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Lure of Store Brought Chicken Nuggets & A Recipe for Home Made Ones

Chicken nuggets ready to eat

In Mumbai, Varun developed a taste for chicken nuggets. You know, the kind you get in super market’s frozen department and you have to simply shallow fry them in the pan. I wasn’t sure how healthy they are given that they are frozen and possibly laden with fat and preservatives but thought that an occasional treat of them should be fine.

Back in Hyderabad, when my efforts to get him to eat more veggies were not going as successfully as I had hoped for ( couple of spoonful’s of red pepper carrot soup and maybe half a pumpkin biscuit),  I thought I will coax him back to the dinning table with some chicken nuggets. Afterall he had devoured them and asked for more when we were in Mumbai. A quick search on the Internet came up with easy recipes of chicken nuggets ( some fried, some baked) but nevertheless made with 3 – 4 main ingredients: Chicken breast, Egg Wash , Bread crumbs ( or corn flakes crumb) and oil. Add Spices for taste but they varied by taste and what folks had on hand.

Chicken Nuggets  raw ingredients

Luckily, last night, I had everything needed on hand and so I set off to make Varun some chicken nuggets. Dice, dip and fry. Within minutes we had these ready. Vipul had one and reached for more as I was frying them. I had to stop him from eating more as they were meant for Varun.

Chicken nuggets ready to fry

Varun  probably had a bite before running away. But they were so good, that I almost rejoiced ‘More for me! Yay’. The stern look on Vipul’s face made me control my outburst. After all, they were made for Varun. To make him eat healthy food. We couldn’t just hijack his food without trying to get to eat. So, we chased him, distracted him and with every bite that we tried to give him, we ate a nibble here and there.

Chicken nuggets in the pan

An hour later, Varun didn’t touch them but we ate them all. With lemon juice sprinkled all over. Seriously, they are that good. You just can’t stop at one! And luckily, as all the ingredients were known and helathy, it was guilt – free. Well, all most guilt free since Varun didn’t have any.

Chicken nuggets soak the oil

The recipe doubles and freezes well for mid-week toddler or even adult dinner with a huge salad.

Our consolation hopefully by eating healthy and home cooked food, he will soon learn a taste for different foods. Challenging times ahead!

Chicken Nuggets Recipe

  • 1 Chicken breast at room temperature
  • 2 Bread slices toasted ( or bread crumbs)
  • 1/2 teaspoon : Pepper, Paprika and Parsley ( each)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Olive oil
  • Lemon juice ( optional)

1. Slice the chicken breast in half or pound it till its thin. Dice into bite sized nuggets. Set aside.

2. Crumble bread crumbs or toast into fine crumbs. Add the spices and salt. Mix well. And set aside on a large open plate.

3. Beat the egg with a little bit of water and keep it in a shallow bowl.

4. Dip the chicken breast first in egg wash and then in the crumbs-spice mix. Set aside on a fresh plate. Repeat for all nuggets.

5. Heat oil in a pan on a medium flame. Once the nuggets are all prepared, fry them a few at a time till they are golden brown on each side ( a couple of minutes on each side)

6. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve warm. Or Freeze once cool for mid-week snack.

Guilt Free Healthy Snacking Trio

Makhana peanust and murmura

Seriously – this is the time of the year when I start thinking of weight loss, better eating habits and how next year I will try to get back in shape. I guess the Diwali goodies, followed by Thanksgiving dinner, special anniversary dinner and the home-baked goodness bought in by colleagues since Halloween finally take their effect and I no longer fit in my jeans.

This past weekend alone we snacked on dabeli, vada pav, gajar ka halwa and then jalebis, parathe and chocolates. Exercise is the only option but takes a long time for its effects to be visible. In the meantime, at snack time, I crave for something crunchy and fried.

Popcorn used to be my staple in US, but in India I was looking for some interesting alternatives.

trio snacks

Enter – Roasted Makhanas, peanuts and puffed rice.

I had these on Kurnool trip. Ranjana had got these roasted puffed rice and makhanas for the kids and we all nibbled on them.

Makhanas and Puffed rice (or murmura) are popular snacks in India. Roasted and seasoned they are eaten on the go. Luckily, they are widely available across US in Indian grocery stores in largish bags. Dry roasting them in oil or ghee and seasoning them make them crunchier – perfect for that mid afternoon craving.

While they are mostly carb based with about 10% protein (per the package that I bought in India), I added roasted peanuts to the mix to increase the protein. Leave them if you are allergic.

roasted makhana

They are perfect for toddlers as they are bite sized, easy to make , portable and store for weeks in air tight container. Play with seasoning of your choice to keep it interesting. Dig in whenever hunger strikes. They have a satisfying crunch which increases their  snack-factor. Hurrah for guilt free healthy snacking!

Varun snacking

Roasted Makahanas, Puffed Rice and Peanuts Recipe

  • Makhanas – 3-4 cups
  • Puffed Rice – 3-4 cups
  • Peanuts – 3-4 cups
  • Oil or Glee – 2 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Red Chili powder – 2 tsp
  • Turmeric powder- 1 tsp
  • Fresh ground pepper – 2 tsp
  • Hing ( Asafoetida) – 1 /2 tsp
  • Curry leaves – 1 – 2 sprigs
  • Salt

1. Half or quarter makhanas if they are big for even roasting.

2. Heat half of oil or ghee in wide shallow pan. Once heated add cumin seeds. Add half of chili and turmeric powder. Add pepper powder. Roast them in oil and then add salt. Finally add makhana seeds. Mix well. Keep stirring the seeds in the pan till they are crisp for about 3-5 minutes.

Take care they don’t char. Remove from the pan and let cool.

3. Add remaining oil and then add hing powder and  curry leaves. Once crisp, add remaining chili, turmeric powder and salt , and then add puffed rice. Roast well till the seasonings mix with the puffed rice.

Remove from the pan and cool.

4. Lastly, dry roast peanuts with their skin on in the same pan for 5- 7  minutes till they are roasted through and crisp.

Remove from the pan and cool. You may remove the skin if you don’t like it. Usually kids don’t.

5. Store separately in airtight containers.

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