Sunday, 27 February 2011

Grilled chicken and veggies..lazy lunch for two

I decided not to do anything today, especially after yesterdays get together with a bunch of friends...a whole day spent drinking and eating. To add to that the weather was horrid. Ideally I would have preferred to not cook anything at all, but sadly that's just a distant dream. So here I was on a Sunday morning in front of the comp completing some research work I was doing for an article and my husband decides to vacuum. Damn the hoover makes a hell of a lot of noise. Thanks to Ro, and my rumbling tummy...I had to get off my lazy ass and make lunch. Thawed the chicken thinking I'd make yet another boring chicken curry and then decided..nah I'm just gonna put it into the oven and not waste my time sauteing and stirring.

I also had some asparagus lying around (seriously who has that sorta veggies lying around without any purpose?) and the good ol potato always comes to my rescue. So did a fast stir fry and voila lunch was ready at the exact time Ro was done with his vacuuming and a delicious one at that (if i may add).
I have a standard recipe I depend on when I want to grill or bake chicken and its always turned out awesome for me. I didn't do that elaborate a process this time, just the basic, but turned out good nonetheless. The chicken pieces I had with me were the whole leg part and since I was too lazy to cut it up into smaller portions, I decided to grill them as it is. No regrets there, except I now have one whole piece which I obviously can put to better use; perhaps in a sandwich or in my Caesar salad.

Grilled chicken
Chicken- 600 to 700gms or so approx. (I used 2 whole leg pieces, around 680 gms)

To marinate:
Kashmiri chilli powder- 2 tsps
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder- 3 tsp
Garam masala- 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder- 1/4 tsp
Any meat masala- 1/2 tsp (optional)
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
Lime juice- a dash
Salt- to taste
Oil- enough to brush
Clean and skin the chicken and make deep gashes on the flesh.
Make a paste with all the ingredients in the 'to marinate' section, adding water if required (I didn't need to) and generously rub on the chicken pieces on both sides. Keep aside for at least an hour (nope, I didn't do that..grin!)
Preheat the grill to 200C and line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil.
Place the chicken pieces aside each other (leaving enough space) and using a basting brush oil the chicken on the side facing up.
Grill for 18 minutes.
Take it out of the oven, flip the chicken, oil that side and put it back in for another 18 minutes. Check if its done. If its a little too dry, baste it with some more oil.
I cooked it on either sides for a further 10 more minutes and was good to go.
To check if its cooked, use a fork and knife and cut all the way to the bone and if juices run clear its cooked, or check to see its not all red inside.
Serve hot with veggie of your choice or as a starter, if making with boneless pieces.

Veggie platter
Asparagus- 200gms
Baby potatoes- 4 or 5, cleaned and cut into big chunks
Onion- 1 small, roughly chopped
Garlic- 3 pods, crushed
Salt and pepper- to season
Oil- 1/2 tbsp

Heat oil in a frying pan and  toss in the onion, garlic, asparagus and potato together.
Season with enough salt and freshly ground black pepper and give it a strong stir.
Close with a lid and cook on medium low till just cooked, not forgetting to stir in between.
Notes: I ended up over cooking the asparagus a bit, so it wasn't still crunchy. 
Use any veggie of you choice here..even spinach would be a good idea.
You can spice it up with anything you want..say, oyster sauce.

Monday, 21 February 2011

Prawn Theeyal (prawns cooked in a spicy coconut based gravy)

The first time I've ever made theeyal, and I loved it...maybe not the tedious procedure...but the taste was to die for. Every time I get back from India I go into these sudden bursts of love for mallu-land. I mean I stream lame mallu movies on youtube, I have intense cravings for mallu food and I even want to go Indian grocery shopping at that time (something we very rarely do and avoid to be precise). Like I'd mentioned in one of my previous posts..I decided to go easy on food and was actually living on salads and avoided carbs mostly. But last week it all went wrong when a friend of mine posted a recipe for a spicy red fish curry and I had to have it. Me, who was not even a fish fan had to have it...that too with rice. Sadly for me, King/ Sear fish is not available anywhere nearby and so I just had to sit and stare at the pic and curse her for putting it up on a day I could easily be manipulated (food-wise, I mean).

The next day, I went ahead and picked up prawns and decided to make the same curry using prawns. Was searching around for a recipe and stumbled upon a prawn theeyal recipe by Yummy O Yummy. I skipped it thinking I had to roast the coconut and then grind it and all that jazz. But then again, I got bored searching aimlessly for prawn curry recipes and nothing really caught my fancy. I was almost ready to give up on the curry when I received a parcel that afternoon and it was the mill extension for my Kenwood Chef free standing mixer. Oh and I don't understand why everyone makes such a hoo ha about Kitchenaid mixers when this awesome Kenwood one lets you do a whole lotta other things than just whipping and whisking and mixing??? According to various sources, Kitchenaid does the same too...but still, i think its highly overrated and I heart it :) (no Kenwood didn't pay me to say all this)
So what I was trying to say was..I got the mill attachment and I had to use it..So theeyal it was..decision made! Paired it with some basmati rice and I absolutely loved it. I think its gonna make its way through to my kitchen again and again, now that I have the mill in tow. And thanks N for the inspiration.

