When it comes to recipes, the words easy and cheap are generally associated with fattening, unhealthy food such as potato fries, bacon sandwiches and pancakes. However, this does not necessarily have to be true – you can cook tasty and nourishing food without spending a fortune or slogging over it for hours. Below are a couple of easy and cheap recipes that will please your taste buds without taxing your wallet and your health too much!
Chicken tikka: This recipe originates from India but it has become immensely popular throughout the world. In fact, a version of this dish has become a national favorite in the UK. Don’t let the Indian origin scare you – this dish is ridiculously easy to cook. Apart from being easy – it is cheap and fun to prepare as well. Most of the preparation can be done beforehand and this makes it a popular choice for parties and social gatherings. Chicken tikka is a super hit with adults and children alike – if you think that healthy food is boring and bland, then this dish will forever change that opinion.
Ingredients: Boneless skinless chicken, garlic (minced), ginger (minced), oil (any oil will do – sunflower, peanut, mustard or even olive oil), bell peppers, lime, onion, yogurt, red chili powder, garam masala (also known as curry powder) and salt to taste.
Apart from the garam masala – every other ingredient is readily available in every household. Garam masala is a mix of several spices namely – peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and sometimes star anise. Garam masala is also known as curry powder and can be easily bought at major supermarkets and at Indian stores. Also, note that every ingredient used in the recipe is beneficial for your health – onions, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, spices and chilies are good for your metabolism and for cardiac health. Boneless chicken is an excellent source of protein. Yogurt is a pro -biotic and lime is rich in vitamin C.
Method of preparation: Cut 200 gm chicken into 1.5 inch cubes; add 1 tablespoon each of minced ginger and garlic, 2 teaspoons of curry powder, half cup yogurt, 1 tablespoon oil and salt and chili powder to taste. Mix everything together and marinate for a few hours – overnight in the fridge is best. Arrange the chicken pieces on a skewer interspersed with thinly cut slices of onion and bell pepper. Grill on a barbecue until slightly charred – use any remaining marinade for basting. If you don’t have a barbecue grill – use an oven. If you don’t have an oven, stir fry in a non-stick pan. Whatever you do – don’t cook the chicken too much. The chicken should remain succulent with just a hint of smokiness! When done, sprinkle with some lime juice and garnish with fresh coriander. This recipe is exotic, scrumptious and a healthy alternative to greasy barbecued foods!
Fishy Delight: This recipe will amaze even the most sophisticated palate. However, it takes absolutely no skill to cook this dish! You can use any fish that you like. Tilapia, mackerel, cod, grouper, salmon and almost every other fish work well with this recipe. Use any fresh fish that suits your budget. The fish needs to be scaled and gutted – however this is not at all an issue as most super markets and fish mongers sell fish that has already been prepared for consumption.
Ingredients: This recipe makes use of just 6 ingredients – fish, lemon juice, garlic, parsley and oil (+ salt and pepper to taste). Even though the list of ingredients is small, the dish is packed it flavor.
Method of Preparation: Apart from the fish and lemon – add all the ingredients into a blender and blitz. Coat the fish with the paste and leave aside for a few minutes – this allows the flavors to permeate the fish. Cook on a skillet over LOW heat. Cover the fish while cooking- this traps all the heat inside and the fish smokes in its own flavor. Turn the fish over after a few minutes and cover again. The cooking time depends on which fish you are using. Check with a knife to determine whether the fish is cooked or not. Once done, add a dash of lemon juice and serve with steamed vegetables or rice. Depending upon what fish you are using, you can give this dish a fancy name such as ‘pan fried salmon served with steamed vegetables’!
For an Asian spin on this dish – use the following ingredients – fish, soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger, salt and red chili flakes. Marinate the fish using all the other ingredients and cook as mentioned above. This recipe creates a perfect balance between sweet, salty, peppery and sour! Moreover, it is much healthier than any Chinese takeaway!
As elucidated above – cheap easy recipes can be healthy, exotic and flavorsome. Their beauty lies in their simplicity!
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