Chicken in White Sauce Pasta

Pasta – one humble ingredient but endless ways to cook it up. It has got to be one of the most versatile ingredients in the kitchen. You can serve it hot or cold, in a soup, salad or as a main. It works so well with so many different veggies, proteins and sauces. I love me some pasta and always have a couple of varieties in my pantry cupboard.

Pasta dishes can range from simple to a little more complicated. I personally, love the idea of a few simple recipes that I can use during the week. This Chicken in white sauce pasta is one such dish. With a little multi-tasking, I can serve this up in well under half and hour. Yup, you heard that right, under 30 minutes. Honestly, what takes the most time, is boiling up the pasta itself. If you don’t eat meat, you can still make this recipe, just leave out the chicken and add some mushrooms, peas or even a little spinach. A vegetarian variant turns out equally delicious. 
Are you ready to check this recipe out???

Chicken in White Sauce Pasta
(Serves 4)
A single Chicken breast fillet, cut into bite sized pieces
1/4 cup green capsicum, diced
1 cup of broccoli florets
1/2 cup corn kernels
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped 
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Chilli flakes, to taste
1/2 – 1 tsp Mixed herbs, or to taste 
1 tsp lemon juice
1-2 tbsp olive oil 
1-2 tbsp vegetable stock / water
Pasta (enough for 4 servings)
A little parsley, to garnish
A little Parmesan cheese, grated
For the white sauce – 
1 tsp olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup cheddar cheese, grated
Salt, to taste
Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions. I bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Season generously with salt. Add the pasta and cook till done. Drain and reserve about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. 
While the pasta is cooking, season the chicken with salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Mix well. 
Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a pan. Add the chicken and cook through, stirring occasionally, till the chicken has cooked through. Remove the chicken in a bowl and set aside. 
In the same pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and quickly add the garlic. 
Stir through and immediately add the green capsicum. Still through and let the capsicum cook for about a minute. 
Next add the broccoli and saute well.  (See note*)
Add the corn and stir through. 
Season with salt, pepper, chilli flakes and mixed herbs, to taste. 
Add 1-2 tbsp vegetable stock (you can also use water), stir well, cover and let the veggies steam and cook for a minute or two or till they are done to your liking. (If you are adding cooked broccoli to the pan, you can leave this step out. )
Add the cooked chicken to the pan and stir through. Set aside and cook your white sauce. 
To cook the White Sauce / Bechamel Sauce – 
(For detailed instructions on how to make a great white sauce, check the video above)

Add a tsp of olive oil to the pan on medium heat. 
Add the butter and let it melt. 
Add the flour and stir briskly, making sure the flour incorporates well with the butter and oil and that no lumps are left. 
Cook this roux off for about 30 seconds to a minute or till the raw smell of the flour has gone. (Do not let it develop any color.)
Add half the milk to the pan and stir through well, making sure no lumps remain. 
Add the remaining milk and whisk well. 
Cook the sauce till it has thickened to your liking, whisking well.
When the sauce is done, lightly season with a little salt. 
To assemble the pasta – 
Add the white sauce to the chicken and veggies in the pan.  Stir well. Add the cheese and mix through. 
Check the sauce for seasoning and adjust, if needed. 
Add the cooked pasta to the pan and stir through. 
Serve your pasta in some serving plates. Finish with a light sprinkling of parsley and a grating of parmesan cheese. 
*NOTE: Our broccoli is fairly tender and cooks very quickly. If your broccoli takes longer to cook, blanch or steam it before adding to the pan.  

French Beans Foogath – Goan Style Green Beans Stir Fry

You’ll notice that a lot of recipes that I share here are vegetarian. I thought I’d talk about that for a moment. While my husband and I aren’t full time vegetarians, we eat very little fish and meat. Most of our meals in a regular week happen to be vegetarian and we like it like that.

Today’s recipe is another such gem. Its my French Beans Foogath, a Goan Style Green Beans Stir Fry. I love keeping things simple in the kitchen. This works well for me when I’m short on time but still want a home cooked meal. This recipe ticks all those boxes. Just a handful of ingredients, a little cooking and you end up with a delicious vegetable. Now that’s my kind of recipe. I hope you enjoy it too.





French Beans Foogath


1/4 kg green beans / french beans (approx)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 chillies, cut into quarters lengthwise
1 onion, peeled and chopped
A little grated coconut
1 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste

Prep the green beans by washing them, trimming the ends and chopping into little pieces.

Heat some oil in a pan.

