Category Archives: Dinner/Lunch

Chicken Khichda / Haleem

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It is Eid today… the day that marks the end of Ramzan or Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. For the past 29 – 30 days, devout Muslims the world over do not eat anything from dawn to sunset. However when the sun goes down everyday, at Iftar, the fast is broken.

If you walk through streets around the Bombay Central Station, Mohammed Ali Road, Dongri, Mahim – There’s such an atmosphere of festivity! The streets are lit up with fairy lights, groups of people milling about, all dressed up & the roads lined with stalls selling everything from bright clothes to jewellery & shoes to… of course… Food! Oh! It’s such a treat! It’s been a while, but I remember for a couple years, going down to Mohammed Ali Road with my friends at least once during Ramzan during Iftar, to, well put it politely, stuff ourselves silly!

You wouldn’t know where to start! Of course, if you were fasting, you would with dates & some fruit from the dried fruit & juice stalls & then move on to the real stuff. But that never applied to us! We went straight for the meat & chicken Kebabs, Tikkas (marinated chunks of Chicken or Lamb grilled to melt-in-the-mouth perfection over charcoal), Naans (flat bread), Baida Rotis (thin, soft flatbread stuffed with meat, coated with eggs & deep fried), Biryaani (saffron & spice laced rice layered with a flavourful meat or chicken gravy), my favourite Khichda / Haleem! You can’t end the feast without anything sweet… so there are Malpuas (crisp little pancakes deep fried in clarified butter) served with Rabdi (sweet, creamy, thickened milk) or Phirni (a delicate rice pudding flavoured with cardamom) in little clay pots… The feast is surely not for the faint hearted!

For the past 8 – 9 years (maybe more!), we’ve been invited to be part of the Iftar & Eid celebrations at the Khan residence… & that is another experience altogether! Pure gastronomical heaven! The everyday food out there is out of this world… so you can imagine what these special dinners would be like! Nalli, Biryaani, Kebabs, Mutton cooked the Moghlai way, Khichda.. & of course Auntie’s special Sheer Khurma (a special vermicelli pudding)! How our dear friend turned vegetarian & more importantly, remained one, growing up in this household, is something that always baffles me!

Gosh I’m salivating as I write this, & feeling rather sorry for myself as I’m going to miss the festivities, being with my friends (who are more like family) & of course the food at the Eid dinner at the Khans’, for the second year in a row! I’m in my home away from home, Jaipur, working (for a change!) for 2 weeks 😦

I knew I was going to be missing out so, a few days before I left Bombay, I made my favourite Khichda / Haleem for my family! Khichda is a one-dish meal, comfort in a bowl… I love it! And this is my first attempt at making it!

I used these websites as a reference for the recipe – Khana Pakana & Kulsum Mehmood, & followed the tips & suggestions given to me by the lovely elderly Bohri Kaka (uncle) who sold me the ingredients at Crawford Market  (the one stop wholesale bazaar in Bombay for everything!) 🙂

So here it is the recipe for a meal that satisfies the soul, with a special Eid Mubarak to everyone!

Ingredients

Polished Whole Wheat

Mixed Lentils

  • 250 gm Polished Whole Wheat Grains
  • 150 gm Mixed Daals (red, white & yellow lentil & Bengal gram)
  • 450 gm Boneless Chicken Pieces
  • 2 – 3 tablespoons Ginger-Garlic Paste
  • Red Chilli Powder (to taste)
  • Turmeric Powder
  • 2 teaspoons Dhania – Jeera / Cumin & Coriander Seed Powder
  • Special Haleem Spice (recommended by the sweet Kaka at the shop)

Spices

  • 2 stick Cinnamon
  • 3 – 4 Cardamom
  • 2 Star Anise
  • Mace
  • a pinch Nutmeg Powder
  • 1 large Onion (finely sliced)
  • 2 tablespoons Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • Ghee / Clarified Butter – Lots of it!

To Serve:

  • 3 large Onions (finely sliced & deep fried)
  • Mint Leaves (finely chopped)
  • Special Haleem Spice
  • Lemon Wedges
  • Ghee / Clarified Butter

Method

  • Soak the wheat overnight (at least 8 – 10 hours) in a large vessel filled with water. Pour in 1-2 teaspoons oil & some salt. (Kaka’s tip: Do not wash the wheat or disturb it while soaking. It affects the cooking process)
  • Soak the lentils for about 2 hours.

