Ramadan Recipes: Chicken Box Patties

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Ramadan is finally upon us, and with it, the culinary experiences we typically associate with this holy month. The activity in and around the kitchen increases significantly, owing to the maddening aromas emanating from the kitchen right around iftaar (time to break the fast). Family members who usually don’t even bother with the food-prep start hovering around to see what’s on the menu.

I belong to a family of food-lovers. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of my mother planning her iftaar menu weeks before Ramadan. I still remember how she wrote everything on a wall calendar; everything from appetizers to desserts. She made rainbow-colored jelly eggs and lip-smacking kukray (D-shaped samosas with mung daal and minced meat filling),  always on the hunt for new recipes to try. Watching her make those things was the highlight of my day and I have only her to thank for my culinary passion.

The Ramadan dastarkhwan (floor mats/carpets on which food is served) is empty without a selection of appetizers. I know of some families who absolutely positively need to have samosas and pakoras at iftaar, whereas others try different things. Luckily, I belong to the latter group. For me, an appetizer is the most important course, as it is the first thing you attack after breaking the fast. Thinking about first impressions, it can make or break your entire dining experience.

This Ramadan, I shall be sharing with you some appetizers handed down to me and others acquired along the way. The first entrant in this series is Box Patties. These perfect squares, created using samosa strips, are filled with a savory shredded chicken mixture that instantly satiates your spice cravings.

Prep time: 35 minutes for the filling and the box patties + 4 minutes for frying (per batch)

Yields: 18-20 patties

Serving size: 2 patties per person

Ingredients

  • 250 grams chicken breast
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 1 tablespoon garlic paste
  • 1 tablespoon green chili paste
  • 1 tsp salt (for chicken)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 medium potato (boiled and diced)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper (capsicum – diced)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour (stirred in with 1 tablespoon water – for filling)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (for filling)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (for paste)
  • 1 cup water
  • 40-50 samosa pastry strips

Method

  1. Add chicken, ginger paste, garlic paste, green chili paste, salt (for chicken) and water to a pot and cook it till the chicken is tender and the water has dried up
  2. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it and keep it aside
  3. Heat butter in a pan and add the green bell peppers to it; stir-fry for 1 minute
  4. Add soy sauce, salt (for filling), black pepper and red chili flakes to the capsicum and stir for a minute
  5. Add potatoes and the shredded chicken and mix it well
  6. Finally, add the flour and water mixture to the chicken; mix it immediately to prevent the flour from turning the filling too sticky
  7. Cook for a minute before turning the stove off
  8. In a bowl, mix the flour (for paste) in water; microwave for 40-50 seconds to get a thick glue-like consistency
  9. Fold the box patties as instructed in the video
  10. Deep fry in hot oil till the patties are crisp and golden-brown
  11. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

Note: Ramadan is an ideal time to get in touch with your spiritual self, but sometimes, we just get too fixated on food and what to make for iftaar. I prefer making these appetizers in a larger batch and freezing them; they can be used for up to 15 days. This will give you plenty of time to reflect on yourself and significantly lessen your kitchen workload.

Please remember me in your prayers!

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Bakestacy – Cumin-flavoured (Zeera) Biscuits

Food is something that I love (to cook as well as eat), but what I love more about food is the fact that it brings people closer; food has the power to make everything better. (un)Fortunately for me, my mom and my wife are much more seasoned chefs than I am, so I seldom set foot into the kitchen to cook; it’s been almost two months since I cooked something (microwaving instant noodles or popping corn doesn’t count).

Weekends are always fun – there’s never a dull moment, lots of leisure time and plenty of catching up on the past week’s lost sleep. Any special family activities that I can think of (be it an outing or doing something together), I save them for the weekend. After not being able to contain the urge to caress some utensils, I stormed into the kitchen with gusto to try out two tempting cookie recipes.

The first one of these two amazing recipes include Cumin seeds. Cumin seeds (or Zeera – as they are called in Urdu) are an integral part of Pakistani cooking; not only do they give a magnificent aroma to your food, they also help cure indigestion and acidity.

Here is a time-tested recipe (courtesy: Mrs. Yousuf Bawany). Again, it would be selfish of me to take all the credit; not my recipe, not my execution but I did help make them.

Ingredients

  • Flour – 4 oz
  • Castor sugar – 1 oz
  • Egg – 1/2
  • Baking Powder – 3/4 tsp
  • Cumin Seeds (crushed) – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Butter – 2 oz

Method

  1. Sift flour, baking powder and salt
  2. Beat butter and sugar till light and creamy
  3. Beat the egg lightly and add to the butter mixture; continue to beat
  4. Add the cumin seeds to the butter mixture
  5. Once the butter mixture is light and fluffy, fold in the flour mixture using a rubber spatula
  6. This mixture will turn into a soft dough
  7. Using a rolling pin, roll out the dough into a 1/4 inch thick sheet and using a cookie cutter, cut out the biscuits into your favorite shape(s); alternately, you can make little dough balls about 1 inch in diameter and flatten them with your hands to make these biscuits
  8. Spread these molded biscuits out onto a lightly greased baking sheet
  9. Preheat oven on gas mark 4 (180° C) and put them in for about 20 minutes
  10. After taking them out, let them cool down before serving

A batch of these delightful biscuits can make your tea-time extra special. These can last for quite some time if you put them in an air-tight container, so why not head into your kitchen and enjoy some right now?