Add the mustard seeds.

When they start spluttering, add the chillies and stir for a few seconds.

Add the onion and saute till they’ve softened and they start developing a little color.

Add the green beans and stir well. Stir fry for about a minute.

Add a little salt and stir through for about another minute.

Add a couple of small splashes of water. Let the water come to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pot and let the vegetable cook.

Check the vegetable in a couple of minutes. Stir and ensure there is sufficient water. Add more water if needed. Check for seasoning and adjust if required and let it continue to cook till done.

When it’s almost done, add the coconut and stir through. Let it cook for another minute or so, to let the coconut warm through.

Serve hot.

Enjoy!!!

Homemade Hot Chocolate

Winter is one of my favorite seasons. I love the chill in the air and everything that comes with it, especially after a long, hot summer. I love winter clothes, the food and the indoor days. But what I love most of all is rugging up on a chilly day with a piping hot mug of homemade hot chocolate. So today, I’m going to share with you how I make my basic hot chocolate from scratch in under 5 minutes. Yup, its quick, simple and divine.

Homemade Hot Chocolate
Makes 1 mug


3/4 cup (full fat) milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup dark chocolate, chopped
A few marshmallows, for topping (optional)

Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan and heat it over medium heat till it just about starts simmering. Do not let it come to a boil.

Add the chopped chocolate and whisk till dissolved.

Pour into a mug and top with marshmallows (if using) and sprinkle some grated chocolate on top.

Enjoy your very own Homemade Hot Chocolate!!!

Easy Mini Cheesecakes with a Strawberry Topping

Cheesecake is one of our favorite desserts at home. My last couple of birthday cakes have been cheesecakes. That alone should tell you how much I love it. But do you know whats even better than a cheesecake? Little mini cheesecakes, of course. Jokes aside, these are the perfect option for a party or even for the family. You can make them a day ahead of the party and keep them refrigerated. They are easy to serve and could serve to help portion control too. And they are super delicious as well. Now that’s a dessert that ticks all the boxes for me.





Easy Mini Cheesecakes with a Strawberry Topping
Makes 8 mini cheesecakes

For the base – 
120g Digestive biscuits
30g butter

For the cheesecake – 
250g cream cheese
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or vanilla bean paste)
100g double cream
2 eggs
A tiny pinch of salt

For the topping –
1/2 cup strawberry jam
Fresh strawberries

For the base


Melt the butter and keep aside.


Blitz the biscuits in a food processor till you get a coarse crumb texture. Add the melted butter and blitz again to combine. This should now resemble wet sand.

For the filling – 


Beat the cream cheese till its creamy.

Add the sugar and and mix till it is well combined.

Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Now add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and salt and mix till combined.

Lastly, add the cream and mix till it has incorporated with the rest of the ingredients.

To assemble – 


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Line a cupcake tray with paper cases.

Place about 1 tbsp. or so of the biscuit crumb in each case. Using the back of a spoon, pack it down and flatten it.

Top it with the cheesecake filling about 2/3 of the way.

Bake for 15-17 minutes or till the outside has set and the middle still has a little jiggle to it. (You may find some of them puff up a bit or develop a little crack. That is fine.)

Take it out of the oven and let it cool down completely.

Warm the jam over some medium heat, just to loosen it a bit. You don’t need to simmer or boil it. This took me about a minute.

Spoon a little jam over each of the mini cheesecakes.

Top with some fresh berries.

Refrigerate for 2-4 hours to set. You can leave it to set overnight as well.

Enjoy!!!

Goan Recheado Masala (Rechaad Masala)

Recheado Masala (Rechaad Masala) is a quintessential Goan spice blend. You will find this in every Goan or Goan food lovers home. While its a few basic spices that’s simply blended together in a mixer / food processor, the trick is getting the right balance of flavors. Every household has its own version of this masala. And yes, we have one too. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is my Mother’s recipe which I’ve tweaked a tiny bit and I think it’s now just the way we like it.

I always have a jar of this masala in the fridge. That’s the beauty of it. You can make a batch up when you need it or make it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator. I store it in a clean, dry, airtight glass jar and it easily keeps for weeks, if not months. It’s a great masala to have on hand. Typically this masala is used to pan fry a variety of seafood from fish, to prawns and even crabs. We also make a finger-licking, lip-smacking okhra or bhindi with this masala. I will share those recipes with you really soon. 


