Spicing it up this Eid

Published: August 20, 2012
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Here are two cheesy recipes that will spice things up a bit and will leave your guests wanting more. PHOTO: YOUSUF BAWANY

Eidul Fitr, the first of two annual Muslim festivals, is a time to appreciate, share, and be thankful for what Allah has bestowed upon us. It marks the end of the Ramazan and fasting. People cannot wait to say:

“Mubarak ho. Chand ho gaya hai! Kal Eid hai!”

(Congratulations. The moon has been sighted! It’s Eid tomorrow!)

Eagerly awaited by adults and children alike, this Eid is also dubbed as the ‘meethi Eid’ (sweet Eid) as it was a practice of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to start the Eid day by eating something sweet.

For me, Eid is about waking up to enticing aromas wafting from the kitchen; my mom deep-frying delicious samosas and puris to be served with the sheer khurma (a vermicelli dessert). That is pretty much all the sweet I can take for the day. I despise being forced to eat desserts when I venture out to meet friends and family; cakes, cookies, kheer (rice pudding), candies and mithai (sweetmeats) are just some of the infamous items on this long list.

What I crave though is something spicy, something savoury, that is fulfilling without being too overpowering. As a result, we make sure that the guests who come to visit the ‘Bawany’ household aren’t bombarded with sweets. Instead, we serve them a platter of mouthwatering treats that are a refreshing change from all the sweet madness in the air.

Here are two cheesy recipes that will spice things up a bit and will leave your guests wanting more.

Cheese balls:

These delicious bites are fun to look at and amazing for your taste buds. Don’t let the potato-ish texture of these balls fool you as these are perfectly round bread balls with a cheesy chicken filling that just melts in your mouth. Let me dive straight into the recipe now. This recipe makes about 30 to 35 cheese balls.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast (make 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 cup water
  • 4-5 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp green chilies (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • ½ tsp ajino-moto (also known as MSG or Chinese salt)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup mozzarella cheese (grated)
  • ¼ cup cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 30-35 slices of large-sized bread
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups bread crumbs
  • Oil for frying

Method

  • Take a pan. Pour in water and add the chicken, black pepper, chilies, ginger paste, garlic paste, ajino-moto and salt, and leave it on medium heat till the chicken is well-done and all the water dries out.
  • Once the chicken mixture has cooled down, shred it with your hands.
  • Add in both the mozzarella cheese and the cheddar cheese to the chicken and mix well.
  • Take a slice of bread and place about a teaspoon of the chicken filling in the center.
  • Apply a little water on all the edges of the bread slice and fold all four corners of the bread towards the center.
  • Form the filled bread into a ball while applying pressure on it with both hands.
  • Take a bowl and beat the eggs in it.
  • Dip the cheese ball into the egg mixture for about three seconds and roll it into the bread crumbs.
  • Once all the balls are made, deep-fry in oil at low to medium heat for about five to seven minutes or until the outside is nicely golden.
  • Serve immediately with ketchup, green chutney or nacho cheese sauce.

Smoked rolls:

Smoked rolls are the result of one of my wife’s culinary experiments so I can’t really take credit for this. The recipe itself is deceptively simple, but yields a wonderfully crispy cheese-based concoction with a rich smoky flavour. Once you pop, you can’t stop (sorry, Pringles). The quantities below will yield about 60-70 rolls.

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast (make 1-inch cubes)
  • 4-5 tbsp chicken tikka masala (I know it’s a cop-out but I had no time to deconstruct this)
  • 1 tbsp garlic paste
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese (grated)
  • 60-70 samosa pastry sheets (filo pastry works too)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2-3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • Oil for frying

Method

  • Take a pan. Put in the chicken, chicken tikka masala, yogurt, and garlic paste.
  • Cook it on low-medium heat till the chicken is well-done and all the water from the yogurt dries out.
  • Once the chicken has cooled down, mince it and add in the grated cheddar cheese.
  • In a separate pan, put water and all-purpose flour in, and mix it evenly on low flame until it turns into a thick, smooth paste (add more flour if necessary).
  • Take one rectangular samosa pastry sheet and lay it down vertically in front of you.
  • Take about a half teaspoon of the chicken filling and spread it in a thin line across the top edge (see image below).
  • Roll down the pastry sheet firmly all the way to the end and firmly seal the other edge using the flour paste.
  • Once all the rolls are made, deep-fry in oil at low to medium heat for about three to five minutes or until the outside is crisp and golden.
  • Serve immediately with ketchup, green chutney or nacho cheese sauce.

As I mentioned earlier, Eidul Fitr is all about sharing. Share with those who cannot afford even the basic necessities of life. Please remember them when you wear new clothes or give your alms, and don’t forget to pray for me once your plates are licked clean.

Eid Mubarak to everyone!

PHOTO CREDIT: YOUSUF BAWANY

Read more by Yousuf here or follow him on Twitter @YousufBawany

Yousuf Bawany

Yousuf Bawany

A writer who enjoys to cook foods from across the world. He blogs at yousufbawany.wordpress.com. He tweets @YousufBawany (twitter.com/YousufBawany)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.