Sunday, April 13, 2014

Tandoori Chicken Saute with Mushrooms

I have previously heralded the advantages of spice mixes, but this post will center around spice pastes. Cooking with spice pastes is, is possible, even easier than mixes because often, all you need is a protein and the paste itself and you're good to go. This particular recipe is a little bit more involved than mixing two ingredients together, but worth it! More people are probably familiar with Tandoori Chicken, the bright red roast chicken ubiquitous at all Indian buffets. While its true that tandoori is generally a roast, named after the oven its cooked in, I find that the tangy spice blend also works very well in curries.  

A traditional tandoor oven

2 pounds of boneless chicken, cut into 1-2 inch cubes

2 tbsp of Ghee (or butter or oil)
10 oz of baby bella mushrooms, cut in halves. 
1 medium white onion, cut into strips
2 tbsp yogurt
4 tbsp Tandoori paste
Juice from 1/4 of a lime
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Marinate the chicken in a mixture of the tandoori paste, yogurt and lime juice. Minimum 1 hour, but the longer the better. 

2. Prep the mushrooms and onions while you wait

3. Warm up half the ghee up in a pan on medium to low heat. Add the onions. Fry till the onions are translucent and soft. A little browned but not burnt. You should still be able to easily separate the strands. Remove from heat and put aside.

4. Add the rest of the ghee to the pan. You can reuse the same pan as long as there are no burnt bits left over. Once the ghee is hot, add the chicken and mushrooms and stir fry quickly. 

5. After the initial sear, the meat may start to water a little bit. At this point, turn the heat to low, and cover. Cook for about 20 min or until the chicken is just cooked through, but still soft. 

6. Take off the cover, turn the heat to high and reduce the water until the sauce is clinging to the mushrooms and chicken. There should only be about a tablespoon of excess sauce. At this point, add the onions back in. Stir for a few minutes and then remove from heat. Both the meat and the onions can be a little browned at this point.

7. I like to plate the onions first and then pile the chicken and mushrooms around them 

This is best eaten with naan, chapatis or other breads. It works with rice, but there just isn't enough gravy to coat the rice properly.


Thursday, April 3, 2014

Pork Stew

So, I normally do not cook pork. Given the large Muslim population where we grew up in India, pig was rarity and somehow, that aversion spilled over to the Hindu population as well. As kids in the states, we ate pork only in restaurants and even then, mostly as toppings on pizza. However, as I sprouted my wings and left the nest, I ventured into trying out "the other white meat". 

This particular recipe came about during Pork Month at Hmart. For weeks, I would walk by and see people buying pounds and pounds of pork from the butcher, so finally I gave in to indirect peer pressure and got some pork picnic. What exactly is pork picnic you ask? I have no idea! At last, not until I turned to google. Turns out, Pork Butt and Pork Picnic are upper and lower parts of a pork's shoulder, respectively. Picnic has more bone and is sold with skin on where as Butt has a small bone and a smaller fat cap. Granted, I did not buy the entire Picnic, but mine still came with a sufficient large piece of skin. I got home and really had no idea where to begin, so I thought, stew! Can't go wrong with stew, especially when its spicy and this is how it went....

2lbs Pork, preferably with some fat and skin
2 large onions, halved and then quartered
1 pod of garlic, about 10-12 cloves, coarsely chopped
3 dried red chili pepper
2 tablespoon Sesame oil, adjust as necessary
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 quart chicken broth
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Rub the pork down with 1 tbsp of sesame oil and some salt and pepper. I would a half teaspoon of each.
2. Heat a heavy bottom pan or a dutch oven until its very very hot on high heat. 
3. Quickly sear the pork evenly on both sides, 30 seconds should be enough. I like a little thicker sear so I let it got for a little longer on each side. 

4. Removed the pork from the pan and let it sit a room temp. 
5. Put the remaining sesame oil into the pain and add the onion, garlic and red chilies. Stir fry quickly for about 30 seconds. Add the lemon juice, soy sauce and chicken broth and stir to combine. 

6. Place the pork on top of the onions. Cover and turn the heat to simmer. Simmer for about 2 -3 hours or until you can separate the meat with a fork. Taste and add, salt or pepper to adjust.

7. Remove the pork from the pot. Cut off any remaining fat or skin. Slice up the meat and serve on a bed of gravy and onions. 

This recipe turned out a lot better than I could have hoped for. The beauty lies in its simplicity. The few ingredients make it quick to prep and also allows the pork to really shine through. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


Hello all!

I thought I would have more time to post on this blog, but, alas, I have over estimated the trials of third year medical school. Here is a quick picture post of my dumpling making adventures with my old roommate. The process is pretty self explanatory. Chop ingredients, stir together, fill dumplings, fry/boil, devour. We make two different kinds. Chive, Shrimp and scrambled egg. Pork, lotus root and cumin. Also, we used a northern style dumpling wrapper so the dumplings were a bit thicker. 

