Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma

One of the big lifestyle changes that I have made since I have come back home is in the food I eat. I have been on a diet for the past seven weeks. Well, its not a diet but rather mindful eating. I have been cognizant of the macronutrients of the food I eat, whether it’s processed or not and if meets my daily nutrient requirements. There are pros and cons to mindful eating. A big advantage is challenging myself to make healthier foods by coming up with new recipes. There are negatives to mindful eating too– mainly that for the most part I have had to give up alcohol, bread, and sugar. If you have been following my blog you would know that leaving sugar wouldn’t be hard for me at all (if you need context check this out). However, leaving bread and alcohol was very difficult.

Coming back home felt like a clean slate. This needed to be a new chapter and for that reason, I felt that this mindful eating exercise had to be a part of the process. I committed to the regime. Woke up every morning and did an hour of crossfit training followed by a 300 calorie breakfast composed of 6 egg whites, a bowl of oats in soy milk with dried figs; an apple and cold brew coffee for mid day snack; black chickpea salad for lunch; and grilled chicken with one carrot and one cucumber for dinner. This is what I have been eating most days day. This comes to about 1,400 calories with a good mix of carbs, protein, and fat. It took some time to get used to this regime but now it feels strange when I deviate. Of course, I change the meals a little every now and then but the end caloric intake remains about the same.

The high intensity interval training and diet have resulted in me losing a little more than 10 kgs (22.05 lbs) in 7 weeks. The transformation, while physically doesn’t look like much, has been great for me mentally. I feel more energetic and am getting to a point where I feel comfortable with my body, more so than I have been in a long time.

Every now and then however, I get cravings which usually land up conveniently on a weekend. I seize such opportunities to make what I would call a feast. A no holds barred meal wherein I throw mindfulness out the window and create something based purely on the pleasure of taste. This oven-roasted shawarma is a product of this weekend’s feast. Shawarma is a middle eastern preparation of marinated meat that is cooked evenly and eaten with pita bread and a host of delicious accoutrements. I have made this in the past but each time the spice blend I used didn’t do justice to food. It always ended up tasting a lot like chicken tikka instead. There are two big differences between Indian and Middle Eastern marinades. The first is that in Indian marinades the meat is soaked in yogurt as a layer of additional fat whereas, in middle eastern marinades that fat is provided by olive oil. Secondly, middle eastern preparations focus more on the taste than on the aromatics. Hence, they do away with things like cloves and cardamom and only keep spices that enhance the flavors. I made this dish in the most traditional way possible. I left the chicken in its marinade for almost 12 hours, cooked in an oven for twenty minutes sliced and further fried off half the pieces in a skillet to get a crispy outer coating. What I was left was a mix of tender and crispy pieces of meat that was accompanied with store bought pita and a homemade mint white sauce which I love so much that I plan to make a lot more very soon. The feast was absolute success. Both my dad I overate which resulted in a high that comprised of antacid and soda bicarb. No regrets though.

Spices_

Shawarma-3

I have loved making all these amazing recipes. I have been hearing back from a lot of friends and family  about the things that they have been making. Please share, like, and send pictures! Looking forward to the next feast day though I have been mandated by my vegetarian mother to make something for veggie lovers instead of just meat guzzlers. Hang tight for that recipe soon!

Ingredients

3 limes, juiced

1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons red chili powder (paprika works as well)

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

A pinch ground cinnamon

Red pepper flakes, to taste

1 kilogram (~2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 large red onion, peeled and quartered

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

Step 1

Prepare marinade for the chicken. Combine lime juice with 1/2 cup of olive oil, garlic, salt, black pepper, cumin, red chili powder, turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper flakes, and chicken into a large bowl. Mix well, cover and keep for a minimum of 1 hour and a maximum of 12 hours. 

Step 2

Heat the oven to gas mark 6 or (425 F). Grease the pan with some oil and set the chicken. Coat the onions in the marinade and place in the pan as well.

Step 3

Put the chicken in the oven for not more then 30 minutes or until the outer edges of the chicken begins to crisp and darken. Once cooked, let the chicken rest for 2 minutes. Slice thinly. If you want to make the chicken more crisp, add a tablespoon of olive oil on a skillet at high heat and cook until chicken begins to curl tight. Serve with Hummus, white sauce, fresh veggies, pita, and pretty much anything you desire!

