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

Aloo aur Gosht ki Tahari

One dish meals are a savior. In today’s revved up life, they are a time, fuel saver, and cleanup is a breeze. Tahari is one such balanced and nutritious one pot family meal that is very often cooked in Hyderabadi homes.

Aloo aur Gosht ki Tahari – Spiced Basmati Rice with Potatoes and Lamb meat

Tahari might be called as a cousin of Biryani. During the process of Biryani preperation, the meat and rice are layered and then cooked on dum (slow heat) in one pot. Whereas in Tahari, once the meat is cooked, water is poured to the meat and then rice is added and cooked along. There is no layering process in Tahari as in Biryani. The ration of water:rice has be perfect for a well cooked Tahari, or else you end up with a mushy mess.

There are two kinds of Tahari: 1. Minced meat+Rice Tahari; 2. Lamb meat with bones+Rice Tahari. Today I am writing about the latter one. The previous kind I have already blogged a while earlier. Adding tomatoes to Tahari is optional. I have always seen both my Ammi and my Mother in law add tomatoes to Tahari, but there are some that do not suggest it. I prefer to add tomatoes as it gives a nice flavor to the dish that I love. However you can avoid adding tomatoes if you want.

Aloo aur Gosht ki Tahari – Spiced Basmati Rice with Potatoes and Lamb meat

Ingredients:

Basmati Rice – 3 cups
Canola oil – 1/2 cup
Onions – 2 cups, sliced
Ginger garlic paste – 2 tbsp
Salt – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Mint leaves – 1/2 cup, loosely packed, finely chopped
Cilantro – 1/2 cup, loosely packed, finely chopped
Red chilli powder – 2 tbsp
Tomatoes – 2, large, diced
Potatoes – 2, large, quartered
Yogurt – 1 cup, lightly whisked
Lamb meat with bones – 650 gms
Garam masala powder – 1 tsp
Juice of a Lime

Method:

1. In a vessel, add rice and wash it in 2-3 changes of fresh cool water. Then, soak it in surplus fresh cool water for about 30 minutes while you prepare the following meat preparation.
2. In a pressure cooker at medium high heat pour in oil and as soon as it warms up, add the sliced onions. Stir fry them until they are golden brown in color. Add ginger garlic paste and fry along for a minute. Add red chilli powder, salt, chopped tomatoes, chopped mint and cilantro and turmeric powder and mix well. Cook for 2-5 minutes until the tomatoes are mushy. Add the lightly whisked yogurt and keep stirring for a minute. Add the quartered potatoes and mix. Let cook covered until the potatoes are tender (test using a fork) and oil has separated. Add the lamb meat with bones and mix well. Cook until the meat is no longer pink. Cover with the lid and pressure cook until the meat is tender. Open the lid and add garam masala powder and lime juice. Let the mixture cook until oil separates. Now pour in about 4 cups of water, close the lid, increase the heat and let it come to a boil.
3. Drain the soaking rice and keep it ready.
4. As soon as the meat mixture begins to boil, add the drained rice and gently mix. Let it come to a boil again. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer and cover with a lid. Let it cook till very little water remains. Keep checking it every now and then, and give a gentle stir everytime. Add a few splashes of water if you feel you need more water for the rice to cook. Once the water is mostly dried up, close the heat, but leave the saucepan on the hot stove so that a nice steam forms. Let the dish rest for 15-30 minutes. Serve warm along with a pickle or papad.

Note: You can even lightly fry the quartered potatoes before you add to the dish. I prefer not to.

Luv,
Mona

Qimah Aloo Methi

“..the only one way to learn to cook is through the senses and heart. It turns out it is the only real way to live and to love, as well.” ~ Nani Power

Toronto has four very distinct and picturesque seasons. Among them all, I absolutely love fall. The amazing colors that the trees take on sets my heart to praise its beauty beyond words. The misty mornings, spectacular drives, earthen colors, cozy sweaters, cool winds, falling leaves. Yep, I am in love with the most colorful season of Toronto -Autumn/Fall.

