Ten Easy Chicken Recipes for the Whole Family

Hi Everybody, I hope you are all fairing up ok and making the best of the situation we all face.  I plan to hunker down with a many good books, give huggles to loved ones and catch up on those box sets – I plan to watch Game of Thrones – I know, I know I am very late to that party and yes if you are reading this dear brother and sister-in-law, I do plan to start Clarissa by Samuel Richardson that you gave me for Christmas (it’s probably the thickest novel I have ever seen) – has anyone read it?

The sun is shining and spring is definitely in the air – I managed to cut the grass today (that’s as exciting as it gets round here at the moment) which has given our postage size garden that summer feel – we may well be spending a lot of time in it in the coming weeks. As we are all being told to slow down and not really go out we have to keep ourselves busy and our minds occupied. Video calls with multiple pals on each call, seem de rigour with our evenings literally scheduled back to back with calls to friends around the globe – checking in and keeping us all feeling upbeat. It’s important to keep in touch with family, friends and neighbours as much as we can and a call – especially a video call – is a great way to do this.

When it comes to food, a number of you were requesting some easy family chicken recipes that you can cook over the coming weeks. I’ve had in mind ones that don’t have too many ingredients, that you can cook and the whole family can enjoy together.

First up is the one that I cooked live on IGTV with my mini mini me at the helm of my camera (hence the low angle shots and the humming in the background – all very sweet), is ‘Smoked Paprika Chicken, Cannellini beans and Rainbow Chard’.

From start to finish it takes 20 minutes max and it goes a long way. You can eat it as is, or cook some rice (I made some red camargue and wild rice, which worked really well. ) or couscous on the side, or pop some cubed potato into it if you fancy.  Take a look at the ingredients:

I actually ended up only using one tin of cannelloni beans but you can add two if you are feeding more than 4 people to bulk out the meal.

Smoked Paprika Chicken, Cannellini beans and Rainbow Chard

serves 4

2 tbsp oil (I used my shallot confit and a little rapeseed, but olive oil works just fine too)

1 white onion, finely diced

2 bay leaves

thyme leaves, 5 stems (or any herb you have that needs using up)

3 garlic cloves

4 chicken thighs, skin on

2 chicken breast, cubed

2 tsp smoked paprika (you can use sweet/hot paprika)

salt to taste

pepper to taste

3 large tomatoes, diced

1 tbsp tomato puree

4/5 stem and leaves of rainbow chard, diced (you can use spinach, kale, cavolo nero instead)

 

  1. Heat the oil in a pan and then add the onion and a little salt to speed up the cooking of the onions.
  2. Add the bay and thyme (or herb of your choosing)
  3. When the onion begins to soften add the chicken thighs – skin side down – and the chicken breasts and add some pepper.
  4. Add the garlic. Allow the chicken thigh skin to begin to bronze and then turn over.
  5. Add the paprika, tomatoes and tomato puree. Add a little water to loosen the ingredients.
  6. Place a lid on the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring intermittently.
  7. Taste test and then add more seasoning as required.
  8. Add the rainbow chard/greens and simmer for a few more minutes, until wilted and soft and then serve.

 

Remember if you don’t have chard, use kale, spinach, cavolo nero or even peas.

 

Another crowd pleaser and one of my fav chicken dishes (that isn’t Indian) is my Spanish Baked Chicken recipe. I cannot tell you how BLINKING delicious this one is.

You can find the recipe HERE.

Next up is my Keralan Chicken Stew. Ok I am hoping you have some spices, if you don’t, then you’ll have to sadly pass on this one. I was taught it by a lovely lady in Kerala called Moly, who I spent the day with a number of years ago.

It does have Kashmiri chillies in it, but these are not hot in the slightest and the dish is nicely spiced as opposed to spicy and my girls love it.

OK, next up is one of my childhood memory dishes – Japanese Katsu Curry.

You can read WHY a Japanese dish featured so highly in my childhood by clicking HERE for the recipe.

If you are looking for a beginners curry then the one above ticks the box. It requires very few ingredients and will appeal to a palate that is not accustomed to spices.

You can find the recipe HERE.

My traditional Bengali chicken curry, above, is loved by my children and I hope yours will love it too. If you have a whole chicken cut the chicken into 10 and remove the skin and cook it on the bone – it tastes so good this way. If you are nervous about cooking like this then it is fine to cook it using simply thighs, breast – boned or unboned. It’s a one pot dish, although I often make some rice to go alongside it.

