Saturday, 30 January 2016

My Chicken Cacciatore (Italian Hunter's Chicken Stew)...a curry is a curry!!

My Chicken Cacciatore or Italian Hunter's Chicken Stewgoing by how often this is made and how much we like it, this should have made it to blog much earlier but I guess better late than everstarted off as a mix of recipes picked up from the net, and now settled to this final version after trying various permutations and combinationsone of the easiest recipes one can come across especially when one wants a “curry” without actually making the effort of making one !! :-) 

Italian Hunter's Chicken mmskitchenbites

Chicken Cacciatore (Italian Hunter's Chicken Stew)


  • Chicken thighs fillets, boneless and skinless with all excess fat removed, around 600 gms (you can use a mix of thighs and drumsticks, bone in, skin on if you prefer; adjust cooking time accordingly, weight to be around 900gms –1 kg)
  • Regular flour/maida, about ¼ cup (can skip for dietary constraints, refer to notes)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Crushed Black Pepper, to taste

For the sauce:

  • Onions, finely sliced, 1 cup
  • Tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped with their juice, 1 cup
  • Garlic, finely chopped, 4 –5
  • Mixed peppers –red, green and yellow, sliced into long strips, about 2 cups (keep them a little chunky if you prefer it that way)
  • Mushrooms (White or Cremini), quartered or thickly sliced, about 2 cups
  • White Wine, ¼ cup (or use chicken stock or water)
  • Chicken Stock, ½ - ¾ cup (or use water)
  • Rosemary, finely chopped, 1 tbsp if using fresh or 1 tsp if using dried (or sub with Thyme)
  • Cherry tomatoes, a handful (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Crushed Black Pepper, to taste
  • Red chili flakes, to taste (optional)
  • Oil, 1+ 2 tbsp


Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken and dredge them in flour. Keep aside.

Heat about 1 tbsp of oil in a large heavy bottom pan/skillet or Dutch oven. Once the oil is hot, add in mushrooms and sauté, stirring, for a couple of minutes or so to colour and soften a bit. Remove the mushrooms from the pan and keep aside.

Add in the peppers to the pan and cook, stirring, until slightly softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Heat the remaining 2 tbsp oil in the same pan and fry the chicken over medium high heat in batches until golden brown on both sides. Remove and keep aside. If using skin on chicken- place the chicken in the pan skin side down first. The skin will also release some extra oil while frying that you may need to remove before proceeding.

Add in the garlic, rosemary and onions to the same pan and fry till the onions just start to turn slightly golden at the edges.

Pour in the wine/chicken stock and scrape up any browned bits at the bottom of the pan. Let it bubble and simmer until the wine is reduced by half.

Stir in the red chili flakes and tomatoes and crush them a little with the back of the spoon. Add in the stock and let it come to a bubble.

Return the chicken to the pan (skin side up if using skin on chicken pieces), along with any juices that have accumulated on the plate.

Bring to a boil again then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through – about 20-25 minutes.(about 40 minutes if using bone in chicken pieces, till the meat is almost falling off the bone)

Stir the peppers, mushrooms and a handful of cherry tomatoes, if using into the chicken. Return to a simmer, cover, and let it cook for another cook 10 minutes to blend in the flavors. Check for seasoning and adjust to taste.

Switch of the heat and top with a few more cherry tomatoes.

Ideally, let it rest for a at least a couple of hours before reheating and serving with boiled pasta, rice or a loaf of crusty bread.


  • This is typically made with bone in and skin on pieces. I have never liked the look or the taste of skin on chicken in a slow cooked “curry” and hence always use skinless chicken pieces. Bone in or boneless depends on what I have available at home but as always I never use chicken breast for anything which even remotely looks like a curry.

  • Feel free to use bite size chicken pieces instead of whole fillets.

  • Using flour –again depends on which version you are following but it does add body to the sauce and keeps the chicken nice and soft especially when cooking boneless pieces.

  • The use of onions, peppers and mushrooms is optional – depending on which recipe version you want to follow and what you have available.

