Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Easy dinner idea:The perfect, hassle free chicken schnitzel

easy chicken schnitzel

This golden, fried chicken preparation is among one of my family’s favorite foods and often makes for a quick and easy dinner. And why not, what is there not to like it. The preparation is pretty simple and these can be ready within a matter of minutes.  The daughter is particularly in love with this crumb fried chicken.  It packs  and delivers all the guilty pleasures of a sinful delight. Beneath the crisp golden outside layer sits tender, moist chicken bite. The flavors are delicate; moreover, it is the texture that lends this dish its character.
The schnitzel is traditionally an Austrian dish made with thinly pound meat which is breaded and fried. Veal meat is popularly used in the western world. The chicken version that I make turns out a crowd pleaser, nonetheless. I have come to realize that thinning the meat is a key for perfect schnitzels.
I use boneless chicken breasts for making schnitzels. I lightly marinate the chicken breasts with ginger and garlic pastes, salt, lemon, and pepper so that it satiates our Indian palate. I don’t think that the traditional recipes use any kind of marination for the meat as they heavily rely on the flavor of the meat. Probably a bit of garlic powder or cayenne pepper may find its way in some variations of this dish.
This is howI make it.

What I use:
·         1 boneless chicken breast piece
·         1 tsp ginger and garlic paste
·         1 tsp pepper powder
·         Salt to taste
·         Generous squirt of lime
·         1 cup bread crumbs
·         1 egg lightly beaten for coating
·         Oil for frying
Also absolutely essential is a flat, deep pan for frying

1.       Place the chicken breast in between plastic sheets and lightly beat with a heavy object so that it thins out. I use a heavy pestle for this and it works fine.
pounding the meat

2.       Marinate the chicken breasts with ginger-garlic paste, salt and lemon and pepper for a few hours. I normally do it for about 3-4 hours.
3.       Prep the breading station: pour the breadcrumbs onto a flat plate; crack the egg in another flat bowl.
4.       Pour oil for frying in a flat frying pan. Heat the oil.
5.       Coat the chicken breast with bread crumbs by laying it flat onto the crumbs. Press lightly to get an even coating. Then dip it in the egg and again coat with bread crumbs.
breaded chicken

6.       Fry the breaded chicken breasts in the hot oil till the color turns crisp golden.
7.       Remove from oil and drain on an absorbent paper.
8.       Enjoy the crisp schnitzel with either mayo, cheesy dip or a fiery red chili sauce.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Shrikhanda and Spring- new beginnings on Gudi Padwa 

Miniature version  of a Gudi
The March equinox or the spring equinox marks the beginning of the spring season. To be precise, this is true for the northern hemisphere only hence, while we in India, celebrate beginning of Spring season, my sibling in the far away land of Australia is getting ready for autumn. The spring season heralds the beginning of a fresh new cycle of the seasons. The days are getting brighter and longer. The calls of the cuckoo bird are prominent and louder. The many mango trees which were earlier laden with blossoms are now bearing fruits. The season of the famed “ Hapus “ or the Alphonso mango is here, the days of “Kairi Panhe” are here. This season marks the beginning of a new agricultural cycle for the farmers.  
In Maharashtra we are readying for the first festival of the year; Gudi padwa. Also known as the “chaitra shukla pratipada”  , this festival is celebrated to usher in the Hindu New Year. Considered as an auspicious day for new beginnings, Gudi padwa is celebrated in Maharashtrian homes by putting up "gudi" adornment- a long bamboo stick with a silk cloth and inverted copper vessel.
Being a shy and reticent blogger, I haven’t posted the many posts that lie in my drafts collection. Taking a cue from this new season, I intend to break free from my own barricades and write and post all that I feel is worth talking about. A recent trip to Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal’s #perfectpartea reinstated the joy and happiness of being among like-minded fellows who share a common interest that is food. That triggered and pushed me to revive this space. And what better way than writing about a food ritual that is very close to my heart and the one which the entire family enjoys. And yes I am talking about the “making of shrikhand”- the sweet creamy yogurt perfumed with delicate flavours of elaichi, kesar and pista.
The making of Srikhand is a fairly simple process with highly rewarding returns. The only shortcut I take here is ready made, store bought curd. 
The curd is hung in a cheese cloth for about 6 hours and the resultant creamy thickened curd is mixed with equal quantities of sugar and mixed thoroughly to make a homogenous, creamy texture.  

