Tag Archives: chicken

From the heart

20 Oct

How about a food that is low in sodium, as well as a good source of folate, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of protein, riboflavin, vitamin B12, iron and zinc? Well, nothing is perfect, it has also a high cholesterol content. But, to compensate that, besides being very nutritious it’s also dam tasty.

Chicken hearts, that’s what I’m talking about. In Brazil, they are a mandatory presence in a BBQ, as appetizers, specially in the southern areas of the country.

Chicken hearts

Chicken hearts

Last Sunday I took 1,0 kg (around 2,0 pounds) of chicken hearts, trimmed the excess fat (remember, it’s high in cholesterol), seasoned with salt and pepper, and placed them in a special device I received as a gift from my friend Renan. It’s like a cylindric grill that you fill with chicken hearts and place over the fire turning around now and then to get an even cooking.

Speciall grill for chicken hearts

Cylindric grill for chicken hearts (Posing for pictures out of the fire. Yes, that on the back are pork ribs)

After around 45-60 min they are ready. In Brazil we usually serve them with manioc flour and an ice cold beer (even though I prefer a red wine).

Grilled chicken hearts with manioc flour

Grilled chicken hearts with manioc flour

Ok, let’s assume you don’t have such a cylindric grill, nor a Brazilian style BBQ pit, but you still would like to try some chicken hearts (and I recommend you to do that). Then maybe you can take a look at the 1956 grilled chicken heart recipe from the father of American gastronomy, James Beard (yes, some of us have heard of him in Brazil).

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Chicken Heart on Foodista

Chicken Korma

15 Sep

“Korma” (also kormaa, khorma or kurma)  is a dish from the Muglai area, now partitioned between India and Pakistan.  It’s made with yogurt, nuts, several spices (cinnamon, cardamom, garlic, red pepper, coriander, cumin, and turmeric yellow, among others), coconut and coconut milk.

Vegetarians and non-vegetarians kormas exist.  I had chicken korma, at Raja Rani (Friedrichstrasse, 15, Heidelberg/Germany), a restaurant I’ve mentioned in an earlier post.

Briefly, diced onions are fried in clarified butter (“ghee”) to which the spices are added.  The chicken,which in some variations is previously marinated in yogurt, is then added and left to cook until tender (keep it moist adding water as needed).  When almost ready it’s time to add fresh coconut and coconut milk.

Chicken korma over Basmati rice

Chicken korma over Basmati rice

The dish was served over Basmati rice with some sliced almonds on top.  The overall impression was very nice, although I believe the chef abused a bit too much on the coconut, which dominated the dish almost entirely.  It was a bargain though, only about US$ 5,00 for a “small”dish (enough to feed one hungry traveller – as a matter of fact the difference between “small” and “large” seemed to me to be the size of the plate itself, as food portions were rather similar).

Korma on Foodista

Chicken tandori masala

22 Jul

I just had my first experience with Indian food, on a restaurant called Raja Rani (Friedrichstrasse, 15, Heidelberg/Germany) and, although I don’t have any parameter for a fair comparison, I enjoyed it. The chosen dish to start this experience was the famous chicken tandori masala.

Raji Rani, place of my first experience with India food

Raji Rani, place of my first experience with Indian food

I’m quite sure everyone knows what a chicken is, although I can’t even imagine how many do know that it’s a member of the Phasianidae family of the species Gallus gallus.  Anyway, I’ll not waste my time (or yours) talking about that. On the other hand, I’m also not sure of how many of you do know the meaning of either “tandori” or “masala”.

Tandori refers to a traditional way of preparing food in several Middle East countries, as well as in India and Bangladesh.  It’s based on the “tandoor”, a cylindrical vertical clay oven where the heat is generated by charcoal or wood fire. That’s where the traditional chicken tandori is cooked.

Masala is a mixture of spices, with variations throughout India, usually containing cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, garlic, chili and turmeric (curcuma) yellow.  In this case it’s a mixture used to cook in the tandoor, hence, “tandori masala”.

For this dish, typical of the Punjabi cuisine, the chicken is covered with a mixture of yogurt and the tandoori masala, and then slowly roasted in the tandoor.

It’s usually served with Basmati rice, a long grain delicate rice grown mainly in India and Pakistan.

Chicken tandori masala over Basmati rice

Chicken tandori masala over Basmati rice

I really enjoyed the dish, the chicken was tender and the sauce full of taste.  It mixed quite well with the Basmati rice, kind of breaking its natural delicate taste.  The price was also quite interesting, around US$ 5,00 for a small portion, which was more than enough for a single person.

Tandoori Chicken on Foodista
Indian Masala on Foodista
Tandoor Cooking on FoodistaTandoor Cooking

Gyros or döner kebab?

20 Jul

Around 17 years ago, when I had the opportunity of working in Germany as a guest Professor, one of the most popular fast foods in the Bonn area was “gyrus”, a Greek specialty which literally translates as  turning, served with “tzatiziki”, a wonderful fresh cucumber and yogurt sauce.

