Butter Chicken

Ok, so this isn’t a dish you should be making often. This is my first attempt at making Butter Chicken and it turned out pretty decent! While this isn’t something I order at a restaurant (because I prefer spicy food), I enjoyed trying my hand at it. This recipe is from my sister who in turn got it from her friend back when they were in college together. I’ve made slight variations to the original recipe like the use of unsalted butter instead of salted. It’s great for a special occasion or when you have guests and goes well with steaming hot ghee rice.

Butter Chicken

Ingredients:

For the marinade:
Chicken – 500 gms
Yoghurt – 1 cup
Salt 
Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Garam Masala – 2 tsp

For the gravy:
Tomatoes – 6
Unsalted butter – 50 gms
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Cashewnuts – 1/3 cup
Chilli powder – 1/4 tsp
Milk – 1.25 cups
Cream – 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Tandoori Masala – 1 tsp
Green chillies – 1
Sugar – 1/4 tsp
Bay leaf – 1
Salt to taste

Method:

Marinating the chicken:

  • Mix all the marinade ingredients together with the chicken and allow to rest for at least 2 hours in the fridge

Making the gravy:

  • Grind the tomatoes to a fairly fine paste
  • Soak the cashewnuts in hot water and allow to sit for about 15 minutes before grinding to a smooth paste 
  • Heat a wok and melt the butter
  • Add the bay leaf and stir
  • Add ginger-garlic paste and fry till the liquid evaporates
  • Add the ground tomatoes  and cool till it turns very dry and the fat separates
  • Add the cashewnut paste
  • Add chilli powder and fry till the fat separates
  • Switch off the stove and then add the milk and a cup of water to get a gravy
  • Turn on the heat again and bring to a boil
  • Cover the wok and simmer for about 7 minutes
  • Once again, remove from heat and stir in the 3/4 cup of cream
  • Add garam masala, tandoori masala, sugar and salt
  • Add the chicken and cook on a low flame till it becomes tender
  • Garnish with 2 tbsp of cream and green chillies

Note:
– I didn’t use store-bought tandoori masala but instead made my own following this recipe; I left out ground ginger, ground garlic, nutmeg and paprika since I did not have these ingredients
– Adjust the amount of milk and cream in this recipe depending on how rich you want it to be and how much gravy you would like
– You can also add tandoori color to the marinade which I left out since I didn’t have any

Roast Turkey with Homemade Gravy

Last Thanksgiving, my sister wanted to roast a turkey, something neither of us had done, ever. We took the plunge and it turned out to be so much fun! We followed Ina Garten’s recipe that you can find here and made a few changes as well. My sister did most of the dirty work, and I was more than happy to assist. While the turkey was the star of the show, everyone was apprehensive about the gravy and wasn’t too sure if we should make it. But I decided to go ahead and followed Ina Garten’s recipe, which you can find here. The gravy turned out to be a highlight and tasted so good with the turkey! If you have never done this before, and have always wanted to, this is your cue! It’s not that hard as long as you aren’t tackling this dish alone. So go for it and Happy Holidays!

Roast Turkey

Ingredients:

For the Roast Turkey

Turkey – 9 pounds
Salt – 2 tsp
Ground black pepper – 1 tsp
Fresh thyme, chopped – 1 tsp
Fresh thyme – 1 bunch
Butter – 1/2 cup, softened
Spanish onion – 1, quartered
Lemon – 1, zested and juiced
Lemon – 1, halved
Garlic – 1, halved, cross-wise

For the Homemade Gravy

Unsalted butter – 8 tbsp (1 stick)
Yellow Onion – 2
All-purpose flour – 1/4 cup
Salt – 1 tsp
Freshly ground black pepper – 1/2 tsp
Turkey drippings + Chicken stock – 2 cups

Method:

Roast Turkey

  • Wash the turkey under cold, running water and pat down dry
  • Make a mixture of butter, lemon zest and juice and 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
  • Rub some of the above mixture under the skin of the turkey using your fingers and the rest all over the bird
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper in the cavity of the turkey and outside as well
  • Stuff the cavity with the halved lemon, garlic, onion and bunch of fresh thyme
  • Tie the legs with cooking twine and tuck the wings as well

Roast Turkey

[We used a frozen turkey and took it out of the freezer two nights before Thanksgiving, and left it in the refrigerator to thaw. We did the marinade the previous night. At that time the turkey was still frozen in parts and so we let it thaw in the microwave for a few minutes. The giblets were in a separate bag and we discarded it. The neck was also separate and we let it roast in the pan for flavor and discarded it later. This entire process is a messy job, so be prepared!]

