Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Grilled Chicken In A Creamy Marinade

It has been a few months since I started a low carb diet and my meals now mostly consist of meat/poultry/fish with tons of vegetables, salads and fruits. I often eat chicken for dinner. With lots of veggies, cooked or as a salad. As expected, I run out of ideas all the time. I dont fancy curry anymore, so am pretty much stuck with grilled,baked or kebab forms of it. Even though I have this food blog, I am actually not a foodie at all. My food-knowledge is next to zero and trust me, I wouldn't know my Ratanjot from a Riesling! I eat to live, that's about it. I also prepare my menu three days in advance, so that I just do not get tempted to cheat.

Chicken breasts in a creamy marinade- I dont know if similar recipes are around, well they must be I am sure, but since I thought of the ingredients for the marinade myself, I am going to take full credit for it.

Just a few things before we get to it. I have used low fat, 'cream cheese'- which is freshly made here in the middle east.  Labaneh and it's varieties are commonly found in the middle east and is super yummy. One food of the Arabs, which all expats enjoy I think. I used one which was flavoured with thyme. You can get any flavour you want. If however, you don't get labneh, simply get any brand-any kind of cream cheese or hung yoghurt made out of the Greek variety.  Philadelphia is also good. If that is also not an option then get thick, plain cream and season it with garlic powder and some dried herbs of choice. However, do try and get a tub of cream cheese, will make quite a difference to the over all flavour of this dish.

Here's what you will need:

1/2 kg              boneless, breast of chicken- cubed or cut in strips.
2-3 tbsp           heaped Labaneh/cream cheese/cream
2 tsp                 mixed, dried herbs. I used everything I had. :)
1.5 tsp             paprika (or Kashmiri chili powder)
1/2 tsp            red chilli powder
1 tsp                black pepper powder
1 tbsp              ginger-garlic paste or 1 tsp heaped garlic powder alone.
2-3 tbsp          fresh lemon juice.

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and marinate the chicken chunks in it for as long as you can, preferably at least 2-6 hours. Grill on medium flame untill done. Alternatively bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes or little less. Or simply pan fry them, which is what I did last night. Serve with a big, garden salad. I dont usually use any salad seasoning, so I end up eating a lot of different types of pickled peppers, and my favourite is Jalapenos.

I had some chicken drums also, which I grilled for hubster's India vs Australia game night.

This family, quite clearly, loves chilies in all forms!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Keeping It Simple....Pickled Shallots With Nigella Seeds

Continuing my 'keep it simple' mantra from the previous post, here is a commonly found recipe for Indian style Pickled Shallots. If you were to ever eat a meal in any of the regular north Indian homes, you will be served this pickle for sure, especially in the hot summer months. A bottle sits on the dining table of every home. It is multipurpose, works as a side, as a pickle, as a condiment, or even just to nibble on while your mommy (or daddy, why not?!!) serves up the food. Make some every few days and be assured of some extra kicks at meal times!

Here is what you will need.

1 cup washed, peeled and whole shallots/pearl onions.
1 tsp levelled Nigella seeds (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (optional)
A few green chillies, slit (optional)
1 cup of white vinegar

Once you have assembled your ingredients, simply combine them in a lidded jar/bottle. Let sit for a few hours and voila, it's ready to eat! This pickle does not really get spoilt if kept in the fridge but if you are keeping it out, make it in less quantities and keep replenishing with fresh stuff every time you run out.

Serve with any desi meal of choice.

                                Dont you think it looks pretty!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

A comeback of sorts and Oh, A happy New Year Folks! ,

That is right. I am aware, oh so aware, that I have been missing in action since a long, long time now. I was away mostly travelling, celebrating a massive Christmas this year and then faffing around on FB. It is not much of an excuse but will have to do. FB has become the bane of my life and today, just like that, I decided to pull myself away from it and slather some TLC on my poor blog. If only I would spend some time being useful and productive, I would have been filling up this blog with yummylicious food which, by the way,  I do cook on a regular basis. Sorry that I haven't gotten  around to sharing them yet. I hope to change all that soonly though. :)

I am going to keep this as short as possible. Do let me wish my two and  a half readers, a fabulous new year which already seems to be speeding along! Anyhow, those of you who blog hop, must be kind of expecting some kind of  'good wishes' on the blogs you visit, so I dont see why should I be rude and not do it as well. Have you ever seen such a long and convulated New Year Greetings ever? Well then, here is it...

Have yourselves a fabulous year ahead... whatever is left of it, be safe, be happy and please be eating  good food everyday!

Now, I do not have any fancy-shmancy recipe to share with you. I have a lot going on in the other departments of my life and it will take some time before I warm up to blogging about 'noticeably' lovely food which might want to make you try them asap. I am sharing a really easy and simple Minty-Tomatoey-Fish Masala recipe, served with a simple steamed rice or even a mildly spiced, fragrant Pulao. It will become a keeper, thats how simple and delicious it is. The recipe came off from the top of my head, so there are no rules to follow. You will need :

6-8                 pieces of any firm fleshed fish steak. I used King Fish.
1                     very large Tomato, grated, skin and all included. Or finely chopped.
1'                   grated ginger
4-6                fresh green chillies, slit whole.
1/2 cup        fresh mint leaves, chopped up
1/2 cup        fresh corriander leaves

Juice of one medium seized fresh lemon
4-5 tbsp      mustard or any vegetable oil

The spices:

1/2 tsp     turmeric
1/2 tsp     salt (to smear over the fish)
1.5tsp       roasted and coarsely crushed cumin seeds
1/2 tsp     Panch Phoron (optional) I dont always use this
Salt to taste

Wash and pat dry the fish pieces. Smear them with turmeric powder and salt and keep aside for about half an hour. Next up, heat the oil in a wok. Once the oil is heated through, tip in the green chillies and panch phoron (if you are using). Let it sizzle for a few seconds. Slide in the fish pieces at this point and lightly brown them on both sides taking care not to cook them completely. This should take about 2-3 minutes on both sides on high heat. Then you shift the fish to the sides of the wok and arrange them in a circle making an oil well in the middle. Let the chillies remain in this well. Something like the picture that follows...

Next to go in will be the chopped tomatoes, let them sit in this well too, spread the chopped mint and corriander leaves, sprinkle the roasted and crushed cumin, squeeze that lemon now, season with salt but dont stir just yet, cover and cook for about 15 minutes on very low heat. 

The fish will cook in all the juices being relased by the tomatoes which will turn all mushy. You must not stir it untill just before sereving and that too, to just mix the salt well. Once you are ready to serve, arrange the cooked fish pieces in a bowl and then pour the thick sauce over it. Give the sauce a good mix before you do so. Serve, garnished with some more fresh mint and corriander leaves. I served this with dal, rice and sauted mushrooms. I have also served this on a bed of fresh, crisp salad of lettuce, onion rings and cucumber cuts and roasted-crushed peanuts. Simple, easy to cook and as elegant as you want to believe it to be!

That is how I have begun my year too. After a lot of introspection, soul searching and getting rid of rubbish, here's to an all round calm and peaceful year ahead. Take it easy folks. Cheers!