Marinated Chicken

  • Dry roast the cinnamon, cloves, star anise, mace & cardamom & grind to a fine powder.
  • Marinate the chicken pieces with ginger-garlic paste, salt, red chilli powder, turmeric, the spice powder from Step 3, nutmeg powder, 2 teaspoon Haleem spice, cumin & coriander powder & mint leaves. Leave to rest for about an hour.
  • In a large heavy bottomed vessel, heat 2 – 3 tablespoons of ghee, add the onions & sauté till the onions turn golden.
  • Add the marinated chicken & stir fry for about 10 minutes. Add more ghee if you need to, don’t be shy!
  • Drain the soaked wheat & lentils & add to the chicken.

Soaked Wheat Grains, Lentils & Marinated Chcken

  • Add enough water to cover the chicken & grains, plus some more & simmer on a low flame.
  • Now this is where patience kicks in! Allow the chicken & grains to cook for 6 – 7 hours, stirring regularly. (I kid you not! That’s how long it took! You could pressure cook the whole thing. But Kaka said the true taste emerges when the Khichda is slowly cooked over a long time. I believe him! It’s totally worth it.)
  • Add more water if it gets too thick or starts to stick to the bottom of the vessel.
  • Once the wheat has softened (around 6 hours later), take the vessel off the flame, remove the chicken pieces & keep aside. Using a hand blender make the wheat & lentil mixture as smooth as possible. Add the chicken back to this thick, porridge-like mixture & place the vessel on a very low flame.

The Khichda Cooking Slowly

  • Add another 2 teaspoons of the Haleem spice & check the seasoning. (I find it easier to taste my way through a dish like this, so at this point if you feel you need to add more salt, chilli or spices, go right ahead!)
  • If possible, leave the vessel on the flame till you are ready to serve.

To Serve

The Condiments – Melted Ghee, Haleem Spice Powder, Mint Leaves, Deep Fried Onions, Lemon Wedges

Ladle the Khichda into a bowl. Pour a generous amount of ghee over it, sprinkle a bit of the Haleem spice, some mint leaves & serve with a wedge of lemon. Then sit back & watch the expressions of your family as they dig into it!

This recipe serves 6

A Left-Over Lasagna

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The Mango Season is on it’s way out in the City, but that never stops us at the Vakil household! Each year Ma gets dozens of Pairee Mangoes … sweet with just the right amount of tartness & the pulp not too thick… perfect for the juice & squeezes out batches of Aam Ras (Mango Juice), packs it small boxes & freezes it… to be defrosted & eaten when the craving hits you after the fresh fruit is gone! This Ras, in our Gujju household is eaten as a meal accompanied with either Pooris (small, round, deep fried whole wheat flatbread), Poli (thin, layered whole wheat Roti or flat-bread) or our family favourite Safed / Chokha ni Rotli (cottony soft white flat bread made with rice flour).

Safed / Chokhani Rotli

These Rice Flour “Tortillas” are soft, melt-in-your-mouth, & surprisingly light. You could go through a half dozen of these without even realizing it! And they take on the flavour of Mangoes beautifully.

To make these Rotlis, you basically mix equal parts of rice flour & boiling water to which salt & oil are added, & knead out a soft, firm dough. Then you roll out small, thin rounds & roast them on the tawa or griddle. I’ve never tried making them myself… the process always seemed a little complicated for me! And besides I have to admit, with great embarrassment, that I cannot roll out a perfect round Roti / Rotli / Chapati to save my life!

Yes… this Good Gujarati girl married into a Mighty Maratha family cannot make the traditional, staple, Indian flat-bread 😦

But what I can do is make good use of these beautiful Rotlis on the rare occasion that we have a small batch leftover!

And that’s just what I did… Made a perfect light dinner in this gorgeous cloudy weather, after a long walk through my favourite streets in the City, Hot Chocolate & Contemporary India Art… a lovely evening out & about with my oldest, closest pal! Because guess what? I’m not under house arrest any more!

I made my version of a wholesome, flavourful Lasgna using these beauties!

Note: You could use Whole Wheat or Corn Tortillas instead of the Rice Flour ones.

