Past week was fairly busy. S was travelling for business the entire week. As for me, it was more than usual work, errands, an injured right hand and two little bundles of energies to care for. The days all rolled by one after another in a jiffy. And Friday came rather bouncing in no time.
This evening was meant to be fun. The girls were ecstatic to see their Daddy back home. It was festive, with more than a hint of emotional drama. Entrance to our house was adorned with a pretty grandiose “welcome Daddy” note that big-J had handmade and pasted. Dad was elated to find the note on the door and more than gladly took out his cell phone to click a few close-up portraits, then a couple full size landscape pictures of his daughter’s creation, before stepping in. Enter and he was flocked by his two little loves, followed by their mom of course!
The kids wanted some pasta for dinner, which I quickly mixed and had ready. S was acutely craving for some home cooked meal. The poor foodie man had been sustaining on cheesy sandwiches, steaks, salads, soups and tall cups of coffees an entire week. All he wanted now was something Indian, something spicy, and one which had chicken (his favorite meat!). I wouldn’t blame him. But while I wanted to do a very special dinner for S and me, I didn’t want it to be too elaborate and gobble all my time patrolling kitchen, as the food got cooked. I had been too tired from the grouchy week and wanted to call it a day as quickly.
Culinary saints and the food Gods bless the art of baking and whoever invented the oven in ancient B.C. Given the mobility limitations of my right thumb and wrist, I decided upon an easy peasy lemon squeezy bake recipe that had rescued me out from quite a few troubling gastronomic situations in the past. Isn’t it a delight to toss veggies and meat in the seasoning in a pan and letting oven do the rest of the hard work, while you put your feet up? This one’s a super laid-back dish-making, and a one pot, one dish meal, complete with chicken over veggies. The easy and simplicity makes it a great recipe for beginners or first time bakers. The flavors are very appetizing and it can be served on a bed of fresh salad, greens or paired alongside your wine, toasted breads or a small bowl of rice. Or pair with nothing at all and eat and eat it all up when you are hungry! S and I had ours this evening with some Italian bread and fresh piña colada cocktail to wash it all down. It tasted heaven, and I almost did nothing at all to make it! Pardon my night photography skills — they tasted more than half as good as they look in these pictures!!
A lot said, explained. Now, mix, bake and EAT!! Have a beautiful and much rested weekend you all…and don’t forget to leave me a comment so I know how you liked it.
Serves 3 to 4
- 1 lb (about 0.5 kg) of Chicken breast tenders — skin off, bone out, sliced into 2 inch wide strips
- 1 medium potato
- 12 to 15 green beans
- 16 cherry tomatoes (I used the wild, small fruited variety here)
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/3rd of a medium aubergine
- 1 medium onion
- 5 fat garlic cloves
- 0.5 tbsp paprika flakes
- 0.5 tbsp ground black pepper — *Optional, if you don’t prefer much heat
- 1 tbsp ground coriander (dhania powder)
- Salt to taste
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus some extra for greasing or use oil spray
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Veggie Prep: Wash all veggies. Deseed and roughly chop the pepper. Slice the aubergine into 0.5 inch thick wedges. Trim the beans. Chop potatoes into 1 inch cubes. Peel and slice the onion roughly into wedges.
- Peel and crush the garlic pods in a mortar and pestle.
- Grease a medium size roasting tray/tin (about 10″x14″). Transfer all vegetables, onion and chicken strips in it. Throw in the crushed garlic. Add 3 tbsp olive oil, salt and the spices (paprika, ground pepper and coriander). Toss them all together well, so the veggies and chicken are nicely coated in the spices and oil.
- Pick up the chicken strips and place/line them on top of the veggies.
- Bake at 400°F (200°C) for about 50 minutes and flip the chicken strips mid-way.
- Take off from oven when the chicken and veggies are baked and tender. Adjust seasoning. Serve with some shredded fresh herbs of your choice and a couple lemon wedges. It’s that easy!!
Variations: Other veggies that can go well in this bake include Brussels sprouts, carrots, sweet potatoes, mushrooms. Since vegetables like asparagus, zucchini or broccoli cook faster, add them after the tray contents are about half baked or more. If you like sprinkling some pre-mixed spices or seasonings (like Cajun, Tandoori, Tikka Masala), lower down the amount of paprika and ground pepper, since these spices would provide some heat anyway. For a bright color, include 0.5 tsp of ground turmeric in this recipe. For a vegetarian and vegan version, skip chicken strips and use use double the amounts of veggies. For a higher heat, use 1 tbsp of paprika. And for the Indian brave heart’s super duper high heat, add 1 tbsp paprika with 1 tbsp of ground pepper (I used this combo once, and I was running around sweating, with watery eyes and runny nose!)