Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chicken can be served in so many ways. Whole, cubed, baked, fried, covered in sauce, spiced. On and on the list of chicken recipes goes. To take a slightly different approach to chicken, I decided to stuff them. Using the large chicken breasts that I usually don’t buy because they are way too big for me to eat at one sitting, I flattened them and filled them with a rice and vegetable stuffing that has been seasoned in the Indian style.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed with a blend of basmati rice, lentils, cashews and spices, and topped with Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce, these Stuffed Chicken Breasts are delicious.

I start making Stuffed Chicken Breasts by opening up the breasts with a long horizontal cut then flattening them with a kitchen mallet. This step, called butterflying in the industry, is a lot of fun and a stress reliever.

The stuffing is a healthy blend of basmati rice, brown lentils and cashews, all of which are common Indian cuisine ingredients. They are added to a base of seasoned oil in which shallots, garlic and green chile are fried. A bit of chopped spinach is added at the last step to provide color and enhance texture. In my opinion, this stuffing could be served alone.

I place a generous amount of the stuffing inside the flattened chicken then roll them up like burritos. To keep them together during the cooking process, I tie them up with a string. They are browned in a skillet then baked until done.

To bring the dish together, I prepare a Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce that I drizzle over the Stuffed Chicken Breasts just before serving them. It is lightly seasoned with red chile powder for flavor, not for heat.

The Stuffed Chicken Breasts can be served whole or they can be sliced into medallions. Slices, in my mind, make a more elegant presentation as well as allow for better portion control. Serve them as you prefer with the Lemon-Chile Butter melting down the sides. This is a delicious recipe!

In continuing my Mediterranean fusion expedition, I incorporated lupini beans into an Indian masala. These beans are beautiful, large legumes that look like they would bring a firm texture to any recipe.

Dried lupini beans

Dried lupini beans

Lupini beans have been popular snacks around the Mediterranean for two thousand years. They are most commonly eaten as a snack or condiment where they are soaked in brine and eaten with olives and pickles. Lupini beans are extremely bitter and toxic if cooked for an hour or so and eaten right away. To remove the toxin and bitter flavor, the beans must be soaked in water for 5 to 14 days, changing the water 3 or 4 times every day. After a week of soaking, start testing them daily to see if the bitterness had disappeared. It took 10 days for the bitterness to leave my beans.

Soaked lupini beans

Soaked lupini beans before the skins are removed

Once the bitterness is gone, lupini beans are very healthy to eat. They are unusually high in protein and fiber while low in carbohydrates. The texture of these beans is firm and meaty, and they retain their shape after cooking.

Since lupini beans are most often canned or pickled, I thought about roasting them in a spice mixture to eat as a snack, just like I do with chickpeas. After one trial experiment, I knew this was a bad idea. Lupini beans do not crisp up like chickpeas. I had to look for another approach – this time a more traditional Indian one.

My Lupini Masala combines favorite ingredients and spices into one healthy dish. After the lupine beans are cooked, I remove the skin. This is a fairly easy task since the beans are so large. Holding the bean in one hand, find the round hole on one side. Very close to it is a tiny slit. Using your fingernail pierce the skin between the to openings then simply pinch the opposite side of the bean to pop the bean out from the skin.

Lupini Bean Masala

Lupini Bean Masala combines Indian spices with lupini beans for a healthy vegetarian dish that is finished with flavors of Goa.

The beans are cooked in a special paste made from caramelized onion, ginger, garlic, chiles and tomatoes. The tomatoes break down as they cook to create a rich sauce for the beans. I let everything simmer until the sauce becomes thick and the flavors are absorbed into the ingredients.

After removing the Lupini Masala from the stove I season it with a bit of vinegar and sugar, two trademarks of Goan cuisine, to bring the flavors together. Lupini Masala can be served as a side dish or as a main dish for a vegetarian meal along with fresh naans or chapatis.

My recipe for Spiced Asparagus Wraps is new take on salads and Indian dosas. The traditional recipe for Masala Dosas is made with a rice pancake filled rich mashed potatoes. They are often served at weekend brunches at Indian restaurants around the country. They are incredibly delicious but heavy and loaded with calories.

