Baked Tandoori Chicken 


This is for you Ani !! I’m sorry it took me so long to get to this recipe. This baked chicken drumsticks is my healthy take on the traditional favorite tandoori chicken. This is not basted with butter or ghee yet the chicken is grilled to perfection on the outside yet moist and succulent in the inside.
It’s an easy appetizer or can be whipped quickly for a weeknight dinner. Paired with a salad or grilled veggies, it’s perfect for a healthy dinner. Without much adieu, the recipe follows:-

Ingredients :

  • Chicken drumsticks – 4 to 6 pieces
  • Plain nonfat Yogurt – 1/4th cup (one-fourth)
  • Buttermilk – 1 cup
  • Lemon juice – 2 tbsp
  • Ginger-Garlic paste – 1 heaped tbsp
  • Green chili paste – 1 tsp (optional)
  • Red chili powder- 1/2 tsp (half)
  • Tandoori masala – 2 tbsp
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Oil spray or oil – 2 tsp
  • Salt to taste

Direction:
Wash and pat dry the chicken. Make slits with a knife. Keep aside.


Make a marinade with all the above ingredients except the oil. Marinate it for atleast 6 hours. No shortcuts here. Leaving it overnight is even better. Refrigerate it covered.


Make sure the drumsticks are in room temperature before throwing them in the oven. Once ready and in room temperature, arrange them in a rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Baking it on the rack makes sure the air circulates all around and helps not only in cooking faster but also evenly.


Once arranged on the rack, spray with cooking spray or brush it with the oil.


Preheat the oven to 385*F. Bake it for 40 minutes. After the initial 20 minutes turn the chicken.

After 40 minutes, crank up the heat to 425*F. Bake it for another 10 minutes. The chicken should be nicely cooked. You can use a meat thermometer and upon inserting it should read above 165. 
Sprinkle it with lime juice. Serve hot !!

Note: I used traditional nonfat yogurt but you can use full fat. For best results the marinating time should not be less than atleast 4 hours. On multiple occasions I’ve marinated the chicken and left it in the fridge for a quick weekday dinner. So it’s safe to leave in the fridge for 24 to 36 hours. Instead of using oil, I sprayed the chicken with canola oil spray but you could brush it with regular oil. Once the chicken is cooked you could also put it under the broiler for 5 to 7 minutes for extra charred look. The temperature and time varies between ovens, so adjust your time and temperature accordingly.

Shrimp Mughlai Fried Rice

This is one of the simplest recipes which is always a hit at our home and with guests. It’s fragrant and full of flavors. This can be cooked for a crowd without too much effort or you can have it just for the family. I can assure you one thing, no matter what the occasion and no matter when you’re eating, if paired with the right sides the combo will make it feel like a celebration. I generally serve mine with Tomato Chicken another family favorite.

I generally make this rice with onions, green and colored peppers, shrimp and eggs. You can play around with your choice of veggies and skip the shrimp and eggs to make it totally vegetarian. 


Ingredients:

  • 4 cups of cooked rice
  • 2 eggs scrambled 
  • Shrimp about half a pound
  • Onion – 1 medium sized finely chopped 
  • Peppers green, red, yellow & orange – half of each
  • Salt and sugar to taste
  • Nutmeg powder – a pinch
  • Whole cinnamon sticks – 2
  • Green cardamom whole – 4/6
  • Cloves – 4/6
  • Bay leaves – 2
  • Oil
  • Ghee or Clarified butter – 2 tsp (optional)
  • Kewra essence/kewra water (optional)

Direction:
Cook the rice in your preferred way with salt and the whole spices – cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and bay leaves. 
Try not to break the rice while cooking. 

Once cooked sprinkle a pinch of nutmeg powder and a tsp of sugar. 

Add a couple of drops of kewra essence. Remember in case of using essence a little goes a long way. Allow it to cool completely. 


Scramble your eggs with salt and pepper. Add it to the rice.

Add 2 tsp of oil. Sauté the peppers till they are well cooked. Add to the rice and eggs.


Add 2 tsp of oil or ghee. Once nicely heated, fry the onions till they are golden brown. Add it to the rice and veggies.

Add about 1 tsp of oil. Sauté the shrimp. Let the shrimp cook. It should take around 7-8 mins. Once the shrimp is no longer raw and nicely cooked. Turn off the heat. Add it to the rice.

Now mix the rice along with all the veggies and shrimp and eggs. Mix it gently and try not to break the rice.

