Thursday, November 10, 2011

Indo-Chinese Chicken Stir fry

Did you know that India has its own version of Chinese cuisine? It also has a page on wikipedia. You can visit it here.

What I gather is that authentic Chinese fare evolved and was adapted to suit Indian tastes better and it permeated through the nation via the East. We use the similar techniques that are used there and some flavours are definitely borrowed, but the dish isn't authentically Chinoise. But who's complaining?!? I'm definitely not! You'll see what I'm talking about when you make this yum Chicken stir fry. Its healthy and nutritious. 



As kids we used to love this. A wonderful variant for us kids from the regular everyday curries that mom usually made in the kitchen. What I am making is inspired from perennially favourite Chili Chicken that's been tickling the taste buds of Indians since decades and it also includes a bunch of veggies. Not only that, it gets ready in no time. Oh n the smoky, nutty aroma along with the heat of the spices and the textures....so delicious! Let's get to it then, shall we?!

Only piece of advice, be as precise with your vegetable cutting as you can be. Food after all needs to be aesthetically pleasing as well, isn't it? Especially when the presentation involves the vegetables being presented as a whole and not curried or in a paste form. I'm not asking you to be as pedantic as you would if you were making Japanese, but just pay a little more attention to you knife skills. 


Serves: 4

Time: 10 mins + prep

Complexity: **

You'll need

1 med Bok choy/ lettuce/ cabbage head
1 Red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 cup string beans
1 cup julienned carrots
2" pc of ginger, julienne
5-6 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
2 med red onions, finely sliced
4-5 scallions/ spring onions, chopped, greens separate
6 boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsp flour
1 egg
freshly ground black pepper
salt to taste
1 tbsp red chili flakes
3 tbsp dark soy, divided
3 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Pinch of love

Method

Cut the boneless chicken into roughly 1" pieces. We first need to marinate this. For the marinade, Place chicken pieces in a bowl, add 2 tbsp soy, pepper, flour and egg to this. Add just about 1 tsp of salt to this because soy is already salty. Toss and mix this to coat the chicken thoroughly. Place aside. 



Now have all the vegetables cut and ready. I took almost 30 mins to cut the veggies and I still wasn't very precise with the chopping, but they all looked uniform to me. Don't cut the lettuce or cabbage leaves. They are for serving purposes. 



Heat the wok on a medium high flame and add the sesame oil to it. Let the oil smoke just a bit and add the ginger and garlic to this. Reduce the flame because we don't want the garlic to burn. If it does, everything will taste bitter. 



In about 15 secs, add the marinating chicken in the wok. Give it a toss for a minute. Only the outsides will be browned by this time. Don't worry. Add the red chili flakes. 

Add the red onions, beans and carrots because they take the longest to cook. I didn't add the beans till later and mine were a little under-cooked. Add the spring onions now. Toss



Add Bell peppers and toss. All this should take about 5 minutes. Have the flame on high while you're adding and tossing the vegetables. Add the rest of your soy and season with salt and pepper. Check the chicken. Take a piece and slice it down the middle. It should be all cooked by now. 

I had plain sesame seeds on hand so I dry roasted them to release their nutty aroma. Add those to the chicken and toss again. I just loved acting all chefily and holding the wok in my hands to flip and toss the veggies without tongs. Was so much fun! Your chicken is done. If you want, you can add some schezwan seasoning to this. But it tastes great even without it! 



Now place the leaves of the cabbage or lettuce on your serving plate and spoon some chicken on it. Garnish with a some greens from the scallions. It also makes for a great appetizer or a pretty party food. Sprinkle your pinch of love and Indulge!:)) 








Chin Chin Chinese Noodle Salad

Chinese food came in my life long before I was introduced by the world's other delicious cuisines. In India, Chinese food takes on a whole other meaning. Authentic Chinese wasn't very popular here 10 years back but slowly its making its way in. Before then, Chinese food meant a lot of Chili sauce for heat, soy for that dark brown colour and vinegar for the tangy sourness. In most of the Indian street food, Chinese still is the same because God knows how much we love chili in our food! But as the tastes evolve and people keep learning more about good food, their way of making Chinese also improves. 



Now I'm not saying that if you serve what I'm making in a Chinese house, the people will say its authentic fare, but they sure will like it cuz its tasty! And I'm just talking bout making some noodles - Chinese style. I mean come on, how hard can that be?! Give this a try- so easy! And this is probably the healthiest noodles you'll eat because its got a ton of veggies and the stir fry technique doesn't let them lose their nutrients. Just packs in a punch of flavour  for your taste buds. 