 

 

Advertisements

Pad Thai

Today I begin my first full time job. I will be working in digital marketing in a PR company and while four years ago, I wouldn’t even think of this as a potential occupation, my experiences and degrees suggest otherwise. One of the things people have started telling me is that “Oh, Archit now that you have started working you will have no time.” I found this constant opinion that in college I had time and now I won’t, hilarious. College was hard y’all! I’m not going to lie, my last semester was a lot less busy but every other semester, I was constantly moving from a class to a meeting to working on homework. In fact, because I lived on campus I didn’t even have commuting time which I could use as respite from constant engagement.

In all this craziness, I also had to keep myself fed which meant either eating the same food in cafeterias or actually cooking. While I love cooking, it’s a little time consuming: prepping, the actual act of cooking, and washing dishes all add up. Therefore, I had to think of recipes that needed less equipment and minimal prep time. Enter Pad Thai. All it needs is rice noodles, any (or all) of the veggies you have in your fridge, and a sauce with which to caramelize everything. The important thing here is the sauce. All the flavors are introduced by the sauce which means it needs to hit the three palette tenets of asian food- spice, sweet, and savory. The traditional pad thai recipe asks for tamarind paste but I substitute that with lime juice and rice vinegar which simulate the tang and acidity of tamarind.

I miss original thai food all the time. One of my favorite places to eat in college was a small thai restaurant called Royal Thai, which was run by this tiny but energetic woman that we called “Thai Queen.” She used to love us and always gave us free refills of thai iced tea. I do miss college, but food like this keeps those memories alive. This week I had an unique opportunity to head back to Denison and begin a life there but I chose against it. I do believe that I made a good choice of starting a life in a country that does accept me but I guess only time will tell how smart of a choice this was.

Anyway, I hope you like recipe and give it a try. I have been hearing back from people who have been making some of the recipes and I am excited that you seem to like them. Send me pictures so that I can blog about them!

Pad Thai

 

Ingredients

Serving Size: 2 people

4 tablespoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoons Sriracha

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic minced

2 red chillies or 3 green chillies

200 g of chicken breast or shrimp

2 well beaten eggs

15 large cremini mushrooms sliced thinly

1/2 red or green peppers

250 g of rice noodles (3 mins on boil)

6 Spring onions

handful of coarsely chopped cilantro

handful coarsely chopped peanuts

Preparation

Step 1

Boil noodles for 3 minutes or as per package instructions.

Step 2

To make the sauce: add sriracha, fish sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix well.

Step 3

In a wok, add oil and heat on high until oil begins to smoke. Add Shrimp or chicken and cook a minute under it’s done. Remove protein, and add garlic, ginger, and all the veggies. Cook well and add rice noodles. Add the Beat the egg whites in the center along with your pad thai sauce

Step 4

Reduce the heat and let the sauce caramelize. Mix well and serve with peanuts.

 

Tiramisu

Here’s a confession: I don’t really like sweets. Anything with too much sugar is a real turn off. Pop Tarts, doughnuts, cakes caked with fondant, hard candies, even flavored yoghurt bothers me. It just doesn’t taste good. These foods, while delicious are overwhelming, They tend to coat my whole mouth in one single even sensation- not a flavor, just a strange numbness. This doesn’t mean that I live a sad boring life (though my college roommate whose daily diet of Skittles and Sour Patch Kids would beg to differ). I love ice cream but I tend to like darker flavors, dark chocolates, essentially things where there is complexity. Where the sugar has to compete with other elements in order to have any kind of representation.

This realization, or rather development in my personal palette led to me to Tiramisu: a cake based dessert that blends a silky cheese, sugar, alcohol, and coffee into a layered concoction of happiness and satiety. Tiramisu and I have a long history that weaves with various facets of my life: past romantic relationships, travels, and a start of my culinary endeavors. In the ninth grade, I watched a movie called No Reservations. A mediocre rom-com starring Catherine Zeta Jones and Aaron Eckhart, where the actress plays a head chef with skeletons in her cupboard and Eckhart plays her ambitious sous chef. While the story is not really that memorable, there was a scene that I loved. Eckhart and Jones are in an apartment dimly lit with candles with the chef rushing to leave before the scene becomes more intimate. The sous chef stops her while simultaneously opening his fridge and offering Tiramisu to which Jones has a quite retort, “I am not a dessert person.” This cuts to them on the floor of his drawing room taking generous servings of the decadent dish and with Jones saying, “I guess I was wrong.” I loved this scene because of its simplicity. The cake wasn’t plated beautifully. In fact, it was a square plastic tupperware, but there was passion in the food that converted into passion for Jones.