The last touches which eventually lend the Srikhand its character is the addition of nuts and spices-almond flakes, generous pinches of elaichi (cardamom) powder and keasr (saffron) and pistachio flakes. And yes, not to forget a pinch of nutmeg.

For making Kesar Pista Shrikhnad, these are the things you will need;

·         1 kg thick curd ( I used the easily available Amul masti)
·         750 gm sugar- approximately 4-5 cupfuls
·         2 tsp green elaichi/ cardamom powder
·         1 tsp nutmeg powder
·           Almond and pistachio flakes,  
f    Few strands of kesar /saffron in 1 tbsp of warm milk

This is how I make the Srikhand:
1.       Place a clean square cotton cloth in a bowl and empty the curd container onto it.
2.       Tie the opposite ends of the cloth to make a “potli” or a bag like structure so that it can be easily hung on the kitchen counter. Leave it for a good six hours. I left this for the entire night.
3.       The next morning untie the cloth and measure the creamy, hung curd that with a bowl or cup. Mine was about 4 katoris.
4.       Place the hung curd in a big, wide bowl and add  the same amount of sugar to the curd as the number of hung curd you have, measured with the bowl/ katoris and mix it thoroughly with hand. Since I had 4 katoris of hung curd I added 4 katoris of sugar.
5.       Next, run it couple to minutes in a food processor with a dough kneader attachment. This lends the Shrikhand its signature creamy, homogenous texture. Overdoing this step may result into a liquidy mass. Just pulse it for a couple of minutes at a time till a creamy homogenous texture is achieved. This should not take more than 3-4 minutes.
6.       Remove the ready Srikhand mix in a bowl, big enough to stir and fold.  Now lovingly add all the adornments- the elaichi powder, the saffron strands, the nutmeg powder and the almond, pistachio flakes. Leave it to chill until serving time.
Kesar Pista Shrikhand
Learnings from over the years:
1.       Big grain sugar takes longer to dissolve hence it is better to use fine grain sugar.

2.       Running it in a food processor yields a very desirable texture but running it in a mixie turn it into liquid-like mass. May be the heat generated in a mixer is at work here. So choose a food processor 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The KISS principle and making of a galette

Who does not like drama, well a bit of drama adds the much needed spunk to life.
But then dramas do not make for real life. Happiness and comfort often lies in the most simple things.
There are times when one consciously needs to slow down the pace of life. Take time to stop and appreciate smaller, seemingly insignificant things in life;listen to your soul which urges you to keep it simple- KISS.
Fanaticism of perfection often overpowers my senses. Over a time I have learnt that it is alright to do things which are imperfect but doing is important rather than waiting for that perfect " thing."
One such deliberately un-rushed day  when I thought of making a spinach quiche  or a tartlet, I chose to  keep it simple and make a rustic galette for dinner. Yeah...Galettes are simpler!
On a regular day I would push myself  to take the extra effort to make a perfect looking dinner and probably chuck it half way as I realize, I do not have a particular ingredient or an equipment. Well, but for today,galette, it was.

This rustic looking baby is extremely flavorful and also easy to prepare.  I find this one preparation extremely comforting, no-fuss food.
To up the nutrition quotient and make it easy for my body to digest who, otherwise... misbehaves with carb overload , I have made few changes to the original recipe of the savory galette, if there is any, that is!
Though the net is flooded with many versions of this food, must mention my inspirations for this particular preparation; Saee of My Jhola and Anushruti's blog,Divine Taste which features a spinach cheese pie recipe.
You may also want to check out this site for a few tricks while making a galette.

What I used:
11/2  cups mixed flour ( diabetic care atta from Jiva )
half cup oatmeal
3/4 th cup cold butter cut in cubes
bunch of baby spinach leaves from Trikaya sourced from my favorite place Godrej's Natures basket
3/4th cup home made paneer
2 tablespoon of grated cheese
1 spoonful of cream
salt, pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoon Ice cold water for binding

Making the crust:
The  flour +  oatmeal +  salt+  cubes of cold butter ; in a bowl
Added 2-3 tablespoons of ice cold water to just about to bring this together and make a dough.
Over kneading, I had read, would spoil the game.
Wrapped  the dough in a cling film and left it in the fridge to chill for  about 30 minutes.

