Tag Archives: chicken

RECIPE: Chicken Ala Kiev

7 Sep


I made this recipe a couple of days back for a very special family reunion on the joyous occasion of Eid. There’s something very gratifying about cooking for the people you love; it’s like a way for you to pamper them. I confess, I do get a bit cranky in the kitchen, but that’s only when I end up getting stuck over there for the whole day, as opposed to just for the cooking and preparation time. Thankfully, when my family enjoys a meal I cook and compliments my effort… all is well again :).

So here’s the recipe for the dish I made. I served it with A LOT of mashed potatoes and spicy rice. Personally, I would’ve preferred serving it with buttered rice with peas, but had I spent more time in that kitchen, I would have ended up spoiling more moods than my own.

I love (and hate!) the part where you cut the chicken. Love it because that’s when you see the beautiful, lemony butter ooze out. Hate it because, it’s the moment of truth. What if the chicken is undercooked – chef’s biggest nightmare! Another thing I love about this dish is how clever it is. Whenever I make Stuffed Chicken Breast (a family favourite), I have to make two gravies… a peppery, mushroom gravy, and a sweet, pineapple gravy.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love cooking gravies… but you know, I like saving time. Unlike a the traditional stuffed chicken with cheese and spinach stuffing, Chicken ala Kiev already has butter inside, which essentially means that you don’t need to cook a gravy to go along with it. You can eat a piece of perfectly fried chicken, without the fear of it being too dry… that’s the dream… well, at least one of many :P!

Chicken ala Kiev

Preparation time: 90 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes


Ingredients

For the chicken

  • 4 chicken breasts – slit horizontally to create a broad. flat fillet
  • Peppercorns – coarsely crushed
  • Lemon juice of 1 lemon
For the stuffing
  • 2 cups salted butter – softened
  • 3/4 tsp mixed herbs
  • 1 clove garlic – crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
For the coating
  • 2 eggs – beaten
  • 1 cup cornflour
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
Additional
  • Oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Prepare the stuffing by mixing together all the ingredients. Take a butter paper/aluminium foil and place a heaped tablespoon of the stuffing on it.  Roughly create 3-inch rectangular fingers with the stuffing, and put it in the freezer.
  2. Rub the chicken breasts with the pepper and lemon juice, and flatten the fillets while being careful enough not to tear them.
  3. Once the “butter fingers” are hard, place them inside the chicken fillet, and wrap carefully, ensuring that the butter is not visible from any side. Try to minimise touching the butter too much; it’ll start melting. Once the butter is properly tucked inside the chicken, put the chicken pieces into the freezer.
  4. Once the chicken is properly frozen, coat the chicken parcels directly onto the cornflour. Then, dip it in egg, and coat it with breadcrumbs. Once the breadcrumbs soak the egg, dip the parcel in egg once again, and again in breadcrumbs. This ensures that the stuffing it properly sealed. Chill parcels until you decide to fry them.
  5. Fry them on medium-low flame, until slightly dark golden brown, and serve with creamy mashed potatoes :)!
Bon Appétit !
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RECIPE: Ayam Kicap (Soya Sauce Chicken)

22 Aug

I know It doesn't look great, but believe me... it tastes awesome!

Finally…. I cooked Ayam Kicap over the weekend. I didn’t think it fair to upload a recipe of something I hadn’t recently made. The last two times that I made it, my sister was the only one who wasn’t a believer in the wholesome goodness of Ayam Kicap. But when I cooked it last night, she too turned *yeahee me!* So here it is…

Ingredients

  • One whole chicken (with skin), cut into 8 pieces. You can go with skinless if you like.
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • Salt to taste (This recipe makes use of concentrated  soya sauce, which is quite salty… so please be careful)
  • 1tbsp ginger (chopped)
  • 1tbsp garlic (chopped)
  • 4tbsp onions (chopped)
  • 2 medium-sized onions (cut into thick rings)
  • 4 tbsp white sugar or 3tbsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp vinegar
  • 6tbsp thick soya sauce. If you don’t have the thick kind, just reduce a cup of the regular soya sauce over low heat. I did this, much to the dismay of everyone at home (everything smelled like soya sauce)… but it was worth it.