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Once ready, place the turkey and cook for about 2.5 hours (time would vary according to the size of the turkey. If needed, use a thermometer, but we didn’t. If the juices released into the baking dish are clear, it’s an indication that the bird is cooked)
  • Once the turkey is roasted, remove all the juices using a baster (you can use this to make a gravy)
  • Cover the turkey with foil and allow to rest for about 20 minutes before cutting
  • Slice and serve with gravy!

Homemade Gravy

  • In a pan, heat butter till it melts and then add chopped onions
  • Fry the onions on medium to low heat for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly browned. Do not rush this step
  • Add the all-purpose flour and whisk well
  • Add salt and pepper and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Add the turkey drippings and chicken stock mixture
  • Cook uncovered for about 5 minutes
  • Serve with turkey!

Home-made Gravy for Thanksgiving

Note: The original recipe calls for the use of white wine, cream and brandy/cognac. I didn’t use any of these ingredients and the gravy turned out delicious!
Turkey drippings are the juices left in the pan after roasting a turkey in the oven. Use a baster to remove these juices once your turkey is cooked. I got over a cup of these drippings and used chicken stock for the rest. You could even use just two cups of chicken stock instead of the drippings.

For more delicious gravy recipes, go to My King Cook

Hawaiian-style Shrimp Scampi

This dish is inspired by the Shrimp Scampi served at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck in Hawaii. We had visited two of the Hawaiian islands back in 2009 and this place, among other places serving the local cuisine, was recommended by my husband’s colleague, who grew up in Hawaii. This was our last meal in Hawaii during our trip and the most memorable one! It is such a simple dish with just a few ingredients but packed with so much flavor and I can still recall the taste and the butter literally flowing down our fingers as we made our way through the big serving of one of the best Shrimp Scampi. I recreated this with Indian flavors and it just brought back all the lovely memories. This recipe uses far less butter but tastes as good as the original one. 

Shrimp scampi

Ingredients:

White shrimp, deveined- 30, preferably with tail on
All-purpose flour – 1/2 cup
Chilli powder – 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder – 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 3/4 tsp
Butter – 5 tbsp
Olive oil – 3 tbsp
Garlic, finely chopped – 12 to 15
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 3 tbsp
Lemon juice – 2 tsp
White rice, cooked – 2 cups

Method:

  • Clean the shrimp and pat dry
  • Mix flour, chilly powder, coriander powder, cumin powder and salt
  • Dredge the shrimp in the flour mixture

            shrimp scampi 2  shrimp scampi 3

  • Heat 3 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of oil in a cast iron skillet
  • Add half the garlic and place half the shrimp without over-crowding
  • Cook 3 minutes on each side until nice and golden brown

           shrimp scampi 4 shrimp scampi 5 shrimp scampi 6

  • Remove from heat, garnish with coriander leaves and lemon juice
  • Heat remaining butter and oil and add the remaining shrimp and repeat the process
  • While serving, drizzle any left over butter/oil from the pan over the shrimp and rice

Shrimp Biryani

I learnt this recipe from my mother-in-law and this has become one of my favorite shrimp preparations. I prefer using medium sized shrimp/prawn in biryani as opposed to the smaller ones that are typically used in curries.They are also a lot easier to clean as I usually get the fresh variety and peel/devein them myself. 

