Serves: 2-3 (6-7 portions)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 17-20 mins
Expertise Level: EXTREMELY Easy
Ingredients Availability: You would need to go to a supermarket for pak choi. However, one can always use substitutes like Spinach.
- Taste Palate: Medium Spicy flavour. A good starter dish when you call friends over.
- Ambience: Dim Yellow Lights in your living room or your terrace in the evening. Music in the background. Close buddies.
- Music: Well, since you have your friends over, the music needs to do two things: 1) Set the mood right for a long and fun evening 2) Allow conversations. In my opinion there are only two genres of music that help allow that for two different sets of people. One set will be fine with some good classic rock. Nothing can ever go wrong. They invite conversations of life from the past or people just start singing along. The latter bit depends on high “spirits” ofcourse.
For the more musically evolved ones, some massive attack, some portishead, some al di meola, would be wonderful.
200g Boneless Chicken Breasts, sliced in cubes
1 Pak Choi, (you could use spinach if you’d like)
2 Red Bell Peppers (capsicum wont do justice but one could always try 🙂 )
1 small Onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Basil Leaves, chopped
1/2 tsp Coriander stems, finely chopped
1/2 tsp Palm Sugar
1 tsp Vinegar
1/2 tsp Ginger, finely chopped or grated
1/2 tsp Garlic, finely chopped
2 Green Chillies, finely chopped
2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground
For the Marinate
1 tsp Salt
1 tbsp Green Chilly Sauce
1 whole lemon, squeezed
I marinate the chicken with salt, green chilly sauce and lemon, and leave it for an hour in the refrigerator. If any of your friends are travelling to Kolkata, ask them to get the local green chilly sauce from there. I can never get over the Kolkata roadside chowmein and the famous chicken rolls that ooze flavours because of this special chilly sauce.
Now while my chicken marinates, I roast the bell peppers and the tomato directly on a low flame, until the skin is charred.I also make sure that the bell pepper has softened a bit because its skin chars rather quickly but the flesh needs more time to cook. So give it sometime till it softens. Once that is done, take it off the flame and peel the skin off. I then remove the seeds from the bell peppers and the tomato and chop them to small pieces. Now at this point you realize your are bored to cook the chicken, make a quick salsa dip with the two. 🙂 More of that later. 🙂
Prep is done. So now I heat a wok in a low flame and add the oil. Then I put in my aromatics -ginger, garlic and chillies and stir for a minute. You should get a lovely or how the Australians say it – “beautiful aromas” from your wok. Now I add the onions and sweat them until they are pink. Then I add the bell peppers and the tomato along with the salt. I add 1/2 a cup of water and put a lid on. I let it cook for 12 minutes and stir it occasionally. You will see that the bell pepper has started to soften even more . You could do this in an oven too. It will be less stressful. Now, I mash them up slightly with my spindle however leave them, to be a bit chunky for an added texture. Now its time to cook my chicken. So I add the chicken, mix well with the bell peppers and put the lid on for 5 mins. Stir it a couple of times in between. Now I add the coriander, pepper, palm sugar and basil leaves at this point and stir the chicken for 2 minutes more till its cooked. I keep checking the chicken as I dont want to over cook them. Now I add some vinegar and take it off the stove.
Now the fun part of presenting the chicken begins. In a flat pan or a grill pan, I stir fry the pak choi leaves for a couple of minutes. Add salt to taste and take it off the flame. I cut the stem out and then place the small portion of chicken on each leaf. I roll them up and fix it with a tooth pick. You could use spinach as well. It will be just fine :). I bought pakchoi for the first time and tried this recipe with it and it tasted quite good. So there is no rule to what leaf you want to use. Except, please don’t use lettuce. Its so overrated.
Serve it to your friends as a starter salad with drinks, and yep they will love you all your life for some smashing flavours.
Food Marriage Tips
1) Chicken marinate should always have salt and something acidic. You can use lemon or vinegar.
2) Roasted Bell peppers go really well with Basil. Its true for tomatoes too. You may choose not to use basil for this recipe because you could go fully oriental but generally bell peppers and basil leaves go very well together.
3) A whole chicken breast(beaten flat) cooked on flame takes max of 15 mins to cook (7 minutes on one side and around 5 mins on the other side). And small chunks cook in just 5-7 mins. Lot of us Indians have the habit of cooking the whole chicken together for 45 mins or more especially while making curries. Separate the breast pieces out before cooking. Use it for another recipe, or add them in the last 5-10 minutes of your cooking. Now you know why chicken is tough to chew in restaurants.