Spiced Asparagus Wrap

Spiced Asparagus Wraps combine asparagus salad dressed in an Indian inspired vinaigrette that is served in traditional India dosas, rice pancakes.

This recipe was inspired by one created by Cristeta Comerford, the White House chef. With her healthy approach to eating, she prepared whole wheat crêpes filled with a shaved broccoli salad. I was immediately inspired to create something similar so Spiced Asparagus Wraps was created.

The recipe for the asparagus salad was easy to conceptualize. Blanched asparagus is combined with a few other healthy vegetables, including tomatoes, onion and edamame are lightly dressed with a garam masala vinaigrette.

Making the batter for the dosas is a time consuming process; it takes about 48 hours. The first step is to combine the rice, urad dal and fenugreek seeds, then soak them in water overnight. The next day the water is drained off and the mixture is ground to a paste with the consistency of pancake batter. After the batter ferments over a second night, the dosas are ready to cook. It takes about 6 to 7 minutes to make each one. The recipe does require a bit of preplanning.

The salad is served wrapped in a dosa that is lightly seasoned with red chile and cumin. When I cook this version, I use a nonstick pan and use cooking spray to coat the pan. The dosas are lighter and much less oily.

Depending on the size of the dosas, the recipe for Spiced Asparagus Wraps can serve 6 to 8 people. The Spiced Asparagus Wraps can be served for lunch or dinner and should be, in my opinion, eaten with a knife and fork. It is less messy that way.

Enjoy!

Since fava beans are an excellent source of fiber and protein, they are popular in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern diets and have spread to be part of many different cuisines around the world. It is thought that they originated in North Africa. Fava beans go by many different names including broad beans and horse beans.

Dried Fava Beans

Dried Fava Beans

Fava beans are often cooked then ground to form a tasty bean dip. Fresh beans can be steamed and added to salads for color and their firm texture.

Fava beans are available in different sizes. The most familiar beans are the large ones which are usually dried. Medium and small beans are also available dried but can be found fresh. Fresh fava beans are tender and easy to cook. Using dried fava beans require overnight soaking and a long boil before use. Sometimes they take quite a bit longer if the beans are old. Cook them until they are buttery and tender. If they are crunchy, keep cooking!

Large beans are always shelled before cooking while it is optional for medium beans based on preference. When I made my Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala recipe, I shelled the medium beans. I found it took time and was tedious. When my husband offered to help me, I accepted immediately. I noticed that he was able to shell 4 of them to 1 of mine. He said that he studied how I was shelling them and came up with several techniques that made him more efficient. Of course, he didn’t share his tricks with me!

Fava Beans and Cauliflower Masala

Fava Beans and Cauliflower Masala

My Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala combines my favorite ingredients and spices into one tasty dish. After the fava beans are cooked, I fry the onions and cauliflower until caramelized and tender, add a tasty spice mixture, add the fava beans then create a thick sauce with tomato, lemon juice and water. I let everything simmer until the sauce becomes thick and the flavors are absorbed into the ingredients. Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala can be served as a side dish or as a main dish for a vegetarian meal along with fresh naan or chapatis.

Fava Bean and Cauliflower Masala is easy to make once the fava beans are cooked. I soaked them overnight, boiled them the next day and placed them in a container in the refrigerator until I was ready to prepare the recipe.

For a delicious vegetarian meal try this Cauliflower and Chickpea Stuffed Tomato recipe. It is a great summer treat that pairs fresh tomatoes with cauliflower and chickpeas to create a light and tasty dish. It can be served as the main dish at lunch or as a side dish at dinner.

Stuffed tomatoes are easy to make and look spectacular on the plate. I start with the freshest, reddest tomatoes I can find. Depending on the size of the tomatoes you select, the serving size will vary. If you want a larger serving, select beefsteak tomatoes. Roma tomatoes should not be used since they are so small and their shape does not let them stand up well.

