Friday, July 25, 2014

Jerk Chicken Fingers

I know many of you would have felt knee –jerk reactions during the semi finals of football world cup, well Brazil seemed to be loosing it out at that time and now it will involve many more knee-jerk reactions, jerking all the way from bottom- to –top. Although the management of the entire game schedules were spot on and impeccable and that I must add here. And, also we did get a knee-jerk reaction when we spotted a fox near the back yard of our apartment complex. Well, this is nothing new, it is indeed a common sight for many here, although for us it was the first time in broad day-light. We couldn't believe our eyes, dear daughter caught this moment with our point and shoot camera. And couple of friends have also told us that, if they keep rubbish outside in night, these foxes come and do hunt out food for them, making the well-kept garden messy all over. The sight of Lionel Messi would have been better not the foxes messy,let’s now be tight-lipped about it.

Well, this recipe of jerk chicken fingers is not at all that dramatic and knee-jerking as if you would start dreaming out of it. But, taste wise it is indeed very flavorful and can be considered over-whelming but not certainly knee-jerking, although it still will be called chicken jerk-“fingers” not chicken jerk –“knee”.Ok, please refrain ourselves from further imaginations and let’s say its good as gold to be a great finger food or party food/appetizers.

Coming to the recipe, jerk seasoning that I have used in this recipe comes here in spice packets, and that’s what globalization intends to do to you. I am sure you all must have heard about “jerk chicken” which has its origin somewhere in Caribbean island, and taking that cue, I made these chicken jerk fingers. There are plenty of recipes available in internet to make home-made jerk seasonings and use accordingly. One recipe is this and this- detailed recipe of jerk chicken and this-dry rub spice-mix.
I have used Kashmiri red pepper powder for that reddish color and also it does add little bit of spice also. However it’s not required strictly, a plain Jane type of chicken fingers with only jerk seasoning will also turn out flavorful, overnight marination of chicken pieces is recommended, so that spices can well incorporate inside chicken. Yogurt helps in tenderization of flesh and also as great base to bind all the spices well. If you are allergic to milk-products then you may skip it and use lemon juice or vinegar as well.
Now to the jerk chicken recipe

Jamaican Jerk Chicken Fingers or Tenders
Recipe requirements
Chicken finger fillets about 300 Gms
2 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of jerk seasoning
1 tsp of garlic powder
1 tsp of Kashmiri march powder/Kashmiri red pepper powder
½ tsp of freshly crushed black peppercorn
5-6 heaped tsp of thick Greek style yogurt or 2 tsp of lemon juice or any other souring agent
After cleaning chicken pieces, pat them dry with a kitchen towel. We do get chicken finger fillets here, however if you don’t then you can make, cut strips from chicken breast pieces as well.
Now add in all the dry ingredients- coriander powder, jerk seasoning, crushed black pepper, Kashmiri red pepper powder (I have used MDH brand Kashmiri red pepper powder which seems to be little high on hot level and as well on color), for jerk seasoning I have used Rajah Brand and Schwartz brand so far and seems to be satisfied with the results. (Jerk seasoning originates from Caribbean cuisine, specially from Jamaica- a famous chicken recipe is, Jamaican Jerk Chicken , will update the blog with that recipe as well)
Add in salt as per taste and thick Greek-style yogurt also. Coat chicken finger fillets very well with the spices and yogurt mixture.
Now put on the oven at 200 deg C, set it at and grill the chicken fillets for about 20-25 mints or till they get nice smoky texture or are well charred.It would be nice if the tray is covered with foil. It also depend on the cuts of the chicken  fillets , so check out in between and keep an eye over the grilling process in oven.

Or you may bake the chicken as well. For that take out in mid-way, and if you need then coat those with cooking oil.I have never done that as we like to have it oil-free and grilled which turns out soft.You may use sour cream in place of yogurt as well which is even better gives a very smooth texture once the chicken is done.

You may use this seasoning to grill other vegetables like- zucchini, bell pepper, onions etc as well. Vegetarian can skip chicken or meat and use tofu or paneer to make Jerk tofu/paneer fingers, all other ingredients remain same.  
As usual we served along with cooked cous-cous and slices of tomato and cucumber.

