Sunday, 29 March 2015

The Reunion Chicken

The Reunion Chicken

Walking into a charming Bistro in London's Covent Garden, I happened to order a delightful chicken on their plat du jour. On my return home I decided to recreate the dish in my own Kitchen. One thing led to another and it landed up being picked to be served and shared  with 350 guests at my own School Reunion. The Grand Banquet Hall here in Mississauga did a good job of replicating it!!

This chicken recipe relates rather well to my recent  article in Huffington Post  The French In My Food

Moist, tender chicken breast with fresh bold flavours 

You will need 3 bowls and 3 spoons to prepare this.
The Marinade

Bowl # 1
Mix together
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1/2 lemon juiced

Bowl # 2
In a bowl mix, keep aside
in another bowl mix and keep aside
1 3/4 cup chickpeas; Canned, rinse in cold water
1 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes; slit in half
1 cup fresh chopped corriander salt
1 tbsp of the marinade ( bowl # 1)

Bowl # 3
In a bowl mix, keep aside
1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp of the prepared marinade ( bowl#1)

Prepare 4 chicken breast halves with or without bones sliced horizontally in thin slices or whole.
Salt the chicken breasts and then apply the marinade generously all over.
Place  the chicken in a tray. and keep ready to bake.
When ready to cook, pour the chickpea mixture all around it but NOT on top.

Preheat oven to Hot; 400-450°F/ 200-225C. Cook this for 15 minutes if the chicken breast is sliced and  thin or 22 minutes if the breasts are left whole and thick.  Check to make sure it is cooked through. Serve with yogurt sauce(bowl #3). Do not over cook the chicken or it will be dry.

Plated, elegant and simple a meal in itself.

To Assemble
Place the cooked Chicken on a platter,spoon the yougrut mixture from bowl # 3 and top with the chickpea and tomato juices from the cooking tray.  Optionally, sprinkle with olive oil and paprika for presentation.


While preparing the 3 bowls  be careful not to mix anything with the spoon used in the bowl with raw chicken. 
If you prefer to use boneless thigh chicken cook for 30 minutes;It will taste just as great.
When checking the chicken for being perfectly cooked, always pierce the thickest part of the breast to release the juices. If the colour of the juice is pink it is still slightly raw. 
This recipe does not reheat well. Cook just before you are going to eat it.
 Ancho chilli  is a good substitute to Paprika or chilli flakes.
Parsley can be replaced for Corriander leaves if preferred. A few finely chopped mint leaves can be added optionally.
Use "fresh" yogurt and not an old one gone  sour as it will ruin the taste of the topping.

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Reader Comments

Dosi A

to me
Hello - made the dish yesterday to try it for a party on Saturday - turned out REALLY well.
Thx again.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015



Originating from Nice in Provence, Ratatouille is a layered melange of roasted vegetables with grated cheese liberally sprinkled all over and baked to prefection. Served as a casserole with pasta or crusty bread.
Mine is tweaked, a modern Ratatouille; 21st Century!

There are similar vegetable dishes local to Spain, Greece, Turkey and Italy a variation of the original French Ratatouille Provencal; pronounced Raa-taa-tu-eee. 

I like to serve this up with  a Goat Cheese and triangles of freshly baked puff pastry.

The aubergine, red and yellow peppers, zucchini topped with crumble goat cheese and puff pastry triangles.
Or simply serve them in vol au vents?

Makes  enough for 30 large Vol au vents

1 tbsp olive oil
1 zuchinni
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 small eggplant/aubergine
1/2 tsp salt

1 tbsp safflower oil
1 large golden onion
2 cups skinless chopped diced tomatoes
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp salt
freshly ground black peppercorn
1 cup water
1 tsp dried herbes de provence 
1/2 cup  diced/crumbled goat cheese

Cut the vegetables into equal sized squares, toss them with olive oil sprinkle this with salt and roast in the oven until just soft. Do not over cook them.

