Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Roasting a whole Chicken for Thanksgiving

I have watched the F.R.I.E.N.D.S series rather late in life. Exactly a month before my wedding, I was diagnosed with Chicken Pox and was confined at home, I started recovering after the initial lethal attack of the disgusting virus and was still covered in extremely itchy, always-exploding blisters and did not have much to do. I was getting dead-fed up of scratching the blisters and dreading the mark would never go away, at least not in a month’s time; that is when I looked up my hard drives and discovered I had the entire series of F.R.I.E.N.D.S copied from some friend at work. I started watching them and got immensely addicted, so much so that I extended my sick leave by a few days to finish it off. I have not watched any other sitcom which spanned 10 seamless years and had millions crying when it finally ended. Even today, there are so many speculations out there, there is going to be a F.R.I.E.N.D.S movie, there should be a bonus episode and what not but alas, I think it really has ended.

I was always in awe of the thanksgiving episodes; there was one for almost all seasons. I loved how Monica would be in competition with her own self, to make another fabulous meal, better than the year before, how Joey wore giant pants to eat the entire Turkey, how Chandler ended up blabbering out that he loved Mon while she had her head inside the Turkey, Phoebe’s famous wish ‘Oh, yeah, happy needless-turkey-murder day’, how Ross and Monica would scream out each other’s secrets to their Parents, how Rachel ended up adding Beef to her Trifle, in no particular order; I love them all, equally. Above all I loved the fact that they chose to spend time with each other, at home, the elaborate meals, the silly bouts and the crazy tête-à-têtes, I loved them all.

Since then I have wished to prepare a Turkey myself, but neither is Turkey easily available here nor do I have an Oven which can fit-in a Turkey, not to forget, it is just the two of us and with no Joey, it will impossible to finish! On Nov 27th, I was working from home and did not realize till late that it was Thanksgiving; when I did; I ran out and got a whole Chicken with skin which weighed about 1.2 Kgs (2.65 lbs.) and roasted it with some vegetables, just the way I wanted. A and I thoroughly enjoyed the me
al. I made a side of Sautéed Mushrooms as well, which I will post in a later post.

Here is what you will need to roast the whole Chicken:

Chicken – whole with skin – weighing about 1-1.2 kgs – washed and patted absolutely dry. Make sure the Chicken is well thawed; take it out from the freezer at least an hour before you start to prep it
-        4 cloves – minced (to go into the butter)
-        an entire head of Garlic, cut through the center (to go inside the Chicken)
-        an entire pod of Garlic, unpeeled and separated, to go with the vegetables
Unsalted Butter – 50 gms – at room temperature (not melted)
Mixed Herbs – 2 tsps (I used the dry variety, if you can fresh herbs, even better)
Lemon – 1 – halved
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Baby Potatoes – 5-6, scrubbed and cut into halves (unpeeled)
Onions – 2 – halved
Carrot – 1 – scrubbed and cut into chunks
Sweet Potato – 1 – scrubbed and cut into chunks
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
Some Kitchen twine (I did not have any, I used regular thread)


Pre-heat the Oven to 200C

Drizzle some EVOO in a large roasting dish and add the baby potatoes, carrots, onions, carrots, garlic cloves and sweet potatoes, season them with salt and pepper, add a dash of mixed herbs, mix well and keep

Take the unsalted butter, add the mixed herbs, minced garlic, and season with salt and pepper, use a fork to mix it well and keep

Place the Chicken on a clean surface or on Kitchen towels, using a butter knife (I just used my hand), separate (do not cut through) the skin and the breast to have a hollow area and stuff 3/4th of the herbed Butter inside, using the fingers over the skin stuff it in and smear it around, smear the rest of the Butter on top of the Chicken

Stuff the halved whole garlic and lemon into the big cavity of the Chicken

Use a Kitchen twine to tie the legs close to each other so that the stuffing in the cavity does not fall apart while roasting

Place the Chicken on the roasting dish over the vegetables and tuck the wings under the Chicken

Bake the Chicken for about an hour at 200C (if you have a meat thermometer, you can insert it in the thigh and checked if it has reached a temperature of about 75C, poultry should be cooked through if it has)

Let it rest for at least 10-15 minutes, before you carve it as if you try to slice it right then, all the juices will fall off and meat will dry out