The filling:
In the meanwhile made the filling:
Combined spinach leaves + paneer  and ran them coarsely in a chopper for about a minute.
Removed in a bowl and mixed salt and nutmeg and the grated cheese and the spoonful cream.

Putting the galette together: 
Once out from the fridge, the dough behaves much better. I then rolled it into a round shape, about 5-6 inches diameter, I did not want it to be too big.
Carefully spooned the spinach mixture in the center, leaving out the sides.
The sides were then lifted up, pinched and folded inwards to form the shape.And it was pretty easy.
This was carefully slide into a preheated oven (200 degree Celsius) and the heat was then lowered to 175 degree Celsius. The galette seemed ready by 20 minutes, the cheese and spinach mixture bubbling happily, the sides looked delicious and brown and I knew It was time to get it out.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Adopting"joy" and making chocolate crispies...

Adoption, in India, has been yet in its nascent stages. Though there has been a steady rise in the number of children being adopted and the stigma attached to adoption is not as sharp as earlier yet, the number of children adopted is not so high.
 Me and the husband talked about adoption even before we were married and deep inside my heart, I knew I would embrace it, sooner or later. Well, God planned it for us, adding a little twist.  It was about 8 years back when a pregnancy loss prompted me and my partner to take this life changing decision and this  little parcel of joy (she was a tiny 3 month old) became a part of our life. No, she became "OUR LIFE". (Arriving at the decision and executing makes for another post.) Every single day after that has been such a joyous celebration of life.
Being a mother is a rewarding journey. You rediscover yourself on various planes as you hold the little one's finger as she forays into the world. Each day brings its own set of emotional concoction and leaves you with memories to be treasured for life. This piece is one such attempt to document me and my little miss laughter's time on a sleepy Sunday afternoon.
My bundle of joy,well she is no more a bundle, she is seven already, returned home from school with an assignment on mixtures and materials. It involved making a simple recipe by mixing two or more ingredients.
After a bit of brainstorming and some discussion later, momma knew that one ingredient, for whatever we make, has to be chocolate. 
We set out to make the simplest recipe; chocolate crisps
We choose 3 basic ingredients and a simple technique.

 This is how we made it.

Prep work :
1 small bowl of chopped chocolate + 2 tablespoons of butter
3/4 cup of crushed rice crispies, that sounds fancy, that was crushed rice puffs(mamara)
This how we actually made it:
In a bowl, chocolate + butter, goes in the microwave for 60 seconds roughly
Out of the microwave, the little one stirs it real hard with all her might
Putting in the crushed rice crispies, she mixes them well again 
And finally spoons into tiny muffin liners
The tray of chocolate muffins goes into the freezer compartment for about 20 minutes
And ten minutes later we have a happy smile, hands full of chocolate and some neat looking chocolate crispies.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A fiery tomato "loncha" aka pickle

A nip in the air makes me crave for something really really spicy and that is how I remembered this fiery, red hot tomato pickle.
Why pickle ?..... because that is what my Ma calls it. Ma belongs to " Vidarbha"the  eastern most region of the Maharashtra state which almost means central India. Most of her cooking style reflects the signature fiery cooking style of that region.
This preparation was a regular during my growing up years. Heaps of red, ripe tomatoes would be deftly cut by the helper , the ginger -garlic paste prepared. Once home after her duties at work she would take over the kitchen.This tangy-fiery tomato preparation would take some cracking , bubbling few minutes to be made and would be mopped up with hot, fresh phulkas.
Now, I am a mother to a pickle loving 7 year old and wife to a tomato-hating husband.Regardless, whenever this "loncha" is made it is wiped clean !
Here I am sharing with you this simple, quick and flavor packed recipe of "Tomato che Loncha" as Ma calls it or tomato pickle. 
Mind you, this is not the sweet and sour kinds, this one is really really HOT and tangy.
Go ahead and try this one, an utterly simple preparation that you may get hooked to every time you see red tomatoes!

This is how it is made,
Chop about 3-4 ripe red tomatoes .
you will need about a tablespoon of ginger garlic paste.
Heat oil, in a pan. Now you have to be really generous and add a good 2-3 tbsp of oil .
Add mustard seeds, followed by ginger garlic paste. Fry well . Add chilli powder, about 2 -3 big spoonfuls.
Now add the chopped tomatoes.And fry these well until almost mashed and they lose shape.Add salt to taste.
Keep stirring and let it cook till oil floats on top.
There you are. done.
This can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week.
My favorite way to have this is with a piece of bread or a chapati.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Simple seasoning....

