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Fantasy For Feta: A Cheesy Fare By Chef Kaviraj Khialani

Make these delicious delights with recipes by Celebrity Chef Kaviraj Khialani.
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  • Chef Kaviraj Khialani
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Published -10 Feb 2022, 15:11 ISTUpdated -10 Feb 2022, 15:42 IST
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Feta kaviraj khialani

Feta is a Greek brined curd white cheese made from sheep's milk or from a mixture of sheep and goat's milk. It is soft, with small or no holes, a compact touch, few cuts, and no skin. It is formed into large blocks, and aged in brine. Its flavor is tangy and salty, ranging from mild to sharp. It is a crumbly aged cheese, with small or no holes, a compact touch, few cuts, and no skin. Feta is commonly produced in blocks, and has a slightly grainy texture in comparison to other cheeses. Its flavor is tangy and salty, ranging from mild to sharp. The color is snow white on the inside and on the surface.

Feta is a brined, white cheese with a soft and creamy texture. Compared to other cheeses, it's low in calories and fat. It also contains a high amount of B vitamins, phosphorus and calcium, which can benefit bone health. Additionally, feta contains beneficial bacteria and fatty acids. While feta cheese provides you with an excellent source of nutrients like calcium and protein, it also contains high amounts of sodium and saturated fat. Feta is lower in fat than many other cheeses, however, and is considered a reasonable option to eat in moderation.

The Greek word feta comes from the Italian feta 'slice', which in turn is derived from the Latin 'morsel, piece'. The word feta became widespread as a name for the cheese only in the 19th century, probably referring to the cheese being cut to pack it in barrels. Traditional Greek feta cheese is made from sheep or goat milk. Feta cheese has fewer calories than any other cheese, so it is a good choice for weight loss. 28 grams of feta cheese contains 75 calories. However, feta cheese is high in sodium, so it is advised to drink plenty of water if you have it. It was originally produced using sheep's milk, although now most commercial makers of feta use cow's milk. Feta is stored and cultured in a whey brine, thus giving the cheese its distinctive salty taste.

 If you find the salty brine taste of feta cheese too strong, it is possible to lessen or remove this taste. With 7 grams of fat and only 3 grams of carbs, feta can be eaten by those following the keto diet. Feta's crumbly texture makes it easy to sprinkle on top of salads or soups. True feta fanatics often top it with olive oil and eat it as a standalone item or side dish. Crumbled feta cheese tends to last up to the expiry date stated on the label if it is left unopened. However, as soon as you open your crumbled feta cheese, it will last only about five days if kept in the fridge. If you buy your feta cheese in a wrapped block form, it will last about a month if left unopened.

 5 Health Benefits of Feta Cheese:

feta recipes

Helps treat Anaemia- associated with low levels of iron, folic acid, Vitamin B-12, anaemia can be naturally treated by consuming feta In a wise and appropriate manner.

Good for eyes and prevents eye diseases- various studies as we know have suggested that people having healthy diets with good quantities of Vitamin B-2 including feta cheese once in a while have lesser chances of having eye issues.

Prevents Headache and Migraine issues- since feta has a good balance of nutrients with a sound quantity of vitamin B-2 it has been considered good to consume to prevent issues related to headaches etc.

Immunity Boosting Cheese- feta cheese is considered good in a number of ways due to its beneficial properties and offerings towards us which help us to maintain our health in a better way and boosts immunity as well.

Good for Bones and Gut health – Feta cheese is regarded as a positive source of supporting health of our bones and gut. It also offers probiotics or bacteria which line our gut as well.

 A Few Culinary Uses of Feta Cheese:

Salads and Appetizers: Feta is a good choice to work with when it comes to tossing up salads be it veg or non-veg, be it a greek salad or a quick toss chicken salad. The texture and taste of feta blends well with veggies like cucumber, onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, olives, roast of grilled chicken/ meats, cold cuts/charcuterie products as well like ham, sausages, salami, bacon etc. be it a la carte, plated service, buffets or set meals feta has somehow found its place in a number of ways to impress the audience and food connoisseurs.

Fillings and Stuffing’s: making a choice for a rolled up cigar concept or a stuffing with spinach and mushrooms with a little feta gives a good mouthfeel and richness attached into a chicken breast or even a fillet of meat. What matters of course is the correct temperature and timing of cooking when it comes to involving feta cheese. Overheating or too much heat as well is not really recommended since it dis-integrates the elements of the cheese and visibility goes down as well when it comes to eye appeal in the finished product.

Ideal to add into Dips: Feta cheese is not only good to add into various other category of dishes on the menu but also when it comes to dipping delicacies to along with crunchy cuts of veggies like carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, white or red radish, olives, lavash, cheese straws, soup sticks, flaky pastry preparations etc. a good dip not only offers a creamy texture but also a punch and bite when it comes to looking for an ideal one and feta adds it just right in the correct proportion.

