Chicken and Vegetable skewers are one of my favorite things to make. I love meals where I can take care of the protein and vegetables in one-shot. Depending on my family’s mood, we eat it with a garden salad, or with toasted Pitas and Hummus, and of course, one of our favorite combinations is with delicious and fragrant Lemon Rice! These skewers make for great finger foods for entertaining as well!
This meal is super quick to put together too, which makes it very weeknight friendly. I buy pre-cut chicken from Trader Joe’s. Rinse and soak my basmati rice while I prep the vegetables. Dice up some onions, bell peppers and zucchini. Make a marinade with greek yogurt and dry spices. Toss chicken and veggies in the marinade and thread them onto bamboo skewers. I typically end up broiling these skewers, simply due to a texture preference. I have elaborated more on that in the next paragraph. Simultaneously, set the rice in my Instant Pot. In the end, this meal is at the table in under 30 minutes. I serve this with a Garden Salad with a lemon vinaigrette or a Greek salad sometimes.
Different cooking techniques result in different textures for the Chicken and Vegetable skewers. How you cook them is entirely your preference. I have for you 3 ways you can cook your skewers, and here’s what to expect from a texture standpoint. If you grill them or broil them in the oven, there is subtle char-broiled flavor that gets infused in the chicken and vegetables. The vegetables get cooked, but not all the way through and still retain their crunch. If you cook your skewers in the pressure cooker along with the Lemon rice, the chicken will be super moist and the vegetables will be tender, more like a steamed texture. You can choose vegetables that take a longer time cook, like turnips, carrots, potato cubes instead. My family prefers grilling or broiling them.
To make an all-vegetarian version of this dish, you can substitute chicken cubes with Paneer cubes or Extra-Firm Tofu cubes. Follow the recipe and marination process. If grilling them, reduce the time to 2-3 minutes per side, flipping them once. Continue Reading…
This super easy and delicious soup is a perfect finale to any day! Chicken Tortilla Soup is a Mexican traditional soup, where the broth is simmered with tomato, onions, garlic and spices, and fried tortilla chips are sprinkled before serving.
This simple, 20 minute, one-pot version is my go-to recipe at the end of a long day- I just put all the ingredients in and turn the Instant Pot on- I call it a fill-it, shut-it, forget-itmeal! You can customize it by adding your choice of vegetables, meat and your favorite toppings- sour cream, shredded cheese and of course- Tortilla chips!
This easy soup can be cooked on the stove-top too. Follow the same instructions and simmer the soup, covered for 20 minutes. I like to make variations of this soup and add vegetables to make it more hearty and healthy for my family.
Prep: Chop garlic and vegetables. Slice Chicken breast into 2. I find the chicken to be more flavorful this way.
Turn on Instant Pot on Sauté. Wait 30 seconds for it to heat. Add oil, onions and garlic. Sauté for 1 minute.
Add all the vegetables, broth, beans, corn, tomato paste, spices and chicken breasts. Stir well. Close the lid, set vent to "sealing". Cook on Manual (high pressure) for 6 minutes.
Let pressure release naturally, take out chicken breasts and shred them using two forks. Put them back in the soup. Add chopped cilantro, squeeze of a lime and top with your favorite toppings- cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips.
Biryani is a rice-based dish, which is made by cooking rice with marinated meat (or vegetables), with yogurt and warm spices. It’s typically made with Basmati or any long grain rice and has many variations all over India. It can be made with chicken, lamb or beef. The vegetarian biryani is typically made with paneer (Indian cottage cheese) and fresh vegetables.
There are many theories about the origin of ‘Biryani’. The popular one is the it originated in Persia and was brought to India by the Mughals. This theory believes that Biryani is an Indian adaptation of the Persian Pilaf.
There are two basic ways of cooking a Biryani- Kachhi (meaning ‘raw’) Biryani, where marinated meat is cooked with partially cooked rice. Since the rice is 50% cooked before adding to the biryani pot, no additional water is added and the juices released by the meat and marinade are enough to finish the cooking process. The result is a harmony of flavors where the rice is often multi-colored, depending on what is was closest to in the pot- the meat, the fried onions or the saffron. The other way of making biryani is where a meat curry if prepared first and then the rinsed and soaked rice is cooked in the curry. Between the two, the Kacchi Biryani seems to be the more popular one and is served in restaurants, world over. Traditionally, this is a slow-cooked recipe that takes a couple of hours to make. I’ve made a 30 minute version of it using my electric pressure cooker- the Instant Pot.
