Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

I love this Indian dish that has its origins outside India. Having conquered the UK palate and overtaking fish and chips as the quintessential British dish, it is now increasingly available in restaurants in India and around the world. I still love the version available in London, which is where I first encountered it. I have tried to replicate that taste from memory as the pandemic has made travel well nigh impossible. The dish I made yesterday is my eureka moment. I have cracked the trick to making delicious, mouthwatering Chicken Tikka Masala.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Boneless chicken breast 250 g

For marinade:

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 2 tsps

Yoghurt 1/2 cup

Vinegar 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

For the curry:

Tomatoes 4 large

Onion 1 large, sliced thin

Ginger 1” piece

Garlic 5 cloves

Fresh cream 2 tsps

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder 1/2 tsp

Biryani Masala 1/2 tsp

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil 3 tbsps

Butter 1 tsp

Method

Cut the chicken into cubes. Wash, drain and marinate in the ingredients given above.

Leave in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. I leave it overnight as I feel it makes the chicken more succulent and allows the spices to permeate through the meat.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed wok and fry the chicken pieces for about 3-4 minutes till they are lightly browned. Keep it aside.

Add the butter to the oil and fry the onion slices till they are translucent.

Pound the ginger and garlic together in a pestle. Add to the pan. Sauté till the raw smell of the garlic disappears.

Purée the tomatoes in a blender. Add to the wok.

Cook till the water evaporates. Add the cumin powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder and biryani masala. I prefer the biryani masala instead of garam masala as it gives the gravy a tangy flavour.

Add 1 cup of water and add salt to taste. When the gravy comes to a boil, add the fried chicken cubes. Cook for 5-6 minutes till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with the cream and serve hot with basmati rice or naan or bread.

Chicken Meatloaf

Chicken Meatloaf

This is an extremely moist and flavourful meatloaf that goes well with a green salad and mashed potatoes. I use Ching’s Secret brand of red chilli sauce that is delicious in this dish. I also soak the bread in skimmed milk that keeps the loaf moist. I also use a mix of red chilli sauce and tomato purée for the topping. The addition of olives, jalapeño peppers and dried oregano gives the meatloaf a robust taste.

Ingredients

Chicken mince 500 g

Bread, roughly chopped 4 cups

Skimmed milk 1 cup

Olives 10

Jalapeño pepper 2, chopped

Oregano 2 tbsps, dried

Red chilli sauce 1 cup, divided into two

Tomato purée 5 tbsps

Salt to taste

Onion 1 large, chopped

Vegetable oil 2 tbsps

Olive oil to grease the loaf pan

Method

Add the vegetable oil to a wok and sauté the onions till they turn golden brown.

Add the chicken mince and cook for 15 minutes till all the water evaporates.

Soak the bread in milk and add to a bowl. I use rye bread or sourdough bread, but any artisanal bread works.

Add the olives, jalapeño peppers, 4 tablespoons of red chilli sauce, oregano and salt to the bread.

Toss well and add the mixture to the cooked mince.

Add salt and mix well.

Transfer to a greased loaf pan and pack it down tight.

Mix the rest of the red chilli sauce and tomato purée and pour on top of the meatloaf.

Bake in 190 degree C oven for 50 minutes.

Cover with aluminium foil and leg it rest for 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a green salad and mashed potatoes.

Cabbage leaves stuffed with chicken and rice

Cabbage leaves stuffed with chicken and rice

I was inspired by the Polish dish Golabki to experiment with Indian basmati rice and minced chicken. The gardener brought me fresh cabbages and the result is this really delicious dish. It makes a very satisfying dinner or Sunday lunch.

Ingredients

Cabbage 1 large

Basmati rice 2 cups, cooked

Chicken 500 g, minced

Onion 1 large, chopped

Coriander leaves 1/2 cup, chopped

Salt to taste

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp

Green chillies 2, chopped

Garlic 2 cloves, minced

Egg 1

Vegetable oil 3 tbsps

Cheddar cheese 100 g, grated

Peperoncino flakes 2 tbsps

For the sauce:

Olive oil 2 tbsps

Onion 1 medium, chopped

Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped

Tomato paste 200 g

Tomato sauce or readymade pizza sauce 200 g

Fresh basil leaves 10, shredded

Cream 3 tbsps

Italian herbs, dried 1 tbsp

Water 1 cup

Method

Heat water in a large pan and let it come to a boil. Immerse the head of cabbage in it and boil for 2 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the cabbage blanch in the water for 2 minutes more. Take out the cabbage let it drain on a plate.

