Chicken Aloo Tikki

Chicken Aloo Tikki

I am constantly wondering if Yuvi is as innocent as he seems. I can’t quite make out. I don’t know if I’ve told you this story before. Flashback a few years back when he was barely 4. He asked me one day – “Do you know which girl I like most in the world?” He was in LKG. I wasn’t ready yet for girlfriends and the lot. I knew among his friends, there was one girl. I said, Who da? Neha? Yuvi: No I: Then who? Yuvi: Nee thaan! (You!) I was beyond touched that I was his most favourite girl in the world, that he said it the way he did, that he called me a girl! I nearly cried. I lifted him up, kissed him and danced around the room carrying him. I related this incident to Jagan. He seemed a little less overwhelmed. I put it down to jealousy. A couple of days later my maamiyaar (mother-in-law) said, “Yesterday, you know what Yuvan said? He asked me if I knew which girl he liked the most in the whole world.” I knew what she was going to say. I didn’t want to act too proud. I didn’t want her to feel bad. I tried my best to keep my face modest and curious. Maamiyaar: I asked him if it was his teacher. I didn’t expect her to suspect me but teacher I thought was a bad substitute. Maamiyaar: He said, “No!” Then I asked him, “Is it your amma?” She had exceeded my expectations. She did find out. I beamed. I couldn’t suppress my glee much. Maamiyaar: He said, “No. It is you!” She beamed. I looked at Jagan. Jagan looked at me. We had underestimated little Yuvi. This little man far exceeded his dad’s prowess at chivalry, lying and diplomacy. Jagan seemed to acknowledge that he was the lesser talent here. Yuvi walked in then in his kutty jatti asking me to find his red car. I still couldn’t believe that this little imp in his kutty jatti was also a charmer of aunties, paatis and ammammas. What do I know? This boy also takes after his father in his love for all things meat. I knew that he’d love these chicken aloo tikkis. Hasini enjoyed them too. These chicken aloo tikkis are surprisingly easy to make. Like with most other deep fried items, these can...
Pepper chicken fry

Pepper chicken fry

How do your weekends go? I am so far behind the whole of the work week, that it’s usually Sunday noon by the time I’ve caught up with all the backlog – shopping for the week’s groceries, vegetables and fruits, sorting them all, putting away the week’s worth of laundry, oiled and shampooed our hair, de-cluttering a few random places in the house that particularly irk me and pretending not to see the rest. In between we drop kids in classes 5 minutes late. Sundays I take a break from gym, no matter what. I take a break on Sundays even if I’ve not gone to the gym the rest of the days.   After I’ve shopped for a truckload of produce, picked the keerai leaves, bagged vegetables, prepped the coriander leaves and jam-packed my fridge, I am so exhausted I want to eat out. We eat out at-least one of the weekend meals. If we have some free time, we pick an argument. We then wake up on Monday thankful and looking forward for the work week. After a week of short-cut meals, cheat meals, leftovers, one pot meals and maggi I make sure to make something special for Sunday lunch. One particular Sunday, I made this Pepper chicken fry that I had bookmarked from Sabitha Radhakrishna’s book “Annapurni”. It’s a keeper – both the book and the recipe. This pepper chicken fry is reminiscent of military hotel pepper chicken fry or chicken chukka as it is colloquially called. It’s tender, coated with a flavour bursting fiery masala and melt in the mouth delicious. This can be served as a side with steamed rice, biryani or ghee rice. It’s a wonderful recipe to make for dinner parties. It’s not too much effort but is sure to wow your guests. Do make this pepper chicken fry! Enjoy! If you like what you are reading, subscribe to foodbetterbegood, like foodbetterbegood’s facebook page or follow my instagram page.      
Enchilada salsa verde

