Monday, May 31, 2010

General Tsao’s Chicken Wings & Spaghetti-Pistachio Salad

Its now official. Chinese and Italian can be mixed! And it takes an Indian to figure that out. How cool is that!

Today, the world shall see how I use the famous General Tsao’s Chicken recipe and make Chicken Wings sans the drawbacks of frying!IMG_8562 Ingredients for General Tsao’s Chicken Wings are:

500 grams chicken wings (skin on)
One and half tablespoon of corn starch
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons vinegar
2-3 tablespoons sambal or any chili-based sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Half cup finely chopped green onions
1 tablespoon red chili/paprika powder
2-3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons canola oil

IMG_8541 Cut chicken wings into halves and discard the thin end. Wash thoroughly and drain the excess water. IMG_8543 Add two tablespoons canola oil, spread the chicken wings on a baking sheet and bake at 375 °C for approximately 20 minutes on each side.
IMG_8546IMG_8548 In a glass bowl, mix corn starch, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, sambal, water, minced ginger and garlic, paprika and little salt. (Be careful since the soy sauce already has sodium content.) Whisk well to mix all the ingredients.
IMG_8545Now for glazing the chicken wings. In a thick pan, caramelize sugar. When the sugar starts turning brown, add the sauce mixture and mix well.
IMG_8553Add the baked chicken wings and coat them well with the sauce. Garnish with green onions. Serve hot!
That’s a classic Chinese recipe turned into an oasis of chicken serenity for you! Don’t you wish you had Wings to fly too…

My main to go along with the wings is a simple and very easy Spaghettini Salad with the goodness of crunchy Pistachios and the most trusted Italian herb, Basil.

Ingredients for the Pistachio Spaghettini Salad are:

Spaghetti (enough for 2-3 people)
Quarter cup green peas
Quarter cup pistachios, minced
Few sprigs of fresh basil
3-4 tablespoons EVOO
Half teaspoon black pepper powder
Juice of half lemon

Boil the spaghetti according to package instructions. Do not forget to salt the boiling water and add a few drops of oil. Yes, in this case mixing oil and water is necessary, unlike what BP is doing to the ecology.

IMG_8550Drain the spaghetti and cool.
IMG_8551IMG_8547 In a bowl, add the green peas, minced pistachios, and EVOO. Season with lemon juice and salt and pepper. (If you are worried about the raw green peas, don’t fret. The heat from the spaghetti will soften and almost cook the peas without dehydrating them.)

IMG_8554 Tear the basil leaves and add to the spaghetti and other ingredients. IMG_8556 Toss everything together and serve warm. IMG_8558 Now that’s a very healthy and colorful spaghetti salad. I expect you to show some respect and call it Miss Spaghetti, Ma’am, before you chow down on it!

I came up with this recipe with an Italian attitude of Que Sera Sera.

Hoping I can transfer this same zest in my everyday life too…

Friday, May 28, 2010

Anaarkali Butter Chicken

There is Butter Chicken. And then, there is Anaarkali Butter Chicken. Thank you Dhempe for introducing me to this one! For the uninitiated, the Anaarkali Butter Chicken is the product of hard work and passion of two butter chicken enthusiasts – I B Saxena and Padma Prasad. padmaib Apparently this team of two worked for eight years to come up with a Butter Chicken so good, that you cannot source it anywhere in the world. But if you make a donation of Rupees 1,00,000 (a little over $2,000) to the Akshaya Patra Foundation you will get to taste the real Anaarkali Butter Chicken. What you get in return is a pyramid-shaped, hand-packed cardboard box containing the premium pack of 1300 grams of bliss served in a Borosil bowl garnished with black olives and real gold and silver varq.

anaarkali For the penniless like me, who could probably do with some donations herself, they also have a sample recipe on their website. For free!anaarkali_sample_recipe (1)Today, I had the taste of this sample Anaarkali Butter Chicken cooked by who else – yours truly. I like to throw my self food challenges like these in a typical Bobby Flay style and pretend I am some great cook!

