Chicken

Second to Naan

India has a staggeringly impressive street food scene and no matter where you go, you cannot help but stumble upon street food vendors and hawkers. The dizzying array of choices presented, will render you into a quandary, not knowing what to plump for. From different types of chaats to vada pav, to frankies, to the Bombay sandwich, to samosas, to ragda patties, to various types of kebabs and fish tikkas, to dosas, the list is endless. The sizzling options are overwhelming and available by the bucketload.

With the world having woken up to the blossoming street food industry, the punter now enjoys food that is fresh, fast and contemporary, with flavours that definitely pack a punch. There's a vibrant energy around any street food stall, a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation. Those emotions are almost certainly reflected at home whenever I tell my family that it's street food Sunday. The announcement usually elicits whoops of joy! 

Over the years I can undoubtedly say that I have mastered the art of making somewhat healthier street food by combining fresh, high quality ingredients to create dynamic, zesty dishes, bursting with flavour. Naan sliders are so often part of the ultimate weekend feast and I can't make them fast enough in my house, evidently a seal of approval! There are several stages to this recipe, but it is definitely worth the effort, all made easier with having everything 'mise en place!' Homemade naan topped with chargrilled marinated paneer or chicken, pickled red onions, coriander chutney and spicy yogurt certainly hits the spot. Slam dunk!

Chicken or Paneer Naan Sliders

Serves 6 : Makes 12 small sized Naans

Ingredients

For the Naan Bread:

  • 300g Strong White Bread Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1.5 tsp Fast Action Dried Yeast
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 160 ml Warm Water
  • 25g Melted Butter
  • 1 tbsp Milk
  • Butter for brushing the cooked Naans
  • Nigella (Kalonji) Seeds (optional)

For the Tandoori Paste

  • 4 Tablespoons of Greek Yogurt
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • Juice of half a Lime
  • 3 cloves Garlic
  • 3cm piece of Ginger
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1.5 tsp Paprika
  • 0.5 tsp Tandoori Masala

For the Yogurt Sauce

For the Pickled Onions

  • 1 Red Onion, finely sliced
  • 0.5 tsp Salt
  • 0.5 tsp Sumac
  • Juice of half a Lemon
  • 1 tbsp of Coriander (finely chopped)

Additional Ingredients

  • 320g Chicken Mini Fillets
  • 450g Paneer (cut into thick slices)
  • 250g Baby Spinach Leaves
  • Sunflower Oil

Method

  • Mix all the tandoori paste ingredients together and then divide the paste into two bowls, one for the chicken and one for the paneer. Mix well and marinate for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight.
  • Prepare the dough for the naans. Mix together the fast action dried yeast, with the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the warm water. Leave this for 10 minutes.
  • Mix the flour and the salt. I use a food processor with the dough hook, but you can do this by hand.
  • After 10 minutes add the yeast mixture, the melted butter, milk and warm water and mix into the flour until all the ingredients are incorporated and you've formed a sticky dough. If you're doing this by hand, knead for 5 minutes.
  • Place the dough in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Leave to rest in a warm place, and allow to prove for 60-90 minutes, or until the dough has doubled in size.
  • Whilst the dough is proving, prepare the onions. Mix all the ingredients together, in a bowl; the onions, salt, sumac, lemon juice and coriander. Refrigerate until required.
  • In a separate bowl mix the yogurt and the green chutney (in the recipe section) together and refrigerate.
  • Once the naan dough has doubled in size knock the air out and divide the dough into 12 balls.
  • Heat a frying pan on a moderate to high heat. Roll each ball out on your board to the size of a small plate. The dough is quite elastic so you can shape it if you wish. You may need to use some dry flour to prevent sticking.
  • Cook each naan on the frying pan until cooked and slightly charred on both sides. Brush with butter and sprinkle on nigella (kalonji) seeds. Keep the naans warm in a low oven.
  • Put 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil into a griddle or frying pan. Cook the paneer until browned on each side and keep aside. Repeat in a separate pan with the chicken. Its better to do this in batches.
  • Place the naans onto a platter and drizzle some of the yogurt sauce, then top with spinach leaves, add cooked, sliced chicken onto half of the naans and pieces of cooked paneer onto the other half of the naans.
  • Top randomly with the pickled red onions. A few more drizzles of the yogurt sauce and then serve.

