Mexican Rice

Serves 4 – 8

Mexican Rice is a staple in Mexican cuisine that it’s served as a side with many main dishes.  This version can be personalized with the vegetables of your choice.  I’m using corn and tomatoes to achieve an authentic Mexican taste, but you can also add fresh or frozen carrots, peas, peppers and mushrooms to serve as a complete meal.   The turmeric and tomato sauce combined add a great, rich colour, which is a visual treat that will whet the appetite.  This makes a great addition to tacos and burritos or even rolled up in a taquito alongside cooked chicken.  This Mexican Rice isn’t just for accompanying Mexican dishes, but can be used to jazz up basic baked chicken and steamed broccoli or an already flavourful roast!  Let’s get started.

20140802_12064220140802_120436

Mexican Rice – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup kernel corn (canned is fine, thoroughly rinse in cold water prior to cooking)
  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice, rinsed in cold water a few times to remove starch
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 6 – 8 slices of pickled jalapeno, drained and chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, hot (substitute 2 cups water, hot, and 1 bouillon cube or 1 tsp. chicken broth powder)
  • ½ tsp. ground dry red chili
  • ¼ tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • Pepper, to taste
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 green onion, green part sliced thin
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander, chopped fine

Instructions

  1. Heat butter in a large, heavy bottom, non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and onion and sauté until onions are soft, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in rice and sauté until toasted, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add corn, pickled jalapenos, ground dry red chili, ground cumin and turmeric.
  4. Add tomato sauce and chicken broth (or water and 1 bouillon cube or 1 tsp. chicken broth powder).
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste, stir until well combined, and cook covered over medium heat for 15 -20 minutes or until liquids are evaporated and rice is fluffy. Turn off stove.
  6. Add tomato and green onion, stir through, and let rice rest for about 5 minutes prior to serving.

20140802_120840 20140802_121017

Serve garnished with finely chopped coriander.  This Mexican Rice can be served as a side or even as a main dish for the family.  It’s so flavorful and delicious that they won’t miss the meat.

Advertisements

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread – How to Make Naan Pictorial Guide Included

Serves 4

Most of us would not consider a visit to an Indian restaurant complete without mopping up our curries with warm, soft, fragrant, utterly delicious naan.  Naan has been a restaurant dish (as opposed to home-cooked) almost since its introduction into India from Persia.  In recent years, many home cooks have started to make naan at home, mainly to stave off the cost associated with naan breads at restaurants.  It’s much more economical – and most importantly, just as delicious – to make naan at home!  All you require are a few basic ingredients that can be found in most well-stocked kitchens.  Naan can be eaten plain, brushed with melted butter or garnished with a variety of toppings.  Traditionally these toppings include grated garlic, chopped coriander, sesame seeds and onion seeds.  I’m going to be using melted butter, grated garlic and chopped coriander, but you can use whatever toppings you usually enjoy or leave as is.

20140824_143332-2Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

The yeast is a very important component when it comes to making naan at home.  While you can make flat breads without yeast, you won’t be able to achieve that soft and melt-in-your-mouth restaurant taste without it.  The milk and yogurt are also very important in making your naan stand out by making it soft and delicate.  Without these three things you won’t be able to achieve the same results.  The other trick to making restaurant style naan is to let your dough rest once you’ve divided it.  This gives the dough a chance to expand a little more and incorporate more air and ensures that your naan won’t rise as you roll it out.  You can use melted butter or ghee in place of the oil, but plain cooking oil will yield a good quality naan so go ahead and use that without worry.  I don’t like to add coriander while the naan is cooking so I add it prior to serving to keep it fresh.  You can add it in with the grated garlic if you prefer.  This recipe makes really soft and tasty restaurant style naan that goes great with most saucy curries.  Let’s get started.

