Warm Mushroom and Water Chestnut Salad

Why is a mushroom a great friend to have? Because he’s a fungi. (No? Okay).

Mushroom Salad

If you, like me, are on a mission to stay away from junk food snacking, then warm salads are your best friends. They provide you that cosy, comfy, warm feeling and keep you full for longer. Bonus points for the health part too. The best part is that they aren’t that difficult to make, you can prepare large portions and store them in the refrigerator for reheating whenever your body says “nom-nom time”.

So the other day I came across a stall selling fresh young water chestnut that are my mum’s favourite. It made her happily squeal louder than she should have. I didn’t know what the fuss was about until I promised to try making her a water chestnut salad. I hadn’t cooked with water chestnut before but it looked rather innocent and friendly (insert puppy face fused with water chestnut). It turned out to be surprisingly yum because of its interesting, crunchy and lush texture. More water chestnuts, please!

Mushroom Salad 3

This is an Asian Stir-Fry style salad, so I suggest you keep your ingredients ready before you start cooking. Here’s what you will need:

Ingredients

  • Button Mushrooms – 2 cups (quartered)
  • Water Chestnut – 1 cup (chunks)
  • Boiled Broccoli – 1 cup
  • Ginger paste – 1 tbsp.
  • Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp.
  • Vegetable Oil – 3 tbsp.
  • Onions – ½ cup (thinly sliced)
  • Black Bean Sauce – 3 tbsps.
  • Brown Sugar – 1 tbsp.
  • Five Spice Powder – 1 tsp.
  • Chinese Rice Wine Vinegar – 1 tbsp.
  • Green Chillies – finely chopped (optional)
  • Spring onion greens and coriander to garnish
  • Seasoning

Method

Now that you have everything, it’s time to rock on with your wok on (couldn’t resist) high heat.

Add the oil and let it heat up. Once the oil is smoking, add the green chillies, onions and ginger-garlic paste. Sauté till the onions are slightly fried. Then, add all the sauces and condiments (black bean sauce, rice wine vinegar, sugar and five spice powder) because you want them to latch on to your vegetables whilst they cook. First add the water chestnut and sauté it till the edges brown. Then add the mushrooms and finally the broccoli. Your wok must be smoking by now (if it isn’t then turn up the heat). This will give a beautiful smoky flavour to the dish. Lastly, season it with salt and pepper according to your liking. Garnish with greens and tuck in.

Happy healthy snacking (pat on your back)!

Mushroom salad 2

Grilled Aubergine Mediterranean Sandwich



Med Sandwich 1

Raise your hand if you get midnight hunger pangs. (Those with your hands down, I’m seriously judging you right now). The other day, whilst watching a tedious movie that went on for 3 and a half hours, I caught myself focussing on the main character’s lunch plate instead of his dialogues. (Happens, right?)

It was past midnight and the day’s dinner was wiped off a little earlier that night. I found myself staring emptily inside the refrigerator and just when I was about to abandon mission ‘don’t attack junk food’, I spotted it. Fat, purple and quite hapless looking. It was time to have a midnight date with the poor aubergine.

Agreed, the idea needed a tad bit extra effort for midnight hunger pangs but poor Aubergine! Thankfully I had some cottage cheese, candied walnuts and leftover salad from lunch in the refrigerator. A Mediterranean sandwich idea felt like a divine intervention.

I suggest you pick poor Auby over that tempting bag of cheese puffs next time and give this sandwich a chance. Fine, I know cheese puffs win anyway but try it when you’re feeling the love towards your digestive system.

Med sandwich 3 

Ingredient list: (Can be made vegan without the cottage cheese)

  • Aubergine
  • Bell Peppers
  • Red Onions
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Candied Walnuts (optional)
  • Lettuce: Ribbons
  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Dried Herbs : Any
  • Bread : Slices (I used honey-oat) 

For the salad:

I stir fried some red bell peppers and red onions in olive oil with salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and garlic powder. I served it with ribbons of lettuce, crumbled cottage cheese and candied walnuts.

