Food

Chicken Tikka Drumsticks

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Without complaining about how the South Asian diaspora has transformed my childhood favourite BBQ item chicken tikka into a saucy, messy staple takeaway item “chicken tikka masala,” I shall begin writing this post.

As a child, chicken tikka with paratha (fried flat bread that looks like this) was my most anticipated meal all week. My father used to honk the horn after reaching home on Friday evening, and myself, my three siblings, and my mother would quickly get into the car and be on our way to eat some BBQ. As we grew older, we would also BBQ chicken tikkas for family picnics by the beach or on cool winter evenings at our roof terrace. Such beautiful memories!

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I have always loved the charred flavor of a delicious chicken tikka. Full disclosure, this recipe will not give the taste of a Pakistani streetside chicken tikka because a) it is not made in open air on a charcoal grill b) it is meant to be clean so it does not use a lot of oil. That said, I think it comes pretty close to the taste of a juicy BBQ-ed chicken tikka, but with a lot less mess and time, and a ton more convenience.

I use drumsticks for this recipe instead of full chicken leg quarters because drumsticks are easier to work with. And I like to pair them with brown rice and some yogurt or coriander chutney. The meat from the drumsticks can also be used to make a killer chicken tikka salad (see tips for more). It was actually this salad that I posted in my insta story, prompting several requests for the recipe. So without further boring you with my incoherent stories, I will get down to the deets of how you cook up this deliciousness.

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Don’t mind the Fresh face mask container…I tend to recycle pretty much everything and these little containers are best to carry sauces for lunch to work.

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How delicious does that look? I love myself on days that I have healthy lunches at work. Yay to Sunday meal-prep.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Yogurt (3tbsp)
  • Tandoori masala (2tbsp)*
  • Garlic powder (1tsp)*
  • Organic skinless drumsticks (4)
  • Lemon, juiced (2)
  • Olive oil (1tsp)

Method:

  • Mix the tandoori masala & garlic powder in the yogurt.
  • Place diagonal slits on the drumsticks.
  • Marinate the drumsticks in the spiced yogurt. Also add oil and lemon juice at this point.
  • Leave in the refrigerator overnight for maximum flavor, or for at least half an hour.
  • Preheat the oven to 425F/220C and bake for 40 minutes flipping the drumsticks halfway through.

Tips:

  • I used this store-bought tandoori masala, but I have also tried this recipe with homemade tandoori masala and it works just fine. The recipe for the homemade tandoori masala is here.
  • If you don’t have garlic powder, you can use two garlic cloves minced.
  • The meat from the drumsticks is delicious with mixed greens, quinoa, and some greek yogurt as dressing for a “chicken tikka salad.”
  • In a food processor, pulse 1 cup of mint and coriander, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 lemon juiced, and 2 green chillies. You will have yourself the best chutney to serve with these chicken tikka drumsticks.

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Food

Yellow Split Pea & Spinach Dal

When I started this blog in June last year, the very first recipe I posted was of dal, a South Asian lentil stew that can be enjoyed with bread or rice. I used yellow and red lentils for the recipe–that’s how my mother cooked the staple dal during my childhood. Recently, however, I have been experimenting with different kinds of lentils to create a recipe which is more forgiving in terms of oil. You will know what I mean if you have seen your mother temper the dal with copious amounts of ghee (clarified butter) or oil because “that is where the taste lies.” One cannot argue with a Punjabi mother about ghee, but one can create her own recipe.

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And I think I have finally nailed down the balance between clean, tasty and the oil requirement. The lentils I used in this recipe are the yellow split pea lentils, which are packed with protein (20 grams/1cup) and a ton of flavor. I also snuck in some spinach into the dal, and that only enhanced the taste. This dal recipe only uses 1tbsp of oil yet the result is creamy and hearty. 🙂 It is also low on salt and relies on lemon juice for the flavor. You may add table salt if you like, of course.

To make the yellow split pea dal, or chana dal as Pakistanis would know, I pre-cooked my lentils and refrigerated them. This saves me time on week nights and helps make the recipe in about 20 minutes. If you prefer, you could also use canned lentils, but if you do, make sure to buy great quality ones without the synthetic taste and chemical treatments. If you boil the lentils, just boil with a sprinkle of salt until tender–about thirty minutes–and drain the excess water. I prefer soaking the lentils for an hour or so before cooking them–that reduces the cooking time and also removes anti-nutrients that may cause gas and other digestive issues.

