Category Archives: Versatile Accompaniments

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!

 

 

 

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.

Aloo ki Tikki

I made these little pan-fried potato cakes for dinner a few days ago, to serve on the side with broccoli, carrot and tomato soup. They all eat this soup, though it isn’t one of their favorites, without fuss so the tikkis were my effort at a well-deserved treat, especially since I haven’t made them in a very long time.

And I was so glad that evening that I made the tikkis; Noor saw me frying them just before dinner and said, “I LOVE aloo tikkis and I love you !”. There is definitely a connection there, I thought 🙂

And Shri’s obvious – though typically quiet – enjoyment of his dinner was very gratifying too !

Jenny's Spinach Pie

I ate this once last summer at Jenny’s and it was really quite nice.

So earlier today evening, when I happened to be in her kitchen as she made it for guests that she will have at lunch tomorrow, I noted down the quantities of the ingredients as she cooked.

It looked quite simple to put together, so I am going to try and make it some time soon.

Spinach Pie

2 rolls of store-bought pie crust

a kilo of frozen,very very finely chopped spinach

3-4 tablespoons of creme fraiche

a 210 gm bag of Gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 egg, lightly whisked

De-frost the spinach and squeeze out all the water.

In a pan, heat a little oil and fry the onion for a while.

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, the onion, the seasoning, the cheese and the creme fraiche.

Place one of the pie crusts at the bottom of a pie dish. Fill with the spinach mixture and spread it evenly. Cover with the second pie crust.

Brush the top with the egg and bake at 175degreesC till done.

Warm Spinach and Fennel Salad

At the same hotel – the Sophia Country Club – where I had the avocado and orange salad, I also had a dish for lunch one afternoon which had a very new and unlikely – to me – combination of finely sliced fennel and spinach leaves.

The vegetables seemed to make up a sort of warm salad that included some kind of seafood.

I had only the vegetables from this dish, however, and the combination was surprisingly good.

I need to figure out now how they’d been cooked together.