Routine and Saturday Morning Chicken

Yellow Bell Pepper

Its become routine now. After six months, anybody would expect it to.

Wake up. Cook food. Nag after the maid. Take a shower. Get dressed. Talk to the Lieutenant. Rush to the office.

All the resolutions that we had made in college, that we would not be living regualr lives like our folks or other people, and get stuck in the tight clasps of “routine” have all flown out of the window.
The biggest concerns that we face now is which call to answer first on reaching the office, or which course to opt for (in relation to Post-Graduation, which is now looming like an obvious monster in the very near future).

The “tiffin wala” I had assigned to bring me stacked stainless steel boxes stuffed with saabzi, roti, rice and dal (thats veggie-curry, Indian flat breads, rice and lentil curry for everyone who’s not desi) got himself fired a long time back, almost after a month of delivering food at my doorstep at the right time. His food was tasty no doubt to most Marathis (who happened to be the bulk of his clients). Unfortunately it was spicy enough to put my mouth (and certain other parts of my body) on fire. And the curry never varied. Ever.
I understand that cooking the same curry everyday is easy and exceptionally economical from his angle, all thanks to Readymade Curry Maker. However, I found it unbearable. No offence Mr. Tiffin Wala.
I went through the same ordeal back during my college days in Baroda. I’m just not a “lunchbox” person.

The dilemma I faced, after I’d fired him, was that I had no idea where I’d get lunch from, unless I planned to order in everyday from all the eat-outs and restaurants near the vicinity of the office. The idea of oily chilli chicken, and overcooked Hyderabadi Biriyani with zero traces of “Hyderabad” in them seemed unbearable. Again.
I finally, forced myself to get into the habit of getting up early (compared to my standards…I’m not a morning person…at all) and whipping up simple dishes to pack for lunch and store in the refrigerator for re-heated-dinner purposes.
Its become routine now.

Weekend cooking requires a little amount of thought and can get tricky depending on the day. If its a Friday or Saturday, I have to go through the entire fridge checking available items and leftovers and spending time staring at them silently, trying to go over combinations in my head.
Sunday’s better, since the pantry and refrigerator is replenished with food for the whole week.
The chicken below, is a Saturday morning creation, with the last remaining yellow bell pepper.

Saturday Chicken

Chicken with Pepper and Sour Curd

What you Need:

– 2 chicken breasts, cleaned and skin ripped off

– 1 tablespoon of olive oil

– 1 yellow bell pepper (by all means, use any bell pepper, green or red, but somehow yellow has a sweet mellowness to it than the others), sliced

– 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme

– 2-3 sprigs fresh sage

– Half a red onion, chopped

– 2 cloves of garlic, minced

– 80-100gms cherry tomatoes, halved

– Half a cup of sour curd (I used homemade, and hung it in 4 layers of cheesecloth to drain out extra liquid for a thicker texture)

– Salt and ground black pepper to taste


– Wrap the chicken breasts between two plastic sheets and beat ’em flat, till they’re like 1/4 ” in thickness.

– Scour the surface of the chicken breats with diagonal knife cuts.

– Heat the oil in a non-stick pan. Saute the onions and garlic till golden brown.

– Add the tomatoes, bell pepper, sage and thyme and cook covered, on low heat till the pepper slices soften. This will take about 3-4 minutes.

– Add the chicken and cook till it starts to brown at the edges.

– Pour in the sour curd. Mix well and leave on low heat, covered, for 10 minutes.

– Uncover and season with salt and ground black pepper according to taste.

– Cook for another 5-10 minutes till the chiken is soft enough to slice into strips. If the dish is too dry for you, pour in half a cup of water (or chicken stock) and cook for another couple of minutes.

– Serve hot with steamed rice.

Cashew & Cheese Cakelets

“But this is plain !” complained my brother with his eyebrows knit closely together. He put the piece of sponge cake back on the plate and pushed it away. Yes, I know…he pushed away cake!

This is what happens when you whip up desserts too often in our household. Everybody gets used to it and expects everything to be stuffed with nuts, or smothered in chocolate or topped with fruity cream. Whatever happened to enjoying the good ol’ plum cake with tea or a plain vanilla sponge cake, for that matter?

On my mother’s request, (why does she have to be so partial towards her son…that kid has it easy, I tell you…not fair at all!) I set to make one of my favorites of all times – Cashew & Cream Cheese Cakelets.

Usually, we’ve always liked it with ice-cream or some kind of jam/jelly glazing on top; this time I’ve dunked them in a crème fraîche bath.

For each cakelet:

1 egg

– 60gms all-purpose flour

– 2 tablespoons ground cashew nuts

– 50gms unsalted butter

– 3 tablespoons cream cheese

– 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt (thick, hung, sour curd would do too)

– 4 tablespoons granulated sugar

– 1/2 teaspoon salt

– 1 teaspoon vanilla essence

– 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pre-heat the oven to 350° C. Blitz all the ingredients in a processor till nice and smooth. Fill greased ramekins with the batter and bake for 15-20 minutes. You could also bake the batter in parts to make layered cakelets, like I did. Cool the cakelets in their ramekins, on the rack.

The icing (and filling) is a plain ganache, made by heating double cream with sugar and cocoa powder in equal parts. Add whipped cream or ice-cream with a sprinkling of chopped cashews before serving.

And I swear, I’m never baking again! Ever!

People just have to get use to plain old fruit cake now.