A Kickin’ Affair: Chicken Kebabs

Hubby Dear and me are huge fans of kebabs, the chicken kebab being our favourite. These bite-sized succulent chunks of meat, delicately spiced and dunked into some chutney or even simply ketchup, can make us swoon and forgo a 6-course meal altogether. Hence, it comes as no surprise that while I was pregnant with Baby Dear we ate kebabs quite often. There was a running joke that whenever either one of us would say the word kebab, Baby Dear would do a somersault. Which we kinda believed to be true since the mere mention of the word would invite some movement from the wee one nestled inside me!

Pic for Chicken Kebabs taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Because it was the peak of summer, we relied out our BBQ grill a lot. Almost every weekend, we’d have friends over. They’d bring the sides, and we’d serve up a generous platter of kebabs. It was never too much trouble really; I would marinate the meat in a blend of yogurt and a mix of spices in the morning, set it to cool and soak in the flavours in the fridge throughout the day, and slap them on the grill come party time. Our guests were happy, and I hardly spent more than mere minutes prepping the meal. Win-Win for all.

Although this worked out extremely well and produced the most tender, succulent and juicy kebabs I’ve made, I would secretly wish that I’d made a platter of keema kebabs as well, to munch on. Keema kebabs are the bite-sized patties made mainly with ground meat. They really are not that hard to prep for a party, and I do it quite often now. But for a heavily pregnant me, who hated to be on her feet for too long, frying these babies up for a large hungry group seemed like such a daunting task. But not anymore! I tend to buy my meats in bulk for a few weeks at a time, and I always reserve a portion of ground chicken for us to indulge in these.

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Recipe Video: Andhra Chicken Curry

Hi guys! Here is a recipe video for my very own Andhra Chicken Curry. It’s a fairly quick and simple curry to make and is absolutely delicious with some plain rice or rotis on the side.

Please subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel to get new recipe videos every week. Also, don’t forget to like and share my videos, and join me on my Facebook page for many more recipes, tips and generally keeping in touch.

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Dinner Diary: Poha

Dinner Diary is a series of posts I write that include quick, simple, everyday recipes that I whip up on most days for my family. In most cases, they can hardly be called recipes since I just go with the flow and dump things into a hot pan. Through this series I’ve tried to show you that no matter what your level of expertise is in the kitchen, making a good healthy meal for yourself and your family is actually quite simple. All it takes, is a whole lot of love and a bit of practice.

Dear Dinner Diary,

Today began like every other Sunday. I got out of bed to find the boys snuggled on the couch watching Tom & Jerry cartoons. Did I ever tell you how much I despise that show? Poor Tom… that sneaky mouse is always the one to disturb his peace. Then the chase starts and somehow or the other, Tom gets in trouble while Jerry is seen grinning! So. Not. Fair.

Anyways, after going back and forth on our discussion on what we’d like to have for breakfast, we decided that everyone was going to have what they felt like since we could agree on a single dish. Baby Dear ran to the pantry and grabbed the giant jar of Nutella, begging me to slather a lot of it on toast for him. I set up the coffee and decided to begin with a banana. Hubby Dear, on the other hand, pulled out the frying pan, and began chopping onions for his classic poha.

Although I’m not a big fan of Poha, I do enjoy a small portion when Hubby Dear makes it. He’s not one to take charge in the kitchen – that man, but on the rare occasion when he does roll up his sleeves, his Poha, Nachos and Sabudana Khichdi are absolutely to-die-for! I should remember to nudge him to make me some Sabudana Khichdi this weekend, it’s been ages since he did. Then I can blog about it!

Now I do realize that this is a breakfast post instead of dinner, but I digress. Breakfast for dinner anyone?

Pic for Poha taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Poha:

Soak 1 cup of poha (flattened/beaten rice) in enough water for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set aside when you’re ready to start cooking. Heat oil in a pan and sauté 1 tsp mustard seeds. Once they start to pop, add in 1 small onion, finely chopped, along with a handful to raw peanuts, and slightly fry till they start to lightly brown. Mix in 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp red chilli powder and salt to taste. Quickly add in the drained poha and give it a good toss around the pan to mix everything well. Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro leaves and a generous squeeze of lemon.



Weekly Meal Plan: March 16th-22nd

Every Thursday night, after I’ve tucked Baby Dear into bed and cleared up the kitchen, I sit down at my desk and meal plan for the coming week. I try and come up with a dinner idea for each day of the week, allowing one day off for either take-out or a meal at a restaurant. Lunches are generally leftovers, and snacks are mainly fruits, cheese & crackers, veggies & dips or any baked goods and other treats we may have on hand for that given week.

