Sunday, June 24, 2012

Yogurt-Marinated Lamb Skewers

This is my signature, fail-safe lamb kebab recipe. It’s such a crowd-pleasing favourite, that no matter how much I make, the skewers always disappear in minutes. The recipe works just as well with baby lamb rib chops; but there is something incomparable and visually irresistible about aromatic, charred chunks of meat waiting to be plucked off of obliging skewers. This kebab is terrific paired with warm pita bread and any of my cool, crunchy side salads—
Radish Salad with Dried Mint 
Cucumber Radish Salad with Ginger and Green Chillies 
Jicama-Mango Salad
Pear and Watercress Salad with Szechwan Peppercorns 


2 lbs [1 kg] boneless leg of Lamb, cut into 2-inch-thich pieces
Six 12-inch-long Skewers*

1 small Onion, peeled and quartered
5–6 cloves Garlic, peeled
2-inch piece Ginger, peeled
½ cup plain, unsweetened Yogurt (preferably a strained, Greek-style yogurt)
2 tbsp ground Coriander
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 tsp ground Garam Masala
1 tsp Chilli powder
¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
Salt (to taste)
Juice of ½ lemon (reserve the squeezed lemon piece—rind, pith, and pulp—cut into quarters, for use in the marinade)
  1. Put onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Transfer paste to a large mixing bowl, large enough to accommodate the marinade and lamb. 
  2. Add remaining marinade ingredients to bowl, except the quartered lemon pieces, and stir to incorporate. Add lamb and mix well with marinade. Tuck in the quartered lemon pieces into the meat, cover the bowl will plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hrs, or up to 1 day. Prior to cooking, remove lamb from fridge, thread meat pieces onto skewers, and bring to room temperature.
  3. Pre-heat a charcoal/gas grill or grill-pan on medium for 25 mins. Turn the heat to high 5 mins before cooking. When the grill surface is smoking hot, add skewers, and let grill on their first side for 3 mins, or until well charred. Then gently turn every 2 mins until the remaining sides are well caramelised. 
  4. Remove skewers onto a platter and let sit for 5 mins before serving. 
*TIP: If you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for ½ hour prior to cooking, to prevent them from singeing on the grill.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Creamy Chicken Salad with Rosemary and Toasted Pine nuts

This is my take on a classic chicken-mayo salad. I came up with this recipe in a fit of frustration after having one too many cloying chicken salad sandwiches from a ubiquitous corner New York deli. Since that first batch nearly ten years ago, it’s become a steady staple, and has graced numerous tiffin boxes, impromptu luncheon buffets, as well as elegant tea parties.

It is a fairly light salad without any of the usual gumminess associated with mayo-based salads. The trick is to use about half the mayonnaise called for in most standard recipes, and to substitute the other half with extra virgin olive oil for a silky finish.

2 lbs [1 kg] boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
½ cup Pine nuts
2 sprigs fresh Rosemary, finely chopped
¼ cup Celery, finely diced
½ cup low-fat Mayonnaise
½ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt (to taste)
¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  1. Poach chicken breasts in a pot of boiling water until cooked through, about 10–12 mins. Remove from water and set aside till cool to the touch. Cut chicken into roughly 1-inch-thick cubes and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until lightly golden, about 2–3 mins. Remove from heat and add pine nuts to bowl with chicken.
  3. Add rosemary, celery, mayonnaise, olive oil, salt and pepper, and mix well. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and store in a fridge for at least 4 hrs to allow the flavours to incorporate. Bring salad to room temperature before serving.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Wilted Radish Greens

When cooking and preparing tubers like radishes, turnips, and beets, most people discard the green leafy tops. But the bright greens are just as delicious as the bulbous tuber—served raw as a salad (dressed simply with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper), or equally good as a side dish when cooked quickly until barely wilted. When prepping my radish salad this afternoon, I reserved the peppery leaves and stalks, and got two delectable dishes for the price of one—versatile and economical!

1 tsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Nigella seeds
2 cloves of Garlic, cut into thin slivers
2–3 fresh Green Chillies, cut into half lengthwise
1 lb [500 gms] Radish Greens, washed and roughly chopped
Salt (to taste)
Juice of ½ lemon
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat until smoking. Add nigella seeds and sputter for a few seconds. Add garlic and green chillies, and stir for about 1 min until they are lightly golden.
  2. Add radish greens, sprinkle with salt, and cook until just wilted, about 2 mins. Turn off heat, add lemon juice, and let sit for 5 mins before serving.

Radish Salad with Dried Mint

I make variations of this simple salad all summer. You can tweak the recipe with whatever fresh produce is available. Even the dried mint can be substituted with fresh cilantro or parsley. It is a staple recipe that is a terrific complement to any grilled meat or fish dish.

10–12 Radishes, trimmed, cut in half, and thinly sliced*
2 medium Yellow Peppers, diced
1 large Cucumber, peeled and diced
1½ tbsp Dried Mint, crushed
1 tsp Ground Coriander
1/8 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
2–3 fresh Green Chillies, minced
Juice of ½ lemon
Sea Salt (to taste)
  1. In a large bowl, mix radish, peppers, and cucumber with dried mint, coriander, black pepper, green chillies, and lemon juice, and mix well. Store in a fridge for 30 mins to chill. 
  2. Remove from fridge, add salt, toss well and serve immediately. 
 *TIP: Do not throw away the lovely green tops of the radishes! Reserve them for a bonus side dish—served raw as a salad (dressed simply with lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and black pepper), or as a warm side dish.

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar