Cooking | Thai Chicken Mince, Broccoli & Pepper Salad {Larb Gai} #glutenfree #healthy #comfortfood

“Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture.”
Mark Kurlansky

Thai Chicken Mince Salad | Larb Gai Thai Chicken Mince, Broccoli & Pepper Salad … bursting with fresh, summery flavour, it’s good warm and chilled too. People often ask me if I cook? Obvious question I guess when you see the blogs name with posts to match! However, I do cook. Everyday, and most meals are home made. Loads of chicken with loads of fresh herbs  … that’s our summer! Curries, salads, crispy filets, fajitas, quesadillas, fingers, sliders, wraps, burgers …Cooking chickenThe other day I saw a Thai Chicken Mince Salad drop into my inbox from Bee @ Rasa Malaysia. I didn’t get as far as seeing the recipe then, but the Lap Kai or Thai Chicken Mince Salad stayed in my head. One of those niggling things that you make you reach for pots and pans rather urgently.

herbs and peppersI had everything on hand and a basic recipe in my head. It’s a really simple recipe, inspired by a recipe from the Simple Thai Food Cookbook by talented Leela at She Simmers. The salad came together in a matter of minutes. It’s a great gluten free, low carb option for summer. I returned later to check the recipe on Rasa Malaysia aa knew mine would be radically different! It was.Thai Chicken Mince Salad Larb Gai This was my version of Larb Gai. It was different since Thai cooking uses a lot of galangal but my heart belongs to garlic. I also don’t like fish sauce so it doesn’t figure in my cooking. Larb Gai is often served with sticky rice, or roasted rice powder as in Leela’s recipe. I added some almond meal to soak up extra juices since that was what I had on hand!

Thai Chicken Mince Salad Larb GaiThe marriage of flavours and textures is nice. Sweet, spicy, fresh, exciting. Above all, easy to stir up. Don’t forget to add the roasted rice or almond meal… the nuttiness is addictive. Serve as soon as you stir it up  … in crisp lettuce leaves or with a crisp salad on the side. The ‘now almost off to college teen‘ loved it cold too!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Dessert | Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … Merry Xmas

“Christmas, here again. Let us raise a loving cup:
Peace on earth, goodwill to men,
And make them do the washing up”
Wendy Cope

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly … these were plenty fun to make and absolutely delicious {if I may so so myself}. Couldn’t think of a better way to ring in the bells, to colour our world with the red, white & green. They seemed so right!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas JellyThat they turned out goblet scraping good was an added bonus. Everyone, young & old, loved them. The kids begged for seconds. And thirds. Goblets, glasses, shooters. All fun!Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding Remember my very recent the Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding with Thai fruit? These jellies were what I had in mind initially, yet the rice pudding came first. This a little later. Both eggless and both held their own spot in the dessert world. While I fell in love with the colours of the former, the latter played some more magic. Kid sorta magic!

Tropical Coconut Milk Rice Pudding

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Of course the Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly dessert is inspired. Inspired by the Strawberry and Vanilla Macaron Trifles I made in Dec 2010 adapted minimally from a Donna Hay recipe. They were absolute crowd pleasers then. The story the same this year as well.

Strawberry Vanilla Macaron TrifleThe magic lies in the beauty and simplicity of the fruit juice jelly with suspended fresh fruit within. One look at the dragon fruit, the black and white contrast, and the luscious strawberries in the fridge … and a small voice in my head said “Why not? Why ever not?”

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly So to keep with the flavours, I did a mixed jelly … litchi juice for the dragon fruit and cranberry juice for the strawberries. How good can good get? The result was fab. I know because I could hear the goblets being scraped clean. Thankfully there was plenty.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly There is nothing like glassware to set jelly in. I used a variety of glassware just because I wasn’t in the mood for monotony. I used brandy goblets, stemmed glasses and a few shot glasses too. I think stemless brandy glasses would work well too. Or maybe these beauties from Urban Dazzle which are one of my favourites.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly The dessert needs a little pre-planning. Since there are two flavours of jelly, one needs to set first, then the other follows. I was a bit impatient so the colours merged a little. No issues though. They still tasted brilliant. I think I managed one a little closer to how I would have liked them all to be.

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly Dressing up the jellies is the fun part. Pipe over some barely sweetened low fat pillowy soft cream {I used an Ikea funnel}, garnish with colourful fruit, add a sprig of fresh mint … and go HO HO HO!!