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 ½ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • ½ – 1 cup warm milk
  • Melted butter, for brushing
  • 1 Tbsp. garlic, grated (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, add warm water, active dry yeast and sugar and stir until combined. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes or until the mixture begins to froth.
  2. In the meantime, sift in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment or into a large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  3. Add the yogurt, oil, yeast mixture and half of the warm milk and combine on low speed until everything comes together. If kneading by hand, knead for 5 minutes until a soft, sticky dough forms. If using stand mixture, knead on medium-low for 2 minutes.  Add more milk as required as you knead to achieve soft, wet, pliable dough.
  4. Drizzle a little bit of oil on top of the dough ball and spread around until dough is evenly covered. Cover the bowl with cling wrap or aluminum foil and a towel on top and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.
  5. When ready to cook, knead dough on a floured surface for a few seconds until all the air is dispersed and then divide into 4 equal balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes.
  6. Heat a skillet or tawa over medium heat and let it warm up for about 2 minutes. Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oblong shape that’s wider at the bottom than at the top.  If using garlic, smear a quarter of it onto one side and roll into dough.  Roll out until dough is about 1/8th of an inch thick.   The dough will shrink onto itself so do not roll out too thick.
  7. Wet your hand with water and rub water onto the side that does not have any toppings such as the grated garlic and place this side down on the skillet or tawa. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes (or until large bubbles start to form) and then flip over and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until slightly scorched in places (if you’re unsure flip a corner to see).  Remove to a covered plate and brush with melted butter on one side (the side with the toppings such as the grated garlic) and sprinkle with chopped coriander on top if using.  Continue this process until all the naans are rolled out and cooked.

Pictorial Guide

Cover the bowl with cling wrap or aluminum foil and a towel on top and let sit in a warm place for 2 hours.  Dough should be soft, sticky and pliable.

20140824_111707 20140824_132150 20140824_132158

Knead dough on a floured surface for a few seconds until all the air is dispersed and then divide into 4 equal balls. Cover them with a clean towel and let them rest for 5 – 10 minutes.

20140824_132242 20140824_132502 20140824_133641(0)

Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oblong shape that’s wider at the bottom than at the top.  If using garlic, smear a quarter of it onto one side and roll into dough.  Roll out until dough is about 1/8th of an inch thick.   The dough will shrink onto itself so do not roll out too thick.

20140824_133804 20140824_134027

Wet your hand with water and rub water onto the side that does not have any toppings such as the grated garlic and place this side down on the skillet or tawa. Cook for about 1 – 2 minutes (or until large bubbles start to form) and then flip over and cook for about 30 seconds – 1 minute until slightly scorched in places (if you’re unsure flip a corner to see).

20140824_134759 20140824_13491220140824_135121(0)Naan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make NaanNaan – Leavened Indian Flat Bread - How to Make Naan

Serve hot with Paneer Tikka Masala or Butter Chicken or any other thick saucy curry.  If you don’t have a large skillet or tawa, divide the dough into 6 or 8 balls and make smaller naan.  I like to make larger naan because it saves on cooking time and I’m just kind of lazy like that.  They’ll both taste delicious so either is fine.  This is a basic naan recipe that can be customized to your taste.  I like this basic version the best as I can add different toppings to create variety through a wide range of different flavours without a lot of additional work.  One of the benefits of making naan at home is that it allows you to control the fat content, which can cut calories and that’s something most of us can avoid if we can.  You can do this by using a healthier oil or oil substitute and brushing on margarine instead of butter or leaving it out altogether.  You can also use a lower fat milk or skim milk or low fat yogurt to cut more calories.  You can also add more nutrition by substituting whole wheat pastry flour for half of the all-purpose flour.  This is such a delicious dish that you may not go back to buying naan again.

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry

Serves 4

This Chettinad Shrimp Masala is so delicious, rich, and absolutely addictive.  Yes, this is addictive!  If you thought Butter Chicken was addictive, wait until you try this.  This recipe is inspired by the flavours of the Chettinad region in Tamil Nadu in South India, which is well known for its food throughout India.  This is one of the most flavourful Indian dishes and is the perfect masala for baby shrimp.  Cooking this with baby shrimp ensures that you get a few shrimp in each bite along with the lip-smackingly good masala.  The baby shrimp remain juicy on the inside while they are slightly browned on the outside.  Grinding or blending most of the ingredients ensures that the masala is smooth in texture as well as uniformly rich in flavor.  Once you taste this dish, you may not go back to cooking shrimp curry any other way again.  Let’s get started.