The Chives, Shrimp and Egg

This was such an interesting combination. Apparently, this is quite common mixture of ingredients where my roommate was from which is in the northern part of China. The eggs really keep the dumplings moist inside. We didn't add any extra seasonings but I think I would add a pinch of five spice to give it a little kick.

The Lotus Root, Pork and Cumin

I had never cooked with lotus root before, but it was surprisingly a delicious ingredient. It had a very mild, starchy flavor and a great crunch. However, we made the mistake of buying lean pork, like dumpling neophytes. If you want moist, pork dumplings, get the fattiest meat you can find. I know people who go to butchers to have them grind up meat with chunks of fat thrown in for just that reason. So, forget the calorie count for a day and embrace the fat. And the delicious moistness of your dumplings. Regardless, though, our dumplings tasted pretty darn good even without the fatty additions, but they were just a little bit dry. 

The Assembly

Floured surface

A little dollop

Pinch the ends together and them crimp

The finished product!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vegetable Fried Rice with Chili Oil

Hello again!

It's been a while since I posted! I was studying for boards and things just were crazy.  But all that's done and the most demanding rotation is behind me, so hopefully I can get back to cooking and posting about delicious concoctions. Now this recipe is one of my favorite quick eats, mostly because I always have leftover rice and its always a great way to getting rid of random things that you might have in fridge. This recipe is with fresh veggies, but honestly, you can use just about anything. The only things I would stay away from are things that tend to give off a lot of water, like zucchini/squash and most greens. You want the veggies to maintain their crispness. Now, the chili oil is definitely optional, but I think its the secret to making this dish a notch above your generic fried rice. 

2 tablespoons Sesame Oil
1 bunch scallions, white part 1/2 cm long, green part 1 inch long
1 broccoli head, cut into smaller florets
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup sliced mushrooms
5 cups of slightly undercooked Jasmine Rice, preferably cooked in a rice cooker. 
Soy sauce to taste (see chili fish recipe for my preferred brand)
1 tablespoon chili oil (adjust depending on spice tolerance)

1. Start the rice cooking in the rice cooker. I would use slightly less water than you normally use so that the rice is still a bit firm when the cooker stops cooking. This way, it does not turn to mush when you fry it in the wok. 

2. Heat 1 Tbsp of the sesame oil in a wok (or any pan with high sides) on high heat. Careful! Sesame oil heats much faster than other oil. 

3. Add in all the sliced veggies and stir quickly, coating all the veggies in oil evenly. Keep stirring to make sure none of veggies are sticking to the wok, but it does not need to be continuous. Add a little bit of soy sauce to taste.

4. When the vegetables are cooked through, lower the heat and add the cooked rice into the wok and stir. Before adding the rice, make sure the veggies haven't released too much water. If there are more than two tbsps of water, spoon it out. 

5. Add in the rest of the sesame oil, the chili oil and soy sauce to taste. Cook for 3-5 min. Stir! Plate! Consume!

I would strongly suggest playing around with different ingredients and proportions with this recipe. I've used bell pepper, bamboo shots, lotus root, increased the rice proportion, added less chili oil, etc., depending on what I had on hand. If you do decide to add protein, I may cook it separately and add it in with the rice because your vegetables will cook long before the meat does. The only thing that I've been consistent on is using sesame oil. I love the flavor that it gives to the rice and the smell is just so tantalizing! Everyone in your home will come running!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Food Art!

Short post this time. Over the weekend, I was reminded of these photographs by British photographer, Carl Warner, that I came across in my undergrad. Since then, they have increased in popularity (and price!) and there are a lot more awesome creations to peruse. Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

 Check out the pics here ->
Amazing Foodscapes

This one is my personal favorite...

Salmon Sea

Friday, January 11, 2013

Turkey Meatball Curry

Do you know what intimidates people the most about cooking Indian food? The spices. Most dishes I know of use a minimum of 4-5 spices. When I first started my forays into Indian cooking, I was overwhelmed. Which combinations do I use for this dish? Should I use them whole or grind it up? What are the relative amounts of each? When do I add them? Do I really want to buy this giant bag of cloves when I only need 4? Then, I found my answer!

There is no shame in using spice mixes. All the proper spices and their amounts neatly packaged into a $1-2 dollar box? My salvation hath arrived. Now, don't get me wrong. There is an advantage to cooking with individual spices. It's more customizable to your tastes. Whole spices have a better aroma. Etc. etc. But, you know, when you just want a little touch of the homeland on your plate and you don't have the time go hunt down pomegranate seeds or black cardamom, a spice mix will do just fine. If fact, more than fine. A spice mix will do just down right delicious. It's not a mark of amateurism or incompetence. It's just convenient.  So everyone, let's get on board! 

Now, this recipe originally started as just kabobs and I usually stopped at step 5. But, as a lover of rice, I needed some curry to accompany my carb addiction. The bell pepper adds a little bit of tang to complement the spice. Overall, really easy and relatively quick. Because of the spice mix. 

