When I visit my three children in US who are in college, I am always depressed and disappointed by the food they eat. Whether in dorm canteens, or if they live on their own in apartments, in their kitchens, most meals are dismal and consist of some kind of bread, pasta, pizza or fried chicken. Even my eldest son Jaisal, who works, says it is not worth his time to cook!
Making your own meals isn’t really that time consuming – it requires just three key ingredients – planning in advance, buying groceries and making the time to actually cook. And of course, there is the dreaded cleanup.
While I will address shopping and keeping a stocked pantry in a separate blog, most simple recipes can be cooked in just 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes of cooking time. That’s less time than going out to eat! And healthier too. For example, this peanut chicken is easy enough to make for two meals, and can be eaten along with a salad or fried rice.
It’s so easy that Prasidh Chaabria, a freshman at Harvard, and a totally novice had made with us last week before he left for the US. He was keen to come over and learn to cook and we had a blast! (His current expertise is limited to eggs!) Watch him in the video below:
This chicken was actually one of the first things I learned to cook in college – from one of my mom’s index cards that she sent to me by mail. This is a different version of the recipe – with coconut milk – and I like this because you get a nice sauce to pour over the chicken in case you overcook it (newbie problems) and it is dry! But it is an idiot proof recipe (unless you burn the garlic!) for novice cooks! And it tastes great (even with messed up quantities!). I have another even simpler version (my original college version) that I will post soon! Try this – it is easy and delicious! Flavor without the labor!
Peanut Butter Chicken
- 3 halves of chicken breast (about 300g)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoons peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chopped red chilies
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- Clean and slice chicken breast into 3” long pieces.
- Heat oil in a sauce pan on medium heat. Stir in garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add peanut butter, soy sauce, red chilies, sesame oil, coconut milk, black pepper, brown sugar and lime juice, stir on medium heat until you get a smooth sauce, about 2-3 minutes. Allow it to cool once done.
- Reserve 1/3 of sauce to serve with the chicken; use the remaining 2/3rds for marinating the chicken.
- Marinate chicken strips with the sauce for ½ an hour up to 6 hours.
- Heat oven to 200C. Skewer chicken pieces onto prepared skewers.
- Oil a baking pan with the remaining oil.
- Place the skewers in the oven and let bake for 7-8 minutes until cooked through.
- Remove the skewers from the oven, turn and baste with the remaining sauce.
- Place chicken back in the oven and bake it for another 7 minutes or until nicely browned.
- Remove from the oven and serve it hot with lime wedges and remains peanut sauce!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
Critical Ingredients: The peanut butter is critical as is the coconut milk. You can substitute coconut oil with an oil of your choice. Garlic adds flavour, but ginger would work too. Use half a teaspoon of chili powder or half a teaspoon of chili paste if you don’t have fresh chilies. If you skip the sesame oil no-one is really going to notice! No lime juice? Add half a teaspoon of white vinegar!