Enchilada Salsa Verde

One of my favourite scenes in the movie “Sindhu Bhairavi” is the one where J.K.B (played by Sivakumar) calls his wife (played by Sulochana) a “gnanasoonyam” because she ran her mixie on full throttle when he was passionately listening to music. Stung by his words, Bhairavi sniffles “Will Lata Mangeshkar make paruppu podi for you?” J.K.B feels even more contempt for his ordinary wife. I love this scene because it is beautiful and brutal and honest. On seeing this scene, if you pity Bhairavi for being a simpleton, you are just being a kinder J.K.B but still a chauvinist. If you see the simple truth in Bhairavi’s words you’ll realize that if the wives, mistresses, mothers did not make them their paruppu podi when they were travelling, if they did not remember to pack their jattis and lungis, if they did not steal the jeans away for washing once a month, if they did not pack their lunches, if they did not deal with homework, dinner and emails while they caught up on matches and Sunny Leone on whatsapp, if they did not remind them about their mother’s birthdays and anniversaries, if they did not fuss about making the dosai just the way they want it – crispy or browned on one side only, then the J.K.Bs will realize they don’t have the veshti for the kutchery, their stomach’s upset from eating out and they’ve run out of jattis. And if only women practice less perfection, women may finally find some time to listen to music, read the paper and have a conversation with a friend. I have tons of things I’ve been meaning to share on the blog here but haven’t got around to – Project50k (my weightloss journey), my trip to kodaikanal, a few stellar recipes I tried over the last few weeks and plenty of big small things. I’ll share these on the upcoming posts. Enchilada Salsa Verde I have a scrumptious enchilada recipe to share today. I knew I wanted to make Enchilada salsa verde when I saw lovely plump green tomatoes in the grocery store. I made a large portion of salsa verde that I used for this recipe. I still have a jar of leftover salsa sitting in my fridge. I took the lazy route to making this salsa as you would have come to expect from me. I didn’t roast the veggies. I...
Chicken cutlet, easy make ahead party appetizer

Chicken cutlet

After “EPIC” being used to describe the most non-epic everyday things – the morning omelette, the bun from the tea kadai, discounted buffet spread with the groupon coupon, the 127th selfie against the brick wall, your new haircut, the son’s first drawing of an elephant that actually looks like a car, three friends meeting at the coffee shop, the family wedding that others don’t really care about except to see if you’re fat too and the dress you ordered online that looks nothing like Deepika Padukone’s outfit, I don’t know anymore what people intend when they say “EPIC”. Then what are Mahabharata and Ramayana? I thought those were EPICS. My most hated word of 2017 It shows a certain laziness, an unwillingness to look for the right word, and an almost obnoxious need for attention. I thought “awesome” was overused and irritating. But “EPIC” has surpassed that. “EPIC” is my most hated word of 2017. What words do you think are most over-used? Which are the ones you can’t stand. Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear. The new year is coming up fast along with plenty of holidays and parties. If you need a delicious make-ahead party snack, look no further than this chicken cutlet(try these chicken vadai too). This chicken cutlet recipe will come in extremely handy as it ticks all the boxes for a good party appetizer – it is absolutely lip-smacking, it is crunchy and deep fried and it is 90% make ahead – you can make these days ahead and freeze them and fry them up before your party. Make Chicken Cutlets if you want to feel sophisticated Hasini and Yuvan absolutely dig these chicken cutlets. They ate these all week. I loved the feeling of having read-to-fry cutlets in the fridge. It made me feel all sophisticated and prepared and in-charge of things when I really wasn’t any of that. If you want to feel sophisticated, make these chicken cutlets and stove them away in your fridge. Let me know how it feels later on. Just try not to say “EPIC”.  
Deepavali mutton kurma

Deepavali Special Mutton Kurma

Hope your Deepavali started with a nice oil bath followed by a long leisurely breakfast of several soft dosais alongside a rich, lip-smacking Deepavali special mutton kurma. Hope you planted your butt on the couch and remained there the rest of the day and watched all the programs on all the channels. Hope you stole some time in between to go burst 100 walas and 1000 walas, pisssed off your neighbours and filled the entrance to your house with a respectable amount of paper kuppai (trash). That was my Deepavali. A mutton kurma for Deepavali cannot be any ordinary kurma. It needs to be extra special and extra decadent. And so you marinate the mutton in yogurt, fry the spices in ghee, cook the mutton in milk and finish off with coconut milk. This is the kind of breakfast that fills you up till dinner time. That is essential when you have a day full of TV programs you want to catch up with. You don’t want to get off the couch to prep lunch. I know this post should have come before Deepavali along with the Diwali promotions, Diwali Sale, the great Indian shopping festival in time for you to try this recipe for Deepavali. I know I am a bad blogger. Often, it’s the build-up to Deepavali that I enjoy even more than the day itself. I loved the deluge of Deepavali sweets and murukku on my facebook and instagram feeds. I love the food blogger spirit (not me), simple, cheery and optimistic. I was surprised though that nobody seemed to be posting the most important Deepavali mutton kurma. I wondered if it wasn’t as popular a tradition as I thought it was.  or  If mutton kurma eating south Indian bloggers are under represented in the blogging community.  or If it is an outcome of censorship. I’ve talked to a couple of people who said something like this “I’ve read some of your posts. Your writing is really good. Hmm.. yours is a non-vegetarian blog right? But, I am a vegetarian.” to which I’ve very naively replied “But I post a lot of vegetarian recipes too.. (In my mind thinking “Oh, don’t stop reading because of that, Maybe I should post more vegetarian recipes.. “).  However I don’t think I should try to change anything. I consider it my foremost duty to post the traditions and recipes that aren’t...
Project 50k - Weekly DIET-MEAL PLAN