Now for this next chicken dish you can replace the barberries for cranberries, raisins or sultanas – don’t worry if you don’t have barberries – I know it’s not what most people have lurking in their pantry. This dish is called “Zereshk Polow” and it is basically the Iranian version of an Indian Biryani. Again if you don’t have saffron use a pinch of turmeric.

You can find the recipe HERE

As you know I love my broths so thought perhaps this one might be a good one to consider. Just tone down the chillies you add if you are giving it to children or you can take them out altogether.  You can find the recipe HERE.

Finally I am going to leave you with a couple of recipes I found on the web that look super easy and don’t require many ingredients.

Creamy Herb Chicken and you can find it HERE

Sticky Chinese Chicken Traybake HERE 

Let me know if you cook any of the above, would love to hear how they were received. In the meantime, take good care of yourselves, be safe and I’ll be back soon with another post.

 

 

 

 

 


Vietnamese Chicken and Cabbage Salad

 

If you are after a salad that is healthy, zingy, super tasty, fresh AND will feed a crowd, then my Vietnamese chicken and cabbage salad with a nuoc cham dressing works a treat.

Much of the salad can be prepped in advance and it is far easier to prepare than you would think if you have a magi-mix as it can do all the slicing (other than the chicken) easily and efficiently.

The three herbs that I like to use to give it a delicious freshness is mint, coriander and Thai basil (you can easily pick this up in large supermarkets these days). The addition of peanuts and fried shallots (you can have these ready made too to save time) really adds to the textures and flavours.

 

Vietnamese Chicken Salad 

Serves 8-10

1/2 white cabbage, finely chopped

1/2 red cabbage, finely chopped

7 carrots, peeled and finely grated (you can do this in the magi-mix too on the grater setting)

6 chicken breasts, skin removed

3 large handfuls of coriander, finely chopped

2 handfuls of fresh mint, finely chopped

2 handfuls of fresh Thai basil, finely chopped

2 handfuls of unsalted peanuts

2 handfuls of crispy fried shallots (to save time buy these already made)

 

Nuoc Cham Dressing

3 tbsp  fish sauce

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1-2 limes, freshly squeezed

1 heaped tbsp caster sugar

1/2 red chilli, finely chopped (keep seeds in if you want more heat)

 

  1. If you have a magi-mix place your attachment, which has the thinnest slicer, and slice the red cabbage and white cabbage. If you do not, then you need to do this by hand.
  2. Next change the attachment to the grater and grate the carrots. If you do not have this you can do this with a regular grater.
  3. Place the chicken breasts whole into a deep pan and cover with water and bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts and allow to cool and then use two forks to shred finely. Place to one side in bowl.
  4. Next finely chop the coriander, mint and Thai basil.
  5. Heat a frying pan and when it is hot add the peanuts and allow to bronze slightly – this will take around 3 -4 minutes. Keep moving around the pan so that they don’t burn. Once lightly bronzed remove and place to one side.
  6. If you are preparing the shallots from scratch – instead of bought fried shallots – simply finely slice them and then shallow fry them in sunflower or vegetable oil until bronzed. Remove from the pan and place on kitchen paper.
  7. Next you want to make the ‘nuoc cham dressing’. The trick is to add all the ingredients to a pan and warm up so that the sugar has completely dissolved. It is important to taste test so that you have a good balance of salty, sweet, zingy and sweet. If it is too salty from the fish sauce add a little more caster sugar. If you find it too chilli hot, strain the dressing and therefore remove the chillies.
  8. You can prepare all of this a day in advance and keep in the fridge (minus the shallots, which can be kept in a sealed jar). IT IS IMPORTANT NOT TO ADD THE DRESSING UNTIL JUST BEFORE SERVING.
  9. When you are ready to serve add a little of the dressing to the chicken and mix in to soften and flavour the chicken.
  10. Next use a mixing bowl and add a little of every ingredient and a little of the dressing and mix well before repeating the process. Make sure you keep back some of the shallots to scatter on the top along with a little of all the herbs.
  11. Serve on a large platter so guests/family can help themselves. It also looks rather lovely presented in this way.
  12. Best eaten at room temperature.

Any leftovers will keep in the fridge easily for a few days. If you want to feed more then use the whole cabbage, add a few extra chicken breasts, add an extra handful of herbs and double up on the dressing.