WMP

Once I know what we’ll be eating during the week that’s to come, I then list out a detailed grocery list. Friday mornings are usually when I make the time to grocery shop, so it helps to have all my planning and list making done ahead of time. Here’s what I’ve put together this week for our meals. I’d love to hear about how you plan your meals and what you’ll be having, so please do share in the comments below!

Monday:
Curry Noodle Bowl
Curry Noodle Bowl

Tuesday:
Paneer Methi Matar   Bharwaan Bhindi
Paneer Methi Matar, Chatpati Bhindi and Rotis

Wednesday:
Mixed Bean Soup
Mixed Bean Soup and Garlic Bread with a side Salad

Thursday:
Chana Dal Masala   Cumin Pulao
Chana Dal Masala and Jeera Pulao

Friday:
Basil Chicken
Thai Basil Chicken, Lemongrass Rice and Papaya Salad

Saturday: OFF DAY!

Sunday:
Keema Spaghetti
Indian-style Spaghetti and Salad



Recipe Video: Boiled Egg Sambal

Hi guys! Here is my very first cooking video on my YouTube channel. It’s a recipe for Egg Sambal, which is one of Baby Dear’s favourite dishes. He absolutely loves it and begs me to make it at least once a week. It’s a very simple and quick recipe and works perfectly as a weeknight dinner. Although I’ve used boiled eggs here, I often make many variations of this recipe, like with Fried Eggs or even Shrimp.

Please subscribe to my YouTube cooking channel to get new recipe videos every week. Also, don’t forget to like and share my videos, and join me on my Facebook page for many more recipes, tips and generally keeping in touch.

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Ask Meena: Alu Beans

Here is a recent email I received from a reader:

Hi Meena,

I’m a vegan and have recently started trying my hand at cooking Indian food at home. I love the aromas and flavours that Indian cooking offers and it’s also one of the best cuisines I’ve enjoyed since becoming a vegan 3 years ago. I enjoy eating most vegetables, but potatoes just happen to be my absolute favourite. I will anything if there is even a slight trace of potato in it. I was wondering if you could share a few vegetable recipes that also include potatoes in them. Thanks in advance and keep those delicious recipes coming!

- Donna

Pic for Alu Beans taken from www.hookedonheat.com. Visit site for a detailed recipe.

Hey Donna! I completely agree with you that Indian food is definitely one of the best cuisines for a vegan/vegetarian to enjoy. The flavours are robust, varied and you have a million options to choose from! To be honest, I generally feel that potatoes often take the cake in Indian vegetarian cooking. It’s one of the cheapest vegetables found in India, and is a sure staple in many homes. It’s usually hard to find an Indian who does not enjoy the spud in some form or the other. So aren’t you in luck!

Since potatoes are great in taking on any flavorings added to them, you can easily get away with throwing in a few pieces to almost any dish that you cook. They work great when cooked with peas, carrots, cauliflower or any kind of greens that you fancy. This Alu Palak recipe is one such example. Below, is another quick recipe that works great as a side to some Dal and Rotis/Rice.

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Dinner Diary: Paneer Green Curry

Dinner Diary is a series of posts I write that include quick, simple, everyday recipes that I whip up on most days for my family. In most cases, they can hardly be called recipes since I just go with the flow and dump things into a hot pan. Through this series I’ve tried to show you that no matter what your level of expertise is in the kitchen, making a good healthy meal for yourself and your family is actually quite simple. All it takes, is a whole lot of love and a bit of practice.

Dear Dinner Diary,

Boy has it been cold lately! All I find myself doing mostly these day is snuggling into the corner of the couch wrapped up in my fuzzy blanket, drinking copious amounts of coffee to keep my insides warm. The fireplace is working overtime and all I seem to want to cook is soup. We’ve drowned in a variety of soups these past few days: Tomato-Basil, Corn Chowder, Chicken Noodle. You name it, and I’ve probably cooked and fed it to the boys!

But not today. Today, I needed something more. Yes, our bodies still needed the warmth, but out taste buds demanded more creativity. And I do admit, making soup is quite boring to me. I’m craving the excitement that comes with sautéing fresh ingredients in an array or spices and the wafting aromas that come with it. A quick peek into my pantry convinced me that a lip-smacking dinner was not too far away.

I had the veggies and herbs I needed, the curry paste was waiting as well. And instead of our usual choice of chicken or tofu, I decided to pick paneer as our protein for the day. I set a pot of rice to cook on the side and got started with the curry. And before I knew it, the three of us were seated at the table relishing every spoonful of our curry drowned rice. It was exactly what we needed!

Recipe for Paneer Green Curry taken from www.hookedonheat.com

Paneer Green Curry:

Sauté cubes of paneer in a bit of light cooking oil to lightly brown the edges. In a deep pan, heat some oil and add in sliced onions, red peppers and green beans. Once the veggies start to soften a bit, add in a heaped tablespoon of some Thai green curry paste. Fry for a few seconds before adding in a can of coconut milk. Let it slowly come to a boil. Now season with salt, and add in the paneer pieces and some Thai basil and let it simmer for a minute or two. Serve over warm rice and enjoy!