High school Archit, who was in the thick of love with a beautiful high school girl, found this as his relationship mecca. Something to elevate the way he shows his love through a personal gesture that while was unique was also genuinely simple. Sadly, I was never really able to make this dessert for beautiful high school girl and something that may or may not change anytime soon.

Fast forward to my first winter back home from college, I saw the movie again and this time I decided to give tiramisu a try. Like a true aspiring student of the liberal arts I embarked on deep research into finding the best recipes. After referencing what seemed like days of delicious recipe mining, I created my own recipe which was a convoluted hybrid of Martha Stewart, Deeba Rajpal, and Sanjeev Kapoor’s concoction. I got the ingredients and commenced towards creating a true mess. The egg whites split, the sugar never dissolved, the coffee was so hot that the ladyfingers melted, and to top it off a six hour power cut converted my pastry into a chunky milkshake. I gave up. The ingredients were too expensive, especially to make something sweet. What changed this perspective was my trip to Italy where I loaded up on as much Tiramisu as I could consume until my blood turned to coffee flavored sugar. I tried concoctions made with a sponge cake, white chocolate instead of dark, with rum instead of marsala wine, and what I thought was the best of them all, a gelato with chunks of rum soaked cake. These variations gave me the hope that unlike French, Italian food can have variations. You can make it the way you want, a positive push that allowed me to give this dish another try. By this time, I had been cooking other things as well so a general knowledge about the kitchen helped me as well. I made many variations myself but the one I share below is the culmination of a lot of trial and error. It retains a sweet taste but what overpowers you is the flavor of coffee and dark rum that is succeeded with the fresh aroma of lemon achieved through zest between the layers.

IMG_2441

Food tends to always have a history. Tiramisu has an amazing story of its own but I like the story it weaves in my life. At the end of the day, that is what I think of when I cook: The ability to share my stories with people. And hopefully with the right people.

Tiramisu-2Give this recipe a try and let me know what you think of it!

Ingredients

Serving Size: Should serve a party of 12 (idk weight)

4 large egg whites

5 egg yolks

250 g plain mascarpone cheese at room temp (in India, Flander’s makes the best version)

1/2 cup caster sugar

4 shots of fresh espresso

24 semi sweet Italian ladyfingers

4 tablespoons dark rum (old rum is best)

1 tablespoon of lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence or seeds of 1 vanilla pod

sifted cocoa powder

Preparation

Step 1

Start by slow cooking the egg yolks. In a saucepan, boil water. Place another saucepan above it. The pan on above should be slightly bigger in order not sink in the water. Add yolks and sugar. Whisk until the sugar has mixed completely. It should take about 3 minutes. Don’t over cook. Once mixed set aside to cool.

Step 2

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until you achieve stiff peaks. This takes some time. About 7 minutes but also depends on the weather and size of the eggs. Don’t over beat or the protein in the egg might split.

Step 3

Mix the now cooled yolks with the cheese. Mix well and add vanilla essence. Once mixed slowly incorporate the whites. Be gentle here. The idea is to incorporate the lightness of whites.

Step 4

In a shallow bowl, add coffee and rum and then dip each ladyfinger. Place half the lady fingers as one layer. Then add half of the cheese and egg mix. Add half the zest and then follow the same steps for another layer. Once set, wrap in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 2 hours, or the fridge for 4 hours before eating.

Lemon Garlic Chicken with Mushroom Wild Rice

My favorite restaurant in college was Northstar Cafe. It’s a chain of homey little eateries found only in Columbus, Ohio. The food is locally sourced and the menu is small but each dish is made to perfection. The casual atmosphere is inviting to a mixed crowd of both young and old(er) patrons. As a college student it was definitely on the pricier side. My best friend Morgan and I loved this place. We would come here all the time and usually get the same things. One of us would get a flatbread, either chicken or veggie; a fish sandwich; a couple of ginger ales and a dark chocolate truffle giant cookie (for starters).