Instructions

  • Massage the chicken with salt and tumeric. Heat a cup of cooking oil and fry the pieces until they’re golden and well cooked.
  • Remove the chicken from the oil and let it rest on the side. In the same oil, add the chopped onions, garlic and ginger. Cook till brown.
  • Add the chicken and cook some more. Add about a cup of water and reduce. The onion, garlic and ginger mixture should have a paste-like consistency.
  • Add the soya sauce and cook well. Now add the sugar and vinegar and cook some more. This is where the advantage of using chicken with skin comes in. Its texture, upon being caramelized, is what makes the difference.
  • At this point, the chicken will be slightly brown and dry. Add another cup of water and when you get the required consistency, then add the onion rings.
  • Let it cook for a while, then remove from flame and serve. I usually like the chicken to be slightly dark, gleaming with oil and smelling sweet. You could add more water, but that softens the chicken, completely undoing the crunchy texture. So I would advise against it.

Enjoy and let me know how it turns out for you.

Tao Yuan-Chinese food with a Desi touch

19 Aug

Photo courtesy: Flagstaff Restaurants

Chinese food has gained popularity in Pakistan in a relatively short span of time. Does it have anything to do with the simplicity of the cuisine or Pakistan’s diplomatic ties with China? Well… I don’t know. But one thing is for sure, you have more Chinese eateries in Lahore than in any other city of Pakistan.

In the heart of Lahore on Main Boulevard Gulberg, right opposite Hafiz Centre (famous IT retail plaza) , is the Chinese-food lover’s sanctuary –  Tao Yuan. Tao Yuan has been serving top quality Chinese food to the food-loving people of Lahore, for well over a decade now.

I think that’s Tao Yuan (written as Tai Wah) on the map. Sorry if it’s wrong… nevertheless, this is the street where it’s at

If you’re a person who’s all about fancy shmancy ambiance, then Tao Yuan is, by no means, a place for you. It does not have fancy Chinese art on the walls or anything else which might get you to think of it as an ambassador of Chinese culture. Yes, apparently that’s how Chinese restaurants in Pakistan demonstrate their “China-ness”. Quite on the contrary, at Tao Yuan, you’ll see shabbily dressed waiters who aren’t particularly welcoming, and a small television set which never has anything interesting to watch on it.

You must be thinking, this place does not sound like somewhere I would like to have my next meal, right? Well, you couldn’t be more wrong! Tao Yuan sells some mouth-watering dishes that simply kindle your senses; the entire experience being enhanced purely by the food on your plate. Just forget about the waiters, the TV set or the lack of art around you. For the price that they sell the food at, and consistent quality that they have to offer, I visit the place regularly with my colleagues after work. Not being big fans of any appetizers, we like to order the main course straight away. Tao Yuan has a vast array of dishes to select from but fearing any unpleasant culinary experience, I stick to ordering the standard menu that I have perfected over the years –  thanks to my friends Omer Ali and Kashif Mustafa.

Yes, I ain't much of a photographer, and yes, the food looks straight-up horrible. You couldn't be more right about the former, and more wrong about the latter

“Chicken noodles” are a must-have at Tao Yuan and I can say this with full confidence. Their chef seems to have rubbed shoulders with an Iron Chef China or something, because his use of spices with vegetables is unlike any other garam-masala and oil-laden Chinese food found locally (case in point: Agha’s Chinese food); and of course, there’s LOTS of chicken on the plate.

For those who would like to venture into something more exciting, “Tao Yuan Special noodles” offers an addition of two different meats including beef and shrimps. “Tao Yuan special rice” is another dish that  a lot of the Chinese-food-loving people would be delighted to have. I have had the same dish under various names in other restaurants, however, this particular dish is head and shoulders above the rest. Countless flavors are fused together to bring this rice dish on a plate but the crunch of the almonds, coupled with the sweetness of the pineapple, is something that words just can’t describe. Another must-order for me is the “Chicken with almonds,” which is the only curry on our standard menu. Whilst many people like to order Chicken Manchurian, I seriously believe that having what is nothing more than tomato ketchup and chicken thrown in together, is just a waste of your money. In protest, I order this almond slash chicken dish. Surprisingly, this dish has the shortest table life and is considerably popular for its simple flavour. The last dish to land on our table is always the “Spring Chicken”. I have never understood where the management got this name from – it is neither “spring-y” nor does it have any use of spring onions in it. To me, it is some plainly-marinated chicken bathed in a batter and deep fried. It doesn’t have any complicated flavours that challenge the taste buds, and quite honestly… it doesn’t need to.

