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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Pad Thai with Chicken and Shrimp

Serves 4

Pad Thai is one of the most popular restaurant dishes.  The tangy, sweet, slightly spicy taste is very distinct and so delicious that it’s not a surprise that this is a favourite for many people.  This Pad Thai recipe has a very subtle and delicate flavor that’s enhanced by the sauce mixture.  It’s a simple recipe that’s easy to prepare and the chicken, shrimp and carrots make this a very filling one-dish meal!  Let’s get started.

Pad Thai

Pad Thai – Recipe

Ingredients

For Stir-Frying:

  • Half a package Thai flat rice noodles, 225 grams
  • 1 chicken breast, sliced thin with the grain
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 10 – 20 shrimp, cleaned and shells removed
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced thin and white parts separated from the green parts
  • 2 carrots, cut into match sticks
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. chili sesame oil (substitute with canola oil)

For Sauce:

  • 3 Tbsp. tamarind paste dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water, strained and seeds discarded
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground dried red chilies
  • 4 Tbsp. sugar

For Garnish:

  • 1 lime, quartered
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Prepare noodles as per instructions on the package. Drain, add a little bit of oil to separate the strands and set aside covered.
  2. Add soy sauce to chicken, combine well and set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine all sauce ingredients, set aside.
  4. Add oil in a large, heavy bottom non-stick pan or wok and heat over medium high.  Add garlic, ginger and white parts of the green onions and stir fry until fragrant, 1 minute.
  5. Add carrots and toss until combined.
  6. Add chicken and continue stir frying until opaque, 2 minutes.
  7. Add in shrimp and stir fry until both chicken and shrimp are cooked through.
  8. Make a well in the centre, crack eggs in and once almost set scramble and continue stir frying.
  9. Add the noodles and using tongs or two spatulas toss until well combined.
  10. Add sauce and keep tossing until sugar has dissolved and noodles are well coated in the sauce.
  11. Taste test for seasoning and add more tamarind, sugar or ground dried red chilies as needed.  Turn off heat and divide between four bowls.

Pad Thai 3

Pad Thai 2

Serve with the green parts of green onions on top and with lime wedges and roasted, chopped peanuts on the side.  A complete and yummy meal.

Information:

1. You can also add other vegetables such as broccoli florets, sliced green peppers with or instead of the carrots as well.

2. Chicken and shrimp can be replaced with tofu.  Sautee cubed tofu in a little bit of oil until slightly golden and add it in prior to the noodles.

3. For a saucier Pad Thai, double the sauce.

4. If the noodles are too dry add a little bit of oil as you stir fry.