Saturday, September 10, 2016

Indo Chinese Chili Chicken

When an eight year old eats a dish, wipes it clean and declares - "This is the best thing I have ever had!", you gotta write that recipe down and share it with the world. Even if said eight year old is a particularly non-fussy eater. Even if you've only recently shared another recipe called Chili Chicken

Ever since I have come back from my holiday in Bombay, I have been going through an Indo Chinese food phase. It might be because my parents live perilously close to a Chinese restaurant in Bombay and I could smell their delicious food. All. The. Time. 

It has taken several iterations but I have got this Chili Chicken recipe down exactly the way I like it. One of the most important factors has been acquiring the right equipment. A wok is almost non-negotiable when it comes to cooking stir fries of any kind. I feel almost like a broken record when I say - High heat, quick cooking time. The shape of a wok is best for stir fries as well and you can get away with using much less oil while cooking a typical Indo Chinese dish. After several months of deliberation, I have recently invested in a large electric wok. It wasn't an impulse buy, I assure you. I have only used it thrice so far, but it works like magic. One of my friends tells me that his electric wok started to warp because he was using it on the highest heat setting all the time. But since I got this thing for its high heat setting potential, I am going to keep going. I will report back on any wok warping in a few months and let you know how it goes! For now, I present to you this eight-year-old approved dish. 

Chili Chicken can be had "dry" or "with gravy"(sauce) in restaurants and food carts around India. This recipe can be adapted for both, but as you can see, I prefer a thick "dry" sauce sticking to the chicken. The amount of chillies, garlic and ginger is up to your personal preference (see notes for ingredients marked *). Chilli chicken is a particularly pungent dish, so if that's not your scene then maybe this recipe is not for you! 

Yield - Serves 4

Prep Time - 45 Minutes

Cook Time - 15 Minutes

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Chana Masala

A big pot of chole or chana masala was customary in any late 80s - early 90's birthday party in my memory. An Indian vegetarian staple, chole is inexpensive, hearty, healthy and generally well liked by children and adults alike. Apart from my dad - he does NOT like chole! It is a bit of a running joke between us. We FaceTime quite often just around my dinner time. If I am having chole, I will tell him I am having "his favorite!" Then of course he has to guess which one of his 'favorites' it is - bhindi (okra), rajma (red kidney beans) or chole (chickpeas)! 

Skip the yogurt if you want to make this recipe vegan. It is vegetarian, gluten-free and overall awesome but it won't make your coffee for you.

Yield - Serves 2
Time - 40 Minutes

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Chilli Chicken Wings

Back when my hand was broken, we were invited to several barbecues - it being the holidays. We couldn't really manage much more than the easiest and simplest recipes at the time, so we almost always ended up bringing either my favorite Baby Spinach, strawberry, walnut and blue cheese salad or these sticky delicious wings for the grill (sometimes both).  As long as we weren't feeding it to the same people over and over again, we figured we'd get away with it. Both were instant hits and with minimal effort, extremely rewarding!

The flavors in these wings are inspired by the Indo Chinese dish Chilli Chicken which is one of my favorites. I pigged out a lot on them while I was in India a couple of months back. If you are in the northern hemisphere, then it is grilling season for you now (I am SO jealous!) and this is a recipe you absolutely must try. But if you are not planning on firing up the grill, you can still enjoy these oven baked chilli chicken wings. 

Yield - 6 - 8 Servings
Prep Time - 20 Minutes + Over night marinate
Cook Time - 40 Minutes (Oven)

Monday, June 6, 2016

Prawn Sukka

If you follow me on Intagram, you probably know that I was visiting India for a month (If you don't follow me on Intagram - why not?!) Apart from a quick stop over at Singapore, I was mostly in Mumbai. One of my Mumbai food highlights, apart from my mother's fantastic cooking, was the Crab Sukka from Mahesh Lunch Home. Mahesh Lunch Home specializes in Mangalorean seafood dishes and the flavors in the crab dish was off the charts. 