While I loved all the food, the one thing that always made me happy was the side dish that came with the fish sandwich. It was called a wild rice salad. A rice with a husk covering giving it the texture of oatmeal, along with a sweet dried currents, a silky acidic bite because of added dry wine, and a crunch delivered by slivered roasted almonds. The complexity of flavors and the simplicity of its appearance baffled me. I wanted to recreate this but give it my own twist.

Wild Rice

Lets start by talking about wild rice. A dark blown/ black colored rice indigenous of North America packs a lot of flavor. Unlike basmati or other polished rice, it doesn’t take in flavors but contributes its own to the dish. That’s also why it cannot be the only thing you serve. It has to accompanied with other flavors and perhaps even a protein. I decided to do both. For flavor, I substituted the currents with caramelized onions which provides the sweet profile but still is savory and I added thinly sliced button mushrooms that are cooked in a white wine reduction. This removes all the alcohol from the wine but flavor is soaked up by the mushrooms which compliment the rice amazingly well. For the protein, I chose the chicken breast that I sliced laterally and marinated in lemon juice, garlic, and dried rosemary for a quick 30 mins. Once the flavors were soaked in, I pounded the chicken thin and lightly coated in flour. The flour makes sure the chicken remains moist and also prevents the garlic and rosemary from burning.

What you end up with are well seasoned fillets of chicken with juicy outer layer and charred edges with just a hit of burnt garlic flavor. The rice is smooth and silky and mushrroms melt in your mouth while the rice gives some resistance but the kind that gives you the satifsfaction that you are eating something healthy. And to be honest, this is quite healthy. The rice is rich in fiber, chicken breast has no fat and we use very little oil. Though, there are ways to make it unhealthy too. Add butter in the rice and then dress it with raisins and roasted almonds for a decadent yet satifying side.

Go ahead and give this recipe a try and let me know how you like wild rice!

Ingredients

Serves 1

For the marinade

250 g Chicken Breast

2 tsp dried rosemary (1 tsp if you are using fresh rosemary)

2 tsp dried thyme (1 tsp if you are using fresh thyme)

2 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1tbsp olive oil

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

For the rest of the meal

2 tsp of all purpose flour

1/2 cup of wild rice (follow packet suggestions. Usually takes about 30 minutes to cook)

350 g of any fresh mushrooms finely sliced (3 cups chopped)

1/2 medium red onion finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup of dry white wine (I used a sauvignon blanc)

6-8 fresh basil leaves, tightly rolled and finely chopped

Salt, pepper, and lemon juice for taste

Preparation

Step 1

Start with the marinade. Take the chicken breast and cut lenghtwise. Add to the bowl with olive oil, garlic, dried spices, lemon juice and a lot of salt & pepper. Leave it in the fridge for 20 minutes and no more than 30.

Step 2

Take out the chicken and wrap in plastic wrap. Then with a meat tenderizer or a rolling pin (I used a rolling pin) beat the chicken until its about 1/4 inch thick. Place the tenderized chicken on flour and lightly coat both sides of the meat.

Step 3

Take a medium skillet, heat on high and add 1tbsp olive oil.  Add chicken and cook each side for 1.5 minutes. Remove and place on paper towel.

Step 4

Reduce the pan to medium heat and add the mushrooms. Cook until soft but not steaming. Add garlic, onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2 minutes and then add basil and wine. Lets the wine bubble off and cook based on the amount of liquid you want. I cooked for 30 seconds until no actual liquid was draining but the rice was still moist. Add butter if you want a shimmering look and a silky texture.

Simple Thai Chicken Stew

I have always lived far. In Delhi I was far away from school, far from tuition classes, so far that my house was in a suburb of a suburb. This pattern filtered into college too. My senior year I lived in the farthest, most secluded apartment building. To be honest, I loved it. Being far meant being away from the mess and living a quiet place. In Delhi, I have a beautiful house amongst verdant greens with all kinds of birds laying their eggs in the crevices of our outer wall, and in college I had the best view. Being far however has its downsides. I always had to travel to meet my friends because all the restaurants were on their side of town. Building a social life therefore was hard. However, all of that changed once I started cooking. In college, friends trekked all the way to my apartment be it rain or shine because I was feeding them. It was kinda nice. I mean, obviously they were coming for my great company but I didn’t mind cooking (yeah, I know it was probably the other way around).

