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Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Breast with Spanish Rice

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One of the first few things that we cooked in our apartment post the move, is basil pesto chicken with spanish rice. A staple at our house, this is one complete meal that can be cooked in about 30 – 40 mins. Its rich with veggies, protein and is gluten-free.

It comes together with the starter ingredients listed in my previous post on setting up a new kitchen. Leftovers make a flavorful lunch the next day.Serve with a green salad to add more veggies or with some garlic bread and wine to make it more festive.

Note:

1. Cooking time will vary based on rice used. Jasmine rice will cook faster than brown rice or basmati rice. Follow the timing instructions from the rice packet.

2. Rice to liquid ratio will also vary by the kind of rice used. Basmati rice uses 1: 2 while jasmine needs 1: 1 1/4. Follow this proportion from the rice cooking instructions. For drier rice, use 1/4 cup less liquid than mentioned on the directions.

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Baked Basil Pesto Chicken Recipe 

  • 2 Chicken breasts thawed and cut into 1 – 2 inch cubes

For Marinade

  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons pesto sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley (dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano (dried)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

For Baking 

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon pesto sauce

1. Marinade the chicken breasts with all the ingredients listed above and set aside for at least 15 mins. You can use the time to make and prep the Spanish Rice ( recipe below).

2. Preheat the oven to 350 F ( 180 C).

3. Grease an oven safe dish with olive oil. Spread 1 tablespoon of pesto over it. Layer the chicken over the pesto taking care not to overlap them. Spread the remaining pesto over the chicken.

Wrap foil over the baking dish.

4. Bake for 10 – 11 mins. Test with a fork to ensure juicy but cooked chicken.

Serve warm.

Spanish Rice Recipe

  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced garlic
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper finely chopped
  • 2-3 brocollini florets finely chopped ( including their stems)
  • 1 roma tomato finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 cup long grain rice
  • 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups chicken broth or water
  • Salt to taste

1. Heat oil in a pot and add garlic. Once the garlic sizzles ( but is not brown yet), add onion. Cook till the onion is translucent for about 2 mins.

2. Add pepper and brocollini and sauté them for  a minute. Then add the roma tomato. Cook for another 2- 3 minutes till the tomatoes cook and wilt.

3. Add rice and sauté for another minute allowing rice to cook in the juices from the veggies.

4. Now add the chicken stock. or water. Add paprika and salt to taste. Stir well. Cook on medium flame for about 10 minutes till rice is cooked.

Serve warm.

Enjoy!

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Chicken Momos (Dumplings)

Momos

Original to North eastern Indian states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim and other bordering countries like Bhutan and Nepal, momo’s are now available in all malls  and Indo- Chinese restaurants in metro cities. Mildly spiced minced chicken fill in thin wrappers and steamed, they are Varun’s favorites.

Chicken momos

I have been meaning to make them for a while but never got a chance till this weekend we bought some minced chicken and decided to make momo’s. Varun helped me mix the dough and then proceeded to create a mess. I couldn’t form them as well as I hoped to but they tasted like the ones you would get in Mainland China.

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This is a hit recipe that is going to stick around in our household for good!!

Chicken Momos Recipe

For the filling

  • 3/4 lb minced or ground chicken
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger root ( about 2 inch root)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped coriander leaves
  • 1/2 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Salt to taste

For the Cover

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • Salt to taste

1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling and set aside.

2. Mix the ingredients for cover starting with a cup of water and adding more as needed to make a stiff but pliable dough.

3. Make small balls ( cherry or lemon sized) and roll out thin circles ( like rotis or tortillas).

4. Place a tablespoon or two filling ( based on how large is the circle) in the center and scoop the edges up to form a dumpling. Repeat till all the dough and filling is used up.

5. In the meantime, set a saucepan with water to boil. Keep an well -greased steaming basket inside it.

6. Keep the dumplings in the steamer and steam for 10 – 12 minutes till they are done.

Serve hot with Siracha sauce.

Andhra Special: Gongura Chicken ( Chicken in Sorrel Leaves Gravy)

Gongura chicken

For my 201’st post, I thought I should post a regional recipe. When I first moved to US in 2001, we all had packed food items from home – be it pickles, papads or even pulses. While we were getting adjusted to the new life there, we all bonded over homemade simple meals. News,updates,learning’s were shared. Daal-chaawal for the dil ( aka Chicken soup for the soul).

Most folks from Andhra had a bottle of gongura pickle.The tangy sour sorrel leaves picked in a hot oil tempering. The combination is amazing and most Indian stores across US stock this.  It soon became a staple in our house and even today stands next to mom’s sweet and sour pickle.

