Not the greatest of things to make and then announce it to the universe (via social media) but that child-like joy of getting something right the first time, with an itsy-bitsy twist to it; then it would be a shame to curb the surging heart. This is to the handsome bruschetta!
Picked up a good quality French baguette (with this, Italian purists would want to puree me) and cut those into roundels. Gave all those a good glug of good quality olive oil, a good lick of garlic and grilled them off lightly, to just heighten the crunch of the crusty bread.
Meanwhile, chopped some fine tomatoes. The trick is to get slightly thick tomatoes, maybe 2 notches lower than the ‘beef’ variety. I usually pick up tomatoes judging them on their suppleness and skin. Add a dash of cracked pepper and a light dust of oregano. I skipped the salt. Just wanted to focus on the mild flavours. Spooned the tomatoes over the bread and added finely chopped dil over them. I decided to forgo basil and use dil instead and it worked just fine for me.
With a perfect bruschetta, you realise that there is nothing that a good tomato cannot do!
The world has been conquered by hakka, schezuan and noodles. The elite dribbled with sushi and pad thai. A few outliers showed off their liking for bun cha. Hence, I didn’t think much of Korean cuisine since I was happy with Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, bits of Japanese and Vietnamese. I knew they used a lot of garlic, when I met Chan from Korea while finishing high school. Not because he said so, but because he smelled of garlic all the time. Years later, my globe-trotting father-in-law mentioned Korean grub while he was making ‘khimchi’ at his New Delhi home. Adding some fuel to the Korean fire was my friend and fellow food blogger Gopika who wanted to try Korean after she got hooked to their TV serials (there is a connection here).
So, wife and I, along with my father-in-law (who is visiting us) decided to hop over to Koreana in Al Barsha, next to Al Zahra Hospital. This has been a totally educational outing and I took my FIL’s direction and recommendation.
The restaurant reminded me of the Far East as seen in umpteen films and comics. The menu was an extensive, bi-lingual booklet with occasional pictures just so that you know what the tongue-twister looked like.
First up, six side dishes or ‘banchan’ were plated, complimentary. It consisted of ‘khimchi’ – fermented cabbage with overpowering garlic. Other dishes were spinach with sesame seeds, ‘namul’ – spicy bean sprouts, egg-plant in brown sauce and soy potato is sweet honey broth. I was happily attacking each banchan with my flat steel chopsticks while FIL finalised the order.
We started off with steamed chicken dumplings. If you are holding on to any Chinese taste in your head, then you are in the wrong restaurant. The dumplings were served with a mixed dark sauce that was primarily soy with a hint of sweetness. Dunked dumplings tasted perfect.
Next up was Samgyetang – a one-pot dish that is braised chicken stuffed with ginseng and sweet rice. The flesh falls off the bone with the slightest touch of cutlery. Chicken soup for the soul and chicken / rice for all else. If you are nursing a flu or a broken heart, Samgyetang will heal it.
Meanwhile, the table was set for the next dish – spicy pan-fried chicken. the grill was set, crunchy lettuce leaves arranged, freshly cut garlic and peppers promised the extra heat along with a tangy, nutty, spicy sauce.
Chicken strips, onions and greens, happily marinated in a sweet chilli marinade was spread over the sizzling hot grill. One can grill it the way one wants. The extra batter started caramelising and we started arranging it to eat – chicken strips in the lap of lettuce, add in the garlic and pepper, add a touch of the sauce, fold up the lettuce taco and eat it. If you do not have any words, then don’t blame yourself – it is very good indeed. In Korea, this grill is more popular with beef than chicken. You can try it with prawns too, just dont leave them on the grill for too long.
A meal for 3 cost us approx AED 180. Dont bother picking up a menu – there isnt home delivery and thankfully so. Some things need to be eaten in restaurants.
Sumptuous and satiated, I am now adding some Korean to my gastro-repertoire. Gamsahabnida!
Fresh from a victorious BBQ at a close friend’s house-warming party, I am feeling rather chuffed at how wonderful the BBQ marination has turned out to be. In hind-sight, that statement is rather far from modesty. But allow me that excitement since my experiment went off really well.
There were 2 of us responsible for all the marination and menu for the BBQ Grill Party. Need to add in that the other friend is a brilliant cook who can cook up a dream. The 2 of us were responsible for the palettes of 6.