Recipe adapted from here with a few tweaks
Prawns- 2 cups, cleaned and deveined
Onion- 1 medium, cubed
Green chillies- 2, slit
Tomato- 1, cubed
Kokum- 3 to 4 small pieces, soaked in 1/2 cup warm water
Water- 1 cup or as required
Salt- to taste
Coconut oil- as required (I used normal vegetable oil)

To dry roast and grind to a fine paste:
Grated coconut- 1 1/2 cups
Coriander powder- 3 tsp
Chilly powder- 2 tsp
Turmeric powder- 1/4 tsp

To temper:
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- a sprig
Dry red chillies- 2
Oil- 1 tsp
Heat a frying pan and dry roast the grated coconut till they turn reddish brown (this step just took ages).
Add the coriander, chilly and turmeric powders, mix well and take it off the flame. Keep aside to cool.
Transfer the mixture to a mixer/ grinder and grind to a fine paste.
In the same frying pan (yes I'm super lazy to even load the dish washer), heat the oil and sauté the onions till they become transparent.
Add the ground paste, kokum water and green chillies and stir well, making sure the paste dissolves well.
Throw in the tomatoes and mix well.
Add another cup of water, season with salt and bring to a boil.
Add the prawns at this stage and cover and cook till the prawns are done.
One done, temper with mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry chillies and pour over the curry just before you serve.
Notes:  The prawns I use are semi-cooked. So I made sure the gravy was nice and thick before adding the prawns in order to not over cook them.
The original recipe calls for coconut cuts and drumsticks, both of which I didn't have. It tasted just as good without it as well.
The trick is not to get the coconut burnt (something I'm very capable of doing), need patience for this (yes I'm working on it!).

Since this curry reminded me of mallu land so much, I thought I'd send it over to the Kerala Kitchen event hosted by Ria this month.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Eton Mess (Strawberries & Cream, the English Way)

Since Valentines day is of absolutely no significance to me (the fact that Ro even wished me was a big surprise), it went on like any other day. My birthday on the other hand was eventful. I was moping around most of the day feeling horrible at having turned a year older and then in the evening Ro completely surprises me with my favourite cake from Hummingbird Bakery and then a fancy dinner followed by Champagne celebrations. The highlight however will be my big gift over the weekend. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and if it works out I shall tell you guys about it later.
However, I had this craving for strawberries and cream and couldn't resist the urge to whip up this easy peacy dessert, also known as Eton Mess. Well, since strawberries are an aphrodisiac (huge grin), I thought I'll post this as an epilogue of Valentines day....you know...just to get the magic going.

Apparently this dish was served at the Eton College (a very famous, and oldest prep school in England) during their famous cricket matches and the students used to mix together the cream, strawberries and meringue together and create a mess, and hence the name Eton Mess for this simple but gorgeous summer dessert. Talking about summer..I have started seeing flip flops and swim wear in stores and that is like a ray of hope..although its about 3 to 4 months till we get to wear them, it still makes me smile. 
Meringue nests- 5 or 6 (I used store bought meringues)
Double cream- 1/2 cup
Strawberries-  about 200 to 250 gms, cleaned, hulled and sliced into four
Castor sugar- 1 tbsp
Lime juice/ port wine- a dash
Mix together the chopped up strawberries, sugar and lime juice/ port and keep covered in the refrigerator for a while...just so the flavours mix. Lightly bruise them with a fork to get the juices flowing.
In a separate bowl, whip the cream till it forms soft peaks. There is no need to sweeten the cream.
Break the meringues into 1/2 inch pieces and throw them into the bowl with the whipped cream. Throw in the bruised strawberries as well. Fold carefully and you can see streaks of red being mixed into the fluffy whites...well a mess really.
Serve in martini glasses or leave it in a fancy bowl, so people can serve how much ever they want. Garnish with whole strawberries and mint leaves if you please.
I wanted to do a fancier version or lets just say a less messier version of it and so I did it individually.
I arranged one meringue on a plate, added a generous dash of cream and arranged a few of those sliced, marinated strawberries on top. Layered with another meringue shell and then finished it off with cream and strawberries. It just looked much prettier this way :)
Notes: You can more or less use any fruit of your choice here.
Storing them in the refrigerator leave s a weird kinda smell after a while, so id say eat it up as fast as you can...even better..prepare it just before you need to serve...i mean c'mon its a mess anyway!
Oh and also, if you have been trying to learn how to make meringues and they are a disaster, don't worry, just crush them and make an Eton mess:)
Sending this to A.W.E.D- British, hosted by Reva, brainchild of Chef in You

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Katchi Chicken Biryani

How are you all my lovelies??? Been a while isn't it? Well I'm back in London and except for the weather (from glorious 30C to freezing 4C) and a wee bit of home sickness, I'm pretty alright. I mean I do go into these mood swings because my house right now is unbelievably quiet except for Ro's annoying banter on and off and coming from a house that was so full of noise and laughter and chaos, this silence is quite deafening. I had a brilliant time back home and although I thought 2 months was a mighty long to be at home initially, now that I'm back, I wished it was longer. I had put up a few pics on FB and so not going to rant about my vacation here.

