Healthy Ramadan Meal – Baked Chicken with Vegetables, Couscous and Tatziki

We desi people tend to eat unhealthy especially during the month of Ramadan. We should all be making a great effort to cook healthy meals for our family and take care of our loved ones instead. Inshallah from this Ramadan onwards, I will posting healthy meal ideas for Iftaar and Suhoor. Keep watching this space for more healthy recipes and meal ideas to come.

The following recipe is just something I made on a whim. It is easy, healthy, and makes a perfect meal for ramadan.

Baked Chicken with Vegetables, Couscous and Tatziki

Chicken Legs/thighs pieces – 12-15 pieces
Black Pepper powder – 1/4 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
Onion – 1, roughly chopped
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Mixed Chopped Vegetables – 4 cups, carrots, grape tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, olives, green beans, broccoli, radish, baby bok choy etc
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Olives – pitted, 1/4 cup
Olive oil – 2 tbsp
for Couscous:
Couscous – 1 cup
Olive oil – 1 tbsp
Tomato paste/Pasta sauce (store bought) – 1 tbsp
Fresh leaves and Cilantro – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Water/Chicken/Vegetable stock – 2 cups, very hot
Salt – 1 tsp
for Tatziki
Cucumber – 1/2, peeled and grated
Garlic clove – 1, mashed
Salt – 1/2 tsp
Fat-free Yoghurt – 1 cup
Juice of half lemon
Fresh mint – 4-5 leaves, finely chopped

Ingredients:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a mixing bowl bowl, add chicken, black pepper powder, turmeric, salt, ginger garlic paste, onion, garam masala, olives, olive oil and mix well. In a baking dish with high sides, add the vegetables in a layer. Over them add the marinated chicken again a layer. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 35-45 minutes covered, then the next 15-20 minutes uncovered until the chicken is juicy and done.
Add pasta sauce/tomato paste, chopped herbs, olive oil, and water/chicken stock in a kettle and let it come to a boil. Add couscous in a bowl. Once the water/chicken stock is boiling, pour over the couscous in the bowl and cover with a tight lid. Keep adise and let rest for 10 minutes. Then fluff with fork.

Using a box grater, coarsely grate the cucumber. Sprinkle it with a 1/2 tsp of salt. Let rest for 10 minutes. Then squeeze and scrunch with clean hands to get rid of the excess salty water. Add it to a bowl. Also add yogurt, mashed garlic, lemon juice, chopped mint leaves and salt. Tatziki is ready.

In a serving dish, add the couscous in a layer. Top it with baked chicken and vegetables. Serve along with tatziki on the side.

Healthy Desi Meals Ideas for Iftaar/Suhoor:
For Iftaar
~ Chanay ki Dal – Lemony Boiled Split Bengal Gram 
~ Jaam ka Kachalu – Guava Chaat 
~ Fruit Chaat – Fruit Salad
~ Baked Samosas – bake the samosas instead of deep frying
~ Ragda Cutlet – alter the recipe by not adding any oil to cook the onions, just saute them in a pan until they get a nice brown color; bake the potato cutlets instead of shallow frying; also do not sweeten yogurt
~ Pita Pockets made using Sheekh Kebabs 

Luv,
Mona

Halal Tandoori Turkey – Roasted Turkey Desi Style with Pasta

Every Eid I try to cook something special and make the day memorable by preparing a delicious meal. I had never tried turkey before. So I was ecstatic to learn that Mina Halal is now offering zabihah by hand, Grade A, whole halal turkey through large grocery retailers throughout Ontario.

Mina Halal Turkey

Turkey is a magnificent bird. It has ultra lean, high in flavor meat and is it large enough to easily feed a gathering of 8-12. Turkey is high in protein, low in calories and one of the leanest meats around. It’s also an excellent source of B12. Dark meat from the drumstick is also an excellent source of zinc and selenium. This Eid why dont you all try my recipe in your home and impress your loved ones. They will be happy to eat something new and feel special inshallah. And when there are leftovers, you can use the meat in a multitude of ways, from soup and sandwiches, to pizza and pasta, to burgers and beyond.

I wanted to make an desi version of roasted turkey. And what better roasting technique than making a tandoori roasted bird. I served the tandoori turkey along with pasta and vegetables which I made using the broth after roasting the bird. The result was a spicy lip-smacking turkey that we all thoroughly enjoyed.

