Shahi Chicken Korma

I usually whip up recipes blogs in minutes, but this, I must say has taken a bit of doing…Just knowing when to throw things into a pan doesn’t make it any easier to write some not-so-simple recipes. But I promise you, the effort for this one is worth every precious minute of your time.

You will find many variants of this recipe, some of which use ingredients such as cashews, khoya (reduced milk) and/or cream. Cashews are a complete ‘no-no’ in my cooking due to my daughter’s allergy (she is miraculously tolerant to almonds); khoya simply wasn’t in my cupboard so I used desiccated coconut with milk to create a creamy richness. And of course, I substituted cream with condensed milk.

So without further adieu, I bring to you Shahi (meaning ‘prestige’) Chicken Korma, aptly named as a dish fit for a royal 🙂

Prep Time: 5 mins

Cooking Time: 50 mins

Serves: 3-4

Ingredients

  • 500g boneless chicken, cut into small pieces ( I used thigh meat)
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp dried red chilli flakes
  • I large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp garlic (OR 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced)
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste (OR 1” piece root ginger, finely grated)
  • 2 tbsp ground almonds
  • 4 tbsp desiccated coconut soaked in ½ cup milk for 20-30 mins
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground mace
  • ½ cup condensed milk
  • 1 tbsp rose or kewra water
  • 2-3 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted (optional)

Method

  1. Heat the oil gently in a medium heavy based pan or wok.
  2. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to sizzle and change colour – approx. 20 secs.
  3. Add the onions and chilli flakes. Turn up the heat to a medium flame and fry until softened and lightly golden.
  4. Add the garlic and ginger and cook off for 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  6. Transfer this onion mixture into a blender, add the soaked coconut with milk and the ground almonds. Blend to a smooth mixture.
  7. Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook over a medium flame until any excess liquid has reduced.
  8. Add the chicken pieces and turn up the heat. Cook until the chicken is sealed – approx. 5-8 minutes, depending on the heat.
  9. Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, garam masala and salt and sauté for 1-2 minutes
  10. Stir in the mace and remove from the heat.
  11. Gently stir in the condensed milk and mix in well.
  12. Return the pan to a medium heat and 1½ cups of hot water. Bring to boil.
  13. Lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook until chicken is tender (approx. 30 mins).
  14. Stir in the rose or kewra water and garnish with flaked almonds, if using.
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Sabut Masoor Dal (Whole Red Lentils)

One of my favourite lentil curries often made at my in-laws, I have just reduced the use of oil to the bare minimum 😊 Enjoy with naan, boiled rice or fragrant zeera (cumin) rice for a wholesome, healthy and heart-warming dish on a cold winter’s day.

Prep time: 5 mins

Cooking time: 45 mins

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole red lentils
  • 3 cups water + plus a more during cooking
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1-2 green chilliest ( optional)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp ginger paste
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste, or 2 cloves finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped
  • Fresh ginger slivers and lemons wedges (optional garnish)

How to prepare

  1. Rinse the lentils and pressure cook until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. Heat the oil gently in a saucepan and add the cumin. Wait till they change colour.
  3. Add the onions and green chilli; cook until the onions have softened.
  4. Add the garlic and cook off for 30 seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomato with the salt, cover and cook until softened completely.
  6. Add the dry spices and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Add a little water and continue cooking to create a semi-dry mixture – ‘bhuna’.
  8. Add the cooked lentils to the pan and mix well.
  9. Add 1/4 – 1/2 cup hot water, stir again and bring to boil.
  10. Simmer the dal until the desired consistently is achieved – add more water if you preferred a runnier curry.
  11. Stir in the coriander leaves and remove from the heat.
  12. Top with the ginger slivers and lemon wedges, if using.

Spicy Aubergine Stew

Last night I was ‘Desperately Seeking Spice’ and discovered a plump aubergine hiding out in my refrigerator 😊 I had 45 minutes to present something palatable and suitably spicy before it was time to break my fast. So I decided to cut out the elaborate prep and just throw it all into one of my dinky little woks and hey presto!

Prep time: 3 mins

Cooking time: 25 mins

Serves 1-2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large aubergine, cubed
  • 1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste

How to prepare

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the oil, into the wok and mix well.
  2. Drizzle the oil and stir in.
  3. Cover and allow to cook until the aubergine is tender.

Word of caution: Those normally adverse to aubergine may just be tempted to delve in so keep the dish by your side and only offer to share at the risk of missing out 😜

Chickpea & Rocket Salad

I just love this salad as a healthy, high protein, low-fat zingy variation of a desi chaat. Completely versatile as either a quick lunch or a starter dish, you can be as imaginative with the ingredients as you wish!

Prep time: 10 mins

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

  • 480g chick peas (2×400 tins, drained)
  • 1 medium or large tomato, diced
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • Large handful of rocket leaves
  • 1 tsp amchur (mango powder)
  • 1 tsp coarsely ground black pepper

How to prepare

Simply mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Chill if desired and serve!

Achari Chicken

Good to be back here! It’s a long shift in my kitchen tonight as I prep for a private catering event later today. Christmas parties everywhere! The biriyani masala mix is well under way, wafting its aromas at this rather ungodly hour 😳

While I wait, having of course done all my chopping, I thought a bit of blogging wouldn’t go amiss given it has been a while…

Last week I cooked this flavoursome traditional dish which, as the name suggests, does not use archar (pickle) in the recipe at all! No, no no. The achari tanginess is created with my favourite good old Bengali ‘five spice’ mix. I still remember the flavour created by this incredible concoction of five seeds when my grandma made her delectable chicken curry during our rare visits to see her in Bangladesh.