I loathe the ready-made, store bought stuff- seasoning,  pastes etc.  It just doesn't appeal to my senses.  It does not suit my taste buds either.Given the fact that I have studied food science for a couple of years I believe" fresh is best".  The fact that it is expensive only helps me to push myself and make efforts to make my own stuff. Most of the ingredients are available and for those that aren't there is always a substitution available which works almost as good.
The case in point this time is a Fajita seasoning mix and/ or Fajita marinade. A quick search on the internet assured me that it was really really simple, most of the items required were already in the pantry.So here it goes, the way I made it. Some ingredients are replaced.

For the Fajita seasoning mix:

1 tbsp cornstarch (optional: I did not use it)
2 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp  red chili flakes
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
A pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp of onion powder: I ground some dehydrated onions in the mixie and used this.
1/2 tsp garlic powder: I  used powder of fried garlic

To make it,
I simply mixed all the powders well and it was ready to use!
If storing,store it in a airtight jar for future use.
How I use it,
I use this liberally to season my meats, especially chicken wings or drumstick to make a quick stiry fry snack. This could also work well in many other items beyond Fajitas too.
 For the Fajita marinade you will need
 3-6 cloves garlic minced- I like the garlicky flavour
1 tsp chili powder- more if you like it hot

Juice of two lemons,
2 tbsp olive oil
A heaped spoon of the above mentioned Fajita seasoning
 Salt, to taste
Pour on boiled chicken strips ( paneer should work well for those who want to avoid meat)  and marinate for as long as possible( a good 24 hours is ideal) before grilling in the oven.

Fort food walk Finely chopped!

It has been over 2 weeks since I walked the fort area with Kalyan of finely chopped and yet the mere thought puts a smile on my face till date.
The charming Fort area in Mumbai is known for its various casual -style eating options and had been on my " radar" since a very long time. Yet remained elusive for various reasons. When Kalyan  announced  a food walk along the fort area, I was not going to miss it. Hubby had already walked the lanes of bohri mohallah with Kalyan and had been so happy to be a part of it.
This walk was like a journey of discoveries for me.... discovering not the new but something one had heard about.. the walk was about discovery of quaint places,  of simple yet soul satisfying food,  of engaging fellow foodies!
The day started with eager anticipation as each one of us gathered at the vibrant Bombay Swadesi Store at the fort. The warm ambience here set the tone of the day so did the friendly introductions.
We started off the walk with the first stop at the Yazdani bakery, perhaps one of the oldest bakeries functioning. Housed in a grand heritage structure, Yazdani bares much a testament to its age old existence.
Irani chai and brun maska...the breakfast of the day confirmed that this was going to be "no ordinary day" for me! True to my intution ans expectation, the day unfolded with joyous moments at Apoorva's Neer dosa and prawn gassi, Pradeep Gomantaks melt-in the mouth Bombil fry and exquisite parsi lunch of akoori, dhansak deal, caramel custard, the ubiquitous raspberry soda and the ice cream soda followed by jalebis at the ustaad! Well, that s not all...yet.. all of this was washed down with an earthy filter coffee cuppa at the end.For all those who are wondering at what may seem like gluttony, You have to take this walk to understand that is possible and how!!!
For me, the walk was also about discovery of places like the Laxmi building ( linked to Late Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose,find out how) with Laxmi statue perched atop,  the cheerful brick red building of Mumbai Samachar (asia's oldest newspaper), the cool garden environs of the Horniman circle, Philip coffee store, the khau galee!
Discovering the human element that makes the food even better. It was a lovely day spent with some lovely people, Saee of myjhola, Rhea of euphorhea, Amita Gadre of healthy feasts, Jyotika, Aanchal, Geeta.
We parted with sweet memories and goody bags. Kalyan and Kainaz, thanks so much for this one.
 As this lovely group of foodies walked along with each other this walk was more about the exchange of ideas, sharing of food experiences and merry making.

The interiors of Yazdani Bakery

Brun Maska and Irani Chai

Raspberry soda at the Ideal Corner

Waiting for the bombil fry at Pradeep

At the Yazdani Bakery