Below is the recipe with a full nutrition profile. If you have questions, feel free to share in the comments or direct message. I hope you will give this simple, flavor and nutritious recipe a try. 🙂

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Serves 3

Ingredients:

  • Canola oil (1tbsp)
  • Onion (1 chopped)
  • Garlic (2 cloves–minced)
  • Ginger (1tsp–grated)
  • Tomatoes (2 chopped or 1/4 cup canned)
  • Green chillies (2 chopped)
  • Red chili powder (1tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Himalayan pink salt (generous sprinkle)
  • Baby spinach (1 cup packed)
  • Yellow split peas (1 cup boiled/canned)
  • Water (3 cups)
  • Lemon (1–juiced)
  • Coriander sprigs (6-10–chopped)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add ginger & garlic and sauté until fragrant. If the mixture sticks, use a splash of water to deglaze the pan instead of more oil.
  • Now add tomatoes and green chillies, as well as all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Again, add water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • When the oil separates from this mixture (about 2 minutes), add the cooked/canned lentils and the baby spinach.
  • Stir for about 2-3 minutes, add the water, and let it cook covered for 5-8 minutes until everything is well combined.
  • Garnish with lemon juice and coriander and serve alongside bread, rice, or quinoa. I had mine with brown rice and a mixed greens and cucumber salad. 🙂

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Food

Egg & Veggie Muffins

Muffin purists will likely roll their eyes over this recipe since it is a savoury take on the traditionally sweet muffins. But I promise these are worth a try, if not for their convenience and deliciousness then for their nutritional value (hello there, protein). If by the end of the post, I still have not convinced you that these Egg Muffins are worth trying, you could check out these one-bowl Carrot Cake and Oatmeal-Blueberry muffins I previously posted on the blog.

I do not remember when I first became acquainted with the idea of egg muffins, but it sure has been life changing. When I started working fulltime, I could no longer find the time to make a nice omelette or egg scramble in the morning. As much as I would like my mornings to be calm and peaceful like those morning routine videos on YouTube, reality is they are not. Consequently, I try to simplify as many of my morning tasks as possible, breakfast included.

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If I anticipate my mornings to be rushed due to early meetings or travel then instead of prepping my usual smoothie bags, which would still need blending with milk, I prepare these egg muffins that I can grab and go without any fuss. These especially came in handy last week after my Nutribullet of two years decided to bid farewell. Sigh.

Besides their convenience and nutritional value, I also love these muffins for their versatility. You can choose whichever vegetable and cheese options your heart desires and the end result will still be delicious. You could also create a variety to choose from in the mornings–as a cheesy friend of mine used to say “variety is the spice of life.” I divided half of my batch into broccoli and cheddar and the other half into onion, bell pepper, and spinach. Yum, right?

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Below is the recipe I follow to make 8 egg muffins. You can be as creative as you like with seasonings and stir-ins.

Ingredients:

  • Organic eggs (6)
  • Fat-free milk, or any milk of your choice (1/4 cup/60ml)
  • Salt, black pepper, garlic powder (to taste)
  • Red bell pepper (1/2cup chopped)
  • Broccoli florets (1/2 cup)
  • Shallot (1 chopped)
  • Spinach (3/4 cup packed)
  • Cheddar (1/4 cup shredded)
  • Extra virgin olive oil (1tsp)

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 375F/200C.
  • Beat the eggs together with milk until well-combined.
  • Season with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. You could leave out the garlic powder, but I love a garlicky undertone in my eggs.
  • Grease 8 muffin moulds with oil.
  • Cover 2/3rd of the moulds with the veggie & cheese combo of your choice. I used broccoli and cheddar as one combination and the rest of veggies as another.
  • Pour the egg mixture in all 8 moulds. Try to keep it at the 2/3rd mark because the eggs will rise and fluff up.
  • Bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven.

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Food

Chickpea Masala

Chickpea masala served over basmati rice has been one of my comfort meals since I was a child. As I have grown up, I have found chickpea masala doesn’t always have to be served over rice; it is so versatile in the ways that it can be enjoyed. For instance, if you dry the gravy slightly, you can stuff a wrap with mixed greens and chickpea masala; in a snap you’ve a perfect lunch wrap. Similarly, chickpea masala makes a delicious salad with mixed greens, quinoa, and a boiled egg. Yum!