Fall is my favorite season for cooking. This season for me calls for very rustic and traditional recipes like Biryani along with Mirchi ka Salan, or masaaledaar (spicy) curries that I can enjoy along with warm parathas, HaleemNihari and the usual simple soups to warm up the body. Today I prepared Qimah Aloo Methi along with piping hot Khichdi, perfect for the fall season, warm and comforting.

baby fenugreek leaves – choti methi ki bhaji

Qimah Aloo Methi is a usual at most Hyderabadi households. Baby fenugreek leaves, aka choti methi ki bhaji as they are called in Urdu language, is the key to a great tasting Qimah Aloo Methi. You can either grow fenugreek leaves in your own backyards, or buy it from the markets. If baby methi is not available, you can make do with the usual matured fenugreek leaves that are available at grocery stores which is called as badi methi ki bhaji, or use dried methi leaves which is the Kasuri methi, like I did.

We used to enjoy this curry along with warm parathas at breakfast or along with Khichdi, Khatta and Chutney at lunch. Nothing can go wrong with this simple yet nourishing recipe. You are bound to fall in love with it.

Qimah Aloo Methi – Minced meat along with Potatoes and Fenugreek leaves

Ingredients:

Onions – 2, medium sized, finely sliced
Minced Lamb/Veal meat/Qimah – 1 lb
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cloves – 4
Green Cardamoms – 2
Ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Tomato – 1, large, finely diced
Red chilli powder – 2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Green chillies – 3, each slit in half lengthwise
Fresh baby methi leaves or matured leaves – 3 bunches, root part chopped and discarded, tender stams and leaves finely chopped, washed and drained (or) Kasoori Methi – 2 tbsp
Red/White potatoes – 3, large, quartered

Qimah Aloo Methi – Minced meat along with Potatoes and Fenugreek leaves

Method:

1. Wash the minced meat well in a fine strainer so that the blood drains off. What my Ammi always does while washing minced meat is that she mixes the raw minced meat with sliced onions, and she then puts it in a fine meshed strainer meant specifically for washing minced meat and she then lets fresh tap water run over it while working the minced meat with her fingers until the water runs clear. She says that mixing sliced onions with the meat will help wash the minced meat well and also helps get rid of the smell. Once washed, let the washed minced meat and onion sit in the strainer over a large bowl for a hour or so to let the excess water drain away.
2. In a large frying pan at medium high heat, pour in oil and as soon as it warms up, add the cloves and cardamoms. Now add the ginger garlic paste, red chilli powder, salt and turmeric powder. Stir fry for a few seconds. Immediately add the diced tomatoes and green chillies. Mix well. Add the drained minced meat and onions. Using a spoon break the minced meat while mixing it up thoroughly with the masala and cover the lid. Keep mixing it and the covering it until you see the color of the minced meat has changed from red to brown. Now add the fresh methi or kasoori methi, quartered potatoes and water to cover and let it cook covered at simmer. Keep stirring it frequently. Once the water has all dried up and the potatoes are done, remove from heat and serve immediately along with warm parathas.

***

On a different note, I have been thinking of announcing an event especially dedicated to the iconic Kacchi Biryani of Hyderabad. It would be wonderful to go through everyone’s recipes for the Kacchi Biryani. What do you think. Will you all participate and join in the fun. Please let me know.

Luv,
Mona

Aloo kay Samosay

Chai shops, bakeries, mithaiwala shops, cart vendors, chat bhandars along the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent, all sell these magical pastries. Originated and traveled to India possibly from the Middleeast, Samosas are triangular pastries, a popular street food, usually stuffed with minced meat, or a potato mixture. They are the usual appetizers that make their presence at the Nizami Hyderabadi meals, and also enjoyed throughout India and also all over the world by everyone. Samosas are also very famous in Toronto and loved by people here.