Well, I arrived in Heidelberg this morning and was quite amazed to see that “gyrus” is almost unknown and that the Turkish “döner kebap” (or kebab) has taken its place (Interested in kebap? Take a look at the post on Adana Kebap).  Not that the Turkish variation may not be as good as the Greek one (I tried the one served at Charisma, Bergheimstr., 35 – GPS 49.408557 Lat. N, 8.688898 Long. E), but it’s surelly different, as it never contains pork for religious reasons (I personally prefer pork to chicken).

Preparing Döner

Preparing Döner (sorry, but the picture I took was completely dark, as I don't like to use flash and employ a Nokia phone camera)

Charisma, Bergheimerstrasse, 35, Heidelberg, Germany

Charisma, Bergheimerstrasse, 35, Heidelberg, Germany

I had my döner with an Erdinger Weissbier, and I’m aware that a chikcken döner with Erdinger is not the most wonderful start for Germany, but it was what could be done at the prevailing conditions.  I don’t intend to visit this place again, as the meat (chicken) was a bit dry and the sauce (which was not really tzatiziki – was it intended to be?) almost tasteless.  The ambiance was acceptable, an outside table on a bright summer day, and the price friendly (around US$ 8,00 with the beer)

Chicken and lamb doener kebap

Chicken and lamb döner kebap

Let me cross my fingers and see what dinner will bring.  Will try to stick to a more typical of German meal, something like a Bratwurst, for example.

P.S.:  I have just been informed by my son that, luckily, the Greek specialty has kept its place in the most northern parts of the country.

Gyros on Foodista
Döner Kebab on Foodista

Chinese Style Chicken and Noodle Soup

4 Jun

I don`t like even the idea of having a hot liquid sliding down my throat in a hot summer day, but everything changes during the winter.  It`s the only season I find a soup acceptable.  And since winter is back to the south side of the planet, lets make it tasteful and simple.

Prepare a good chicken and vegetable stock.  You can make one by boiling for 45 min to 1 h (depending on the size and type of the vegetables used – do not overcook) a chicken breast , some vegetables (carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, etc) with the spices you like (cloves, black peppercorns, finely sliced ginger, etc).  I usually drop a small piece of star anise in mine. Don`t forget the salt. Pour through a fine strainer and you`re done. Separate the chicken breast and cut it into bite size pieces. You can keep the stock frozen for one week or two.

Interesting to mention that Chinese don`t really make their stocks spicy, as they believe that spicing may mask the flavor of the chicken.  Spices may be added later depending on the use of the stock.  Such thin soups are even employed as beverage during a meal (no, they usually don`t drink jasmine tea with their meals).  Also, employing the whole chicken, rather than specific cuts or the bones, to prepare the stock, as done in Europe, is much more common.

Put the stock back in the pot and bring it to boil.  Place a Chinese steamer over it and cook, for a few minutes, some sliced carrots, green beans, etc. Put the noodles in the stock and let them cook for a couple of minutes.

Place the noodles in a bowl and add the chicken breast and vegetables.  Some sliced red pepper (I usually unseed them) and coriander (or parsley) are added on the top.  Pour some hot stock in the bowl and add 1-2 spoons of soy sauce.  You`re ready to go.

My Chinese chicken and vegetables soup bowl

My Chinese chicken and vegetables soup bowl

After eating the chicken, noodles and vegetables with the aid of your chopsticks (筷子 = kuàizi) drink the stock directly from the bowl. By the way, a few words on chopsticks from “Study in China“:

When the Chinese began to use chopsticks as an eating instrument is anybody’s guess. They were first mentioned in writing in Liji (The Book of Rites), a work compiled some 2,000 years ago, but certainly they had their initial form in the twigs which the primitive Chinese must have used to pick up a roast after they began to use fire. It is likely that people cooked their food in large pots which retained heat well, and hasty eaters then broke twigs off trees to retrieve the food. The earliest evidence of a pair of chopsticks made out of bronze was excavated from Yin Ruin’s Tomb 1005 at Houjiazhuang, Anyang, Henan province, dated roughly 1200 BC.

The pieces of food were small enough that they negated the need for knives at the dinner table, and chopsticks became staple utensils. It is also thought that Confucius, a vegetarian, advised people not to use knives at the table because knives would remind them of the slaughterhouse.

Simply a pair of chopsticks can fulfill all the functions at table, and compared with western table wares of “waving knife”, they have a sense of “harmony.” And chopsticks are seen as lucky items in ceremonies by many nationalities.

Chinese chopsticks are usually 9 to 10 inches long and rectangular with a blunt end. Bamboo has been the most popular material because it is inexpensive, readily available, easy to split, resistant to heat, and has no perceptible odor or taste.

Some Chinese bamboo chopsticks

Some Chinese bamboo chopsticks

The use of chopsticks requires some etiquette, with small differences among distinctive countries.  Some Chinese rules are:

  • Don`t  tap chopsticks on the edge of one’s bowl, as beggars make this noise to attract attention;
  • Don`t spear food with a chopstick;
  • Don`t  point chopsticks towards others seated at the table;
  • Don`t stuck the chopsticks vertically into a bowl (specially of rice) as this resembles incense burning, which remindes death in general.
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