Here are a few of my all-time favourite recipes using Feta Cheese:

CRUNCHY VEG & FETA DELIGHT SALAD

Feta salad

Ingredients:

For the base of the salad:

  • Iceberg/ Lollorosso/ romaine/ cos lettuce- 1 small bunch
  • For the body of the salad:
  • Feta cheese- ¼ cup cubed.
  • Cucumber-1 med sized, cut into cubes
  • Tomato- 1 med sized, cut into cubes
  • Green capsicum-1/2 no, cut into cubes
  • Red capsicum-1/2 no, cut into cubes
  • Yellow capsicum-1/2 no, cut into cubes
  • Black olives- 3-4 no
  • Green olives-3-4 no
  • Capers/jalapenos -2-3 no
  • For non-veg options:
  • Roast/ grilled chicken/ meat- 1 cup sliced.
  • Boiled eggs- 2 no cubes.
  • Anchovy fish/ tuna fish- ½ cup tinned
  • Luncheon meat/ canned processed meat- ¼ cup cubes
  • Poached fish/ shrimps etc- 1 cup 
  • For the dressing of the salad:
  • Olive oil- ¼ cup
  • Mustard paste- 1 tsp
  • Mixed herbs-1/2 tsp
  • Chili flakes-1/2 tsp
  • Lime juice/ white vinegar/ balsamic vinegar- 2-3 tsp
  • Sugar-1/4 tsp
  • Flax seeds/ sunflower seeds/ chia seeds- 1-2 tsp
  • Parsley- 2 tsp chopped
  • Raisins- 2-3 tsp chopped
  • Almond flakes- 2 tsp

For the garnish of the salad:

  • Micro- greens- ½ cup
  • Fresh assorted herbs like basil/ thyme/ rosemary- a few sprigs
  • Cherry tomatoes- 3-4 no cut 1 x 2
  • Crushed black pepper- ¼ tsp
  • Feta cheese- 100 gms, crumbled.

Method:

1. Pre-prep all the ingredients for the crunchy veg and feta salad.

2. Place the lettuce leaves in chilled water to retain their freshness and texture.

3. Mix up all the ingredients for the dressing in a jar or small bottle and shake it well/ mix well if using a mixing bowl. I usually prepare these kinds of dressings ahead of time and keep them refrigerated for a week or so.

4. Just before serving the salad, we need to have the salad plate ready and a mixing bowl to toss up the body of the salad with the dressing.

5. Drain up the lettuce leaves and pat dry them, place them on the salad plate, top it up with the prepared salad, garnish appropriately and serve immediately.

HERBED SPINACH WITH FUNGI AND FETA CHEESE ROLLS

HERBED SPINACH WITH FUNGI

Ingredients:

For the dough/ wrapper of the rolls:

  • Maida- 1 cup
  • Salt-1/4 tsp
  • Oil-2 tsp
  • Pepper powder-1 pinch
  • Egg yolk-1 no, optional
  • Warm water as needed.

We can ideally also use readymade wrappers/ spring roll covers which are readily available as well.
For the Feta and Fungi filling:

  • Fresh button mushrooms- 100 gms, thinly sliced
  • Spinach leaves- 1 bunch, cleaned- blanched, fine chopped
  • Pine nuts/ roasted crushed peanuts- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Feta cheese- 100 gms, crumbled
  • Olive oil- 2 tsp
  • Garlic- 1 tsp chopped
  • Onion-1/2 chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed herbs-1/2 tsp
  • Chili flakes-1/2 tsp
  • Maida-1 tsp
  • Maida- water paste for sealing the rolls
  • Oil- to deep fry the rolls.

Method: 

1. Decide between using ready to use wrappers or prepare the dough using maida and keep it aside to rest for 20 mins, divide into 12-14 equal portions and roll them out very thin using little dry maida.

2. Prepare the ingredients for the filling, heat olive oil and saute onions, garlic, add in the mushrooms, spinach, nuts, seasonings, herbs, chili flakes and cook on a medium flame for 3-4 mins, add in the maida and mix well.

3. Once the mixture starts cooking and excess moisture is absorbed and or evaporated, turn off the flame and then add in the feta cheese, mix lightly and keep aside to cool.

4. Place the feta filling on each rolled out portion and apply little sealing liquid on the sides, roll it up like spring rolls and deep fry in medium hot oil and fry until lightly golden browned. Drain off excess oil and serve hot with dipping sauces.