In a pan heat a tbsp of oil and add one very finely chopped large onion, Saute until it is soft and catches a light colour. Now add 2 cups of chopped tomatoes, brown sugar, salt and pepper, herbs de provence and water.
Cook until it is thick and sticky. 
Toss the roasted vegetables into this sauce. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes prior to serving. 

To serve
Place the Ratatouille in a large shallow bowl and crumble all the feta over it. Sprinkle with a choice of green herbs for colour; watercress, mint, parsley, corriander all work well.
Top with the puff pastry triangles.

Serve it in a vol-au-vent. Ensure that most of the liquid is evaporated otherwise it will get soggy. Fill it just before you want to serve it up and heat it for 3 minutes before serving to melt the cheese.
If you have fresh herbs, use oregano and thyme to substitute herbs de provence.

For more wonderful recipes click on

Niloufer's Kitchen: French Bistro
Niloufer's Kitchen: Moroccan Cuisine

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Frangipane FruitTart

Frangipane Tart

What a wonderful idea when the base is the shell and the filling. How much simpler could anything be yet taste delightful.  Try this wonderful fruit tart. You can use peaches, pears, apples, plums, oranges or any of the berries. I love pears and am going to use them for this recipe.

Frangipane is originally referred to as almond cream scented with like the beautiful Frangipani trees. Named after the Marquis Frangipani it is very popular in Europe particularly in France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland to serve an assortment of individual frangipane fruit tarts in cafe`s. They continue to be my personal favourite to date. 

This tart is made with brown sugar and has a darker caramelised texture.

Prepare an 8 inch pan with parchment lining and butter. 

1 cup ground almonds

1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3/4 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt

2 small ripe pears

spice of choice,  1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp apricot marmalade +  Optionally 1 tbsp rum to glaze

In a bowl mix the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon.

Add the eggs and vanilla, Give it a good stir with the spoon. It will be a thick liquid.
Pour 3/4th in the pan. Lay out the pears fanned out, pour the remaining over and around it.
Bake in a preheated oven of 350F/180C for 30 minutes. Test with a skewer  to see if  cooked through. When still hot brush with the glaze made of the marmalade and rum. Serve warm on its own or with salted caramel ice cream or delicious creme-anglaise.


Lightly toast the ground almonds in a warm oven for 10 minutes before mixing it with the sugar. This refreshes the almonds and ensures it does not clump together. It keeps the frangipane" light"; hence it is an important step.
Choose the spice according to the fruit. Some of the other choices are nutmeg, ginger, all spice or cardamom.

The skewer test must come out clean. Pierce where there is no fruit.

For more delicious recipes download 

Niloufer's Kitchen: French Bistro

Niloufer Mavalvala, thank you for this most wonderful recipe, your pear tart turned out rich and cinnamony, with the right balance of flavours. I paired it with some finger lime flavoured whipped cream.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Chicken Xacutti

Chicken Xacutti ~ Chacuti  ~ Shakuti

The Indian Sub-continent having a Colonial Portugese in India dates back to 1490's. It was established in the territory of present day Goa, India. The present day influence of the Portugese food and culture remains historic yet strong.  It has definitely left its mark on its local cuisine in indelible ink!

The local language of Goa is Konkoni but many still speak the Portugese language along with English and Hindi. They have an abundant love of mixing lots of spices in their food with generous amounts of vinegar and chillie. Some of the most popular are  pork Vindaloo, Balchao- a seafood curry or Sorpatel - a meat dish.

However, Xacutti which is pronounced as Sha-Ku_Tea, is from the origins of the word Chacuti in Portugese. In Goa Xacutti refers to a blend of spices when used on chicken and lamb that creates the dish.

Variations of this recipe are abundant. Over the years the Portugese themselves continue to make Chacuti with potatoes and pearl onions with a tomato based coconut gravy and serve it with white boiled rice. The Goanese on the other hand keep to it being thicker and quite different in appearance which is served with their local bread; a small crusty bun or then a nan- paratha-chapati. I enjoyed my Parsi version with a Vegetable Pallau Rice!

