CHICKEN JALFREZI

Since I got married I have been learning my husband’s mother tongue of Bengali. I grew up speaking Hindi (and “Hinglish”); although both languages stem from the ancient language of Sanskrit, they are very different. My high school French teacher once told me I had a natural “flair for languages” but as an adult, it’s safe to say I have lost said flair!

It’s okay though. I have accepted that mastering the language is more of a long-term goal. I can say “I’m hungry” and “What’s for dinner?” – so important key phrases are in the bank. In the short-term, learning how to recreate my mother in law’s amazing Bengali dishes are more of a pressing matter (er priorities…hello?). 

Today’s recipe is not from her cookbook, but rather one that Jan, one of my cookery class students, asked me how to teach her. It’s a curry house fav in the UK and I found it fun to recreate at home. A dry, spicy chicken dish cooked with peppers and onions – it has crunch, colour and flavour all packed into one! Fun fact – the “jal” comes from the Bengali word “jhal” which means spicy (see I am learning!). Enjoy the recipe below lovely people.

 

Chicken Jalfrezi
Serves 4
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For the chicken marinade
  1. 500g skinned chicken thighs, cut into small bite-size pieces
  2. 2 heaped tbsp yoghurt
  3. 1 tbsp oil
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1 tsp garam masala
  6. ½ tsp kasuri methi/dried fenugreek (optional)
For the sauce
  1. 3 tbsp ghee or oil
  2. 2 green cardamoms crushed open (optional)
  3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
  4. 1 onion, thinly sliced
  5. 1 1/4tsp salt
  6. 3 garlic cloves peeled and grated
  7. 2” ginger, grated
  8. 2 green bird eye chillies, finely chopped
  9. 3 fresh tomatoes, finely diced
  10. 1 tbsp double concentrate tomato purée
  11. ½ tsp garam masala
  12. ½ tsp coriander powder
  13. ½ tsp paprika
  14. ½ tsp turmeric
  15. 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  16. ½ red pepper thinly sliced
  17. Handful fresh coriander
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat your grill at the maximum temperature setting. Place all "marinade" ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Now, place the marinated chicken on a foil lined oven tray.
  2. Grill chicken for 10-12 minutes until cooked (the chicken should be white all the way through once fully cooked).
  3. Remove from grill and keep aside.
  4. Heat the ghee or oil in pan on a medium heat setting. Once hot add the crushed green cardamoms and cumin seeds. When they begin to sizzle in the oil, add the onion along with ¾ tsp salt. Cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent.
  5. Now add the garlic, ginger and chilli and mix. Continue to cook for a further 2-3 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Add the chopped tomatoes and purée to the pan and stir. Cook for 2-3 minutes allowing them to completely soften.
  7. Reduce heat slightly and add the garam masala, coriander powder, paprika, turmeric and the remaining salt and mix well. When you see the oil begin to separate from the masala paste, add the grilled chicken and the sliced peppers.
  8. Mix well on a medium/high heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Finish with a sprinkle of fresh coriander. Taste for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Desi Chilli Chicken

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Whenever I make this dish, I’m reminded of a recent trip to India which ended in pain and tears. The good kind. Obviously. 

It was the night before we were due to fly back home when I decided to visit an Indo-Chinese street food cart next to my grandma’s house. I had passed this cart everyday and had been eyeing up the “goods on offer” carefully considering if I should do the deed. To clarify, doing said deed would involve purchasing a portion of their ever popular chilli chicken and hakka noodles. Sounds simple enough right? But deciding on whether or not you should get involved in an authentic street food experience in India is a dubious proposition indeed (concerns of the “aftermath” consumes much of the reason why).

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Fancying myself as somewhat of an adventurous foodie, I decided to go for it. I handed over my 30 rupees and minutes later, a piping hot mountain of noodles topped with a glorious looking portion of chilli chicken headed my way. I dug in. The first mouthful…wow. In fact every mouthful tasted better than the last. I couldn’t stop. I must have been at it for at least half a minute when I suddenly halted. I looked up and found streams of tears rolling down my cheeks.  Then came the immense burn on my tongue, followed by panting. In short, I was a HOT MESS. In hindsight, this should have been where this culinary escapade ended. But it didn’t and I couldn’t not have more! The burn became more painful but I ploughed on. I fought back the tears and carried on like some sort of deranged addict. The end soon came when the hyperventilating started and I started getting weird looks from, well, everyone. Quite possibly the most exhilarating eating experience of my life!

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Understandably when I returned home, I was itching to recreate this dish and did so successfully but without the cry-me-a-river effect! This recipe is a slight twist on the original but is packed full of flavour which makes it oh so good! Scooped us with hot chapatis or even spicy noodles you will want to try this. Give it a go and let me know what you think!