  • You can skip the above veggies and add some cannellini beans towards the end to have a more substantial version of the stew.

  • You may need to add about ½ tsp of sugar depending on the tomatoes that are used.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Oats Poha (Savoury Oats Hash) ...Indian love!!

Oats Poha (Savoury Oats Hash)a.k.a. Oats, the Indian way (one of many!)breakfast to us Indians normally means hot, hearty and savouryand though most like me could and do survive on a quick toast or cereal, it is only when breakfast is served hot right off the stove that our soul is at peacehowever, when and if you do run out of quick enough options, you take something not traditionally Indian and give it some special Indian loveand Voila!! Breakfast is served extremely well as a side dish as wellkeep it vegan or add in some meat proteinseasonings as under or like a traditional Poha or whatever you are in the mood for J

Oats Poha (Savoury Oats Hash)



  • Old-fashioned/Rolled oats, 1 cup ( can use regular porridge oats/instant oats but rolled oats have a lot more texture and can sustain cooking without turning into mush)
  • Onion, finely chopped, ½ cup
  • Mixed chopped vegetables of your choice, finely chopped, ½ to ¾ cup (I normally use carrots, peas and peppers; if using frozen peas, thaw them first)
  • Fresh green chilies, 1-2, finely chopped (optional)
  • Mixed dried herbs of your choice, ¼ tsp
  • Black Pepper powder, ¼ tsp – ½ tsp
  • Salt, to taste
  • Milk or water, 1-2 tbsp if needed
  • Oil, 1 tbsp


Put the oats in a colander and rinse briefly under cold running water. Keep aside for 10-15 minutes so that the water drains out completely (finish your prep in the meantime). Skip this step if using porridge oats.

Fluff up the rinsed oats – each grain would be separate but soft/plump (avoid overzealous rinsing, washing, soaking unless of course you have tried it that way and would prefer a softer gooier version of this J)

Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan. When the oil is hot, add the green chilies and onions and sauté till translucent and soft.

Add in the salt, crushed black pepper and the carrots. Cook for a couple of minutes and then add the mixed dried herbs, peppers and peas. Mix well and cook further for a minute or so.

Add the drained out oats and stir to mix well. If using instant oats – add the oats, mix well with the veggies, and sprinkle a a tablespoon of milk or water.

Cover and reduce the heat to low, and cook for 5–6 minutes or until the oats are tender – but not mushy. For Instant oats, cook for 3-4 minutes.

If the oats are still not cooked enough to your liking, sprinkle a tablespoon of milk or water all over and cover and cook for another couple of minutes.

Stir lightly to mix and fluff. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Switch off the heat, cover and set aside for a couple of minutes.

Serve warm, as is, or with a bowl of plain yogurt or topped with a fried egg.


  • Use gluten free oats to make it gluten free. 
  • Keep it nut free or top it up with roasted peanuts and cashews. 
  • Skip the milk and use water to make it vegan.
  • If this seems too dry to your liking – you can add in a chopped tomato along with the veggies. 
  • Add some additional carbs by either adding boiled and cubed potatoes along with the rest of the vegetables or fry some cubed potatoes till crisp and add them a couple of minutes before switching off the heat. 

  • Top it up with a fried egg or add in some cooked chicken or meat or sausages.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Pear (and Chocolate) Muffins...the fruity love affair continues!!

Pear (and Chocolate) Muffinsokay, okay, so I know that eating cakes and muffins should be the last thing I should be doing but when you end up looking at those fruits staring at you with sad, forlorn eyes every time you open the refrigerator, you have to figure out a way to use them!! J

Pear (and Chocolate) Muffins

(Recipe from the Goddess Kitchen, very slightly modified)


  • Ripe Pears, medium size, 3 (around 500gms)

Dry Ingredients:

  • Regular All Purpose flour/Maida, 250gms
  • Baking powder, 2 tsp
  • Granulated sugar, 150gms
  • Salt, a pinch
  • Dark Chocolate, chopped or chips, 100gms (I have made both with and without, using dark and regular chocolate chips – they all work)

Wet Ingredients:

  • Butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature; 75gms (if using salted butter, skip the salt mentioned above in the dry ingredient list)
  • Egg, 1 large
  • Milk, 240ml
  • Vanilla Extract, ½ tsp (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Line the muffin tray with paper liners.