I did not carve it beforehand, as it was just the two of us for dinner, I served it with some hard boiled eggs, a sautéed mushrooms side, some sweet red cherries and some Breezers – it was our best thanksgiving ever!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paneer Butter Masala

With the landmark Birthday and all the hullabaloo just gone by, I was contemplating which recipe to post next from the stockpile and then came across a rather overwhelming comment from a friend (which I had missed earlier) and I knew what to post. The urge to eat vegetarian food is relatively new for me, though A is completely in awe with good Paneer preparations; I was never very fond of them. I am rather choosy about the Paneer I eat; totally love the ones they serve at The Great Kabab Factory, Radisson, when eating at home, I only prefer getting fresh Paneer from a Dairy. On those rare occasions when I got them, A was the one who prepared the dish. After we moved to this part of the Country, I was told that Milky Mist Paneer (from Nandini Dairy – the most famous Dairy in Bangalore) was the best available here.

The other day when I was out grocery shopping, I found the same Paneer and got a pack, quite reluctantly. I thought I will ask my Cook to make something, then changed my mind and thought of making some Paneer Butter Masala, a very comforting Indian dish wish Cottage Cheese.

Here is what you will need to make Paneer Butter Masala:
Serves – 4

·        Paneer/Cottage Cheese : 200 gms
·        Cooking Oil – 1 tbsp
·        Whole Dry Red Chilis – 2
·        Cinnamon – 1” stick
·        Green Cardamom – 2
·        Cloves – 2 to 3
·        Unsalted Butter 1 tbsp - (If using the salted version, go low on the loose salt added to the dish)
·        Onion – chopped – 1 large
·        Ginger and Garlic paste – 1tsp
·        Milk – 1 cup
·        Tomatoes – chopped – 2 medium
·        Chili Powder – 1 tsp
·        Coriander Powder – 1 tsp
·        Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
·        Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
·        Kasuri Methi – 1 tbsp
·        Green Peas – ½ cup - optional
·        Salt to taste
·        Sugar to balance

How to prepare Paneer Butter Masala:

·        Cut the Paneer out into small cubes and set aside
·        Pour cooking oil into a large skillet and add the butter, let the butter slowly melt as the oil heats up
·        Add the whole dry red chilies, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and let them sizzle
·        Add the chopped onions and add a pinch of sugar (for the onions to caramelize faster), sauté till the onions get some color
·        Add the ginger-garlic paste and sauté for a few minutes
·        Add the dry masalas and keep stirring
·        Add the tomatoes and keep stirring till the tomatoes are all mashed up, I used my masher at this point to mash it all up

·        Add the kasuri methi and mix well (looking at the pic, I feel I added kasuri methi before I used the masher, do it the way you want!)
·        Pour the milk in and bring the gravy to a boil
·        Add the cubed paneer pieces and the green peas and give it a stir, let it simmer away for 5-7 minutes
·        Adjust salt and sugar
·        Once desired consistency is reached, turn off the stove and serve hot with Phulkas

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Spanish Chicken Rice

Slowly getting into the groove of posting most of what is happening in my Kitchen (again) and loving every bit of it. Happy to be back :) :)

The recipe I am about to share today is a hearty Chicken Rice recipe, people from different parts of the world make their own version of Chicken Rice. This recipe is very close to the Spanish Chicken Paella, however it does not consist of the traditional Chorizo or Saffron in it hence I will call it Spanish Chicken Rice. One can add Prawns, Mussels and some Chorizo of course. It can also be topped with some small Green Olives.

Here is what you will need to make Spanish Chicken Rice:
Serves – 4
·        Chicken – 400 gms (boneless or with bone – I used Chicken pieces with bones as I prefer the dark meat more)
·        Vegetable Oil – 3 tbsp
·        Garlic – 5-6 cloves - minced
·        Onions – 2 medium – chopped into chunks
·        Bell Pepper – Green, Yellow and Red – 1/3 Cup each
·        Granulated Garlic – 1 tsp
·        Paprika – 1 tbsp
·        Tomatoes – 2 small – chopped
·        Long grained white Rice – 2 cups (Ideal is Paella Rice, but this is not authentic Paella and long grained Rice is what I had)
·        Chicken stock – 4 cups
·        Green Peas – frozen – ½ cup
·        Salt to taste
·        Pepper to taste

How to make Spanish Chicken Rice:

