Category Archives: Picnic Food

Different-Delicious-Pan-fried Chicken

I love that the girls coax me every once in a while to try and cook something new. Recently, it has mostly been about chicken.

Ever since we bought this little book with interesting chicken recipes, we’ve tried 3 or 4  every few months. Of the lot that Noor selected some weeks back that she wanted me to try and make, this is the one that seemed easiest to tackle for a weeknight dinner.

And what a great choice it has turned out to be- so versatile, quick and easy, and flavorful and delicious too. It is great as a snack by itself; as a filling for tortilla wraps, as a side dish with rocket or another green salad; and as a star, very filling ingredient if one wants just a large bowl of salad for a meal.

Here’s how I’ve adapted the original recipe –

Delicious Pan-fried Chicken

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400 gms of boneless chicken breast, cut in to filets
For the marinade:
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp of red wine vinegar
3-4 large cloves of garlic, crushed well or finely grated
2 tsp of red chilli flakes
2 tsp of dried oregano
rock salt/Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients for the marinade in a small mixing bowl, and turn out in to a large shallow bowl. Toss the chicken filets gently in it, cover with cling film and leave in the refrigerator for 1-3 hours. Take the bowl out of the fridge and leave on the kitchen counter for 5-10 minutes just before you’re ready to fry the chicken.
Gently heat about 2 tbsp of olive oil in a grilling pan, place the chicken pieces in the oil, and fry on both sides for a few minutes on medium heat till the meat is cooked thru and starts to turn a nice brown color. Cool and store in the fridge if you’re going to add the chicken later to a salad, serve fresh and warm if you want to have this on the side with some  salad.

Substitute honey for maple syrup, balsamic vinegar for rice wine vinegar, thyme for orgeano; maybe add a few thin slices of ginger root to the marinade instead of the garlic. Any which way, this is a winner with lots of warm, delicious flavor.

P.S. If you use this as a filling for tortilla, add a few slices of  quickly-stir-fried red bell pepper, and perhaps some guacomole on the side as the original recipe suggests. I personally prefer adding 2-3 rocket leaves to the wrap; I find the crunch of the greens complement the soft and juicy chicken nicely.

Mint-y Pea Fritters with Yogurt Dip

This was one of those born-of-necessity cooking adventures.

On a rainy, quite chilly Sunday some weeks ago, I decided we must eat soup for dinner.

So far, so good. There were some sweet potatoes that needed to be used up, so I peeled and chopped those up and got going with the soup. But then I began to wonder what I could serve on the side. Pizza did not seem like a good idea beause of the cheese overload, and we’d eaten pasta more than a couple of times already the previous week. And I had this vexing (to the family, since I kept asking them for ideas about what to cook) notion that the meal must include some green vegetable.

So I eventually asked Noor to google soup accompaniements and one of the first suggestions she seemed to come across was zuccini fritters. Interesting ! I thought, not having made those ever and pleased at the thought of trying my hand at something new and different. But then I quickly realized there was no zuccini in the fridge. In fact, there wasn’t very much of any vegetable in the fridge, and it was the kind of lazy day when I could not bear the thought of going out to shop.

Necessity being the mother of invention/experimentation, and with the bag of frozen peas the only source of veg at hand that afternoon, I decided to google to see if peas might lend themselves to fritters instead; and lo and behold, I discovered to my amazement that pea fritters are indeed a thing!

The rest, as they say, is history. I eventually came across this particular recipe that I decided to go with because I was equally intrigued by the dip- another first for me- and I am so glad I did. The dip made the dish, and the fritters have become a welcome addition to my repertoire of veg dishes.

Here’s my version of this easy-to-follow recipe (thank you “gourmandeinthekitchen”) –

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Mint-y Pea Fritters

2 cups of green peas (if frozen, thaw and boil, as with fresh, for just 3-4 minutes. Drain well)
2 eggs
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp of chopped fresh mint leaves
zest from 1 large lemon
50 gms of drained feta cheese, or a little more
1/4 cup of chickpea flour
salt and pepper to taste

Coarsely mash the peas with a fork in a large bowl and mix in all the ingredients, taking care not to squash the peas too fine. Add the chickpea flour at the end. Set aside for five minutes, then divide the mixture in to equal sized balls – about 8-10 – and flatten each with your hands in to discs (don’t make these too thin as you will pat them down some more as they fry).

Heat 2-3 tbsp of cooking oil over medium heat in a frying pan that will hold 4-5 fritters at a time. Place the fritters carefully over the oil, and fry slowly till they are cooked, a little crisped, and a nice color on both sides.

To make the dip while the fritters cook- in a ½ cup of Greek yogurt, stir in 1 tbsp of  freshly squeezed lemon juice, some freshly chopped mint (about 1-2 tbsp), 1/4 tsp of rock salt or Himalayan salt (adds a distinct something, IMO), a pinch of freshly ground black pepper and about 1/2-1 tbsp of olive oil (you could make the dip ahead and refrigerate, to help the flavors infuse nicely).

Drain the fritters to remove excess oil, and serve while still warm with the dip.

Et voila!  There’s a colorful, pretty, quite tasty plate here!

 

 

 

Easy-as-anything, Guacamole

It’s been another one of those days when I wonder why I’ve never made what I made today, ever before.

Guacamole has for the longest time been something I’ve wanted to try my hand at, but never got around to actually making.  It took an express wish/command from the teen two days ago “Can you please make guacamole?!” and a serendipitously-there avocado in the fruit basket, to get me to finally give this a shot.

And boy am I glad I did! No more store-bought stuff, yay! The fresh version is just SO much nicer, so zingy and bursting with flavor!