'Sukka' essentially means dry. Here I have tried to recreate the flavors in a dry prawn dish. While cooking this, our building's fire alarm went off - it wasn't me! But I had to evacuate while I was in the process of cooking the spices. Which was SO inconvenient! 1) Because I smelled like a spice drawer; and 2) Because I really wanted to finish cooking this delight and dig in!

Yield - Serves 2

Total Time - 1 Hour

Friday, April 1, 2016

Spinach and Feta Savory Muffins

The concept of "morning tea" was completely alien to me till I joined the New Zealand work force three years ago. I still remember back to my first week of work when I was completely taken aback by the mass exodus that took place every day at 10 am on the dot, for 15 minutes. But oh my goodness I cannot do without it now! I need my mid morning stretch, caffeine and muffin. Especially since I am one of those breakfast-skippers (Yes, I know, bad Bach!) But let's get past that. By the time 10 am rolls in, I am usually famished so I usually need something more substantial than just coffee.

Savory muffins are standard NZ cafe fare and are often accompanied by the question "Heated with butter?" Yes heated but no butter thanks (I have it almost everyday so no butter seems like a good idea) This is not the most economical way to spend 15 minutes every morning because it is actually quite easy to make these muffins yourself so I decided give it a try. This post is actually called That-Week-I-Finally-Got-Off-My-Fat-Arse-And-Organized-Breakfast.

You can make these with any combination of veggies and cheese really - it is entirely up to you. Personally, I wouldn't put eggplants in it myself - but again it is up to you! The muffins I have here are spinach zucchini and feta muffins and they are delicious and hearty.

Yield - 6 Large Muffins
Time - 40 Minutes

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sri Lankan Beef Stir Fry

Sri Lankan Beef Stir Fry

Last Christmas (no, I didn't give you my heart - great, now that song is stuck in my head) we went to a stuff-yourself-till-you-fall-into-a-coma kind of a family and friends gathering. The food was predominantly Sub-Continental and I had one mouth watering dish that was so simple, yet so delicious that I HAD to have the recipe! So, I hounded the cook of said dish till she relinquished the recipe. She said it was Sri Lankan style beef and the recipe was simple enough. 

Sri Lankan Beef Stir Fry

Now, I don't claim to know much about about Sri Lankan cooking, so I started researching the cuisine on encyclopedia Google and came up a bit empty as far as this beef dish goes. So, I asked one of my Sri Lankan work mates about it. After describing it to her, she said that it sounded like what they call a stir fry. But then she also added a disclaimer: "I can't help you if you have the Sri Lankan community after you with pitch forks." (Thanks, Sala) 

Sri Lankan Beef Stir Fry

This is not like the other quick-cook stir fries I have done in the past on the blog. The recipe calls for A TON of onions which give this dish a natural sweetness. The spices themselves are subtle and it is nothing like the creamy spicy fare you sometimes have to suffer through in Indian/  Sri Lankan restaurants in western countries. 

Yield - Serves 3
Prep Time -15 Minutes + Overnight Marination
Cook Time - 40 Minutes

Sri Lankan Beef Stir Fry

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Dal Fry

Vegan Recipe - Dal Fry

My mom makes the best dal. No really. I know that everyone says their moms make the best something or the other but I am not being sentimental here. I am simply stating a mere fact. My mom makes the best dal. I spent the first 2 years of grad school trying to figure out how she does it (I took classes, read a lot of papers, passed my comps and tried to come with a research project too - but mostly, I perfected cooking dal). I love dal. When I was a kid, I'd come home from school and often sit with a large bowl of dal and down it. To me, it is home plain and simple - true comfort food.

Vegan Recipe - Dal Fry

I can see my dad rolling his eyes if he's reading this. He does not think that dal deserves an honorable mention in any food related discussion. Dal simply exists as side in every single Indian meal. Always. Even my dad can't roll his eyes on this dal fry recipe because it is something that he used to whip up using leftover dal (cooked by my mom of course). It was delicious and deserves its own blog post! 