So this is how it goes:

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 40 mins
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • img_27091 medium chicken or 2 chicken breasts cut into curry pieces
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 1 heaped teaspoon panch phoron (five spice mix)
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp ginger purée
  • 1 tbsp garlic purée
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 200g chopped tinned tomato
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp roasted ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 hot cup water
  • 2 green chillies (optional)
  • Handful fresh coriander leaves, chopped (optional)

How to cook

  1. Wash and drain the chicken well (although it’s best not to wash the chicken to prevent campylobacter cells from spreading – the most common cause of food poisoning; cooking the chicken thoroughly will remove this as well as other bacteria – read NHS article here).
  2. Heat the oil gently and add the five spice mix. Wait until the seeds sizzle.
  3. Add the onions and cook over a medium flame until golden brown (up to 10 minutes).
  4. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute.
  5. Add the tomatoes, cover and cook until soft and pulpy.
  6. Mash down the tomato mixture with the back of a wooden spoon. Add the turmeric, ground coriander, cumin, chilli powder, salt and garam masala. Add a splash of water if the mixture becomes dry. Stir well and allow to ‘bhuna’ (i.e. the oil should separate from the spices and float to the top).
  7. Stir in the the chicken pieces ensuring they are well coated with the spice mixture. Cook for 5 minutes over a medium-high flame, ensuring the spices do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  8. Add the water and bring to boil. Simmer for 2 mins, then drop in the green chillies, if using.
  9. Cover and  cook on a low flame until the chicken is thoroughly done.
  10. Garnish with coriander leaves, if using, just before serving.

Enjoy 😊

 

Fish Kofte


These super healthy, gluten-free Fish Kofte taste delicious with a fresh mint raita and can be served either as an appetiser or a side dish with any meal.

Prior to cooking, the fish balls were rolled in rice flour and then coated very liberally with olive oil to give a light golden and slightly crispy outer finish. They were then cooked in my air-fryer for 15 minutes. Equally they can be oven-baked at 180 degrees.

Here is the recipe, but feel free to try combining any vegetables – just steam and mash first before mixing into the fish and spices.

Prep time: 15 mins

Cooking time: 15 mins

Serves: 4-5 (makes approx. 18 golf-sized kofte)

Ingredients

160g tuna chunks in brine, drained

6-8 new baby potatoes, steamed and mashed

2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 rice flour + 3 tbsp more for coating

1 medium onion, finely chopped or minced

1 heaped tsp garlic granules

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp roasted ground cumin

1 tsp coriander powder

1 heaped tsp paprika

1 tsp anchor (mango powder)

1 level tsp garam masala

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp chilli flakes

2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped or 1 tsp dried mint

1 tsp salt or to taste

Method

  1. Place all the ingredients, except the oil and the 3 tbsp rice flour, in a medium bowl and mix well.
  2. Knead until it all comes together into a smooth mixture.
  3. Work 1/2 tsp of the olive oil well into the mixture.
  4. Take a small bowl of warm water and moisten the palms; divide the mixture into the desired size and shape (I made golf-sized balls). Keep moistening the palms to prevent the mixture from sticking.
  5. Place the remaining rice flour on tray or large platter and roll the fish balls in the flour until evenly coated.
  6. Place the remaining oil in another bigger bowl; transfer the fish balls into this bowl and swirl the bowl until they are all coated in the oil.
  7. Cook in an air-fryer or heated oven for 15 mins at 180 degrees.
  8. Serve with your preferred dip with pride 😊
Aside

Our blessed month of fasting instils upon us a calm and discipline like no other time of the year. In the UK, our fasting days are nearing 19 hours as we endeavour to go about our everyday lives to the best of our ability, whilst abstaining from all food and water. During this time we also engage in increased activities of prayer and recitation of our Holy Quran with the aim of receiving more spiritual reward and enlightenment.

Our preparation for ‘iftari’ forms a significant part of the day where we lovingly prepare our evening meal to break our fast at sunset. Much thought goes into the menu which traditionally comprises a variety of offerings, differing widely in the various regions across the globe, but typically including dates, fruit, intricately prepared savoury and sweet snack items together with a main dish and side.

I am no exception to this tradition. Each day I look forward to lovingly planning and preparing an iftari treat for my family. One such dish made earlier this week was this Nando’s style chicken based on a recipe I was introduced to by Cucina Restaurants whom I was employed by as the Cook in a primary school, responsible for feeding 200+ hungry little bellies each day.

I chose to serve the dish as an entrée fusion platter-for-four where tender strips chicken breast were laid on a bed of fragrant pilau rice with steamed herby potatoes.


Here is the basic recipe for the chicken which can of course be presented in any way you feel inspired 😊

Nando’s-style Chicken

Prep time: 10 mins

Cooking time: 60 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts, approx 250g each

4 tbsp olive oil

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 large onion, cut into eighths

2-3 cloves garlic

2 tsp paprika

1.5 tsp salt

1.5 tsp sugar

1.5 tsp ground cumin

1.5 tsp crushed chilli

3 tsp mixed herbs

1/4 cup tomato purée
How to cook

1. Place all ingredients except the chicken into blender and blend until you have a smooth marinade.

2. Score the chicken and then coat well with the blended mixture. Cover and refrigerate for an 1-2 hours.

3. Heat the oven to a low temperature. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 40 minutes.

4. Turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 15-20 minutes and the chicken is cooked through.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before slicing.

Serving suggestion: Serve with roast potatoes or on a bed of lemon couscous or pilau rice. Top with fresh, chopped coriander.

Ramadan Inspirations