Ingredients

  • 6 – 9 Safed Rotlis
  • 100 gm Cheese (grated)
  • Salted Cracker Crumbs
  • Olive Oil

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Filling

  • 200 gm Cottage Cheese (crumbled)
  • 100 gm Sweet Corn (boiled)
  • 1 Green Capsicum (finely chopped)
  • 1 small Onion (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

Sauce

  • 8 – 9 Tomatoes (chopped)
  • 2 Onions (finely chopped)
  • 8 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 dried Red Chillies (torn to bits)
  • 1 teaspoon Kallonji (Onion or Nigella Seeds)
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera (Cumin Seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ajwain (Carom Seeds)
  • 1 tablespoon Kasoori Methi (dried Fenugreek Leaves)
  • Red Chilli Powder / Chilli Flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Haldi / Turmeric Powder
  • Salt
  • 2 teaspoons Mixed Herbs
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato Ketchup or Puree
  • Olive Oil
  • Red Wine

Method

Filling

  1. Mix all the ingredients for the filling in a bowl & keep aside.

Sauce

  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan & add the cumin, carom & onion seeds.
  2. When they start to crackle, toss in the dried red chillies, onion & garlic. Saute till the latter are a light gold.
  3. Add tomatoes & salt. Cook till the tomatoes are soft & then add the chilli powder, turmeric, herbs & fenugreek leaves.
  4. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water or stock & the ketchup .Allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Pour in the red wine & simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
  6. Remove from the flame, allow to cool & then coarsely process the tomato mixture to make a chunky sauce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Putting it Together

  1. Grease a deep baking dish and arrange a layer of the Rotlis.
  2. Pour some of the tomato sauce over it & then spoon in the filling.
  3. Cover with the tomato sauce, followed by another layer of the Rotlis, sauce & filling & continue doing so till you run out.
  4. Top up with a layer of the tomato sauce. Cover with grated cheese, cracker crumbs, chilli flakes & herbs.
  5. Drizzle olive oil over generously & bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 C for about 25 minutes.
  6. Serve hot with a dollop of hung yogurt whisked together with some chilli flavoured cheese spread.

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This Recipe Serves 4

Lemon Rice

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It’s too hot to cook! It’s too hot to think! It’s too hot to want to do anything… period!

At times like these, you need a quick fix, light meal that isn’t any trouble at all!

Tangy, flavourful & super comforting, Lemon Rice, is it! This is a South Indian dish that is lightly spiced, with the lentils & peanuts adding a lovely crunch to it. You could have it by itself, with a bowl of yogurt on the side or serve it like a salad for brunch.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups steamed Basmati Rice
  • 2 Lemons (juice)
  • 5-6 Curry Leaves
  • 1 tablespoon white Urad Daal / White Lentil
  • 1 teaspoon Jeera / Cumin Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Rai / Mustard Seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Haldi / Turmeric Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dhania-Jeera Powder Ground Coriander & Cumin Seeds
  • Chilli Powder
  • Salt
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves
  • Roasted Peanuts (coarsely ground)
  • 2 tablespoons Ghee / Clarified Butter

Note:

Fresh Green Chillies & Grated Ginger would work wonders too! Didn’t have them at hand, so used Red Chilli Powder. If you use these, add them at Step 2.

Fresh Coconut (grated) would also make a great garnish to this dish, highlighting its “South Indian-ness”

Method

  1. Heat the ghee in a wok & add the curry leaves urad daal, jeera, & rai.
  2. When the spices start to sizzle & the lentils turn a light gold, add the haldi, dhania-jeera & chilli powders & stir fry for 2-3 minutes till you get a beautiful aroma & the flavours all merge together.
  3. Add the cooked rice, lemon juice & salt & mix well so that each grain is coated with the spices.
  4. Garnish with coriander leaves, coconut & peanuts.
  5. Serve hot.

This recipe serves 4

An Early Mother’s Day Lunch

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Ma came over for lunch on Friday…

Oh yes that is a big deal! Don’t get me wrong. I am a good daughter. I do see my Mother about twice a week at least. Since it’s more convenient, I end up doing most of the visiting. We tease her that she visits my sister, who is in a different country all together, more often in a year, than she comes over to ours! And we are in the same city! Yes the Bombay traffic is awful & with an hour & half journey one way, we might as well live in different towns… but she could do better than drop by once in 6 months!

Anyway, Ma decided to come over for lunch Friday (Yay!). Since it had been a while & with Mother’s Day right round the corner, I wanted it to be special. It is unbelievably hot in the City, so she requested something light & simple.