The filling is made with small cauliflower florets and chickpeas that are cooked in seasoned oil. The spices turn the filling a deep yellow which contrasts with the red of the tomato. The filling is simply scooped into the cavity of the tomato and topped with a bit of Parmesan cheese.

The stuffed tomatoes are roasted in the oven until the tomato is just cooked and warm throughout.

Serving a Cauliflower and Chickpea Stuffed Tomato on a plate by itself with a light, crisp chardonnay is a perfect recipe for lunch!

My family loves hummus and I serve it often since it is healthy and easy to make. Once in a while I need to change up the recipe so we can enjoy different flavors and not get stuck in a rut.

This recipe for White Bean Hummus uses a can of well rinsed great northern beans to save prep time. It is seasoned with selected Indian spices for flavor and then blended to a creamy consistency in a food processor.

Northern Bean Hummus

White Bean Hummus

I serve my White Bean Hummus with my favorite vegetables, including carrots, celery, zucchini and cucumber for a healthy snack. My hungry kids love it when they arrive home after school or work. Of course, it can also be served with pita slices or chips.

Try this recipe on a sandwich instead of mayonnaise or dressing. It is delicious with a vegetable sandwich, a turkey sandwich or even a burger!

While doing my weekly grocery store shopping a small bag of cranberry beans attracted my attention. I was surprised when I saw the word cranberry in the dried bean section so, of course, I had to buy a bag to find out about cranberry beans.

These beans look just like their red cousins, the red kidney bean, except they are white with dark red spots when dried and turn dark pink when boiled. They get their name because the pods in which they grow are white with red spots. Their flavor is similar to their cousins except they are lighter and creamier when cooked and have a delicate, nutty flavor. Cranberry beans are highly nutritious, rich in fiber and packed with protein.

I used them in a simple masala recipe that I modified to reduce the heat and some of the spice to accommodate the beans. Called borlotti beans in Italian, they are popular around the Mediterranean and used in many different dishes from soups and casseroles to salads.

To make Cranberry Bean Masala, I soaked the beans overnight and boiled them until tender. I prepared a spice base of fried onions, garlic and ginger to which I added tomato paste and a blend of spices. When the base was ready, I simply folded in the beans and let everything cook together for a few minutes so the flavors could develop.

Cranberry Bean Masala made with borlotti beans

Cranberry Bean Masala made with borlotti beans

Serve Cranberry Bean Masala as the main dish with chapatis and a green vegetable or two for a perfect vegetarian meal.

The other day my husband came home from work and informed me that it was mandatory that his team members prepare some chili for a chili cook-off fundraiser. The previous week I had declined to participate since I was in the middle of major renovations at my mother’s house and wouldn’t be home during the day and had my work to do in the evenings.

 

Someone who was trying to be helpful found a peculiar recipe on the Internet with shredded chicken and cooked rice that is added to tomato sauce and seasoned with a spoonful of curry powder. That sounded absolutely dreadful! I was asked for my opinion of this recipe from one of his team members and I panicked! How do I say, in a tactful manner, that there was no way I would put something like that in my mouth? Instead I offered to create a new recipe for them.

 

I immediately went to work and, a few hours later, had a draft of an Indian Chili recipe in hand. Of course, a recipe on paper may not work; without a few trials the seasonings and ratios will not be correct. I couldn’t give it to an unsuspecting and, potentially, non-cooking team member to prepare. What could I do? I volunteered to make the chili recipe.

 

I started soaking all of my small red beans over night. These beans look like red kidney beans but are a fraction of the size and have a firm texture and buttery flavor. They are among my favorite beans to use in cooking. I planned to make two batches so I would have a backup in case the seasonings didn’t turn out the way I wanted. The next morning, after I started boiling them, I learned that I needed three gallons of chili! Panic time started – I needed more red beans! My darling husband told me he would run to the store and buy more and then start soaking them during his lunch break. (If he had failed to start the beans soaking at noon, I could have used my pressure cooker or increased the boiling time.) Fortunately for me, he delivered on his promise and bought two large bags of beans (enough to last a year) and started the soaking process.

