Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Chicken Salad

 Chicken salad is one of my favourite salad's, it  can be made in many ways with different ingredients, though main ingredient is chicken , but one can add nuts like walnuts, roasted pecans, slivered almonds and fresh herbs to bring out the flavours of this dish. It is  served cold and leftovers can be used  for preparing chicken sandwiches.

2   medium sized boneless ,skinless chicken breast
1/4 tspn  finely chopped tarragon leaves
1/4 cup finely diced green onions and chop the stem of the onions too
1/2 cup finely diced celery stalks
1 boiled egg cubed
1 bowl freshly chopped lettuce leaves 
1 bag mixed greens salad leaves
1 cup seedless red and green grapes cut into halves.
1/2 cup mayonnaise
 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tbspn honey
2 tspn salt
1 tspn black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Chicken Salad 

1. Brush each chicken breast with olive oil, season them ,both sides salt and black pepper,rubbing it all over the chicken breast nicely. Place onto a baking tray and bake for approximately 15 to 20 minutes at 375 degrees, till the juices from the chicken breast appear clear and chicken is done., then cut chicken into 1/2 inch cubes and place into a salad bowl.
2. Next for the dressing take  mayonnaise in a separate  bowl , add in 1 tspn salt, add butter milk ,1/2 tspn pepper, honey to lessen the acidity from buttermilk and tarragon leaves. Slowly mix in olive oil and Whisk together and dressing is ready.
3. To assemble this salad , to the chicken  add in green onions, salad leaves and diced boiled egg , next, pour in  prepared dressing. lightly mix in the grapes . Cover and refrigerate for an hour , enjoy this salad any way you like it, over lettuce leaves, or in a sandwich :))

Tomato Basil Creamy Soup

When we think of soups only one thing comes to mind and that is comfort food. Preparing soup, at home helps us control the amount of salt, needed.
Weather here is cloudy and perfect for a warm cup of home made tomato soup, cooked  with basil ,garlic and seasoning.  Basil ,also known as sweet basil, is a common herb that has very aromatic leaves ,belongs to the mint family and is great addition to  Italian Mediterranean dishes. Whenever possible, I prefer cooking with  fresh herbs.
I also like to prepare home made stock, veg/chicken, and store it for later use, in preparing gravies or other soups. 

2 pounds plum tomatoes chopped in cubes
1 small red onion chopped finely
3 to 4 Basil leaves chopped finely
1 tspn freshly minced garlic
salt to taste
2 tspn black pepper
1 tspn sugar 
1 cup or 250 ml chicken or veg stock 
1/2 cup Half n half 
 For croutons, take 3 to 4 slices of bread cut in cubes, lay on baking tray, drizzle with  1 tspn olive oil , salt, black pepper and  bake  for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees , till they turn golden brown croutons. Keep aside.
2 tspn Vegetable Oil/Olive oil

Ripe Tomatoes 

Baked in Oven 

Sauté` onions, garlic

Add in tomatoes and basil leaves 

Tomato Basil Soup

1. Heat 2 tspn vegetable/olive oil in a medium pot ,add in onions and freshly minced garlic, sauté for 4 to 5 minutes till onions get translucent.
2. Chop tomatoes into cubes, and bake them in oven at 350 degrees, for about 20 minutes and then add to the soup, to get a smoky taste in the soup.
3. Add in basil and baked tomatoes,and the seasoning. Next add in stock and cover to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes.
3.Check for salt, if less add 1/2 tspn more,add in 1 tspn sugar and 1/2 cup cream. Take off the burner and allow mixture to come to room temperature.Using a hand blender mix the soup roughly for 2 to 3 minutes , not making it too smooth.

This tomato soup is served hot and its texture is thick and hearty. Pour hot soup into a soup bowl and garnish with prepared croutons.

Vegetable Soup stock
To prepare Vegetarian soup stock ( Stores well in freezer for later use) Vegetable soup stock Recipe
2 medium carrot,potato, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 red onion cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tomatoes cubed 1 inch
2 tspn salt
1/4  tspn black peppercorns
1 stalk celery chopped
2 to 3 cloves garlic minced
1 inch fresh ginger chopped

1.In a medium sized heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 tspn oil,add in peppercorns, sauté` onions, garlic, ginger for about 2 to 3 minutes,add in carrots,potato, celery, allow to cook for another few  minutes. 
2. Add  6 glasses of water ,bring to a boil, allow to continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes and as it cools ,  Blend the mixture in a blender and sieve through a strainer, the soup stock is now ready . A perfect base for using to make soup or gravies, also stock made at home is better in taste and lower in sodium content.

Ready stock can be stored in plastic container for more than a month in the freezer of the refrigerator. Remember to defrost the stock  before using for soups or gravies.

Dudhee Halwa

Bottle gourd is a vegetable, you can prepare it like a vegetable or made a sweet dish from this vegetable, surprised, yes and it tastes delicious and retains the flavour of the vegetable, and is very cooling for your system,  so if some body has the complain of stomach acidity, this is the vegetable you should be eating often.