 

 

 

 


Chiang Mai Noodle Broth – An alternative Boxing Day recipe

Before we know it Christmas is upon us, so I thought I would get this recipe out early for you so that you can menu plan in advance. Whilst it is a Thai dish, it’s origin is actually from Burma and is very similar to the Malaysian laksa. I have cooked it for many years and whilst I tend to use boneless chicken thighs, I was thinking it would also work equally well with leftover turkey too. So if you are feeling the urge for some zing and heat on Boxing Day this recipe may just tick many boxes. You can make your own red curry paste (see at the bottom of this post for the recipe), should you want to make it completely from scratch or you can use a bought paste, which will speed up the process and make it pretty hassle free. I find this brand works well. The garnishes are important as they add texture, colour, flavour and taste so don’t hold back when plating up.

 

Chiang Mai Noodle Broth

serves 4

500ml coconut milk

2 tbsp red curry paste *

500g boneless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces OR turkey leftovers

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tsp sugar

salt to taste

1 lime, juice only

600ml chicken stock

250g egg noodles (dry or fresh)

 

Garnish

1 shallot, finely sliced

2 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal

fresh red chilli, optional

fresh mint, 1 handful

fresh coriander 1 handful

crispy fried onions – I buy these from this website

 

  1. In an non-stick pan add one third of the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Move it around the pan, with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes by which time the milk will separate and little bubbles will form on the surface.
  2. Now you add the red curry paste and mix together until smooth with the coconut milk.
  3. Add the chicken and coat completely in the sauce. Move around the pan for a  few minutes, before adding the rest of the coconut milk, soy sauce, fish sauce, chicken stock. Simmer gently for 12 minutes. Taste test and add a little salt and/or sugar as necessary. Remove from the heat and add the lime juice.
  4. Meanwhile boil water in another pan and add the egg noodles, and cook according to the pack. Normally only takes a few minutes.
  5. Strain the noodles and then plate up in the following order. Make sure you have deep bowls – or pasta bowls will work well.
  6. Place the noodles in the bottom of the bowl. Next add some chicken/turkey. Next carefully ladle the liquid into the bowl and then scatter the garnishes on top – or place on the table for people to serve themselves.

 

 

To make your own red curry paste

You will need:

3 red bird’s eye chillies

2 shallots, peeled

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tbsp galangal or ginger, peeled and chopped

1 tbsp coriander stems, chopped

1 tbsp kaffir lime zest or 2 lime leaves, finely chopped

1 tbsp shrimp paste

1 tbsp lemongrass, chopped

  1. Blend all the ingredients together in a mini blender or pestle and mortar to form a paste. You won’t need to add any water as the juice from the galangal/ginger should provide this.

 


Chettinad Pepper Chicken and Being on Editors’ Picks

img_4234

There has been a wonderful flurry of activity behind the scenes on my blog in the last 48 hours. My phone began to ping – indicating a new ‘follower’ and ‘buzz’ when a new like happened. They were happening more regularly than usual to the extent I began to wonder what on earth was going on. After a little digging around I realised that my blog had been selected as one of the ‘Editors’ Picks’ – The best of WordPress, selected by Editors at Automatic. I am beyond ecstatic as I have watched in awe over the years at the fascinating, motivating and uplifting blogs that are selected across a wide selection of genres.

So welcome to all the new followers of my blog. I hope you get the chance to have a good virtual wander around. I have so many recipes in my ‘recipe library’ that I hope to appeal to a wide audience. The common thread with all of them is that they will have herbs or spices working their magic within them. I am passionate about them and adore dishes from across the globe. When I come across a new ingredient I am the first to give it a whirl and see for myself if it is something that I can incorporate in my cooking going forward. In the last year I tried (and loved) kokum, (or as one sweet reader corrected me  kodampuli)  – see here  which has a tangy, distinct flavour, as well as sea urchin which I have been meaning to try for years – it was as delicious as I had envisaged.

img_4244

 

To get you started how about having a look and trying one of my Sunday go-to dishes Bengali red split lentil dal or perhaps you are more of a meat eater then try one of my fav Mexican dishes – Mexican chilli beef with butternut squash.  Keeping on the theme of butternut squash how about this vegetarian curry using the squash as the star ingredient – butternut squash, lemongrass, coconut and spinach curry . If you have more of a sweet tooth then this one is rather good and even made it’s way into the Telegraph newspaper in the UK – chocolate, chilli and cinnamon fondants with cardamom chantilly cream. If you can’t find what you are looking for just send me an email or leave a comment and I will try and point you in the right direction or will come up with a recipe for you in a future post

Today however I wanted to share a south Indian chicken recipe with you that actually originates from Chettinadu. As Bengal is famous for cooking with mustard, so Chettinadu is renown for using black pepper to heat their dishes. This dish is one with great heat and packs a punch. If you are feeling a bit low with a cold then I can assure you this dish will more than perk you up again. You need to make your own masala, which takes minutes, and is so worth it, and then the actually cooking of the dish is completed within 40-45 minutes max. I have another Chettinadu dish on my blog (which requires more ingredients than this dish), which you may also want to check out if this recipe turns out to be a hit for you. Let me know how you get on in the comments box below.

Chettinad Pepper Chicken

Serves 4-6 

3 tbsp olive oil

3 pods of cardamom, opened

1x 3 inch piece of cinnamon bark/dalchini

2 white onions, finely chopped

3 tomatoes, finely chopped

3 tsp ginger-garlic paste

salt

******** 

1.2 kilo of chicken thighs, on the bone (or whole chicken, skinned and cut into 10/12 pieces)

*********

Masala

4 dried chillies

4 tsp black peppercorns

3 tsp green aniseed *

3 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp coriander seeds

*if you do not have green aniseed you can add fennel seeds instead.

 

  1. First warm the oil and then add the cardamom pods and the cinnamon bark. Move around the pan for 10 seconds before adding the onions and move around the pan so that they begin to bronze. Add a little salt at this stage. This will take about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile heat a large frying pan and when the pan is hot add the masala ingredients and move around the pan for a minute. You will smell their wonderful aromas, but be careful not to let them burn. Take off the heat and then blend in your spice grinder/pestle and mortar. Place to one side
  3. Returning to the main pan, once the onions are lightly bronzing add the garlic ginger paste, tomatoes and the ground masala. You may need to add a little more oil at this stage. Allow the tomatoes to soften completely before adding the chicken.
  4. Now add the chicken and mix with all the ingredients. Add a little water so that a sauce is created and the chicken can cook easily. You will find the chicken naturally releases some water so only add a very little. Place a lid on the pan. Stir intermittently for the next 40 mins, adding a little more water if it becomes too dry. Taste test and add more salt if required.
  5. I often find it useful to let it rest for a while to allow the flavours to infuse and relax.

 

If you are cooking in advance, allow to cool completely before placing in the fridge. Before eating, remove from the fridge an hour before and then gently warm up. Do not add lots of water as it will naturally loosen up once it is heated up.


Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons – one of my favourite dishes to feed a crowd

IMG_2661

Cooking for 6+ guests always requires a bit of thought and forward planning. You typically want something that is relatively fuss free, that you can pop in the oven and leave to cook. I have a very open planned kitchen so if I am prepping veg, talking and raising a glass at the same time it can become a little overwhelming. I prefer to plan ahead and then enjoy my guests company once they arrive without being frantic in the kitchen.

IMG_2605

Moroccan food is a great people pleaser and tasty all year round. It’s spices are delicate, fragrant but not hot spicy; think along the lines of cumin, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, saffron and paprika. They are perfect gently marinaded and cooked with some tender chicken thighs or even some lamb. Olives and preserved lemons are synonymous with Moroccan cuisine and are key for this recipe. I need to do a post on preserved lemons so those of you who live in places where preserved lemons are hard to source you can make your own and store them.

IMG_2613

The marinading can be overnight or in the fridge or for an hour or so if you are working to a tight deadline. The part that takes the longest is browning off the chicken thighs. You want to leave them for about 5 minutes each side so that both sides are nicely bronzed. Then you place them to one side on kitchen paper whilst you prepare and cook the onions. I cook my chicken thighs in batches as I don’t want to overcrowd the pan.

IMG_2642

You can cook the whole dish on the stove, however I often find it is easier to place in a preheated oven for around 30 minutes so that the chicken thighs are sufficiently cooked and moist and all the flavours have blended together to create the most delicious of dishes.

IMG_2643

I tend to serve with spiced rice or couscous with pomegranates, slithered almonds or pistachio nuts and fresh coriander or parsley. It is always best to cook more than you need as seconds is pretty much guaranteed or if you feeding a reserved bunch then at least you have lots of lovely leftovers for another day. It’s a win win.

IMG_2668

Moroccan Chicken with Olives and Lemons

Serves 6-8

2.7kg chicken thighs, skin removed

2 heaped tbsp garlic paste

2 tsp paprika

2 tsp of ground cumin

1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp of olive oil

3 medium sized white onion, finely chopped

1 tsp of saffron threads

1 tsp of ground turmeric

370g green olives, stonned

1 fresh lemon

6 preserved lemons, quartered

1.  Remove excess skin from the chicken and place in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add the garlic paste, paprika (I love using this one), cumin, black pepper and half the olive oil. Smother the chicken completely with the paste and leave covered in the fridge for a few hours, or even overnight if you are being organised.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a casserole dish or shallow pan. Add the pieces of chicken so that they are golden on both sides – this may need to be done in stages. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place on a plate with kitchen roll so as to soak up the oil.

