Mexican Fusion Pita Pockets

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Change is the only constant; people are always on the lookout for something fresh, something that enthralls them. Ordinary is now associated with boring. The same is true for food too; no wonder molecular gastronomy and fusion cuisine are such a rage these days.

As a self-proclaimed food aficionado, I’m always on the lookout for new culinary experiences. At times, I pick ingredients hallmark of a specific culinary tradition and mix them up with others; the results can be anywhere between disastrous and exemplary. Fortunately, the Middle-eastern Mexican Fusion recipe I’m about to share with you is towards the latter end of the spectrum.

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 3-4 people

Hummus

  • 1 cup boiled chickpeas
  • ½ tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 green chili
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1½ cups yogurt

Method

  1. Add all hummus ingredients in a blender and mix till it forms a fine paste
  2. Pour the hummus out in a bowl

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Chicken Filling

  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • 3-4 mushrooms
  • ½ chicken breast cut into small cubes (1 cm2)
  • ¼ red bell pepper
  • ¼ yellow bell pepper
  • ¼ green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoon sambal (use less for a milder flavor – if you can’t find sambal, you can use 1 tablespoon ground chili paste instead)
  • 4-5 tablespoon hummus
  • 1 tomato (chopped)
  • ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste (as sambal is already a bit salty)

Method

  1. Take a pan and heat the olive oil
  2. Add in the garlic and fry on medium for a minute
  3. Add the chicken to the pan and once it turns white, add in the mushrooms too
  4. Once the chicken is tender, add the red, green and yellow bell peppers to the pan
  5. Stir in the sambal, hummus and salt and cook for about 30 seconds
  6. Add in the tomatoes and take the pan off the heat

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Final Assembly

  • 10-12 mini pita breads (you can use regular pita bread too)
  • 10-12 leaves of Iceberg lettuce
  • Sambal
  • Hummus

Method

  1. Pull apart the two pita layers till it forms a pocket
  2. Spread some hummus on one layer, sambal on the other and a lettuce leaf in between
  1. Add in the chicken mix and serve immediately  

Pizza Pasta: Two Italian To Resist

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Italy may be famous for its fashion and architecture, but more so for its cuisine. There are two Italian experiences that food aficionados cannot seem to get enough of; Pizza and Pasta. The endless ways these two can be created with is what truly sets these two dishes apart. You may choose to create a Tandoori Pizza or a Mexican Pasta, adjusting the ingredients to suit you own palate, and no one would bat an eye. That’s one of the reasons why these are two of the most readily available food items across the globe. You may not find a single French restaurant to satiate your Ratatouille needs within your city, but you’ll certainly find many serving a variety of authentic (or adopted) Pizzas and Pastas.

Back when I was a kid, I used to hate vegetables; what’s more, I used to detest cheese (can you believe this?). Pizza changed my life. I started enjoying these then-outlandish ingredients including Mushrooms, Olives and Jalapeños; mine was an instant love affair with Oregano. One of the first memories I have of my kitchen adventures is making Pizza at home; luckily, it turned out to be a smash hit with friends and family. There was no turning back after that, and it wasn’t long before I started relishing the rich, cheesy goodness of Pasta too.

My kitchen is my sanctuary and I love trying out new recipes. I often step into the kitchen with a specific craving, but there are these rare moments of insanity when I attempt to create something new. I still remember that balmy July afternoon some two years back; I came home from work and headed straight to the kitchen, only to be greeted by empty pots and pans. As my wife hadn’t cooked anything, I told her I’d try something experimental, something that would satisfy my Pizza/Pasta (a.k.a. P&P) craving. That memorable culinary escapade resulted in the masterpiece you are about to drool all over starting… NOW!

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Servings: 3 persons

Ingredients

  • 4 cups boiled pasta (I used Penne but you can use whatever you prefer)
  • 150 grams chicken breasts (cut into ¼ inch thick strips)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
  • ½ medium-sized onion (diced)
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 pinch of oregano
  • ½ teaspoon Ajino Moto (Mono Sodium Glutamate – optional)
  • 3-4 tablespoon chili sauce
  • 4 tablespoon pizza sauce
  • 4 mushrooms (sliced)
  • 6-8 slices of pickled jalapenos
  • 3-4 olives (pitted and sliced)
  • ½ cup sweet corn kernels
  • ½ capsicum (medium) – diced
  • 2 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
  • 6-8 tomato dices for garnish
  • 6-8 slices of garlic bread to serve on the side

Method

  1. Put pan on a stove and turn it on to medium
  2. Add olive oil to the pan
  3. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic and onions to the oil and cook for a minute
  4. Add chicken and mushrooms to the pan and cook till the chicken is tender
  5. Add salt, pepper, red chili flakes, oregano, Ajino moto, chili sauce, and pasta sauce to the chicken and cook for a minute
  6. Add, jalapenos, corn, capsicum, olives, mayonnaise, cheddar and mozzarella to the sauce and mix well
  7. Turn the stove off as soon as the cheese is melted and stringy, as you don’t want to overcook the vegetables
  8. Gently fold in the penne pasta so that it is coated evenly with the mixture; patience is essential as you don’t want to turn it into a pulp
  9. Serve with a garnish of cheese, a dash of oregano, tomatoes, and a few slices of garlic bread on the side; I prefer using a cooking torch to give a nice char to the cheese

If you’re on the lookout for a rustic, delectable and hearty meal, this recipe fits the bill perfectly and satisfies your P&P cravings. Needless to say, you can add as little or as much of anything listed above to suit your taste; moreover, you can add a host of pizza toppings into the pasta, like pepperoni, sausages, minced beef, pineapples, etc. I assure you that this creamy, cheesy, aromatic dish is a “party in your mouth” just waiting to happen, so why not get started right away?

Buon Appetito!

Published in The Express Tribune (International Herald Tribune) on 14 April, 2016.