Most of us have developed our personal way of coping with the immense anxiety during the seemingly endless days of lockdown. While some of us may have chosen writing or painting as an essential element to stay busy, there are many others who have chosen cooking as their go-to relief element. The lockdown has essentially helped people realise the extent of their potential and explore the field of creativity, including cooking almost like an expert, creating amazing dishes on a daily basis.
We, at Star Lifestyle, love to call them Quarantine Chefs— who are "Living in their Kitchen," and thriving, their way through the pandemic.
This issue is all about celebrating that creativity and recognising the exceptional chefs who have discovered their calling and shared with us their favourite lockdown recipes, and hence, a part of their personal journeys.
The response to the competition was immense, and we have thoroughly enjoyed selecting the winners, especially their beautiful food photography and scrumptious recipes.
The basic criteria for the competition was to provide a recipe for Qurbani Eid, something that was authentic and prepared at home. Based on that criteria, we recognise NAFISA AHMED SONALIAS OUR WINNER. Joining her on the podium are SUMAIYA RAHMAN, the 1st RUNNER UP and SYEDA KANIZ FATEMA KHAN, the 2nd RUNNER UP.
We loved Sonali's recipe, because it deals with substitute ingredients — both lean meat and red meat as a basic ingredient. With Qurbani Eid coming up and our usual overindulgence on red meat, a lean meat alternative to recipes is always a healthy option.
So, here's to wishing our WINNER and RUNNER UPS a brilliant future in their new-found calling.
Photo: Sazzad Ibne Sayed
Food and Styling: RBR
Sonali is a super busy stay-at-home mom, looking after her two daughters, one an infant, and the other a toddler. She rarely gets any time for herself, but whenever she does, she tries to indulge into cooking up something that is unique and attractive.
"I run wild with my imagination. I try everything from arts and crafts to cooking. These activities help me express my creativity and helps me relax and subdue my anxiety related to the pandemic," said Sonali. Without further ado, here is Sonali's recipe, her quarantine love, which she shared with us. SCRUMPTIOUS SCHINTZEL
Most countries throughout the whole world have their own version of fried meat. Dipped in batter, breaded, or coated in flour, deep fried meat is a steady crowd favourite. Japan has tonkatsu, America has chicken fried steak, we have our chicken or beef chaap, and Germany has Schnitzel.
Schnitzel, simply put, is a flat piece of meat, breaded and fried. It's that simple, yet so delicious. The ingredients are so simple that all of them can be found in any kitchen at all times. Pair it up with green vegetables, root vegetables or a salad, and you have a meal that will leave everyone full and satisfied.
The schintzel is a complete hearty meal, a comfort food, and suitable for any weather. Serve it with fresh salad, coleslaw and a glass of iced tea in summer, with steamed vegetables, warm dinner rolls and a bowl of piping hot tomato soup in winter. The crunchy fried meat, drenched in rich warm gravy, is always a winner.
Potatoes are a must. The crispy exterior and fluffy interior of pan roasted potatoes or thick cut potato chips, drizzled with gravy are simply irresistible. Then there's the classic mashed potato. Creamy, smooth, buttery mash, laced with gravy and a crunchy piece of schnitzel is a mouthful of heaven.
The most beautiful part of this recipe is that you can make it ahead of time and freeze it. Schnitzel freezes so well that when fried and served, you will never know the difference. Make a batch, pop it in the freezer, and when you're having a lazy day or a surprise guest comes over, just take it out, directly fry the frozen schnitzel in oil, and serve it with a side you can whip up in a short time.
Sides that you can serve with schnitzel and gravy include: steamed vegetables, green beans, French beans or long beans sautéed in butter and garlic, garlic mushrooms, honey ginger carrots, coleslaw, pan fried or baked potatoes, mashed potatoes, thick potato wedges, French fries, sautéed mixed vegetables like beans, carrots and broccoli.
With Eid just around the corner, and so much chicken and beef stocked up in the fridge, why not give this recipe a try? Make it once and you will find yourself making it often.
Happy cooking everyone!