Goan Recheado Masala 
20 Kashmiri red chillies 
1 whole pod of garlic, peeled
1 inch ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp black peppercorns
3 cloves
2 inches cinnamon
5 cardamom pods
A small ball of tamarind, about the size of a walnut
Vinegar, to grind the masala to a paste
Sugar and Salt, to taste (optional, see note)
Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for a couple of minutes. When it has softened, mash it between your fingers and discard any seeds, pieces of shell or fibre that you may find.)
Place all the spices in your mixer. Add the tamarind pulp and the water it was soaking in. Add a couple of generous tablespoons of vinegar. Blend to a smooth paste, adding more vinegar as required. (Halfway through this process, scrape down the sides of the jar to make sure you get a smooth paste).
When it has blended to a smooth paste, it is ready to use. 
Store any excess in a clean, dry, airtight glass jar in the refrigerator and use as needed. 
NOTE:
You can add a little salt to taste and 1-2 tsp. of sugar while grinding, if desired. I leave this out, so that I can season the dish as I need to, when using this masala. 

How to make Custard from scratch … and a layered custard and jelly dessert

Today’s post is a walk down memory lane for me. As a kid, this dessert made an appearance at a lot of parties and gatherings and on other special occasions too. My mum makes a version of this. However, back in the day, we always used custard powder to make our custard. And I used to love it. When we moved away from India, initially I found it a little hard to find the custard powder that we used. So I did the only other thing I could think of. I started working on a custard recipe. After a few attempts and tweaks, I came up with a recipe that I was happy with. It’s a simple, easy and super delicious one. Well, you don’t have to take my word for it. Try it out for yourself and see. And then come back and let me know what you thought of it.

Once you make the custard, there are so many ways you can use it. Make a thinner version and pour it over your favorite dessert. You can serve this custard with some fresh fruit or use it to make a fresh fruit tart (I’ll share how I make mine very soon). Or you can do what I did, I made a layered dessert and serve it with some jelly. It was my first attempt at serving it up this way.  If you don’t want to make individual servings, you can set your custard and jelly separately and let your guests help themselves to it.

Whichever way you decide to serve it up, you are going to love it.

Vanilla Custard 

4 egg yolks
3 cups milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
A scant pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

In a heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, sugar, salt and vanilla till it is light and creamy.

Add the cornflour and whisk it in.

Next add the milk and whisk it in till it is well incorporated and is a uniform mix.

Place on a medium heat and cook, whisking continuously for about 15-18 minutes.

Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate to set.

To make a layered dessert – 


You’ll need to whip up one portion of Jelly and a fruit salad

For the fruit salad –
1 pack of Raspberry Jelly
Assortment of fresh fruit, chopped into little pieces (Do NOT use pineapple, kiwi or papaya / pawpaw as your jelly will not set.)

Pour the jelly granules in a bowl.

Add 250ml boiling hot water. Stir to dissolve the Jelly granules.

Add 200ml cold water and stir through.

When the jelly has reached room temperature, add some chopped fruit.

Please note, every Jelly brand may have to be prepared differently. So, please follow the instructions on your box of jelly to achieve the best results.

Layer the custard and jelly in your servingware and keep refrigerated till you’re ready to serve.

Enjoy chilled!

Kid-friendly Chicken Chilly Fry

Earlier in the year, I put up a post on my YouTube community tab and asked you what kind of recipes you’d like to see on the channel. One recurring request that came out of that exercise, was chilly fry recipes. So today, I’m going to share with you one of the many ways I make a chilly fry. This is one of the quickest and simplest recipes for a Chicken Chilly Fry.

I’ve cooked up the chicken specifically for this recipe, however, if you have some leftover roast chicken, you could just as easily use that as well. The recipe can be made kid friendly by simply leaving out the chillies. However, if you’re looking for a little spice in the dish, a couple of chillies, slit lengthwise, hit just the right spot. 