Wash, peel, core the pears and then dice them into ½ inch to ¾ inch pieces.

In a large bowl, sieve in the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt (if using). Mix in the chocolate chips.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, milk and vanilla extract.

Fold in the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then stir in the pears.
 Stir only till the ingredients are combined – overzealous mixing will result in tough muffins and you don’t want that (and hence muffins recipes are perfect for lazy cooks like me).

Using an ice cream scoop or two table spoons, evenly fill in the muffin cups with the batter – till about ¾ full.

Place in the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes until golden brown/ till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the muffin comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the muffin tray.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Afghani Dill way!!

Afghani Dill Ricea facebook query, a browse through some old pictures and here is a post that was supposed to happen a couple of years back but finally sees the light of the day todaythis one is for you SDenjoy!! J We normally eat this with a simple grilled fish but this should work with any mild flavoured curry or a hearty dal like Chana dal

Afghani Dill Rice


  • Basmati or any Long Grain Rice, 2 cups
  • Fresh Dill leaves, pick out the tender leaves and discard the thick stems, wash well in running water and squeeze out the water, finely chop the leaves, 4 tbsp (If using dry, no more than ½ tbsp for every cup of rice) *refer to notes
  • Onion, finely sliced, 1 medium (optional)
  • Green chilies, finely 1-2 (optional)
  • Garlic, finely grated/pounded, 1 clove (optional)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Oil or melted butter, 1 tbsp + 2-3 tbsp
  • Water, to cook the rice + 2-3 tbsp for bottom layer + 2-3 tbsp for top layer  *refer to notes
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste (optional)


Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a small pan and fry the green chilies and onions till onions start caramelising and just start to change colour. Switch off the heat and keep aside.

Wash the rice till water runs clear. Soak in cold water for about 20-30 minutes. Drain well.

Bring a pot of salted water to a rolling boil ( about 8 cups of water) and add the rice. Let it cook for about 6 minutes till about 80 percent done (just like you would for making a Biryani; there should be enough bite left in the rice so that the rice don’t go mushy when we steam cook later)

Drain the rice in a colander.

Once the rice is slightly cool enough to handle, add the onion and green chilies mix, dill leaves and grated garlic to the rice. Mix well with a light hand so that the dill leaves are mixed well in the rice but the rice grains don’t break. Taste the rice for salt and add more if needed.

Remove about 1 cup of cooked rice mix and add in the oil and water to it. Mix well so that the rice gets coated completely with the oil and water

Take a non stick pot and spread the oiled rice at the bottom of the pot in a thick layer.

Scoop the rest of the rice out of the colander and form a volcano shaped mound in the middle of the pot.

Make 3-4 holes in the rice mound with the back of a spatula to release the steam – 1 in the centre and 2-3 on the side.

Sprinkle 2-3 tbsp water on top of the rice.

Cover the pot with a tea towel and place the pot lid tightly over the top of the towel. (The tea towel will absorb the steam and the rice won’t turn mushy)

Turn on the heat to lowest and let the rice steam for about 25-30 minutes. Switch of the heat and let the rice rest for at least 5-10 minutes before serving.

The oil and water in the bottom layer will help form a nice golden crust to the rice. You can either break up the crust to mix it in completely with the rice or scoop out the crust part later and top up every serving with it. I normally break it up and mix it in – it may be considered sacrilege by most but it helps avoids huge drama on the table about who gets more crust!! J ( and with this I remember why this post/picture took this long to make to the blog – I had plans to post this to show the complete crustoh well L )

Sprinkle lemon juice over the rice right before serving.