Heat the vegetable oil in a wok and add the onions. Sauté for 2-3 minutes till the onions turn golden brown.

Add the green chillies and garlic and sauté for another 3 minutes.

Add the washed and drained chicken mince and cook for 2 minutes. Stir to break up any lumps.

Add the salt, red chilli powder and turmeric. Cook till the water evaporates.

Add the cooked rice and mix well.

Break the egg directly into the rice and mix well.

Add the coriander leaves and mix well. Switch off the heat.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onions. Sauté till they turn translucent.

Add the basil leaves and tomatoes and cook till they turn soft.

Add the tomato paste and tomato sauce. Add the dried Italian herbs and water. Cook for 20 minutes on low heat till the sauce thickens.

Take an ovenproof dish and spread some of the sauce at the bottom.

Separate the cabbage leaves and stuff each leaf with some of the rice and chicken mixture. Roll it up and arrange in the dish.

Pour the sauce over the stuffed cabbage leaves.

Sprinkle generously with cheese.

Sprinkle peperoncino flakes on top and bake in a 180 degree C oven for 25 minutes till the cheese melts and turns brown.

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken

Butter Chicken is a favourite dish from northern India that has become popular across the globe. Traditionally, it is made with a lot of butter and cream, but I have cut the quantity of oil, butter and cream for a healthier but still tasty version of the dish.

Ingredients

Chicken 1/2 kg, boneless cubes

Red chilli powder 2 tbsps

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Ginger 2” piece

Garlic 10 cloves

Oil 2 tbsps

Butter 2 tsps

Cream 1 tsp

Tomatoes 4 medium, roughly sliced

Onion 1 large, roughly sliced

Cashew nuts 8-10

Kasoori Methi 1 tbsp

Garam masala 1 tsp

Apple cider vinegar 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Method

Make a paste of the ginger and 5 garlic cloves.

Marinate the washed chicken cubes with 1 tablespoon of red chilli powder, salt, turmeric and the ginger-garlic paste. Let it rest for 15-20 minutes.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and fry the marinated pieces till the surface changes colour. This will take about 2 minutes each side. Keep it aside.

Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the oil and add the the onions. Fry the onions till they become transparent.

Add the tomatoes and cashew nuts.

Crush the rest of the garlic and add to the pan.

Add salt, the rest of the red chilli powder and garam masala. Add 2 cups of water and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes become mushy. This will take about 10-15 minutes.

Cool the mixture for about 10 minutes and blend well in a mixer or with a hand-held blender. I use my Braun hand blender.

Strain the blended mixture back into the pan. Add the rest of the butter, the cream, the fried chicken cubes and the kasoori methi. Heat through for five minutes.

Serve with rice or naan.

Easy Chicken Biryani

Easy Chicken Biryani

Biryani began life among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent, say some. Others say it was developed in the royal kitchens of the Mughals. Some historians say that the Arab traders brought it to Kerala. Whatever be the origin of the dish, today it is loved across the world, not only by the Indian diaspora but by all races and nationalities.

While some recipes take hours to prepare, this chicken biryani is a quick and easy recipe that I developed as a busy working mother. It is tasty but you can serve this one-pot dish in less than an hour.

Ingredients

Chicken 1/2 kg, with bones

Basmati rice 2 cups

Onion 1 large, sliced

Tomatoes 2 large, chopped

Yoghurt 1/2 cup

Red chilli powder 2 tbsp

Turmeric powder 1 tsp

Pepper powder 1/2 tsp

Biryani masala 1 tsp

Cinnamon 1” stick

Cloves 2

Bay leaf 1

Raisins 1 tbsp

Roasted cashews 2 tbsps

Oil 3 tbsps

Ghee 1 tsp

Curry leaves

Coriander leaves for garnish

Salt to taste

Method

Marinate the chicken with red chilli powder, turmeric powder, pepper powder, salt and yoghurt and leave it for 15 minutes.