Halal Tandoori Turkey – Roasted Turkey Desi Style with Pasta

Ingredients:

Halal Turkey – fresh or frozen (if frozen thaw according to instructions)
Vegetables:
Baby Bokchoy
Carrots – chopped horizpntally into 1/2 inch pieces
Broccoli florets
Baby radish
Baby potatoes with skin (red and white)
To Marinate:
Olive oil – 3 tbsp
Hung Yogurt – 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 4 tsp
Salt – 4 tsp
Juice of one large lemon
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Roasted Cumin Seed powder – 1 tsp
Roasted Coriander seed powder – 1 1/4 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro and Mint leaves – finely chopped, 1/2 cup, tightly packed

Method:

1. In a bowl, add all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well to form a paste.
2. Preheat oven to 440° F. Rinse inside and outside of turkey; pat dry with paper towels. Rub the marinate mixture all over the turkey, inside and out. Transfer to a large mixing bowl, cover with cling wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

marinated Turkey on a bed of fresh vegetables

3. The next day, atleast 5-6 hours before serving, begin the preparation of roasted turkey. Take the turkey out of the refrigerator. In a large roasting pan, place aluminium foil to cover it. Place the vegetables in the roasting pan so that they cover the entire base of the pan. Season them with salt and pepper. Tuck wings under turkey, tie the legs together with kitchen twine, and place it in the roasting pan over the vegetables.

roasted turkey

4. Roast turkey, uncovered for 15-20 minutes until you get a nice browned color on the turkey. Then lower the heat to 325° F, and cover the turkey with aluminium foil. Roast for a furthur 3 1/2 to 4 hours, until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees. The turkey will be cooked to perfection and so soft that the meat will literally fall off the bone.

vegetables nicely done in the delicious broth

5. Transfer the turkey to a platter. Let cool for 30 minutes until you make the pasta.
6. Place a strainer over a bowl. Transfer the vegetables along with the pan juices into the strainer.

turkey meat

the base for the pasta made with broth and pasta sauce

vegetables in the strainer over a bowl

pasta served along with vegetables and roasted turkey meat

For Pasta: (Serves: 4)
7. Add 350 ml pasta sauce (I choose Garden Select) and the collected pan juices to a saucepan and let it come to a boil. Taste and add salt pepper to suit your taste. Mix and add 500 gms fusilli pasta to the saucepan and enough warm water to cover the pasta. Cover the pan and cook on medium heat. Keep stirring every few minutes. After about 10-15 minutes, lower the heat to simmer and cook covered while stirring occasionally until the pasta is done. Add more water if needed to cook the pasta. While you are cooking the pasta, debone the turkey and transfer the meat into a serving platter. Once the pasta is done, add the vegetables from the strainer to the pasta and gently mix. Serve the pasta along with turkey meat. Enjoy!

I still have a ton of leftover turkey meat mashallah. I will be posting something delicious with the leftover turkey meat in a few days inshallah.

Tip: you can store cooked leftover turkey meat once it has cooled down to room temperature in freezer bags in the freezer indefinitely. To use thaw in the refrigerator.

Luv,
Mona

Pyaaz ki Pakodi – Crispy Onion Fritters

Every time I visit Hyderabad, I ask my father to get some crispy pyaaz ki pakodi from sweet shops in the city. I just love them. Small sweet shop at almost every corner in Hyderabad sell an array of sweets and also savory snacks.

But when I am in Toronto, missing them, I make these myself in my kitchen trying to replicate them as close as possible to the ones that I get in Hyderabad. I love these pakodi along with tamarind chutney on a rainy day. They also make a yummy Iftaar snack. Sometimes I also enjoy them along with my meal on the side.

Pyaaz ki Pakodi – Crispy Onion Fritters

Ingredients:

Besan – 1 1/2 cups
Rice Flour – 1/4 cup
Green chillies, finely chopped – 8
Ginger – grated, 1/2 tsp
Onions – 2, large, thinly sliced
Olive Oil – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 or 2 sprigs, roughly chopped
Salt – 3/4 tsp
Pinch of baking soda
Canola Oil for deep frying

Method:

1. In a mixing bowl, add sliced onions, besan, chopped green chillies, curry leaves, salt, olive oil and baking soda. Mix well. Add just 1/4 cup of water and mix well to form a thick-hard batter. Go easy on water as onion and salt release water too.
2. In a kadai or wok, pour oil to deep fry and as soon as it is piping hot, drop small and flattish balls of the batter using your hands into the hot oil. Reduce heat to medium and deep fry till they turn golden brown. Remove using a slotted soon into a large strainer for excess oil to drip away. Continue until all the batter is used up.
Serve hot with chutney/sauce of your choice, along with chai/coffee or juice. I served them with tamarind chutney along with other sides at Iftaar yesterday.

Note:
1. If you want do not want them crisp, omit rice flour and add a little bit more water, to make onion bhajiyas.
2. If you do not want to fry them, you can even shallow fry them in about 2 tbsp per batch in a non-stick frying pan. Make sure you flatten the batter so that they shallow fry evenly. You can even bake them for a healthier version. I have tried baking them a few times and will still continue to do for a few more trials until insha’Allah I come up with a perfect recipe for you all soon.

