchen. I was always asking how to do everything. Cooking reminds me of my childhood.

Once I realised that quantity surveying wasnt for me, I started thinking about what other skills I had and started developing my cookery skills. I feel like cooking is my comfort zone. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction from it.

Norman now cooks traditional Malaysian dishes like Rendang, Gulai and Murtabak and although he is a relative newcomer to the business he is already making great waves.

He is involved with the 2010 Malaysia Kitchen campaign alongside Rick Stein, Gordon Ramsay and Atul Kochhar and has performed cookery demonstrations at the prestigious Taste of London festival. He will also take part in some demonstrations at Selfridges in Manchester later this year.

He said: When I came to this country there werent really any Malaysian restaurants. Thai food and Chinese food gets a lot of exposure.

This was one of my motivations and I want to get people to really appreciate what our food is like. For me its all about getting that exposure for Malaysian food. It is fantastic food. I tone down the spices for the restaurant as it has a real kick but there is something very special about the food.

Norman never struggles to fill the restaurant he designed himself and which he runs with business partner Andy Spracklen.

And alongside guest appearances at other restaurants and cookery courses in the Ning kitchens, Norman is looking to expand his empire.

He said: I always have something going on and thats the way I like it. I think London would be a great place for one of my restaurants and Im very excited about the prospects this may bring.

Im on a mission to make Malaysian food more popular.

Normans fish curry

Dry ingredients

2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seed
1 star anise
1 cinnamon bark (about 2in long)
tsp cumin
tsp black peppercorns

Wet ingredients

6 medium sized dried chillies
2 inch turmeric root
1 inch fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
10 shallots

Frying ingredients

4 tbsps cooking oil
50ml coconut milk
2 stalks curry leaves
tsp mixed herbs
6 tbsps tamarind juice
100ml water (1st part)
100ml water (2nd part)
6 okra
1 tomato cut into four
300g fish fillets
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp white sugar


1. Roast the dry ingredients with medium heat until the aromas rise. Let it cool and, using a coffee grinder, grind the ingredients until fine turning into powder.

2. Use mortar and pestle (if you want it done traditional Malaysian style) or blender; blend or pound the wet ingredients until fine.

3. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add blended wet ingredients and cook until the aromas rise. Then add in the mixed herbs and fresh curry leaves. Keep the heat low at this stage as the herbs can easily burn if the oil is too hot.

4. Add the dry ingredients with 100ml water (1st part) together with tamarind juice, salt and sugar. Cook until the oil separates and continue cooking for a couple of minutes or so before adding the fish fillets.

5. When the fillet is about half cooked through, add the coconut milk, 100ml water (2nd part), okra and tomato. Simmer on a low heat until the salmon fillets are nicely cooked through but moist. Serve.

Ning Malaysian Restaurant,
The Burton Building,
92-94 Oldham Street,
Northern Quarter,
M4 1LJ

Tel: 0844 414 5484

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