Sunday, November 17, 2013

Thai salad with Maggi noodles - One bowl meal

Do you know what I love the most about Japanese and Thai food? The one bowl meals. The dishes are fuss free to prepare, there's no headache of plating and they are full of nutrition - a good balance of protein, vitamins and carbohydrates. So tonight I thought of throwing together a one bowl meal. I took the Thai salad recipe from Good Food Magazine's November issue and added my own twist to it. There weren't any noodles at home except for Maggi so I used them without the masala. It tasted pretty awesome. I am sure you're going to love it too.

French beans (chopped diagonally) - 1 cup
Shallots (chopped) - 2
Boneless chicken breast (boiled and shredded) - 1 cup
Lemongrass - 1 tsp
Red chilli (sliced) - 1
Ginger (grated) - 1 tsp
Mint leaves (chopped) - 1 tbsp
Thai basil (chopped) - 1 tbsp
Maggi noodles - 1 packet
Soy sauce - 1 tsp

For dressing
Coconut milk - 2 tbsp (you can use 1 tbsp coconut powder if you're out of coconut milk)
Oyster sauce - 1 tbsp
Sweet chilli sauce - 2 tbsp
Garlic (crushed) - 1 clove
Juice of half lemon
Salt to taste.

  1. Simmer French beans in salted water for about four minutes. Make sure they are partially cooked and the bright green colour is intact.
  2. Throw beans, shallots, ginger, chilli, lemon grass, mint leaves, Thai basil and chicken together in a bowl.
  3. Boil Maggi noodles in 11/2 cup water. Throw out excess water and add soy sauce to the noodles. You can keep the water if you want your dish a bit soupy. Mix noodles with the salad.
  4. Now mix all the ingredients for dressing together and add it to the above mix.
  5. The one bowl meal is ready. Eat away!
  6. You can replace chicken with fish, prawns, eggs or tofu.

Suhaal with boiled potatoes - A snack from Uttar Pradesh

If you've ever wandered in the bylanes of Lucknow, Banaras or any other city in Uttar Pradesh you must have found people snacking on something beyond kachori and samosas. These crispy, savoury pastries called suhaal. Since its eaten with spicy boiled potatoes you can also call it a disentegrated samosa. Now, we don't have enough places that make decent UP style samosas or kachoris in Mumbai so finding suhaal is out of question. So this Diwali when I was craving for some I thought of making it for brunch. Sharing the recipe was the obvious next step after we gobbled down all the suhaals with the yummy potatoes. By the way they can also be eaten with pickle or boiled, spiced white peas (also know as ragda in Mumbai). But trust me, potatoes are the best. So go ahead, try the recipe and let me know how they turned out.

Maida or all purpose flour -  250 gms
Oil - 4 tbsp for flour and 500 ml for frying
Ajwain - 2 tsp
Salt 2 tsp

For potatoes
Potatoes (boiled) - 3 medium sized
Spring onion - 1
Red chilli powder - 1/2 tsp
Roasted cumin powder - 1/2 tsp
Lemon juice - 1/2 tsp
Fresh coriander (chopped) - 1 tsp
Salt to taste

  1. Mix maida and oil till all of it is soaked in oil.
  2. Add ajwain, salt and water and knead it in a tight dough.
  3. Make small balls and roll each one into thin disks.
  4. Prick them with a fork. This is to avoid them from puffing up while frying.
  5. Now cut each disk into halves, fold every half to form a triangle. Use a little water to stick the corners together.
  6. Heat oil in a wok and fry the triangles till they turn crisp and brown. Don't fry more than 5-6 at a time.
  7. Remove and keep aside. Let them cool down.
  8. Peel and mash the potatoes, add all the ingredients and mix.
  9. Serve the crispy suhaal with spiced, boiled potatoes.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Food/Product Review - Chef's Basket

Around 7-8 years ago when I was new in Bombay and stayed alone, cooking wasn't my favourite chore especially cooking for just myself. My dinner used to be a masala dosa from Anna ka thela or a simple dal chawal. There was a time when I tried the ready-to-eat meals from a brand called Parampara which made instant curries, dal etc. I think it's still available in the market. Parampara made decent easy-to-cook meals but the thick creamy curries were in no way close to home-cooked food. Since then I sort of stayed away from pre-cooked food depending mostly on my own cooking.

A couple of months ago I had tried the Knorr easy-to-cook meals and they would've been a disaster if I hadn't added my own ingredients to better the dishes. And recently I tried the All You Need Recipe Kit by Chef's Basket. The product is launched by four IIT Alumni under their company Fizzy Foodlabs.

Apart from the packaging (they pack the food in easy-to-carry triangular boxes) what's interesting about the Chef's Basket is that all the ingredients are packed separately allowing you to add the ingredients according to your your taste.Right now they have three dishes; a Mexican burrito kit (Rs 350) , penne pasta in creamy tomato sauce (Rs 250) and penne pasta in Arabbiata (Rs 250). I tried the burritos and penne pasta in creamy tomato.

The burrito pack comes with six burrito wraps, brown rice, black beans, Chipotle salsa, jalapenos, Mexican spice mix and a soon to be launched Mexican salsa. I found the burritos just about average and a bit bland. If you are trying this recipe I'd suggest you do away with the brown rice and throw in loads of lettuce and vegetables to add a bit of crunch. The sauces are spicy so be cautious while pouring them on your burrito.

The penne pasta with creamy tomato sauce which comes with penne pasta, tomato sauce, green olives, mixed herbs, extra virgin olive oil and sea salt is recommended and enough for two people. The sauce is thick, creamy and tastes very close to the home-made one. You can add chicken, bacon or mushrooms to make the pasta richer.

The Chef's Basket recipe kits are perfect for those who don't fancy cooking everyday or want a quick fix dinner on weekdays.

Twitter: @ChefsBasket
Facebook: Chef's Basket
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