On to New Ventures: The HoH Kitchen

Ever since I started this blog on a whim one morning over 9 years ago, I’ve been amazed at the support and encouragement that I’ve received from all you wonderful readers of mine. You were right there holding my hand as I nervously worked on my first cookbook. When news of the second one came around, you were there again cheering me on. Over the years, you’ve come to see me in my many avatars as a writer, cooking instructor, home-cooking advocate and above all, a food blogger.

As I sit here today marveling at how wonderfully enriching this journey has been so far, I can’t help curb the excitement for what’s yet to come. And it is with that same excitement that I invite you all to step into my kitchen and cook along with me. Many of you have requested time and again, that I include videos to my recipes. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally here!

Today, I finally bit the bullet and let the camera run. As you can tell, I am a novice at this – but I do believe that I can only get better with time. Could I request you all to please like, subscribe and share my YouTube cooking channel? So don’t forget to watch my videos and join me on my Facebook page for many more recipes, tips and generally keeping in touch. And yeah, a new recipe video will up each week starting next Wednesday!

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Eggs in a Row: Indian Masala Omelette

The year I turned 15, my Mom decided it was time I learnt the basics of cooking. If nothing else, she figured I could at least make myself breakfast without having to yell for her when I was hungry. Like many Malay moms of her generation, she believed that to equip one’s offspring with the knowledge of how to cook an egg in at least three different ways would enable them to overcome all of life’s challenges. According to her, if you have eggs and a bowl of rice, you’re all set to have a hearty, somewhat nutritious meal even in the hardest of times. Hence, it was the dreaded egg that I was made to master before I could even think of trying my hand out with other ingredients.

Recipe for Indian Masala Omelette taken from www.hookedonheat.com

I kid you not when I say that during that one month, our daily consumption of eggs grew 10-fold. Not because we ate them all. Quite the contrary. Most of them landed on the floor, by my feet or on my clothes. Some however, did manage to make it into the mixing bowl – but not without a ton of crushed shell mixed in. You see, no matter how hard I tried, I could never manage to crack the egg without completely destroying it. In hindsight, I think the actual problem was that I was trying too hard – I literally banged the egg with all my might on the edge of the bowl instead of lightly tapping it. Well, in my defense, my light tap hardly ever caused a crack on the shell, so I tapped harder – which of course, led to disaster. Each. And. Every. Time.

It was a moment of triumph not just for me, but my mom as well, when I finally managed to crack the egg just right and break it open onto a hot pan. The sound of that sizzle meant that she didn’t have to set aside a separate budget for eggs anymore. I still look fondly to that very day when I fried an egg on my own. Since then, there was no stopping me; and although I didn’t actually begin to really start to cook until much, much later, eggs were something I knew I could make a delicious meal out of!

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Turning up the Heat: Baingan Bharta

If I told you that I whip up amazingly gourmet meals at the drop of a hat for my everyday dinners, that I’d have to be lying. Truth be told, I seldom ever cook something that would have me whisking away for hours on end. Except of course, when I have company coming! Now that’s a whole different story altogether. Even then, I’m not spending all those hours on one single dish, but instead, I’m actually going nuts fussing over a minimum of five main courses. Yes, I get like that while entertaining. But the diligent licking of everyone’s fingertips and perplexed weight-watching souls worrying over whether to go in for seconds (thirds, actually) more than makes up for all the effort.

Recipe for Baingan Bharta taken from www.hookedonheat.com

When it comes to feeding family, I like to go more easy on myself. It’s not that I don’t enjoy feeding loved ones with rich palate pleasing favourites, but I’d rather spend my time with them enjoying simple, yet equally delightful food made in minutes. A recent email from one of my readers posed a question I have been subjected to many a times. This compelled me to come all out talk about my regular at-home meals. She writes,

All your recipes appear as if they leaped out of glossy magazines. While many them are quite easy to follow, it’s hard to imagine myself cooking lavish meals every night. Do you really cook all these wonderful looking food on a daily basis?

Well, dear reader, all I can say is yes. Well almost. You see, most of my recipes, no matter how elegantly sounding, are actually very simple and wholesome; and ones that I turn to on a weekly basis. While it may seem daunting to someone not so in tune with Indian cuisine, it’s not at all that hard. Most dishes can be made in a matter of minutes, whereas others, that seem to call for buckets full of spices, may just take a tad bit more time. But yes, sometimes even an adventurous cook like myself, wants to take a break and reach out to the nearest pack of instant noodles. And it’s often in times like these that I faithfully turn to my repertoire of quick fixes. And these, I assure you dear reader, can be whipped up real quick. Literally in minutes!

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