Dragon fruit & Strawberry Christmas Jelly

Have a safe, delicious and fun holiday season. Joyeux Noël dear readers, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas 2013

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Cooking| Sriracha Style Sweet-Red Chili Dipping Sauce … some like it hot!

“The time has come the walrus said to talk of other things,
of sauce and chips and sealing jars,
red chilies and their sting!”

Sriracha style Sweet-Chili Dipping SauceIt’s the end of a cold blistery winter on the plains of North India, and now is the best part of the year. Spring is in the air, albeit for just a clutch of days, and is a celebration of flower beds bursting with colour, birds, butterflies, vibrant fresh produce, making the atmosphere ideal for all things creative. This is the time to make the most of the few good days before the searing summer heat descends on us. Spring in North IndiaThe bazaars are bursting with farm fresh vegetables and the overladen baskets of ripe red tomatoes {prices at ridiculous as Rs 4 a kilo in Hyderabad, 1$=Rs44}, bell peppers and red chilies tempt you to do something with them. For long I’ve wanted to make a Sriracha  style sauce posted on White on Rice’s beautiful blog. Have searched high and low for tiny hot Thai red chillies, but  it’s proved futile as they remain elusive here … Then one day, to my rescue came my knight in shining armour – as always, good old Twitter! Red chili peppersA tweet for ‘an alternative to Thai red chilies’ had the super talented & lovely Leela @ She Simmers suggest I could use red jalapeños. Now why did I never think of that? A quick check of the red chilies at the local vendor gave me hope, lots of it. Cross checking with a few vendors I was able to confirm that the heat element in the local red chili peppers is far greater than that in the green ones. I was soon back armed with 250gms of the prettiest red chilies priced at a ridiculous Rs 15 {30cents}.Red chili peppersThis post is written with Sana in mind, a sweet reader of my blog, who writes to me often for advice, with feedback, with appreciation and makes me believe that I have made a difference to her culinary happiness. She asked me the other day if I could post something with the local red chilies that are flooding the market, something other than red chili pickle she asked! This dipping sauce is for her, and she’s offered to send me her MILs stuffed red chili pickle recipe. Who would ever imagine that life can be so fulfilling & delicious. Who was to know that a few red chilies can make a difference!!Sriracha style Sweet-Chili Dipping SauceIMHO, you can live with Sriracha, but you can’t live without it!! I had  longed to make this delicious dipping sauce, a sauce which works well with seafood of course, but also beautifully with other batter fried foods, Indian pakoras/fritters, batter fried onion rings {my son’s fave}, olive oil crackers {the daughters fave}, fried fish/chicken, buttermilk breaded chicken, to give mayonnaise or a marinade a chili kick, in a sandwich, with burgers, lavished in a chicken/cottage cheese roll. It offers Asian fusion at its best!! Though an Asian sauce, it works beautifully with most cuisines; after all what’s not to love about chili-garlic-sweet? Did I forget French fries with sweet chili spiked tomato sauce?Sriracha style Sweet-Chili Dipping SauceWith thanks to Todd & Diane for the several inspired posts of Asian foods and sauces, I stopped on the recipe page of sweet chili dipping sauce in my Thermomix recipe book. With basic ingredients that can be found on shelves in every home, this is a great accompaniment to spice up your platter. Use the recipe as a guide and play around with quantities to suit your palette.

Sriracha is the name for a Thai hot sauce named after the coastal city of Si Racha, in the Chonburi Province of central Thailand, where it was first produced for dishes served at local seafood restaurants. It is a paste of chili peppers, distilled vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt. Sriracha is a common condiment in many Asian restaurants and increasingly found in American and European homes. Sriracha style Sweet-Chili Dipping SauceTraditional Thai Sriracha tends to be tangier, sweeter, and thicker in texture (higher viscosity) than non-Thai. In Thailand, Sriracha is frequently used as a dipping sauce.

Keep the seeds in if you like it hot, or deseed the red chili peppers to make the sauce milder. Taste as you go seems to be the mantra as with most sauces. I’ve made this a couple of times. Sriracha style Sweet-Chili Dipping SauceThe first time I found it to be a little runny, so I thickened it with some cornflour mixed in water, and cooked it till it got to the right consistency. Not sure if this was the right or the purists way of doing it, but it worked fine for me. The next time I just simmered it over low heat till it looked right. I do love the pretty colour it has, vibrant and exciting.

Sriracha style Sweet-Chili Dipping Sauce

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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