The pies have been baked, the pudding is ready to serve. But few things spoil the fun as watching guests barely pick at a well-laid table because your spreads are too rich to risk. We asked four chefs to dish up signature entrées that don’t compromise on flavour, but which even the strictest dieters can’t fault.
Dill-flavoured steamed fish
sous chef, WelcomHotel, New Delhi
Calorie count: 60 cal per serving (serves 4)
Lean meal: Steaming retains the flavour of the fish and the vegetables.
400g Indonesian basa or sole (cut into fillets)
50g seasonal vegetables
A pinch or two of oregano
A bunch of dill sprigs
Loves to cook: Sous chef Vipul Gupta in his kitchen at WelcomHotel, New Delhi. Sarang Sena/Mint
For the marinade
Salt (to taste)
1 tsp pepper
Juice of half a lemon
1 tsp olive oil
A few sprigs of fresh dill
For the sauce
40ml olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
½ tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Marinate the fish for an hour and steam it till done. Heat olive oil in a pan, sauté chopped garlic, add lemon juice, wine and seasoning. In a separate pan, heat some olive oil and toss the seasonal vegetables with oregano. Arrange the fish on a plate and pour the sauce over the hot, steamed fish. Garnish with dill, sautéed vegetables and serve hot.
Chef’s word: The basa is a very lean seafish and goes wonderfully with fresh seasonal vegetables. Steam it, or lightly grill, and serve with a light sauce. Steaming retains all the flavours and nutrients. In the case of vegetables, steaming retains the colour and texture as well. This recipe is a favourite with my wife and friends. Every time I’ve served it at parties at my home, my guests have loved it.
Chicken in Cranberry Sauce
co-founder, The Yum Yum Tree, New Delhi
Calorie count: Around 750 cal
500g chicken breast
4 cloves garlic
2 bird’s-eye chilli
3 tbsp cooking or white wine
1 cup fresh cranberries
Oil as required
1 red bell pepper, cut into long strips
(No salt is required, the saltiness of the sauces suffices)
Slim pick: Varun Tuli’s Chicken in Cranberry Sauce.
For the sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce
3 tbsp Thai Maggi seasoning
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp lime juice
Combine all the sauce ingredients in a pan. Keep aside. On medium flame, heat oil in a wok, add chopped onion, garlic and chillies, and lightly sauté. Put the chicken and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the wine. Next, add the bell pepper. Lower the heat. Add the sauce and cranberries. Simmer for a minute.
Chef’s word: I make a version of a classic chicken krapow, a Thai stir-fry, with fruits that are in season. So in winter, I substitute the original basil with cranberries. You can use raisins, almonds or prunes for more Christmas flavours. The base of the chicken is very mildly flavoured, so it will perfectly complement the added flavours.
Ravioli stuffed with beet and goat cheese
Italian chef, JW Marriott, Mumbai
Beat the beet: Oriana Tirabassi’s Ravioli Stuffed with Beet and Goat Cheese.
Calorie count: 400 cal
20ml extra virgin olive oil
50g goat cheese
30ml beetroot juice
30g sun-dried tomato
5g red chillies
50ml vegetable stock
1 fresh tomato
A dash of truffle oil to garnish
Make the pasta dough with flour, egg and beetroot juice. Roll the dough into sheets and cut in squares. For the sauce, heat extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add sliced onion, red chillies, sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomato and parsley, cream and goat cheese, and cook for a few minutes. Blanch the pasta in boiling salted water. Steam the asparagus.
Place a pasta sheet on a plate and cover with a spoonful of sauce and a piece of the goat cheese mixture. Repeat the process thrice. Garnish with the steamed asparagus and drizzle with truffle oil. Sprinkle Parmesan on top.
Chef’s word: Ravioli is traditionally prepared with little cheese and many vegetables such as asparagus, tomatoes,
onions. You can also add broccoli. For a contemporary touch and unique flavour, I add beetroot juice.
Seared bluefin tuna niscoise
executive chef, Swissôtel Kolkata
Calorie count: around 460 cal per serving (serves 1)
100g bluefin tuna
30g Kalamata olives
25g baby potato (boiled)
30g haricot beans (boiled)
15g cherry tomato
70ml olive oil
1 tsp mustard paste
5ml anchovy essence
A sprig or two of chervil
Fish delight: Deepak Mishra’s Seared Bluefin Tuna Niscoise.
Marinate the tuna in olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon zest. Toss the sliced baby potatoes, haricot beans, asparagus spears, cherry tomatoes with olive oil and lemon juice to make Niscoise vegetables. Sear the tuna on a high flame and cook to rare. Rest the fish for a while, then slice it. Make lemon vinaigrette with lemon juice, anchovy essence, olive oil and seasoning. Plate the tuna and the Niscoise vegetables. Garnish with marinated cherry tomatoes and chervil sprig.
Chef’s word: You’ve probably seen chefs with big bellies. I’m not one of them. I like to eat low-cal dishes. This one is a favourite when I’m entertaining at home. With its fresh flavours, it always gets a wow.