The texture of the Xacutti is granular. A thick curry, delicious with crusty karak bread rolls


1 kg chicken+1 tsp salt applied all over. Keep aside until later.

1 tbsp oil
2 finely chopped onions
1 tsp brown sugar

now add and cook for a minute
1 cup fresh grated coconut

Grind together
(lightly toast before grinding it)
2 large dry Kashmiri red chillies
1 tsp sesame seeds
2 tsp khuskhus / poppy seeds

1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp corriander powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp crushed ginger
1 pod of fresh  crushed garlic
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp tamarind paste

2 cups coconut water
Sharing the textures and colours of the Xacutti

Heat the oil and sweat the onions until golden brown. Add the sugar to help it caramelise quickly. Add all the other ingredients as listed, stirring and browning the paste as you take a minute between adding each block of ingredients. until finally you add the coconut water. Now bring it to a boil, cover, lower the heat and cook for 25 minutes.
Lastly add the chicken pieces and mix well. Cover and cook for 20 minutes if boneless breast  and 40 if with bone and leg thigh pieces. Check that the chicken is cooked through.

Serve this with warm fresh chapatti, naan or a Vegetable Pallau Rice.

If you find the grinding intense and do not have garam masala, add 6 whole green cardamoms and 2 sticks of cinnamon to the pot instead.
"Toasting" the spices simply means heating them in a fry pan over a flame. The warmth releases all the oils of the dry spice rejuvenating the aroma and flavours from within the spice after storage.

Using an extra tbsp or two of rice vinegar will be a substitute for the tamarind paste if you do not have vinegar. Rice vinegar has a subtle flavour. Using apple cider vinegar or other fruit vinegar is fine but can be pungent so add a little less in total.

A small piece of jaggery instead of brown sugar is also a great healthy option.

Freshly grated coconut is available in the freezer sections in most Indian markets. Desiccated coconut is a close substitute. 
Please note that the texture of this dish is NOT a smooth one. If you dislike a rough chewy texture you should not be getting excited on trying this dish. The fresh flakes of coconut are even larger than the desiccated ones which are much shorter and finer. Authentic Xacutti is made with the hand grated large coconut flakes, very similar to that used in chocolates like the Bounty!

For more amazing recipes from the Parsi Cuisine try
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Monday, 16 March 2015

Ginger Chicken

Ginger Chicken

Another Colonial recipe that has emerged as  generic Indian Cuisine seen on most menus in Indian restaurants across the world; yet none can ever be identical!
It can look rather greasy and sometimes floating in a tomato gravy which are both 
unappetising. I have tried to keep it healthy; no oil floating and the gravy nice and thick without compromising the flavour. 

12 pieces of chicken legs and thighs; skinless
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric 
1 1/4 tsp red chillie powder
1 tsp freshly ground ginger paste + 1 tbsp of thinly slivered fresh ginger
4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
2 medium fried onion, finely chopped
1 tsp salt
3 tomatoes roughly chopped in large chunks
a handful of freshly chopped corriander leaves
1 large green chilli pepper, sliced

In a pan heat the oil. Add the washed, patted dry chicken and allow it to brown on both sides. This will take about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of water.Mix well.
Now add all the spices. Sprinkle them all over the chicken. Leave the slivered ginger, tomatoes, green pepper and corriander for the very end so they are on the top of the chicken. Cover the pan, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Add the tomato, green pepper, ginger and corriander leaves, cover and let it simmer for another 10 minutes. Check that the chicken has cooked through and serve with warm chappatis.

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015



Time to fire up your griddle and grill. It is a treat to make Fajitas ( Fa-heet-aa-ss) at home. Its a great sharing dish for your family gathering or a dinner with friends. Keep everything ready, simply turn the stove on and serve directly from the griddle. What fun!  Make the flavours your own. Add your favourite chilis and spices. Make a guacomole or salsa to serve with this. 