4. Add the chopped onion to the oil, add more oil if you feel it is necessary. When the onion is golden, add the saffron, turmeric and olives and let it simmer for a few minutes.

5. Pour the juice of the fresh lemon over the pan along with 200ml/7 fl oz of cold water. Add the preserved lemons at this stage. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer. If you find there is too much liquid then increase the heat again to reduce the liquid.

6. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees centigrade.

7. In a couple of ovenproof dishes spread out the chicken and pour over the onion, olive, preserved lemon and juice equally. Place in the oven for 30 minutes, by which time the chicken will be sufficiently cooked and ready to serve.

8. Serve with either couscous, pomegranates, almond slithers and fresh coriander or cinnamon rice with brown lentils – both work equally well.

You can cook the chicken ahead of time and then simply heat up gently in the oven for 10-15 minutes (add a little extra water to keep it juicy) then serve.


Keralan Chicken Stew

IMG_2208

Recently my family and I spent the day with a local Keralan family in Cochin: Lt. Col. Mathens, Moly and Philip. The intention was to spend the day with them cooking and eating so you can imagine how excited I was about this. After a good hours drive from our hotel we arrived at their house, still in Cochin but away from the old centre.

Before the cooking began we were given a guided tour of their garden, which grew all manner of spices, vegetables and fruit. They had planted this magnificent oasis themselves when they had bought the property some years before. It had been shrub land, but with such fertile soil, sunny weather and good rains in the monsoon, the vegetable garden had thrived beyond belief. There was no reason to go to the market to buy fresh produce as they had such a bounty waiting for them in the garden.

How many of the above can you recognise? Let me know in the comments box below.

We were showed at least thirty different vegetables, fruit and spices and to see them growing in their natural habitat was hugely memorable – although looking back through my photographs I cannot be certain about a couple of the plants. A return trip is necessary perhaps to further my education? Any excuse really!

After our garden tour we made our way to the kitchen where Moly explained the different dishes we would be cooking and the others she had prepared earlier that would accompany our feast.

IMG_2193

One of the dishes she showed us was her Keralan chicken stew. A couple of things that stood out with the way that she actually prepared the stew.

Firstly it was cooked on the bone, like all authentic curries should. Secondly she add the coconut milk in two stages. To begin with she added the thin coconut milk and at the very end she added the thicker, creamer coconut. The third point was that she added the thin coconut milk when some of the chicken was still pink. She did not measure anything as such, so I frantically took notes as to the approximate amount she was adding into her stew.

It does have a chilli kick to it with pepper, cardamom and clove notes resonating through the dish. By all means reduce the amount of chillies to suit your palate. I added a teaspoon of Kashmiri chilli powder, but this is not necessary and looking back in my notes I don’t believe Moly added it so for the recipe below I have omitted it although when I was testing the recipe I did add it, hence the photos have a red/orange hue to the dish. Yours will not have this in quite the same way if you follow the recipe below.

She did not measure out the coconut milk, but as it generously covered the chicken I think she must have used the equivalent of two tins of coconut milk or thereabouts. I find some brands of coconut milk have a thick creamy coconut milk at the top and a more water milk at the bottom. If you can try and get hold of these types of coconut milk.

Keralan Chicken Stew

serves 6

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

2 red onions , finely diced

3 garlic cloves, finely diced

7 Kashmiri chillies

2 potatoes cubed

1 whole chicken (approx 1.2kg) skinned and chopped into 10-12 pieces

1tsp cardamom seeds

4 little pieces of cinnamon bark

1 1/2tsp fresh ground black pepper

10 cloves

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ginger powder

400ml tin of coconut milk

160ml tin of coconut cream

  1. In a deep pan – I find my Le creuset casserole works well – add the coconut oil. When it is hot add the mustard seeds and move around the pan for 10 seconds before adding the onion, garlic and dried chillies. Leave to cook in the pan for 3 minutes. Keep on a medium low heat.
  2. Now add the cubed potatoes and stir into the other ingredients and allow to cook away for a further 3 minutes.
  3. Add the chicken and stir before placing the lid on the pan for 5 minutes. Some of the chicken will have whitened but do not be alarmed if some of the chicken is still a little pink at this stage.
  4. Add the cardamom, cloves, cinnamon bark, ginger powder and black pepper.
  5. Add the coconut milk and the salt. Put the lid back on the pan and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring at intervals.
  6. Test to see that the potato is soft and the chicken is cooked. Add more salt if necessary.
  7. At the very end turn the heat down very low and add the coconut cream and stir into the stew. It is important that you do not let it boil as the coconut cream will split.