So here it is, a light, simple yet special menu for Ma on her special day 🙂

Pear & Nut Salad

Eggplant Boats

Spinach & Cottage Cheese Quiche

Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownie

Pear Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 firm Pear (cored & sliced)
  • Mixed Nuts & Raisins
  • Honey
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Cinnamon
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Iceberg Lettuce

Method

  1. Arrange the pear slices on a bed of lettuce.
  2. Sprinkle the nuts & raisins over it.
  3. Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together & drizzle over the salad just before serving.
  4. Serve it chilled.

Eggplant Boats

Ingredients

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 2 Spring Onions (finely chopped)
  • zest & juice of 1/2 Orange
  • 3-4 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • Basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Ajwain / Marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon Jeera / Cumin
  • Chilli Powder
  • 5-7 Black Olives (chopped)
  • Salt
  • Olive Oil
  • Bread Crumbs
  • Cheese
  • Bottled Tomato Pizza / Pasta Sauce

Method

  1. Slice the eggplant lengthwise into 2 halves. Carefully scoop out the flesh, leaving the exterior intact. Place the eggplant halves face down in salt water & chop up the scooped out eggplant.
  2.  Heat oil in a wok & add the jeera & ajwain. When the spices start sizzling, add the garlic & onions. Saute till brown.
  3. Toss in the eggplant, tomatoes, olives, orange zest & juice & stir fry till cooked.
  4. Season with salt & chilli powder. Keep aside.
  5. Pat dry the eggplant boats & lightly rub the skin with olive oil. Place on an un-greased baking tray.
  6. Fill each boat with the cooked eggplant & tomato mixture.
  7. Sprinkle the boats with bread crumbs & cheese.
  8. Cover the boats with aluminium foil & bake in the oven at 180 C for 25 minutes. Uncover & bake some more for about 15 minutes.
  9. Warm the pizza/pasta sauce & pour over the eggplant boats before serving.

Spinach & Cottage Cheese Quiche

The Quiche was inspired by 2 chefs Rachel Allen Jamie Oliver. I am an avid watcher of Food Shows on TV. If I don’t have the time, I record them & then watch them back to back! During a couple of these marathon TV watching sessions, I saw that with a few simple additions, the 2 chefs transformed the quiche to something else!

Jamie Oliver added Parmesan Cheese & Rosemary to the pie crust & Rachel Allen added a layer of boiled Potatoes & Goat’s Cheese to the Quiche before adding the Spinach Filling. I wanted to try it out ever since.

Mother’s Day Lunch is the day!

The above dishes were perfect for a loving mother-daughter duo! With a chilled glass of Pomegranate juice to start & warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Brownies to end, with loads of bonding girl talk & gossip, it was a lovely lunch indeed!

Happy Mother’s Day Ma & to all the Moms out there 🙂

Baked Chicken

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This has got to be my laziest trip to Jaipur, ever! Apart from my classes everyday & going over to my friend’s for dinner last night, I haven’t done anything! I’m blaming it on the weather… it’s too hot in the afternoon to go anywhere.

Though today this is how it was outside when I got done with lunch… cloudy, breezy & a light drizzle…

And when I woke up from my nap (it’s summer in India… you have to nap right?) it was warm & still all over again!

Anyway, I thought I’d make myself useful & write in a post sharing a recipe for a dish I had cooked over a month ago. As you will notice after reading the ingredients, this was before my diet days!

Ingredients

  • 450 gm Chicken Breast
  • 1 large Onion (finely sliced)
  • 7-8 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • ½ Carrot (chopped)
  • 6 Mushrooms (sliced)
  • 150 gm Corn Kernels (boiled)
  • 1 small head Broccoli (florets)
  • ½ each green, yellow & red Bell Peppers (chopped)
  • 200 ml fresh Cream
  • 2 tablespoons Milk
  • Fresh Basil (finely chopped)
  • 200 gm Cheese (grated)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Dried Oregano, Celery Salt & Pepper
  • Olive Oil

Method

  1. Make diagonal slashes on the chicken & rub in minced garlic, pepper, oregano & celery salt. 
  2. In an oven-safe pan heat a tablespoon of Olive Oil & sear the chicken quickly both sides till brown & keep aside.
  3. In the same pan sauté the onion till soft & pink.
  4. Add the carrot, mushrooms, broccoli & bell peppers & cook for a few minutes.
  5. Place the chicken on the veggies, drizzle olive oil generously, cover pan with foil & roast in the oven for about 35 minutes at 200 C. 
  6. Remove the chicken from the pan & cut into slivers.
  7. To the veggies add cream, milk, basil, corn, salt, pepper, 150 gm cheese.
  8. Cook till the sauce thickens
  9. Pour over the chicken slivers.
  10. Sprinkle the bread crumbs, 50 gm cheese & basil over it & bake for 20 – 25 minutes till the cheese melts & the crumbs turn golden.

