Almost Lazy Sunday

Saturday afternoon proudly declared that Sunday was going to be even more sleepy and droopy-woozy-gloopy. It was almost six in the evening and I just couldn’t wait to wrap-up all the drawings and samples and rush home to sleep through the weekend. Two feet away from me, Kunsh slept snoring softly and clutching his stick (constructed painfully out of straws) and I was surprised to find myself envying a little child.

Saturday evening went by softly, with a quick visit to one of our favorite coffee hangouts, Mocha. Fauri and I went back home excited about all the lazying around that we were sure was awaiting us.

Don’t know what went wrong, but we woke up to the doorbell. The maid.

The gardener followed in an hour. The neighbor came up for help another hour later. The watchman. The newspaper guy’s assistant. The cable guy.

So much for sleeping through Sunday.

Finally, I decided that chopping mushrooms would let out some of the irritation. And I was right.

Just the color, texture and simplicity of them got me excited and ambitious enough to cook up a complicated gourmet something…ah, well…

In the end though, I made a simple, super-easy lunch of pan-seared chicken (for me) and aloo ke parathe (for Fauri), before we headed out to catch Monsters vs. Aliens at Fun Cinemas. Very grown-up, I know.

Earlier last week, we got a mound of button mushrooms and had used up most of them in two very high-calorie batches of pasta and a mushroom risotto. And we’re still left with a small box. Well, not anymore.

Ultra-simple Chicken in Mushroom Sauce

What You Need:

– 400gms boneless chicken pieces

– three tablespoons of vegetable oil to fry

– 150gms button mushrooms , sliced or chopped (I prefer, sliced)

– 3 medium-sized scallions, chopped finely or pureed (pureed scallions obviously make the sauce smoother)

– 8-9 cloves of garlic, smashed with a side of your knife

– 1 tablespoon of whole peppercorns

– Half a teaspoon of dry basil

– Half a teaspoon of chili flakes (depends on how hot you like it)

– 1 bay leaf

– Quarter cup of white wine

– Half a cup of fresh cream

– Salt, pepper and sugar, to taste

– Half a cup of chicken stock or water, this is optional, depending on the kind of consistency you want your sauce to have.

– Chopped cilantro leaves to garnish

How-To:

Heat oil and sear the chicken till brown. Do this in batches, depending on the size of your pan/skillet.

– Remove from the pan. In the remaining oil, add the chopped scallions, garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns and saute till soft and translucent. Alternatively, if you’ve pureed the scallions, saute the garlic, bay leaf and peppercorns for about a minute on high heat and then add the puree and cook till the mixture turns slightly golden brown.

– Add the mushroom. Lower the heat, cover and cook till the mushrooms become spongy.

– Add the white wine and basil.

– Wait till the alcohol evaporates. Then add the cream and ultimately season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste.

– Cover and cook till the mixture comes to a boil.

– Add this point, is the sauce seems too thick, add half a cup of chicken stock or just plain water,or more till you get the consistency you like. Cook for another 5-10 minutes.

– Add in the seared chicken pieces and toss lightly.

– Take it off the heat. Garnish with cilantro leaves and serve with steamed rice.

Foram’s parathas were a little more spicy than I would have liked them to be….but yummy all the same!

The Potato filling:

Peel and boil a couple of big potatoes. Mash them when cool. Heat a little oil in a skillet. Fry chopped red onions with ginger-garlic paste. Add in the potatoes and season.

Meanwhile mix water and flour together to form a soft and springy dough. Divide in equal-sized balls. Roll out in circles. Place a handful of potato filling in the middle. Wrap the edges of the rolled out dough on top of the filling. And carefully roll out the stuffed ball again.

Heat a little oil in a flat pan (tava) and place one of the stuffed parathas on it. Turn about a minute later till both sides are golden brown and the flour is cooked thtough. Serve hot with mint chutney or chilled cucumber raita.

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers or stuffed capsicums as we call them, have always been a family favorite. I remember, as a kid I used to help out my grandmother with all the stuffing. This was not a “regular” preparation though, and were only made when guests were invited. My brother and I would hide outside the kitchen, around the corner waiting for the first batch to come out; when it did, we’d grab one each and run!!

We ended up with scalded fingers and tongues of course.

Grandma’s recipe asks for fish in a spicy turmeric and tomato sauce. The ones I made yesterday were stuffed with minced meat or more precisely, mutton. Now, mutton’s always usually goat out here, but minced lamb meat does more than well.

The meat’s prepared the way we prepare curry, keeping only a few points in mind:

– the onions have to be super-finely chopped, and

– the tomato is pureed

To make the stuffing, I used: (the quantities depend on how much you’re making, of course)

minced meat (kheema), about 250gms

– boiled and mashed potatoes

– pureed tomatoes

– finely chopped white onions

– turmeric powder

– red chili powder…I like a lot of this to make the dish super-spicy!

– cumin powder

– chopped green chilies

– garlic paste

– ginger paste

– salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onions in a pan along with the ginger and garlic pastes, until the edges turn brown. Add the green chilies, turmeric, red chili powder and cumin. Cook for about a minute. Add the kheema and the potatoes. Mix well to coat the meat. Add the tomato puree…I use little of this, since I don’t want the stuffing to be too watery or tomatoey ….uh, is that a word?

Cook covered, on medium heat for 15-20 minutes.

Cut the peppers in half and remove the tops, seeds and membranes. Wash ’em and pat ’em dry. Spoon the stuffing in and add grated cheddar on top. Brush the stuffed pepper with a little butter. Place on a baking dish lined with parchment paper, pop it in the oven and bake at 350° for 30-40 minutes. The peppers come out soft, perfectly cook with a slight crunch to them.