When we moved to Hyderabad, we were introduced to another Andhra specialty made with red sorrel leaves – Gongura chicken. And the pairing is classic. Italians have their Chicken with Spinach, North Indian with fenugreek leaves (Methi– chicken) and Andhra has it with gongura leaves.

Renuka making chicken

Alas not all places make it well and we have had varying degrees of luck. Some places it was too sour,others it was too bland. Till recently, Renuka, our cook made it when she saw chicken and gongura leaves. And it was lip-smacking good. So, good that I asked to make it again when we had friends over.

Cooking

She willing shared her recipe and blushed when I told her I would share it with you all on Internet.

I hope you all love this tangy chicken recipe as much as we did 🙂

Gongura Chicken Recipe

Serves 4

  • 1 lb chicken(boneless skinless cubed into bite sized pieces)
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup coriander leaves roughly chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups Gongura leaves – washed and roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon – turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon – garam masala powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons -coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons – red chili powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 cups water

For the Marinade

  • 2 tablespoon yogurt
  • 3- 4 garlic pods minced
  • 1 inch ginger root peeled and grated
  • 1 green chilli diced
  • Juice from 1/2 a lemon ( about 1 tablespoon)
  • Salt to taste

 For the Coconut Paste

  • 2 teaspoons Desiccated coconut ( thawed if frozen)
  • 10 -14 cashew nuts ( unsalted)
  • 3 garlic pods -roughly chopped
  • 1 green chilli – roughly diced

1. Marinade the chicken in the ingredients listed above. Set aside for 30 minutes to an hour.

2. Heat oil in a pressure cooker ( or a pot with tight fighting lid). Add onions and fry till translucent. Add the coriander and mint leaves and saute them for about 30 seconds till wilted.

Then add gongura leaves and saute them for about a minute.

3. Now add all the spices – turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, garam masala and salt. Keep stirring as you add the masalas so they wont stick to the pan and burn.

4. Add the coconut paste and cook through for another minute.

5. Finally add the chicken along with the marinade. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add water.

Pressure cook for 2 whistles or cook till chicken is cooked through but not tough about 8 – 10 minutes.

Serve hot with rice or parathas.

Everyday Chicken Meatballs

Chiken meatballs 2

I mentioned that I made two types of meatballs for my June Daring Kitchen Challenge – Mutton Apricot meatballs and Chicken meatballs. This post is about the chicken meatballs. Simple and easy to make, they can be cooked ahead on weekend and added to your salad , pasta or in a sandwich. They are perfect as appetizer with some mint chutney at an open house or a potluck.

The flavors in this recipe are inspired from Northwest Frontier Province of Indian subcontinent  – whole coriander seed pods, cumin seeds and red chili powder. The flavors though can be easily altered to taste.

I sometimes flatten them into nuggets and pan fry with a crumb coat. Either ways it’s a wonderful back up to be stocked in your freezer for those busy weeknight when you want something yum for dinner but don’t have energy to tinker around in the kitchen.

Chicken meatballs

Chicken Meatballs Recipe

  • 1 lb chicken breast ground
  • 3- 4 garlic pods finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely diced green chili
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 inch root ginger freshly grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup mint leaves chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4- 1/2  teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon – garam masala 
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoon – Oil (for frying)

1. Mix all the ingredients well (except oil for frying). Form meatballs and set aside.

2.Heat oil in a non-stick skillet and fry the meatballs  for a couple of minutes on each side till golden brown.

3. Drain on a paper towel to remove excess oil

Serve warm. Or store in an air tight container in fridge once cool.

Kerala Style Pan Fried Chicken – Perfect Accompaniment for Beer!

Kerala Style Chicken Fry

When we visited Kumarakom in Kerala last year, we had a fried chicken appetizer with our drinks. The dish was so loved by Vipul that I got the recipe from the chef. Hyderabad is sizzling in the summer heat and we cooled off one evening with beer. We recalled, fried chicken was the perfect accompaniment for beer and wine.

So we quickly made plans to make some to go along with the drinks. I am sure you can replace chicken with any other meat, fish or even tofu though cooking times may vary a bit.

A quick and easy recipe, it comes together with very little effort and planning. It was filling, spicy and with a little crunch. Add a salad, some crusty bread and it has makings of a summer meal when you don’t want to tinker much in the kitchen but yet impress the family.

Give it a try this weekend. Am sure your family will love it as much as mine did!