For the grilled aubergine:

Heat the grilling pan. Cut 1 inch thick slices of aubergine and rub them with olive oil, pepper, garlic powder, dried parsley and oregano flakes. Add a tbsp. of oil in the pan and once hot place the aubergine slices on it. Grill on both sides on high heat till the slices are a little charred. Remove from the pan and sprinkle salt. On the same pan, grill some buttered slices of bread.

To assemble:

Place lettuce ribbons on the bread slices, gently lay a slice of warm grilled aubergine and over this spread the bell pepper and onion salad with crumbled cottage cheese. Sprinkle candied walnuts on top and seal the Mediterranean goodness with another slice of grilled bread.

From poor Auby to stunning Auby. It’s a date!

Med sandwich 2 

Cheese-stuffed Chicken Oregano Burger

I don’t know about you but these amazingly gloomy, dreary days have had a serious impact on my fat cravings. I find myself longing for cheesy, buttery, deep-fried, decadence. Oh, dear appetite on steroids!

So using the weather excuse smartly, it has become imperative to indulge oneself in these beautiful fat fantasies. Blame the monsoons if anyone (the dietician or other healthy eaters) tells you otherwise. Fantastic strategy, no?

If you really need more validation, feast your eyes on these stomach-growls-inducing pictures. Then proceed to make the burger of joy.

Also, it’s my blog’s 1st birthday! Yay!

Behold the burger of joy Behold the burger of joy

Ingredients (For 2 burgers)

• Chicken mince – 200 gms (makes 4 patties)
• Chopped onions – ½ a cup
• Ginger and Garlic paste – 2 tbsps.
• Tabasco – 1 tsp.
• Red chilli powder – 1 tsp.
• Mustard powder – 1 tsp.
• Worcestershire sauce – 2 tsp.
• Finely chopped coriander – ½ a cup
• Dried Oregano – 2 tbsps
• Finely chopped basil – 2 tbsps.
• Flour – To bind
• Chopped Bacon – ½ cup
• Ham slices – 4
• Grated Cheddar – 1 cup
• Seasoning – As required

To serve:
• Burger buns – 2
• Egg – 1 Sunny side up
• Caramelised onions
• Chargrilled Tomatoes
• Creamy coleslaw

Method:

Mix all the ingredients except the cheese and ham slices. Bind the meat together with some flour and shape into balls. Flatten these into thin discs. To make the patty, add 2 tbsps. of grated cheese between two discs and seal the edges. 
On a high flame, heat 3 tbsps. of oil in a grilling pan. Once it starts to smoke, add the patties and cook on both sides. The patties must have a charred exterior and a melt-y, gooey centre. Add 2 cubes of butter in the pan and keep basting the patties to keep them moist.

 

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Assembling:

Lightly toast the burger bun and layer the chargrilled tomatoes on it. Place the patty and a sunny-side up egg. Top it with a generous helping of caramelised onions and lather mayo on the other half of the bun. Serve with fries and coleslaw.

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Cut the burger in half, watch the oozing cheese marry the runny yolk of the egg and the mayo, yell “Hallelujah” and dig in!

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Cheddar-Chive Chicken (Baked)

What is better than great food?

Great food with an alliteration.

 

 

What’s better than great food that’s alliterated?

Great food that’s alliterated and healthy.

 

 

What’s better than great food that’s alliterated AND healthy?

Great food that’s alliterated, healthy and takes under 3 minutes to prep.

 

Ok, you get the point.

 

Also, warm baked chicken is to gloomy days, what rain is to a happy umbrella. I’m not entirely sure whether that’s the right analogy but who cares when you’ve got warm baked chicken waiting for your love.

 

Cheddar Chive Chicken

 

INGREDIENTS:

Boneless chicken – 200 gms.

Bread crumbs – 1 cup

Flour – 3 tbsp.

Cheddar – 3-4 tbsp. (grated)

Garlic chives – 2 tbsp. (finely chopped)

Olive oil – 2 tsp.

Garlic powder – 2 tsp.

