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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Mixed Vegetables Fritters (Pakoras)

Nothing can be more blissful on a rainy day than to be curled up in your bed, reading a book while sipping a steaming hot cup of tea and a crunchy snack to munch on.
Ideally a bowl of peanuts or chips would suffice for me but today I decided to be a bit naughty!!
Normally I resist anything deep fried but today all my resolutions went out of the window and I decided to make mixed vegetable fritters/pakoras to have with my tea. I know even if I breathe air, it all goes and settles down on my hips but what the hell, once in a while it is okay to throw caution to the winds, put down your guard and indulge in the things you enjoy!! 
These pakoras are an all time favorite snack in India - extremely simple to make and truly delicious.They are also popularly known as bhajiyas. There are endless variations of making these pakoras. This recipe calls for potatoes, onions and spinach but you can also make them with eggplant slices, cauliflower florets or jalapenos. My favorite is green chillies stuffed with potatoes - really makes the smoke come out of your ears but oh!! it is so worth it.
You can easily find the chick pea flour, also called 'besan' or 'gram flour' in any Indian or South Asian grocery store.  .
Serves 4-6
Ingredients
  • 1 cup potato, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup packed spinach, roughly chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup onion, finely chopped 
  • 1 cup chickpea flour/ besan
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt 
  • water as required to make a slightly thick batter (i used about about 1/4 cup)
  • oil for frying

Heat oil in a medium sized saucepan till hot. (You can also insert a deep fry thermometer till it reads 300.
In a bowl combine chickpea flour, cumin seeds, salt and 1/4 cup water and stir for 3-4 minutes till you form a smooth batter.
Stir in the potatoes, onions and spinach leaves.
Working in small batches, drop about 2 tsp- size amount mixture into the hot oil, turning as needed until golden and crisp, about 5-6 minutes.
Repeat this process till all the batter is used up.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pakoras to paper towels to drain.
Serve hot with tomato sauce or coriander chutney and don't forget your cup of tea!! 

Monday, 11 April 2016

Sichuan Boneless Chicken: Philips Airfryer Recipe

Chinese cuisine is hands-down the favorite in my family whenever we decide to eat out. I have tried to recreate some of our favorite recipes at home and I can say that no one was really disappointed.
The cuisine of Sichuan province in Southwestern China has become quite popular  in recent years. Here is a typical Sichuanese dish with a hard hitting sauce combining hot, sweet sour and salty flavors. The sauce also goes well with Turkey, pork or small meatballs. The best part - it is quick and easy to make.Don't we all just love that!!
Instead of deep frying the chicken in oil, I have used the Philips Airfyer to cook it (trying my best to save on calories in any possible way), but you like, you can go ahead and either stir fry or deep fry the chicken to cook it.
On one of my excursions to Costco, I was thrilled to find this great Nordic Ware 14" Asian wok. For $14.99 I think it was a deal. Even though it is non-stick it gives a nice sear to the noodles. I have also tried some fried rice and vegetables and they both got cooked with great consistency. 
You can serve the Sichuan Chicken with fried rice or Hakka noodles.

This recipe has also been published inThe Urban Spice.com.
Recipe adapted from "A Wok for all seasons" by Celebrity Chef Martin Yan
Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 

Marinade
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp cornstarch
4 Tbsp beaten egg
1/2 tsp all purpose flour
salt and pepper to taste  
4 chicken breast halves, skinned, boned and cut into 1/4" strip

Sichuan spicy sauce
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp shao Hsing wine or dry sherry
4 tsp rice vinegar 
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp hot pepper sauce
1/4 tsp sugar

To make the chicken:
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 green onion (including the top leaves) thinly sliced 
6 whole dried red chilli peppers
1 tsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tsp water

Method
Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Add the chicken and stir to coat.
Set aside for 30 minutes. 
Preheat Philips Airfryer to 360 F. Place the chicken in the airfryer basket and cook for 6 minutes. 
Raise the temperature to 390 F and cook for 4 more minutes till the chicken is brown and crispy. Remove chicken and keep aside
Combine the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to mix and keep aside.
Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. oil, garlic, ginger, green onion and chilli peppers and cook stirring until fragrant for about 5 seconds.
Stir in the sauce and bring to a boil.

Add in the cornstarch and boil till the sauce starts to thicken slightly. 

Add in the Stir-fried chicken and stir to coat completely in the sauce.

Serve warm with noodles or fried rice. 

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Easy Green Bean Casserole

Easy-peasy and oh-so delicious!! 
Creamy veggies and crunchy onion toppings - this dish is perfect to make for a weekday dinner when you don't want to spend too much time slogging it off in the kitchen. 
The Green Bean casserole was concocted in 1955 by Campbell's Kitchen head Dorcas Reily. This recipe landed Reilly a spot in the Inventors Hall of fame in 2002 and after tasting the dish I know exactly why!!
Try it out and you too will fall in love with  this version and I can assure you that like for me, it will become your new go-to recipe for making the perfect green bean casserole.

