Friday, August 31, 2012

Vegetable fritters with tomato chutney


Its that time again when everyone is preparing for a new school year. Parents are happy that kids are going back to school and no more "I'm bored" chants. Kids are just happy to get back to their friends. New backpacks, new books, new school supplies, new lunch bags. 
Well here are some interesting and nutritious lunch ideas to start off the new school year. These recipes are quick to make and can be packed for lunch for children and adults alike or serve them as Sunday brunch. Just a little bit of preparation is required and you are good to go. 

Vegetable fritters
Ingredients: (makes 12)
2 Zucchini
2 potatoes peeled
1 large sweet potato peeled
1 large carrot
1 bundle green onion
2-3 tbsp flour
2 eggs lightly beaten
Salt to taste (optional)
oil for frying
  • Finely slice green onions and grate potato, sweet potato, carrots and zucchini. 
  • Squeeze out excess moisture and combine all in a large bowl. 
  • Add flour and eggs and mix well. Add salt if desired.
  • Heat a little oil in a non stick pan and drop 2-3 tbsp mixture, using a fork to form the mixture into a small circle. 
  • Fry 3 minutes per side over medium high heat and drain over a paper towel. 
  • Cool and serve with the tomato chutney as dipping sauce.

Tomato chutney
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 red onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
4 tomatoes chopped
salt and pepper to taste
few sprigs fresh basil and coriander
  • Heat oil in a pan and lightly fry onion and garlic for 1-2 minutes till pink.
  • Add tomatoes and seasoning and cook for 10-12 minutes on medium heat till tomatoes break down and cook a bit. 
  • Stir in fresh herbs. Can be made ahead of time.

More quick and easy lunch ideas in the coming weeks..

Friday, August 24, 2012

Hawaiin salad


Delicious, colorful and packed with tropical goodness this salad can be served both as a side dish and a lunch dish. As a lunch dish, serve as is or add chopped ham and shredded cheese for added protein. The blend of sweet, tart and savory is complemented by the addition of old fashioned grainy mustard and mint gives it the summer time tropical freshness. Aloha....

1 pineapple
1/2 head iceberg lettuce
1 large English cucumber
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 large carrots
1/2 red onion
large handful each of fresh mint and parsley finely chopped.
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 tbsp old fashioned mustard
1-2 tbsp honey (use Maple syrup or Agave nectar as a Vegan substitute)
2-3 tbsp lime juice
1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  1. Peel and core the pineapple and cut into bite size pieces.
  2. Half grape tomatoes, cut carrots into thin sticks, chop cucumber and onion into bite sized pieces, shred lettuce.
  3. Mix all ingredients for dressing in a separate bowl. Adjust according to your taste the sweetness (honey), tartness(lime juice) or saltiness of the dressing. 
  4. Mix all the fruits and vegetables in a large bowl and add dressing and herbs. Toss to incorporate the dressing evenly. Let the salad stand for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to develop. 
  5. Serve as is for a delectable summertime lunch or alongside any BBQ entrĂ©e as a side dish. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thai Chicken Jungle Curry (Kang Pa Kai)

Tonight's Menu
Jungle Chicken Curry
Steamed Rice
Wine Pairing: Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz 

This is a spicy and juicy red chicken curry which can be fiery hot depending on the red curry paste. This is an interesting dish since it has variety of vegetables along with the chicken. In the picture you see I have only added the eggplant and bamboo shoots, but feel free to add green beans and red peppers to get an explosion of flavours. Requires some advance preparation as in chopping veges and grinding the red curry sauce. Once you get started with the preliminaries, the dish comes together surprisingly fast. Serve alongside steamed rice or rice noodles.

Ingredients: (Serves 4)
4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1 tbsp garlic crushed
1/3 cup thinly sliced bamboo shoots
handful long green beans, cut into 1inch pieces
1/2 red pepper cut into thin strips
4 small Indian eggplants quartered
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tsp sugar
handful fresh basil
3 tbsp oil

3 tbsp Red curry paste (ingredients below)
12 dried red chillies
1tbsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
2 shallots
1 inch fresh ginger
2 stalks lemon grass
4 kaffir lime leaves
salt to taste
1/4 cup water

  • Make red curry paste  - Soak red chillies in boiling water for 10 minutes until soft. Drain and set aside. In a skillet dry roast cumin and coriander seeds till they start to pop 2-3 minutes. Grind these in a dry grinder. In a blender take this spice powder along with all the ingredients and process for 2-3 minutes till a smooth paste is formed. Store in an airtight glass jar in the fridge for up to a week.
  • Chop all the vegetables and slice chicken into even sized strips. 
  • Heat oil in a wok till it starts to smoke. Add garlic and red curry paste and stir for 30 seconds. Add chicken strips and stir fry on high for about 2 minutes.
  • Add warm water and bring to boil. Season with fish sauce or salt(remember that the red curry paste is already salty) and sugar and add all the veges except red peppers. Cook for 2-3 minutes till tender.
  • Add basil leaves and red pepper strips and cook for another minute. Serve garnished with basil or lime leaves.

Recipe adapted from:  'Simply Thai Cooking' by Wandee Young & Byron Ayanoglu
                                                           'Cooking School Thai'

Friday, August 3, 2012

Tandoori Paneer Tikka

Soft chunks of paneer marinated in hung yogurt based marinade with tandoori masala and grilled to perfection with onions and peppers. Often served as a starter, paneer tikka has the char broiled flavor of the tandoor (clay oven) and is a great vegetarian alternative for BBQ. Marinated cubes of paneer are threaded through the skewers along with red onions, pepper chunks and mushrooms and grilled till they sizzle. Serve them with mint chutney as a starter and with Plain naan as a meal.

Tandoori Paneer Tikka
Ingredients: serves 4
2 lbs Paneer (Indian cottage cheese)
1/2 red onion
2 peppers
1/4 cup hung yogurt
1 tbsp Besan (gram flour) or rice flour
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
1 tsp red chilli powder- I use deggi mirch for heat (optional)
salt to taste
1 tbsp lime juice
red chili powder
1 1/2 - 2 tbsp Tandoori masala (recipe)
  1. Cut paneer into 1" cubes about 6 per person. Cut big chunks of onion and green pepper (Can also include Red or yellow pepper if you like it colorful).
  2. Soak wooden skewers in water for an hour to prevent them from burning in the BBQ.
  3. Hang yogurt in a muslin filter for about 15 mins or until all the water drips out leaving a thick cream like yogurt.
  4. Mix all the other ingredients for the marinade into the yogurt to make a smooth paste. Marinate paneer cubes in this and leave  in the refrigerator for minimum of 2-8 hours.
  5. Preheat the grill to medium heat, Thread the marinated paneer and vegetables onto the skewers, alternating paneer, onion and pepper. Spray them with some oil.
  6. Grill for about 15-20 minutes turning to brown evenly.
  7. Serve with lettuce, slices of onion, lime and mint chutney.