Serves: 4

Time: 30 mins

Complexity: ** 

You'll need

Bell peppers (any colour/s available), Cut in thin strips length-wise
1 large Carrot, julienned
4 Scallions/ spring onions, cut into thin slices; greens separated
2" pc of ginger julienned
5-6 garlic cloves (use less if you don't like a strong garlicky aroma)
Shredded cabbage. Use bok choy or lettuce if you feel like. 
2 Onions thinly sliced
250 gms dried egg noodles
Handful of roasted peanuts
2-3 tbsp peanut oil (if allergic, use sesame oil or any other veg oil)
2 tbsp Dark Soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp hoisin sauce (Optional)
1 tbsp red chili flakes or two whole red chilies sliced finely
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper
A pinch of love

Method

First have all your vegetables thoroughly rinsed, dried and chopped. You can add veggies of your choice. Keep them almost similar in size so they take almost the same time to cook. 



Take a big pot of water and bring it to a boil. This is for cooking the noodles. It should be boiled by the time we are almost done with the vegetables. The noodles tend to stick and become mushy if kept cooked and unattended for a long time, so I prefer to make the simultaneously along with the stir fry. 

Have a wok ready for stir fry. Keep it on a medium high flame for about 30 secs before you add in the oil. Let the oil shimmer a little before you start to add in the garlic and ginger. They should sizzle as soon as you add them in. 

Give it a stir for about 15 secs before adding in the sliced red onions. We don't want the garlic to burn. These are the aromatics for most Chinese foods. It smells fantastic, doesn't it?! Stir this for a minute till you see the red onions going slightly paler. 


Add in the white portion of the scallions and the julienne of carrots. Stir fry this for another minute till you see the carrots soften a little. Increase the flame to high if required. You should always here a sizzling sound when you add something new to the pan. But be careful and don't let anything stick at the bottom of the wok. 

Now add the bell peppers and cabbage and cover to steam this for around 2 mins. We just want the veggies to tenderize a little. I don't like them all raw. If you like them crunchier, don't steam, just stir fry for a minute. 

While the veggies are steaming, have a pot of boiling water ready. The water should be on a rolling boil. Add in the dried egg noodles to it and add a tsp of salt to season. They should take a couple of minutes to cook or as per the instructions on the packet. Make sure you read those carefully. Drain them as soon as they are done and add to the vegetables. 

Now add the salt, pepper, soy, hoisin, vinegar, chili flakes and the ground peanuts in. Give it a good toss and combine everything well. Add your pinch of love to it. 



Time for a taste test for the seasonings. Everything ok? Now serve piping hot. Garnish with the green portion of the spring onions and some peanuts and eat even faster! Yummy Chin Chin Chinese Noodle Salad for you to Indulge! :)) 







Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sexiest Fudgy Walnut Brownies









It was the middle of the day and I had a chocolate craving. I just wanted to get my hands on something gooey and chocolate-y. What could've been better than these sexiest brownies that you'll ever eat! 


Now I don't claim to be an expert on making brownies, but I have had people tell me that I do make the best brownies ever! No tall claims here I swear! The brownies I'm making here today are not overly sweet (we hate that don't we?), rich, dense and sticky- just how the right kind of brownies are! Not only that but they have a flaky crispy crust on the top that cracks at the slightest touch of the knife. And the cherry on top or in this case there are walnuts in the middle...spread all through the brownie. Just a bit of crunch in that rich chocolate fudge brownie. Mmm mmm mmm 


I'm not a huge chocolate lover but when it comes to these beautiful brown pieces of heaven that absolutely melt in your mouth so sinfully.... I'm a goner. And sometimes you need a best friend to tell you that everything will be alright, to brighten up your day, to add some sparkle in your life, to add a skip in your step. This brownie does much more than that. It will hold your hand, comfort you, tantalize you and satisfy you. 






Oh and the best part is that it all just doesn't end there. You can go in for a second piece when the first one's gone. After all, its not everyday that you bake these beautiful little parcels of delight to treat yourselves, not that it would be wrong to treat yourself everyday. HHhmmmm.... maybe I will bake some more as soon as this batch gets over! What say people? Should I?


Anyway, here's a very warm welcome to our old dear friend- The Brownie! 


Serves: 10-12


Time: 45 mins


Complexity: **


You'll need


1 cup cream or 1 1/4 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup flour
150 gms dark chocolate, melted
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp Instant espresso diluted in 2 tbsp of water
2 tsp Vanilla extract
3 eggs
1/8th tsp salt
1 cup chopped walnuts
Pinch of love


Method


We'll be using a manual whisk today instead of my dear friend the food processor. You don't need a lot of labour, so don't worry.


Line a baking tray with some foil or parchment paper and brush it with out. I like to keep a slight overhang so its easier for me to pull out the brownies when they're ready. 


Preheat the oven at 180C or 350F


Cream together the butter and sugar first. Whisk well till it becomes fluffy.






Add in the eggs and whisk till the mix becomes frothy.






Add the vanilla extract and espresso mix to this and whisk again. 






Add the melted chocolate along with the cocoa powder and whisk till well combined. The melted chocolate should be thick and glossy. If it is not glossy, then you haven't melted it right. Heat it on a double boiler and keep stirring till its melted. Quick Tip Before melting chocolate, chop it up into really small pieces. It will melt quickly and evenly. 