Serve hot with a side of mashed potatoes.

This is one of those “comfort” dishes… mild, gentle flavours but rich enough to make you feel all warm & gooey & totally content 🙂

This recipe serves 4 people.

Basa… En Papillote

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The past 5-6 days were super hectic but fun, starting with the Maharashtrian New Year, Gudi Padwa, on Thursday & a steady stream of family visiting over the weekend. Food of course played a very important part in the festivities! Puran Poli (sweet, thin flatbread stuffed with jaggery & lentils), little date & nut squares (which were actually sugar-free), Mango Shrikhand… Sweets always take centre stage during Indian festivals! It took a lot of will power to not reach out for the mango & yogurt dessert, though I couldn’t resist a bite of the Poli! The main courses too were rich & masaledar (spicy)… mutton curry, kheema (minced mutton), prawns, chicken, served with wada (small, flat, deep fried rice & white gram flour flat bread, shaped like donuts) & neer dosa (light rice flour pancakes)… sigh…my diet!

Anyway, although the food was tasty beyond words, we had had quite enough of the heavy, fiery flavours. It was time for a palate cleanser, something light, fresh & flavourful without the excesses. It was time for my favourite fish… Basa!

I wanted to use a new recipe book I had recently bought & try a technique I had never used before. And luckily for me the Easy Everyday Simple Cookbook (edited by Anne McDowell) had just the thing… a recipe for a Basque Baked Haddock in Parchment or “En Papillote” (French). I had Basa in my freezer so went ahead & used that instead.

“En Papillote” is a cooking technique where fish, poultry, meat or even vegetables are wrapped in parcels of parchment paper & baked. The moisture from the food itself or from water, stock or wine is held in by the paper to steam it. In some traditional South East Asian, Indian & Parsi dishes the meat or fish is wrapped in banana or cassava leaves & then steamed or grilled, which also adds a subtle flavour to the food.

I had first heard the word “En Papillote” on MasterChef Australia. I was an avid follower of the show, which in many ways influenced the way I looked at cooking, specially the non-Indian, Global Cuisine. Almost every episode was an “A-ha! So that’s how they do it?” or “Wow! I’ve gotta try that at home now!” moments! More often than not, the husband & I would be watching the show (yup… this was one show that I watched which actually interested him!) while eating dinner…terrible idea! Because there we were in our living room with our plates of Okra & Roti (whole-wheat flatbread)… BORING!! While on screen, the contestants would be prettily plating up dishes like Roast Pork Belly with Seared Scallops & Apple Brandy Sauce or Stuffed Middle Eastern Snapper with Onion Rice & Salsa! And the desserts…OMG! I could cry! So then I started revising my dinner menus a bit. Even if it was a simple Indian dish or even an omelette or a sandwich, I made an effort to make sure I served it pretty J Then we didn’t feel as left out!

“En Papillote” seemed exotic & somehow I never got around to cooking with that technique. Well there’s always a first time, I guess! So here it is, my first attempt… Basa “En Papillote”!

Ingredients

  • 800 gm Basa fillets
  • ½ each red, green & yellow bell peppers (finely chopped)
  • 1 onion (finely chopped)
  • 2-3 cloves Garlic (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tomatoes (skinned, seeded & finely chopped)
  • Juice & Zest of 1 Orange
  • 4 tablespoons White Wine
  • Black Olives
  • 1 tablespoon Basil
  • a handful of Coriander
  • Chilli flakes
  • Dried Herbs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Sheets of Baking Parchment Paper

Note: The original recipe asked for:

  • Only Red & Green Peppers, I added the Yellow ones ‘coz I had them & I love the colour!
  • Juice of 1 Lemon, which I didn’t have, so I used Orange instead & added the zest for good measure.
  • 1 tablespoon fresh Oregano, none in the fridge, so threw in the Basil & Coriander
  • I added the Chilli Flakes ‘coz hey, we’re Indian & we love the heat!

