Roast chicken with a Spicy Orange Vinaigrette

I’ve been looking for rocket leaves for a while now. They are my favourite in salads. And quite honestly, I didn’t want lettuce. There’s too much lettuce everywhere, in every salad. I finally found a bag of rocket leaves in my local grocery store. These fancy supermarkets are of no use sometimes, I tell you. Also, colleagues from Chile sent across all sorts of condiments and spices to a few colleagues here. I did what I could and managed to get some for myself. I’m using this particular kind where I could taste chilli and coriander distinctively. I used it in the vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil and orange juice. Makes for a good Saturday meal. Not too heavy, and not too light. Just the right kind for a post lunch nap.

Recipe for one.

Ingredients:
1 chicken breast, sliced horizontally
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp chilli powder or any other spicy condiment you can find (there are tons in the market)
1/4 orange juice
Salt to taste

Marinate chicken in mentioned ingredients for an hour or two.

Method:
1. In a large pan, heat some olive oil and place chicken breast pieces.
2. Let it cook for 3 – 4 mins on each side and take it off the heat.

Marinade:
Mix together
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp spicy condiment powder/paste
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp orange juice

You can serve this with rocket leaves, sliced green apples, pomegranate leaves and sauted mushrooms like I did, or with mash potatoes or rice.

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Chicken, Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry with Brown Rice

Continuing my ‘eating better’ stride, I present to you, Chicken, Broccoli and Mushroom Stir Fry with Brown Rice. There were unused mushrooms and broccoli from dinner last night and all I needed was some chicken for a simple stir fry to go with brown rice. It’s pretty simple and doesn’t take forever to make. You’ll get brown rice anywhere these days and it’s delicious!

Serves 2.

Rice

Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice
2 1/2 cup water

Method:
1. Rinse rice at least thrice before pressure cooking it with the water for 15 mins. Check for doneness yourself and cook further if required. Keep aside.

Stir fry

Ingredients:
250 gms boneless chicken (I used thighs) cubes
1 cup blanched broccoli
1 cup mushroom, sliced
1 tbsp cornflour dusted on the chicken
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp chilli paste OR 1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp honey
Sesame seeds to garnish
Basil leaves
Lemon grass leaf
2 tbsp Sesame oil

Method:
1. Coat chicken with cornstarch, ginger garlic paste and a touch of salt.
2. Heat 2 tbsp sesame oil and saute chicken till cooked. Say about 10 mins.
3. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 mins.
4. Add soy, fish sauce and chilli paste/powder.
5. Add torn up basil leaves and the lemon grass leaf, along with broccoli.
6. Finish with honey and sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

Serve with brown rice.

You can garnish with spring onions if you’d like. Or add carrots and other vegetables as well. Make it your own and it’ll be delicious!

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Whole Wheat Spaghetti in a Roast Bell Pepper Sauce with Broccoli and Mushrooms

In times like these when fast food, junk food and generally unhealthy food is all around you, it’s quite hard to stick to a healthy lifestyle. It’s very easy to cave in and order fried chicken, greasy Chinese food, pizzas with not good but processed cheese, burgers with highly processed meats and sauces, and of course ridiculously heavy and sweet desserts. These can be addictive. Anyway, what I’m getting at is, not that I don’t enjoy an occasional pizza slice, or a burger. And sugar is my poison. Home cooked meals are indeed the best. You can control everything that goes into your food and by extension, you. I’m not suggesting you eat brussel sprouts and carrot slices everyday. But there are ways to cut down the fat and grease in food without compromising its taste. I love my pasta and I love a good sauce to go with it. I read somewhere about roasting bell peppers and turning it into a sauce. It’s a genius idea. I also had whole wheat spaghetti in my pantry. So, there!

Serves 2 hungry people.

Ingredients:
250 grams or half a pack of spaghetti
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 very large or 4 medium cloves of garlic, grated
1 cup broccoli, blanched
1 cup mushroom slices
Basil leaves
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Paprika or chilli powder if you like some heat in your pasta
Olive oil for cooking

Method:
1. Heat a tbsp of olive oil, add garlic and saute bell peppers till you see them charred. Say around 5 – 7 mins.
2. Take off heat, cool and churn it in a blender with some salt till smooth or chunky (however you like your sauce).
3. While your sauce is in the making, cook the spaghetti as per instructions (usually 7 mins) and keep aside. Retain a cup of the cooking water to thin the sauce.
4. Heat more olive oil and brown the mushrooms in it. Toss the broccoli once mushrooms are done.
5. Add the bell pepper sauce now and a splash of the water you cooked the spaghetti in.
6. Tear up a few basil leaves and toss them in.
7. Remove from heat and mix the spaghetti in the sauce.

