Sunday, June 26, 2016

Husainy Malai chicken kebabs


Soft, tender, juicy and grilled to perfection, these cheesy chicken tikka kebabs just melt in your mouth when you eat them. The first marinade of salt and lemon juice breaks down their fibre and makes them soft and succulent. The second marinade in a blend of cream cheese, hung yoghurt and light spices tones them down adding more moisture and flavour. Also using the right technique of grilling kicks them up a notch. They are at their best when enjoyed as soon as they are done, hot from the grill as their juices run out. Heating them over and over again affects their taste and texture, so it should be avoided. I have made them many times and I realized that marinating them for 24 hours really makes a lot of difference as it enhances the flavour and taste very much. 

Here's the recipe:




Ingredients:
Chicken breasts - 2 (halves from 1 whole chicken) 
Green, red, orange and yellow bell peppers - 1 each
Onion - 1
Lemon - 1
Seven spices - 1 tsp (optional)
Vegetable/olive oil - 2 tbs plus more for basting
Heavy duty tin foil - as much as you need.

1st marinade
Lemon juice - 1/2 cup
Salt to taste

2nd Marinade:
Hung yoghurt - 1/2 cup
Cream cheese - 1/4 cup
Green Cardamoms - 12
Fennel powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder - 1/4 tsp
Ginger garlic paste- 2 tsp
Green chillies - 2 - 4
Cilantro - 1/4 cup





Method:
1. Clean, wash and cut the chicken into cubes. Drain and towel dry them.

2. Rub the chicken cubes with salt and lemon juice, cover with plastic wrap and allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Remove from marinade, and leave to drain for sometime in a colander. 

3. Prepare the second marinade by whisking together the cream cheese, hung yoghurt, ginger garlic paste, ground green chilli cilantro paste (pound it using a mortar and pestle with just a little salt), freshly ground cardamom, cumin and fennel powder (grind together the green cardamoms with cumin and  fennel seeds in a dry grinder).

4. Add the drained chicken cubes to this marinade, mix well, then spoon in the oil and mix together again. Leave this to marinate for 15- 20 hours. 

5. Brush the metal skewers with oil and set them aside. 

6. Cut the bell peppers and onions into dices. Sprinkle them with with salt, pepper and a little of the cream cheese marinade

7. Start skewering the chicken cubes alternating with bell peppers and onions. Brush them with oil and set aside.

8. Place the skewers on a foil lined cookie sheet and broil on high for 5-6 mins on each side or until just rightly done which is when they turn opaque and slightly golden. Baste them with oil before turning them over. They would become hard if you overcook them, so do not, let them be juicy and tender to melt in your mouth. 

9. Slowly slide them down from the skewers on to a fresh heavy duty tin foil and quickly wrap them up to keep them hot. Use a silicon glove or clean moist paper towels when you do this otherwise you'll end up scorching your hands. Remove them from the pointed end one by one, otherwise they will break.

10. Finally as a finishing touch, sprinkle some lemon juice and garam madala powder optional) and serve them hot with the bell peppers, onions and lemon wedges. Enjoy them with rice, naan, yoghurt mint chutney etc. I made plain rice pulao, cranberry sauce and salad for a change. These juicy and delicious tikka kebabs just melt in the mouth. So yummy, enjoy!




Tips:

1. You could grill the chicken tikka kebabs and the vegetables separately too on different skewers if you want. But grilling them together keeps the chicken pieces moist.

2. Cherry tomatoes and pineapple can be used with the kebabs for grilling.

3. Wrapping them up in tin foil as soon as they are done retains their moisture as well as keeps them hot. You could prepare them early and keep them wrapped in foil. But before serving them, place them in a hot oven for 5 - 10 mins depending on the quantity.  (The oven should have been preheated at 400 degrees and then switched off ). Do not forget and leave them in the oven for a long time as they will dry out. It is better to set a timer on.

4. Using metal skewers is convenient. But if you want to use wooden skewers, soak them in water for a couple of hrs. I put them in a 2 litre soft drinks bottle filled with water, then closed the cap. This way it is easier to soak them rather than laying them down in a dish filled with water which takes up counter space.