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp CurryChettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Recipe

Ingredients

For Marinade

  • 1lb of baby shrimp, cleaned and shells removed (frozen baby shrimp works well, make sure to thaw in cold water for 2 minutes prior to marinating)
  • ½ tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. salt

For Paste

  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1” piece ginger, chopped
  • 3 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1 sprig curry leaves, leaves separated from stem
  • ¼ cup coriander, tough stems discarded

For Masala

  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 – 2 tsp. ground dry red chilies
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. garam masala or biryani masala, divided
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 cup thick coconut milk, divided

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients under ‘Marinade’ and set aside. Grind or blend together all ingredients in the ‘Paste’ section in a food processor or blender, set aside.
  2. Add oil in a large, heavy bottom skillet set over medium-high heat; add mustard seeds and sauté until they start to splutter.
  3. Add onions and continue to sauté until onions are soft. Add the ground paste and sauté until no longer raw, 2 – 4 minutes.
  4. Add the ground dry red chilies, ground coriander, turmeric, 1 ½ tsp. garam masala and salt to taste and continue to sauté, 2 minutes. The onion will start to melt into the rest of the masala.
  5. Add shrimp and combine well with the masala. Sautee for 1 minute, add ¾ cup of the thick coconut milk, mix well to combine and continue to sauté for another minute until shrimp is cooked through.
  6. In order for the shrimp to sear nicely, reduce heat to medium and do not stir masala more than once every minute for about 6 – 8 minutes or until the masala has reduced to a thick consisency.
  7. Add rest of the garam masala and the thick coconut milk and stir until well combined and cook until warmed through. Turn off heat and let masala sit for about 5 minutes prior to serving.

Chettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp CurryChettinad Shrimp Masala – Chettinad Style Shrimp Curry

This masala should be nice and thick, but not dry.  Serve with cooked white rice, roti or naan with Coriander Chutney on the side.  The time you allow for the masala to reduce and the shrimp to sear is what makes this dish so yummy.  The baby shrimp have a nice texture and soak up a lot of the flavor as you do this.  My favourite way of eating this is mixed with plain white rice.  Or is it mopping up every last bit of the masala with garlic naan?  I can’t decide and when you try this dish, you may not be able to either.

Chicken Seekh Kabob or Kebab

Serves 4

Sheek kabobs are made with different types of meats such as lamb, beef and in this case chicken.  The flavour for this Pakistani dish comes from the fried onions, cheese, coriander and ground spices that are mixed with the ground chicken.  Once baked, it’s so juicy that it almost melts in your mouth!  This recipe is a great make-ahead option for company as the flavour of will intensify the longer the chicken is left to marinate.  Let’s get started.

Chicken Sheek Kabab

20140201_134911(0)

Chicken Seekh Kabob – Recipe

Ingredients

  • 500 grams chicken, ground
  • 1 onion, sliced and fried until golden brown
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1” piece ginger, chopped
  • 2 – 4 green chilies, chopped (adjust to taste)
  • ½ lime, juiced (extra for serving)
  • ½ tsp. ground dried red chilies
  • ½ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. garam masala
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • ½ cup cheese, grated (use any cheese you prefer)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. coriander, chopped

 Equipment

  • 8 skewers (soaked in water overnight if they’re wooden skewers)
  • Baking tray lined with aluminum foil

Instructions

  1. In a food processor, add fried onions, garlic, ginger, green chilies and lime juice and blend until smooth.
  2. Remove to a large bowl and add ground chicken and mix until well combined.  Add ground dried red chilies, ground coriander and garam masala and mix well.
  3. Add grated cheese, breadcrumbs and coriander and mix until well incorporated.  Cover and refrigerate for 1 -2 hours to allow the flavours to intermingle.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, brush oil over baking dish.  Take chicken mixture out and add oil and mix well.
  5. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, take one portion in one hand and place a skewer on top and mould chicken mixture around skewer in a narrow, cylindrical shape.
  6. Place on baking dish.  Repeat step 5 until all the chicken mixture is used up and you have 8 kabobs lined up on the baking dish.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, turning over halfway through the process.  Turn off oven and remove to plate.