Project 50k Weekly Meal Plan 1 – Diet Meal Plan

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed. Really? You’re stuffing ricotta into ravioli and then deep-frying it. And you are sandwiching ice-cream between cake and dunking in melted chocolate and then frosting it. And with the slightest hint of rain, before the radio channels can switch to rain songs, food bloggers are out in action with a flurry of deep fried pakodas and bajjis in their feeds. Really? How do you guys know I am on a diet? Where are the salads and health drinks and smoothies? Deep fried crisp fritters, bubbling oil, melting cheese and dripping chocolate are sexy. They truly are food porn. And you can’t compete with porn. There wasn’t a harder time to be on a diet. The first couple of weeks of a diet can be agonizing and frustrating at times. Hang on though. There’s nothing like seeing the weigh scale show you a smaller number. I don’t think diet meals need not be boring or bland. It is totally possible to have healthy, delicious diet meals. I rounded up six of the diet meals that I’ve been making lately to help provide you some inspiration to make your own tasty diet meals. I love that most of these meals can be served to the entire family or you can pick one or two of the components of the meal for yourself. I am keeping it simple. Most of us don’t have the time, energy or resources to cook separate meals for ourselves. #Project50k is about real people with busy, messy lives pushing themselves to reach their goal weight. Tap the images below to get the recipes to those dishes.   The past week wasn’t too great for me. I ate out twice and missed gym most of the week. I am therefore making an extra effort to eat right the rest of the days. How has the past week been for you? Share your progress, story with me.   I’ve also been busy testing a few theories the past couple of weeks – Kelloggs special K, 30 day AB workout plus a few home remedies. I’ll share the results of those tests in the coming weeks. Stay focused. We can do this. Keep moving and eat well!
Chapathi dal grilled chicken - Diet meal

Chapathi, Dal and Grilled chicken – Diet meal

At times it’s hard to believe that something as good as it tastes could be good for you. It was so with this Chapathi, Dal and grilled chicken combo. Delicious, wholesome and satisfying. I wouldn’t mind having this meal again and again. Except for the chapathi, the rest of the components of this meal are almost no effort.   There are hundreds of flavours for your grilled chicken. I happened to have some leftover Thai red curry paste which I rubbed into the chicken and let it marinate for an hour before placing it on a cookie sheet in the hot oven and grilled for 30 minutes, flipping half way through. While the chicken cooked, I pressure cooked toor dal with salt and green chillies till soft, mashed it and finished with a simple tempering of mustard seeds and oil. I cut up a couple of carrot and beans into long strips and steamed them in my idli steamer. I made chapathis last. You can buy Thai red curry paste at stores if you don’t want to bother making it at home. If you are not crazy about Thai red curry flavour, you could try Tandoori style, Teriyaki or a simple lemon-salt-black pepper version. This is a meal you can serve your whole family. But good luck with the steamed vegetables. I ate most of them. Happy Dieting! Let’s do this – Project 50k!
Fish Moilee

Fish Moilee

I hope you had a good Mother’s day. I hope you didn’t post a selfie of yourself with your mother. That would seem too much of a cliché I’d think. I am sorry if I offended those who did. In my family, we don’t hug. We don’t crowd our heads together for selfies. Wish someone “Happy Birthday” and they’ll get awkward and reply “Ok, sure”. Try getting everyone into a family picture and you may very well give up the idea of family pictures forever. The entire family has difficulty expressing affection. They’ll make biryani, chicken kurma to say “welcome back, I missed you”, they’ll heap Himampasand mangoes to say “take care”. This family doesn’t recognize Mothers day, Fathers day and such. I dared to try. I decided to gift my mother a leisurely no-cooking day. I made green peas brinji, poori, vegetable kurma, fish fry and mango parfait. I told my mother to not cook anything for the day. She being who she is made just an Upma, some more kuzhambu, rice and seppankezhangu fry, nothing else. She has no idea of Mothers day. I tell her while I serve the brinji I made. “Oho sari sari”, she says. She enjoyed the meal. I am not going to take any chances with my kids. I start a day earlier. I tell them all about Mothers day. I tell Hasini and Yuvan – “It is Mothers day tomorrow”. I explain the concept to them. I dwell on the part about making it special for the mother. I then ask Yuvi – “What are you going to do tomorrow?” “I am going to ride my cycle” I look at Jagan for any signs of training. He seems surprised and amused. Hasini was very excited about getting me a present for mother’s day. She pushed us out from the couch, into the car and to the store to get me a cotton top. I really do love the top. I had a lot of leftover fish from Mother’s day that I was wont to fry. I made Fish Moilee instead. I learnt this recipe on one of our trips to Kerala. I cannot believe I’ve waited so long to make it. You could use this basic stew recipe and substitute prawns instead of the fish to make Prawn Moilee. This is one of those fragrant, delicately spiced but gorgeously flavourful stews that...
chicken burger