Serve with rice, luchi, chapati or the traditional Keralan appam.

IMG_2190


Gong Bao Ji Ding – aka Chinese Chicken with Facing Heaven Bullet Chillies

IMG_1267

So the story goes that back in the Qing Dynasty the governor of Sichuan, ‘Gong Bao’, had a deep fondness for this dish so they named it after him. The ‘Ji Ding’ part translates as “chicken cut into small cubes” and to this day it is one of the most ubiquitous Chinese dishes eaten in both mainland China and in the West. It is sometimes referred to as ‘Kung Pao Chicken’ so keep a look out for this name as well.

IMG_1297

The lovely people over at World of Zing sent me some dried chillies recently with fabulous sounding names: Dragons Back, Facing Heaven Bullet and Chinese White Hunan. I pondered for some time over which one to sample first and facing heaven bullet won out. They are so called because the pepper grows with the fruit pointing upwards to the ‘heavens’ unlike most chilli peppers, which face downwards.

IMG_1290

Bullet in shape, they are often kept whole in cooking or cut in half once. Removing some or all of the seeds prior to cooking reduces the heat of the chilli, whilst still retaining a tantalising zing.  To give you some idea of heat, it is far milder than a Thai birds eye chilli.  It won’t be the case of running to the fridge for a glass of milk!

IMG_1278

This dish wins prizes on speed of delivery and flavour. Seriously even if you are shattered after a hard days slog this will raise your spirits. Give it a go and remember to come back and comment to let me know how you got on.

Gong Bao Ji Ding – Chinese Chicken with Facing Heaven Bullet Chillies

Serves 2-3

420g chicken breasts (works out as 3 breasts) skin removed, cut into strips then into 1 inch cubes

4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 inches of fresh ginger, skinned and roughly chopped to the same size as the garlic

5 spring onions, white part only chopped to the size of the chicken cubes

10 facing heaven bullet chillies, halved and seeds removed

1 tsp whole Sichuan peppercorns

80g peanuts, dry roast them for 5 minutes

2 tbsp ground nut oil (or equivalent)

****

Marinade

3 tsp light soy sauce

2 tsp Shaoxing wine

2 tsp cornflour

****

Sauce

1 and a half tsp cornflour

1 tsp dark soy sauce

1 tsp light soy sauce

1 tbsp Chinkiang vinegar

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tsp sesame oil

2 tbsp cold water

1. First prepare the chicken and then place in a bowl. Prepare the marinade in a separate bowl and then pour onto the chicken pieces and leave to rest whilst you prepare the rest of the dish.

2. Dry roast the peanuts in a frying pan for 5 minutes so that they bronze slightly.

3. Next prepare the garlic, ginger, spring onions and chilli and place to one side.

4. Prepare the sauce ingredients in a bowl and place to one side.

5. Heat a large pan or wok with the oil and when it is hot add the chillies and Sichuan peppercorns. Move them around the pan for 15 seconds before adding the cubed chicken. Keep the chicken moving around on a high heat so that it cooks through completely.

6. After a couple of minutes, and the chicken has whitened, add the spring onions, garlic and ginger continuing to move all the ingredients around the pan/wok. After 3 more minutes the chicken should be cooked completely. Cut through a large piece to check it is cooked through (if it needs a minute more continue cooking at a high heat), before adding the sauce and mixing it through completely.

7. Cook for a further minute before adding the peanuts. Coat them in the sauce and stir through a couple of times.

Serve immediately with some steamed rice.

Thanks to World of Zing for providing me with the chillies. 


Simple Chicken Curry – when your spice cupboard is bare

IMG_1252

If you are starting out cooking curries or if you are running low on spices, then this is the curry for you as it only requires chilli powder – I tend to opt for the Kashmiri chilli powder for it’s deep red colour and its subtle heat. It also includes onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes and chillies, which are pretty much fridge staples for me and I’m guessing you too! So it is ridiculously straightforward to make with minimum fuss.

IMG_1232

I like to use boneless and skinless chicken thighs for this curry, but breast meat is fine too – it’s really up to you. Like with most curries it can be cooked well in advance and then slowly reheated adding a little water if necessary. You can reduce the amount of fresh chillies if you want it less hot, but I find adding two fresh green chillies is fine for my 9 year old – I would cook a separate curry however for my 5 year old.