Once you see everything is well assembled and rice has a nice shine being coated with the oil and ghee, it’s ready for a final taste check. Add salt and/or sugar according to taste preference. 



Note: The rice should be nicely done yet the grains should be firm. Kind of like al dente. Once the rice is cold, you can pick out the whole spices. 

Remember if using kewra essence, couple of drops should be enough for this amount of rice. If you are using kewra water, add 1 tsp.

Do not go overboard with the nutmeg. A pinch works perfectly.

I like using peppers and onions but cauliflowers and beans taste great too especially if it’s just vegetarian.

The kewra is really optional but paired with its sweet smell and that of the peppers and onions, it brings the typical mughlai element to the dish. 

You can use Fried raisins and cashews. In that case be careful with the sugar. You don’t want the rice to be too sweet.

The other great thing about this dish is if you happen to increase the cooked rice amount to 6-7 cups, you don’t necessarily need to increase every thing else. I have used the same proportions for 6 cups of cooked rice and it came out perfectly fine. 

Tomato Chicken 

Tomato chicken is one of the favorite chicken dishes in our home. I first tasted this creamy delicious chicken long time ago. It was prepared by my cousin after she started her kitchen adventure. Of course it was a big hit with everyone back then.

When I was supposed to get married and come straight to the US right after, she made me the best gift ever – hand written recipe book. A little notebook full of handwritten recipes of some of my favorites. Needless to say that she had included this recipe. Over the years I have modified the recipe a little bit here and a wee bit there but in general the recipe still remains the same. 

The original recipe calls for butter which I have completely skipped. The cream used is also way less than the original recipe demands. But having said that I must also make it clear this is a rich dish. It’s a delicious slightly sweet creamy tomato based gravy with melt in your mouth chicken. This dish doesn’t need a whole lot of ingredients but don’t be fooled by its simplicity. 


Ingredients:

  • Chicken Drumsticks – 6pcs
  • Vinegar – 2 tbsp
  • Salt and pepper – according to taste
  • Onions – 2 medium sized finely chopped 
  • Garlic – 8/10 cloves finely chopped 
  • Parsley – 2 tbsp finely chopped 
  • Tomato – 1 puréed 
  • Tomato ketchup – 1 tbsp
  • Chili powder – according to taste
  • Sugar – according to taste or 2 tsp
  • Oil 
  • Cream – 1/4 cup or less
  • Butter – a dollop optional 
  • Chives/Spring Onions – for garnish 

Direction:

Start by marinating the chicken with 2 tbsp of white vinegar, salt and pepper according to taste. Keep aside for atleast 30 minutes. 

Heat oil in a pan and fry the drumsticks. Make sure you fry them at medium heat and keeping it covered. 

Once the chicken is cooked and nicely browned, keep them aside. It should take between 25 to 30 minutes. 
In the remaining oil, fry the chopped onions. Add a little salt and a little sugar. The salt helps the onions cook faster while the sugar gives them a nice caramelized color. Once the onions turn translucent, add the chopped garlic. Cook till they are slightly golden brown.


Next add the puréed tomato, red chili powder and tomato ketchup. Sauté the mixture on low medium heat for about 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle water as and when needed. 
Once the mixture is nicely cooked in medium heat and you no longer smell the raw tomatoes, add the chicken. Mix well. Turn the heat to low. Add in the cream and chopped parsley. Mix well. Add a little bit of water and put the lid back on. 

Let the chicken cook in the gravy for a little bit. Do a taste test. Add salt and/or sugar according to your taste. Turn off the heat and add a tbsp of cream. Mix. You can also add a dollop of butter at this point. Lastly garnish it with chives or spring onions.

And the tomato chicken is ready. This can be served with plain white rice, fried rice or parantha. I served mine with Shrimp Fried Rice. 

Note: Chicken should atleast be marinated for half an hour. I used drumsticks but you can use regular  sliced chicken breasts or tenders too. The chicken should be browned but not too much. It should be browned outside and moist inside. This can be done only at a low flame and with the lid on. For a richer gravy you can definitely double the cream amount but I used 1/4 cup cream mixed with 1/2 cup of water. Since this isn’t a spicy dish, I used Kashmiri Mirch powder but you can go with the regular red chili powder if you want the added kick. 

