Winter is a time when our body craves for richer and spicier food. The excesses of the festive period gives way to the intention of clean eating and everyone jumping on to the healthy bandwagon in January. Healthy eating does not have to be difficult to prepare and plan. It is also possible to add in flavours from the use of light spicing and aromatic herbs that gives you a more satisfying feel and impression of having a fuller meal. I have been looking at simplifying some of the dinner recipes at home recently and have also incorporated more vegetarian dishes as well as Fish, Turkey and Chicken in our diet. I had posted a recipe for a tasty Turkey and Chorizo Burger not so long ago. I have been revisiting some of the childhood dishes that I enjoyed while growing up in India like Chicken Stew and Khichuri ( Indian risotto with rice and mung beans). I plan to include some of this recipes soon. However I did experiment with the Chicken Stew recently and came up with this Chicken in a Miso Broth with Vegetables and Rice Noodles. Miso is a traditional Japanese fermented paste made from soya and rice or wheat or rye. It imparts a rich and deep savoury note to a dish whether you are making just a plain and simple miso soup or you could use the paste as a marinate. You can buy the Miso in a paste form many oriental supermarkets. For my recipe for more simplicity I have used the The Classic Siro Miso Soup packets which are easily found in our British supermarkets.
Ingredients (for 4 portions)
8 medium Chicken Drumsticks (skin taken off)
2 Packets of single serving Miso Soup
2/3 stalks of celery sliced
1 medium onion sliced
1 big clove of garlic sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh vegetables such as diced carrots and sweetcorn or frozen diced mixed vegetables
Rice Noodles 200 gms (allow 50 gms per portion)
Heat a medium pan and add a teaspoon of oil. Add the Celery and the onion and fry for a couple of minutes. Add the Garlic and fry for another few minutes. Add the chicken and fry gently. Add about 500 ml of hot water and bring to a gentle simmer. Skim off any excess fat or the foamy mess if they gather on top. Add the vegetables and simmer for another 10 minutes before adding the paste from the Miso soup. Simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes till the chicken is almost done. Now take the chicken off the liquid and leave on a clean chopping board. Add the rice noodles into the broth adding more hot water if required. Stir gently and bring to a boil. Boil for a bout 5 minutes or according to the Rice Noodles packet instruction. De bone the chicken and a tear into small pieces. Add them back to the broth and add the Garnish part of the miso soup. Adjust seasoning. Garnish with sliced chillies and spring onions and serve hot.
Korma or Quorma a dish influenced by the Persians and been perfected in the kitchens of the Mughal Emperors. It generally points to a dish of Meat, Game, Poultry or even Vegetables braised slowly with yoghurt or cream (or both) and a paste of nuts. The gravy is usually paler and subtly spiced compared to a lot of the other tomato based gravy that are so common in Indian cuisine. But unlike the way its marketed in the west it is not necessarily a mild (in some cases sweet tasting) dish.
In spite of the long (ish) list of ingredients, please do not be put off to give this a go as its fairly simple to prepare. I like using Chicken on the bone for more flavour and in this case it also holds on to its shape better to stand the slightly longer cooking process. At a compromise use thigh fillets. I also use shallots for its milder and sweeter taste but white onion is perfectly fine to use. The Black Cardamom is optional. It does add a certain smoky flavour to the dish that I personally like but if you do not have it or don’t want to buy it for one particular dish then that’s perfectly fine. The Poppy Seeds and the pumpkin seeds are essential. try and get the white poppy seeds. Use unsalted and unroasted cashew nuts. If using the salted one soak in warm water and drain before making the paste.
Chicken on the bone = 1 Kg
Shallots (or onions) = 400 gms
Ginger & Garlic paste = 4 tsp
Full Fat Natural Yoghurt = 200 gms
Salt = to taste
Black Peppercorn = about 12
Bayleaf = one large
Cinnamon = an inch stick
Cloves = 4
Cardamom = 5
Black Cardamom (optional) = 1 or 2
Cumin powder = 2 tsp
Coriander powder = 2 tsp
Cashew nuts = about 20/25
Poppy seeds = 2 tsp (soaked in warm water for about 15 mins)
Melon Seeds (Charmagaj) or use Pumpkins seeds = 2 tbsp
Dessicated Coconut = 3 tbsp
Green Chiili = 2 medium
Garam Masala (optional)= 1/2 tsp
Ghee (Indian Clarified Butter) or Butter (optional) = about 3 tbsp
Oil = as required if not using Ghee or Butter (or use a mix of both)
Mix the Yoghurt with 3 tsp of ginger and garlic paste. If necessary wash and dry the chicken. put some salt and rub. Then apply the yoghurt mixture and mix well covering all areas. Leave for about 4/5 hours (at least allow for an hour but longer the better). Make a paste with the cashew nuts, coconut, green chillies, melon seeds or pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds and a bit of water to make a medium consistency paste. Slice onions. Heat the Ghee or oil in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. When hot add the sliced onions. Fry till translucent but do not burn them. Add the remaining ginger and garlic paste and all of the whole spices and the bay leaf and stir for about 2 minutes. Now add the marinated chicken and the remaining marinate. stir this for about 10 minutes till all the mixture is well mixed. Add the cumin, and coriander powder. Now add the paste that you made earlier. Mix well. Add a tiny bit of water. Cover with a light lid and cook on a low to medium heat till the chicken is done. Check form time to time to make sure that the meat is not sticking to the bottom of the pan, adding a tiny bit of water if necessary to prevent that from happening. Check Seasoning and add a bit more salt if required. Just before taking it of the heat, sprinkle the garam masala (if using). Stir and Serve.