You can add any veggies or chicken and even different herbs. I just love the freshness of basil and could get my hands on some good basil here in Gurgaon after a long time.

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Pudina Dhaniya Chicken

I use pudina and dhaniya (mint and coriander leaves) together only in biryani. I intended to make biryani, but just got lazy and turned the base of the biryani masala into a curry. Obviously, you can tweak it any way you’d like, but don’t skimp out on the pudina and dhaniya which makes the dish fresh, and hey..your greens are sorted for the day!

Ingredients for marinade:
1 kilo chicken pieces on the bone
1 tbsp ginger paste
1 tbsp garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli paste/powder
1 tsp turmeric
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Marinate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for curry:
1 cup pudina (mint) leaves
1 1/2 cups dhaniya (coriander) leaves
3 green chillies
2 onions pureed
4 cloves garlic
2 dried red chillies
1 inch piece ginger
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 inch piece cinnamon
3 cloves
1/4 cup grated or small pieces of coconut (optional)
1/4 cup fresh cream
Oil/ghee

Method:
1. Heat a tbsp of oil/ghee and saute pudina, dhaniya, cinnamon, cloves and ginger separately.
2. Grind to paste with garlic, cumin, ginger and coconut. Add water if necessary.
3. Heat some more oil and saute the dried red chillies along with the onion puree.
4. Once onion puree is cooked or has turned light brown in colour, add the pudina and dhaniya paste. Cook for 2 mins.
5. Now add chicken with some salt, and cook for 30 mins or till meat looks like it’s coming off the bone.
6. Add cream to finish.

You can garnish with fried onions or even toss some almond flakes in there for some crunch. I served this with rice. You can alternatively serve it with rotis/paranthas.

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Chocolate Tart

 I totally get it when celebrity chefs go on and on about using good quality chocolate while baking. A friend at work got me some from Australia. I wanted to showcase the quality of the chocolate by make a tart. I knew I struck gold when I saw how the chocolate melted under hot cream and milk, to form a puddle of luscious, silky and shiny bowl of heaven. Now I’ve been fairly unsuccessful when it comes to shortcrust pastry. Maybe it was the recipe or my skill of bringing the dough together, but it rarely came out right. This time it did. I was pleasantly surprised throughout the process till the blind baking bit. The dough came together easily, rolled out just fine and sat in the tart tin also pretty well. I hope I continue to stay this lucky at all times. But try this recipe out on a Sunday when you want your home to be filled with the aroma of chocolate. This is an instant crowd pleaser. Folks at work are going nuts!

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Ingredients for the shortcrust pastry:
2 cups flour
3/4 th cup cold salted butter cut into pieces
3 tbsp sugar
1 egg
Up to 1/4 cup ice cold water

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Method:
1. In a large bowl, put the flour, butter and sugar.
2. Add the butter and begin to crumble it in the flour till the mixture looks like bread crumbs.
3. Add the egg and mix it in the flour by hand.
4. Add the cold water, spoon by spoon till the dough begins to come together. If it comes together soon enough, don’t add the rest of the water.
5. Don’t knead it, but just turn it into a ball and cover it with cling film or parchment paper.
6. Chill in the fridge for 20 mins.
7. To roll it out, place the dough on parchment/butter paper and use a rolling pin. You can alternatively flour the surface of your kitchen counter and do the same. Roll it out enough to fit in your tart tin.
8. Press the sides well enough and use some left over dough to patch up any torn parts.
9. Line the dough with foil and fill it with rajma or channa, and bake it in your preheated oven at 180 C for 30 mins till it’s light brown in colour. Don’t leave it for long because you’re going to bake it again with the chocolate filling.
10. Take it out, and let it cool while you work on the filling.

Ingredients for the filling:
300 gms or 2 full cups of good chocolate – 70% cocoa, cut up into pieces
150 ml or one cup of full cream
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
A pinch of salt

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Method:
1. Heat the cream and milk in a saucepan till hot, but not scalding.
2. Pour it over the cup up chocolate in a bowl and gently run a whisk through it and watch how beautifully the chocolate solids surrender to the heat of the cream and milk.
3. Add salt and break the eggs into it and whisk it till everything is incorporated well.
4. Pour it into the cooled tart shell and bake for 20 mins till it’s set at 180 C.