 

After eight hours of late night cooking up six batches of Indian Vegetarian Chili with Small Red Beans recipe, the chili was finally finished. My feet were tired and my house had taken on a strong aroma of eau de chili. Everything was prepared, packaged and refrigerated.

 

Vegetarian Indian Chili with Small Red Beans

Vegetarian Indian Chili with Small Red Beans

My husband and his team shared this chili at the cook-off the next day. Through a lot of hard work by his team to prepare the booth including purchasing a tent, finding matching aprons, printing signs that extoll the chili’s health benefits and locating several slow cookers to heat the chili, the cook-off was a success. All of my chili disappeared.

 

Booth with mad scientists serving up Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans at Chili Cook-off

Booth with mad scientists serving up Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans at Chili Cook-off

 

The team of mad scientists serving up Indian Chili with Small Red Beans.

The team of mad scientists serving up Indian Chili with Small Red Beans.

 

Since my recipe did not have meat but did have beans, it was judged in the curry category. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t really matter since it is spiced like a curry and could vaguely be considered to be a really thick, chunky curry. From what I hear the competition was very rigorous but we won 3rd place. Not bad for a novice chili chef.

 

Trophy awarded to the Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans recipe

Trophy awarded to the Vegetarian Chili with Red Beans recipe

 

In Kachi’s Kitchen I included a delicious recipe called Chokapu Payar (Malayalam) or Rajma (Hindi) that is a very simple lentil dish that uses delicious small red beans. These beans are about a quarter of the size of their larger cousins that are found on most salad bars and have a firmer texture than the larger ones. They are my favorite beans for cooking and eating.

 

When creating my Red Beans with Vegetables and Brown Rice recipe, I wanted to make a one-dish meal with protein, vegetables, fiber and starch all in one. I added carrots, celery, bell peppers and mushrooms to the cooking process and served it with tasty brown rice. After soaking the beans overnight, I cooked everything simultaneously to save time and, just before serving, mixed the beans and vegetables together to create a delicious main dish.

 

Red Beans with Vegetables and Brown Rice

Red Beans with Vegetables and Brown Rice

 

Each bite of the Red Beans dish has a lot of flavor and variety to make sure everyone leaves the table full. I added tomatoes, onions, carrots, celery and mushrooms to create a colorful dish. The vegetables can be changed to suit your preferences, like swapping the mushrooms for diced red potatoes or pumpkin.

 

For those who like to cook a dish ahead and then reheat it just before serving, this recipe is for you.

I have always been impressed with the simple elegance of a very basic lentil recipe in Indian cooking. Tadka Dal, originally from the Punjabi region of India, is a lentil dish to which tempered spices are added at either the start or end of the cooking process. These spices are fried in hot oil using a heavy round bottom pan with a long handle, called a tadka, to enhance the flavor of the food by bringing out the essence of the spices. I use a small skillet and that seems to work out fine for my cooking.

 

Dal recipes are at the core of Indian cooking. I have noticed over the many years my husband and I have been married that he would gravitate to a basic dal dish when he was hungry or tired and just wanted something to fill his stomach. He would even open a package of ready to eat dal and make a chapatti that he would scarf down in minutes. He always claimed that dal was comfort food to him. I never realized until I asked him to test this recipe how true that statement was. He seemed to relax and his mood improved after the first bite. He didn’t eat a small bowl and offer feedback. He devoured a large bowl of my Tadka Dal and then ate a second serving – dal is Indian comfort food.

 

Tadka Dal

Tadka Dal

 

Recipes for Tadka Dal vary on which lentils to use. Some recipes use masoor dal (orange lentils) or toor dal (red gram dal) exclusively while others use a combination of both along with a bit of green gram dal or channa dal. When I am in a hurry I prefer using masoor dal since it cooks quickly and does not have to be soaked overnight.

 

My Tadka Dal recipe uses masoor dal that is livened up with chopped tomato, onion, ginger and garlic along with a few spices. It comes together when the tadka (oil fried seasonings) spices are added on top. This is a great recipe for people who want a very healthy dish with that is very easy to make.

 

 

Try my Tadka Dal recipe today.