On the other hand, I was really pleased or rather surprised at how many people actually went through my blog back home. Everyone I saw at the wedding or otherwise had something to say about my blog and was a wee bit taken aback that I had no clue it was doing the rounds. As much as I'm embarrassed that they all now know about my bitching sessions here, I am also happy that you guys actually read  go through it...even some of my brothers friends (thank you girls...you know who you are!). 

Now back to cooking..well, I'm still in my 'I dread cooking mode' (well..when have I not been right?) and so have been doing just basic stuff for over a week. Also, the rich mallu food for 2 months has shown a nice round effect on both of us and I'm on a salad and cereal diet while Ro wants to be weaned off the rich full delicately (seriously, those were his words). So he's been having curries and dal and all that jazz which yours truly made one day (and cried while doing it) and stored it for the whole week. 

However, yesterday I was so in the mood for some biryani and its been going on for the past 2 months if I may be precise. Wherever we went to eat, I ended up ordering the biryani and that too just chicken biryani and was always happy with my choice. It got so annoying to the point Ro started calling me 'my biryani-obsessed wife.' I was having biryani withdrawals and so decided to go ahead and make one yesterday. Also since Ro was at home, the cleaning, chopping bit was gladly taken over. I saw a Kachi biryani on Deeba's blog and another recipe here and decided to mix and match, thinking for sure it would be a disaster since I'm not the 'do-according-to-your-instincts' kinda person..especially when it comes to cooking. I also went unconventional by making it with chicken since I'm not a big mutton fan. But boy was I surprised when it actually turned out awesome and had to pen it down before I forgot (like a whole lotta other recipes on this blog). Otherwise you think Id jump into blogging this soon after a looong break? No frikkin way!

I have also not been dropping by your spaces, but I promise I'll start doing so this week itself. Pardon the photographs as well since I'm not that enthu about styling and stuff at the moment.
For the marinade:
Chicken- 500 gms, cleaned (I used thighs and legs, skinless and bone-in pieces)
Ginger paste- 1 tbsp
Garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Onions- 3 medium, thinly sliced and fried till crisp (use only half for the marinade)
Chilli powder- 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 1 tsp
Yoghurt- 3/4 cups
Cumin powder- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

For the rice:
Rice- 250 gms (about 2 1/2 cups)
Water- approx. 5 cups or more
Cloves- 3
Cinnamon, 2 inch stick, broken in half
Cardamom- 3, crushed
Whole black peppercorns- 1/2 tsp
Salt- to taste

For layering:
Coriander leaves- 1/4 cup, cleaned and finely chopped 
Mint leaves- 1/4 cup, cleaned and finely chopped
Ghee- 2 tbsp
Onions- half of the fried onions from the marinade
Green chillies- 3, slit
Lime juice- 1 tbsp
Saffron- a generous pinch dissolved in about 1/3 cup of warm milk
Wash and soak the rice.
Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients mentioned in the 'to marinate section. Keep aside for at least 3 hrs (I kept it aside for maybe half an hour). 
Note that you use only half of the fried onions for the marinade. 
Heat the water for the rice in a large enough pan. I used a kettle and then poured it into the vessel.
Once its starts to boil throw in the whole spices, rice and salt.
Stir and cook till about 3/4th done..about 5 to 6 minutes.
Drain in a colander. Remove the whole masala (which I forgot) and keep aside.
Clean the same vessel and melt the ghee. 
Remove about 2 tsp's of ghee and keep aside.
Into the pan put the marinated chicken and stir well. Close and cook for about 10 minutes. At this point it becomes semi- gravy like..which is fine.
Open the lid and layer the chicken with coriander leaves, mint leaves, the fried onions, slit green chillies and drizzle the lime juice as well.
On top of that spread the half cooked rice followed by sprinkling the remaining melted ghee and the saffron milk.
Cover with a tight lid and cook on medium heat for about 20 to 25 minutes.
Lower the heat and cook for 15 more minutes for the dum effect (I completely omitted this stage..was waay too hungry)
Serve in layers itself or mix it up for all you care:)
I served it with some raita, pappad and pickle.
Notes: My final cooking time was a total of half an hour and I'm assuming its cos its chicken and not mutton.
The spice level was a tad too high for us but it still tasted good nonetheless
Getting the onions crisp was a task i didn't enjoy that much. But somewhere you have to sacrifice right..so yeah do it anyway!