Luv,
Mona

Healthy Ramadan Recipe – Chicken Phyllo Fingers

These Chicken Phyllo Rolls are a healthy take on Meat and Chicken Samosas. They make a perfect healthy iftaar during this month of Ramadan. Serve them along with your favorite dipping sauce, or chutney.

Phyllo is a thin dough made mainly of flour and water, mixed to a stiff paste, and machine-rolled. It has been used for centuries in Greece and the Middle East to make sweet and savory dishes. It is easily available in major grocery stores in the freezer section. Today I have a simple chicken filling for the rolls. You can experiment and try different fillings too.

Chicken Phyllo Fingers
Makes – approx 12 rolls

Ingredients:

Phyllo Pastry Sheets – 12
For brushing the rolls – Milk, or Olive oil, or lightly beaten egg
Boneless Chicken Breasts – 2, cubed into small pieces
For Marinade:
Ginger Garlic paste – 2 tsp
Red Chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala powder – 1 tsp
Cilantro and Mint – finely chopped, 3-4 tbsp
Juice of 2 lemons

Method:

1. The night before you plan to cook these, put the frozen phyllo pastry in the fridge to defrost. Take the packet out of the fridge the next morning two hours before you plan to use it to bring to room temperature, otherwise the sheets will stick together..
2. In a mixing bowl, add chicken and the rest of the ingredients for the marinade. Mix well and keep aside.

3. In a pan at medium high heat pour oil and as soon as it warms up add the chicken and cook covered while stirring occasionally until tender. Add chopped cilantro and mint. Mix. Let cool. Once cool, either chop it up into tiny bite size pieces, or shred it. Keep aside.

4. Preheat oven to 375° F. Unroll the phyllo and lay it flat on a clean, dry surface. Place one sheet of phyllo on work surface, keep remaining phyllo sheets covered with damp towel to keep from drying out. Using a pastry brush, apply either olive oil, or milk, or lightly beaten egg all over the sheet. Place about 2-3 tablespoons of cooked chicken in the center of the narrower side. Fold the two edges towards the center. Now roll it up into a log. Brush the top with either olive oil, or milk, or lightly beaten egg. Arrange on a rimmed baking tray lined with aluminium foil. Bake until phyllo is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.

Luv,
Mona

Chicken Tikka Pizza

A while back I got a request from hubby dear that I am not preparing specials that often as I used to before babyjaan happened.

Chicken Tikka Kawabs – Murgh Tikka

So one weekend I adorned my chef hat and got onto making something especially to please him. I had prepared chicken tikka a day earlier and there was some leftover. The idea to make a pizza immediately popped in my mind and I am glad he thoroughly enjoyed what I made for him.

Chicken Tikka Pizza

Ingredients:

All purpose flour – 4 cups
Yeast – 1 packet – 7 gms
Warm water – to make a dough
Salt – 2 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Olive oil – 4 tbsp
(Store-bought) Pasta Sauce [or] Tomato Chutney – 3/4 cup
Sun dried tomatoes – 1/2 cup, cut into small pieces
Chicken Tikka – 1 cup, cut into small pieces
Green/Red Bell Peppers – 1/2 cup,
Green Olives – 1/2 cup, sliced
Mozzarella Cheese – grated, 1 cup

Method:

1. In a cup of warm water, add one packet of yeast and mix using a spoon. Add salt and sugar and a cup of flour and mix to make a wet dough. Pour olive oil all over the dough. Cover with a wet towel and keep aside for an hour. Later you will notice that the dough has almost doubled in size.
2. Add the remaining flour to the dough and add water as needed to make a soft dough. Do not work the dough a lot. Mix it lightly ans make sure it is soft. Let it rest for 30 minutes while you prepare the toppings.
3. Preheat oven to 450 F.

4. Line a large rimmed baking sheet using waxed paper. Dust lightly with flour all over it. Drop the ball of dough over it and working with your fingers spread the dough so that it completely covers the entire baking sheet. Slather the pizza with the pasta sauce or chutney whatever you are using, then add all the toppings spreading them all over the dough. Lastly add the grated cheese and transfer the baking sheet into the oven. Your pizza will be ready in about 20 minutes.

For Thin crust pizza: use a rolling pin and roll the dough to achieve the thinness you want. Then transfer the rolled dough to a baking sheet and add the toppings.

FREEZE: To freeze, set dough balls on a plate (they should not touch); freeze until firm, about 1 hour. Then freeze in a resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months. If you plan to use it in a recipe that calls for half a batch, divide it before freezing. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.

Luv,
Mona