Tips

  • Since I don't have a traditional tandoor oven, the closest I can get to the original naan is cooking it on a hot frying pan. However, if you are cooking for a crowd, double the recipe and you can always cook several naans together under a hot grill. Just keep a close eye on them, otherwise they burn easily.
  • This recipe is ideal for a summer barbecue, eating al fresco. The naans can be cooked on the barbecue, as can the chicken and paneer. Put all the ingredients out and let everyone make their own. There's plenty for everyone, including the paneer for the vegetarians
  • We can't always make everything from scratch, and if you're short of time you can always use shop bought naans as a substitute. I do urge you to make your own when you can, you will not be sorry!
  • As always the recipe is open to personal interpretation. If you haven't made the green chutney (which is in my recipe section), improvise! Substitute it with grated cucumber enhanced with some salt and chilli and use this raita as your sauce. Alternatively, if you prefer, add a little mango chutney into the plain yogurt. Play around with flavours and have fun.

 

 

 

 

 

The Boys are back in Town

Last week was crazy busy. The three boys were all home and I was happy to indulge them in all their foodie desires. There is one meal that will always grace our table when the boys are back. From their childhood, it has been a firm favourite and whenever placed in front of them, they develop voracious appetites and elicit mmmmm's of contentment whilst devouring.  

I've always been one of those democratic mothers, encouraging foodie requests, but the one dish that they unanimously request time and time again, is the versatile, flavourful and tasty Keema, served with roti. This renowned Indian mince dish originates from the Persian meat stew 'Qeymeh.' In India, it is typically made with goat meat, but lamb or chicken mince work particularly well. The Keema, cooked with onion, garlic, ginger and aromatic spices is enhanced with the addition of peas or potatoes. In our house it has got to be, without a shadow of a doubt, delicate new potatoes that give the keema another dimension, with their soft and fluffy texture, packed with flavour. 

If you are a lover of good Indian food, you will receive kudos for this homely, feel good and comforting recipe. Serve with the sumac onions, which provide a great umami fix. This simple Keema recipe will be one you come back to again and again.

Keema with New Potatoes and Sumac Onions

Serves 4-6

  • 1 kg Lamb or Chicken Thigh Mince
  • 2 Large Onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Sunflower Oil
  • 6 Large Cloves Garlic
  • 7 cm Piece of Ginger, peeled
  • 1 Green Chilli
  • 1 400g Can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
  • 2 tsp Salt
  • 2 tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 tsp Coriander Powder
  • 300g New Potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into half
  • Handful of Coriander, finely chopped

Method

  • In a heavy-based pan, heat the sunflower oil on a moderate heat and start frying the onions.

  • Place the 'Holy Trinity' of garlic, ginger and chilli into a herb mill and blitz into a paste. Add this to the frying onions.

  • Once the onions are quite brown, lower the heat slightly and add the chopped tomatoes and the tomato puree and cook with the browned onions for approximately 20 minutes or until the tomato masala sauce is a rich, deep red, thick sauce. At this point you will see the oil emerging from around the rim of the pan. 

  • Add the mince and stir into the onion and tomato masala sauce. 

  • Add the salt, garam masala and coriander powder.

  • Cook for about 40 minutes, stirring regularly, until the Keema is like a thick stew, with none or very little liquid left. The Keema will start to fry in the masala sauce.

  • At this point add the potatoes and stir in. Lower the heat and cook for about 20-30 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked. During this time, do stir regularly. You may need to add a little water to help cook the potatoes. 

  • Add the coriander leaves and serve with hot roti and sumac onions marinated in salt, lemon juice and sumac. 

Tips

  • If you use chicken mince, do not use breast meat, as this is too dry, instead use skinless, boneless chicken thighs minced up. (My butcher usually does this for me).

  • If you prefer to add peas instead of potatoes, add the peas after the Keema starts to fry and cook for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Sumac Onions

Sumac is a Middle Eastern spice which has a slightly tart, tangy, lemony flavour. 

  • 1 Red Onion, finely sliced
  • 0.5 tsp Salt
  • 1 tsp Sumac
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice

Method

  • Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, leave to marinate for 30 minutes and serve.

Tips

  • These sumac onions are a great accompaniment to any meat, chicken, fish or vegetable dish and provide a great umami fix.