Happy cooking and have a lovely weekend

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

These days we are seeing lots of sunshine quite unlike of British summer, which makes us yearn for things which is so typical of summer that we are habitual of seeing in India, like chilling out with a cup of cold coffee or ice-cream sundaes or "mishti doi"etc and these  have become regular in our home. But then it’s not only about cooking, eating, drinking cold drinks, summer activities also includes going out in parks or having a nice picnic, now that I somehow can’t imagine myself doing that in typical Indian summer. Even though schools are still open and summer vacations haven’t yet started here, well actually it’s another week and we will be having school vacations here. And we all know once the school vacations starts all mothers across the globe, do become even more busier, making ferries to local library, parks and activity center, becomes almost a daily happening for them.

Sometimes, when kids do shift their attention, they do come up with great innovative things. These days loom bands have caught my daughter’s attention; apparently every kid these days seems to be hooked to it here, it is kind of a trend here. She is on a spree of making many bracelets out of it. She still has some left-over loom bands loops which incidentally, I hid it from her while she was away in the school. Now, she is up to the “lost loom bands project” kind of “Sally Bollywood” and had been searching the entire household. May be I will keep them as memento and gift her later on, once her interest grows out of it, just to have that surprise look on her face.

Now coming to this recipe which is as simple as it sounds. As you can see daffodils in the picture above, this was made in the month of March and was lying in drafts since then. But it’s good to be late than never, right. When you can get fresh –healthy fish and if a fish is salmon, and you add butter and lemon to it, you know how subtle flavors can be coming out from it. I always have liked the flavor of salmon. I just happen to add dried herbs for extra goodness, I was thinking of putting up dried parsley, as parsley is a great herb, extensively used in Mediterranean cooking, but I didn't had parsley, so used dried Italian herb which is what I got at that time, but to my surprise it turned out nice, since then I have made this many times and with dried Italian herb only. Garlic powder is included and so is red pepper powder, which gives bonus to the overall flavor without over-empowering the distinct flavor of the fish itself. If you don’t get salmon, shrimp or other white fish fillets can also be used in this place, replace butter with olive oil or may be any other oil like – corn oil, sunflower oil, to make it less saturated. But always remember our body does need butter as well, all it requires is moderate activity level to burn down that saturated fat, nothing less.

Just want to emphasize that all health foods might not be good for you, read here,  a striking story about a food blogger's eating disorders regarding  vegan foods.I highly advise consulting a nutritionist before you jump on to any sort of diet-plans or any type of drastic changes in your eating patterns.Remember loosing weight , also depends on how physically active you are, not just on what you eat.Sleep and rest is also necessary to restore lost stamina from your body.

Now to the recipe

Pan fried Salmon in Lemon-Butter sauce
Recipe requirements
3-4 salmon fillets
Half lemon, squeezed for the lemon juice
2 tbs of butter
¼ tsp of red pepper powder or as per taste or freshly crushed chilly flakes
½ tsp of garlic powder
¾ tsp of dried Italian herb powder
Salt as per taste
Clean and rub salt all over salmon fillets. Keep aside for half an hour. We do get salmon fish fillets here easily and 3 or 4 fish fillets weigh roughly 400-450 gms.
Now melt butter in a fry pan, add in salmon fillets, and skin side down first. Fry them about 4-5 mints. Flip the side and do another 3-4 mints depending on the cut of the fillets or the thickness of the  fillet . Fry till it’s no more pinkish in color. Take out and drain.
In that butter itself, add in dried Italian herb, red pepper powder, lemon juice and salt if required at low flame. If you are using salted butter, there is no need of adding extra salt. Add in salmon fillets.

Now cover the fry pan and let it cook further 8-10 mints or till salmon is cooked. Sometimes, I skip frying salmon fillets and mix all the ingredients and melt butter in a fry pan then add in salmon+spices+dried herb and let it cook well in it’s own juices, I must add, it turns out even more soft.
You can even grill the fish and prepare the sauce separately and then drizzle the prepared sauce all over the grilled salmon fish fillets.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Masala Baingan- Spiced Brinjal stir/fried recipe

For any tennis lovers, Wimbledon is like a pilgrimage and according to N Djokovic, the winning player himself– since he was 5 years old he always dreamt of playing in Wimbledon. And for us who are passive sporty enthusiast - read that’s me , visiting this place at least once, or just getting an opportunity to watch live match there, seems like an unreachable and distant dream/ “diba swopna” to be  precise.