I soon became in charge of the Friday meals. Butter chicken, stews, lasagna, shawarma were things I started cooking a lot because they fed a lot more people. Filling, wholesome food that may or may not be the best pregame meal but hey it made people happy and I always had leftovers. Thai curries are super easy to make. My parents made them with the pre-packaged pastes back when I was in high school and so I always had a palette for what a good curry should taste like. I however always found the pre-packaged pastes to be too overpowering. They tend to have a lot of sugar, salt, stabilizing agents, and food coloring– all things you can definitely do without. Plus, none of the ingredients are “exotic” enough anymore that you have to use the paste to get the authentic flavor. That being said, Thai people- if you ponder upon this recipe I am sorry. It probably isn’t authentic but its the flavors that I like.

There are two things that are important for this recipe. Firstly, the green curry paste you make needs to be made fresh. It’s the only way to attain that lightness that a fat heavy curry like this tends to have. Add local tropical herbs– Coriander, mint, basil, holy basil, green onions, kaffir lime etc. You don’t have to go out and look for the most authentic Thai ingredients. If you can’t find lemongrass substitute with lime. Use green chillies instead of red, lime zest instead of kaffir lime leaves, you get the idea. The aim is to make it fragrant and green using naturally green herbs and vegetables.

Thai Curry_-2

Secondly, get your hands on the best fish sauce possible. Now this needs to be authentic. Thailand is one of the largest exporters of this amazingly salty sauce. It’s made by fermenting fish in brine and adds so much flavor to any dish. But this stew needs this. It cuts the fat of the milk, it adds salt because we don’t salt the food otherwise and it increases the aromatics of the lime, garlic, and ginger almost filling your house with an amazing smell that your grandmother scolds you for because all she smells is rotting fish (she is wrong, trust me).

Thai Curry_-4

Apart from this, I don’t know what else to tell you. Its a super easy dish. If you think you’re going wrong, you aren’t. You’re just making creative modifications 🙂

ps: don’t boil the coconut milk because it will denature

pps: don’t add lemon to very hot coconut milk, or it will make coconut ricotta cheese

pps: always hug your grandmother after spilling fish sauce on yourself so that she smells of rotten fish the whole day.

Ingredients    

Serves 4

1 cup of coriander with stalks

1/4 cup mint leaves (no stalk)

3 green chillies (Thai red chillies work too)

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Ginger the size of your thumb nail. Peeled and chopped

4 green onions finely chopped

2 teaspoons sesame oil

1/2 a lime worth of juice or a stalk of lemon grass pressed down until aromatic

2 teaspoons of lime zest or a few kaffir lime leaves

1 teaspoon of vegetable oil

For the stew 

3 (about 450 grams) chicken breasts or thighs

600 ml of Coconut milk

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tablespoon of Honey (optional)

2 tablespoons of Sriracha (optional)

150 grams (about 8) large cremini mushrooms

1 large carrot

1/2 green bell pepper

1/2 yellow bell pepper

1 cup of Broccoli florets

11/2 cup Basmati Rice

Preparation 

Step 1

Start by making the paste. Add all the ingredients to a food processor and blitz it down to a coarse paste. It will not look like something you get in a jar because this have very little oil but trust the process

Step 2

Take the chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle some salt and pepper and rub well on both sides. In a flat bottom pot add half the veggie oil and let it heat. Place the chicken skin side down and let them cook 2 minutes on each side. The idea is for the skin to get color but it to be uncooked on the inside. The insides will cook later in the stew.

Step 3

Once cooked, let the chicken sit out for about 10 minutes and then cut into thin slices. Add the rest of the oil, the paste and vegetables. stir fry on high heat until the carrots start becoming a little soft.

Step 4

Reduce heat to medium-low and add coconut milk. Add chicken, fish sauce, Sriracha, and honey. Mix and let the stew bubble. Shut off heat and taste the curry. Add more Sriracha if you want more heat or add more honey if it’s too hot. Serve with Basmati rice.

