Category Archives: Starters and Snacks

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!

 

 

 

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 !

Kuzhi Paniyaram

So pleased to have begun the new year with this new dish in my breakfast and  lunch-box repertoire !

For brunch today I made paniyaram (more correctly, Kuzhi Paniyaram, which is the formal name of this dish in Tamilnadu), a sort of idli but one that is  different to the latter in three or four  chief ways. The former are much smaller in size; are cooked by stove-top baking instead of by steaming -as idlis are; and they have a lot more flavor because of the addition of a variety of things – grated ginger, a tempering with mustard seeds and curry leaves, and sautéed onions – to regular idli batter. Of course, the shapes are quite different too. Paniarams look quite like muffins, unlike the distinctive, flying saucer-like shape of idlis.

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I re-discovered paniyaram at breakfast one day during our recent trip to Nasik,  and was glad to see that Noor and Shri seemed to like them quite a bit. In fact both the girls said they knew these from their friends’ lunch boxes. So I wasted no time in picking up a paniyaram pan on my first trip to Dorabjee after we got back, so pleased was I to find another possibility for a healthy  snack!

Paniyarams are so simple to make too. Here’s how I made them this morning, after browsing through some recipes I found online –

Masala Kuzhi Paniaram
(makes about 18)

14-16 tablespoons of idli batter (of a cake-batter-like consistency, and to which enough salt has been added already)
3/4 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
2 quite small onions, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of skinless urad daal
1 tablespoon of finely chopped coriander leaves
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil, for tempering
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
a few finely chopped curry leaves
1 or 2 finely chopped green chillies (optional but will add a great zing)
some oil to coat the holes in the paniaram pan

In a small pan, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds. When these begin to splutter, add the daal and as its grains start to turn pink, add the onion and sauté till the daal is a golden brown and the onions are soft. Add this mixture, the ginger and the coriander  to the batter and mix everything well.

Heat the paniyaram pan over medium heat, after drizzling just a little oil (2-3 drops will do) in to each indentation so that it’s sides are coated. Now add a tablespoon (and perhaps a little more, depending on the size of the indentations) of batter to each slot in the pan and then cover the pan to allow the batter to cook. Each paniyaram will rise like a cupcake as it happens. When the sides start to look done (this will take just a few minutes) – tip out one or two of these little beauties to check for a slightly crispy, golden color all over the sides at this point – flip over each one to cook the other side till it is a very light golden color too.

Et voila. In just a few, un-messy minutes- for I LOVE how easily these close cousins to the idli come out of the cooking pan – you have the makings of a great breakfast. Some piping hot sambhaar and a tangy coconut chutney – and it’s good to go !

Interesting trivia that I gathered on this one from googling for the recipe – the pan used for these little idlis is of the exact same kind that they use in Denmark for a particular kind of pancake. Because these pancakes were traditionally made with bits of apple, the pan is called an “ebleskiver” (Danish for apple slices) pan. So basically you could make paniyarams anywhere in the world, as long as you’ve bought yourself an ebeleskiver pan ! Really neat, I thought, this serendipitous sameness of cooking forms/gizmos in two parts of the world so distant and different from each other.

Prawn Fry – a recipe by epicurious Indira

That portmanteau word in the post title describes Indira pretty well as far as food is concerned, though of course not wine as yet.

About a month ago, she came home one evening from the park and came to me in the kitchen with an excited air about her. “Mama”, she said, “I went to Munira’s house for a few minutes and there was this really nice smell coming out of the kitchen. I asked if they were cooking prawns and they said yes ! So I stood and watched for a little while…”. She then proceeded to tell me exactly how the cook in Munira’s home made the prawns and ended by saying that she’d really like me to make prawns like that one day.

Well, I will do that for lunch tomorrow (we’ve done a small test run with 2 prawns the last time I made prawn curry) when I’ll also take a picture to post here. I am quite charmed by the idea that this blog now has a recipe that I’ve learned from Indira!

250 g of cleaned and deveined prawns (washed and patted dry)

a pinch of turmeric

salt and lime juice to taste

2-3 tablespoons of sunflower oil

Combine the salt and the turmeric in a shallow bowl. Toss the prawns gently in this mixture and keep aside for ten minutes. Heat the oil and shallow fry the prawns for just long enough so that they are a very light golden color all over. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the prawns and serve.

That’s quick, easy and tasty. Thank you, Chef !

Chicken Yakitori

This is the girls’ favorite thing to take away from the Asian fast food restaurants here. Like the nutmeg and honey flavored chicken tikkas, I love how simple to make this Japanese grilled chicken is and that there is no added fat.

Some recipes I found online use mirin and sake in equal proportion instead of only sake, as in this one here. But some sites also mention that sake can substitute for mirin and this was good to know because I was able to find only sake in the supermarket.

The yakitori we had today for lunch didn’t taste quite the same as what we are used to buying, but it wasn’t bad either. And it passed that crucial test – when I asked the girls as they ate  if this is something I should make again, they both said, (busy chewing) “hum hum!!” and “I love it !”

But, as they observed too, a little less ginger and probably just a touch more sugar would improve the taste.

Chicken Yakitori (adapted from here)

1 pound chicken breast fillets without the fat and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sake or dry sherry
1 tablespoon chives (optional)
1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, peeled and grated
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon of cornstarch combined with 1 teaspoon of water

6-8 bamboo skewers

Combine the soy sauce with sake (or dry sherry), ginger, sugar and chives in a bowl. Add the cornstarch and mix. Put the chicken pieces in this marinade and toss well.  Refrigerate for about 1 to 2  hours, turning over the pieces a couple of times during this time.

Preheat the grill to 220 degrees C. Take the chicken pieces out of the marinade – save it for glazing – and thread them on bamboo skewers. Grill the chicken, glazing it with the marinade a couple of times and turning it  over till it is evenly cooked.  Serve with  hot soy sauce for dipping if you like.