Here’s my take on this Alton Brown recipe here

Mash the flesh of one avocado with the juice of a small lemon, 1/4 tsp each of salt, freshly ground cumin (this is important for flavor, I think), and cayenne. Then add  a quarter of a small onion that’s been very finely chopped, a quite ripe tomato that’s been seeded and finely chopped, 1 tbsp of finely chopped fresh coriander leaves, 1 small, minced or grated clove of garlic, and a little more lime juice if needed. Mix everything well, and let sit for at least half an hour for the flavors to combine, before serving.

And there you have a pretty bowl of guacamole dip – so simple to make, I’m wondering what I’ve been doing all these years when I bought those expensive jars!

guacamole.jpg

 

 

 

“This is so good!” Chicken Biryani

Time was, I cooked, I wrote recipes here, and all was well with the world.

But that seems like a long time ago. I’m what they call a corporate slave now, I think, which leaves little time to spend time here, a place  I used to so love being in.

So yesterday evening, when Sandhya, a friend from college, asked on our chat group if I still blog about food, and I replied – with a pang of regret – in the negative, it reminded of those years when writing here was one of my chief pleasures.

And so here I am. Fresh from having cooked a very decent chicken biryani (have always felt that biryanis are not my forte, as a cook), and having made a very decent guacamole, which has been a sort of bucket list thing for me for for the longest time,  never having made that dip at home before.

It helps, though, to have a teen at home who is  interested in food!
Indira had already said to me a couple of days ago, “Can you please make guacamole?” and I just happened to have an avocado sitting in the fruit basket this morning. So while the biryani was in the oven, I googled and found a great recipe for guacamole and Voila! There is now a bowl of really zingy, flavorful guacamole in the fridge! The biryani has been a decent success too, with Indira saying “This is so good!” as she ate the first forkful at lunch earlier today.

Biryani is rather a time-consuming dish to make, but as with most such dishes I think the trick is to break up the process in to steps that can be spread over more than one period of time when one is in the kitchen. So here are the parts that I see here (the first three can be done ahead of time) and which help me see this as something that can be handled without feeling overwhelmed! The ingredients are all in blue, to help make a list to gather all the many ingredients this dish requires. But read the recipe through to the end, for the list grows until then !

biryani.jpg

  1. Marinate the chicken (can be done some hours ahead and in fact would make for more tender meat than otherwise)

    Cut 250-300 gms of boneless chicken in to 1″-2″ chunks. Whisk 200-250g yogurt till smooth and then blend in 1/2 tsp of Kashmiri red chilli powder, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp of garam masala powder, 1/2 tablespoon each of chopped fresh green coriander, mint leaves and chopped green chilli (this is optional and skipping it will subtract nothing from the flavor), 1 and 1/2 tsp of salt. Toss the chicken in this marinade and keep in the fridge till you’re ready to cook the meat.

  2. Finely Chop 2 large or 3 medium sized onions, and make tomato puree with 2 large tomatoes after blanching them in hot water to remove the skin.
  3. Make a spice mix by powdering together 1/2 tbsp each of cashew nuts, chironji seeds (there seems to be no ID for this in English, but if not available pine nuts are a decent substitute), poppy seeds, and grated coconut (lightly dry roasted so that it is not wet).
  4. When you’re ready to cook the chicken, soak 1/4 tsp of saffron strands in 1/4 cup of warm milk.
  5. Cook 1 and 1/4 cup of long-grain Basmati rice (wash and then soak the rice for at least 30 minutes before cooking it) in a pot in plenty of water and with a little salt, without covering the pan, till the rice is 3/4ths done. Drain the rice, and leave it aside to cool a little.
  6. Cook the chicken (on medium heat throughout)– In a large cooking pan, heat 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, add 1 tsp each of ginger paste and garlic paste, and fry for a minute or so. Add the onions, and fry till they are golden brown. Now add the spice mix and fry for a few minutes. Add the tomato puree next, and fry everything together till the oil separates and starts to appear on the sides. Turn the chicken in now with the marinade, along with a 1/2 tbsp of lime juice, and mix well. Cover the pan and cook the chicken for 15-20 minutes or till it is tender. By this point, the yogurt, tomato, onion and spice mix will have cooked down to a creamy-looking sauce with a rich color. Turn the heat off.
  7. In a large enough baking dish, or in a wide, deep pot, layer the rice and chicken as follows – first put 1/3rds of the rice, then spread half of the chicken over it. Layer another third of the rice, then the rest of the chicken, and then the remaining rice. Finish by sprinkling the saffron-infused milk over the top, and 1 tbsp of melted ghee. Cover the pot with a lid (or with silver foil if using a baking dish).
  8. Finish making the biryani by cooking on dum over low heat, or by baking at 180 degrees C for 20-30 minutes.

Leave to rest for 15-30 minutes. Serve. Enjoy 🙂

The usual thing is to eat biryani with yogurt, or a -tomato-onion-cucumber raita.
Perhaps that helps cut the heat of the spices. But this dish deserves to be savored on
its own, I’ve always thought, and needs only glass of wine on the side, really :-).
Plum chutney is another unusual and delicious accompaniment for it,
and adds a lovely dash of color to the plate.

 

 

 

 

 

Date, Walnut and Sesame Loaf

What a pleasure to make a good, delicious loaf of bread, and to have done that in a regular oven and not a bread-maker!

date and honey loaf

Apricot Oat Bars

apricot bars

Chocolate-y Goodness

choc oat bars
Or so Noor termed these granola bars that, despite the obligatory oats, are saved from being just only healthy by a reasonable amount of chocolate chips !