Seasoning

 

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180˚C. Rub oil and seasoning over chicken. Combine the rest of the ingredients. Dunk chicken in them till evenly coated and pop it in the oven. Wait for the seemingly endless 30 minutes of your life. Once the crust is golden-brown and crunchy, test the chicken with a skewer. Juices should run clear on piercing. Bring out the cooked chicken and give it lots of love!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garlic Brown Rice with Beetroot and Flax Seeds

So I’ve been on a 2 month-long binge-eating spree. Let’s call it a holy food trail. Unfortunately, this holy food trail turned out to be quite unfriendly towards my digestive system and thus there was an urgent need for a detox and healthy food (making an ‘ugh’ face here but you can’t see).

Detox – That terrifying and horrible sounding word that I was afraid to even Google search. (I could already taste some bitter gourd in my mouth). However, it turns out, I was a total detox-illiterate, so to speak. Detox didn’t always have to be scary, bland food that doesn’t make sense to your taste buds. After some research and making a bullet list of healthy ingredients I made up my mind to start with the one thing I love the most – rice!

Also, I had no idea that toasted flax seeds tasted SO great.

It’s been a day and a half into ‘Detox and Health Food Week’ and to be honest, I feel ‘not-so-bad’. Of course I miss the greasy fries and the Mayo jar but Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Yoghurt are a healthy compensation.

Here’s hoping the ‘Deep Fry Devil’ doesn’t get the better of me this time. Good luck wishes to self.

Now onto some Green Tea while I write this.

Beetroot Brown Rice (Please excuse the clumsily clicked picture, this was all I could manage from my phone camera)

INGREDIENTS:

  • Brown Rice : 1 cup
  • Water: 2 and 1/4th cups
  • Oil : 1 tsp.
  • Garlic : 1 tsp (minced)
  • Beetroot : 1/2 (grated)
  • Carrots: 2 small (grated)
  • Spring Onion Greens
  • Coriander
  • Seasoning
  • Sesame Oil : 2 tsp.
  • Soy Sauce
  • Stock cube : 1
  • Flax Seeds : 2 tbsp

METHOD:

For the rice: In a pressure cooker, sauté washed rice in the vegetable oil and stir with in the stock cube. Add the water, put on the lid and allow the rice to cook for 2 whistles. Then the heat down to the lowest setting and allow it to cook for another 10 minutes in the residual heat.

For the stir fry: In a pan sauté minced garlic, beetroot and carrots. Add a dash of soy sauce,  and then the rice. Stir fry till everything comes together and the rice takes on a magnificent pink hue. Garnish with spring onion greens, coriander and flax seeds.. Once done, take it off the heat and drizzle sesame oil for flavour.

You could also add some scrambled egg for a healthy egg fried rice version.

I thought health food was boring but on having this rice, I stand corrected!

Strawberry and Yoghurt Parfait

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Use this recipe to whack someone who says, “Healthy food never tastes good” or “Delicious food can never be healthy”.

 

The high achieved out of creating something yum out of the seasonal favourite in under 5 minutes is supreme. What’s more, your calorie meter will be dancing with joy even after you scoff down 4-5 helpings of this at one go.

 

I dislike eating fruits (sounds ridiculous but it’s true) but still found myself surreptitiously adding more strawberry to my portion.

So if you’re the “Ew! Fruits!” type, then be prepared to get converted.

 

Also, the parfait looks like Christmas in a cup! Now who in their right mind would not like to have that?!

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INGREDIENTS: (for 4 servings)

  • Yoghurt (low-fat) : 2 cups
  • Fresh strawberries (chopped): 2 cup
  • Brown sugar:  2 tablespoons
  • Lemon juice: 1 tsp.
  • Digestive/ Diet cookies (crumbled): 2 cups
  • Low fat butter: 2 tbsps.
  • Toasted almond flakes: For garnishing

 

METHOD:

To create strawberry compote, put strawberries in a hot pan, sprinkle the sugar and drizzle lemon juice. Heat till the strawberries will start releasing juices and the mixture is sticky and bubbly.

 

Bash the cookies to crumbles and pour melted butter over it. Mix thoroughly.