Shrimp Biryani

Ingredients:

Shrimp, cleaned and deveined – 25
Basmati rice, washed and soaked – 2 cups
Onion, finely chopped – 3 cups
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 3
Bay leaf – 1
Coriander leaves, finely chopped – 4 tbsp
Garlic cloves, crushed – 5
Tomato, finely chopped – 3/4 cup
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 3/4 tsp
Oil – 4 tbsp
Ghee – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste

To grind:
Coconut pieces – 1/4 cup
Green chillies – 2
Garlic cloves – 4
Ginger, chopped – 1 tbsp

Method:

  • Heat 3 tbsp oil in a pan
  • Add the crushed garlic and 2 cups of chopped onion and saute well
  • When the onion starts changing color, add the tomato and saute for few more minutes
  • Add turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder and garam masala powder and mix well
  • Add salt and enough water to cover the shrimp. Cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes
  • While the shrimp cooks, grind the coconut, ginger, garlic and green chillies together into a smooth paste
  • Heat the ghee in another pan, drain and add the basmati rice. Saute it for 3 to 4 minutes and transfer to a bowl
  • In the same pan, heat the remaining 1 tbsp of oil
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf
  • Add the remaining 1 cup of chopped onion and saute for 5 minutes
  • Add the ground paste and coriander leaves and saute for couple more minutes
  • Add the cooked shrimp along with any water remaining
  • Add the rice and add more water making sure that the total number of cups of water is twice as that of the rice
  • Add salt, cover and cook on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes or until all water is absorbed and the rice is cooked

Meen/Fish Kuzhambu

Meen Kuzhambu is one of the most traditional and commonly prepared dish of Tamil Nadu. It is also one of the few dishes the recipe for which is pretty much the same across all households and also, hasn’t been modified over time. It is said that this dish tastes best the next day and it is also adviced not to reheat the kuzhambu once it has been prepared. Fish that are typically used in this dish are Vanjaram(King fish), Kanangeluthi(Mackerel) or Shankara(Red Snapper). I have used Black Drum that is local to Texas. You can also use any freshwater variety. This dish tastes best when using the fish with the bones. Request your fish monger to cut them as steaks. I also add the head as it adds more flavor. There are lots of YouTube videos on cleaning fish heads but if you live in India, you can get it cleaned from the store itself.

Meen kuzhambu

Ingredients:

Fish slices – 10 to 12
Sesame oil – 2 tbsp
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds – 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves – 5 to 6
Tamarind juice – 1 cup
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 2 tsp
Coriander powder – 2 tsp
Jaggery – 1 tsp
Salt – to taste

To grind;
Olive oil – 2 tsp
Onion, roughly chopped – 2 cups
Tomato, roughly chopped – 1 cup
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black peppercorns – 1/2 tsp
Garlic cloves – 6
Curry leaves – 10

Method:

  • Clean the fish and set aside
  • Prepare the masala first by heating oil in a pan
  • Add cumin seeds, peppercorns, garlic and curry leaves followed by onion and tomato. Saute for 3-4 minutes
  • Remove from heat, let it cool and grind to a smooth paste 
  • Mix the paste with tamarind juice, turmeric, chilly powder and coriander powder
  • Heat the olive oil and sesame oil in a wide pan. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. You can substitute these with Vadagam
  • Add the mixture previously prepared along with salt and jaggery
  • Add water and bring it to a boil which will take 10-12 minutes
  • Once the curry comes to a boil and you notice the oil at the surface, add the fish pieces. Cover and cook for 10 minutes
  • Serve hot with rice

Tip: Use a wide pan so that there is room for all the fish pieces. This will also ensure they don’t break. Using an earthenware pot adds to the flavor.

Baked Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is probably a favorite of everyone but we end up ordering them at restaurants more often than trying it out at home. You don’t need a Tandoor to make this dish and can be easily prepared in an oven. The preparation itself doesn’t take too long except for the marination time and you just have to let the oven do it’s job. The best part of this recipe is the homemade Tandoori masala which just adds it’s own flair to this dish, plus it does not call for the bright orange/red food color that I am totally not a fan of. Try this and you will never think about ordering it from any restarurant or joint. Goes well with any type of biryani. Check out the recipe for egg biryani.