Fresh red and Jalapeno chilli, lime and avacado, Tortillas on my grill and mixed bell peppers and sliced chicken on my griddle, smells and tastes amazing.

!0  soft Tortillas
2 bell peppers
1 large green chillie
1 large onion

1 tsp ancho chillie powder

250gms/ 8 oz steak or chicken breast

1 tbsp mustard
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
2 finely grated garlic cloves
optionally 1 tsp cumin powder

Marinate the steak overnight or up to 48 hours, refrigerated.

When ready to cook bring the meat back to room temperature.
Thickly slice the peppers, chillie and onion. 
Heat a deep wok/skillet and add a tsp of oil. Remove the meat from the marinate and pan fry it. 3 minutes on each side. Remove and let it rest on a cutting board.
Then tip the vegetables in the same pan. Saute them on a high flame until just cooked, add all the left over marinade into the pan. Toss to coat all the vegetables. Thickly slice the steak and toss that in with the rest just for a minute or two.  Sprinkle with ancho chilli and serve immediately with  warmed tortillas, avocado, tomatoes , chopped fresh  cilantro and lime.

Tortillas are generally of two varieties, plain white flour or whole wheat flour. They are available in the super market. Heat each one on a skillet or reheat them together in a preheated oven wrapped in foil. 
Chapatis are very similar to Tortillas and can be substituted easily.
The flavours of chili and lime make a perfect fajita. It is the key ingredient so do not omit either. 
If you do not have a grill or a griddle, use a flat skillet on a high flame.

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Monday, 9 March 2015



Hungarian by birth, but also a stew popular with some of the colder European Scandinavian countries. Cooked with bell peppers, onions and herbs the cheaper cuts of beef are used to make this hearty peasant dish. The sweet and hot paprika makes it even tastier. Such dishes were prepared by the herdsman from tougher cuts of meat to feed the family adequately. Hearty appetites with generous amounts of good warm food.

The word Goulash also  refers to "something mixed up as it should not have been". Even  Mah-jong has one of its many games named after this delicious stew!!

Generally it is eaten with boiled potatoes; which help absorb the thick gravy. In restaurants it is often served with fresh pasta, garlic bread and a dash of sour cream!

Warm and hearty Goulash stew served with crusty bed, soft boiled new potatoes and a salad.

2lbs / 1 kg 1 inch Beef  squares
3 tbsp flour
4 roasted bell peppers, peeled
1 large pod of garlic, roasted
1 large onion
olive oil
1 tbsp paprika
one sachet of boquet garni
200 gms fresh tomato, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tbsp tomato puree
pinch of brown sugar
3 cups chicken or beef broth
2 cups red wine

Wash and slit the peppers in half, and one whole pod of garlic. Face down place them on a baking tray lined with foil. Bake for  45 minutes  on 350F/180C. Cover them and leave to cool for an hour. Remove the skins and roughly chop  everything. Keep aside.

Finely chop the large onion. Heat 2 tbsps oil and saute` until soft. Add 1 tsp brown sugar to caramlise the process. Remove and keep aside.

Sprinkle the beef with flour and salt. In the same onion pan, heat 2 more tbsp of oil, Add the meat and brown it all over. Once it has been browned add the wine, mix well to de-glaze the pan. Now add the rest of the ingredients. Allow it to simmer for an hour until the meat is tender and the gravy is thick.

Serve hot with garlic bread, or any crusty bread and boiled potatoes.

Stewing beef is the best cut for this dish. It will be cooked for a long time and hence will become soft. 
Add any kind of peppers you may enjoy. Red chillies, green chillies and green capsicum are some of the alternates. 
Using a hot paprika can add to the spice. Ancho Chilli powder is also an option.

Sour cream, creme fraiche and salad are some choices to serve with this hearty stew.