 

To assemble:

Take a jar or a nice-looking glass container and start layering the elements. There is no rule as to what goes first so you can decide the order and number of the layers. I was out of toasted almond flakes but I usually sprinkle some as garnish and for a crunch.

 

Happy Winter!

 

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Christmas is a-coming! And when the festive fever is in full swing, a batch of chocolate chip cookies never hurt anyone… unless you decided to hurl them at somebody (horrible joke, I know).

Also, cookies help you to get more friends. Just bake them, pack them, tie a ribbon on the box, dress up like an elf whilst handing them out and voila! You suddenly have new friends. Cancel the ‘dress-up-like-an-elf’ part, maybe.

A batch of gooey-centred, chocolate chip ones does the trick for me, Santa and 99.9% of the world population, I’m guessing.

There is a cookie monster inside each one of us, waiting to be unleashed.

Bake these cookies to test the aforementioned theory.

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For making new friends and a batch of rewardingly delicious Christmas Cookies, you will need:

  • Flour  – 2 ½ cups
  • Butter –  ½ cup
  • Sugar – 1 cup (powdered)
  • Demerara Sugar – 1 cup (powdered)
  • Egg – 1 (at room temperature) OR Soda Bicarb – 1 tbsp.
  • Melted Dark Chocolate – 125 gms.
  • Vanilla essence – 1 tsp
  • Baking powder – 1 tbsp.
  • Sea Salt – 1 tsp
  • Cocoa – 2 tbsps.
  • Dark Chocolate chips – 350 gms (preferably Belgian dark chocolate for richness)

METHOD:

  • Sift flour, sugar, Demerara sugar, baking powder, sea salt and cocoa together.
  • Beat butter with sugar till creamy. Then add the egg, melted chocolate, vanilla essence and mix.
  • Fold in the dry ingredients.
  • Add milk if the mixture is too dry.
  • Shape into tiny rounds and place them on a baking sheet about an inch away from each other.
  • Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees C for about 15 mins.
  • Cool them on a rack, dunk them in cold milk and munch away. Don’t forget to share them!

Smoked Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

There’s nothing that screams ‘comfort’ louder than unwinding with a bowl of hot soup, a cosy blanket and a good book. Also, winter is a-coming (silent fist pump)!

So just imagine a chilly evening (pretend, if you’re in Bombay), a giant blob of butter gently melting away on steaming hot bread and that bowl of soup. The classic way of making soup generally involves toiling away in the kitchen for a good hour or two, over a simmering pot, slowly cooking the soup, then blending, then garnishing… And oops… you missed that awesome dusk-fall.

Instead, this recipe gives you a creamy, robust soup in less than 20 minutes. Yes, yes, I feel your love already 🙂

Smoked Red Bell Pepper and Tomato Soup

 

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • Tomatoes: 3-4 (quartered)
  • Red bell pepper: 1 (cut into chunks)
  • Onion: 1 (cut into chunks)
  • Garlic: 4-5 cloves
  • Basil: finely chopped
  • Dried red chilli: 1 (optional)
  • Sugar: 2 tsps.
  • Mustard powder: 1 tsp.
  • Seasoning
  • Fresh cream: 3 tbsps.

 

METHOD:

Heat oil in a pan until it is smoking hot. Flash-fry all the veggies until they are charred. Blitz the cooled mixture with some water to make a paste.

In a tablespoon of oil, reheat the paste and add the seasoning and condiments. Keep tasting while you add the condiments to make sure you get a balance of the flavours. Adjust according to what you like; add more sugar to make it sweeter or red chilli powder if you want it hotter. Once the mixture is completely cooked (the oil will separate and form a layer), adjust the consistency. This, again, is according to how you like it. Add fresh cream to make it creamy or water to make it lighter. If you want  a fat-free version, you could even substitute the cream with milk.

 

I personally love creamy soups so I add about half a cup of cream and then garnish it with some sage fried in butter. Talk about indulgence!

 

Once the soup reaches the consistency that you prefer, turn down the heat and simmer it for a couple of minutes just so that all the flavours come together. Pick up your favourite book, grab that slice of fresh baguette, dip and eat. How I love winters!