Mixed Quinoa Pulao

Quinoa is one of the world’s most popular health foods. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B-vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. – Authority Nutrition 

After all the binge eating, time has once again come for us to get a reality check and get back on track. Diet or dieting is a banned word in our home. The very word implies restrictions and negativity in my mind. So these days I call it a lifestyle change. It makes me feel that it’s a choice in making for a healthy life. While I won’t say I don’t scratch my head in whipping up these healthy alternatives but sometimes you find a keeper. Something that’s healthy and you look forward to eating it. And that’s a rare combo.

Quinoa is one such. Even though I discovered it in the last couple of years, it’s a regular on at least one night a week or more. It satisfies my craving for rice without being loaded with carb. To me anything that I can substitute for rice is a keeper.

This is a very simple yet satisfying recipe. It’s flavorful by itself or you can eat it with a side of your choice. It’s great to pack for the following day’s lunch box too. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa 
  • 1 medium sized onion cut into little cubes
  • 1 small green bell pepper
  • 2 cups of your choice c vegetables (I used corn, carrots, green beans and peas)
  • 2 eggs scrambled (optional)
  • 2 green cardamom 
  • 2 little cinnamon sticks 
  • 4 cloves
  • 2-3 tsp Garam masala or MDH kitchen king masala 
  • Salt and oil accordingly 
  • Chili powder according to your taste


Direction:

First start by scrambling your eggs with salt and pepper. After that sprinkle a little red chili powder and little garam masala to the scramble. Keep aside along with some chopped green chili.1483541817200

Next heat about 2tsp oil in a skillet. Once the oil is hot, temper it with the whole spices- cardamom, cinnamon and cloves. 
As soon as you can smell the aromatic spices, add the chopped veggies and onions. Sprinkle some salt, chili powder and garam masala powder.Sauté for about 2 minutes. Remember the veggies will cook with the quinoa and you don’t want them to loose their crunch.

Once the veggies are sautéed for a couple of minutes, add the washed quinoa. Mix it in with the veggies. Add 2 and a quarter cups of water. Bring it to a rolling boil, cover it with a lid and turn the heat to low. 

Let the quinoa cook for 15 minutes. Do not disturb the quinoa during this time. After 15 minutes, check the quinoa for desired doneness. Add the scrambled eggs and chopped chili. Mix well. Cover it. Let it sit on the low flame for another couple of minutes. 



And now the quinoa is ready. As said earlier this dish can be eaten by itself or with a side. I served this quinoa with a side of baked chicken drumstick and some cucumber slices. It was definitely a hearty, healthy and most importantly a very satisfying meal. 


Note: Soaking your quinoa for about half an hour reduces the cooking time. Also the cooking time varies from brand to brand, so it’s important to follow your packaging instructions for the time and water amount. My dish was on a slightly spicier side. Tone down or up the spices according to individual taste/preference. 

Also if you have the MDH Kitchen King Masala, use that instead of the garam masala. It adds an extra zing. 

Shrimp Malai Curry

This is a slightly sweet and creamy shrimp curry made Bengali style. It’s made out of a handful of simple ingredients that are almost always found in the pantry with coconut milk being the star ingredient. Yet the taste that generates will make you want more. Its a must in almost all Bengali homes when a lavish spread is laid for a big lunch or for a leisurely Sunday lunch when the whole family sits together for a nice meal. It has always been my absolute favorite. And I love to see the sparkle that lights up my daughter’s eyes when she smells Shrimp Malai Curry.

You can use any good quality shrimp for this dish but ideally the big jumbo prawns are what is needed. As I said, ‘ideally’ is the key word here. I have made this dish with all sizes of shrimp and it has never disappointed me.

Cleaning the shrimp can be challenging for newbies in the kitchen and for those who are not used to handling raw shrimp. In that case make sure you either get it cleaned and deveined from your fish person. But once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty simple. 

Ingredients : 

Shrimp – 1lb

Ginger – about 2 inches

Onion – 1 medium sized

Salt & Sugar – According to taste

Red chili powder – 2 tsp

Turmeric – 1tsp

Cinnamon powder – 2 tsp

Cardamom powder – 1 tsp

Bay leaves – 2

Coconut milk – 1 cup

Oil – 1/8th cup

Ghee or clarified butter – 2 tbsp

Directions :
Wash and clean the shrimp. Once done, pat it dry with a paper towel. Depending how you like your shrimp, you can choose to keep or take off the tail.  
 
Liberally sprinkle the shrimp with salt and turmeric powder. Let the shrimp sit in a colander so that all excess water is drained. While the shrimp sits make a smooth paste of the ginger and onion.  