20140201_134814 20140201_134837 20140201_134906

The mild spices and the fresh herbs make this an ideal appetizer served with spicy mayo dip for a Pakistani or Indian meal.  It can be served with cooked rice or flat breads and lime wedges and a simple salad for a complete meal.  For cocktail parties, cut into two inch pieces and serve on small skewers with lime wedges on the side.

Chettinad Chicken Curry – Flavourful Chicken Curry in the Chettinad Style

Serves 4

This is a very flavourful, rich, savoury and very fragrant chicken curry that’s quite different from any other chicken curry you’ve probably had before.  The dish originates in the Chettinad district of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, an area known for its delicious cuisine.  This is not a very spicy dish, but is instead very balanced in flavour and can be enjoyed by everyone!  While there may seem like a lot of ingredients, they’re all ingredients that can be found in a well-stocked kitchen.  The ground pepper add at the end is a signature of the Chettinad district so try to use good quality, roughly ground pepper when possible.  This dish is so good that you’ll be craving it for days after it’s done so let’s get started.

20140126_142236

20140126_142352

20140126_142937

 Chettinad Chicken Curry- Recipe

Ingredients

For paste:

  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½” piece of ginger, chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped

For tempering:

  • 1 Tbsp. ghee
  • ¼ tsp. mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp. cumin seeds
  • 2” stick cinnamon
  • 4 cardamom pods, slightly crushed
  • 3 to 4 cloves

For Sautéing:

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • Salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 strand curry leaves
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp. ground dried red chillies
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin

For cooking:

  • 500g chicken breast, chopped into small pieces
  • ¼ cup thick coconut cream
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. garam masala
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped (and more for garnish)

Instructions (Pictorial Below)

  1. Add garlic, ginger and green chilies into a food processor or blender and process until smooth.  Set aside.
  2. Heat ghee in a large, heavy bottomed non-stick pan over medium-high.  Add mustard seeds and cumin seeds and sauté until they start to crackle, 1 minute.
  3. Add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves and sauté until fragrant, 2 minutes.
  4. Add onion, garlic-ginger-green chili paste and salt and sauté until onions are slightly golden.
  5. Add ground turmeric and curry leaves and continue to sautee, 2 minute.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes and combine well.  Add ground dried red chilies, ground coriander and ground cumin and sauté until onions and tomatoes start to break down and become mushy, 5 minutes.
  7. Add chicken and mix well until the masala coats chicken.  Cover and cook until chicken is almost done, 5 – 7 minutes.
  8. Uncover and add thick coconut cream and mix well to incorporate.  Let simmer until chicken is completely cooked, 1 minute.
  9. Add ground pepper, garam masala and coriander leaves and give it a good stir until everything is mixed well together.  Taste test for salt and adjust according to taste.  Turn off stove and let stand a few minutes in order for all the flavours to mingle.

Pictorial

Heat ghee, add mustard and cumin and sauté, 1 minute.  Add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and sauté, 2 minutes.  Add onion, garlic-ginger-green chili paste and salt and sauté until onions are slightly golden.  Add ground turmeric and curry leaves and continue to sautee, 2 minute.

20140126_134014  20140126_134225  20140126_135002

Add chopped tomatoes, ground dried red chilies, ground coriander and ground cumin and sauté until onions and tomatoes start to break down and become mushy, 5 minutes.

20140126_135038  20140126_135308  20140126_135818

Add chicken and mix well, cover and cook until chicken is almost done, 5 – 7 minutes.  Uncover, add thick coconut cream, mix well to incorporate, let simmer until chicken is completely cooked, 1 minute.

20140126_135854  20140126_140017  20140126_140844

Add ground pepper, garam masala and coriander leaves and stir until everything is mixed well together.  Taste test for salt and adjust according to taste.  Turn off stove and let stand a few minutes in order for all the flavours to mingle.

20140126_141241(0)  20140126_141248  20140126_141047

20140126_142413

20140126_142933

20140126_142711

Serve garnished with coriander leaves and accompanied by cooked rice, roti or naan.  This is a great chicken curry to serve on special occasions or for company.  It has a slightly red colour imparted by the tomatoes and is so fragrant that it presents very well.