Jambalaya

Jambalaya

The first thing that comes to my mind is the song. It just had to play while I cooked.

This is a Creole dish with a French and Spanish touch. I’m yet to taste authentic Jambalaya, so I dont know if this dish comes anywhere close but I can vouch that it’s scrumptuous and will definitely be bolted down in minutes.

There are tons of variations to this dish. Mine has Shrimp and sausages. (YUMMY!!!) It’s all in the mix of herbs. Creole/Cajun seasonings.

Time: 30 min

Serves: 4dried herbs

Ingredients:

  • Onion – 1

  • Tomato – 1

  • Capsicum – 1

  • Garlic cloves – 2

  • Dried Parsley – 2 tsp

  • Dried Basil – 2 tsp

  • Dried Oregano – 1 tsp

  • Hot Sauce – 2 tsp

  • Pepper – 1 tsp

  • Shrimp – 10 pieces ( or as many as you’d like to serve)

  • Sausage – 1 cup (diced to small bits)peppered shrimp

  • Boiled rice – 2 cups

  • Maggie Cube – 1

  • Salt

Method:

  • Peel and devein the shrimp. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

  • Dice the onions, capsicum and tomato.

  • In a cooker, saute the onion and capsicum. Add in the tomato,garlic and sausage bits and cook well.

  • Add the dried herbs, pepper, hot sauce and maggie cube.

  • Stir in the boiled rice. Ensure that you dont add water. Stir fry for a while.

  • Finally, add in the shrimp. Cover the pot and turn off the stove. The shrimp will cook beautifully in the steam. It’ll be pink and succulent, when ready to eat.

Apron’s Advise:

  • If you are using frozen shrimp, ensure that they are completely defrosted before cooking.

  • Its important not to over cook shrimp, else it’s pretty tasteless. What we want is a juicy, succulent yet properly cooked shrimp. Steaming does the trick. Add it last to any recipe.

  • I used pre-cooked rice here, but you can always boil the rice with the rest of the ingredients.

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Colombian Style Beans

Colombian Style Beans

Colombian Style Beans

Being in Miami, has introduced us to alot of South American food – Cuban, Mexican, Puerto rican, Columbian……

 It’s so much fun to eat at their restaurants – homely and bustling with joy, spanish music playing in the background, everyone going “Ola!”, the menus are huge and sometimes a bit too overwhelming. I always like to try out something new. Their food portions are too much for just one. I’m usually too sated by the end of a meal and unable to have dessert. Though the Tres Leche is always on the top on my list.

 I decided to start easy, “Estofado de Frijoles con Platano Maduro” – is what it is called. Not only is this dish simple, but tasty too.

Buen provecho!

Time: 35 min

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

  • Red kidney Beans – 2 cups

  • Carrot – 2

  • Green Banana – 1

  • Capsicum – 1

  • Onion (chopped) – 1

  • Tomato (chopped) – 1

  • Cumin seeds

  • Ginger-garlic paste

  • Cilantro – 1 cup

  • Chilli powder -1 tsp

  • Pepper – 1 tsp

  • Salt – 1 tsp

  • Maggie – 1 cube

  • Olive oil

Method:

  • Soak the beans overnight. Next day, pressure cook them for about 2 whistles.

  • Take the pressure cooker off the stove and let the steam off. Let the water level be the same as the beans.

  • Add carrots, banana, salt to the beans

  • Close the pan and cook for around 10 min

  • At the same time, in another pan, saute the onions, tomatoes, cumin seeds and cilantro.

  • Add the above to the beans and cook for another 5 min.

  • Enjoy this with rice or bread!!

Apron’s Advice

  • If you forget to soak the beans overnight, put them in a pot of hot water and let it sit for atleast 15 min.

Crunchy Munchy Pork Chops

Crusted Pork Chops 

Finger Licking good!! It’s so good, you’ll definitely be asked to make it again. I know my husband did!
They taste great when served hot.


I used Pistachios in this recipe. You could try with any nuts that you have in the pantry – Cashews, almonds. ( IF you try it with anything else, let me know how they turned out). I still have some crust left-over, I’m going to try it with fish or chicken the next time.


By the way, I learnt several things while I was making these. Pork Chops have a tendency of drying out if not cooked properly, so after considerable research, I’ve included some valuable tips at the end of this post.

Time:
Cook time: 10 min
Preparation Time: 5 min
Idle Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4         [Unless you have someone who comes in for seconds]

Materials:

  • Non stick frying pan
  • Food processor / Mixer
  • Shallow bowl
  • Plate

Pork Marinade

Ingredients:

  • Pork loin chops – 4 (thinly sliced)
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 2 tbsp
  • Lime juice – 2 tbsp
  • Pepper – 1 tsp
  • Salt  – 1 tsp

Method:

  • Defrost the pork chops to room temperature. Marinade it with ginger-garlic paste, salt, pepper, lime juice. Ensure both sides are well coated. With a fork, I pork the meat a bit, so that the marinade seeps in.
  • Let it sit for at least an hour.

