Saturday, September 3, 2011

Inspired by the Masters......Chicken Exotica

I am really, really excited as I write this post. Just minutes after having eaten the dish. It came out so well and everybody loved it. That it was something completely new, different and "my own" made dinner even more enjoyable.

So where do the Masters come in. Well, some parts of this dish are inspired by Master Chef Australia. Like co-food blogger, Knife, I don't like 'Reality food shows" where participants spend more time running between the pantry and their work stations than actually cooking. And your focus as you watch the show is to pray that your favorite contestant finishes on time, almost never on what he/she has cooked. But yes, as I watch them cook and between those pressure tests some combinations seem interesting. And then of course there are master classes where the dishes look "gorgeous" but a little too complex for everyday cooking. It was in one such show that I watched one of the judges try an onion, saffron and star anise combination. That has been the starting point of tonight's dinner. I typically use saffron either to make Biryani or in my desserts. Similarly Star anise gets restricted to Thai cooking. I felt inspired to combine the two seeming varied flavors with chicken and make a 'continetal' dish with them. The rest of the ingredients just got added on as I started cooking. Just be led by your senses and you cannot go wrong with your cooking.

Chicken Exotica( this dish looks really exotic)

'Chicken: 8/10 pieces
Vegetables: About 2 cups, 2 carrots and maybe 10/12 beans, cut into 1 inch long pieces
Spaghetti: I just grabbed a fistful( that is all that was left in the packet)
Onions: 5/6 large onions, cut into roundels
Star Anise: 2/3
Saffron: a pinch
Toasted sesame seeds: 1 tbsp
Chilli flakes: 1 tsp
Salt: to taste
Olive oil: 3/4 tbsps

  • Marinate the chicken with some lime juice and salt for about an hour.
  • Heat the olive oil in the pan and add the saffron, star anise, saffron and a little bit of salt to it. Cook covered on low flame till the onions looks brown( should take about 30 minutes or so- keep checking as you cook). Remove onto a baking dish. Layer the dish with the onions. Leave the excess oil in the wok.
  • Add the chicken to the pan, cook on high flame for about 5 minutes, add the sesame seeds and chilli flakes. Saute and transfer to the baking dish. Layer over the onions. Bake at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes.
  • As your chicken is baking, boil spaghetti with some salt and olive oil. Once done, drain. You could add the vegetables to the spaghetti after it is half cooked or blanch the vegtables separately. Toss the vegetables and spaghetti into the same wok and toss for a couple of minutes so that it gets coated with the oil and spice, add some more of the tosted sesame to it.
  • Finally, plating it all together. Make a little nest with the spaghetti and vegetable combine. Place some pieces of chicken on it. Spoon the onions over the chicken.
  • Serve immediately.
  • Verdict: Delicious!

This dish has such an unusual taste. The onions have a "meaty" flavor to them and cooking the chicken along with it makes the pieces really succulent. The chicken would also go well with some buttered toast or garlic bread.

Cheers to the fusion of flavors.

Bon Apetit and Happy Cooking!