Simple oven roasted veggies

Simple Oven roasted veggies

Oven roasted veggies are the yummiest way to eat your vegetables. This simple oven roasted veggies is as simple as it can get. It is super easy to put together and needs nothing more than chopping the veggies, tossing in the spice mix.
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!
Chipotle style bowl

Chipotle inspired chicken bowl

I was walking to the T station in Boston, after Happy hour, feeling friendly with the world. I saw the people at the traffic light waiting to cross the road looking straight ahead, the old man in the wheelchair who seemed to be talking to everybody passing by, the office goers briskly walking by, joggers and tourists in hats. I was smiling, humming a Tamil song softly. Nobody seemed to know that I was new, that I wasn’t from here. I kind of fit in. “Chipotle, Hey Chipotle!” a young man called to me as he walked past me, laughing loudly. I turned to look if he was referring to someone else. He wasn’t. I felt my cheeks flush. I realized he meant to insult me but I didn’t understand. I liked Chipotle. Why was Chipotle funny or low? And I wasn’t Chipotle. I was idli, sambar, biryani, idiyappam, maanga oorukai, adhirasam, upma, full meals, molaga bajji!   “Who you? Sandwich? ” – I didn’t ask. I sat in the train wondering. Back home, people were more informed. They’d learn your caste, sub-caste, sect and division and then call you that – “ Iyer $%&*, mudaliar $%^#, &*@# Nadar …” This guy had mixed up entire countries. I realized that these guys didn’t know and didn’t care if I was Mexican or Indian or Pakistani or Egyptian. They knew they were white. Black and all shades of brown were lower. I checked myself in the train window. I thought I looked exotic among my fellow passengers – brown skin, long hair, kohl lined eyes, kurta and salwar. It could have been the alcohol. I plugged in my i-pod and chose the most Tamil song I could think of. I made a mental note to eat at Chipotle the next day. I made a Chipotle inspired rice bowl a couple of days back. This is to the guy who thought he insulted me by calling me “Chipotle”. I am not insulted.  It is super easy, if you skip most of the toppings you find at Chipotle. I dare say we loved the simple version. No Guacamole, no sour cream, no lettuce and no chips. If you have all of these, by all means pile them on. I had some leftover grilled chicken I cut up and sautéed with onions and spices. I cooked some basmati rice and made the simplest beans...
Honey mustard grilled chicken & bamboo fried rice

Honey Mustard grilled chicken and Fried Bamboo rice

When I teeter between eating that last ladle of biryani and finding a dabba, transferring the last of the biryani into the dabba and putting it in the fridge I usually elect to eat it. It is so much simpler. While eating the extra biryani, I imagine myself determinedly jogging round after round the next morning burning away all those extra calories. When (if) I am jogging the next morning, I am panting like a crazy dog halfway through the first round and I stop and walk the rest of the way I imagine myself thoughtfully taking tiny bites off an un-buttered slice of toast. In short my life. Could bamboo rice be the redemption for all the biryani excesses? I doubt. But I gave it a shot anyway. Jagan bought a pack of bamboo rice while on our vacation in Kerala. We bought it in a small souvenir shop in Wayanad. The bamboo rice came in simple plain plastic packing. It was un-branded and un-processed. For the first time in nearly 2 decades, I transferred the rice onto a moram and sat outside in the portico to pick out stones from the rice. The last I saw someone doing this was my ammamma who’d take the rice in a moram and pick out stones and grit from the rice, everyday. I felt all nostalgic, got carried away and spent about half an hour going through the rice. This ain’t the green rice (rice that is infused with bamboo juices) that is popularly called bamboo rice in the west. This is the real deal. Bamboo rice looks almost like wheat. It takes much longer to cook than white rice. It is chewier and has a grassy, nutty undernote. I was sceptical if it’d taste good as fried rice. I was surprised that it actually tasted better in fried rice form.  We grilled the chicken on our barbecue. But you can grill it in your oven too. We loved the combination of hot, sweet and tangy flavours. I served the grilled chicken on the fried bamboo rice. Jagan was smitten with the combination and the kids ate with great gusto. Overall – big success. And to think it was healthy too. I am surprised it went down so well. Prep time: 15 mins (grilled chicken) + 25 mins (fried bamboo rice)Cooking time: 20-30 mins (grilled chicken) + 25 mins (fried bamboo...
Asian stir fry paneer and veggies

