Chicken Tikka Kebabs

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We have had the BBQ working overtime this week. The weather is super-hot this year, and since we are still in the ‘house unpacking’ phase, the BBQ works fantastic. Today, it was time for some good old fashioned Chicken Tikka kebabs that never go out of fashion!

CHICKEN TIKKA KEBABS

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken (thighs work best, but I had some breast meat)
1/2 cup natural yogurt
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tsp Red chilli powder
1 tbsp tomato paste or puree
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
2 tsp ginger powder
a pinch of mace powder
a pinch of cinnamon powder
1 tsp elaichi powder (cardamom powder)

Combine all the ingredients in a zip loc bag and leave in refrigerator to marinate for at least a couple of hours, max 6 hours.

In the meantime, soak some wooden skewers in cold water for at least half an hour before using, or you will get the same burnt effect that I got this time. I forgot to soak them and then there wasn’t enough time!

Skew the meat onto the wooden skewers and straight onto a BBQ until the chicken is cooked through. I cooked mine on high with the lid on and it took only 5 minutes to cook

Squeeze some fresh lime juice on top of the kebabs before serving – and some Chaat masala and mint chutney.

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Saturday Night Chicken Curry

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Is there such a thing as a `Saturday Night Chicken Curry’, technically not but there is no other way to describe something that is made by most Indian families on a regular basis. Everyone has their own unique style of making this curry and flavours would be different in each household.

There’s something very heartwarming and comforting in this curry for me, as it reminds me of the Chicken curry that my Mum used to make on a regular basis as we were growing up. A Friday night or weekend special Chicken curry, and we knew we were in for a treat. This curry is made with the bone-in the chicken, and there is no other way to get the same texture and flavours with boneless chicken.

Another bizarre fact about this curry is that the supermarket chicken doesn’t work for this curry. It is almost impossible to get the same flavour from that chicken. Perhaps its the way the Indian butchers cut their meat, but they make it taste different. I have bought chicken legs from the supermarket for this curry, but it seems to fall apart in the cooking process. The meat from the Indian butchers seems to stay intact for this curry, and the flavours are amazing. So whenever you see this curry on our table, you know that I have had to drive to the other part of the city (at least an hour away) to visit our Indian butchers shop to make this curry.

You definitely won’t get this at any restaurant. This is made with love for family and friends only. We try to save some leftovers for the next day, as this curry is amazing with Paranthas for breakfast on a Sunday morning.

WEEKEND CHICKEN CURRY

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4 Chicken Legs and thighs, cut into 4 pieces each
1 cup onions, finely chopped
2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
5-7 Green chillies or Jalapenos, finely chopped
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp coriander powder
2 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp clove powder
1 tsp cardamom powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
a bunch of fresh coriander/ cilantro
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
1 mace leaf, crushed
3 tbsp cooking oil – I use grapeseed oil
5 plum tomatoes, diced
1 tbsp tomato puree or paste
Salt and black pepper to taste
Chicken stock
1/2 cup natural yogurt

Heat oil in a pot (Dutch oven works great), and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start sizzling and changing in colour, add the ginger. Saute until the Ginger starts to change colour before adding the onions. Cook the onions until they are translucent before adding the green chillies and the garlic, as well as the turmeric powder. Stir well and add the plum tomatoes. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for a few minutes, until the tomatoes are fully cooked and the oils have separated in the process.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, chop up the fresh Cilantro/Coriander. I chop up the stems separately from the leaves, but I use both in this curry.

Once the tomatoes are cooked, add the cilantro stems to the onion mixture and stir well. Reserve the leaves for later. The stems have a lot of flavour and they will infuse all their flavours into the food when cooked at this stage. Add all the dried spices and cook these for a few seconds whilst stirring them into the onion mixture. Gently fold the chicken into this mixture, followed by the natural yogurt. Add 1 cup of chicken stock, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Allow this to simmer for at least 10 minutes. I find it irresistible not to stir the chicken, but its best to let this cook undisturbed for 10 minutes. I cook my rice at this point in another pot to keep my hands out of mischief.

You should be able to smell the aroma of the chicken curry by this time, and this is the time to stir in half of the reserved fresh coriander in the curry. If you like lots of gravy in the curry, add more stock to the curry. I like a thicker gravy, so I try not to.

Cook for another few minutes, on low heat leave the pot covered until ready to serve. Drizzle a tablespoon of clarified butter on top before serving to give it the extra ‘grandma love’ as we call it in our household, along with the reserved fresh cilantro before serving it with fresh Basmati rice and Chapattis.

Don’t forget to save some for breakfast on Sunday morning!

 

Creamy spiced Mushrooms and Peas

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My Mum used to make one of the best Mushrooms and peas, but then all kids say that about their Mum’s cooking. As kids my sister and I wouldn’t eat mushrooms. So, Mum would tell us that it was Chicken and peas, and we were none the wiser. Years later, I asked Mum how she used to make the Mushrooms for they did taste meaty and she said, she just cooked it the same way as she would cook Chicken and it tasted like Chicken.

I used the same trick and used Meat Masala powder in my Mushrooms and it works every time.

CREAMY SPICED MUSHROOMS AND PEAS

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This recipe calls for a lot of onions, tomatoes, ginger and garlic – just like any Meat curry.

1 cup frozen peas
2 cups sliced Cremini mushrooms (can use button mushrooms too)
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup roughly chopped tomatoes (I like plum or roma tomatoes, as they are sweet and juicy and blend in really well with the spices)
6 Indian green chillies, finely chopped (optional and adjust to taste)
2 inch piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 whole head of garlic, sliced
3 tbsp clarified butter or oil of your choice (the flavour with clarified butter is amazing!)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tbsp Meat masala (readily available at most major grocery stores)
3 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro or coriander leaves
1 tbsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 cup whipping cream (don’t ask, don’t question – it is instant transformation!)

I like to use my cast iron braiser pan for cooking this dish, as the distribution of heat on the vegetables is so much nicer.

Heat oil in the pan, and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start sizzling, add the ginger. Cook the ginger until it starts to change colour before adding the onions. Cook the onions until they are translucent in colour and add the green chillies followed by the garlic. Continue to cook until the garlic is slightly roasted and the chillies start to change colour too, before adding the tomatoes.

Reduce the heat at this point and add all the ingredients, including the spices. Reserve the cilantro leaves to add in later. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

I like to stir in the cilantro leaves right at the end along with a tiny tsp of clarified butter for some added love.

Enjoy with any flat bread or with rice. This is even delicious as a Panini – just add some Mozarella cheese and freshly sliced red onions, absolutely amazing for lunch!