·        In a large Skillet, heat Vegetable Oil
·        Toss the Chicken pieces in and season with some Salt and Pepper, cook all sides till color develops
·        Add the minced Garlic, Onions and Peppers and cook for a few minutes, season with a dash of Salt and Pepper again, cook for 6-7 minutes till they start to soften up
·        Add the washed long grained white Rice and keep stirring, add the paprika and granulated Garlic and mix well, cook for about a minute or two
·        Stir the Tomatoes in and add the Chicken stock
·        Season it with a final touch of Salt and Pepper and bring it to a boil, once it stars boiling, lower the heat to low and cover, let it cook for 25 minutes

·        After 25 minutes, uncover and fluff it up with a fork (do not use a soon, that will mess up the Rice)
·        Add the frozen Green Peas and gently mix, even if they are not fully defrosted, they will. Turn off the heat and cover. In another 10 minutes it should be ready to dig in

This is yet another one pot meal to die for. Make it on week nights for the Family, even for those unplanned get-togethers it is a life savior!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My version of Kerala style Sukha Prawns

All right, it’s been aeons that I have blogged. Life has been a complete roller coaster for the past many months now and though I have been cooking on and off, I have never had the temperament to update the recipe. Now that things are finally settling down and I have the time and energy to try out new things, take pictures and post recipes, I have a series of pending posts. This post is for a dear friend ‘S’, sitting in a distant land (we share pictures of stuff we prepare all the time), who saw the picture (thanks to Viber) of a certain Prawn preparation and asked for the recipe.

Prawns are an absolute favorite at my place. They are flavorful, delectable, takes little time to cook and everyone loves them. As I moved to Southern India a couple of months back, a desire for trying the ingredients and techniques used here has amplified in me. Hence I present to you my version of Kerala style Sukha Prawns.

Here is what you will need to make Sukha Prawns:

·        Prawns – cleaned and deveined – 250-300 gms (keeping the tales on or off is up to you)
·        Cooking Oil – 2-3 tbsps
·        Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
·        Onion – 1 large – chopped
·        Garlic – 4-5 cloves - minced
·        Green Chili – 2-3 – whole – slit
·        Lime juice – 1 tsp
·        Desiccated Coconut – 3 tbsps (or as per your taste)
·        Turmeric Powder – ½ tsp
·        Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
·        Red Chili Powder – 1tsp
·        Tamarind water – 4 tbsp
·        Salt to taste
·        Sugar to balance (you may or may not want to add this, the coconut is already sweet)
·        Pepper – freshly ground – as much as you can stand
·        Coriander leaves – a handful – chopped

Here is the method to make my version of Sukha Prawns:

·        Heat the Oil in a Pan
·        Add the Cumin seeds and let them splutter
·        Add the minced Garlic, slit Green Chilies and the Onion – sauté for a while and let the Onions get some color
·        Add the Prawns in and stir (Prawns take very less time to cook so be careful from here, over cooking will leave the Prawns chewy and rubbery – here on the dish should be done in approximately 6-7 mins)
·        Add Turmeric Powder, Cumin Powder, Red Chili Powder, Salt, Pepper and Sugar and stir for a minute
·        Add the desiccated Coconut and mix well (I used store bought desiccated Coconut – this takes lesser time to cook as it is already dry, freshly desiccated Coconut should be added once the Onions get some color, before adding the Prawns and cooked till about 50% of the moisture has dried up, then the Prawns should be added)
·        Add the Lime Juice and Tamarind water and crank the heat up to high so that the liquids evaporate fast, this is a dry preparation and is best served as a Starter. The Tamarind and the Lime juice will give this dish an overwhelming tangy touch
·        Add the chopped Coriander and mix well
·        Once the desired consistency is reached, check the seasoning and add Salt and Pepper if needed.
·        Serve hot, it is a great Starter and your guests will love it

I served this to my Brother and ‘A’ twice and they totally loved it. I could not get enough of the dry gravy of this dish; it is out of this world. Make this when you have guests, make it when you want to pamper yourself, make it anyway!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Plain Vanilla Cake with Tutti-Frutti

My darling friend from work, ‘S’, was kind enough to lend her hand blender to me last Friday so that I could bake some delights and test it at the same time. Her Oven is dead for the past few weeks and she told me to keep it for a month at least, till she fixes her Oven! YAY!

I do not remember when I last baked a Cake and had almost nothing fancy in my stockpile, hence decided to bake a Plain Vanilla Cake, found some Tutti-Frutti left from the last batch of Biscotti, hence dusted them in some plain flour and added them too, it gave a lovely look to the end product.