Bottle gourd is called Lauki , Dudhee in Hindi, and Lauki halwa , is a dessert that is absolutely mouth watering ,prepared by cooking  grated lauki (Bottle gourd) with milk, sugar, nuts and saffron and small cardamom, that gives it this delicious aroma.

 After savoury dishes I decided to make this sweet dish, very much a favourite of my husband. 

Boil  Milk and  Bottle gourd

Adding sugar 

Almost done !

Dudhee Halwa 

500 gm Bottle gourd, wash, peeled and shredded will give approximately 2 cups of shredded Bottle gourd
1/4 cup chopped nuts  almonds, walnuts, pistachio (all unsalted)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 tspn  powdered small cardamom
1 cup sugar, can add little more like 1/2 cup more for sweeter taste
2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter) available in Indian stores

1.Wash and  grate  Bottle gourd, can keep the skin on.
Heat a medium non stick pot, add 2 tablespoon ghee, add in 1 tspn powdered cardamom, and all the grated bottle gourd, stir for 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Next, add in milk and half n half, cover and allow to boil over medium heat, stirring from time to time , making sure it doesn't burn to the bottom of the cooking pot.
3. After the milk has evaporated and the bottle gourd seems softened and  cooked, remove lid and  add in the powdered nuts, and saffron. Continue cooking, next add in sugar ,carefully keep stirring, mixture will be hot and may bubble,keep cooking till sugar gets well incorporated, and  once the ghee (clarified butter) begin's to appear on the sides of the cooking pot.Serve it  garnished with your favourite nuts and small cardamom.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Kala Chana Curry

Kala chana or black chick peas, is an Indian curry dish. These  nutritious legumes are packed with nutritional protein.They can be cooked out of a can or soaked overnight. If you plan to use the can beans ,try to use the less salt ones as the salted ones are too high in sodium.
1 cup of cooked chana gives 15 gm protein and 13 gm of fibre, these chana's and other types of beans, legumes, vegetables, nuts are all excellent source of fibre.
 These can be prepared dry or with a curry, the recipe below is the Indian curry Kala chana, that is a famous dish in Northern part of India.

500 gm uncooked chana
2 cups water to soak chana overnight
4 cups water to pressure cook soaked chana
1/2 cup ready curry paste (recipe available in Flavors of India book) or instead use grated onion, and tomato as shown below
1 medium size red onion grated
1 medium size tomato pureed
2 to 3 cloves
1 inch stick cinnamon
1 small bay leaf
1/4 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn turmeric
1 tspn red chilli powder
2 tspn salt or as per taste
1 tspn ginger ,garlic paste
3 to 4 green chillies
1 tspn grated ginger
Vegetable Oil

Kala Chana 

Method 1.Rinse and soak the channa  overnight. Next day pressure cook the chana's in 2 cup of water. Add 1 tspn salt, 1 tspn grated ginger. Pressure cook for about 20 to 30 minutes, later check to see if the chana are cooked properly, strain and keep aside.
2.In a pan heat oil,add cumin seeds, cloves,bay leaf,cinnamon stick and add ginger garlic paste and green chillies .
3.Add in  onions, allow to turn golden in colour, add in tomatoes and stir together allowing the tomatoes to soften and add in salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, coriander powder, mix to form a curry paste.
4.Next add in the strained chana  to prepared curry and after stirring for about 3 to 4 minutes, add in 1 cup water and cook covered on low to medium heat another about 10 minutes. serve hot with rice or roti.

Quinoa salad

Quinoa is a seed, that has grown in popularity because of its high protein and nutritional value. It comes in different colours like white, black and red, though the white variety is more liked and easier to cook. Also the white quinoa has a nutty flavour and fluffs well after it is cooked. Quinoa can be prepared easily and takes only about 20 minutes of cooking time, you can have quinoa as salad , or have it like rice, you can use quinoa to prepare sweet dishes.
1 cup cooked quinoa has 8 gm protein and 5 gm fibre,also quinoa is good for lowering cholesterol and it is gluten free food. 

1 cup quinoa uncooked
2 cups water
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tspn salt
1 tspn black pepper
2 tspn lemon juice freshly squeezed 
1 tsp sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped cucumber
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1 tsp
freshly chopped coriander leaves
1/4 cup yellow or white corn
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper 

Quinoa Salad 

1.Wash the Quinoa grains , to remove any little bitterness. Boil in a sauce pan with 2 cups water over low heat, with 1/2 tspn salt for about 20 minutes , till all water is soaked and quinoa is cooked. Cover for 5 minutes , and then using a fork lightly fluff the cooked quinoa. Keep aside.
2. In a separate bowl, prepare a dressing by mixing together, olive  oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and you can use secret ingredient, I like to use fat free  Italian vinaigrette, as it has vinegar and garlic that adds flavour , but if for some reason you don't use it its fine , just use some garlic powder instead and balsamic vinegar , 1 tspn , whisk together to make a dressing to pour over cooked quinoa.
3.In a serving bowl, add in quinoa, add all chopped vegetables and nuts, fruits, and pour the prepared dressing and mix together , garnish with cilantro leaves and serve as a refreshing salad. Its perfect for a family or for a having with friends at a get together. 

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