Cranberry Sauce

The store bought cranberry sauce was awful, it was like a jello paste and I didn't like it at all. I looked up recipes and found the Pioneer Woman's cranberry sauce recipe very interesting.  It was so simple and when I tried it out, it was amazing. I made a slight change to the recipe by replacing the tartness of the cranberry juice with the sweetness of orange juice. I also added a blob of butter to give it a glaze and buttery flavour. We all licked the bowl clean, it was tongue tingling, tangy, sweet and so yummy. Here's the link to Ree Drummond's recipe: http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/homemade-cranberry-sauce/

Here's my recipe: 

Fresh Cranberries - 1 pack
Orange juice - 1 cup
Lemon juice - 1 tbs
Maple syrup - 1 cup
Orange zest - 1 tbs
Butter - 1 tbs

Method:

1. Rinse the fresh cranberries in cool water after picking the bad ones out, drain and put them in a pot. 

2. Add the orange juice, lemon juice and maple syrup and bring to boil. Skim off the froth that floats on top. 

3. The berries start popping out when the maximum heat is reached. Stir on and off and let the sauce thicken. 

4. Add the blob of butter and orange zest, simmer a bit to get the right jelly like consistency and remove. 

5. Allow it to cool before transferring to a serving bowl or jar. 

6. Enjoy with turkey or chicken. 





Saturday, June 4, 2016

Barbecued Tandoori Chicken Biryani

I wanted to give a different flavour to the usual traditional chicken biryani so gave this twist by using the barbecued chicken pieces in the biryani masala and it turned out just delicious. All the guests I had invited loved it too. 



Ingredients:
Chicken - 2 whole 1.5 kg / each cut into 12 pieces at the joints.
Onions - 5 - 6 medium size
Yoghurt - 1 cup
Fresh Mint - 1 cup
Fresh Cilantro - 2 cups
Fresh green chillies - 12
Ginger garlic paste - 1/2cup
Ripe tomatoes - 5 (1lb)
Cloves - 10
Green Cardamoms- 10
Cinnamon stick - 1 x 3"
Turmeric - 1 tsp
Chicken stock - 4 cups
Long Grain basumathi Rice - 5 1/2 cups
Saffron - a pinch
Salt to taste
Orange food colouring - a pinch (optional)
Vegetable oil - 1 cup

Tandoori Marinade
Hung yoghurt- 1/2 cup
Kashmiri red chilly powder - 1 tsp
Desi/Kissan Tandoori Masala - 2 tbs
Ginger garlic paste - 2 tbs
Vegetable oil - 2 tbs

Method:
1. Clean, wash, drain and dry the chicken with paper towels. Make slits all over the chicken pieces. Rub salt and lemon juice, leave for 10 minutes then massage the chicken with the tandoori marinade. Let it rest for at least 4 hours.

2. Preheat an outdoor gas or charcoal barbecue. Arrange the marinated chicken pieces on the preheated grill to roast them. Turn once mid way and quickly roast till half done as they will cook in the sauce later. Keep aside.

3. Heat the vegetable oil in a big pot. Add whole garam masala spices immediately followed by sliced onions. Fry them till they are golden brown. Stir in the ginger garlic paste and turmeric then add quartered tomatoes, yoghurt, whole green chillies followed by mint and cilantro.

4. Cook for sometime till the tomatoes soften a bit, then pour in the chicken stock and cook till everything blends well to a sauce consistency.  (The chicken stock should be made by slow cooking the chicken with the bones, water, salt and a little ginger garlic paste. Nothing else should be added to this stock).

5. Add the roasted chicken to the prepared sauce then toss in a few green cardamoms for extra flavour and leave it to simmer till the chicken absorbs the sauce a bit. 

6. Meanwhile boil water in a large pot.  Add 2 tbs of salt and basumathi rice previously washed and soaked in water for 1/2 an hour.

8. Let the water boil a second time after adding rice. Leave for 2 more minutes then check the rice to see if it is done by pressing a grain of rice between your finger and thumb.  It should be slightly soft on the outside but brittle and gritty inside which means it is 60% cooked. Do not overcook it. Turn off the stove and immediately drain the rice.

9. Take 1/4 tsp of saffron, crush it with the mortar and pestle, add it to warm milk, then add a blob of melted butter to it. 

10. Add 1/2 a cup of the steamed basumathi rice to the saffron mixture. Mix well and keep aside. If you want to give a colourful look add yellow food colouring to another 1/4 cup of the steamed rice to sprinkle on the top layer (optional). Keep aside.

11. Now remove the chicken pieces from the sauce. Transfer half the sauce to the roaster.

12. Add a layer of rice over the sauce followed by a few chicken pieces , a little chopped cilantro and a few whole mint leaves.

13. Repeat another layer in the same manner using up all the rice and sauce.

14. Finally top it with the saffron rice layer. Sprinkle yellow coloured rice on top followed by cilantro and mint.

15. Steam in a preheated oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 - 15 minutes. 

16. Remove from oven when done. Mix the biryani gently before serving. Enjoy with yoghurt chutney.

Alternatively if you cannot barbecue the chicken, you may grill or bake it in the oven for 30 minutes then turn the heat off and smoke the chicken while in the oven. To do this place a burning charcoal with the help of tongs in a tinfoil bowl and add a blob of ghee to it. When it starts to smoke immediately place it in the roaster in between the chicken pieces and close the lid. Leave it for sometime to smoke. This gives the chicken the smoky barbecue flavour.  Then follow the rest of the recipe from step 5.