(I was impatient when I flipped the cake and was tapping the cake pan too hard, which made that crack, excuse me please)

Here is what you will need to make my Plain Vanilla Cake with Tutti-Frutti:

·         All Purpose Flour : 1.5 cups
·         Granulated White Sugar : 1 cup
·         Pure Vanilla Extract – 2 tsp
·         Butter : ½ cup – at room temperature (I used salted Butter, as I did not have unsalted one, hence I did not add Salt to the batter)
·         Eggs : 2 – at room temperature
·         Baking Powder : 2 tsp
·         Milk : 1 cup – at room temperature
·         Tutti-Frutti : a handful (optional)

Here is the method to bake my Plain Vanilla Cake with Tutti-Frutti:

·         Preheat the Oven to 180C / 356F
·         In a big missing bowl, cream the Butter and the Sugar, beat till a good amount of air goes into the batter, till fluffy
·         Add the Eggs one by one, beat one in then add the second one
·         Add the Pure Vanilla Extract and mix one more time
·         Mix the All Purpose Flour and the Baking Powder and beat in to the batter little at a time, keep the speed of the blender low, else your face will be covered in Flour
·         Add the Milk and beat it in, once the flour is added, beat as less as you can as the more you beat at this stage, the harder your Cake will get
·         Grease the Cake pan with Butter
·         Dust the Tutti-Frutti with a tsp of flour so that when added to the batter, they do not sink to the bottom
·         Fold the Tutti-Frutti into the batter
·         Pour the cake batter into the cake pan
·         Bake at the same temperature for 40 minutes or till a toothpick inserted to the center of the cake comes out clean
·         Let it cool down on a cooling rack for about 10 mins
·         Loosen up the sides with a butter knife and turn it upside down onto a plate
·         You can let it cool or eat it warm, with a little ice cream, some topping or some whipped cream, as you like it :)

Creamy Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti

Weekends are a complete mess these days, Saturday goes mostly in shopping and Sunday goes in preparing for the next week. As the temperature shoots up to a searing 40 degrees, we are living off fruits, coolers, iced tea, cold coffee, squashes, crushes, ice-creams and  when it comes to eating a meal, it is mostly a lentil soup, some rice accompanied with a slice of a fried fish. After two days of staying indoors and eating these plain-Jane meals, it was time for us to indulge into something nice and light, not full of rich spices but something simple. I had a Chicken Breast sitting in the freezer (I usually get a few Chicken Breasts and boil them with a pinch of salt to 5 whistles, shred them and store them, so that I can throw them in into any dish that I am making, they come in very handy when I am making noodles, pasta, fried rice or sometimes even use them for sandwich filling) and had some Spaghetti Pasta too so decided to make this incredible Creamy-Cheesy-Chicken- Spaghetti. This tasted so wonderful that I had to post the recipe. It needs only a few ingredients and can be on your week night menu, always :)

Here is what you will need to make this Creamy-Cheesy-Chicken- Spaghetti:
Serves – 2

·         Chicken Breast – 1 – shredded (I used my hands to shred it)
·         Spaghetti – 200 gms
·         Garlic – 4 cloves - grated
·         Onion – 1 medium – finely chopped
·         Green Bell Pepper – 1 small – finely chopped
·         Fresh Cream – 200 gms (I used 1 tetra pack)
·         Tomato Chili Sauce – 1 tbsp
·         EVOO – 2 tbsps
·         Cheese – 1 Cube – grated, I used 1 cube from a Mother Dairy pack
·         Salt to taste
·         Pepper to taste

How to make Creamy-Cheesy-Chicken- Spaghetti:

·         Cook the Spaghetti as per instructions on the pack to al-dente and set aside.
·         Heat the EVOO; add the grated Garlic and sauté.
·         Add the Onion and Green Bell Pepper and sauté for a minute or two.
·         Add Salt and Pepper and stir.
·         Add the Tomato Chili Sauce for a little bit of tang (optional).
·         Add the cooked shredded Chicken and mix well.
·         Add the Fresh Cream and mix, let it simmer for a minute, don’t let it dry out, it should be able to coat the Spaghetti’s properly and should be thick.
·         Taste the sauce, add more Salt and Pepper if needed.
·         Turn off the gas, add the Spaghetti and mix with a tong softly.
·         Serve into a plate, top it with grated Cheese and enjoy!