Let the tart cool completely and then put it in the fridge for at least 30 mins before cutting it up. Dust some cocoa on it for garnish. Trust me, this is the best thing you can do to a bar of chocolate this good!

Recipe adapted from The Food Network

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Khao suey with chicken

I remember eating Khao Suey in an Asian restaurant which served even Burmese food in Bangalore, years ago. Seemed like a lot of work to eat, forget the cooking. But it was totally worth it. I was mostly fascinated by the assembling of the main dish in a big bowl of curry and noodles and then the little bowls around it, waiting to be picked from. They mostly contained garnishes and accompaniments like chopped coriander, browned garlic, fried onions, chopped green chillies, and the likes. It seemed like the perfect dinner when there’s a nip in the air. There was no nip in the air here as such, even with the temperature drop. Only dust, as always. But since my successful attempt with Thukpa, I figured I’ll give Khao Suey a shot too. I looked up various recipes and strangely all of them were different from one another. One said to make a ground paste for the curry base, one said to just use cumin and turmeric, you know, such things. So I went ahead and mixed and matched like I do with my wardrobe. Thankfully it turned out better than my experiments with my wardrobe.

khao suey

Yield:

3 servings

Note: Cook 1 packet of egg or veg hakka noodles as per instructions on the packet, and keep aside.

Ingredients for chicken marinade:

500 gms boneless chicken cut into bite size pieces
1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli paste or powder
1 tsp salt

Method:
1. Marinate chicken in above mentioned ingredients for 3-4 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for curry/sauce/soup base:

1 tsp cumin seeds
2 dried red chillies
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli paste or powder
1 tetra pack of coconut milk
Salt to taste

Method:
1. Head oil and add cumin, turmeric and dried chillies.
2. Add chicken with marinade along with chilli paste and a cup of water and cook for 7-8 mins or till done.
3. Add the coconut milk and let it bubble up before you take it off the heat.

Garnish:
1. Heat oil and saute sliced garlic till golden brown.
2. To the same oil add finely sliced onions, say 2 of them. Saute till dark brown.
3. Chop coriander and green chilles.

Place the cooked noodles in a wide serving bowl, pour the chicken curry over it and top with the garnishes. You could replace chicken with mushrooms and other vegetables as well.

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Waffles with Caramelized Bananas and Honey

The Flipkart Big Billion Day was upon us and everybody was all ooh-aah and everything about it. I also downloaded the app (yes, I’m a cavewoman when it comes to apps) to see what the fuss was all about. As expected, the first thing I click on was the kitchen appliances section. And lo behold, by the grace of tech Gods, I saw one waffle maker. That too for Rs. 899 only. One brand called Lifelong it seems. Now only time will tell if it’s going to stand the test and taste of time. Anyway, now that I have procured the maker, I presumed with the making. Of the waffles, of course. I came across too many recipes. But decided to figure this out on my own. Couldn’t be THAT off considering I’m one pancake queen. So here goes:

Makes 4 waffles. 2, if you want to stuff all the batter into that waffle maker and cause spillage and dense waffles.

Ingredients:
1 cup maida (plain flour)
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 cup oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Method:
1. Mix dry ingredients and keep aside.
2. Mix milk, oil, yolk from the egg (keep the white aside to be added later) and vanilla and keep aside.
3. Now make a well in the flour mixture and pour the wet ingredients to this and mix till incorporated. Don’t over mix, else you’ll have waffle shaped leather type thing to chew on.
4. Whisk the egg white till nice and frothy. Like cappuccino froth maybe. Gently fold this into the batter.
5. Pour 3/4th ladle of the batter on each waffle mould of the preheated waffle maker.
6. Close it and wait till you see steam coming out from the sides. Also, there will be a red and green light where green turns on means it’s done.

I topped this with caramelized bananas and honey. You could choose chocolate sauce or maple syrup or basically anything else you’d like.

Also, I’ve learnt this a little too late, but still. Taking some effort to make your food look nice makes you also feel nice. Especially when the picture comes out good, when you don’t have a fancy-shmancy camera and only a phone.

