Sundays are kinda relaxed in my house. Its family time with a peaceful mornings watching cartoons with our little one, followed by a nice brunch, may be a trip to the supermarket or the mall, some errands here and there, a few chores in between and then its time for the Sunday dinner. With dishes like Herb Marinated Lamb Chops, Chicken Pulav with Creamy Carrot Raita and Berries with Choco-Rum Sauce on the menu, we make Sunday a “fun day” indeed!
Herb Marinated Lamb Chops
Lamb chops are my new found love! A few weeks ago, I tried lamb chops for the very first time at Casa Mono, a Spanish Tapas by Mario Batali in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of NYC. The lamb chops were grilled to perfection and when I took the first bite, it just melted in my mouth. This unforgettable experience was an inspiration to this recipe.
I marinate the lamb chops in a citrusy cilantro-mint marinade and sear them in a pan on high heat to lock in the juices and to form a dark brown crust. Then I finish them off by roasting them in the oven for a few minutes along with the remaining marinade. The roasting process cooks the meat and slightly warms up the marinade, which forms a complementary sauce for the chops. The sauce maintains its nice green color and its fresh flavor as it does not get a chance to fully cook and enhances the flavor of the juicy tender lollipops of meat.
Posing like ballet dancers in a beautiful formation, these chops are a little bites of heaven!
3 lamb chops (I picked up the pre-packaged New Zealand Lamb Chops at Wholefoods)
For the marinade:
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (pudina), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro/coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
fresh ground black pepper
3-4 tbsp EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
Generously season the lamb chops with salt and fresh ground pepper and keep aside.
In a food processor, combine all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well pulse it several times. Pour all of the marinade over lamb chops and massage them a little making sure each chop is well coated with the marinade. Cover with a plastic wrap and let it sit in the refrigerator for about an hour.
Preheat oven to 400 deg F.
Heat a flat pan or an iron skillet on medium high heat. When the pan is sufficiently hot, shake and remove excess marinade and sear the chops on the pan for about 4 mins on each side, till a dark brown crust is formed. Place them on a baking sheet, pour the remaining marinade over the chops and finish cooking them in the oven for about 5 mins or until they are done to the desired level.
Chicken Pulav (Pulao/Pilaf)
(Rice with Chicken)
Pulav or Pilaf is a North Indian delicacy and is one of the most popular rice dishes made for everyday meals or for special occassions like parties or even banquets. Indians routinely make this dish with different vegetables like potatoes, peas, green beans or with chicken, mutton (lamb or goat) or even prawns (shrimps). As tasty as Biryani, which is layered rice and meat or vegetable dish, the Pulav, which is simply a seasoned rice dish, is much easier and quicker to make.
In my recipe, I start off by carmelizing onions along with some whole spices and herbs and then sauté the chicken and rice together with the onions to give the characteristic light brown color to this Pulav. I also use chicken stock instead of water which adds incredible flavor to this dish. Simmering on the hot stove, this one pot concoction slowly releases its wonderful aroma in the kitchen that soon permeates throughout the whole house!
2 cups basmati rice, soaked in water for about 1/2 hour (*1 cup of raw rice makes about 3 cups of cooked rice)
1/2 lb chicken thighs, skinless, boneless or bone in, cut into small pieces
2 medium red (or yellow) onions, peeled and sliced into 1/2 inch strips
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 inch ginger, minced
3-4 tbsp tbsp good oil (canola, sunflower, corn, vegetable) or ghee (clarified butter)
1 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
1 tsp coriander seeds (dhana/dhania)
4-5 green cardamom pods, crushed lightly to break the skin
2 cinnamon sticks, about 1 inch each
4-5 whole black pepper corn
2 bay leaves
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves (pudina), finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro/coriander (dhania), finely chopped and some additional for garnishing
3-4 green chillies, finely chopped
4 cups, purchased chicken stock (you can also use water)
In a thick bottomed large pot with a lid over medium high heat, heat oil and add cumin seeds. When they start to splutter, add onion, ginger and garlic along with codiander seeds, green cardamom, cinnamin, cloves, pepper corns and bay leaves. Sauté for about 5 mins till the onions are translucent and light brown in color. Add the garam masala along with the chicken, fresh mint, cilantro and green chillies. Season with salt and cook covered for about 5 more mins stirring occassionally.
Drain the water from the rice and add the rice to the above mixture. Mix well and stir fry uncovered for a few more minutes. Add the chicken stock or water and simmer covered until all the liquid is absorbed and the chicken and rice are completely cooked. Stir occassionally to make sure it does not stick to the bottom of the pot too much.
Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with cool Creamy Carrot Raita
Creamy Carrot Raita
(Carrot – Yogurt Salad)
Raita is a great accompaniment to any hot and spicy Indian dish. Made with or without yogurt (a lot of typical Maharashtrian raitas or koshimbirs are made without yogurt) they have a super cooling and refreshing effect on the palate.
In my version, shredded carrot and beaten yogurt are tossed with green chillies and cilantro and seasoned with salt and a little bit of sugar. The sugar brings out the sweetness of the carrots and masks any sourness in the yogurt. Simple and healthy, my creamy carrot raita pairs perfectly with the piping hot chicken pulav.
2 cups shredded carrots
2 cups beaten yogurt
fresh cilantro/coriander (dhania), finely chopped for garnishing
1-2 green chillies, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sugar
Toss together shredded carrots and yogurt. Add green chillies and fresh cilantro, season with salt and sugar and serve chilled.
Berries with Choco-Rum Sauce
I love berries, all kinds, blue, black, red (raspberries) and pink (strawberries). In summer when the stores have great deals on all types of berries, I go on a shopping spree. You will definitely find some or all of the berries in my refrigerator anytime during the summer months. Usually, I simply have them plain as a snack or serving of fruit after dinner, but sometimes I like to jazz them up.
Ice cold berries are generously drizzled with hot white chocolate-rum sauce. The white color of the chocolate sauce adds a wonderful silky backdrop to the colorful berries and the rum spikes it up. It’s a great way to enjoy the explosion of berries throughout the summer!
1/2 cup raspberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/2 cup strawberries
For the sauce:
1/2 cup white chocolate chunks or chips (If you have chocolate bar, just chop it coarsely)
2 tbsp heavy/light cream
1 tbsp white rum
3 dashes pure vanilla extract
Pop the berries in the freezer while you prepare the hot chocolate sauce, to get the ice cold effect for the dessert.
Place a heat proof bowl over a small pot of simmering water. Make sure the bowl does not touch the water below.
Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in this bowl and heat just until the chocolate melts, stirring continously, for about 5 – 7 mins.
Remove the berries from the freezer and serve with the hot chocolate -rum sauce drizzled on top.