Samosas – ready to be eaten

This classic Indian snack food appears in different avatars and types within the Hyderabad city, and also all over India with minor regional variations, some differing in the fillings used, others varying in shapes. For example Luqmi, a rectangular qimah-minced meat stuffed appetizer commonly eaten in Hyderabad, is a royal cousin of samosa. Other regional variants of samosas include the sambusak, samusak or shingara etc.

Today I had prepared some aloo samosas~potato stuffed pastries that are just as good as the Qimah Samosas – minced meat stuffed samosas. You can even bake them if you wish, bit I like to deep fry and prepare them the way they were supposed to be made. The crisp outer texture of samosa is what I love the most.

Aloo kay Samosay – Potato Stuffed Triangular Pastries

Ingredients:

Canola Oil to deep fry
For Filling:
Canola oil – 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fresh Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely grated
Potatoes – 4, peeled and chopped
Carrot – peeled and chopped, 1 cup
Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
Dry roasted Coriander powder – 3/4 tsp
Dry roasted Cumin seed powder – 1/4 tsp
Kasuri methi – 3 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Frozen green peas – 1/2 cup (or) Dried green peas – 1/2 cup, soak them in surplus water overnight and pressure cook until soft the next day, drain and keep aside to use
Lemon juice – 4 tbsp
Garam masala – 1/2 tsp
Cilantro – 2 tbsb, finely chopped
For Covering:
All-purpose flour/Maida – 1 cup
Whole wheat flour/Durum flour – 1 cup
Carom seeds/Ajwain – 1 tsp
Nigella seeds/Kalonji – 1/2 tsp
Canola Oil or Ghee – 2 tbsp
Water
Salt to taste

Method:

1. In a saucepan, heat oil and as soon as it warms up add the cumin seeds, mustard seeds and ginger and let them splutter. In a few seconds add the chopped potatoes and carrots. Add water to cover the vegetables and add red chilli powder, salt, cumin seed powder, kasuri methi and cover with a lid. As soon as the potatoes are done, uncover and add the frozen peas or cooked dried peas, garam masala, chopped cilantro and lemon juice. Cook while stirring until the mixture is dry. Keep aside.

2. Now prepare the dough. Add maida, ajwain, kalonji and salt in a mixing bowl and mix. Add canola oil or ghee and mix well using fingers. Gradually add water and knead to form a smooth and pliable dough. Turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead until elastic. Cover with a towel and keep aside for 30 minutes for the dough to rest. Later shape the dough into 8 balls and cover them with a towel.
3. One by one roll the balls into thin ovals. Using a pizza cutter or a knife cut each oval in the center into two halves, thus a total of 16 half-ovals will be produced. Cover the rest with a towel while filling others. Take a half-oval and brush half of each straight edge using your fingertip with water. Fold the second half of the straight edge over the fist half to form into a cone. Pinch close the seam. Hold the cone with the open end up and fill the cone with some of the filling. Cut off any excess dough and use it later. Brush one side of the open end with water. Pinch to seal the top edges enclosing the filling. Prepare all the samosas the same way and keep them covered under a towel.
4. Once all are ready, heat oil in a deep saucepan or kadai. To test if the oil is ready to be used, drop a pinch of dough into the hot oil, the dough should come up within a few seconds. Deep fry the samosas a few at a time until golden. Using a slotted spoon remove them into a strainer. Serve warm along with tamarind chutney or ketchup. Once cool, they can even be stored in the refrigerator for 2-3 days and reheated in the oven.

To Bake the Samosa:
After step 4, place the samosas in a greased or non-stick baking tray. Bake in a pre-heated 220° C oven for 20 minutes or until light brown in color. Serve immediately

Note:
1.If you are finding it difficult to enlcose the filling in the dough this way, please head over to Qimah Samosa-Minced meat stuffed samosa where I have explained an easier way to assemble samosas.
2. If there is any left over dough and the filling has been used up, you can make namakpaare out them.
3. If there is any left over filling and the dough has been used up, use the filling to make vegetable curry puffs.

This month Sailaja is on a chaat spree and she is dishing out varieties of chaat items on her blog. Head over her blog to go though them all.

Luv,
Mona