Before I took on the daunting task of making this recipe, I did get a chance to ask Padma Prasad one basic question, the answer to which the sample recipe did not have – what portion of chicken should I use? Okay, maybe that was a dumb thing to ask. She was prompt in responding on Facebook, and I used what she suggested – breast portions. Well, that was the easy bit. But what was not so easy, was to shop for the pretty exhaustive list of ingredients which were all thankfully available under the same roof. Its another thing that some people found a certain five feet something running from aisle to aisle because of a badly written grocery list.

But I wonder as I sit back and write this post if the Father of Butter Chicken, the Punjabi-Pathan called Kundal Lal Gujral would approve of the parmesan and cheddar cheese that has gone into the marinade of this dish. Or the subtle sweet flavor of the moss–colored dry basil leaves. P-M-B-8174363165 But then he believed in revolutionizing food too, and that’s what Anaarkali Butter Chicken does! I think its brilliant how people turn something good into spectacular, leaving a legacy for others to follow.

And follow I did - dotting the i's and crossing the t's, figuratively speaking of course. Every ingredient and every step was followed, careful not to miss anything in the recipe. Yes, and I even measured that one-eighth teaspoon of mace and 45 grams of green chilies!!!!
Here is photographic evidence of how I made the sample recipe of the Anaarkali Butter Chicken.
IMG_8460IMG_8480 IMG_8481 IMG_8482IMG_8497 IMG_8494 IMG_8492 IMG_8495 IMG_8499 IMG_8500 IMG_8501 IMG_8502IMG_8503 At the end of the Naan, Anaarkali Butter Chicken and Garden Salad dinner, I thought I was in butter chicken heaven saying hello to the baap of all Butter Chicken!
IMG_8505 IMG_8506

Ricardo Encore

Ricardo keeps me busy with his easy and almost artful recipes. Ricardo Larrivée is a reputed cook and food writer and hosts his own show on Food Network. ricardoThey say he is “Quebec’s answer to Jamie Oliver”! They also say that Ricardo’s accent reflects his personality. Which I feel is endearing and charming and sweeps me off my feet, just like his quick and casual recipes.

Here are two very quick and easy Ricardo-recipes I made yesterday. There are two good reasons why you should make them this weekend – beer and vodka!IMG_8476 Onion Rings are a classic American fast food everyone loves. Ricardo’s has very simple ingredients and some beer, all of which you would usually find at home. Here is how I followed his recipe:

1 large white onion
1 cup unbleached flour
2 + 2 tablespoons corn starch
Half teaspoon baking powder
1 cup beer
Oil for deep frying
1 egg
Salt and pepper

Peel and cut the onion into thick slices. IMG_8461 Separate each slice without breaking till you get lots of individual rings.
IMG_8462 Dust it with two tablespoons corn starch. I used a plastic box with a lid to do this. Sprinkle, shut and shake! Simple.
IMG_8468Make a batter with the egg, flour, two tablespoons corn starch, baking powder, pepper powder and a cup of  your favorite beer. Blend them all together till you get a smooth pancake-like batter.

Heat oil in a fryer or wok. Dip each onion ring in the batter and deep fry. IMG_8469 Its important you do the step of dusting the onion rings with the corn starch, this helps the batter to cling to the onions all too nicely.
IMG_8472 Fry till the rings are golden brown. Drain excess oil on paper towels.
IMG_8474 Sprinkle some salt on the onion rings and serve immediately.
IMG_8477IMG_8479If you are mad about onion pakoras and bhajias, you will really love this!

While we are talking about madness, remember to inject a little fun and flavor this summer with these lollies for grown ups. IMG_8491Ricardo never fails to surprise me, and this one is extra favorite because he has turned my favorite drink – the Bloody Mary or Caesar into lollypops. 

Ingredients for Caesar Lollies:

1 oz vodka
Clamato juice (I used the spicy one)
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Dash of Tabasco sauce
Lemon juice

IMG_7139 Pour everything in a glass, mix well and pour out in ice lolly moulds. IMG_8458IMG_8459 Freeze for at least 6-8 hours. Serve the Ceaser Lollies on a bed of ice!
IMG_8484Now doesn’t that look delicious and dead simple?IMG_8488Use your imagination and make lollies with just about anything – watermelon, mango, litchi juice…There are no perimeters to a frozen delight in summer.