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Desi Chilli Chicken
Serves 4
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Ingredients
  1. 400g boneless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
  2. 2tbsp gram flour
  3. 1 tsp black pepper
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 1/4 tsp red chilli flakes
  6. Egg white from 1 egg
  7. 4 tbsp sunflower oil for frying
  8. 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  9. 3” ginger, finely chopped
  10. 2 birds eye green chillis, finely chopped
  11. 2 tbsp tomato puree
  12. 1 medium onion, diced into 2” chunks
  13. 3 stems spring onion, cut into 1” chunks
  14. 1 small capsicum, cut into 2” chunks
  15. ½ tsp salt
  16. ½ tsp paprika
  17. ½ tsp coriander powder
  18. 1 tsp amchur
  19. 1 tsp garam masala
  20. Handful coriander, finely chopped
  21. Small handful fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
Instructions
  1. Place chicken in a bowl. Add the gram flour, pepper, salt, red chilli flakes and egg white. Mix well.
  2. Heat oil in a wide non-stick pan. Place chicken in the oil and cook for 3-4 minutes until it is white and slightly golden in colour on both sides. Remove from pan and keep aside.
  3. Using the same pan and oil, reduce the heat to low/medium. Now add the ginger, garlic and chilli. Sauté for a couple of minutes. Now add the tomato puree and mix well.
  4. Add the onions and sauté for 1 minute. Now add the spring onions and capsicum and mix. Add the chicken. At this point, add salt, paprika, garam masala, amchur. Mix well. Add the fresh mint and coriander.
  5. Check for salt and adjust accordingly. Remove from heat.
Monica's Spice Diary - Indian Food Blog http://spicediary.com/

Spicy Fenugreek Roasted Chicken

fenugreek roast chicken

So I have been on a bit of a health kick recently. At first it started as a January detox, but I’m pleased to say that I’m not just going “through a phase” and my new found healthy ways have begun to sync with my everyday lifestyle and I feel better for it as a result (hurrah!). I have never ever dieted as my infatuation with food won’t let me. Consequently, I decided to make two simple changes-exercise regularly and eat healthily. Everyone harps on about it and it sounds simple enough right? Well, in a lot of ways it is. In terms of exercising, I essentially needed to consciously make the time go to the gym. With running my own fashion business and hosting regular Spice Club events it became easy to say that I was too busy, but the reality is, we all have the same 24 hours in the day-it’s how we utilise our time that dictates what we get out of it. And so my aim now is to get into the gym about 4 times a week and to make sure I don’t get bored (the thought of going to the gym has never made me yelp in excitement) I do a range of different exercises to spice it up-from yoga to swimming, personal training sessions and aerobic classes!

 

In regards to eating healthily, I basically make sure I eat all 3 main meals with 2 snacks in between and drink plenty of water. Lots of fruit & vegetables (smoothies have been fantastic for this), greek yoghurt (full fat baby!) and also plenty of protein (lentils, chicken and fish). Essentially, no processed rubbish. I’ve never eaten too unhealthily anyway-parting with the McCoys multipack was probably the hardest thing to do (crisps are my weakness), but that aside, I feel so much better, energetic and fitter as a result of the conscious choices I’m making when I  go out to a restaurant or cook at home. The most important thing I have done is ensure that all the food I cook, is easy to prepare and still tastes lip smackingly (is that a word?) delicious! My spice box has been a trusty companion throughout my journey so far and it helps to add question marks of excitement to what could ordinarily be a plain jane meal. And that’s what today’s recipe is all about-damned tasty healthy eating! This  spicy fenugreek roasted chicken recipe tastes like it should be a cheat meal but I assure you it’s far from it.  Check it out and let me know what you think:

Serves 2

What we need: 
2 skinless boneless chicken breasts
2 heaped tbsp greek yoghurt
2 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
2″ ginger, grated
1 green chilli, finely chopped
1-2 tsp salt (according to taste)
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp paprika powder
1/2 tbsp dried fenugreek leaves (available at all Asian grocery shops)
Small handful fresh coriander, chopped

How to:

  • Combine all ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix well so that the chicken is coated well
  • Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 4 hours (Note: If you want to cook it straight away you can do but if you allow the chicken to marinade it will taste a lot more flavourful)
  • Pre-heat oven to 220C (or the highest temperature your oven goes to). In the mean time, place each chicken breast on a lined non stick baking tray.
  • Once the oven is hot,  cook for approximately 20 minutes. Turn the chicken pieces over and cook for a remaining 10-12 minutes or until the chicken is white all the way through.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with brown rice (as pictured) or basmati rice and fresh salad.