Baked Tandoori Chicken

Ingredients:

Chicken drumsticks – 6
Yogurt – 2 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Kashmiri chilly powder – 3/4 tsp
Lemon juice – 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Oil – 4 tsp

Salt – to taste

For the Tandoori masala powder:
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 3
Cumin seeds- 1/2 tsp
Black peppercorns – 8
Coriander seeds – 1/2 tsp
Green cardamom – 2
Fennel seeds/ saunf – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  • Dry roast the Tandoori masala ingredients and grind them into a fine powder
  • Make 2-3 small slits on the chicken so that they will soak up the marinade well
  • In a bowl, mix together yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, chilly powder, tandoori masala powder, lemon juice and salt
  • Place the chicken in the bowl and coat them well with the marinade
  • Cover and refrigerate overnight or for at least 4-6 hours
  • Pre-heat the oven to 450°F
  • Line a baking sheet with aluminium foil and grease the foil with oil
  • Place the chicken in the pan making sure there is some space between each of them as shown belowBaked Tandoori Chicken 2
  • Drizzle oil over the chicken
  • Cook for about 40 minutes turning the chicken half way through the baking process. Add more oil if necessary
  • Then, turn on the broiler and cook for another 5 minutes. This will give the chicken a nice crispy and lightly charred skin
  • Serve with your favorite biryani

IMG_4879

Fried & Baked Chicken

This is a dish that seemed quite daunting to me when I first wanted to attempt it. But once you have all the ingredients prepared and laid out, it happens quite quickly. There is a bit of multi-tasking involved but it’s quite easy once you figure it out. I borrowed this recipe from Ina Garten’s Chicken Piccata

Fried and Baked Chicken

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

Chicken breast – 450 gms (4 pieces)
Salt to taste
Pepper – 1 tsp
All-purpose flour – 1.5 cups
Egg – 1
Milk/Water – 1 tbsp
Bread crumbs – 1 cup
Grated Parmesan Cheese – 1/4 cup (optional)
Dry thyme – 1/4 tsp (optional)
Butter/Oil – 2 tbsp

Method:

  • Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit or 200 degrees Celsius
  • Line a baking tray with foil and spray with oil; keep aside
  • Take a wide dish or plate and spread out the all-purpose flour
  • Take another plate and pour a beaten egg mixed with milk
  • In a third plate, spread out a mixture of bread crumbs, cheese and dried thyme
  • Take the first chicken piece and place in between butter paper or cling wrap and beat it out to an even and thin (about 1/2 an inch or so) piece using a rolling pin or meat tenderizer
  • The above step helps ensure the chicken cooks properly and evenly
  • Follow this process with the remaining pieces of chicken
  • Season each piece of chicken with salt and about a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper and set aside
  • Heat a pan (that’s wide enough to hold two pieces of chicken) with a tablespoon of butter
  • Take the first piece of chicken and place in the dish with flour; coat all sides of the chicken evenly and shake off any excess flour
  • Then, place the piece in the egg mixture and coat well
  • Finally, place the chicken in the plate with bread crumbs, cheese and thyme; ensure that all sides are covered
  • Place in the pan on medium to high heat
  • Repeat this process with remaining pieces of chicken
  • Cook the chicken for about 2 minutes on each side before transferring them to the prepared baking tray
  • Bake for about ten minutes and serve hot along with coleslaw, salad or even as a burger!

Note: 
– For the bread crumb mixture, you can even use seasoned crumbs that are available in stores. I used whole wheat bread crumbs. If you do not have thyme, you can use any dry herb or even finely chopped cilantro. You can play around with this mixture by even adding chilli flakes or finely chopped garlic
– I mix milk with the egg because this helps it stick to the floured-chicken; you could use water instead of milk as well
– I used about a 1/2 tablespoon of butter to pan-fry each piece of chicken; you can use vegetable or olive oil instead

Easy Chicken Curry

Easy Chicken Curry

Ingredients:

For the masala:
Oil
Cinnamon – 2-inch piece
Cloves – 6
Cardamom – 6
Onion – 2

For the curry:
Bayleaf – 2
Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tsp
Chicken – 900 gms approx.
Tomatoes – 2
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Coriander powder – 1 tsp
Cumin powder – 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala – 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Water – 1/2 cup approx.
Oil
Kasoori Methi – 1 tsp

Method:

Making the masala:

  • Heat oil in a large pan or wok
  • Add cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and fry for about 30 seconds
  • Add roughly chopped onions and fry till it begins to turn brown
  • Remove from heat and set aside to cool
  • Grind to a paste (without adding water)

Making the curry:

  • Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and set aside
  • Heat oil in a large pan and add bayleaf
  • Fry for about 30 seconds before adding ginger-garlic paste
  • Turn the heat to a low flame and add chicken pieces, chopped tomatoes, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala, cumin powder, salt to taste and the ground onion paste; mix well
  • Add about half a cup of water and cover the pan with a lid
  • Cook for about 15 minutes till the chicken is tender
  • Remove from heat and add kasoori methi
  • Serve hot with rice or chapathi

Note: – I have used chicken breast in this recipe; it can be substituted with whole chicken
– This recipe is from a Kannada book titled ‘Oggarane Dabbi’

Chicken Curry/Kuzhambu

This chicken curry is a typical Tamilian dish, filled with strong south Indian flavors. It’s my sister’s recipe and her version is still the best-tasting. Whether you are nursing a cold, or want to keep warm, or just crave food that reminds you of home, this dish checks all of those boxes. It’s literally chicken soup for the soul. Enjoy!

Chicken Curry/Kuzhambu

Ingredients:

Marinade:
Chicken – 1 kg
Yoghurt – 3 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp

Masala:
Oil
Cloves – 5
Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
Ginger – 3 tbsp
Garlic – 15 cloves
Black Peppercorns – 2 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
Dry red chilli – 8
Onion – 1/2

Curry:
Oil
Cloves – 5
Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
Cardamom – 4
Onion – 1, large-sized
Tomatoes – 2
Fresh Coriander – 1/2 cup

Salt to taste
Water – 1.5 cups approx

Method:

Marinade

  • Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces and mix in the turmeric and yoghurt
  • Cover with cling film and keep refrigerated for at least a couple of hours or overnight (If you do not have time, marinate the chicken first and refrigerate until you need to add it to the dish)

Masala

Masala - Chicken Curry/Kuzhambu

  • In a pressure cooker, heat oil
  • Fry cloves and cinnamon for about 30 seconds before adding dry red chillies, chopped ginger and garlic
  • Fry for about half a minute and add coriander seeds and peppercorns
  • Add half an onion and fry till it begins to brown
  • Keep aside to cool 
  • Grind this masala to get a coarse mixture (Add 2 tablespoons of water if required while grinding)

Curry

  • In a pressure cooker, heat oil
  • Add cloves, cinnamon and elaichi
  • Fry for about 30 seconds before adding chopped onions
  • Fry the onions till it begins to turn golden brown
  • Add chopped tomatoes and fry for a couple more minutes
  • Then, add the ground masala and mix well
  • Add the chicken and salt to taste
  • Mix well and add enough water to cover the chicken (Keep in mind that the chicken will also release some water)
  • Pressure cook for 2 whistles
  • Once pressure releases, serve hot with white rice, chapathi or dosai
  • If there is too much water, cook on open flame till it reduces
  • Garnish with fresh coriander

Sozhikkeerai/Dill Keema Masala

Keema Masala is quite popular in South Indian cuisine and it can be prepared with lots of different vegetables like potato, peas, and Avaraikkai(broad beans). This dish brings together keema and a very fragrant herb, Dill or Sozhikeerai in Tamil. Dill can also be prepared with other vegetables such as potato or cabbage. The only thing to keep in mind is to use dill in moderation as it can get very overpowering and hide the rest of the ingredients. Enjoy!

Dill Keema

Ingredients:

Goat/lamb keema – 1 pound
Dill, finely chopped – 1/2 cup
Cinnamon – 1/2 inch piece
Cloves – 3
Onion, finely chopped – 1 cup
Tomato, finely chopped – 1/2 cup
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Turmeric – 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder – 3 tsp
Coriander powder – 3 tsp
Oil – 2 tbsp
Salt – to taste

Method:

  • Heat oil in a deep pan and add the cinnamon and cloves
  • Add onions and saute for 5 minutes
  • Add tomato and ginger-garlic paste and saute for few more minutes
  • Add the keema, turmeric, chilly powder, coriander powder and salt. Mix well
  • Add enough water to cover the keema. Cover and cook on medium heat for about 15 minutes or till the keema is half way done
  • Add the chopped dill. Cover and cook for 10 more minutes
  • Remove the lid and cook till all the water is abosrbed
  • Serve with rice and sambar or as a side for chapati