Kerala Style Fried Chicken Recipe

For the marinade:

  • 1 lb boneless and skinless  Chicken (breast or thigh) cut into bite sized strips
  • 2 -3  teaspoons – Chilli powder ( adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon – Turmeric powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon – Coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon – Garam masala
  • 1 spring Curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon – Salt
  • 1 1/2  teaspoon – Lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoon – Rice flour or Whole wheat flour
  • 2- 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 “ginger root, grated

For the Masala:

  • 1/4 cup – Vegetable or Canola Oil
  • 1 spring – Curry leaves
  • 2- 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Medium sized Onion , sliced
  • 1 “ginger, Julienned
  • 1 teaspoon – Red Chilli powder
  • Salt to taste

1.Marinate the chicken with all the ingredients listed in marinade section. Set aside for 30 minutes.

2. Heat oil in a wok and then fry the chicken till cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3.In the same wok, fry the curry leaves and garlic. After they sizzle and cook for about 1/2 a minute, add the sliced onions. Once the onions are cooked, add ginger, chilli powder and salt.  Keep tossing and cook for about a minute taking care that the ingredients don’t burn.

4. Add the chicken back into the pan. Toss and let it cook for another 1/2 a minute. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Serve hot with beer or wine. If with beer, also serve sliced onions and lemons. Enjoy!

Country Style Chicken Curry

Chicken curry and rice

What do you have for dinner, when you eat healthy for brunch? Something hearty and filling of course. In our house, when we want something hearty and filling, we turn to chicken and rice. In any form there is nothing else that beats the comforting goodness of chicken. Be it arroz con pollo made with latin influences, rich chicken Biryani or rustic country-style chicken. Every cuisine has a comforting chicken and rice dish. The basic ingredients are typically garlic, chicken and onions but in France and America, carrots and celery join the party, in Spain, tomatoes serenade the chicken while in India it can nuts and garam masala in the north or curry leaves and chillies in the South.

The marinated chicken cooks in the onion – tomato gravy, after it is seared in the hot pan to lock in the juices. Thighs and drumsticks are best for these dishes due to their natural higher fat content making a juicier, tender off the bone chicken that is perfect with rice. Don’t attempt this with chicken breasts as it will result in a dry over cooked meat.

Chicken Curry

Although you can have this curry with pita, roti, bread or nice, the gravy teams best with fluffy Basmati rice. Cook more than usual so you have leftovers for next day. The flavors will blend overnight resulting in a finger licking curry that you wish you had saved more of. Guaranteed.

This is a not too spicy basic country chicken recipe. It comes together in under an hour. And will not fail to impress your guests or spouse for that matter.

Chicken curry 2

I apologize I don’t have a pictorial for this. Varun didn’t want me to cook and Vipul was hungry so I just took pictures before we were about to eat. Hope you still try this out. It’s a keeper and comes together on a short notice.

Country Style Chicken Curry Recipe

For the marinade

  • 5 Chicken Drumsticks or Thighs
  • Pepper – 1 tsp
  • Paprika – 1/2 tsp
  • Lemon Juice – 1 lemon
  • Ginger grated – 1/4 inch
  • Salt – to taste

For the Curry

  • Oil – 3 Tablespoon
  • Cumin seeds – 1 teaspoon
  • whole black peppercorns – 7 – 10
  • Cloves – 3
  • Cardamom pods – 2 – 3
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 inch
  • Star anise -1
  • Bay leaves – 3 – (small) or 1- 2(large)
  • Garlic cloves – 8,  finely minced
  • Onions – 3 , finely diced
  • Tomatoes – 5 , finely diced
  • Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Chilli powder – 1 teaspoon
  • Garam masala  – 2 teaspoons
  • Salt – to taste
  • Water   – 1/2 cup
  • Kasuri methi (optional) – 1/4 cup

1. Take the chicken drumsticks and marinade them with all the ingredients listed for at least 15 – 20 mins if not more. Set aside.

2. Heat oil in a large pan. Add cumin seeds once the oil is hot and once they sizzle add rest of the raw masala ( pepper corns, cloves, star anise, cardamom and bay leaves). Let them heat in the oil for about 10 – 15 secs. Move them to low heat side of the pan so that they wont burn.

3. Add garlic to the oil and let it brown on its edges. Once done, add onions and fry it with the raw masala till they are translucent.

4. Add the chicken to the pan and let it sera on each side for couple of minutes. Browning the chicken locks in the juices and adds flavor to the meat.Once browned, move the chicken to one side of the pan

5. Add the tomatoes, turmeric , garam masala and mix it with the onion mixture in the pan. Add Salt and mix well. Move the chicken back into the pan and mix with the tomato-chicken gravy.

6. Add water, cover with a lid and let this cook for 5-7 minutes. Adjust seasonings, add kasuri methi at this point as well as more water is necessary and let it cook for another 5 – 7 minutes.

8. Check for done-ness – by now chicken should be falling off the bone. If not, cook for a few more minutes. It really depends on how large the drumsticks are. I have smaller lamb chop sized ones so the cook time could vary. Serve warm with rice.

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