This Chicken and Rice recipe uses a few non-traditional ingredients like Chaat masala and SmokedPaprika, the flavor boost that these two ingredients bring to the marinated meat is amazing. Chaat masala is actually a blend of coriander seeds, cumin seeds, caraway seeds (ajwain), mango powder, garam masala, black rock salt and black peppercorns. It is often used as a seasoning for salads, fruits, grilled meats and vegetables and yogurt dips (Raita). Just a little bit of Chaat masala adds a lot of depth to the meat during the marination process in this recipe. Paprika on the other hand, adds a smoky peppery taste and color, which infuses in the meat when the biryani is steam-cooked. These two ingredients are optional, but highly recommended. I have been using this recipe for years now and whenever I entertain with it, it ends up being a crowd pleaser.
Multiplying this recipe is easy. To double up this recipe, create alternate layers of chicken and rice, basically repeating step 3 in the order mentioned. Enjoy it with a chunky Cucumber-Mint Raita (cucumber yogurt dip- recipe in ingredients section), or a Garden salad with a squeeze of lime.
Before I got my Instant Pot, I used to cook it in my stove-top pressure cooker. Here’s how:
Follow all instructions and assemble the biryani in the pressure cooker. Close the cooker and place it on medium-hi heat.
As soon as the first whistle goes, reduce heat to medium and cook for 6 minutes.
Alternatively, after the first whistle, remove the pressure cooker, place a flat skillet(frying pan) on the stove and place the pressure cooker in that. Continue cooking on medium-high heat. This will ensure that your chicken doesn’t burn at the bottom of your pressure cooker.
CUCUMBER-MINT RAITA (Yogurt Dip- mix everything together and refrigerate till serving):
1 english cucumber, chopped fine
2 cups plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar (optional, but highly recommended)
1 tablespoon chopped mint
Rinse and soak rice in warm water. Prepare marinade by mixing together yogurt, olive oil, lime juice, ginger-garlic paste, salt, spices, 2 tablespoon chopped cilantro & mint. Mix well. Add the chicken thighs and coat well with marinade. Keep aside while you par-boil the rice.
Rinse and strain rice. In boiling water add the rice along with 1/2 teaspoon garam masala and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Cook rice on high-heat for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and strain the rice. This step can also be done in the microwave for the same time.
Turn on the Instant Pot on sauté mode. Layer chicken evenly. Top with the remaining marinade. Layer the par-boiled rice evenly all over the chicken. Sprinkle fried onions on top followed by chopped cilantro-mint. Add cashews and sprinkle 1 teaspoon garam masala. Pour the saffron-milk evenly followed by melted butter. (if you used a thick yogurt for marinade, start by adding 1/4 cup water in the inner pot followed by chicken)
Close the lid. Turn off sauté. Press Manual (High pressure) for 6 minutes, while the vent is in sealing position. Allow for pressure to release naturally. Open the lid and carefully fluff up the biryani without breaking the rice. Enjoy as-is or with a cucumber-yogurt dip!
Chicken Vindaloo is a popular Indian curry dish from the western coast. It’s a local adaptation of the Portuguese dish, carne de vinha d’alhos, which literally means, meat marinated in wine and garlic- how can you go wrong with that! With many variations of this curry across the Goan region, this dish is traditionally prepared with pork, but it is versatile enough to be made with lamb, goat, beef or chicken.
This is my take- a simplified, Instant Pot version of this slow-cooked classic. I use local dried asian chillies, rehydrate them and blend with onions, ginger, garlic and vinegar. A hint of sugar or coconut milk balances out the tang and spice. Pair it with rice or toasted french bread. All on the table in under 30 minutes!
Soak dry chillies in 1/2 cup hot water. Keep aside for 10 minutes. Turn ON Instant pot on sauté mode. Add oil and heat for 30 seconds. Add onions and sauté for 2 minutes, till soft. Turn off the Instant Pot. Cool onions for 5 minutes.
Transfer the onions in a blender, add re-hydrated red chillies with their liquid, ginger-garlic paste, red wine vinegar, all dry spices, salt and sugar. Purée into a smooth paste.
Turn ON Instant pot. Add spice purée, 1/2 cup water, chicken thighs and mix well. Close the lid, turn the vent to sealing position. Cook on Manual (high-pressure) for 6 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally (NR). Serve with steamed rice or toasted french bread. Enjoy!
Even though this recipe uses chilies as a base, the curry is not too spicy. It has the flavor from the chilies, not that much heat. If you prefer a milder flavor, de-seed the dry chilies before soaking them in water, OR, do half the chilies along with 1 tablespoon paprika powder.
For chicken, I tried browning the meat before adding in the sauce, but didn't notice any major difference. So, I skip the browning process when making this dish with chicken. I do that when I'm making this with lamb though.