Grilling season is here and with it, a slew of delicious meats, and verdant and vibrant salads. There are skewers of luscious meats; chunks and velvety ground meat, charred and juicy from the high heat of a blazing fire. Pieces of golden, glistening tandoori chicken, cubes of marinated lamb and even meaty, satisfying mushrooms. Summer salads are bowls of individual creativity. Each one is different and never the same a second time. Throw in fresh salad leaves, springtime vegetables or seasonal fruit, top off with a handful of nuts or seeds, and a crumbling of cheese, if desired. There’s no recipe needed; just imagination.
I am lucky in that I have access to my grill all year around. We have a big porch that extends from the front of our house and we have set up our grills there; a gas and charcoal one because you got to have both! I find myself grilling a lot during winter as well because I love the heat of the grill against the cold of the outside. Nothing like the heat emanating from the grill to keep you cosy and warm, and the crackling sounds of the grilling meat to keep you hungry.
I love grilling because of the endless variations of marinades, meats and the ease of it. All you need is a salad and some flat bread to complete the meal. Almost every cuisine has a marinated and grilled meat recipe: teriyaki, tandoori, Bihari, souvlaki, Jujeh, koobideh, kefta, KC Bbq and quite a few more! Name them below if you can think of others!
In the past I have deferred the cookouts to my husband because you know…man and meat. Lately, I do the grilling (don’t tell him, but I think I’m better at it :)) I definitely do the marinating and it does help to have him take care of the grilling while I finish the salad and any other sides. Here’s another great thing about grilling meats, you don’t need to marinate. There are times I just toss chicken, fish or meat onto a hot fire with just a sprinkling of sea salt. I let the fire do its thing; charring, crisping and burning the edges into delectable morsels. When the meat comes off the grill, I’ll drizzle flavoured butter and fresh herbs, or spoon a fruity salsa over the top.
On our Memorial Day Monday, I grilled thinly sliced chicken breast sprinkled with some chilli powder, grilled them until golden brown and cooked through and then tossed them with melted butter, lime juice and cilantro. They were fantastic and so easy to pull together.
The side to our Cilantro Lime Chicken was a Kale and Cherry Salad: massaged kale, fresh cherry halves, red onions, pumpkin seeds and goat’s cheese crumbled on top.
So, I’m going on about grilling and all, but these Ground Chicken Kebabs are actually, shallow pan fried. They can be very easily grilled; shape them in patties or form them on skewers but I chose to pan fry them for a couple of reasons: frying does keep them juicier and I was making them to store and reheat and since it is Ramadan, I didn’t fancy standing outside in front of a hot grill on a hot day.
These kebab are great because you can have them for breakfast, lunch or dinner. We enjoyed a few for dinner along with a side salad, sautéed vegetables and brown rice. I made them so we could have some for our morning meal, suhoor, before we start our fasts. They’re a nice protein dish if you don’t want eggs everyday, or you can have them alongside some eggs. They are great to wrap up in naan or a warm paratha for breakfast or a light lunch.
I wanted to share this kebab recipe because they are so easy and so flavourful. During Ramadan some Muslims like to have a big iftar, the meal after we break our fast, and they cook a variety of snack type foods. These are great for iftar, as well. Many favourites for iftar include samosas, borek, fatayer, fruit chaat, and a chick pea salad; these would go great alongside all of them.
Serves: 14-20 patties
- 2½ pounds/1kg ground chicken
- 1 cup or ½ large red onion, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
- ½ large green chilli pepper (or more if desired), minced
- ½ cup packed cilantro leaves, chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon red chilli powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1½ teaspoon sea salt
- juice of half lemon or lime
- ½ cup oil for frying or brushing if using the grill
- Place the ground chicken in a large bowl
- Add the onions, garlic, ginger, cilantro, green chilli and spices.
- Mix together until well incorporated and leave to marinate for an hour or so.
- When you are ready to cook the kebabs, add the salt and the lemon juice.
- In a large fry pan or skillet, add a thin layer of oil (don't add the whole ½ cup)
- Form the chicken mixture into patties and shallow pan fry.
- You can make ¼ inch thick patties or thin patties.
- Thin patties will yield about 20, thicker ones about 14 or 15.
- Cook 3-4 minutes on one side or until the sides became opaque and then flip and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes.
- Add more oil as needed.
- The patties should be golden brown with crispy edges.
- If you are grilling them, form thick burger like patties and cook on medium high about 7 minutes a side, or until firm and golden.
We are in our second day of fasting and though it’s a long one, it hasn’t been too bad. I’ve been eating a protein heavy breakfast with lots of vegetables and fruit, a cup of British tea and gallons of water. Here’s an interesting fact: I cannot drink coffee during Ramadan. No, it’s not forbidden, but I cannot stomach it for some reason and as much as I adore coffee, I have to shelve it in favour of tea. Good thing I like tea as well!
Today is not only our second fast; it’s also my birthday! My very sweet 11 year old son got up at 2:30 this morning to make my breakfast. Since we have to finish eating by 4 am, he had to have everything ready by 3 am so I could eat. He did such an awesome job making scrambled eggs, a chicken kebab patty, and blueberries. I am so proud of him 🙂 It’s been great start to a birthday that will probably be a very quiet one since we’re all fasting.
I did celebrate last weekend when we had the long weekend off. Trace and I, along with our 11 year old, went to Aspen for the weekend. Aspen is a very beautiful and incredibly expensive little town. We weren’t there for the designer shops or the star chef restaurants, we were there for the nature, beauty and the mountains. We did walk around the sleepy little town (sleepy now but about to get bustling as it gets alive in the summer) and sample a restaurant or two that didn’t break our wallet but it wasn’t easy to find an affordable restaurant in Aspen. Everything is 3x as much.
I think our best meal was the breakfast we had at a place called Aspen Over Easy the morning we were leaving; it also cost $70. I recommend it, even though it will cost you two arms and a leg.
Like I said, more than the food and the town, it was the scenery and Mother Nature we wanted to see. We hiked Maroon Bells and I thought I was going too die. I am really proud of myself that with all my limitations, I was able to do the 2.5 hour round trip up and down slick, mountainous terrain.
For those of you observing Ramadan, I wish you easy fasts, infinite rewards and countless blessings. May your fasts be accepted, your good deeds recorded, your prayers answered and the blessings of God Almighty present in all your endeavours.
To my non Muslim readers and friends, this month is one of peace, tolerance and acceptance. I wish you all much peace, joy and blessings that this month brings, from my family to yours.