Disclaimer. This dish is deep fried and this means 1) it’s not your healthiest bet and 2) you’ll end up having to throw away the leftover oil. Having said that, this crispy fried chicken is delicious as an appetizer, or for a regular meal with rice and dal and the best still, as a munchie while you are sipping on a cold beer.
Things you will need:
Boneless chicken breasts- 2 (cut into small bite sized pieces)
Oil for deep frying- about 400 ml (I use rapeseed oil for frying)
Curry leaves- 2-3 sprigs. Be lavish as the curry leaves give the base flavour for this dish.
Kashmiri red chilli powder- 2 tablespoons (If you prefer it hotter, use 1 tablespoon of regular red chilli powder and 1 tablespoon of Kashmiri. The Kashmiri chilli powder is what gives this recipe its colour as I am against using artificial food colouring.)
Ginger garlic paste- 2 teaspoons (make a paste with a 1 inch stick of ginger and 5-6 small cloves of garlic)
Turmeric powder- ½ teaspoon
Black pepper powder- 1.5 teaspoon
Lime juice- 1 tablespoon
Salt- to taste
Corn flour- 2 tablespoons
Regular all purpose flour- 1 tablespoons
How to go about it:
In a bowl, make a marinade using all the ingredients listed under ‘for marination.’ Rub the mixture on the chicken pieces. Mix very well, preferably with your hands, and allow this marinated chicken to rest in fridge for about 30 minutes to one hour.
When ready to fry the chicken, place a heavy wok on medium heat and heat the oil. Once the oil is hot, add some curry leaves and wait for 10 seconds. Place the marinated chicken bits in the hot oil, making sure you don’t over crowd the wok, and deep fry with the wok uncovered, until the outer covering is nice and crispy.
Fry in batches with enough curry leaves every time. And serve hot with sliced red onions, a dash of lime juice and a frosty beer on the side.
I don’t have the biggest sweet tooth but this crème caramel is my Achilles’ heel. Having said that, I dislike most crème caramels of the world almost as much as I love this recipe. The reason being, I have a problem with puddings that are not firm. I need my pudding well cooked and firm without the overt smell of eggs. So, if you’re like me, this recipe is for you!
Things you will need:
Sugar- 6 heaped tablespoons
Condensed milk (sweetened)- 400 gm or approx 1.5 cups (the regular tin of Milkmaid we get in India works. If you’re using the Nestle tubes, I used two of them. 170 gm each)
Water- Equal quantity as the condensed milk (If you’re using the tin of condensed milk, fill the same tin up with water. If you have tubes of condensed milk like I did, I emptied it into a bowl and then used the same measurement of water.)
Vanilla extract- 1.5 tsp
How to go about it:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celcius.
Keep the pan (which can be used in an oven) in which you will be preparing the crème caramel ready. Next, you need to caramelize the sugar. Place a clean and dry frying pan on the stove (on medium heat) and add the 6 spoons of sugar. Wait for it to melt. Try and resist the urge to keep moving the sugar around too much with the spatula. Gets it all lumpy. Once it starts melting, lightly stir it and allow it to caramelize completely without any lumps. The caramel must be a nice, rust colour. IMMEDIATELY, pour the caramel into the prepared pan next to you and swirl it around to allow the caramel to coat the base of the pan completely. Caramel hardens in no time! If this is your first tryst with caramel, you will see. Haha.
Next, take a large mixing bowl and add the 5 eggs. Beat the eggs (with a hand mixer or a whisk) very well until its a pale yellow. Takes only 2-3 minutes with the mixer.
Add the condensed milk, mix well. Next, add the water and the vanilla extract. Mix well for another minute.
By now, the caramel will have hardened. Pour the beaten mixture on top of the caramel. Place this pan in a larger oven friendly pan just about half filled with water. You don’t need to fill it up too much. Once immersed, the water needs to come up to just about 1/3 of the smaller pan.
Carefully place it in the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes. Check once in 45 minutes. (Some ovens, especially if older, may have a temperature variation, and if you feel the pudding is still very wobbly and undercooked after the time is up, bake for some more time. Until a toothpick comes out clean.)
Once done, take it out carefully, allow it to cool down before popping it into the fridge. Chill for at least 4 hours before serving. You can run a thin knife along the edge of the pan before upturning the crème caramel onto a plate. Serve cold.
(This recipe can also be prepared in the steamer. For that, you don’t need a water bath. But cover the pan with aluminium foil and place it directly in the steamer and steam for 40-45 minutes. The rest of the steps remain the same.)
I tasted this dish for the first time in Oh! Calcutta, Pune and I remember I fell in love with the flavour notes instantly. The coriander seeds, the fried onions, the onion paste and the chilli together weaved magic on my palate and I knew I had to recreate it at home. It took me a few attempts to get it right I must confess and now, this is my go-to recipe and I must say it’s one of my favourite meals ever. I am still not sure if this is the “right” way to do it yada yada as I was merely looking to recreate what I tasted at the restaurant. But who cares because this chicken curry is DELICIOUS.