Sharing the recipe of the nicely drunk chicken chunks in this mildly tempered marinade:
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 cloves of garlic; finely chopped
2 large pegs of whiskey
Mix all of them together. I had 2 whole chicken that I de-boned and dunked in the 1 inch cubes in it overnight.
Skewer the pieces on well soaked wooden skewers or replace them with metal ones.
Put them on the grill for about 5-6 minutes; depending on how well you are stoking the heat.
Eat! Close your eyes! Eat some more! Repeat!
Tip: strain out the garlic pieces and reduce the marinade with a handsome dollop of honey and use as a glaze to serve with the meat.
I do not have a single photo since we were too busy stoking the fire, balancing the skewers and handling drinks! Cheers!
Pastas are a favourite at home, so much so that my almost 2 year-old loves to squish them! This recipe that I am about to share is a disaster averted, or maybe so I think. At the outset, I invite severe criticism and genteel suggestions from chefs, epicures and foodies alike.
I picked up a bottle of tomato-basil pesto. And so dinner was buck wheat pasta with sautéed mushrooms and bell peppers in tomato – basil pesto.
I set to my task at hand. Wear apron. Put on some music. Didn’t have wine at home, so had to make-do with some juice. And then, put some salted water to boil. In another pan, heated some olive oil, added some crushed garlic and started sautéing some white mushrooms. Just as they started softening up, tossed in the diced bell peppers and gave it a good stir.
Put in the buck wheat pasta into the boiling water. Buck wheat pasta cooks faster than durum wheat pasta. So keep a check on how long you boil. It usually gets done in about 7 minutes. Drain. Cool off in ice water.
Meanwhile, the mushrooms were getting along well with the bell peppers and were ready to be downed in the pesto sauce. I opened the bottle and realised (my folly) that the bottle I picked up was not tomato-basil pesto but tomato garlic relish. It was too late to react to my shopping-shelf folly! And so I whooped the contents into the pan and gave it a nice stir. Topped on some seasoning of salt and pepper and a dash of oregano and tried to bring it all together. Then I added the pasta to the pot and tossed it all together so most of the pasta got coated.
I plated my dreaded pasta dinner, placed some green olives and heaped up a generous shaving of parmesan cheese.
My wife is perhaps the most non-fussy eater on earth. She tucked into her plate of dinner like a boarding student takes to home food. When I asked her how it tasted, she said it was just about ok.
I wiped the sweat of my brow. Took a big forkful in. Had it not been for the mushrooms and bell peppers, it would have been the biggest pasta disaster.
On my #Burp&Belch meter, I’d give 2 burps to it (out of 5)!
This started out as an ambitious plan to rustle up dinner like I see Jamie Oliver do. Inspiration aside, it was the trepidation to get it absolutely right that got me completely involved in this dish that I (unimaginatively) call Grilled Chicken on a bed of Greens, Mushrooms, Cherry Tomatoes with Grilled Haloumi. I am sure the name would run off the page if featured on a menu. This is how it all went.
For the grilled chicken:
1 chicken breast, halved
Rosemary and Thyme for the rub
Salt and Pepper for seasoning
For the Greens
1 box of greens (or choose rocket leaves, lettuce of different hues)
1 box or 250 grams of cherry tomatoes (quarter them up)
200 grams of mushrooms (I used the ordinary white button mushrooms)
2 pods of garlic, chopped
4 slices of fresh Haloumi Cheese (grilled)
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper for seasoning
In a large salad bowl, flip over the box of greens and roughly tear the leaves up a bit. Throw in the quartered cherry tomatoes. Lightly saute the finely sliced mushrooms in butter and garlic. Cool them a bit before tossing them in the bowl. Squeeze a juice of a lemon all over. Add in some extra virgin olive oil. Throw in a dash of salt and pepper to season. Use your hands to mix it all up and keep ready.
Heat a skillet nice and hot. Drizzle in a spot of olive oil. Add in the chicken. While the chicken gets grilled, put the slice of haloumi cheese. While the criss-cross mark of the grill looks pleasing on the haloumi skin, keep in mind that over cooking or heating the cheese will make it rubbery and chewy. Flip them over. Check on the chicken too. That was just to show how good a multi-tasking cook I can be. The chicken will take about 6-7 minutes to get done. Take them off the heat and rest them for a few minutes. Meanwhile, start the plating.
Make a generous bed of greens. Make sure that you can see the cherry tomatoes and mushrooms; adds to the treat visually. Place a slice of grilled chicken on top. Add in a couple of slices of the grilled haloumi. Et violà!