Its incredibly easy to prepare Kebabs at home yet it seems that many people shy away from preparing them as perhaps they are not so sure about the marination or maybe they think that its a lot of hard work. They get cooked in BBQ’s (either shop bought or home marinated) but not considered much for general home cooking. Chicken Kebabs are very easy to prepare, are very healthy and are quick to cook. A bit of advance planning with the marination will ensure that you can have your dinner ready in less than 30 to 40 minutes, ideal for cooking when slightly short on time. Get the Meat marinated ahead and leave in the fridge overnight or for as less as 3 hours. If cooking after coming back from office or so try and leave it outside for a bit while you freshen up or get changed. The grilling itself takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Its best served with some light salad, pilau rice (Can be shop bought microwave version) or even a ready made tortila wrap. In India it gets served with Paratha Bread or Naan, usually a mint Chutney and some salad with onions.
Today’s recipe is for Chicken Malai Kebab (Creamy Chicken Kebab). Its my modern take on a Indian Classic. The end product is deliciously moist and the mild creamy nature is a big hit with the young fussy eaters too (if preparing for them perhaps omit or reduce the chilli, I use a separate marination without the chilli). I find that about 3 hours is enough for the marination but anything upwards of an hour should suffice. You could decide how healthy you want to make this dish (you could use light cream cheese or substitute half of it with sour cream or Greek yoghurt. But ). Some recipes call for two stage marination ie one first on with salt, pepper, ginger and garlic and after about 30 mins a second one wit the rest of the ingredients. I leave it up on you to decide how you want to do it depending on the time that you might have on your hand. While cooking keep an eye on it and try and not dry out the surface too much. Cut and check one inside to see if it has cooked. I use a George Foreman Gill and so it looks quicker and gives a lovely char grilled marks on the meat. In the following picture I have had to use red chilli as I did not have any green chilli at home at that time but green is much better in this recipe. (I have a shop bought Chilli Garlic Grinder that also includes fennel and I have used some of that in the marination but that is not necessary)
- Chicken Breast 500 gms cut in medium chunks
- Ground White Pepper half tsp (or black if you do not have white pepper)
- Salt to taste
- Cardamom Powder half tsp (use freshly ground if possible using the seeds inside a pod or if you do not have it use allspice instead, see below)
- Ginger paste 2 tbsp
- Garlic paste 1 tbsp
- Green Chilli 2 nos or to taste
- Corriander Leaves a handful
- Cumin Powder half tsp (if you do not have this you can use a readymade curry powder)
- Garam Masala (use allspice as a substitute but do not add Cardamom powder) half tsp
- Cream Cheese (eg Philladelphia) about 4 heaped tbsp
Pat Dry the Chicken pieces and apply half the salt and the white pepper. Rub and leave it aside while you are preparing the rest. Make a paste of the ginger and garlic (if making your own) with the chilli, coriander leaves, rest of the salt, cream cheese cumin powder and the garam masala. Rub the chicken well with this mixture coating all the pieces well. Cover with a cling film and leave in the fridge. Soak the wooden skewers if you are using any.
Heat the Grill and skewer the marinated chicken using the soaked skewers without overcrowding them. (You could put them directly onto the George Foreman grill and cook without the skewers.) . Place on or under the grill and cook the chicken rotating regularly as necessary. Keep an eye on this as they cook very fast. the cream cheese will cause some lovely colouration on the Kebabs and take a piece out and cut in half to check whether its cooked through or not. If you overcook this it will dry up quickly (the outside should retain some moisture. You could also brush the Kebab couple of time while cooking using melted butter for a really yummy moist result (I did not follow this step on this occasion). Once you have checked if they are cooked take them off the grill and serve immediately. ENJOY