Asian stir-fry of Paneer, sweet corn and Vegetables

I didn’t make much of it when in our early days Jagan’d say often how he loved travelling to far-off places, driving all the way. He loved being behind the wheel. Little did I know that that meant me becoming the ‘cleaner’ buckled into the passenger seat for hours together, fishing for change for toll booths, operating the GPS navigation keying in destinations and via-points and handing around water, snacks and cooling glasses, only relief being when the kids had to pee and I got to stand straight. I have a strong feeling I’ve taken the shape of XUV’s bucket seats after 5 days of travelling from morning till night. Every morning we’d wake up, shower, eat, pack up and pile into the car. We’d drive all day, reach our destination just in time for dinner, eat and sleep. Wake up next morning and drive to the next one. 5 nights – 5 places. We covered around 2000 km in just over 5 days. He has all the makings of a champion truck driver no doubt. It’s been more than a week since we returned. I still grope around for the seat belt even when I sit in my office chair and I feel faintly irritated whenever somebody asks me to sit. Thippanahalli home-stay in Chikmagalur The only time I willingly sat down was for the delicious home-cooked Malnad food – fresh Kadubus (rice balls), Akki rotis (rice flour rotis) served with a lip-smacking hot chutney, fragrant Tomato Rasam, steamed rice and Chicken Saaru in Chikmagalur. Heavenly! We stayed at an absolutely wonderful home-stay “Thippanahalli” set amidst a huge coffee estate in Chikmagalur.  Coffee beans, grown on the Thippanahalli estate I stalked the cook and helpers for the recipes the entire time I was there and managed to extract a quick abridged recipe rundown from the host’s mother who must have thought ‘Silly Apprentice cook – doesn’t know even Tomato Rasam’. My Maamiyaar must think the same thing too. I make a few nice rasams but I’ll go after every good rasam out there, think what people may. Rasams are some of the simplest yet soul-stirring foods there are.  Taking a walk through the coffee estate The recipe today is not from our drive-athon trip though (it’ll come soon). This is a simple light stir-fry that is great for after-trip guilt. Having stuffed my face with all the good food...

Peri Peri Chicken | Nando’s style Peri Peri Chicken

My family loves all things chicken and Jagan loves grilled chicken – any kind. He tells me that when he was in the UK, he visited Nando’s every other day, more often than he called me. So when we heard Nandos had opened in Chennai, we fought Velachery traffic for over an hour (not much by velachery standards), parked for a ransom, waited in line for a table and finally sat down to a chicken-aholic dinner. I ordered the mildly spiced variant and kicked myself for not interpreting the chilli scale correctly. Even hot is generally not really hot for us, Indians. But the chicken was really good. It was really different from the grilled chicken that we’re used to. The chicken was mildly hot with a slight lemony tang and bursting with lovely fresh flavours. I made a mental note to try it later but forgot about it until I signed up for the “African cuisine” theme in Srivalli’s blogging Marathon. If you don’t know the connection, peri-peri means African bird’s eye chilli. Portuguese explorers who came to Africa discovered this wonderful chilli and also concocted the peri peri sauce. I found a recipe that I really liked and I followed for the most part and it turned out great. I served it with a slaw alongside a west African Peanut soup (recipe coming up tomorrow). I just cannot tell you how easy grilled chicken is. Photographing it isn’t easy but making it is really easy. Easy enough to make on busy weekday mornings as well. Just marinate the chicken the previous night and shove it in the fridge. If I am using frozen chicken, I don’t even wait for it to thaw. I get nervous if I need to wait during cooking. I score the chicken (you’ll have to use a little bit of brute force and blow over your hands while doing this) and then rub the marinade all over and let it thaw in the fridge overnight also soaking in the marinade at the same time. It works. Then first thing in the morning, before you brush your teeth, preheat the oven. Then brush your teeth. Then just dump the chicken, marinade and all into a roasting pan, place in the oven and forget about it. The aroma will beckon you after an hour. Prep time: 10 minsMarinating time: 4 hours or overnightGrilling time: 40 minutes...

South Indian style Whole Roasted Chicken

This South-Indian style whole roasted chicken was our Sunday Grilling fix. The chicken was just about perfect with a crispy skin and perfectly juicy and succulent inside. You don’t have to roast a whole chicken this way to use this recipe. The beauty of this roasted chicken is in the marinade. You can use the marinade to soak individual breast pieces (these are the best and my favourite) and grill them or marinate regular chopped chicken pieces before making a curry out of them. I really like this marinade. The curry leaves and whole black peppercorns add a nice south-indian punch to this grilled chicken. I am going to be using this marinade in many other ways surely. That’s Jagan taking the roasted chicken out of the oven Chicken is Jagan’s first love, roasted chicken his best buddy. He wanted to do a restaurant style roasted chicken where the chicken rotates inside the oven and the juices drip down slowly. His theory is that this way, the chicken gets cooked evenly and in its own juices. It did work beautifully but I think it would have worked equally well if we had just placed it on a tray. However you choose to do it, just make sure to cover your tray with aluminium foil before you start grilling. It saves all the clean-up time. It would be a good idea to make a sauce or gravy with the remaining marinade to go with the grilled chicken. When you roast the whole chicken, the inside stays slightly bland and a sauce or dip would be a nice addition here. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 40 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken – 1 whole with skin, cleaned Marinade Shallots/Sambar onions – 6 peeledGinger – 3 inch piece, peeled and roughly choppedGarlic – 12 cloves, peeledGreen chillies – 4, roughly choppedWhole black Peppercorns – 2 tbspCurry leaves – 1 stemRed chilli powder – 2 tbspTurmeric powder – ½ tspLemon juice – from 1 lemonSalt to tasteWater – 2-3 tbsp Method 1.      Clean the chicken and make slits in the chicken’s skin, so that you can rub the marinade under the skin. You could make slits in the chicken’s flesh at places so that the marinade sinks in. 2.      Grind together all ingredients under “Marinade” with a little water to a paste, except red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and lemon juice. Add these to...