Chicken burger

Me: “It is so hot these days. Summer is here.” Yuvan: “AC podu ma” (Switch on AC) Me: “Summer le nariye Vathal podalam” (We can make lots of vathals this summer) Yuvan: “Vathal pota summer poiduma?” (Will summer go away if you make vathals?) I guffawed. He smiled, pleased that he had cracked me up. He genuinely didn’t understand how my “vathal making” made any difference (“Nee vathal pota yenna podalena yenna?”). Yuvi and I have been at loggerheads for the past week and a half because of his exams. He wasn’t pleased that he was doing all the writing and I wasn’t. He swore that he’d make me write hundreds of pages just like he was writing (2 pages). After he put away his books, sharpened his pencils and put away his bag for the next day, he came up to me and gave me a sheaf of papers. He had drawn rows and columns and written an alphabet in each little box. He wanted me to write A, B, C, D… till Z and repeat in each of those sheets. I looked at his serious face seeking justice, revenge. I took the papers from him and started writing A,B,C. He wanted to eat burger, he told me – “With the leaf and sauce and chicken”. So I made chicken burger for him stacking cheese, onions, lettuce and chicken. He opened up the bun, took down the chicken cutlet, set aside the lettuce and made a deconstructed burger platter. He then ate his favourite parts – the chicken, bun, cheese, onion and sauce and left out the lettuce and tomato. He liked it, he said. Like most homes, I have one who likes burgers and two who don’t and one who abstains, two who like pasta and two who don’t, two who like chutney and two who don’t, two who like sambar rice and two who don’t, three who like Pongal and one who doesn’t. I manage with zero consensus on most dishes. I make do with coercion and blackmail (no movie, no colouring, no TV). Or I offer a more hated alternative which immediately makes this one look better – podi instead of chutney? Curd rice instead of sambar rice? Go ahead and make these chicken burgers with or without consensus. They’re easier than you think. The chicken patties are really simple to put together belying their crispy,...
Chicken pot pie

Chicken pot pie

Do you buy baby potatoes to make Dum Aloo but then make potato varuval out of it? Do you get brinjals intending to make bhaingan bharta but make kathirikkai kuzhambu out of habit? Do you pick up baby corn and cauliflower with a mental picture of a stir fry but drop it in the vegetable kurma instead?  You do? Then I am your best friend. I buy chicken mentally vowing not to make chicken kurma or chicken fry. I see hot and sweet chicken wings, popcorn chicken, chicken satay and all the 1 minute food videos in a slideshow in my mind. But the morning I intend to cook the chicken, I’ve run out of corn flour or I don’t have enough time or the rest of the dishes I am making don’t go with this. I will find a reason to not make popcorn chicken. This was the story of the Chicken pot pie. Pot pie has been on my radar for a few years now. Long before I ever tasted it, I knew I’ll like it. I knew I wanted to make it someday. Last year I tasted pot pie when I visited Boston. I was smitten. I knew I had to make it. I also knew I’ll find a reason to not make it. Last week, I wrote down Chicken pot pie in my weekly menu. I shopped for the ingredients. I had everything I needed. I didn’t make it on Monday. I barely made it to the school van on time. I hobbled across the road, hair brush in my pocket, Hasini’s tie in one hand, lunch bags dangling from my shoulder, holding the kids hands, handing over the tie to hasini’s friend in the bus asking her to help Hasini with it. I don’t remember if I packed dosai or jam sandwich that day. I rolled out, folded, and chilled the puff pastry dough again and again over the week, while yelling at the kids to put away their school bags, just before crashing on to the bed, when I went to get a drink of water at night. The rolling pin and bowl of flour were out all week. I decided I was going to make it on Friday. I woke up early that day. I knew it was a sign. I made it. I must tell you. This chicken pot pie is pure...
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