 

Chai Spice Chicken with an Orange Soy Sauce

My last year in college was when I started taking cooking very seriously. I had to cook everyday than just something I do when I have a craving. I therefore had to move from just pastas and sandwiches to things that were a little more healthier. I felt the need to stop eating cheese and wheat and so I looked at more rice based recipes. Stir fry’s were one of the most popular things that popped up when I searched for rice based dinners. They are amazingly easy dishes which don’t need a lot of elements for them to be good. They can be customized with your favorite proteins, veggies, and sauces to make them fit your palette. This means that once you have an idea of how to cook the dish, you can create your own renditions. Donal Skehan is the king of easy dinner and stir fry recipes. He uses great ingredients, appreciates complex flavors yet makes it easy enough for a novice cook to give it a shot. One of his dishes was a five spice orange chicken stir fry. He marinades and cooks the chicken in garlic, sesame oil, and a five spice mix— an asian blend of cloves, star anise, cinnamon, Sichuan pepper, and fennel. Further, he stir fries a variety of veggies adds the fragrant chicken and mixes with a sauce made of soy, orange juice, and sugars. The chicken takes in the flavors of the garlic and cinnamon, while the star anise and cloves add aromatics making the chicken a great tasting and great smelling protein. On the other hand, the orange reduces the saltiness of the soy sauce and adds flavor to the sugars we add that caramelize into this thick sticky sauce coating each element equally.

On paper (and video), this recipe sounded amazing but I soon realized that I don’t own any five spice or have raw spices to make my own. I also lived in the middle of nowhere Ohio and without a car, getting some spice for just this recipe would be hard (and SO much work). After perusing my pantry I found some Chai Spice that I probably brought from India. It was a blend of cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and black pepper. Essentially things that on puts in a hot cup of tea in the freezing cold or in the rains. This seemed promising. I added some streaky bacon to the chicken. It imparts some fat and smokiness. The fat melts away and reduces the amount of oil we use. Instead of fresh orange juice, I used Tropicana. It’s sweeter and tastes the same every time I make it. The last adjustment I made was to reduce the amount of sugar. Donal puts a lot of sugar, to a point where I wonder if he even eats the food he makes because his physique does not match his affinity for ingredients diabetics cant eat. Reducing the sugar doesn’t reduce its taste. It makes it a little less sticky but I kind of like that because then I can cover all my rice in the sauce. Un-sauced rice gives me hiccups haha!

Chai Spice-2

When should you make this:

  1. Daily meal! It’s an amazing dinner meal that is easy to whip up
  2. Date night. It has just enough elements that your date would be super impressed even though you really aren’t doing much

I hope you are all liking these recipes. Let me know how you made it!

Ingredients

Serves 2

2 chicken thighs, boneless & skinless, cut in bitesize pieces

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 thumb sized piece of ginger, finely minced.

1 red chili, finely sliced

2 tsp Chai Spice (or ground up cinnamon, black pepper, star anise, and cloves)

1 tsp sesame oil

1-2 tbsp vegetable oil, for frying

Basmati Rice, to serve

For the sauce:

1/4 cup Orange Juice (no pulp)

2 tsp honey

2 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp Sriracha

For the vegetables:

1 red onion, finely sliced

8 large button or cremini mushrooms

1 medium green/red/yellow pepper cut lengthwise

1 medium carrot, peeled and julienned

Preparation

Step 1

Marinade the chicken. In a bowl add chicken, garlic, sesame oil, and chai spice. Mix well, cover, and leave in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.

Step 2

Add orange juice, honey, soy sauce, sriracha, and rice vinegar. Mix well. Its okay if the sugar doesn’t completely dissolve.

Step 3

Add half the amount of veggie oil in a skillet and wait until the pan is smoking. Add the chicken. Don’t move the chicken at all. Cook for about 3 minutes on one side until a nice brown color appears on the surface. Flip the chicken and cook for another 2 minutes. Remove the chicken but keep the juices of the pan.

Step 4

Add the veggies and flash cook them Add more oil if needed. Bring back the chicken. Make a tiny well in the middle of the pan and add the sauce. Reduce the heat and let the sauce caramelize. Two minutes would be enough. Remove from pan and serve with rice.