Chicken Teriyaki – Grilled Chicken with Asian flavours

I’ve not been able to blog the past few days because I was busy with work. You see, got to work on work also in office. To all those millions who were eagerly waiting for my next recipe, here it is – Chicken Teriyaki. This chicken teriyaki is a hot and sweet grilled chicken – zesty, succulent and full of wonderful Asian flavours – ginger, soy and brown sugar. This teriyaki marinade is a delightful combination of flavours and a great alternative to tandoori chicken or plain roasted chicken (a la prime roaster, what happened to prime roaster?). The brown sugar is important, so don’t omit it. The brown sugar beautifully balances the heat from the red chillies and tartness of the tamarind and makes the marinade what it is. There are many like my husband who don’t like to taste “sweet” in their main dishes. To them, only desserts can be sweet. Food conservatism! But don’t worry, the chicken teriyaki doesn’t taste sweet. My husband really liked it. You could serve these grilled beauties as they are. It really doesn’t need any chutney or dip. It makes for an impressive starter for a dinner party. You could marinate these the day before in the refrigerator and grill them just before the party. Prep time: 10 minsMarinating time: 1 hour to overnightGrilling time: 20-40 minsServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken – 5 Leg pieces or any cut of chicken MarinadeGinger – 1 inch peeledGarlic – 5-6 cloves peeledTamarind – small marble sizedDry Red chillies – 5 soaked in a small cup of hot water for 20 minsSoy Sauce – 1 tbspVinegar – 1 tsp (I used white distilled vinegar)Brown sugar – 1 tbspSalt to tasteWater as necessary Method 1.      Clean chicken and make oblong cuts in the chicken so that the marinade can sink in. Pat dry and set aside. 2.      Grind together the ginger, garlic, tamarind and soaked red chillies in a mixer grinder to a fine paste. Transfer the ground paste to a large bowl. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar and salt and mix well. Add a little bit of water if necessary to thin the marinade. 3.      Rub the marinade on the chicken pieces making sure all the pieces are well coated. Cover and let marinate for a minimum of 1 hour. You could let it marinate overnight in the fridge also. 4.      Grill on a barbecue...

Chicken Satay with Thai Peanut dip

Chicken Satay and Thai Peanut dip is such a superb pair. They go so well with each other and they’re fun. Satay is a great option for a party appetizer, can be prepared well in advance and then grilled or barbecued at the last minute. Satay is super-quick to barbecue or grill, is done in less than 10 minutes. The best part of it is the Thai style peanut dip. It is a delightful medley of flavours and textures – hot, sweet, and nutty with the peanut butter and peanuts giving the dip a smooth yet crunchy texture. Yummy! There are lots of things going for this recipe. You don’t have to make a marinade and a dip separately. It’s all just one thing. You make the peanut dip and use half of it (or how much ever you require) as the marinade and the remaining as the dip. One dip fits all! How about that? A Somberi’s dream come true! This is such a delicious dip that I wouldn’t really mind having extra. I can imagine the dip being extremely chummy with Chinese spring rolls or wontons or any kind of fried fritters. It is really a cool dip to hang out with. I adapted the recipe from Mark Bittman’s book.         Barbecuing is fun. Kids find the whole thing so amusing they’re out of your way the whole time that the fire is being set up. That buys you enough time to prepare lunch, wash and clean up. My husband loves to barbecue, loves starting a fire, some kind of primordial instinct I suppose. So effectively he is also out of the way. Peace! Being able to cook un-plugged, un-interrupted, without being called a hundred times and without being tugged by a 2 ft. little one is what I call peace. Barbecuing is a great weekend family activity and I’d recommend anyone who doesn’t have a barbecue to go out and get one. It need not be any of those very expensive, tripod mounted ones. For weekend barbecuing and the occasional get-togethers, you could go in for a much smaller one. Preparation time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 5-8 minutesServes: 5 Ingredients Chicken breasts – 4 cut lengthwise into strips Marinade and Dip Peanut Butter – 2 tbspSoy Sauce – 2 tspSweet lime juice – 3 tbspPeanuts – 3 tbsp coarsely crushedBrown sugar – 1 tspGarlic – 4-5 cloves Shallots...