 

 

 

Chickpea Hummus

After months of procrastination, I finally had to give in to the ceaseless poking from the ‘Bro Gang’ about having a dinner party.

When in doubt, pick ‘Lebanese’. The spices, the flavours, the kebabs, the tangy salads, the fragrant rice… You cannot go wrong with a Lebanese theme.

So the theme was set, the invites were sent and too much excitement was shared.

The star of the menu was, undoubtedly – the hummus.

I haven’t come across anyone who does not like hummus. It can be served as a starter, a dip, or a meal in itself with some salad and pita bread. It can be made with innovative combinations and flavours, like roasted pumpkin hummus with cumin or roasted aubergine hummus with toasted sesame seeds (switch on the experiment bulb). Takes one mixer container, 4 ingredients and less than 5 minutes to prepare. It is a perfect snack for those creamy cravings and most of all; it is super-duper healthy and nutritious! What’s not to love, then?

Chickpea Hummus

INGREDIENTS

  • Soaked and boiled chickpeas – 4 cups
  • Garlic cloves – 4
  • Salt – 1 tsp
  • Olive Oil – 3/4th cup
  • Tahini paste – 2 tbsp (optional)
  • Warm water – as per desired consistency

METHOD

Blend all the ingredients together to make a paste and keep adding warm water till it reaches desired consistency. I like to keep it thick and hearty so that it can even be used as a spread. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika and serve with pita bread at room temperature.

And that is literally it!

The dinner party was a lot of fun! We spent the evening gorging on food, cracking horribly inappropriate jokes, laughing till our stomachs hurt, mocking T’s ridiculous poses, cutting the pending chocolate cake (finally).

Got the happy and smiling peeps captured in a picture-perfect moment.

Like they say, Bros before…. Umm… Crows!  🙂

The Bro Gang

The Bro Gang

 

Chicken in Mandarin Orange Sauce

I found a bright orange orange in the fridge today.

It lay there, neglected, in all its orange glory so I picked it up and decided to cook with it. The first idea was obvious – crêpes. However, the more exciting idea was to combine it with some kind of protein. Thus I ended up making Chicken in Mandarin Sauce instead (glad I picked option 2).

Terribly simple and deceptively fancy. Not to forget, light and healthy as well.

Mandarin oranges are sweeter than the normal ones and gave the sauce a delicious acidity and a hint of sweetness.

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INGREDIENTS:

  •  Garlic: 6-7 cloves finely chopped
  • Ginger: 1 inch piece julienned
  • Green bell pepper: 1 julienned
  • Chicken: Boiled and cut into cubes
  • Chicken stock: 1 cup
  • Mandarin Orange juice: 1 cup
  • Onion: ½ julienned
  • Cornflour: 2 tbsps.
  • Chilli flakes: 1tsp
  • Oil: 1tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper: To taste

 

METHOD

However complicated it may look, this chicken dish is super simple to make. 20 minutes tops and you shall be rewarded with an Asian blessing. Before starting with the sauce, put a chicken breast to boil in some salted water and let it cook away. For the sauce, heat a tablespoon of oil in a pan. Once it is hot enough, add the chopped garlic and ginger and sauté till fragrant. You know the onion is ready to go in when your kitchen smells like an Asian street food stall because of the aromatic ginger and garlic. When the onion turns slightly translucent, add the chilli flakes, vinegar, salt and pepper. Take a peek at the chicken and if it is cooked (poke a sharp knife into the thickest part. It should go in without any resistance) cut it into cubes. Use the water as stock to make the sauce, as it will have some flavour of the chicken. Add the mandarin orange juice along with the stock and let it simmer for about 5 minutes on low heat. Mix in some cornflour paste once the liquid has reduced a little. I leave the bell peppers for the end so that they retain their colour and also give a bit of a crunch. The final step: mix in the cornflour paste to thicken the sauce. Once it thickens, add the chicken pieces, cover with a lid and allow the chicken to absorb all the flavours. Garnish with heaps of spring onion and serve on a bed of fried rice or steamed rice. Ni hao, comfort food!