It is a fantastic source of protein and I would recommend it as an essential part of a vegetarian diet. I generally cook more dal than I need for a meal and freeze the rest for future use.

Yield - Seves 4

Time - 1 Hour

Vegan Recipe - Dal Fry

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Thai Basil Shrimp Stir Fry with Dipping Sauce

Thai Basil Shrimp / Prawn Stir Fry

Remember the Thai Basil Chicken recipe I posted a while back? Of course you do. It took 20 minutes to cook and saved you from ordering in on a crazy weeknight. It was pretty good, but authentic it was not! Which is why I timidly named it "Thai Inspired Basil Chicken". See what I did there? One of the main reasons was that I used regular sweet basil in that recipe, because Thai basil is not readily available in the supermarkets here.

Thai Basil Shrimp / Prawn Stir Fry

Last winter I started some Thai basil seedlings indoors and they have grown into a nice little bush this summer. Look at it! It has had a few trims already but it is a source of much joy in our little apartment. This ingredient is NOT optional! It lifts the dish and gives it such a beautiful distinct flavor that you (or I) will never go back to using sweet basil in our Thai dishes. 

I have several stir fry recipes on the blog. They are true weeknight heroes - fast, easy and healthy. Don't let the word "fry" fool you, with just a couple of splashes of oil and high heat, the veggies and meat cook well and retain their crunchiness - the veggies that is! Which brings me to my ONLY rule about stir fries - quick cooking over very high heat. That is all.

Yield - Serves 2

Prep Time - 20 Minutes

Cook Time - 10 Minutes

Thai Basil Shrimp / Prawn Stir Fry

Monday, February 8, 2016

Middle Eastern Roasted Eggplant Dip

Baba Ganoush - Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

I am back!! 2.5 months, 5 casts, 1 surgery, 1 cancelled overseas trip and a bit of drama later - but I am back. I can't even begin to tell you how much I have missed my kitchen, my camera and this blog. Not to mention, having a shower with a shopping bag tied around your arm is the least fun thing in the world. EVER. Like seriously.

Baba Ganoush - Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

As you can imagine, it's been baby steps back in the kitchen. This Mediterranean eggplant dip is so easy - the food processor does most of the work. This recipe is inspired by a zucchini dip that one of my best friends made for me years ago. The true benefit of this dip is that it keeps vampires away. That's right - a small mountain of garlic, yogurt and really good quality extra virgin olive oil and you're home free.

Note - I added dried mint to this dip but it is actually better without it, so I don't recommend it in my ingredients list.

Yield - Serves 6
Prep Time - 10 Minutes
Cook Time - 40 Minutes

Baba Ganoush - Middle Eastern Eggplant Dip

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Chili Paneer Stir Fry

Quick and Easy Indo Chinese Chili Paneer

I was looking through my drafts and found this old gem. Why I haven't posted this earlier, I don't know! This is one of those meals that I put together in a jiffy by scrounging up ingredients and hoping that something edible comes out of it. I ended up with something that will make its way back on my table again and again. The whole dish took about 20 minutes to make, mainly because I turn into a hungry multi tasking beast after work on weeknights. You might take a little longer to chop but don't cook it too long. Stir fries love high heat and quick cooking. Slowing it down make them soggy and mushy - no good!

Quick and Easy Indo Chinese Chili Paneer

I don't usually think of making chili paneer, which is a common Indo-Chinese fusion dish. Paneer almost always turns into some form or the other of matar paneer or palak paneer in my kitchen. Primarily, this is because most recipes for chili paneer start with battering and frying the paneer, which is a bit of a culinary turn off for me. Do you really want to deep fry your cheese? I don't, so I didn't. What we ended up with was a definite keeper. It has a good amount of heat from the chilies and chili sauce. Adjust the amount of chilies to suit your palate. 

Yield - Serves 2

Time - 30 Minutes

Quick and Easy Indo Chinese Chili Paneer

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