Monthly Archives: September 2013

Garlic Chicken Tikka-style Kebabs (prepare 12-24 hours prior to when you want to eat them)


This post is dedicated to my friend Tyler.  He’s my super smart electrical engineer, surfer/swimmer, cyclist, and environmentalist.  Almost every weekend he is firing up his grill in his San Diego backyard (who wouldn’t in that year-round awesome weather?).  He often posts a picture of the grilling in-progress on social media and that usually starts some friendly banter between his friends.  Each week it seems like he is elevating his grilling and I’m always encouraging him to up the flair on the seasoning.  Tyler, put the BBQ sauce down this week and give this a try!

So….I am in LOVE with Indian food.  However, some of my friends aren’t.  I am convinced it is because they have only eaten Indian dishes in crappy restaurants (or frozen meals) where the dishes are overly pureed, overcooked, and/or with substandard ingredients.  It’s criminal!  If you ever have the opportunity to have a home-cooked meal prepared by someone of Indian descent, DO IT! It’s a true privilege! I’ve been lucky to have some wonderful home-cooked Indian meals from my Indian friends (especially a particularly memorable feast made by my friend Conal’s mom, Mrs. Charles).  In the mean time, try this recipe for Garlic Chicken Tikka-style Kabobs.  It’s a good introduction to some common flavors of India.  This recipe also is used as a base for some other curry dishes that I will post later.  The recipe is adapted from Neelam Batra’s 1000 Indian Recipes cookbook.  I know, I know, you are probably thinking, 1000 recipes? Sounds like a gimmick for a substandard cookbook.  I assure you, it is not.  It is by far, my favorite cookbook that I own.  Really.



2 Tablespoons – fresh chopped garlic

1/2 Tablespoon – fresh chopped ginger

4 Tablespoons – fresh lemon juice

1 Tablespoon – light olive oil or canola oil

1 Tablespoon – ground coriander

1 teaspoon – ground cumin

1 1/2 teaspoon – garam masala

1/2 teaspoon – ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon – salt

1/2 teaspoon – ground green cardamom

2 lbs – skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1.5 inch pieces (or you can use chicken tenderloin pieces left whole)

bamboo skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes) so they don’t burn

** If you only have garlic or ginger in a jar or lemon juice in the plastic fake lemon, I suppose you could use that (although I gag at the thought).

*** You should be able to find all the spices in a regular grocery store.  If not, you can definitely find them at Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods.  Don’t baulk at the price of the spices (not too bad I think).  Once you make these, you’ll fall in love with them and you will be making them over and over again .


Finishing sauce (after they come off the grill) – totally optional.

1/4 cup-  melted butter – optional

1/2 teaspoon –  garam masala – optional

3 – green onions, sliced – optional


Combine all the ingredients (except for the chicken) in a small food processor, or blender (if you don’t have the “equipment” then make sure that the garlic and ginger are very finely chopped almost until a paste).  Put the chicken pieces in a gallon plastic seal-type bag. Pour the blended wet rub over the chicken.  Close the bag and make sure most of the air is removed.  With your hands outside of the plastic bag, “massage” the chicken pieces to make sure they are well coated.  Let the chicken sit in the wet rub for at least 12 hours, preferable 24 in the fridge.

After the chicken pieces have absorbed all the goodness, skewer some pieces of chicken and then brush a bit of olive oil or use some cooking spray to lightly coat (sometimes I chop an onion and green bell pepper into 2 square in pieces and weave the pieces between the chicken pieces).  Throw them on a preheated (medium-high) grill for 10-15 minutes (5-7 minutes on each side).  * The timing really depends on your grill.  Test one to make sure the chicken is cooked.  You can also bake in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes if access to a grill is not possible.


**Optional – After the skewers are cooked, combine the melted butter and garam masala and brush onto the chicken.  Sprinkle with chopped green onions.  I usually like to serve the kabobs over a bed of basmati rice or an Indian-style pilaf (recipe for next time).

Note: If you are only cooking for one or two persons, you can freeze 1/2 the chicken (after it’s marinated, but before it’s cooked) and use it later.  It defrosts wonderfully in the fridge and makes the flavors even better!


Shepherd’s Pie

I have been battling a hoIMG_1197rrible cold for the past week and was in desperate need of some comfort food.  Being that I was in danger of the family making me some boxed meal, I dragged myself off the couch and decided to make something myself.  When I think of comfort food, one of the dishes I think of is Shepherd’s Pie.  The reason is two-fold.  First, who doesn’t like meat swimming in gravy topped with cheesy mashed potatoes? Shepherd’s Pie checks all those boxes.  Second, it brings back warm memories of when I lived in England.  I went to a boarding school, London Central High School (LCHS), where I developed wonderful lasting relationships with some amazing people.  I didn’t intend to update my blog (I’m also trying to finish my dissertation), however, after posting a picture of the completed Shepherd’s Pie on a social network site last night, I was publicly shamed by my friend Charles (LCHS alum). He, not so gently, reminded me that I haven’t posted any recipes to my blog in the past 6 months! The recipe is loosely adapted from an antique cook book (Radiation Cookery Book) that my friend Chris (LCHS alum) brought me back from England on a recent visit.  Cheers Charles and Chris!

**I’ll try to add a recipe later for homemade gravy, but now the dissertation is calling me.

1lb. – ground beef (or any type of ground meat.  I’ve even made it with a meat substitute before)

1 – large onion, diced

1 cup – cooked carrots, diced

1 cup – cooked green beans, diced (I would use peas, but my family doesn’t like them)

1 cup – brown gravy (I make my own, but you can use store bought if you want)

2 – cloves garlic, diced

1 tablespoon – tomato paste

1 teaspoon – Worcester sauce (optional)

3 pounds – Yukon gold potatoes, cooked (peeled and diced)

2 – eggs, beaten

¾ cup – milk, warmed

¼ cup – butter, melted

1 cup – shredded cheddar (this isn’t traditional of course, but you know, I am American.  We like a bit of excess)

¼ cup – grated (not shredded) Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste


Put potatoes in large pot with 1 teaspoon of salt and enough water to just cover the potatoes.  After potatoes are soft (about 20 minutes), drain them and then mash with the butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste.  I love using a food mill for potatoes, but you can mash them by hand or use a stand mixer.  You want them smooth.  Set aside to cool.

On medium-high heat, brown ground beef with onion and garlic until no longer pink and then drain any excess fat.  Add tomato paste, Worcester sauce (optional), and prepared gravy.  Gently mix in cooked carrots and green beans.  Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Remove the meat mixture and place at the bottom of a quart sized glass casserole dish and smooth out, set aside.

Take the cooled potato mixture and add the beaten eggs.  Gently fold in the cheddar cheese.  Then place the potato mixture on top of the meat mixture.  To make it more decorative, I put the potato mixture in a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe it on top of the meat mixture.  If you do this, you need to make sure that the potato mixture is free of lumps.  You can also make a nice design by just putting equal sized dollops of potato mixture using a spoon.

Sprinkle with the grated Parmesan.

Bake in the oven at 375 degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly (photo is of Shepherd’s Pie prior to being baked).