Things you will need:
Chicken on the bone- 1 kg
Red onions (medium sized) – 2 sliced finely
Red onion (medium sized)- 1 made into a coarse paste.
Garlic- if large, 4 cloves. If the regular Indian variety, 8-9 cloves. Crushed.
Kashmiri red chili powder- 1.5 tablespoon
Turmeric powder- 1 teaspoon
Green chillies- 4-5 chopped
Cashews- 10 (soaked in ¼ cup hot water)
Salt to taste
Coriander seeds- 1 tsp (to temper)
Fresh coriander leaves to garnish
For the spice mix:
Coriander seeds- 2 heaped tablespoons
Dried red chilies- 6-7
How to go about it:
First, in a small pan, dry roast the ingredients given under “for the spice mix.” The coriander seeds and the dried chillies must be lightly roasted on a low to medium flame until they release a lovely, toasty aroma. Do not allow the spices to burn. Keep aside to cool before grinding it into a coarse powder. “Spice Mix”
Marinate the chicken with 1 tbsp of the Spice Mix, a bit of salt and let it it rest for about half an hour.
In the meantime, make a smooth paste out of the cashews and water and keep aside.
Next, heat 3-4 tablespoons of oil in a wok and add 1 tsp of the coriander seeds. Once the flavour releases into the oil (takes about 5-6 seconds if the oil is hot in enough and it’ll start crackling), add the sliced onions. The onions must be made nice and brown. The trick to get crisp and brown onions every time is to make sure you don’t keep sauteing them throughout. Add the onions to the hot oil, add a bit of salt, saute till all the pieces are coated with the oil and they begin to wilt on a medium heat. After that saute only in intervals. Once the onions are translucent, you can fry it all up on a slightly higher heat. Either way, it is important to get the onions nice and brown for this recipe or it will taste odd in the end.
Once the sliced onions are brown, add the onion paste and keep sauteing. Heat on medium. Keep sauteing until the entire mixture is golden brown in colour. This will happen faster than the onion slices.
Next, add the garlic, sauté for about 30 seconds and then add the rest of the Spice Mix, salt as needed, the Kashmiri Red Chili powder and turmeric powder and keep sauteing for another minute. This will cook the spices well and will give the curry a luxuriant red colour in the end.
Next, add the marinated chicken bits. Toss them around to make sure all the pieces are coated with the spices evenly. Keep at it till the chicken loses its pink and the masala is sealed in the pieces.
At this point, add one cup water, give the curry a good mix and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, keep the wok closed and let the chicken cook throughly. Should ideally take about 25 minutes approx. Check every once in a while to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.
Once the chicken is cooked and the meat begins to fall of the bone, add the green chilies and cashew paste and give it a mix. Add more salt if needed. Let the curry boil until it reaches the desired consistency which is a slightly thick red gravy. Once done, top with fresh coriander leaves.
Serve hot with jeera rice or plain rice and raita. Or even hot luchis if you’re feeling fancy.
Not going to waste your time with my storytelling. If you like the stories, check me out on Instagram @mydigitalverandah 😛 Let’s get down to business.
Things you will need: (For about 12-14 half cup servings) Whole grain, old fashioned oats- 4 cups Nuts (I used cashews for this batch but feel free to mix it all up with pecans, almonds, walnuts, whatever catches your fancy)- 1 cup Sea salt flakes- 1 tsp (switch with regular salt but make it 1/2 tsp) Honey- 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil- 1/2 cup Dried fruits- 3/4 cup (I used raisins and dried apricots for this batch but feel free to use whatever you prefer) Cinnamon powder- 1 tsp
How to go about it:
Preheat your oven to 180 C/ 350 F. Line a half sheet pan with baking paper and keep aside.
In a large bowl, add the oats, the salt, the nuts and cinnamon powder and mix well. The salt is what brings out the beauty of the granola. Keep the dried fruits aside.
Now add the olive oil and honey and mix well to make sure everything is coated nice and well.
Empty contents into the tray and bake for 20-22 minutes. Make sure you take it out half way to give it a quick stir.
When done, the granola will be a nice golden brown but may not look completely crispy but it gets firmer as it cools down. Once out of the oven, leave it to cool down completely at least for an hour without stirring it all up. Once cool, top with the dried fruits, break up the granola with your hands and store away in air tight containers.
Stays put for a good 2-3 weeks and can be had for breakfast with milk or vegan milk options or yogurt or just as it is.
Here I am, sitting in the warmth of my little apartment in Vienna alone, on a cold, dreary Sunday with my mug of oatmeal and almond milk; my staple breakfast ever since I moved to Europe and figured dairy and I could no longer remain friends. I have a long list of things to do and errands to run before I head back home to Kerala, which I jotted down on a flimsy bit of paper staring right back at me almost as if to remind me that I need to buck up. Our yearly trip back home is something I look forward to, all year. People all around keep asking me if I miss living in India and honestly, the answer to that is no. However, what I do miss is the familiarity of the surroundings in my hometown Trivandrum; the joys of living in a home where your mum runs the kitchen; the fact that you can let the child inside you run free for a few, short, glorious days; no responsibilities, no “adulting.”