Method:

  1. Mix together in a bowl all the ingredients, except for the fish & olives, like a salad.
  2. Cut the parchment into squares larger than the size of the fillet. I could not manage squares for some reason (I’m geometrically challenged I think!) so made rectangles.
  3. Place a piece of fish on the parchment & spoon 1-2 teaspoons of the salad over it. Scatter olives too.
  4. If you’ve managed a square, fold the parchment over the fish to make a triangle. If not, just fold it tightly over the fish to make whatever shape you can (like I did!) Either way, remember to fold the edges together tightly to make a sealed parcel. Repeat this with all the fillets.
  5. Arrange the parcels on a baking tray & bake in a pre-heated oven at 170 – 190C for 20 min

Note: If the size of fish fillets is small, then you could arrange 2 – 3 pieces per parcel. Cut the paper accordingly.

Serve immediately! It tastes best piping hot! You could serve it with some garlic bread & buttered mushrooms (like I did) or any other side-dish you might like. The fish is steamed to perfection, absorbing all the flavours beautifully. The dish is truly very simple, healthy & easy to put together & yet looks & tastes gorgeous!

  This recipe serves 4

Basa with Chillies, Garlic & Basil

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The Big Fat “W” Issue is taking over my life… again! Now don’t get me wrong… I’m super comfortable in my skin.I always used to be what they call “pleasantly plump” (I’m actually way past the pleasant stage now!) & that didn’t get in the way of anything… dating, work. In fact (touch-wood) I pride myself on my stamina & energy & the ability to zip around all over the place, multi-tasking. But my genes aren’t exactly that great, & I am 30-something (sigh)! And with every passing month it’s become easier to gain a kilogram than to lose even 100 grams!

Over the years I’ve tried the whole spectrum of gyms, diets, workouts, walks, yoga… Not that none of it worked. It’s just that I couldn’t get myself to be consistent! I’d work hard, lose some weight & then the interest. So basically over the past 10 odd years it’s been a cycle of kicking my butt (or getting it kicked), feeling & seeing the difference… then back to square one!

This time round it’s even more difficult because there’s so many recipes I want to try out… pies, cakes, quiches, cookies, breads… none of which are going to do anything for my weight watching quest! But I don’t have a choice… I’m on a regimen… get some exercise, eat at regular intervals & eat healthy!!

So I’m going to cook & post recipes that work with what I’m supposed to eat.  I’ll bake too… but I promise it will be for someone else, not me!

For tonight’s dinner I tried to recreate a Basa dish that I had eaten a month ago at a restaurant, which left me completely unimpressed! They gave us dessert on the house to appease us 🙂 I’m hoping to do a better job on it!

Basa is a freshwater fish, native to the Mekong River Delta, Vietnam & Chao Phraya Basin, Thailand. The flesh is moist, with a light, firm texture & no bones. The flavour too is pretty mild, which makes it versatile while cooking. Like most fish, Basa is high in protein & low – fat. Perfect choice for my dinner!

Basa with Chillies, Garlic & Basil

Ingredients

  • 400 gm Basa (fillets)
  • 1/2 each Red, Yellow, Green Bell Peppers (sliced)
  • 2 Spring Onions (finely chopped)
  • 2 stalks Celery (finely chopped)
  • 3/4 cup Basil (finely chopped)
  • 8 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3 dried Red Chillies (soaked in warm water)
  • 1 teaspoon Olive Oil
  • Fish Sauce
  • Soy Sauce
  • Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

Method

Marnated Basa

  1. Blitz 3/4 of the garlic & red chillies with a dash of soy sauce to make a coarse paste.
  2. Marinade the fillets with this paste & leave to rest for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil  in a pan & add the rest of the garlic, onions, celery & bell peppers. Saute till soft.
  4. Move the veggies in the pan to the edges & place the fillets in the pan & quickly heat them on both sides.
  5. Spread half the veggies on the pan & place the fish on it & top it up with the rest of the veggies.
  6. Splash a little water into the pan.
  7. Season with fish sauce & a dash of Thai sweet chilli sauce & toss in the basil
  8. Leave on the flame till the fish is just about cooked. The take it off the flame & cover for about 5 minutes allowing the fish to cook a bit.

The Basa I had at the restaurant was pretty bland & not seasoned well at all. The fish sauce & sweet chilli sauce have added depth to the flavour, & really brought out the taste of the 3 key ingredients: the sharp garlic, hot red chillies & fresh basil.

Since I’m on a low-carb diet, I had this with a side of steamed veggies & a bowl of soup. You could serve this up with jasmine rice or plain steamed rice or noodles.

This recipe serves 4 people on my diet or 2 with regular appetites!