IMG_1246

Simple Chicken Curry

Serves 4

9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 red onions, roughly chopped

2 inch piece of ginger, skin removed and roughly chopped

2 fresh chillies, roughly chopped

4 medium sized tomatoes roughly chopped

1 tsp of Kashmiri chilli powder

2tbsp water

*****

2 tsp groundnut oil

800g boneless and skinless chicken thigh, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 tsp salt

coriander to garnish (optional)

1. Using a blender add the garlic, onions, chillies, tomatoes, ginger and chilli powder. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are you may need to add a little water to make the paste smooth.

2. Heat the groundnut oil in a pan and add the chicken. Move it around the pan for a couple of minutes so that it whitens. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and place to one side.

3. Using the same pan add the paste and gently fry for 45 minutes so that it thickens and allows the flavours to come through.

4. Return the chicken to the pan and add the salt. Simmer gently for a further 7 minutes, coating the chicken in the spiced tomato sauce.

5. Serve with a coriander garnish with either rice or flat bread.

IMG_1247


Fiery Chettinad Chicken

IMG_0969

Chettinad is a region in the southern eastern state of Tamil Nadu in India. The cuisine is commonly regarded as one of the most fiery and aromatic.

IMG_0932

It is famous for its dry masalas that use a wide array of spices including, rather surprisingly, star anise, as well as more commonly used Indian spices such as cumin, cloves, black peppercorns, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander seeds, fennel seeds and whole red chillies. Similarly to the rest of southern India, coconut and tamarind are also often used in cooking.

IMG_0946

The Chettinad people have always been successful traders, travelling far afield throughout Asia. This can be seen in their cuisine as they use a wide range of spices and techniques, clearly influenced by their travelling merchant ancestors.

IMG_0971

My recipe is perfect if you crave some spice. For those at the korma end of the spectrum probably ought to give this a wide birth, but for those who like a flavoursome kick THIS is the curry for YOU. My kids definitely would not eat it, but Mr B and I are big fans and I hope that some of you out there will be also. If you prepare it in the morning ready to eat in the evening it works a treat. You could also cook it a day in advance if you are feeling super organised.

If any of you cook this please let me know what you think. It really isn’t that hot if you are used to eating spice, so be brave and give it a go. It would be great on a hot summer’s eve with a cold beer – check out my brother’s beer here or a chilled lassi such as this one.

Chettinad Chicken

Serves 4-6

800g chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 lemon, juice only

****

Masala

2 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp black peppercorns

2 tsp fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick

3 cardamom pods, seeds only

6 dried red chilli

6 cloves

4 fresh or dried bay leaves

2 star anise

60g desiccated coconut

100ml cold water

****

3 tbsp ground nut oil

14 fresh curry leaves

2 red onions, finely sliced

2 tsp salt

2 tsp garlic paste (or fresh garlic made into a paste)

2 tsp ginger paste (as above)

3 fresh tomatoes, chopped

75-100ml cold water

****

fresh ginger batons to serve

****

1. First cut the chicken thighs into bite sized pieces and cover with the turmeric and lemon juice. Mix in thoroughly and then place to one side whilst you make the masala.

2. Heat up a non stick pan and when it is hot add all the spices (but not the desiccated coconut) and move them around the pan for just over a minute so as to lightly toast them and release the flavours.

3. Place them in a spice grinder. I have this one which is excellent and Debenhams is selling it at the moment for £18. Best investment ever. (I am not on commission to say that!)

4. Whizz them around the spice grinder and then take out half the powder and then add the desiccated coconut or as much of it as you can. Whizz again and remove some more powder and put the remaining coconut in the spice grinder. Transfer to a bowl and add 100ml of cold water to create a thick paste.

5. In the same non stick pan add the ground nut oil and when it is hot add the fresh curry leaves, red onions and salt and gently fry for 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger paste and move around the pan so that it does not spit.

6. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook for a couple more minutes before adding the masala paste.

7. Add the turmeric lemon chicken and cover fully with the masala paste. Add the remaining water and leave to simmer for 45 minutes, or until the liquid has become virtually dry. Stir at intervals.

To serve place a few fresh ginger batons on top of the curry. It goes really well with rice or Indian breads. It is always good to have a bowl of fresh yoghurt on the side as this dish is renowned for being fiery.


Chicken and Egg Kathi Roll – a Kolkata speciality

IMG_0457

Snow is forecast for London this week and our boiler has decided that this is the week to completely pack up on us *weeps*. Whilst we wait for a new one to be found and fitted, a small fan heater keeps me from freezing in the study. To keep mood and spirits up I have decided that comfort food is what is needed. Step forward ‘chicken and egg kati rolls’.

They are the perfect lunch time (or anytime come to thing of it) snack to perk you up and give you a feeling of happy blissful contentment.