Tao Yuan Special Rice

The food at Tao Yuan might not be the stuff of Michelin-star and the food inspectors might raise concerns about the hygiene of the place as well, but one thing is certain, adding a personal touch to the food, Tao Yuan Chinese restaurant would certainly give any contemporary Chinese eatery a run for their money, based entirely on merit. So next time you’re short on cash and are looking for a nice dining experience, drop by “Tao Yuan” and their zombie-like waiters would unwillingly serve you food worth cherishing.

Ayam Kicap (Soya Sauce Chicken)

17 Aug

Photo courtesy: Fun-Travel-Malaysia.com

Last year, my beautiful friend Freddie and I went on a trip to Malaysia for two weeks. There’s one word to describe that vacation… ‘Magical’. Magical because it marked many firsts of our lives. It was the…

  • First time Freddie and I had been together for so long since our college days (we used to be roomies).
  • First heavy expense since we both started earning.
  • First time I was going on a self-financed trip with a friend.
  • First time I used a credit card online.
  • First time I watched a movie in 3D.
  • First time I went on a night jungle-walk.
  • First time I saw a field mouse in my hotel bedroom.
  • First time I flew Air Asia.
  • First time I rode a jet ski.
  • First time I went so deep into the sea.
  • First time I went inside a bat cave.
  • First time I walked a canopy bridge.

So you see, it was a special time for me. This was the first time I was doing everything on my own expenses…it was an adrenaline rush. Nevertheless, I should clarify that it wasn’t my first time in Malaysia. It wasn’t even my second, or third, or fourth. Long story short… I had been to Malaysia several times before, but this time I experienced a lot of new things.

I still remember, it was our first day in Taman Negara, which is Malay for National Forest, and we had just been on a bus for almost 5 hours and on a boat for another one.

This is where we were:

We were exhausted and absolutely famished. Finally we reached our home for the next two nights. It was a beautiful resort, with a bunch of wooden huts in the wilderness. For us city girls, this was as exciting as it could get. Here we were, in the middle of nowhere, with absolute strangers, in what was one of the thickest and oldest rain forests in the world. Now that I think of it, it’s scary; but back then, it was awesome.

Our cabin at Taman Negara

Anyway, after a somewhat dramatic entrance into our motel room (involving fat lizards, my reluctance to touch anything in the room or enter the shower, and freddie pulling our beds AWAY from the walls),  freddie & I cleaned up. We were supposed to be at the Mama Chop Floating Restaurant after dinner. This was our group’s assembling point. Dinner was supposed to be at the resort.

Photo Courtesy: Muffledsolitude.com

So there we were, all set to be fed to the fill, when’ we were greeted by a not-so-appetizing-looking Chicken dish. For a chicken lover like me, that’s saying something, but considering how hungry I was, I could have eaten my friend if I had to. Anyway, the dish was Ayam Kicap… and believe you me, it was amazing. Never before have I tasted something that looked so unappealing yet tasted soooo good.

Photo courtesy: Linapg.blogspot.com

Ayam Kicap (pronounced “Kichaap”) or Soya Sauce Chicken is a purely chicken and onion dish, which, from the looks of it, kinda reminded me of the Bengali dish, Murgh Dopiaza (that means Chicken with Onions). However, the taste is quite different. The dish, like most Malaysian food, is kind of sweet; most prominent flavours being of the rustic, earthy brown sugar, some thick sweet soya sauce, garlic and a bite of vinegar. Onions, in this dish, unlike in Pakistani cuisine, are not halved, finely sliced and fried until golden brown. They are cut into thick onion rings that can withstand the entire cooking process. The chicken, at the end, tastes almost as though it has been caramelised… which is NEVER a bad thing. The dish was accompanied by the staple Malaysian side dishes… nasi goreng (fried rice) and sauteéd vegetables. We thoroughly enjoyed everything on the table, my favourite part being when I would mix some vegetable stock from the sauteéd veggies, with the rice and chicken…and gorge on a mouthful. Though we were in the wild, everything was serene at that moment.

So, while we had much to complain about (in the context of our room), when our group assembled at Mama Chop’s, we had nothing but good things to say about the meal that made up for everything else.

Note to self, must plan a girls-only trip again!

UPDATE: Just remembered, I cooked Ayam Kicap twice after returning to Pakistan. Needless to say, it was great. Will upload recipe and original camera shots soon.