My recipe for the chickpea masala is fuss free. It comes together in under 20 minutes. I use canned chickpeas in my recipe. If you too will be using canned chickpeas, I strongly recommend using high quality ones, preferably organic. The brand I am hooked to for canned grains and legumes is La Bio Idea. The chickpeas out of their cans smell so much like freshly boiled chickpeas and they are perfectly tender. Just a little disclaimer, this post is not sponsored by La Bio Idea.

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Without further ado, let’s get down to the recipe.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Onion (1–chopped)
  • Oil (1tbsp)
  • Garlic cloves (3–minced)
  • Green chillies (2–chopped)
  • Tomatoes (2/3 cup–chopped) I used the organic peeled La Bio Idea tomatoes.
  • Chili flakes (1tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Garam masala (1/2 tsp)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Salt (1/4 tsp)
  • Chickpeas (400grams/15 ounce can)
  • Water (1/2 to 1 cup)
  • Lemon (1/2–juiced)
  • Coriander (10 sprig–chopped)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil until golden brown.
  • Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant. If onion and garlic stick, use a splash of water to deglaze the pan instead of more oil.
  • Now add tomatoes and green chillies, as well as all the spices. Cook for a couple of minutes. Again, add water to deglaze the pan if needed.
  • When the oil separates from the mixture, add chickpeas and 1/2 cup water.
  • Cook covered for 5-7 minutes and garnish with chopped coriander and lemon juice.

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Food

Quinoa Crusted Chicken Fingers

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I recently mentioned on my Instagram that I am on a mission to healthify (I know it’s not a real word, but let’s get on with it) some of my favorite foods. Chicken fingers are definitely something that I not only love for their taste, but also love for their versatility and convenience. As in, they can be eaten on their own, stuffed in a lunch wrap, or chopped for a hearty salad. In whichever form I choose to eat them, they remain fuss free—for instance no leaking out of the lunchbox into my pampered work bags.

And so, like every new mission, this mission of healthifying chicken fingers started with research (read: typing “healthy chicken fingers” into Google). I was baffled to learn that breading chicken fingers with quinoa was a thing in the healthy eating world.

The novelty of using quinoa instead of breadcrumbs was enough to inspire me to create a recipe of my own instead of using someone else’s recipe. I like my chicken fingers to have a subtle spice kick (you’d know what I mean if you’ve eaten fried chicken at Pakistan’s KFCs), so this recipe has that + it is oil-free. Basically what I am giving you with this recipe is an opportunity to glorify the most boring of proteins, chicken breast, without adding unnecessary fats (oil) or carbs (breadcrumbs). I call that a miracle and it is being passed on to you.

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • Organic Chicken breast (1)
  • Chickpea flour (1 tbsp)
  • Chili powder (1/2 tsp)
  • Cumin powder (1/4 tsp)
  • Chili flakes (1/4 tsp)
  • Egg (1/2)
  • Cooked quinoa (1/4 cup)

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 375F/200C.
  • Slice the chicken breast into thin strips.
  • Mix the flour and spices.
  • Coat chicken strips in the flour.
  • Beat an egg (you will use only half of it).
  • Coat strips into the egg.
  • Press cooked quinoa into strips coated with flour and egg.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, place the chicken strips on the tray, and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes.
  • Enjoy on its own or in salads and wraps! 🙂 And to view the full nutritional profile of this recipe, see the end of the post.

Tips:

  • Chicken breasts can vary in weight. Organic chicken breasts tend to be smaller. The one I used was around 100 grams.
  • You may use any flour. I had chickpea flour on hand that’s why I used that one.
  • If you do not have individual spices as listed in the ingredients, you could also just use a spice mix like cajun/jamaican.
  • If you line the baking sheet with foil instead of parchment paper, I would grease the foil to avoid having quinoa stick to the foil.
  • To ensure chicken fingers crisp on both sides, flip them over halfway through the baking time.

 

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This is the first time that I have calculated the full nutrition profile of my recipe. I am adding it to this post. Please let me know if that is something that you find helpful. And have a wonderful weekend!!

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