IMG_0441

My husband is originally from Kolkata and these rolls, or wraps if you will, are very popular in the city. They are a cross between a Mexican burrito and a Lebanese chicken shawarma. In short, they are ridiculously delicious and one is never enough. Take a look at the locals in action on this little YouTube clip below.

I have seen some have a little egg omelette inside as well as the chicken, but I find the way that I prepare them below (and also in the video clip) works efficiently and quickly and allows you to wrap the Kathi roll more easily.

IMG_0426

 To save time you can buy your chapatis (or you could use paratha) but I find that making your own is pretty quick and easy and whilst not as circular as the store bought ones are equally delicious. I use a tawa, which is a flat disc like frying pan, which I picked up at my local Indian store, but if you do not have one a regular frying pan will work equally well.

IMG_0435

There are three steps to making these rolls – 1) the chicken filling, which can be made in advance, 2) the chapatis with the egg coating on one side, 3) the coriander and mint chutney, which can also be made in advance.

IMG_0438

They are best eaten straight away when they are hot. You can make a number of the chapatis with the egg topping and place them in a low warm oven to keep warm, whilst you prepare the rest or you can serve them as and when you prepare the chapatis.

IMG_0452

 My coriander and mint chutney is great with any of my curries and can be stored in the fridge for a week. I like to pop a couple of teaspoonfuls in my kathi roll to give it that extra kick. With a squeeze of lime on top then you have yourself a truly delicious treat.

IMG_0462

 

Coriander and Mint Chutney

1 handful of fresh coriander, washed and chopped

1 handful of fresh mint, washed and chopped

1 (or 2 if you prefer it hotter) small green chilli, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp fresh ginger roughly chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

½ tsp sugar

salt to taste

1-2 tbsp lemon juice

  1. Place all the ingredients into a small blender and blend until you have a smooth paste. Taste and add more salt/sugar as necessary.
  2. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

 

******

Indian Chapatis with an egg coating

 Makes around 6-8 depending on the size of your chapatis

 200g chapatti (wholemeal) flour

 1 tsp sea salt

 2 tbsp sunflower oil

 125ml warm water

3 eggs, whisked

  1. In a large bowl place the flour, salt and oil and rub together with your fingertips. Gradually add the water so that a dough forms and all the flour is gathered up into one large dough ball.
  2. Place the dough ball on a floured surface and kneed for around 8 minutes so that the dough is soft and springs back when you poke it with your finger.
  3. Cover the dough with cling film and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
  4. Kneed once again for a couple of minutes, before breaking the dough up into smaller dough balls the size of large ping pong balls.
  5. Roll out the small dough ball so that it is circular and thin.
  6. Heat your frying pan or tawa on a medium heat and when it is hot add the chapati (do not add any oil). When you begin to see the chapati form bubbles, after about 30 seconds, you can have a look underneath to see if it is beginning to lightly bronze in places. If it is turn over carefully and using a folded over tea towel press down on the chapati and it will begin to puff up. Press down where the puffing occurs to help the air circulate around the chapati. Do not worry if yours does not puff up every time, it will still taste good.
  7. Gently pour a little of the whisked egg mix onto the side of the chapati that has bronzed slightly and using the back of a spoon swirl it around the whole of the chapati and  then carefully turn it over so that the egg cooks onto the chapati.
  8. Place the chapati onto a warm plate and keep in a low heated oven whilst you prepare the rest of the chapatis.

******

Spiced Tomato Chicken filling

2 tsp vegetable/sunflower oil

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1/2 tsp salt

3 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp coriander powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1/2 tsp chat masala

1/2 tsp Kashmiri chilli powder

300g boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 tsp garam masala

To serve

1 red onion, finely sliced

2 limes, quartered

2 tsp coriander and mint chutney (see recipe above)

1. In a pan heat the oil and add the onion and salt and allow the onion to soften for around 5 minutes.

2. Add the garlic and ginger and stir with the onion so that it does not burn.

3. Add all the spices, aside for the garam masala and mix well with the onion, garlic and ginger.

4. Add the chopped tomato and allow to soften for another 5 minutes.

5. Add the chicken and stir into the other ingredients. Place a lid on the pan and allow to cook, stirring at intervals for 15 minutes.

6. Remove the lid and cook for a further 5 minutes so that all the sauce is absorbed and the dish looks dry.

7. Before turning off the heat add the garam masala and stir. Taste and season with more salt if necessary.

My fan heater now seems to have broken. I seem to be jinxed. Right I am off to fill up my hot water bottle – something I can usually rely on.