Saturday, July 20, 2013

Summer Frizzle--Sizzlers with Chicken

A request for dinner comes surreptitiously, knowing that heat prevails. The weather really calls for uncooked or raw food, primarily salad or a cold soup or just plain ice cream. But this request is a stand-in-front-of-the-oven dinner!!! I must be a real sucker for punishment because I give in to unholy demands. This request is for my interpretation of the Indian sizzler. The meal, not the weather!

The kids first had sizzlers at Yoko in Bombay several years ago and LOVE them. The idea of watching steaming cast iron plates, piled high with vegetables and a meat, make them salivate in anticipation!! The menu is scattered with names like Lamb Toridango (Mum's favorite), Chicken Shashlik (Dad's favorite), Hamburger with Pepper Sauce (my favorite) and a host of improbable names.  I am thrilled that the kids will eat an ungodly amount of vegetables alongside a small portion of meat!!! To see them enjoy one of my childhood treats is really gratifying. Enough to make me walk the lanes of Crawford Market to find some sizzler plates along with their wooden bases, to bring back home. Not only do they take up a lot of room in our bags, but weigh a ton! Blessedly, this is before draconian baggage rules are the norm. 

Touché was the first sizzler joint that I remember eating at. Located in ritzy Breach Candy, Bombay, adjacent to Bombelli's, another favorite. A patisserie and chocolatier, replete with angular glass counters filled with all the chocolate a child could dream off . As short as I was, I always stood on tiptoes to look for my favorite, an immense chocolate-scaled fish. Don't ask why that was my perennial choice. To me it was the largest piece of chocolate in the store! Touche was expensive for us youngsters on a slim allowance. And yet I scrimped and saved to treat myself to many a 'steamy' platter. Soon the rage caught on and Yoko and Kobe materialised. The sizzling floodgates opened at last!

 I start marinating chicken tenders. I must make sure that the lengthy list of veggies I need are in the house. The recipe calls for potatoes, cabbage, green beans, carrots, cauliflower, peas, tomatoes, onions and spinach. A healthy spectrum. Vitamin and beta-carotene overload. Most of these veggies reside in my fridge year round, but like the proverbial 'where are they when you really need them,' I find I will have to hit the stores. I do prep before I cook. I place the cooked veggies on a sheet pan for easier heating and plating. Salting the veggies as I cook then. The mustard sauce is must, especially sharp, nose-tingling Coleman's. If you have tasted Coleman's, then you know it is a far cry from American ball park mustard. And so on and on. Like I said, it is a lengthy list and prep. But worth the effort. A hundred-fold. After all, Shauna leaves us soon, so her requests are my command!

Makes 4 servings

4 Cast Iron oval Platters with wooden bases

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless Chicken (Thighs, Tenders, Breast)
2 teaspoons Garlic powder
2 teaspoons Onion powder
2 tablespoons Soy sauce
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 large Potatoes
Canola oil to fry potatoes
3 cups Cauliflower florets
4 Carrots
20 Green Beans
3 cups Peas
1 packet Baby Spinach leaves
1 tablespoon Butter
1 large Tomato
3 cups sliced Cabbage
2 Onions
4 tablespoons Canola oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Soy sauce
Kosher salt

Start by marinating the chicken in garlic powder, onion powder, soy and Worcestershire sauces. Let the chicken marinate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours in the fridge. Bring to room temperature before you cook them.

Boil potatoes. Cool, peel and cut into fat wedges.

Deep fry wedges till brown and crusty. Drain well and lightly salt wedges. Place on a sheet pan.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Salt the water lightly and add cauliflower florets. Boil for 5 to 7 minutes until tender. Remove with a slotted spoon, drain well and arrange on a sheet pan. Lightly salt.

Add the carrots to boiling water. Cook till crisp for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the carrots with a slotted spoon and place next to the cauliflower. Lightly salt.

While cauliflower and carrots are cooking, trim green beans.

Add green beans to boiling water and cook for 3 minutes till crisp. Once again remove veggies with slotted spoon and place on the sheet pan. Lightly salt.

Peas go into the water. Turn off the flame and let the peas sit in hot water for 5 minutes. Drain in a colander, place on the sheet pan and lightly salt.

Put a non-stick saucepan on low fire. Add butter to pan and swirl to melt.

Add the spinach leaves to hot butter and saute well for 5 minutes or until spinach has wilted. Salt lightly and place on sheet pan.

Slice tomato into 4 thick slices and add to the saucepan. Let the tomato slices saute for 2 minutes. Remove and lightly salt.

Peel and cut onions into 1/4 inch slices.

Add 2 tablespoons of canola oil to the same pan. When the oil gets hot, add onion slices and saute for a few minutes.

Drop in the cabbage and saute.

Soy and Worcestershire sauces go into the onion cabbage mixture. Saute uncovered for 6 to 8 minutes. Place alongside veggies on sheet pan.

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Add 2 more tablespoons of canola oil to pan. Crank up the flame to high.

Place the chicken in the oil and saute uncovered for 8 to 10 minutes or until chicken is brown and cooked.

Tomato Sauce
1 cup Tomato sauce or Ketchup
3 teaspoons Chile powder
2 teaspoons dark Soy sauce

Mix the above ingredients in a saucepan and bring to boil on a medium flame.

Mustard Sauce
3 tablespoons Coleman's Dry Mustard Powder ( it has to be a sharp nose-tingling mustard!)
1 to 2 tablespoons Water

Add water carefully to mustard powder to get a sauce of pouring consistency.

You can make all the above steps the morning of the meal, although everything tastes best freshly made.

When you are ready to serve, heat the oven to 400F.

Place the cast iron inserts in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Alternatively you could place them on a hot gas grill for the same amount of time.

Cover the veggie-filled sheet pan loosely with foil.

Place pan in oven for 10 minutes to reheat veggies.

Start plating by removing  platters from the oven and placing them on  the wooden bases.

Cover the platter with 1/4 cup tomato sauce.

You have to work fast at this point. Start with putting a large spoonful of cabbage onion mixture.Next go the green beans, followed by carrots. Then place the cauliflower. Spinach is next. Peas have to be nestled in. Place the tomato slice anywhere. And potato wedges at the other end of the platter. Place the chicken on top of the veggies. This arrangement is just a guideline. Go with any kind of placement you deem fit! You should be hearing sizzling sounds when you start plating!!! If not, the platter isn't hot enough!!!

Pass the mustard sauce. You should dribble it carefully as it has a strong inflection!

Squirt tomato ketchup over the sizzler too!! It is another layer of taste added on!



Chicken is my meat of choice for today. Lamb, beef, hamburger or seafood is another option. Or you could go the with just veggies.

As far as the veggies go, these are the Indian choices. Feel free to substitute to your tastes.

I make Coleman's mustard using the powder. You could buy prepared Coleman's in bottles at grocery stores.

Tomato ketchup is another condiment we generally use along with the mustard.

Fajita platters could be used for sizzlers.

 Touche is long gone. Offsprings live on, popular as ever. Since we do not have an Indian sizzler near us, the kids have to do with my version. Cleaning up their plates is not such a herculean task in our house!!!