Photo courtesy for un-captioned images: Freddie Kruger

Feefo’s Arabic Paratha

4 Aug

Ramzan is definitely that month of the year when Karachiites remember their love for food. If it were possible, this would be the time when the streets of Burnes Road would drip with oil, and the month that doctors would unquestionably associate with heart problems among majority of the people. Yes, Ramzan is when everyone – rich or poor – indulges in deep fried, fat-laden and heart-attack inducing food. Though this essentially defeats the purpose of the month – living with modesty, developing compassion for the poor & exercising abstinence – food served this time of the year is unparalleled. Not in terms of quality, but in terms of spirit.

Every year, for 30 days, I see Karachiites less savage-like than they usually are. This is evident from the fact that when driving in the wild traffic at Sharah-e-Faisal, instead of shouting generational curses at the bikers who overtake them from the left, these relatively-sedated people just shut their eyes and pray for patience. Magical, isn’t it.

Coming back to the food, there is never dearth of fried food in Ramzan. From pakoras (mixture of onion, chillies, coriander and gram flour, cooked mostly in the monsoon season), to potato and brinjal fritters, dahi barey (fried puffs lentil dumplings in spiced yogurt) and jalebi (need to find out English translation)… iftar tables in Pakistan are laden with all the goodies. Arabic parathas, though not conventional occupants of an iftar table, are very tasty. The Arabic paratha is a deep fried flattened bread stuffed with egg & spiced shredded chicken. I know, it sounds incredibly fattening and it is, but it is also very delicious. The best thing about this fried item is its texture. It is crunchy on the outside, and soft, slightly glutinous on the inside. The flavoursome core is of course its strength. Many people substitute egg and chicken with minced beef, but I have my reservations with red meat served on the street. Do try to make this at home… it makes for a great tea-time snack, especially since you can choose to bake the bread instead of frying it.

UPDATE: Directions to Feefo (I THINK it’s behind Music City… this place always confuses me!)

Askari Biryani’s Chicken Biryani

26 Jul

I LOVE biryani, not just any biryani… Sindhi, chicken biryani. For those who don’t know, biryani is basmati rice layered with a spicy meat gravy, and a variety of desi toppings…mainly, fried onions, sliced tomatoes, mint leaves, orange food colouring, kewra water (I need to google its English translation water made from screw pine) and split green chillies. I think it’s single-handedly the best dish served in Pakistan. Though it’s very easy to mess up this dish, those who have aced it, unconsciously earn the responsibility of creating it at every family gathering. Take it from someone who knows! Though I don’t regret being good at making it, I sometimes think I shouldn’t have boasted so much.

Anyway, coming back to this post, I don’t think I’ve had a biryani tastier than that available at Askari Biryani. Every plate comes with a piece of potato, a chicken piece and a generous helping of spicy rice. What’s great about Askari biryani is that every grain of rice served picks up on the spicy flavour of the chicken gravy, and best yet, the potato is sweet and spicy&soft and absolutely delightful. Priced at PKR 80 (less than a dollar), I feel that Askari biryani not only trumps the overly-priced and over-rated Student Biryani, I rank it among the best chicken biryanis in town. I mean just look at the colours (pardon the photography). How can this plate of food not tempt you enough to sacrifice all diets. If only there were an Askari-Biryani diet! I would’ve done it proud.

Note that Askari Biryani, the shop, is situated within the Askari IV premise… in the commercial area. Another menu item it sells is chicken curry, but it is not half as good as the biryani. Another thing, it’s not available all day. They make 20 plates in the afternoon (available from 1pm till 2pm) and 20 plates at night (starting at 8pm & wiped out by 9pm). So the next time you’re in the Askari IV area, be sure to try this amazing dish. Sindhi biryani… in its glory!

UPDATE:

Directions to Askari Biryani

Agha’s Chicken Boti Kebab

25 Jul

One of my favourite items from Agha’s Fast Food (near my work place), is their Chicken Boti Kebab. Served with grilled onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and raita, this dish is made up of spicy chicken cubes, barbecued on skewers. Though this photograph is not entirely appetizing (c’mon, it’s weird taking photos of lunch at work!), I think it’s easy to make out the juices at the bottom of the dish. If you squeeze an entire lemon over the chicken cubes, and fold one into a piece of chapati (unleavened flatbread), the juices are the best gravy you could ask for. That’s how I usually eat it. Unlike Chicken Tikka, Chicken Boti is not as spicy. And the fact that it is made up of boneless chicken, means that the cooking time is also considerably less.

One plate of chicken boti kebab from Agha’s costs PKR 160, which is less than USD 2. For a filling meal, that reignites your love for BBQ, that is a very small price to pay. Don’t you say?