 Pork Chops with Orange Iced Tea

Pistachio Crust

Ingredients

  • Peeled Pistachios – 1 cup
  • Cheddar Cheese – ½ cup
  • Bread crumbs – ½ cup
  • Pepper – 1/2 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp

Method:

  • Put all the ingredients in a mixer. Spread it on a plate, so that it is easy to coat the chops.

 

AT LAST

  • Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat.
  • Beat an egg in a shallow bowl.
  • Dip each of the pork chops in the egg and then coat with the pistachio crust.
  • Once the oil is hot, place the chops and cook for 2-5 min on either side or till the meat is white on the inside.

 

Cooking Tips for Tender Pork Chops:

  • Ensure the pan is hot, before adding the pork chops.
  • It’s hard to say how long to fry. It all depends on the thickness. Dont fry too long, else the chops will dry out. ( I learnt it the hard way. Happened to me the first time L) . Thin chops can cook on medium heat for 5 min on either side. The thicker, the more time it will need. A good tip, would be to ensure that the sides are well browned. If you want to be doubly sure, just make a small cut in the meat and ensure that it is not pinkish.
  • Dont turn the meat more than once, else the crust will crumble.
  • Dont cover while cooking, else the meat gets stewed. ( I read this on the net. Apparently the water and the fat from the meat makes it soggy ). If you want to avoid the oil from splattering, you can use a mesh cover.

Butter chicken


This is my all time favourite Indian dish and definitely consider it a comfort food. It’s one exotic meal that always makes my mouth water and the best, is it’s not spicy at all.


Many people are under the impression that cooking Indian food is hard and too time consuming, but if you can plan a bit in advance and dedicate atleast an hour, you can work up magical wonders. I dint come from a household where traditional Indian food was cooked, so never had the Indian culinary instincts imbibed in me. But over the years, with the numerous recipe books I’ve experimented from, I’ve been quite enthusiastic about it.

I must admit, I do love to find short and easy routes, all which make cooking a breeze.  In this recipe, I used a ready Spice mix. But incase you don’t have a spice mix ready at hand. I’ve added it in the “Tips Section” at the end.

It’s important to know that the 5 “Must have” spices while cooking Indian food are Garam Masala, Tumeric pwd, coriander pwd, chilly pwd, Cumin pwd. This is used practically in every recipe


In Butter Chicken, the key to succulent and flavourful chicken is to marinate it in yogurt and the spice mix. I add my secret spice mix “Shan-Butter chicken Spice mix”, but I’m sure any other brand will work just as fine.


Time:

Idle Time:
1 hour
Cooking Time: 30 min   ( Cook chicken and curry simultaneously else it’ll take about 55 min)


Serves: 4


Materials:

  • Non Stick Frying pan
  • Deep Saucepan

Chicken:

        Ingredients:

  • Skinless Chicken – 12 pieces
  • Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tbsp
  • Butter Chicken Spice Mix – 3 tbsp
  • Yogurt – 3tbsp
  • Salt
  • Red Food colour powder – ½ tsp ( optional)

         Method:

  • Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces, wash and pat dry.
  • Marinade the chicken with the above ingredients. With a fork, poke the chicken bits gently a bit. This helps the marinate to penetrate the chicken. Keep aside for at least an hour
  • Now, you can either fry the chicken or bake it.
  • If baking, Pre heat the oven to 440 F and bake for 25 min on one side and then turn over and bake for another 15 min.
  • If you are frying, heat oil in a pan. Shallow fry on medium fire for about 30 min but constantly turning. Cover the pan while frying.

Curry: 
     Ingredients:

  • Onion (chopped) – 1,/span>
  • Butter – 1 tbsp
  • Lime Juice – 2 tsp
  • Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp
  • Garam Masala – 1 tsp
  • Jeera Powder – 1 tsp
  • Chilly powder – 1 tsp
  • Butter Chicken Spice Mix – 1 tsp
  • Tomato Puree – 1 cup
  • Yogurt – ½ cup
  • Milk – ½ cup
  • Salt
  • Maggie Cube – 1 (optional)

    Method:

  • Heat a tbspoon of oil is a deep saucepan. Sauté the chopped onions till translucent.
  • Mix in the butter, lime juice, ginger-garlic paste, garam masala, jeera powder, chilly powder. Cook for a minute till you can smell the fragrant spices.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and continue stirring for a minute. Finally, add in the milk and yogurt and the remaining chicken marinade. Season with a Maggie cube and salt.
  • Add the cooked chicken to the curry and continue heating for another 5 – 10 min. 

Dinner is ready! It was cooked to perfection. I’m going to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Tips:

  • Chicken should be marinated for at least 1 hour. Not only does it taste better but it has a better texture. If marinating for more than an hour, keep the chicken in the refrigerator.
  • For a thicker/richer version, substitute the milk with fresh cream.
  • Spice Mix recipe. Put all the below ingredients in a mixer and then add to the chicken.
    • chili powder -1 1/2 tsp
      bay leaves -1/4 tsp
      cloves – 1/4 tsp
      cinnamon – 1/4 tsp
      garam masala – 1 tsp
      cardamom – 4 pods