 
Next heat the oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, turn off the heat and let it sit for 2 minutes. Then drop the seasoned shrimp and turn on heat. Keep heat on medium. Cook covered. Shrimp takes about 7 to 8 minutes to cook on low flame. Do not try to get it done quicker by frying on high flame. Once it’s done, keep it aside. 

 
Season the oil with the bay leaves. Let it turn brown and fill your kitchen with a sweet aroma. Add the ginger-onion paste and fry for a couple of minutes.  

 
Add the remaining powdered spices like the cinnamon, cardamom and red chili powder. Add salt and sugar according to your taste. I’m going to remind you here that this dish does sway slightly towards being sweet. But feel free to adjust the sweetness according to your liking. 

 
Once the spices are well mixed together and you can no longer smell the rawness of the onion or ginger, pour in half of the coconut milk and half cup of water.  

 
Cook it for a few minutes and let the gravy reduce. Drop in the shrimp. Add the left over coconut milk. Mix everything well and cover. Let it cook for another few minutes. The shrimp will absorb some of the sweet curry and plump up.  

   

Just when the curry is no longer runny and has a silky smooth consistency, you’ll know it’s ready. At this point do a taste check. If everything is fine add the ghee and turn off heat. You can also add a few slit green chili.  

 
This is almost always served on a bed of hot white rice.  

 

Note : This is a rich dish. Of course you can adjust the oil/ghee according to your preference. I have made this several times without a drop of ghee and very little oil and still licked my plate clean. But I do like to indulge in its rich taste on rare occasions or when I’m hosting a dinner. Also you can add more red chili powder and give it an extra hint of spiciness.

Mixed Hakka Noodles

  
Comfort food !! That’s what comes to my mind when I think of a plate full of noodles. Give me anyway and I’ll be your friend forever. I absolutely love Indo-Chinese food. And homemade Hakka Noodles is very close at the top. So with winter back with a vengeance, comfort food is what I seek. And what can comfort me better than a plate of hot spicy mixed hakka noodles.

Now comfort food is a very interesting word. What is comfort food ?? Can you have multiple comfort foods ?? And the questions are endless…. Of course the definition of comfort food varies from person to person. To me comfort food are foods that I’ve grown up with. Foods that bring back memories and leaves a happy smile. It’s food that takes me to a different place and time. I have a lot of comfort food. It depends on the weather and my mood. And comfort almost invariably comes laden with a plate full of carb for me. Yes nothing comforts me better than carb 🙂 .

So it was no surprise that I made my Hakka Noodles when I felt low and dejected yesterday. Prepping for the dish brought back numerous happy memories of school lunch boxes, first time cooking with a dear cousin and the first dish I made for hubby before marriage….And I got my much needed comfort even before taking the first bite.

Ingredients for 5 :

Ching’s noodles – 2 packs

Chicken – 1 cup cooked and diced

Shrimp – half pound

Eggs – 2 scrambled 

Onion – 1 medium sized

Cabbage – 1 cup shredded 

Carrots – 1

Green Pepper – 1

Soy sauce – 3 tbsp

Green Chilli sauce – 2 tbsp (according to your taste)

Chilli Vinegar or Regular White vinegar – 2 tbsp

Salt & Pepper – According to your taste

While pepper – 2 tsp (optional)

Oil – Quarter cup

  
Direction :
Heat oil in a pan/wok. Add shrimps and cook. Shrimps take about 5 minutes to cook. Make sure you have your heat on medium cause you don’t want to over cook the shrimp and make it rubbery. Once the shrimp becomes a nice pink color, add the cooked-diced chicken. Salt and pepper it. Fry it for a couple of minutes and keep aside. 

 
Next heat a little oil in the same pan. Scramble two eggs with a little salt. Keep aside. 

 
At this time, cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain in a colander and run cold water for a minute. Drain excess water and add a tsp of oil. Toss well. 

 
Add the remaining oil and heat it on high. Once the oil is really hot drop in all the chopped veggies. Add salt and pepper, a tsp of vinegar and chilli sauce. Fry it on high heat. Keep tossing it continuously.  

 
Once the veggies look a little translucent, add the noodles. Turn your heat to low at this time. Now add soy sauce, chilli sauce, vinegar and white pepper to the noodles. Mix well. Adjust the seasoning to your taste. Lastly add the shrimp, chicken and eggs. Turn your heat to high and fry for another couple of minutes.  

  

And it’s ready !! Enjoy with more hot sauce or as is.