Summer Plum Galette

I spent Fourth of July, 2016 in Mungeli, a village in rural India where I worked as a public health intern for a grassroots level hospital along with other Denison students. For most of them, missing out on Fourth of July was a big thing (and rightly so). I have missed the past four Diwalis and I know how that feels. As a way to celebrate some of that American culture with our homesick friends, we decided to make some truly red, white, and blue dishes– Mashed Potatoes, Mac & Cheese, and a Pie. With some compromises, the first two dishes were made quite successfully. The potatoes were small, with very little starch but turned out quite creamy and buttery. The macaroni pasta was replaced by semolina wheat penne and the cheddar cheese was replaced with salty, processed Amul cheese but hey! It was better than nothing.

Sadly we couldn’t make the pie. Sugar was scarce, so were fruits, and well, we didn’t have an oven. However, the idea of making a pie stuck with me until I went back home to Delhi in August. I have always been scared of the oven. I feel like I have no control when I am cooking with an oven. I usually overthink the temperatures and either overcook (sometimes burn) or undercook my dish. But I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to conquer the oven. This is when I came across Mellissa Clark’s recipe of a galette. A free form artisanal tart, filled with fresh seasonal fruit that become a syrupy jam as they caramelize slowly under the even heat of an oven. She used peaches and cherries with a french cookie crust. The thing I loved the most about this recipe was how forgiving it was. Unlike a tart, or a pie this kind of broke the norms of french finesse by displaying a form of perfection in its imperfections.

Finding this pastry was SO exciting that I started thinking of how to adapt this recipe for the climate, fruits, and ingredients that might be available to me. I chose to change the crust from the french cookie style which would have been quite crumbly and thick to a more traditional pie crust that might add some depth in flavor, some creaminess, and most importantly something that can hold the weight of jammy fruit without ripping apart. The second thing I changed was the fruit. From peaches and cherries, I chose Plums. Plums are one my favorite summer fruits. They come under the category of stone fruits– a family of juicy fruits that tend to have a low sugar content. Plums look magical, with their deep burgundy, purple hues that are speckled with tan dots like stars in a galaxy. Additionally, they have such a unique taste to them. The skin is tart, a flavor spreads quickly over your tongue followed by a gush of sweet watery juice that annuls the millisecond of sour. It reminds me of a warheads or other sour candies that I had as a child (before I was allergic to citric acid and they burnt my tongue).

Plum

Add some blueberries and this will make an amazing Fourth of July dessert! The blueberries will increase the sweetness so adjust added sugar and cornflour accordingly. Additionally, I would top it with a vanilla bean ice cream and chuck the annual boring pie!

Have a try! Like, share, and let me know how it goes!

Ingredients

For the crust:

1 1/4 cups of all purpose flour [can be replaced with almond flour]

1 Stick (8 tablespoons) of Salted Butter, cold and cubed [if you are using unsalted better then add 1/4 teaspoon of salt] {almond or hazelnut butter tastes good too}

2 to 4 tablespoons of ice cold water

For the filling:

3 cups of fruits (plums, peaches, blueberries, cherries)

3/4 cup of sugar (or to taste)

3 tablespoons of cornflour (add only 2 tablespoons if you are adding blueberries)

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

Eggwash and crust topping:

1 Large egg

2 tablespoons of water

3 teaspoons of sugar

Preparation

Crust:

Step 1 

In a food processor blend together the flour and butter until the mixture forms bean-size pieces. Slowly add ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until the dough just comes together. It should be moist, but not wet.

Step 2

Put dough on lightly floured counter and pat it together to make one uniform piece. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill for 2 hours.

Step 3 

Heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius (400 degrees farenheit). Roll the dough out to a 12-inch (30 cm) round. Dont worry if its uneven. It goes with the rustic vibe! Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper and chill while preparing the filling.

Filling

Step 1

Toss together fruit, the lemon zest, and the cornstarch. Use more cornstarch for juicy stone fruit and less for blueberries, and raspberries. Pile fruit on the dough circle, leaving a 1 1/2-inch border. Gently fold the pastry over the fruit, pleating to hold it in. Again, imperfect is totally fine. Brush the crust generously with one beaten egg and 2 tablespoons of water. Sprinkle the 3 teaspoons sugar on the crust.

Step 2 

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the filling bubbles up vigorously and the crust is golden. Cool for at least 20 minutes (prime instagram picture time). Serve warm or at room temperature.