Month: September 2014

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad


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Sweet and Spicy Chicken Salad

Let’s not beat around the bush here, diet food is not always fun. And no matter how many recipe sites I go to or posts I surf through, I don’t usually find a recipe that brings a smile to my lips the way French Fries does! Why does diet food always need to be bland and uninspiring?

When I started off cooking for my diabetic husband knocking processed foods, carbs, fats and sugars was a priority. Salads became a must have. Then came the ordeal of making greens interesting and innovative. I mean how many kinds of salads can you make?

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Sweet Chillie Garlic Sauce

This, for me, is a sauce from heaven. There is so much you can do with it. Slap it on some fresh fish before you grill it or bake it, add it to cottage cheese and cook it in a thick-bottom pan or cook it with potato straws to create a mind-blowing starter. The Sweet Chilli Garlic Sauce has always been my last-minute super sauce to charge up any meal. Yup, I’m known to throw some of it onto chicken popcorn too!

You could buy this sauce in any super market, but I prefer to make my own, for the only reason that the ready-made sauces are loaded, and I do mean LOADED, with sugar. When you make your own, you need to make sure it is cooled before you store it in an air-tight bottle and refrigerate it. Shelf life for a home-made sauce, without preservatives, is about 15 days.

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Burmese Khow Suey

Burmese Khow Swey
Burmese Khow Suey with 18 toppings!

This is one dish that will always take me back to Goa, yeah strangely it’s Goa! This is where I was introduced to the Burmese speciality, Khow Suey. We, my husband and me, had recently moved to Goa and had been invited to dinner to a friends place for dinner. What excited me about the dinner was that I was told this entree would have  30 odd ingredients. WOW! that sounded exotic. Even before I had arrived for dinner, I had built up an appetite. But the wheels in my mind were stuck on that one phrase, “30 ingredients, all in one dish!” I couldn’t wait to indulge.

And I would be lying if I didn’t say I was open-mouthed flabbergasted when the table was laid down! And I didn’t know how to spell the name of the dish I was sure I was going to devour down! The host had 13 odd bowls of tiny bites laid down, to that she added 5 bowls of sauces, a big bowl of rice, one of noodle and then sitting plump in the centre of the table was a luscious smooth coconut gravy with chicken. It was a sight to behold.

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Grilled Cinnamon Plums with Mascarpone Cheese

Fat-free five-minute dessert
Fat-free five-minute dessert

 

I love desserts. And I like them even better if they are easy to make and come with fresh ingredients–something I’ve learnt to indulge in post my die-hard fascination for MasterChef. Yeah I am a sucker for food shows and to meet Gordon Ramsay stands very high on my Bucket List. But till then I am happy to devour every cookbook of his and lay my hands on every recipe he has published. He seems to have the right knack of simplifying the most horrendously tricky procedures and making it super simple! But enough about my gushing love for him…

This is not one of his recipes, but is a version of Martha Stewart’s creation. And what I like about it, is its simplicity. My first restaurant, Skie Grille, in Utorda Goa was all about food off the grill, may be that’s why this recipe is close to my heart. Or may be it’s just the ease in creating it–all it takes is 5 minutes and can be made with ingredients found in every pantry.

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Slow Cooked Oil-free One-Pot Chicken in Rum

slow cooked oil free chicken in pot
Slow cooked oil free chicken in pot

I’ve often had to entertain large groups of friends and family who don’t want me spending time in the kitchen when they are around. And yet they expect, yes I do spoil the ones I love, a three or four course meal.

The first time I was asked to stay out of the kitchen, I freaked! My meats and accompaniments were not done, the dessert was in the oven, the drinks were flowing but the starters were still being assembled. Disaster. There I was scooping out pies and spooning out fillings into little tartlets even as I guzzled my own ice filled glass of the poison of the day! Though the evening, or rather early morning, ended up with everyone being fabulously drunk on food and spirits, I ticked myself off mentally. No more last-minute cooking for this group of friends.

So now I plan my meals for this group of 10.

And it does need plenty of planning.

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10-ingredient Burger Spice Mix

101074515A fussy eater that I am, I’ve never found the right spice mix for my burgers. Having worked with spices and herbs over time, I’ve finally zeroed down on one that appeals to my senses. What’s better is that this recipe can be tweaked to suit different taste buds. As long as love the taste, who cares about fractions and permutations and combinations!

This recipe can be adapted to create a diabetic friendly and diet friendly version. The pure herb mix can also be used as a rub for pork and beef steaks.

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Barbecue Sauce

Onions Sauted in Barbecue Sauce
Onions sauteed in barbecue sauce

This is one of my favourite sauces. Add it to a grilled chicken salad, fry onions in it for a sandwich or top it on chips or stuffed tacos…it lends flavour to any entrée.

If you are looking to jazz up this sauce a wee bit more, feel free to add some whisky or rum to it, giving yourself enough time to burn the alcohol off during the cooking process.

If you use dark brown sugar, you will get a darker shade of sauce.

If you use whole grain mustard, the sauce will be denser, but you can use English Mustard too. The best way to make a sauce is to keep tasting it, and making your notes as you add ingredients. Once you find the right proportions to tickle your taste buds, your recipe and variations with help you achieve the same product, time after time.

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Burgers

A chicken burger served with fried egg, caremalised onions, tomatoes and an apple and mustard salad!

Burgers have to be sloppy. There’s no other way to devour this gigantic piece of absolute delight. But that’s not where the expectations end! Every teeny-weeny morsel has to burst with a unique marriage of flavours that comes from its spicy, sour, tangy, meaty, creamy and fresh ingredients.

When I started creating these burgers, I knew little about flavours and textures and it was all about slamming a seasoned meat patty between 2 slices of a toasted bun. With French fries, tomato ketchup and mustard for an accompaniment, the meal was basic but filling and left me satiated.

However over time, I started to experiment with flavours and textures. Minced pork was added to minced beef, minced beef was mixed with minced chicken, pork and chicken were minced together with garlic and believe me each one of these different combinations, ticked different taste boxes.

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Tandoori Pomfret

Another less oil and diet recipe

So, how does one start making a tandoori dish without a tandoor?

Leave that for the oven to figure out.

All you need to care about is–buy the best (read freshest) fish available, gut it, clean it, slash it and marinate it in this five-minute marinade.

The coolest thing about it, is the longer it is marinated the more robust and enhanced are the flavours. Which makes it perfect entree for a party. The crispy skin, golden glow tandoori fish is quite a “pick-me-up” on any dinner table. What’s more you can garnish the plate with some onions that have been left soaking in vinegar, sugar and salt till they have achieved a pinkish tone; and freshly chopped tomato and cucumber to create an absolute down to earth, homely and eye-catching platter.

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