 
 Note : You can skip the non veg and make it a purely veg noodles. Adjust the sauce and spiciness according to your taste. Go easy with the salt as it is added in almost all the steps and both soy/chilli sauce is pretty high on the salt. 

Scrambled Eggs With Veggies 

Having time for a healthy wholesome breakfast is no mean feat especially when you need to pack school lunches and send the husband off for work and all those women who need to get to work too. It’s no wonder the toasters are such a must in all kitchens. You can plop a bread and push the lever thingy and give it a few seconds and zonk the bread plops out in no time with the perfect crunch. And with a dollop of butter nicely spread, mmmm you are transported to heaven. But what does one do when what we normally or regularly used to eat for breakfast is no longer an option. Yes you got that one right !! Life becomes difficult and crazy. And let’s be honest if you are on a low/no carb diet, there aren’t too many choices for breakfast other than egg.
Eggs can be made in a jiffy and it can be pretty versatile. The choices with eggs are endless. I especially like these scrambled eggs since you can adjust the quantity but the time remains almost the same. And one almost always is in a rush in the morning hours. The other great thing about this dish is you can add tons of veggies of your choice. There is a lot of scope to play around with the ingredients to suit your palate.
Ingredients for 2 :
Original Egg Beaters – Half cup (or 2 eggs)

Onion – Half 

Green Peppers – Half of a medium sized one

Colored Peppers – Quarter from each ( I used red, yellow and orange)

Mushrooms – 5/6

Spinach – couple of handfuls 

Salt-Pepper – According to your taste

Siracha or any hot sauce – optional or to your taste

Red chilli sauce – optional

Oil – 2 Tsp

  
Directions : 
Heat oil in a fry pan. Once it’s really hot, add all the cut veggies. Do not lower the heat. Keep stirring it continuously. Since there is very little oil and the flame is on high, do not leave it unattended. We like our veggies to be crunchy, so I fry it for around 2 minutes. 

 
 
Next add the beaten eggs and lower your flame to medium. Salt and pepper according to your taste. Mix well. Next add the hot sauce. The red chili sauce is purely optional. Skip it if you aren’t fond of it’s slightly sweet taste. Once again mix well.  

 
 
Voila in less than 10 minutes, you have a healthy breakfast for two ready. Enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee. 
 
Note : Mushrooms were not added here but I generally add mushrooms to this dish. You can play along with your favorite veggies and sauces to make it just right for you. I used regular canola oil here but feel free to use olive oil. In case of using olive oil, heat the pan and then drizzle the oil.

Mexican Salad

Mexican style chicken salad is a simple, easy to whip up recipe. This dish finds its way on our table for lunch at least a couple of times each week. It’s healthy yet you don’t need to compromise on the taste. To me it has all the flavors that tantalize my taste buds and keeps my tummy full without being guilty. 
  
Ingredients for 2 –

Chicken breast boiled and diced – 2 cups

Black/Red/Mixed beans – 1 cup

Salsa – half cup

Picante sauce – 2 tbsp

Chili Habanero sauce or any hot sauce – 1 tbsp (optional)

Paprika – 2 heaped tsp

Chipotle chilli powder – 1 heaped tsp (optional)

Salt – According to your taste

Olive oil – 2 tsp or less

Lettuce – 2 cups shredded

Avocado – 1 

Jalapeño – half de-seeded

Light Sour cream – 2 tbsp

Lime juice – 2 tbsp

Steps –

I generally poach a chicken breast and keep it ready for when I need it. You can cook the chicken however you are comfortable. Dice it once it’s cool.  

Heat olive oil in a non stick skillet. Add chicken. Season it with salt, paprika and chipotle chilli powder. 

Next toss the cup of cooked beans. I like using the store bought no salt canned beans. Be sure to drain and wash the beans multiple times in case using the canned ones. 

Next add salsa. For this I use regular store bought. To this add the picante sauce and hot sauce of your choice. Toss everything together on high heat. Since everything is already cooked, it comes together in 5 minutes.
Shred your choice of lettuce and make a bed while the chicken mixture cools. 

Combine the last 3 ingredients and blend it together for a smooth tart dressing.
Lastly assemble the salad by putting the chicken mixture on the prepared bed of lettuce. 

You can also add avocados with the salad. Drizzle the dressing. Enjoy a guilt free lunch !!

Note : you can skip the chicken and make this a vegetarian style salad. For the salsa I use Rotel cans. Adjust the spices according to your tolerance to heat and spiciness.