4 cups sliced green beans
3 cups chicken broth
1 can(10 3/4 ounce) cream of mushroom soup
1 cup french fried onion rings 
1/2 tsp garlic salt
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup grated cheddar

  • Preheat the oven to 350F.
  • Boil the green beans in the chicken broth for 10 minutes till slightly softened, and then drain.
  • Mix the green beans, mushroom soup, onion rings, garlic salt, salt and pepper to taste, and mix well.
  • Pour into a greased 11/2 quart baking dish.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then top the casserole with the cheddar and bake for further 10 minutes till the casserole is hot and cheese is melted and bubbling.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Citrus Fruit Salad

As the weather turns warmer and you bid goodbye to winters, welcome this beautiful salad with a burst of flavors from the citrus fruits tossed with salad greens and fresh herbs. Its so light, refreshing and so easy to make that you will want to have it everyday. It pairs well with most side dishes. 

Ingredients
Grapefruits, Oranges, Tangerines 
3 cups mixture of spring greens (lettuce, arugula, baby spinach, red leaf), washed and dried
1/4 cup fresh mint, torn into pieces
1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
Orange Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tsp orange zest
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Chop all the citrus fruits into bite sized pieces.
  •  Chop the spring greens.
  • Add mint and pecans.
  • In a small bowl add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette together and whisk till they get mixed.
  • Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to coat thoroughly.
  • Enjoy!!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Chow Mein/ Veg Hakka Noodles

In the 80's, back in India, growing up I remember Chinese food as one of the most sought after fast food (pizzas and burgers had just about started to get popular but were a little too expensive to relish on a regular basis) amongst all age groups. Food vans parked in the corner of your neighborhood market  were a common sight alluring the customers with lipsmacking chinese food- chow mein, sweet and sour chicken, chicken manchurian amongst many other delicacies.To add to the delicious waft of aromas and the sizzling sounds coming from the van, was the visual theatrics of the person cooking the noodles, tossing them up high in the huge woks succeeding in breaking down all your resolves of resisting the delicious fare. Who in the right mind could resist it, not a foodie like me.  
Apparently that Chinese food served India, has not even a remote resemblance to traditional Chinese cuisine. As the history goes, in the early 20th century, the Chinese settlers came to India and settled in different cities. This communion between the Indian and Chinese people gave birth to, amongst other things ;)  the Indo-Chinese cuisine where Indian spices were added to suit the Indian tastes. This is what gave birth to dishes like the sweet corn soup, veg and chicken sweet and sour, Chilli chicken, Gobi manchurian. 
But now it has become so popular in India that one can get it in any restaurant in India and at the same time can also be found very commonly on the roadside street fast food joints.
Having moved here to U.S a year and a halfback, I have been craving and desperately missing our desi Chinese food. We tried a lot of restaurants but it just wasn't the same. In the end I just decided to recreate the same flavors at home, something that can be enjoyed by everyone in the family.
Seriously, nothing compares to the flavors from back home. I think this is what cherishing and holding onto sweet memories is.....that makes you long for your home, your friends and family left behind!!

prep time:15 minutes
cook time:15 minutes
serves: 3-4

Egg noodles- 400 gms or 2 packets 200 gms each
Salt to taste
Oil- 2 Tbsp
Sesame oil- 1 Tbsp.
Garlic- 1 tsp chopped 
Onion -1 medium, sliced thinly
Cabbage- 2 cups, finely sliced 
Carrots - 2, finely cut into thin strips (julienne)
Green pepper -1, sliced thinly
Bean sprouts- 1/2 cup
Chives- 6 sprig, finely chopped
Soy sauce- 2 tbsp
Vinegar- 1 tsp 
  1. Boil  the noodles in plenty of water till almost 3/4th cooked. Be careful not to overcook.
  2. When they are done, strain the noodles in a colander and run them under cold water. Toss them with 1 Tbsp. of oil and keep aside.
  3. Heat oil in a wok on high heat.
  4. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the onion, carrots and green pepper and cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat or till the carrots start to get a little soft.
  6. Now add in the cabbage and toss again for 30 seconds.
  7. Add the noodles to the vegetables.
  8. Add  in 1 Tbsp. sesame oil.
  9. Add salt, pepper, vinegar and soy sauce and toss to mix thoroughly.
  10. Add in the beansprouts and toss again.
  11. Serve hot.

My recipe of Veg Hakka Noodles was also published in the Urban Spice.