I recently stumbled entirely by chance on a writing competition—a short story challenge—held by a creative writing organization called NYC Midnight. A tiny spark of excitement flashed in my tired little brain but I let it runs its course because who am I kidding, right? I couldn’t possibly compete against practicing, aspiring, more well prepared and well-versed writers from across the globe (the competition is open to the world, to the universe even, I bet!). I wrote it off, pun intended, as a nice dream seriously what’s the point of trying?
But then when G came home at night and smacked my self esteem silly; I registered mere hours before the cut off time that same evening, with a restrained flame of eagerness to find out what my prompt would be. To briefly explain—everyone is split into different groups—“heats”—and each group is assigned its own genre and subject to focus the story around. We have 8 days to complete our story, and then the judges decided who within each heat moves to the second round. I would love to reach that round because you have literally 24 hours to write whatever they assign that time. We’ll see how it goes. G and everyone will hate me for my cynicism, but I don’t really think I’ll move on. But I had a lot of fun coming up with a randomly lame, silly, goofy, hopefully decently scribed MYSTERY built upon a RECEIPT. Yeah. A receipt. No chance of sharing this one, it was super dorky.
So my creativity has been under fire this week, and I felt rather pulled away from the kitchen as far as time is concerned. And yet somehow I came up with some more creative dishes than I have been doing lately. Perhaps the push of the creativity with my writing fed into whimsy elsewhere. (I apologize now if my writing sucks right now—I’m torn between this, watching a BBC Sherlock Holmes DVD from the library, and taking a gander at the grammys).
So somehow I dolled up my cooking chops with Festive Garlic Chicken and Paneer Medley.
- 1 lb chicken breast, cubed into small pieces
- 2 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¾ tsp red pepper
- ½ tsp cumin
- Olive oil
- ½ large red onion, sliced
- 5 Garlic cloves, chopped
- Paneer (Indian cheese), small ½ in cubes or smaller
- 1 tsp chili flakes
- ½ cup chopped tomato
- ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
- Extra salt, black pepper and garlic powder for added taste
I was seriously impressed by how good this tasted. I just took some chicken sitting in the freezer and threw it into some spices and then splashed it with some other simple goodies. Take the chicken and marinate it with the garlic paste, ginger, salt, peppers, and cumin. Set that aside for a time.
In a frying pan, heat some oil and sauté the onions with the garlic. Make sure not to burn or even brown the garlic—you only want to flavors to ooze out for now, and then later it will fully soften and add a gloriously soft bite of savory awesomeness at the end.
When the onions have turned translucent a bit, add the chopped paneer. Keep the heat on the lower side of medium so the paneer can get browned on all sides—crispy and soft simultaneously is an amazing combination.
In a separate pan, fry the marinated chicken until its browned and the liquid is all cooked out. Then throw it in with the paneer. Add the tomatoes and cilantro leaves (reserving some for garnish) and simmer, adding a little water to soften the garlic.
After 4-5 minutes, you’re done. Serve immediately with rice (perfectly cooked! I rocked it this time!) and any other goodies you like.