Soak the rice in water for 10 minutes, drain.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil.

Add the sliced onions and fry till they turn translucent.

Add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick and cloves. Sauté for a few seconds.

Add the marinated chicken and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and curry leaves. Add 1 cup of water and cook covered for 20 minutes. Add more water if needed.

Add the rice, raisins and biryani masala and mix well. Cover and cook on a slow fire for about 30 minutes.

By now the rice will be cooked and the chicken will be tender and juicy.

Add the ghee and garnish with cashew nuts and coriander leaves.

Serve hot with raita and garden salad. Or a serving of banana chips.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

I use spaghetti instead of linguine to make chicken tetrazzini as I feel it holds its shape better. Also the sauce adheres better, making for a tastier dish. The combination of full cream and garlic lends a rich flavour to the chicken tetrazzini.

Ingredients

Spaghetti 500 g, cooked al dente

Boneless chicken breasts 3

Vegetable oil 1/3 cup

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter 1 tbsp

Olive oil 2 tbsp

Button mushrooms 250 g, sliced

Onion 1 large, chopped

Frozen peas 1 cup

Garlic 5 cloves, minced

Full cream 2 cups

Full cream milk 500 ml

All-purpose flour 1/3 cup

White wine 1/3 cup

Italian herbs 3 tbsps

White bread 6 slices, toasted and ground coarsely into crumbs

Cheddar cheese 1 cup, grated

Method

Cook and drain the spaghetti and keep it aside.

Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken breasts. Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed frying pan and fry the chicken breasts till they are golden brown. Let the chicken cool and shred roughly.

Add the butter and olive oil to the same pan and fry the mushrooms till they are brown. Add the onions and fry till they are soft and translucent.

Add the minced garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the wine and cook till it evaporates. Remove to a bowl.

Add butter and olive oil to the same pan and add flour. Roast till the raw smell of the flour disappears.

Add the milk, constantly stirring to prevent any lumps from forming. Add salt and pepper.

Add the cream. Simmer for two minutes.

Add the shredded chicken, the mushroom mixture and frozen peas to the sauce.

Switch off the heat and add spaghetti to the sauce.

Grease a baking casserole with olive oil and add the spaghetti and sauce.

Mix the bread crumbs with Italian herbs and spread over the spaghetti.

Sprinkle generously with the grated cheese.

Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 25 minutes till the cheese bubbles.

Serve hot with focaccia bread and salad.

Baked Chicken Tenders

Baked Chicken Tenders

For years, I bought frozen chicken tenders and loved them. Till I saw Sandi Richard’s Fixing Dinner. She suggested an easy way to make chicken fingers. I tried it as a way to feed my son who was a fussy 8-year-old. And found it was a hit with him and his little friends. Over the years, I have developed my own recipe for chicken tenders that are more suitable for adult tastes. I have also given the bread crumbs a miss for a healthier and succulent version of chicken tenders.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)
Boneless chicken breasts 500 g, cut into 1″ strips
Paprika powder 2 tbsps
Salt to taste
Pepper powder 2 tbsps
Turmeric 1 tsp
Vegetable oil 2 tbsps

Method

Wash the chicken and pat dry with a kitchen towel.

Add all the spices and rub them all over the chicken pieces. Let them rest in the refrigerator for an hour.

Lay the chicken pieces on an oiled baking tray and brush them with oil. Bake in a 230 degree C oven for 20 minutes. Turn the pieces after 10 minutes.

Serve hot with a salad.

Southern Style Texas Chicken with Dumplings

Southern Style Texas Chicken with Dumplings

I had this for the first time in Houston and fell in love with it. Made it in the slow cooker and it came out great. It was a hit with the whole family. I made a potful, planning to use leftovers for lunch the next day, but there was nothing left at the end of dinner.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Chicken thighs 2 whole
Celery 2 stalks, chopped
Carrots 2, chopped
Onions 3, cubed
Garlic 5 cloves, peeled and crushed
Bay leaf 1
Basil 10 leaves
Salt to taste
Pepper powder 1 tsp
Red chilli flakes 1 tbsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Italian herbs 1 tsp

For the dumplings:
All-purpose flour 2 cups
Baking soda 1/2 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Butter 3 tbsps
Sparkling water 1/2 cup
Buttermilk 1/2 cup

Method

Put the chicken at the bottom of the slow cooker. Add all the vegetables, herbs and spices. I add a pinch of turmeric as it gives a lovely colour and works as an antiseptic, which is good in today’s pandemic-ridden world.

