Recipe – chicken seekh kebabs

Cooking non vegetarian food at home has been pretty lean for me as I happen to be the only consumer in my vegetarian sasural. Not that I don’t cook for myself but somehow one needs quite a bit of drive to go through the process of buying, freezing, thawing, cleaning, cutting, marinating, cooking 200 grams of meat just for oneself. So when people sharing my taste of food visit, I kind of end up taking too much on my hands. All the recipes that I have read/watched since the last time I cooked NV come flooding to my mind, battling with each other to make it to the table. And I must say, my leniency gets the better of me and very few dishes return with heavy hearts. So you can imagine what happened when my father announced he was coming for a day to Mumbai. He would have just one meal with us so I had to pack as much as I could in it. I decided to make Chinese for main course and a Mughlai starter. You can get away with such a medley only at home or at weddings.

I planned the menu –

Non vegetarian – Home made chicken seekh kebab for the starter, mixed fried rice (with egg, chicken and prawns), chilli chicken, golden fried prawns for the main course

Vegetarian – Haldiram namkeen and peanuts for starters (hehe…that would be for my husband…he’s very forgiving), vegetable fried rice, almond vegetables in some sauce (that I can whiz up with dashes of this and that)

Am I cruel or what…

So I started a day in advance – with the seekh kebabs. I don’t mind admitting it was an inspiration from Nigella Lawson (not the seekh kebabs, but the preparing in advance bit), but actually the longer you marinate the meat for seekh kebabs, the tastier they get.

It was my first attempt ever at making any sort of kebabs. I watched videos and read up recipes to prepare myself for this and one rule blared loud and clear in all of them – the biggest mistake while making kebabs is to leave any moisture in the meat. Fine, that can be taken care of. Moreover, I had seen one of the chefs blotting the mince with kitchen paper to absorb residual moisture. So after thoroughly draining the washed mince in the sieve, I tried the kitchen paper trick. And as soon as I pressed the paper (that I had folded several times to make it thick) to the mince, voila! I had the base for the revised recipe of ‘chicken seekh kebabs with a crispy kitchen paper crust’. The damn paper stuck to the mince like skin. You can imagine what a perfect a** I felt. This happens when you don’t use your brains. So I carefully peeled off the paper till the very last bit and stared at the mince for a while as if trying to make the moisture evaporate by just looking. Then I got it. I plonked all the mince in a wide bowl, pressed the sieve on top of the meat to squash it as much as possible and then dabbed the kitchen paper on top of the sieve over the mince. I used up nearly half a roll of kitchen paper this way but how it worked!!! Hah…the power of the human mind…

Well now with the mince taken care of, I went ahead with the marination…here’s the recipe –

½ kg chicken mince – I used less…what with the dabbing and getting out the moisture thing…phew!!

2 tbsps ginger garlic paste – freshly made

1 cup fried onions – this was the secret ingredient…the taste and smell that you get from this…mmmhh…

Fried onions

 

20 sprigs of coriander leaves – I used less

2 green chillies – depends on how much heat you want

1 tsp garam masala – freshly ground

1 tsp amchoor – lemon juice sounds ideal but you don’t wanna add any more moisture that you so painfully extracted so amchoor’s perfect

½ egg – to be used later

Salt

Bread crumbs – to be used only if the final mix is a little moist. I didn’t use any. Remember that this will eat up a lot of flavour so in case you’re using bread crumbs, season the mince a little more

To be dry roasted and ground – 3 dry red chillies, ½ tsp black peppercorns, 2 tbsps coriander seeds – I didn’t use all of the powder

Ground spices

 

Put everything into the mince except the egg and mix well. It should look like this…

Seekh kebab mixture

 

The sad thing is, this is something you can’t taste to check for seasoning as the meat is raw. So what I did was, I took a little bit and microwaved it for 30 secs. It came out cooked and crisp at the edges. Perfect to check seasoning. Just make sure it’s nice and spicy. This is a seekh kebab mix, the finished product will preferably be eaten all by itself so the taste needs to really hit your senses. So although you don’t want the masalas to overpower the taste of the meat, you do want a ‘kadak swaad’ (really couldn’t find an English equivalent for this). But do go a little easy on the garam masala especially if you’ve freshly ground it. It can be really strong.

So now pop it into the fridge and let it marinate for as long as you want. I gave it 24 hours. Out with it, add the whisked egg and mix well. Press it along a skewer and grill for about 15-20 mins. Done. Served with sliced onions. I did not get a picture of the finished product as the moment it was cooked and served, the plate was wiped clean 🙂

As for the rest I marinated the chicken (for the chilli chicken) and the prawns (for the golden fried prawns) next morning ready to be fried and cooked in a matter of minutes. (I just got pictures of the seekh kebab because that was something I was making for the first time and was really excited about it.)

