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

Buttermilk Biscuits

I first had buttermilk biscuits at Popeyes along with fried chicken. And it was love at first bite.

Since then I have been in search for a recipe to recreate them in my home myself. I tried a lot of recipes online and finally I can say that I might have found one that I am really happy with. Today I am going to share it with you all.

Buttermilk Biscuitsmakes: 8 biscuits
adapted from here

Ingredients:

All purpose (not self-rising) – 2 cups
Baking powder – 1 tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Sugar – 1 tsp
Unsalted cold butter – 6 tbsp
Buttermilk – 1 cup

Method:

Preheat oven to 450°F. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Mix. Now add cold butter cut into tiny pieces and buttermilk. Using a fork, gently mix, avoid overmixing. Dust flour on your kitchen countertop and invert the buttermilk+flour mixture. Knead dough gently 3 to 4 times until it holds together. Dust your palms with flour as well and pat the mixture down into a large patty, approx 1 inch in thickness.

Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and dust it lightly with flour. Working quickly, use a biscuit cutter to cut biscuits and keep placing the biscuits on the tray, make sure they are all placed close to each other. Place the baking tray in the refrigerator for approx 15-30 minutes. Now transfer the tray to the preheated oven and let them bake for 15 minutes. As soon as you see a get a light brown hue, remove from oven and serve warm along with a salad or coleslaw and baked/grilled chicken.

Luv,
Mona

Eggy Bread – Mom Style – Indian Version French Bread

Breakfast in my home is usually cereal, pb&j or nutella. But on the weekends I try to plan and make something special that is a favorite of everyone. Back home, mom makes parathas for my father along with a dal or vegetable curry for breakfast ‘every’ single day, weekend breakfasts are even more elaborate, with special preparations like Puri-Cholay, Aloo kay Parathay, Khichdi-Khagina etc.

One breakfast that both me and my hubby love is this eggy bread. My toddler eats just a bite or two, like she eats everything else, she is fussy eater, just like I was as my mom keeps tells me.

You can call it a version of french bread, an indian take on it. The recipe is very simple and it gets done quickly.

Eggy Bread – Mom Style – Indian Version French Bread

Ingredients:

Bread slices – 4
Milk – 3/4 cup
Eggs – 3
Black pepper powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – a pinch
Sugar – 1 tsp

Method:

Whisk eggs in a bowl and add milk, black pepper powder, salt and sugar. Heat a frying pan on medium high heat.  Meanwhile slice each sandwich bread into two triangles. Stack them all in a bowl. Add half tablespoon of oil in the pan as soon as it gets hot and swirl around the pan to evenly coat it. Dip each triangle of bread in the egg+milk mixture and let it soak up for 10-20 seconds. Lift up the bread and carefully place on the frying pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes each side until golden brown and cooked through. Transfer to a serving plate. Repeat with all the bread slices. Serve warm.

Luv,
Mona

Hara Masala Wali Murgh

The first I remember I ever witnessed chicken in a green colored gravy was at one of my aunts house, when she had invited us all for dinner. I was little and the green color of the gravy slightly put me off. I was hesitant and scared to try it. But when I did upon my mothers insistence, it was just like any other chicken curry, delicious and safe.

My version has fresh cilantro and mint herbs in the gravy, giving the gravy a light green hint. It is one of my favourites and a lovely change that my family enjoys.

Hara Dhaniya Wali Murgh – Cilantro Chicken Curry

Ingredients:

Chicken – 1 whole cute into pieces
Canola Oil – 4 tbsp
Cloves – 4
Green Cardamom – 5
Cinnamon stick – 2 inch stick
Onion – diced, 2 cups
Nigella Seeds/Kalonji – 1/4 tsp
Green chillies – 5, sliced lengthwise
Ginger garlic paste – 1 1/2 tbsp
Tomato – diced, 3/4 cup
Cilantro/Coriander leaves/Hara dhaniya – 2 cups, tightly packed, chopped
Mint/Pudina – 1/2 cup, tightly packed, chopped
Red Chilli powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp

Method:

In a heavy bottomed kadai at medium high heat, pour in oil and as soon as it gets warm, add cloves, cardamoms, cinnamon diced onion and nigella seeds. Let the onions cook until they are brown in color. Keep giving them a stir every now and then. Add the green chillies, ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute or two. Meanwhile puree the chopped cilantro and mint and diced tomato into a smooth paste. Add the puree into the kadai and cook for a minute. Add the chicken and mix well. Let it cook for 2 minutes on high and then give it a stir. Again after cooking it for 2 minutes give a stir, and now lower the heat to simmer. Cover with a lid and let cook for 30-35 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked thoroughly. I like to cook my chicken until the meat literally falls off the bone. Give it a stir occasionally. Serve warm along with Naan or Pulao.

Luv,
Mona

Rasgulla – Rasmalai

One of my favorite desserts since my childhood is this Bengali delicacy Rasgulla. The white spongy balls in the sugar syrup please me to no extent. Its cousin is Rasmalai. The first time I tasted Rasmalai I remember very nicely was in one Ramadan during my childhood when we were staying at my Mama’s house for holidays. It was love at first bite.

In order to prepare Rasmalai you have to have Rasgullas. When you have guests and you need a quick dessert to make, you can use tinned store-brought rasgullas to make rasmalai, or making them from scratch is also as easy, but it needs a little time.

Rasgulla and Rasmalai 

For Rasgulla – Cheese Balls in Fragrant Sugar Syrup:
Milk – 4 cups
Lemon juice – juice of half a lemon
Water – 2 1/2 cups
Sugar – 1 cup
1 green cardamom powdered

In a heavy bottomed saucepan at medium high heat, pour in milk and let it come to a boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Add the lemon juice, stir and keep aside for 20 minutes. The milk will curdle. Line a sieve with a muslin cloth and drain the curdled milk. Bring the ends of the cloth together into a bundle and squeeze it to drain water. Hang for a further 30 minutes until all the water is properly drained out. Transfer the milk solids to a bowl and knead into a soft ball. Make smooth equal sized 10-12 balls. In a pressure cooker, boil sugar in water and add green cardamom powder and the prepared balls. Pressure cook until you get a whistle. The balls will now swell up in size. Let cool, chill and serve. Or use them to make Rasmalai, recipe below.

For RasMalai – Cheese Cakes in Fragrant Thickened Milk Sauce:
10-12 Rasgullas
Milk – 3 cups
Rasgulla Sugar syrup – 3/4 cup
Saffron – a pinch

Grease the bottom of a heavy bottomed saucepan with few drops of ghee, this will prevent burning of milk at the bottom. Pour in milk and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and let simmer for a hour. Meanwhile, take the rasgullas and gently squeeze them between your fingers to flatten them, but not break them, so that most of the sugar syrup is removed. Keep them aside in a bowl. Do not discard the sugar syrup. By now the milk will be reduced to about half its quantity. Drop the squeezed flattened rasgullas in the milk. Add the sugar syrup, saffron, dried nuts and let simmer for 15- 30 minutes. In a couple of minutes, they will soak up the milk and puff up. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature. Serve chilled.

Note:
You can store the sugar syrup and use it to flavor tea, coffee etc. It will last a few weeks in the refrigerator.

Luv,
Mona