Last but not the least, add the salt, flour, walnuts and your love to the mix. Fold it into the mixture. Do NOT Over-mix. Just about a couple lethargic whisks till you see the batter ready. 






Pour the batter in the baking tray. 






Bake for around 30 mins depending on your oven. Check with cake tester or tooth pick. It should come out clean with a few crumbs attached to it. Your brownie is ready. 


Cut it up as you like. I chose a round baking tray this time so I had a pie like piece of brownie. You can also cut it in squares if you want. Don't forget a generous dusting of powdered sugar on it. Ohhh so pretty.... and doesn't it remind you of the beautiful white snow. Absolutely perfect. Bite into the glorious treat and don't forget to share. Indulge!! :))  









Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Divine Healing Soup

Have you ever been through those days, when after a ton of festivities, an overload of eating and merry making, you just fall a little sick! Well If you're a little like me, then perhaps you know what I'm talking about. After celebrating Diwali, the pollution in the air from all the fire crackers and the changing weather finally got to me and I got a fever n a had a terribly sore throat. 

In India the weather is changing from post monsoon to a very dry winter and the people tend to take time and a really strong immunity system to help them adapt through this transition. Evidently, my immunity system sucks! 

I had such a sore throat that I wasn't able to talk for a couple days. Sure, it was a good thing for the people around me cause thats one of the few times that I ever shut up but can you imagine how much I had force myself to not speak. I needed to rest my throat. Or well I needed something to help me soothe it. 

And the creative genius that I am, I thought, what could be better than some soup to heal me?! I know, completely indigenous and so delusional! 



I simply raided my fridge and found a few ingredients to make this soup. It is inspired by the flavourful Chinese and Italian cuisines. The best ever combination of flavours that just fill your mouth with a burst of flavours. 

Well and I tell you, no I promise you that this soup has absolute healing powers. Its a meal in itself. Its so damn healthy- I hate admitting it! Oh and its so delicious.... wait till you get a big spoonful of this irresistible hot soup in your mouth. Here's the recipe

Serves: 4 big bowl fulls

Time: 1 hr

Complexity: **

You'll need

Feel free to add or subtract veggies of your choice but here's what I used

1 1/2 cup finely shredded cabbage
1 1/2 cup diced carrot
1 1/2 cup chopped french beans
1 capsicum, diced (too much of it makes the soup a tad pungent for me)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cup of scallions, chopped
1" piece of ginger sliced, minced- your choice (use more if you like it, like I did)
4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced whatever you like. You can even crush it!
2 chicken breasts, skinned
2 tsp salt
6 cups vegetable/ chicken stock (home made or store bought or cubes- low sodium of course)/ plain water if you don't have stock on hand
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp dried oregano
12-15 basil leaves
2 cups Fettuccine (optional)
Black pitted and sliced Olives for garnish (optional)
Shredded Parmesan (I LOVE CHEESE!!!!)
1 tbsp butter or 2 tbsp Olive oil
Pinch of love

Method

In a deep pan or a stewing pot, heat butter. Place the chicken breasts to sear and cook. 


Season them as they cook in the pan itself with some salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook the chicken for about 4 minutes on each side or until they are cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside in a plate. 

Now in the same flavoured pan, add the onions, garlic and ginger -all the Asian  aromatics. Saute for about couple minutes till the onions turn translucent and light pink in colour. 


Time to add in the scallions. Save just a very little for garnish. Saute for another 40 seconds or so. 



To this add the chopped vegetables. Mix well so the onions are evenly distributed along with the ginger and garlic. 



Pour in your stock. I had about 4 cups of stock so I added 2 cups plain water. Improvising baby, improvise!!



Cover and let it simmer for around 15 minutes. Till then the vegetables will get cooked and get a chance to tenderize. I like my veggies to cook thoroughly. If you like yours crunchier, give it just about 4-5 minutes. 

Add the hand torn basil leaves and season with salt, pepper and oregano. At this point, if you're a garlic lover like me and have a sore throat like me, add some more garlic powder to it. Garlic not only adds abundant flavour but also helps in healing the throat.



Skim the soup for the impurities. Shred the chicken breasts and add to the soup along with any juices that gather in the plate. Add your Love to it, and give it a final stir. 




Meanwhile have you pasta cooked and ready while the soup's simmering. Make sure its al dente. 


To serve, place some pasta at the bottom of the bowl. Pour the delicious soup on top of it. Garnish with some black olives, another strand or two of pasta, shredded cheese, some scallions and basil leaves. 



Your aromatic magical healing soup is ready to be consumed. The perfect amalgamation of great 2 great cuisines from around the world. Drink away to good health. It helped me immensely. And since winter's on its way around the world, drink it anyway! Make sure you drink it steaming hot but be careful not to scald your mouth like I did! Divine, isn't it? Indulge!! :))