Chicken Chilly Fry

1 chicken breast, cut into a couple of smaller pieces
For the marinade
Salt, to taste 
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
1-2 tsp sour lime / lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic paste
1/4 tsp ginger paste
For the chilly fry – 
1 onion, sliced
Some green and red peppers, sliced
1 tomato, sliced thickly
2 chillies, slit lengthwise (optional)
2 tbsp oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
Marinade the chicken by mixing all the marinade ingredients and slathering over the chicken pieces. Cover and marinade for atleast 15 minutes. (When I remember to, I marinade the chicken overnight, in the fridge. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge a little while before cooking, so that it comes to room temperature.)
Cover the pieces with sufficient water and bring to a gentle boil and simmer till the chicken is completely cooked. Take the chicken pieces out of the stock and reserve the stock. When the pieces are cool enough to handle, shred them and set aside.
Heat some oil in a pan. 
If you’re using chillies, add them to the pan and fry them off to infuse some flavor into the oil. 
Add the sliced onion and saute for a minute. Next add the peppers and let them cook till they get a little char on them. 
Add the tomatoes, let them cook a little. Make sure them come in contact with the pan a little, so they can develop a nice little char on them too.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste. 
Next, add the shredded chicken and stir to mix everything well. 
If the mix appears a little dry, add a couple of spoons of the stock to the pan and stir well. (Add the stock as needed. I used about 4-6 tbsps. in all)
Once most of that liquid has been absorbed, your chilly fry is ready. 
Serve hot. 

Upma or Masala Semolina

I feel like somewhat of a broken record saying this, but nevertheless, I will. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And I strongly believe in that.

In the past, I’ve been a bit here and there with breakfast. Growing up, we were almost always given a chapati or a paratha for breakfast. As a kid, it wasn’t my most favorite thing in the world, but I always ate what was put in front of me. After moving out of my parents house, breakfast took a back seat. We were always in a rush to get out of the house to go to work and the first thing that got neglected was breakfast. A wholesome meal was often replaced with a slice of toast and coffee. But eventually, we got so fed up of that slice of toast, I started looking for ways to spice up brekkie, so to say. I did a lot of experimenting and also went back to some old favorites like this Upma that my mother made for us every now and then. 
Moving forward to current day, I’m happy to report that in our house, breakfast is now a more wholesome meal. So, if you’d like to get back to wholesome breakfasts, the way it is meant to be, you’ve come to the right place. Today, I’m going to share with you our family recipe for Upma. Upma, for those who are unfamiliar with the term, is a Masala Semolina dish. Only recently, I learnt that there’s actually a different name for it in Goa. Goans refer to this as Tikhat Shiro (translates to Spicy Semolina). It is quick, easy, wholesome and delicious. So I’ll stop yapping here and take you straight to the recipe. 

Upma
Yields: 2 adult portions

1/2 cup coarse semolina / rava
1 tbsp oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves
2 chillies, cut into large pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/2 inch ginger, cut into 2 pieces
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
1 small tomato (or 1/3 – 1/2 large), chopped
1/4 cup green peas
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 cup of water from a recently boiled kettle (hot water)
Dry roast the semolina on medium heat, till you get a nutty aroma and it only just starts changing color. Take it off the pan and place in a bowl and set aside. 
Heat the oil in the pan. 
Add the mustard seeds and let them splutter. 
Add the cumin seeds and soon after add the curry leaves and chilly pieces to the pan. Saute for a few seconds. 
Next, add the chopped onion and saute. When the onion has softened, add the ginger and stir well to fry off. 
Once the onion has started to develop a little color on the edges, add the turmeric powder and stir well. 
Add in the roasted semolina. Stir well to incorporate and saute for 20-30 seconds. 
Now add in the hot water. Carefully stir the mix.
Add salt to taste, chopped tomatoes and green peas. Stir well to combine. 
Stirring continuously, cook the semolina till all the moisture has been absorbed and you are left with nice fluffy grains. This usually takes me around 2 minutes. 
Take the pan off the heat, cover and let it rest for a couple of minutes. 
Serve hot. 
Enjoy!

The Perfect Caramel Popcorn

Who’s up for some popcorn? And not just any ordinary packet of store-bought popcorn, but an amazing Homemade Caramel Popcorn. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, popcorn is one of my favorite snacks. In the past, I’ve used those microwavable packets too, but ever since I learned how to pop my own corn at home, I just make it from scratch. It is so easy and so much more economical than the store bought bags. Not to mention, that you’re saving on all that unnecessary packaging too.

I’ve tried so many variants of flavoring while experimenting at home. Some savory and some sweet. Today, I’m going to share with you my favorite version of Caramel popcorn. The corn takes a couple of minutes to pop, the caramel sauce comes together in a few minutes, then all you do is toss everything together and leave it to cool down and set for a few minutes. 
What you get is the most amazing crunchy popcorn, seasoned lightly with a little salt, to taste, covered in the most beautiful caramel sauce. Is there anything else you could want in a snack? Yes, this is a slightly indulgent snack, but we all deserve a treat every once in a while, don’t you think so?
Let’s have a look at the recipe.