Actually it was more of a prepping job for the rest of the dishes I did. It took a hell of a long time with all the chopping, dicing ans slicing. Cooking all these dishes did not really take longer than half an hour. I’m glad I made enough to send some back home with my father for tasting. The compliments were more than welcome 🙂

Advertisements

The Return of the Icons

So, here I am – with the second instalment of iconic food joints across the country.

There was a mild frisson of controversy over the first instalment (read it here) as the venerable JAP pointed out Mocambo had much better food than Peter Cat and a senior colleague was quite distressed that Gajalee hadn’t featured. Well, of course these two (and many others) serve out-of-the-world food but the point about icons is that they are not (necessarily) about food.

It is about the legend.

In an untraceable blend of history, society and serendipity, these places have become part of the folklore of the city they are located in. So, even a person who’s never been to Calcutta will say “I have heard that Shiraz ka biriyani is too good. My co-brother was saying…”

Which brings us to the first name in this list.

Calcutta – Shiraz

A not-so-glitzy shop at the edge of the glitzy Park Street is known as The Golden Restaurant. The adjective probably refers to the golden hue of the rice and potato (Yes! Calcutta biriyanis have potatoes) that arrives in perfect heap on a gleaming white porcelain dish. The chicken biriyani would have one end of the chicken bone sticking out of the rice (to distinguish it from the mutton version, which is a plain heap of rice). I have never seen the biriyani remain on that dish for more than 9 minutes. Be it the democratic open area in the ground floor or the AC section on the mezzanine, people just jump the biriyani the moment it arrives.

Of course, the rest of their fare is magical too. They have a sort-of-multi-layer-sweetish paratha (which is not really a lachha paratha) that – when served with their Chicken Chnaap – is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. While writing this post, I realised that I have never had kababs from Shiraz. I have gone through three-and-half decades of my life having tasted only 4 or 5 items of their menu!

Bangalore – MTR

This is one place I was totally unimpressed by. When I was in Bangalore, I could not voice my opinion in the fear of being lynched (or being mistaken for a donkey and sacrificed!). But I am completely convinced about its status as a Bangalore icon.

Its unobtrusive facade. The stern guy at the billing desk. The (waiting) coupon which always seems to have a number in excess of 400. And the queue seems to go on till the end of the universe. Even before you get a glimpse of their overloaded stainless steel thalis, MTR imposes its legend upon you.

Their serving style is old-style Bangalore – suffused with a confident lethargy. They know you’ll wait. They also know the wait will be worth it. So, they stop to sniff the flowers before they let you sniff the sambhar! For people like me – used to inhale full plates of biriyani in 7 minutes – this art is lost but that is clearly my loss.

Bombay – Bade Miyan

This is clearly the one Bombay institution which divides the city right down the middle. Some people think it is over-hyped rubbish while others swear it is manna, dropped straight off carnivorous heaven. Without taking sides, I can safely say that any food that ignites such debate is an icon.

All my brushes with Bade Miyan came immediately after a longish booze session at Gokul (which could well be an icon itself) next door. After finishing the liquor that is served rapidly and cheaply, the steps are a little unsteady when you come out but the hunger is beating a steady rhythm. It is in this state that everybody approaches Bade Miyan. Be it the cheap rum at Gokul or the swish wine at Indigo, this small nondescript shop is an island of protein in a sea of alcohol. And thanks to the inflammable nature of the liquid, Bade Miyan is never short of flying fists around it.

A food joint where fights happen regularly. If that is not an icon, what is?

While on the subject of violence and carnivores, read this post (and the comments with it).

Hyderabad – Chutneys

This is where Chiranjeevi comes for breakfast.

What? You are not convinced it is an icon. You Rajini fans, I tell you…

Located at the triveni sangam of Banjara Hills, Jubilee Hills and Punjagutta, Chutney’s is just another restaurant serving dosas, idlis, uttapams and pesarattus to hungry souls. But their Baba Hotel Idli – oh god! Or their MLA Pesarattu… don’t ask me why it is so named. I just thought its because it is as thick-skinned and oily as a MLA!

Like Swagath in Delhi tries to do a Chinese gig to increase menu pages, Chutney’s also thulps in some North Indian delicacies. But I don’t think they ever get any orders of those as people just jump on to the 70 mm Dosa and all will be well with the world.

Delhi – The Big Chill

The wait. The massive menu. The four pages of desserts. The walls jam-packed with Hollywood posters.And the blueberry cheese cake.

The Big Chill serves a mixed menu that draws laughter from critics when it wins prizes for Best Italian at food awards but that’s because that’s the best category they fit in. Otherwise, what prize can you give them. Best Place To Take Girlfriend On First Date award? Or Desserts That Blow Your Mind, Diet and Wallet Award?

In a strange inversion of the demand-supply laws, Big Chill seems to increase demand in Delhi as it increases supply. Every outlet they have opened in Delhi have got jam-packed within 17 minutes of opening the shutters. There are many places in Delhi that serve better Italian food and are quite reasonable too. But nobody packs it in like BC. And that’s one hell of an iconic queue!