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Cream Cheese Swirl Brownies

I remember watching a romcom, years ago, where Patrick Dempsey and his friend are about to have cream cheese swirl brownies. I wondered what that would be like, and it also opened me up to doing different things with brownies. I never got to try the cream cheese swirl ones because no one made it commercially and it wasn’t even made in bakeries or restaurants. I let it pass. But ever since I got my oven here in Gurgaon I’ve been trying out various brownies – mocha, bacon. It was time to give this one a shot. So, I did. They turned out pretty great and was a hit with friends and colleagues too. How could it not be? It’s like a mouthful of cheesecake AND brownie together!

I did look up recipes but all of them involved using cocoa powder and not chocolate. I went with my instincts and added the cream cheese element in my regular brownie batter itself. Thankfully, it worked.

Ingredients for the brownie:
1 cup dark chocolate chopped up
1/2 cup cold salted butter cut in pieces
3/4 cup brown sugar (or regular)
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

For the cream cheese swirl:
1 pack cream cheese (150 gms) at room temp
1/2 cup powdered white sugar
1 egg

Method:
1. Mix all the ingredients for the cream cheese swirl together and keep aside.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter and whisk till smooth,
3. Add eggs and mix well.
4. Add vanilla and sugar and mix well.
5. Add the flour and fold it into the chocolate mixture.
6. Tip the brownie batter on to your baking tin and leave a few spoonfuls for the swirls.
7. On top of the brownie batter pour the cream cheese mixture.
8. Now add the remaining brownie batter spoon by spoon on different spots. Use a toothpick and run it all over the batter to create swirls.
9. Bake in a preheated oven for 30 mins at 180 C.

Let it completely cool off before cutting it up into pieces. Trust me, this is one heck of a dessert and really quite simple to make.

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Creamy Spicy Chicken Curry

I don’t know what to call this curry, to be honest. It’s rich, creamy and a tad spicy – all of which you can alter to your taste. What’s different with this curry is the ground paste I add in the end which makes it rich and bloody delicious!

Marinade:
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup curd
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste

Mix all of the above and marinate 1 kg chicken (on the bone cut into pieces) with it for 4-5 hours or overnight.

Ingredients for curry:
4 onions chopped, sauted in oil till transparent and pureed
4 tomatoes pureed
1 tsp jeera
2 green chillies slit
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tbsp ghee/butter/oil

Method:
1. Heat ghee/butter/oil (I went with butter), add chillies, jeera and then tip the onion puree into it.
2. Cook till it turns light brown in colour and add ginger-garlic paste with salt. Saute for 2 mins.
3. Add turmeric and chilli powders and mix well.
4. Add tomato puree.
5. Add the chicken with the marinade into this onion tomato mixture.
6. Cook for 25 mins or till done.
7. In the meanwhile make the paste which goes into the curry in the end.

[Ingredients for paste:
2 onions finely chopped
Handful of cashew nuts
1 inch cinnamon stick
4-5 cloves
4-5 cardamoms
1/4 cup fresh cream

Method:
1. Saute chopped onions in oil/ghee with cloves, cardamom, cinnamon till they’re brown in colour.
2. Cool and blend it in your mixer with cream and cashew nuts till it’s a fine paste.]

Cont. with curry..
8. Once chicken is cooked, add the paste and let it cook for another 2 mins.
9. Take off heat and garnish with coriander leaves.

You can alter this by omitting the cream or even the cashew nuts. But don’t leave out the browned onions because it adds a nice caramel flavour to the dish. It sounds odd, but it’s delicious. Serve with rotis or rice.

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Bacon Brownies

Not too long ago, a colleague and friend brought us a bar of Bacon Chocolate from the U.S. Don’t pull a face – it was the best thing I’ve tasted in years. It was as if chocolate met bacon, they dated in someone’s kitchen and then I got to attend the wedding. It was all kinds of awesomeness. Now, I did know about bacon brownies but had never tried them – baking or otherwise. After the successful encounter with the bacon chocolate bar, I figured I’d give the brownies a shot. They turned out good. But there’s always scope to improve – and by improve I mean, add more bacon!

The short version: Add 1/2 cup of fried bacon bits and 4 tsp bacon fat to your regular brownie batter.

Ingredients:
1 cup chocolate
1/4 cup salted butter
3/4 cup brown or regular sugar
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup fried bacon bits
4 tsp bacon grease/fat

Method:
1. Microwave the chocolate and butter for 30 – 40 seconds and whisk till completely melted and smooth.
2. Add eggs and vanilla, and mix well.
3. Add sugar.
4. Fold the flour into the batter.
5. Add the bacon bits and fat to the batter.
6. Bake in a preheated oven for 20 mins at 180C

Let it cool completely before demolishing it.

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