Yes, it is, while we visited Wimbledon this Saturday, we never realized someday this can be real.We didn’t know, what will be unfolding for us there. It was raining, and pouring when we got off from our train in Southfields station, so we waited and waited till the rain slowed up slightly, making us comfortable enough to walk up to the venue. Somewhere I happened to read” if you wish ardently for things to happen, the entire cosmos conspires to accomplish your wish”. And it looks like things were falling to happen accordingly that day.
As we queued up outside the main entrance gate, chattering with a noble steward/helper there, about our chances of getting in, we had a faint hope that we might get inside. But, still not sure if we would be lucky enough to watch live matches there as it’s was wet all over there, so leave alone catching up final of men’s doubles match in centre court there.And did I add that tickets are not that easily available for final matches either. Dear husband thought, we should give it a try to get re-sale tickets to the centre courts, and it looks like even God was on a generous mood that day to accomplish our wish. We did finally get our tickets to get inside the centre court and when we placed ourselves there comfortably, we were happy to be part of the ongoing men’s double final match. From then onwards it was an exciting men’s double final match.

Although I felt tired after watching the game just in to the third set, but I couldn’t tell that for dear husband for sure. While me and my daughter were feeling little tired and hungry, we thought to call it a day, a day to remember forever. Once we were home, we came to know about the winners and their 5 set final match game, which almost felt like a long saga to me stretched over 3 and half hours. But still there were people all over in the court, cheering them throughout that match.Someday, I will try to stick up to the end as well, as for time being just a feeling to be there, watching a match in Wimbledon and that too finals make me feel happy, somewhere in corner of my heart. Both these pictures are taken with my mobile, it’s not that cameras are not allowed, but I forgot to take our camera….

As for the recipe, I try to make brinjals in many ways, adding them in traditional Bengali shukto, chorchori,fish curry etc.But on a whole with the stalk intact, this “baigan” preparation- north Indian style dry stir/fry recipe has been our favourite.These brinjals, for strange reason don’t make us have any allergic reactions like itch etc, which I wont say for the big-fat eggplants. Small ones and particularly these slender-long ones, once they are cooked seemed to absorb more flavor as compared to the big chunky ones. The dry stir/fry goes well with any rotis or paratha; we made methi parathas and also a main dish of salmon-potato-tomato spicy-tangy semi-dry curry, even when having paratha or rotis,  we still crave for fish curry, now I can't take out my Bengali genes..........

We also made “aam doi” to bask in to the glory of mangoes this season that we are getting here, although very limited and not from India I guess. The pulp of mangoes are mixed in with the preparation for mishti doi , just another way of having and flavouring mishti doi.Mishti doi recipe is over here and more precise detailed aam doi recipe Here.I would suggest to use thick Greek-style doi for setting "aam doi"....

We have mangoes in this recipe as well, not ripened but the dried mango powder or aamchur powder which is famous for adding tanginess to any gravy or are a great souring agent. Dried mango powder or aamchur imparts a nice tangy touch to this stir/fry. I wished I had used purple onions in place of white ones as they seem to soak up the spices more, but white onion is what I had when I made this preparation.Here is how masala baigan north Indian style is made in our home.

Masala baingan/ Spiced Brinjal stir/fry recipe
Recipe requirements
8-10 long Brinjal/Eggplants
2 medium size onions
3-4 fat cloves of garlic
2 tsp of grated ginger
1 tsp of Shah Jeera powder/ or cumin powder
1 tsp of Lal mirch powder/red pepper powder
½ tsp of Deghi mirch powder
1 and ½ tsp of  Dhania powder/coriander powder
½ tsp of Amchur powder/dried mango powder
Namak swad anusar/ salt as per taste or ½ tsp of salt
3-4 tbs of mustard oil

Masala Baingan, Methi paratha, salmon -potato-tomato tangy semi dry curry..

Wash the brinjals and make cuts along the sides and then rotate it and have the cuts from other end, making it to open up a bit further down till the end of stalks, but still keeping the base of stalks untouched.Grate in garlic and ginger and chop finely onions and tomatoes.
Now marinate them with salt and turmeric powder. Leave it aside for sometimes.
Meanwhile heat up a fry pan, add in mustard oil, stir/fry ginger and garlic till they are charred well. Add in finely chopped onions. Keep on stir/fry till the onions shrink in size and add in salt also.
Now mix in all dry seasonings- red pepper powder+dried mango powder+cumin+coriander powder and Deghi mirch masala which I happen to use MDH brand.
Now add in finely chopped tomatoes, splash some water so that the spices don’t get stick up.
Add in marinated brinjals to it, mix in the spices well with the stir/fried onions, garlic and ginger. Put the flame to med-low and cover, cook the brinjals properly about 15-20 mints. Half way through open the cover and flip the sides to stir/fry other sides of brinjal.At this time if you see the masala has become way too much dry then splash some more water to it.