  • The amount of dill I use is drastically less than the authentic version. I don’t go beyond 2-3 tbsp for every cup of rice used as against the authentic ¾ to 1 cup of dill against every cup of rice. (It is very strong herb and a little goes a veryyyyyy long way – more so if you are new to using it)

  • The reduced amount of dill is also the reason why you see dill being mixed in with the rice right after par boiling the rice instead of layering it in the rice in the pot the authentic way – one layer of rice, sprinkle of dill leaves, layer of rice, and sprinkle of dill leaves and so on and so forth.

  • The onion and green chilies are again something I started using to adapt to our taste.

  • Garlic and lemon juice – optional and varies from family to family (or restaurant to restaurant!)

  • You could use saffron water instead of regular water to steam cook the rice. I quite like the colour of rice as is. If using saffron, take about 2 pinches of saffron, crush it slightly and soak it in ¼ of hot water for about 20 minutes before using.

  • I normally use my non stick karahi/wok as the bottom surface is just wide enough to form a half inch thick layer of rice at the base for the quantity of rice I normally cook and deep enough to form the mound with the balance rice.

  • It may take you a couple of tries to figure out how much time you need for steaming to get that perfect crunchy crust at the bottom depending on your stove, your pan and the amount of rice. It is crucial to use a non-stick pan and you must must switch off the heat before the smell of burnt rice starts emanating from the pot!! J

  • Switching of the heat and discovering no crunchy crust at the bottoms or a barely there crust is not the end of the world - the rice will still taste delicious!! J

  • And last but not the least – do remember and I mean it ABSOLUTELY do remember to sneakily tuck away a few pieces of the crust in the kitchen before serving!! J

P.S. way too many smileys in this post...err, I am blaming the new year!! JJJJJ

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

French Apple Cake...let's keep the doctor away!!

French Apple Cakeso while the rest of the world starts 2016 with the usual healthy eats, we over here have a cake!!...but wait, it has fruitsthat’s good enough to begin with, no? J   Okay, so last year, around August I discovered this David Lebovitz’s recipe and it is absolutely fabuloushonestly, cooked apple never tasted this goodultra moist and golden brown...and that hint of rum, does magic!! of the easiest cakes recipe...this has been made plenty of times since then...careful though, it has a tendency to disappear within minutescheers to a Happy, Healthy, Peaceful and a Fruity New year!! J

French Apple Cake


  • Regular All Purpose flour/Maida, 110gms
  • Baking powder, ¾ tsp
  • Salt, a pinch
  • Apples, 3-4 large ( any variety would do, the original recipes calls for 4 but in the one pictured here I had only 3 on hand; 4 apples work well for people who like/love cooked apples whereas 3 work very well for those who don’t!)
  • Vanilla Extract, ½ tsp (optional)
  • Regular All Purpose flour/Maida, 1 tbsp
  • Eggs, 2 large
  • Granulated sugar, 150gms
  • Dark Rum, 3 tbsp (optional but strongly recommend to use it, rum does wonders to this one...oh well, rum does wonders to everything!!)
  • Vanilla Extract, ½ tsp (if skipping rum increase to 1 tsp, and don't worry, the cake still tastes yum even without the rum)
  • Butter, salted or unsalted, melted and cooled to room temperature, 115gms (if using salted butter, skip the salt mentioned above in the ingredient list)


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Heavily butter an 8 or 9 inch springform pan and place it on a baking sheet.

Wash, peel, core the apples and then dice them – about 1 inch long pieces for people who like/love cooked apples whereas ½ inch long pieces work better for those who don’t! Toss the apples with ½ tsp of vanilla extract and then 1tbsp of flour. Keep aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs till foamy. Add in the sugar, rum and vanilla extract and whisk well for a couple of a minutes.

Stir in half of the flour mixture, and when it is incorporated, add in half of the melted butter, followed by rest of the flour and the remaining butter, mixing after each additions. 

Gently fold in the diced apples until they’re well-coated with the batter.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan and smooth the top a little with a spatula.

Place the baking sheet into the middle rack of the oven and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or till a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the pan and carefully remove the sides of the cake pan, making sure no apples are stuck to it.

Best served warm by itself or with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Great at room temperature as well.

According to David Lebovitz, the cake will keep for up to 3 days covered but I have never had the chance to find out!!