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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Chicken Piquant

Chicken Piquant

Pronounced pee-kahnt, with origins from the Italian word piccante, it simply means sharp, tingling and tart; yet agreeable to the palate. The flavours of this chicken recipe will be all of the above.
An everyday family meal can be prepared very quickly. Serve this with Chinese fried rice as it will compliment the meal.

Chicken Piquant has a thickish gravy which is not visible in the photograph


1 kg/2.2 lb chicken pieces
1 tsp oil

1 cup onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 cup of sliced peppers of choice

The marinade/sauce
1/4 cup salted melted butter
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1 tsp mustard
3/4th salt
1/4 tsp chillie powder
1 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup balsamic ketchup
pinch of brown sugar
1 small crushed onion

In a deep flat ovenproof skillet  heat the oil and fry the pieces of chicken, until lightly brown on both sides. If there is any fat on your chicken it will all  melt away, you can tip the pan over and allow the fat to drain. 
Pour the marinade over the chicken and place the onions and peppers on top. Cook in a preheated oven 350F/180C for 45 minutes until cooked through. Do not cover the pan. Turn it once halfway if you wish. Before serving spoon the gravy over each piece of chicken before serving.


If your chicken pieces are very small or boneless it will take less time to cook.
Substituting the chillie powder for paprika is an option. You can also add a couple of drops of Tabasco Sauce and omit the powders.
If you cannot find balsamic Ketchup use regular ketchup available and add 1 tbsp of vinegar to it.
Mustard can be powder or ready made.
Using large green chillies thickly sliced is an option to peppers if you prefer.
Using baby pearl onions is an option; ready to use onions are available in the frozen sections of some supermarkets.
Adding small pieces of potatoes is also another choice. Place them on top allowing them to roast. 

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

Fruity nutty Quinoa

Quinoa Fruit and Nut

Eating healthy is always challenging. The dry fruits and nuts complete your daily nutrition for the day. Grill a piece of salmon or chicken to eat with this. It makes a delicious and filling lunch, brunch or even a late hearty breakfast. It can be eaten cold or warm, but it is best at  at room temperature. 

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups of vegetable stock
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste.
1/4 cup each
pine nuts
sunflower seeds
flaked almonds

In a pan boil together the quinoa, vegetable stock,salt and the garlic. When the liquid has boiled down and the top of the quinoa visible, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Remove from the flame. With a fork fluff up the cooked quinoa mashing in the clove of garlic which will be very soft.
Let it cool for about 15 minutes and mix in the dry fruits and nuts.
Serve at room temperature.

There are 3 types of Qunioa. 
I prefer the white one to mix in the colourful assortment of fruit and nut.
You can read more on Quinoa at

Make your own delicious vegetable stock recipes available at
Niloufer's Kitchen: Soups

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Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Party bon-bons

Cheese Pesto Bon-bons!

These do remind me of little sweet parcels but filled with savoury cheese. Perfect for a cocktail party or to enjoy as appetisers.
Make your own filling of choice?


36 Wonton wrappers
1 cup Paneer or ricotta; at room temperature
2 finely chopped fresh green chillies
1 tbsp finely chopped corriander
1/4 tsp red chili flakes
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1/4 full cream
Salt to taste

Mix it all well. should be soft to touch but dry enough to fill.
Using wonton wrappers. fill 1 tsp of the mixture, roll like a cigar, pinch the sides with your thumb and chill. 
When ready to eat, heat a pan with oil and deep fry for 2 minutes until crispy golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and serve it with tamarind chutney.


This recipe can be adjusted according to taste.
Salt must be added to the paneer for flavour.
Other options to add to this are a touch of garlic, crushed fried onions, freshly cracked pepper, paprika or ancho chili powder.

You can freeze these bon-bons before frying for up to 1 month. Defrost in the fridge overnight before using. 
Wonton wrappers are available at all markets. You can use filo pastry to do the same or samosa wraps. Wrap them like cigars or samosas if you prefer.

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Niloufer's Kitchen: Moroccan Cuisine