Once the brinjals have turned soft and it tends to release oil from the sides, switch off the flame and take it of. You can add some ghee at the end as well.

Happy Cooking Friends

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Soya Chilli Masala

We sometimes leisurely go for day trips when ever time permits and when ever we want to escape from daily rushing-huffing. This time, we went to Hastings, east Sussex. We have been to Brighton earlier which itself is a nice place to have great sea-views, but Hastings is even more relaxing, meant for a family day-out.

And as we intend to do small train journeys, so a two hours of train ride sounded good for us. Views across Hastings Country Park and Hasting pier are relaxing. This place even has many fish and chips outlets, a typical sea- town and also a fabulous play area for kids which stretch along the promenade.

There are many areas for picnic as well and benches to sit. But our surprise was Hastings Country Park, views across the sandstones cliff –east hill is splendid. They have recently mended the park area, putting up great amount of greenery and also some wooden benches to sit and relax. It even has a separate place for barbecues, and one can have a long walk along the East hill till Fairlight village area if nothing comes to mind, although when we visited many walking paths were closed due to land-slides.

And we kind of liked the funicular –railway to the top as well, as taking steps to the top of cliff sounded exhausting for us.And of course one can spend some time near promenade or beach as well. Although I must say it’s a pebbled beach not a sandy –beach that one always expects to be in.

 If you don’t mind pebbled beaches, you still can have a picnic there, catching up with sea-views and listening to the crashing sea-waves sound. All in all, a nice way to spend a leisurely family day over there.

Coming to the recipe. We have been making soya chunks in many different ways. This stir/fry as we really like to eat is sort of a fusion between Chinese and Indian ingredients and that's why called it-  Chinese Soya Chilli Masala. Chinese Soya is spiced a little more with red pepper powder and cumin powder, not much but a slight hint of it. This turned up a semi-dry preparation for us and we liked it with rotis.We also made a side of a salad- Baby spinach, apple and rocket salad, dressing we used was honey-vinaigrette.

Chinese Soya Chilli  Masala
Recipe requirements
About 3 cups of soaked soya nuggets
2 medium size potatoes
1 medium size onions
 2 tsp of ginger paste
2 tsp of garlic paste
Half of a medium size tomato
For the chili masala sauce
4-5 tsp of Soya sauce
3 tsp of Tomato ketchup
 2 tsp of Tamarind sauce
 1 tsp of Honey
 2 tsp of Chili sauce
 1 tsp of red pepper powder
½ tsp of cumin powder
 1 tsp of Salt or as per taste
Coriander leaves
½ tsp of corn flour
3-4 tbs of cooking oil

Soak soya nuggets in ample water for about 4-5 hrs.Once, they soak up entire water and have become soft, squeeze out the soaked water. Now wash them in running water and again squeeze out the excess water.
It would be nice if you can cook the soya nuggets/chunks in advance. Put the entire amount in pressure cooker, add in 1 cup of water and cook for two whistles. Open when the pressure subsides.
Now chop potatoes in to cubes.
Heat up a fry pan, add in cooking oil. Add in finely chopped onions, sauté them for about a minute. Now add in garlic and ginger paste. If not using paste, then you may use freshly grated ginger and garlic.
Keep on stir/fry for about 3-4 mints. Now add in cubed potatoes. Sprinkle salt, red pepper powder and cumin powder, all over them and keep on stir/fry fry 7-10 mints. Add in finely chopped tomatoes.
Now add in all the sauce- soya, chili, tamarind and honey to it. Or better mix all the sauce in a bowl and then add it to the above. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if required. Sprinkle about 6-7 tbs of water all over it so that the gravy doesn’t become dry or potatoes gets stuck in the pan.
Now add in cooked soya nuggets. Let it cook for about 10-15 mints at medium flame or till potatoes are thoroughly cooked and all the sauces have mixed thoroughly with soya nuggets and potatoes.
Dissolve corn flour in half cup of water. Once the potatoes and soya nuggets are cooked, add in corn flour mixture .Stop cooking and take it off from the hob.

Serve hot and garnished with coriander leaves. This goes well with Chinese fried rice or noodles. But then we even had it with rotis and baby spinach, apple and rocket salad.

Happy cooking friends