Caramel Popcorn
Yields: 3-3 1/2 cups of popped corn
For the popcorn

1 1/2 – 2 tbsp cooking oil, any unflavored oil will do
1/4  cup popping corn
Salt, to taste
For the sauce – 
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup sugar (finegrain / caster sugar works best)
1/8 tsp baking soda
To make the popcorn – 
Heat a large, heavy bottomed vessel. Add the oil and let it heat up. 
Add 2-3 corn kernels and let them pop. This is when the oil is at the right temperature. At this stage, add the rest of the corn to the vessel. Put a lid on and leave very slightly ajar. 
Swirl the pan around every now and then. 
When the popping slows down and almost stops, take the vessel off the heat and immediately sprinkle some salt over. Toss the corn and salt to season well. 
To make the caramel sauce – 

Heat a small saucepan over some medium heat. 
Add the butter and sugar to the pan and let it all melt down, stirring every now and then.
Once it melts, watch the pot carefully as the sugar will turn color very quickly and could burn. 
When you’ve reached a nice caramel color, immediately take it off the heat and add the baking soda and stir thoroughly.
Quickly pour it over the popped corn and stir through to coat the popcorn with the sauce. 
Turn the popcorn out on a lightly greased baking tray and leave it to cool and set. 
Enjoy!

How to make Homemade Pizza from scratch

When I think back at my first experience eating pizza, I’m immediately taken back home to when I was about 10 or 12 years old. My best friends mother had whipped up some little pizzas for us as a snack using store bought pizza bases, a little sauce and some toppings. I can’t remember what was on it, but what I do remember was that I liked it very, very much. After that,  she very kindly shared that recipe with my mother, who whipped them up for us at home, every once in a while.

Fast forward to about 7-8 years ago, I actually learned to make my pizza bases from scratch. After a whole lot of trial and error, I finally found a combination that worked well for me. And I’ve stuck to that ever since. And its safe to say, that since then, I have never bought a store bought pizza base. It is quite easy to make, once you know what your doing. Coupled with this, I’m also going to share my no-cook pizza sauce recipe with you. This recipe is probably older than my pizza dough recipe. As far as the toppings go, we’ve tried a lot of combinations. Once you have the basics in place, you can switch up you toppings to suit your tastes.

I’m going to whip up 2 pizzas today, one is a pepperoni pizza and the other is a mixed vegetable pizza. While, we’re tried a few topping options, these two have got to be strong favorites in my house.

So let’s get on to the recipe, shall we?

Homemade Pizza 


For the pizza dough – 

2 cups all purpose flour (maida)
1 tsp instant dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
150ml luke warm water (approx.) (use as needed)
2 spoons olive oil
Salt, to taste

In a little bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and a couple of tablespoons of warm water. Set the bowl aside for about 5-10 minutes for the yeast to activate.

After 5-10 minutes, the yeast will turn frothy and is now activated.

In a large mixing bowl, take 2 cups flour and add the salt (I use about 3/4 tsp salt). Using your fingers, mix the salt through the flour.

Make a well in the middle of the mound of flour and add the yeast mix.

Start combining the flour with the yeast and gradually add warm water, as needed to form a soft dough.

The dough will be tacky at first, but will eventually be much more manageable and smooth.

Stretch the dough while kneading and continue this process for about 5 minutes. (See video above, for method). Halfway through the process, add the oil in 2 stages and continue working the dough.

Shape into a ball, and place in a greased bowl. Drizzle a little olive oil on the dough and lightly coat the top of the dough, so that it doesn’t dry out. Cover the bowl with some cling film or a clean, damp towel and leave the bowl in a warm place for the dough to rise. Leave to prove (rise) for about an hour, or till the dough doubles in volume. (It might take a little longer during cooler months.)

For the sauce – 
1-1 1/4 cup passata, tomato puree or canned tomatoes (If using canned tomatoes, process them to a puree before using)
2-3 small cloves of garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
A little less than 1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp red chilly flakes

Add all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir to mix thoroughly.

The sauce is now ready to use.

To make the pizzas – 


Preheat the oven to 250 deg C.

Divide the dough into 2 portions.

Stretch the dough to form the base. (See the video above for method)

Spread the sauce over the base, leaving a little margin from the edges.

Add toppings of your choice and cheese. (I use a combination of mozzarella and colby / cheddar).

Bake for 10-12 minutes or till the dough (pizza base) is cooked through and the cheese has melted.

Enjoy!

NOTES:
1) Remember to use warm water, not hot water. Hot water will kill your yeast and your dough will not rise.