Let it cook for six hours.

Take the chicken out and shred it. Throw away the bones. I usually save it for my dog.

Cut the butter into the flour, baking soda and salt and mix till it resembles bread crumbs. Add the sparkling water and butter milk and lightly mix to form a dough. Pinch out small lumps of the dough and add to the slow cooker. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the shredded chicken.

Cook for another 10 minutes. Serve hot, garnished with freshly ground pepper. Goes well with rustic bread.

Spanish Chicken Rice

Spanish Chicken Rice

I made this for the first time when a friend was visiting from Taiwan and I wanted to make something that I could make in the slow cooker and not have to stand in the kitchen in the hot Indian summer. Instead of using the oven, I use the slow cooker. I don’t use too much oil either. Also, I use a mix of vegetable oil and olive oil so that the dish stays light, but has a lovely flavour.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)

Chicken 6 leg pieces without skin
Chilli flakes 4 tbsps
Oregano dried 8 tbsps
Rice 2 cups
Onion 1 large chopped
Spring onions 2, chopped
Capsicum 2, chopped
Garlic 5 cloves, chopped
Sausages 6, chopped
Tomatoes 2 large, cubed
Olives stuffed with pimento 10
Coriander leaves chopped
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder 2 tsp
Pepper powder 1 tsp
Vegetable oil 3 tbsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Saffron 3 strands
Lemon 2 cut into circles or wedges
Water as needed

Method

Wash the rice and soak it for 15 minutes. I use Basmati rice as the long grained rice retains its shape and gives out a wonderful aroma when cooked.

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Coat with 3 tablespoonfuls of oregano, the chilli flakes and salt.

Take a heavy bottomed pot. I use a cast iron pot like from Le Creuset. Add the oils. I use Sundrop vegetable oil as I find it least greasy. Fry the chicken on high flame to seal in the flavours. Fry each side for about a minute.

Take the chicken out and in the same pan fry the chopped sausages. You can use any sausage for this though I find the Nuremberger sausage adds a lovely herb flavour to the dish.

Add the onions and spring onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the capsicum and garlic. Saute for two minutes.

Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot. Add the rest of the oregano, pepper powder and tomatoes. Add salt. Mix well.

Add 2 cups of water. Add the saffron strands. Arrange the fried chicken legs on top. Cover and cook on a slow fire till the water is completely absorbed and the rice is cooked.

At this stage you can transfer the whole to a slow cooker and cook on Auto.

Once the rice is cooked, add the olives and coriander leaves. Cook for another two minutes on low heat.

Switch off the heat and let the pot stand for five minutes.

Serve hot with dinner rolls and a green salad.


Chicken curry

Chicken curry

This is a mild curry with the chicken marinated in yoghurt and spices overnight which tenderises the meat and makes it flavourful and succulent.

Chicken curry made with the meat marinated in yoghurt and spices with the subtle taste of kasoori methi

Ingredients

(Serves 3)

Chicken 500 g, cut into pieces large enough for curry
Yoghurt 1 cup
Turmeric 1 tsp
Red chilli powder 2 tsp
Pepper powder 1 tsp
Kasoori methi 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Chicken masala 1 tsp
Onion 1 medium, sliced
Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped
Green chillies 2, slit
Potatoes 2 medium, peeled and cubed
Water as needed
Oil 2 tbsp

Method

Marinate the chicken in yodhurt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, pepper powder and salt and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Heat oil in deep frying pan and add the onions. Fry till they become translucent. Add the marinated chicken pieces. Fry for a couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes and chicken masala. I use the Eastern brand of chicken masala, which is available at most supermarkets now. This has a rich flavour, but is not too spicy. Add the potaoes and the kasoori methi. As soon as you add the kasoori methi, a lovely frangrance rises from the dish. Add enough water to cover the chicken. Cover and cook on high flame till the water begins to boil. Turn dowm the flame, cover and cook till the chicken is done. Test with a fork.

Serve with rice, roti or any kind of bread.