Anyway, let me get to the point. One question that I get almost on a daily basis is how I manage to “stay fit” in spite of loving food with a passion like no other. Today, given the fact that quite a number of us have health and weight issues or even gastroenteritis issues at very young ages, I am going to let you into one of the basic rules in my mum’s kitchen; a rule that has travelled with me to my own kitchen; a rule I would love for each of your kitchens to embrace; and a rule that I give almost all the credit to for “staying fit”. It is simple. “You can eat whatever you like, as long as it is cooked at home.” Sounds tedious? It honestly isn’t, just hear me out.
All through my childhood, every celebration or festival, every birthday or anniversary in the house would invariably hear my mother utter this one question. “What would you like to eat?” All our meals, sweets, cakes, desserts, snacks, everything was homemade, every single time. Eating out was a feat that we as a family resorted to only maybe once in a year or maybe even two. I admit there must have a time or two when I felt a tad jealous of my friends at school who would innocently brag about their weekly (and sometimes daily) family outing for dinner or the Chinese take out that would more often than not have a place in their lunch boxes the next day. At the same time my lunch box would have a humble but fresh meal cooked by my mum’s soft hands early in the morning and almost always boiled rice, some stir fried vegetables and a small cup of yoghurt. The little lunch box wrapped with a frayed lunch towel and generously doused in love I can still feel tugging at my heart so many years later.
That may bring you to a couple of questions. Why make the effort if you can just takeout? Why bother to cook a meal in these days when one has no time even to catch a decent shut eye? It’s food at the end of the day, does it matter if it’s cooked at home or in the restaurant?
Let me explain.
The thing about a home cooked meal is that you know every single ingredient that goes into the dish and in turn into your body. You will know for certain the meat is fresh, the vegetables washed and clean; you even get to choose the oil that works for you and you will for certain know that it’s not refried oil (a major carrier of carcinogens research says) that you are putting into your body. Anyone who has ever deep fried stuff at home knows the sheer quantity of oil that goes to waste later. Do you honestly think the restaurants throw out the oil every single time to make way for fresh oil for every dish they serve? I might think not.
Next, let me address the time constraint. One thing my mum always tells me is this. Every soul on earth gets not a minute more than 24 hours a day. What you want to do with those 24 long hours is solely up to you and I do not mean to coax you to whip up a storm every single day. But how about starting with something as simple as stir fried veggies or grilled chicken or some simple dal with or without rice or anything else that you may fancy? Scramble a few eggs with onions and green chilies maybe? A one pot rice vegetables and meat? We live in a time when you have the world at your fingertips. There is never a dearth of easy, ten minute recipes on the internet, correct? So how about keeping aside half an hour for a home cooked meal? Everyday meals DO NOT have to be fancy and instagrammable, they just need to fill you with goodness. I understand that cooking does not come naturally to all of us but it really is a life skill just for survival and your own health’s sake.
Long story short, at the wake of a new year when we are all looking for resolutions to take up, how about deciding to keep aside a tiny portion of your day for a warm, home cooked meal? This does not mean that you do not stay away from the restaurants in toto; let’s just resolve to not let it be the norm. Please don’t forget to come back and thank me when you see the inches on your waist falling and your tummy less rumbly. This year, let’s resolve to make home cooked meals fashionable again 🙂
On that note, here is a recipe for an easy Spicy One Pot Vegetable Pilaf.
Things you will need:
Basmati Rice- 2 cups (washed and drained)
Onion- 1 large chopped finely
Tomato- 1 large chopped
Ginger- 1 tablespoon julienned
Potato- 1 large cubed
Carrots- 1 large cut into semi circles
(Add whatever vegetables you may like. Broccoli, cauliflower etc)
Whole Coriander seeds- 1 teaspoon
Whole black peppercorns- 1 teaspoon
Cinammon- a 2 inch stick
Cumin/jeera seeds- ½ teaspoon
Green cardamom- 3
Bay leaves- 2
Green chilies- 2 slit
Kashmiri chili powder- 1.5 teaspoon
Turmeric- ½ teaspoon
Corinader powder- 2-3 teaspoon
Garam masala powder- 1 teaspoon
Boiling Water- a little more than double the quantity of rice
How to go about it:
In a large heavy bottomed wok, heat three tablespoons of cooking oil on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, coriander seeds, peppercorns, cinnamon and bay leaves. Sauté for about 20 seconds.
Add the chopped onion and sauté until it gets nice and golden brown (important). Next goes in the ginger. Sauté for half a minute. Add the chopped tomatoes and the green chilies, mix well and keep the wok closed for two minutes or until the tomatoes are soft.
Add the spice powders and salt to taste and keep sautéing until the mixture looks homogeneous and the oil starts to separate. Add the vegetables and turn it all around in the wok. Keep the wok closed for about 30 seconds.
Next, add the washed and drained rice. Mix well but be careful so as to not break the grains of rice and keep sautéing for about two minutes.
Add the boiling water, mix well and keep the wok closed until the water is almost drained. Take off from the heat, drizzle some ghee and keep the wok closed for about 20 minutes before serving.