2 pieces boneless chicken breasts, butter flied and cut in half
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
1 cup flour, or as required
1 cup bread crumbs, or as required
Oil for frying
Cover the chicken pieces, one at a time, in cling film (saran wrap or plastic wrap). Flatten the chicken using a mallet, rolling pin or the back of a heavy knife or cleaver. This is to tenderise the meat, but be careful not to tear or make any holes in it. Sprinkle sufficient amount of salt and pepper on both sides of each piece of meat. In a bowl or plate, beat the egg with 1 tablespoon of milk and a pinch of salt. And in two other separate plates, spread plain flour and bread crumbs. Coat each piece of chicken in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a fry pan, enough to deep fry the chickens. Fry the chicken 2-3 minutes on one side, flip, and fry 1-2 minutes for the other side. Since it's a flattened piece of meat, it should not take long. Place the chickens on a kitchen towel to drain the excess oil and serve immediately.
Our 1st Runner up is Sumaiya Rahman, with her mouth-watering Middle Eastern recipes, an amazing treat to serve friends and family coming Qurbani Eid.
1½ kg whole chicken
½ kg basmati rice (soaked in water for 20 mins)
1 tomato, chopped
4 tomatoes, blended
1 large onion, chopped
8-10 garlic, chopped
2 sticks cinnamon
1½ tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper powder
3 tbsp butter
4 tbsp oil
½ tsp zeera powder
½ tsp dhania powder
In a pan, add butter and oil. When it becomes hot, add onion and garlic and sauté it until it becomes translucent. Then add all the whole spices. When the flavour of spices comes out, add the chicken. When the chicken changes its colour, add chopped and blended tomato. Now add salt and black pepper powder and cook it until all the tomatoes melt and become gravy. Then, cover it for 10 minutes. After that, when the chicken is fully cooked, take it out from the pan and keep aside.
In the same pan, add grated carrot and sauté it for 1 minute. Then add ½ teaspoon zeera powder, ½ teaspoon dhania powder and ½ teaspoon black pepper powder and sauté for few seconds. Then add 3 cups of water and cover it. When the water starts boiling, add the soaked basmati rice. Then, set the flame to medium low and cover until it turns into pilaf, and simmer it on low flame. When the rice is completely done, remove from the flame.
Now, in a different pan, add 2 tablespoons of butter, when it becomes warm, add the chicken pieces. Stir fry the chicken until it becomes light golden. Now take out the chicken from the pan.
In the same pan, add some cashew nuts and some raisins. Sauté these until it become light golden. Now take out from the flame.
For Kabsa Sauce
In a pan, add 1 tablespoon of oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Then add 4 peeled tomatoes. Cook until all the tomatoes melt down and make a gravy. Then add 1 teaspoon of tomato paste, ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper powder. Mix it well and remove from the flame.
Assembling: On a serving dish, serve the rice, then place the chicken over the rice. Now garnish the rice with some nuts and raisins. Now, place the kabsa sauce on a sauce bowl. The Kabsa is now ready to be served.
Photo credit: Sumaiya Rahman
A Subtle Dining Affair - Kebabs
Our 2nd Runner Up is Syeda Kaniz Fatema Khan with her amazing steak recipe, with a twist of course. Kebabs are a must-have during Qurbani Eid, but what if you could enjoy both a kebab and a steak at the same time. Curious? Here's how.
For Asian steak kebab —
½ kg boneless beef mince
½ tbsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbsp tandoori masala
½ tsp garam masala
½ tsp salt
½ tsp crushed red pepper
1 tbsp hoisin sauce
½ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp oregano
¼ tsp thyme powder
1 tbsp coriander leaves
1 tsp crushed green chilli
2 tbsp chopped capsicum
1 bread slice
2 tbsp oil
For vegetables —
1 cup beans
For sauce —
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp soya sauce
¼ tsp black pepper
1 tbsp BBQ sauce
1 tbsp vinegar
For Asian Steak Kebab—
Add minced beef, ginger, garlic paste, tandoori masala, garam masala, salt, crushed red pepper, Hoisin sauce, black pepper, oregano, thyme powder, coriander leaves, crushed green chilli, chopped capsicum, egg and bread slice in a blender and blend them together. Leave them to rest for an hour in the refrigerator.
Once marinated, take the mixture out and shape them however you wish; you can flatten them into the shape of a regular steak, shape them into cubes or into meatballs.
Next, shift the patty to a grill pan, add oil to fry it and sear both ends for 3 minutes (to be served medium rear). Once cooked, smoke the steak kebab to give it a delicious smoky flavour.
For the vegetables—
Mix carrot, capsicum, onion, beans and oil and sear them together. Sear them together until they are crunchy on the outside (make sure you don't burn them)!