You will need:

1 package of Shan Chicken Jalfrezi Mix (or whatever amount that is an appropriate spice level)
1-1.5 pound ground turkey (or any ground meat, but the cook times for this are with ground turkey)
1 egg
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 medium red/orange/yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 long hot pepper, chopped (optional)
Cooking spray
Cooking oil

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. 
2. Mix together the tomatoes, half the bell pepper and the hot pepper with half the spice mix packet. If you are worried about the spice level, just taste it to check.

3. Then mix in one egg and the ground turkey, sequentially. 
4. Form into 2 inch patties and arrange on a baking pan.

5. Bake for 7 min. This is just to get the patties to set a little bit so they don't fall apart. You may notice some fluid/protein leaking out of the patties. If this happens, take it out of the oven. They are done. The trick is to cook them, just enough so they hold, but not so much that they finish cooking and don't absorb any flavor from the gravy.

6. While the patties are baking, start the gravy. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pot or a deep pan on medium heat. Add the onions and fry until translucent. Add in the remaining bell peppers and fry for another 2 min. Add in the remaining half of the spice mix and stir to mix quickly. Take care that the powder does not stick to the pan and burn. Add in 1/2 cup of water. Cover and simmer for 10 min. 

7. Remove the patties from the pan. Take care to leave all the protein behind. Gently, place into the gravy, covering as much of the patties with the gravy as possible. Cover and simmer for 15 min or until meat is cooked through. 

8. Serve over hot rice or egg noodles. Enjoy!


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Chili Fish with Eggplant

Lately, I've been craving spicy food, especially spicy Asian food. It could be the discovery of a Sichuan restaurant less than 5 miles away from my home. All of the sudden, my Spicy Asian Tastebuds, which have laid dormant for a while, have been roused and become insatiable. Alas, neither my wallet nor my arteries can support a constant diet of restaurant food. So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. This is a recipe I came up with on the fly when I was jonesing for a little spicy goodness. It's actually pretty darn healthy. And cheap. And not labor intensive. And quick. And delicious. In short, a winner.

The fillet of choice here is Basa or Swai. Never heard of it? Ya, I hadn't either until I started grocery shopping for myself. It's mostly imported Vietnam or Thailand and found in most Asian fish markets and even some American supermarkets. It's a member of the catfish family with a slightly firm texture and a mild flavor. It's consistently one of the cheapest fillets sold in fish markets, averaging $3-4 a pound. In fact, the cheapness of the fish ticked off American catfish farmers who successfully rallied to stop it from called "catfish" in America. I find this rather amusing because I have run into many people at the fish counter at Shoprite who, when they saw me buying 6 pounds of catfish nuggets, divulged that "I never buy catfish" " I always thought they were bottom feeders and dirty" etc. Maybe a little distance from the catfish name is actually a good thing for the Basa...and the Vietnamese. 

Sidenote: I'm sure by now, most of you have heard about the Omega-3 fatty acids that are found in fish and how they are good for you. But just in case you weren't convinced, here's a list, from University of Maryland Medical center, of all the ways omega-3 keep you kicking a little while longer. The most beneficial effect of Omega 3 is to protect against Heart Disease. But they have shown promise in High cholesterol, High blood pressure, Diabetes, Rheumatoid arthritis, Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Osteoporosis, Depression, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Cognitive decline. Skin disorders. Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Asthma, Macular Degeneration, Menstrual pain, Colon Cancer, Breast cancer, Prostate cancer. While some of these diseases have mixed results, for all of them, there has been at least one study that shows some improvement compared to placebo. Also, there are also some precautionary tales to taking fish oil supplements. Check out this site for more info! Omega-3s

But I digress. The reason I prefer Basa for this dish is that it stands up pretty well to stirring. I'm sure you can make this with other fish fillets but if they are too soft and flaky, they are totally going to fall apart. Also, the mild flavor is good because it absorbs more flavor from the veggies and sauce. The eggplant lends a little bit of creaminess to offset the heat from the chilli peppers.


2 pounds Basa Fillet, cut in 2 inch blocks
1 chinese eggplant
2 long hot peppers
1 jalapeno pepper
1 bunch scallions
1 small bulb of garlic  ( I really like garlic, so this may be to much for some)
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
1.5 tsbp lite soy sauce ( I like to use mushroom flavored )
Additional soy sauce to taste

1. Rinse the fish and pat down with paper towel to dry. Marinate the fish in the garlic-ginger paste and 1.5 tbsp soy sauce for 15 min. 

2. In the meantime, chop the vegetables up into strips 2 inch long strips. Make sure your eggplant pieces all have a bit of skin attached so that they don't melt as easily.  

You want the veggies to be the same size, so they cook evenly. Eggplant melt pretty easily, so I cut it a little bigger.

3. Heat a wok (or a thin bottomed pan) on med heat. Add the sesame oil. When warm, add in the marinated fish. Fry, without stirring too much, until fish is about halfway cooked on both sides, about 4-5 min. Increase to high heat. Add in the vegetables. Stir gently, taking care not to break the fish, to make sure the veggies get cooked evenly.

4. Fry for about 10-15 more minutes. Add more soy sauce if you think it needs more. When everything is cooked through, take off the heat and serve over hot rice. Enjoy!