With an obvious change in the weather, we all are living in fear that this year’s glorious summer is coming to an end. I was lucky enough to get a few invites to barbecue parties in the past few months and had my share of some really divine meats and grills and some rather lumpy or burnt bits too!!!
Lucky because I live in a tiny rented flat with a small open plan kitchen. I try all sorts of tricks to fool myself into thinking that I am cooking in the fresh open outdoors. One of my favourite tricks to fool myself and get some tasty tidbits on my plate is by using a grid pan and earthy spices with smoked sea salt, delicious dips and of course washing these down with chilled beer.
Since I always seem to have some basic purees and pastes frozen and hiding in some corner of my tiny freezer I try and use them up quickly to ensure I always have place for some frozen desserts. One such favourite spicy green paste is made with one medium sized bunch of fresh coriander and 2 bright green chillies. Coriander is expensive and a regular feature in my kitchen so I try and freeze it after chopping it fine or better still making this paste and just adding large spoons to curries which gives them an instant face lift!
For a spicy twist on grilled chicken I decided to make these easy to pick and pop in the mouth pieces of chunky chicken making it a more fun way to share your food on the table. I love that it’s easy to just throw things on the pan and even the dip is a no fuss 3 step recipe which is a brilliant companion to the heat of the chillies on the chicken. The fact that the dip has zero oil is a big bonus.
You can make the coriander paste and store it in the freezer and even with the dip recycle it as a quick spread on sandwiches and use up any leftover meats the next day for a packed lunch. So convenient, especially on a Monday morning after a lazy weekend!
Placing the chicken on chunky cabbage leaves smeared with some mustard paste is another inexpensive alternative to posh salad leaves and helps finish of the last of that quarter portion of cabbage which lies neglected in your veggie tray and faces the threat of going into the bin soggy and spoilt, not a pleasant thought at all.
Guaranteed to tickle your taste buds this original recipe from my tiny kitchen is a food adventure in itself. Here’s how you can make this quick grilled chicken in easy steps:
Spicy grilled chicken bites with cooling avocado dip
(Serves: 4, Cooking Time: including 40 mins for marination is 1 hour):
- 4 chicken breasts
- 4 large tbsp coriander and green chilli paste (proportion of 1 bunch of coriander with 2 green chillies)
- Himalayan Pink Salt for seasoning
- 2 tbsp refined oil
- 1 tsp mustard paste
- 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- ½ tsp red chilli flakes
- 4-5 leaves of fresh cabbage washed
- ¼ medium sized red onion cut lengthwise
- Toothpicks with little flags
For the dip
- 2 avocados
- 1 stalk fennel with few leaves
- ½ medium sized red onion finely chopped
- Himalayan pink salt for seasoning
Marinate the chicken breasts with coriander and green chilli paste, salt as per taste and 3 cloves of finely chopped garlic. Make small cuts on the chicken breasts with a knife and rub in the marinade. Add one tbsp oil to this mixture allowing the garlic to marry with the coriander and chilli paste. Marinate for 40 minutes
On a grid pan spritz enough oil to coat the pan. Pan fry the breasts turning the sides over when they begin to change colour. When both sides appear to have changed colour remove the chicken breasts on a chopping board and let them cool for a while.
Meanwhile, smear the cabbage leaves with a small amount of mustard paste and place on a wooden board which will be used to serve the dish.
Now prepare the dip – Halve the avocados and scoop out the fleshy part. Take the thin green stalk and tender leaves of the fennel and put them together through a blender to make a coarse paste. Chop ½ a red onion fine and to the avocado and fennel paste, season some Himalayan salt. The dip is now ready.
Now get back to cooking the chicken. In the same grid pan add a 1 ½ tbsp oil with some red onion cut lengthwise and sauté for a while for a caramelise finish. Now cut the pieces of the chicken into “thick cut home-made potato-chip” like sizes and place them on the grid pan along with the onions.
Sprinkle the red chilli flakes .Cook on low flame till done and flip over using tongs, a bit of charring is allowed to add more flavour. Place the chicken strips with toothpicks on the fresh cabbage leaves in a flat plate.
The chunky avocado and red onion dip will offset the grilled chicken bites.
Serve with garlic bread on the side and some chilled drinks and soak up all the sun you can before the leaves turn auburn.