For the sauce—
Add oil on a frying pan. Add crushed garlic to the frying pan and fry it for a couple of minutes. Next, add the rest of the ingredients (brown sugar, salt, soya sauce, black pepper, BBQ sauce, vinegar) and keep searing them together until the mixture starts to boil. That means your sauce is ready!
Plate the steak, along with the Asian steak kebab, vegetables and sauce and serve! You can have it with rice, vegetable or even naan; the choice is yours.
Such a delicious dish calls for a creamy, sugary blast of dessert in the form of a strawberry custard.
½ cup sugar
1 tbsp water
4 tbsp strawberry custard powder
½ cup fried cashew nuts
1 packet cream
½ cup raisins
2 cup biscuit crumbs
First, we have to make the caramel by mixing ½ cup of sugar with 1 tablespoon of water. Put it on medium heat and move the sauce pan occasionally until the caramel is golden brown in colour. Instantly pour 1 litre of milk in that caramel. Mix it until the caramel dissolves into the milk properly (until you get no feeling of caramel sticking to the bottom of the sauce pan). Let it cool to room temperature.
Once the mixture cools down, mix 4 tablespoon of strawberry custard powder. Stir the mixture in medium heat, and stir it occasionally until it's thick enough to stick on the spatula and the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Dip the spoon in it, run your finger along the back of the spoon and the indentation should remain. That indentation will not stay if the liquid is too thin.
Finally, let the mixture cool down again. After cooling, add fruits (banana, raisins and fresh strawberries).
While plating, add a layer of crushed biscuit mixed with melted butter at the base of the bowl (the process is similar to layering the base of a New York style cheesecake). Then pour the thick delicious strawberry custard onto the bowl and let it set in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or overnight. The longer the time to set the better.
Photo credit: Syeda Kaniz Fatema Khan
Sides to go with Schintzel
4 large potatoes
3 tbsp butter
1 cup milk, warm
Salt and pepper, to taste
Boil potatoes until soft. While the potatoes are hot, peel them and finely mash them with a potato ricer or fork. Add milk and butter in portions. You should have a very smooth, soft, fluffy mash. If you add too much milk, the potatoes will be runny. If you add too little, it will be stiff and dry. So, add the milk and butter gradually, tasting as you go. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.
If you want, you can add other ingredients to flavour your potatoes; for example, grated Parmesan, herbs, garlic, sour cream and so on.
8-10 pieces canned or fresh button mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 chicken cubes
2 cups hot water
1 cup milk, warm
Salt and pepper, to taste.
½ tsp thyme
Heat butter in a pan and sauté the sliced mushrooms till lightly golden. Don't overcrowd mushrooms, or else they will release too much moisture and not colour well. Add flour, stir and cook till it becomes brown and fragrant. If it's too dry, you can add more butter or a bit of oil. Once ready, the raw floury smell will be gone and there should be a roasted, nutty, buttery aroma. Dissolve the chicken or beef stock cubes in hot water one at a time. Taste it and if you find the taste too subtle or bland, then add half or the entire second one. Add half the hot liquid stock in the pan and stir well. Adding the rest of the liquid soon after. Add dried thyme crushed between your fingers and thumb. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Simmer till gravy slightly thickens. If you find the gravy has become too thick, add a splash of water.
1 cup cabbage, finely shredded
¾ cup carrots, julienned
3 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp mustard
1 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 small onion, sliced (I prefer onions to my coleslaw, you can if you wish)
Cut cabbage and carrots and set aside. Prepare dressing by adding the rest of the ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Mix the mayonnaise dressing to cabbage and carrots right before serving.
If you're freezing your schnitzels, place them in clean, dry, airtight containers. Give the schnitzels enough space to be placed flat and evenly with butter paper or cling film between the layers. Or you can freeze them on shallow trays in single layers and once the schnitzels are completely frozen, you can place them in plastic or zip lock bags to save space.
Gravy can be made ahead and refrigerated. You can also freeze gravy and store it for weeks. Heat up a batch before serving, stirring occasionally as gravy forms a skin on the surface when it cools down.
You can store leftover mash in the fridge in an airtight container. If the potatoes become a bit dry, add a splash of milk and a dollop of butter the next time you heat it up.
You can adjust the ratio of cabbage and carrots to your preference. You can add other ingredients like apple for a bit more sweetness or purple cabbage for an extra pop of colour.
Recipe by Nafisa Ahmed Sonali