BTW, have you ever been to Big Chill and got to sit straight away? Yes? Hi Rahul. Hi Priyanka.

Picture courtesy: Delhi Photo Diary

Answers to FFT 2

Here goes folks! The theme, as you may have figured out was all fictional food places and brands

  1. This Hawaiian word, part of a famous 2-word brand name means “Priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession.”A soda-cup bearing this brand name was first noticed in 1992, but it became indelibly associated with burgers after 1994. Which brand name?
    Kahuna; Big Kahuna burgers made famous by Quentin Tarantino
  2. It is a Canadian-themed bar decorated with maple leaves, Vancouver Canucks shirts, and it has a karaoke machine, that includes the song, Let’s Go To The Mall. Despite being a Canada-themed bar in NYC, Walker’s Crisps seem to be available there. Where will you come across this and who is its most famous visitor?
    Hoser’s Hut, which comes in How I Met Your Mother; the most famous visitor is of course, Robin Scherbatsky
  3. In 2006, Iranian businessman Mojtaba Asadian started this franchise, registering the name in 32 countries. The decor of the coffee houses features replica couches, counters, neon signage and bricks. James Michael Tyler attended the grand opening of the Dubai cafe.  Which memorable coffee shop franchise?
    Central Perk from Friends
  4. “Up, Up and Buffet”, Prof. VJ Cornicopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium & Great American Steakery, Griddler on the Roof, The Texas Cheesecake Depository – where will you find them?
    Springfield; Simpsons
  5. The arrival of the railroad meant a market for produce and especially winter vegetables for northern markets. Onions were the first crop introduced, but ____ replaced the onion crop and now Crystal City is “____ Capital of the World”. In honor of this, a statue of the most famous consumer of this product is in front of the City Hall. Which crop and whose statue?
    Crystal City Texas, Spinach, Popeye

And the winner is….Santosh Swaminathan with 4 correct answers! Good attempts by Megs83 and RC!

Keep it coming folks!

Cheers!
Venky

My own Strawberry Cocoberry recipe

So one Sunday when I felt creative (read bored with nothing to do) I thought let me try making Yogurt ice cream. It turned out quite well and it tasted like Cocoberry 🙂 so here’s my recipe

250 gms yogurt (I used homemade with double toned milk)

1 Small packet Amul fresh cream

250 gms Sugar (depends on if you like it really sweet)

1 packet strawberries

4 slices of pineapple

few drops of pineapple essence

1.Cut the pieces of pineapple and put it in churned yogurt then let them freeze till solid usually takes 5-6 hrs

2. Cut Strawberries into 4-6 pieces (depending on the size of Strawberries) and add 10 tablespoon and half cup water and let it boil till it purees a little but the Strawberries should not become a pulp

3.Take rest of the sugar and churn it in the grinder, add frozen yogurt in step 1 , add 2-3 drops of pineapple essence,a pinch of salt and churn till it all mixes . You could also add Strawberries here instead of Pineapple.

4. Add half the packet of Amul Fresh Cream to the above the mixture (make sure everything is cold including the cream otherwise it’ll become butter) churn it in the grinder lightly to make it smooth

5. Freeze the above mixture and churn it in the grinder lightly before serving as you’ll get crystallized ice cream

Serve the churned mixture with the pureed Strawberries in step 2

Let me know how it came out!

 

 

 

Food for thought – 2

Here goes the next set of questions for you all to try sans search engine support:)

  1. This Hawaiian word, part of a famous 2-word brand name means “Priest, sorcerer, magician, wizard, minister, expert in any profession.”A soda-cup bearing this brand name was first noticed in 1992, but it became indelibly associated with burgers after 1994. Which brand name?
  2. It is a Canadian-themed bar decorated with maple leaves, Vancouver Canucks shirts, and it has a karaoke machine, that includes the song, Let’s Go To The Mall. Despite being a Canada-themed bar in NYC, Walker’s Crisps seem to be available there. Where will you come across this and who is its most famous visitor?
  3. In 2006, Iranian businessman Mojtaba Asadian started this franchise, registering the name in 32 countries. The decor of the coffee houses features replica couches, counters, neon signage and bricks. James Michael Tyler attended the grand opening of the Dubai cafe.  Which memorable coffee shop franchise?
  4. “Up, Up and Buffet”, Prof. VJ Cornicopia’s Fantastic Foodmagorium & Great American Steakery, Griddler on the Roof, The Texas Cheesecake Depository – where will you find them?
  5. The arrival of the railroad meant a market for produce and especially winter vegetables for northern markets. Onions were the first crop introduced, but ____ replaced the onion crop and now Crystal City is “____ Capital of the World”. In honor of this, a statue of the most famous consumer of this product is in front of the City Hall. Which crop and whose statue?

Answers in 48 hours!

Cheers!
Venky