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INDO FUSION MINCED MEAT WITH FETA

INDO FUSION MINCED MEAT

Ingredients:

  • Oil-2 tsp
  • Butter-2 tsp
  • Bayleaf- 1 no
  • Peppercorns- 3-4 no
  • Garlic- 1 tsp
  • Onion-1 small chopped
  • Tomato-1 small chopped
  • Mincemeat/ mutton keema- 250 gms
  • Green peas-1 cup parboiled.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mixed herbs-1/2 tsp
  • Chili flakes- ½ tsp
  • Garam masala powder-1/4 tsp
  • Tomato puree-1/2 cup
  • Chili sauce- 2 tsp
  • Water-1/2 cup
  • Tomato ketchup- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Boiled macaroni pasta- 1 cup
  • Boiled mashed potatoes- 3-4 med sized.
  • White sauce- 1 and a half cup
  • Fresh cream- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Grated cheese- ½ cup
  • Black olives- 6- 8 no
  • Green olives- 5-6 no

Method:

1. Prepare all the ingredients for the baked dish recipe.

2. Heat oil and butter in a pan and add in the whole spices and onions, saute them for a couple of minutes, add in garlic, and mincemeat.

3. Saute the keema on a medium high flame for a few mins, add in the masala and herbs, chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add in tomatoes, puree and bhunav the keema for 4-5 mins to get over with the rawness in the mincemeat.

5. Add in little water and allow the mincemeat to cook on a low flame for 20-25 mins, add in the green peas and mix, cook for 10 mins, finally add in the chili sauce, tomato ketchup and mix well.

6. Now grease a baking dish and preheat oven to 180 deg celsius and start layering the dish starting with keema mix, white sauce, macaroni pasta, cheese and then mashed potatoes, followed by keema again, top it up with cheese on the top and drizzle little cream as well. Place the dish for baking for around 15- 18 mins, and remove. Finally garnish it with the olives and fresh herbs and serve it hot with garlic bread, assorted bread rolls etc.

MARINATED TOMATO – OLIVE & FETA BITES

marinated feta

Ingredients:

For the base of the canapes:

  • Sliced french bread/ baguette- 10-12 pieces
  • Brown bread/ white bread- 4-5 slices, cut into shapes
  • Olive oil- 2-3 tbsp. to drizzle and toast the base
  • For the topping:
  • Feta cheese- ½ cup crumbled
  • Shallots- 10-12 no sliced
  • Olive oil- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Garlic- 2 tsp chopped
  • Tomato- ½ cup chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Red capsicums-1/2 no fine chopped
  • Mixed herbs- ½ tsp 
  • Balsamic vinegar- 2 tsp
  • Chili flakes-1/2 tsp
  • Tomato ketchup- 2-3 tsp
  • Walnuts- 2-3 tsp chopped
  • Fresh basil leaves- 8-10 no
  • White wine- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Olives- 3-4 no sliced, black or green

Method:

1. Pre-prep all the ingredients for the quick fix snack bites.

2. Apply or brush a little olive oil on the base or choice of bread being used, preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and toast it for 3-4 mins, remove and keep aside.

3. Heat oil in a pan, saute the garlic, shallots for a couple of mins, add in the capsicums and seasonings, herbs, chili flakes, tomatoes, wine and cook for 4-6 mins.

4. Turn off the flame, add in the balsamic vinegar, and all other ingredients including feta and nuts. Mix lightly and keep aside.

5. Just before serving we need to assemble the canape bites on the toasted bread pieces by spooning over the mixture and garnish it appropriately with fresh herbs, micro- greens, olives etc 

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AIOLI AND FETA STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST

AIOLI AND FETA STUFFED CHICKEN BREAST

Ingredients:

For the chicken breast marination:

  • Boneless chicken breasts- 400 gms, without bones and skin.
  • Oil- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh herbs- ½ tsp
  • Garlic- 1 tsp chopped
  • Soya sauce- 2 tsp
  • Red chili sauce- 2 tsp
  • White wine/ vinegar- 2-3 tsp
  • Roasted crushed fennel seeds- 1-2 tsp
  • For the stuffing of the chicken breasts:
  • Feta cheese- ½ cup crumbled
  • Assorted nuts- 2-3 tbsp. chopped
  • Sliced mushrooms-1 cup
  • Garlic-1 tsp chopped
  • Onion- 1 small chopped
  • Parsley-2 tbsp. chopped
  • Breadcrumbs- ½ cup
  • Melted butter-1/2 cup
  • Grated processed cheese-2-3 tbsp.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • To serve the chicken breasts:
  • Sliced tomatoes-1/2 cup
  • Onion rings- ½ cup
  • Assorted lettuce leaves- 1 cup
  • Sliced lime- 5-6 no
  • Olives/jalapenos/pickled veggies- as desired.

Method:

1. Prepare all the components and ingredients for the chicken recipe.

2. Clean, wash and pat dry the chicken breasts, apply the marination and mix well and keep aside for 12- 15 mins.

3. To prepare the stuffing for the chicken breasts, warm up the butter in a pan, add in the garlic, onions, saute for a few mins, add in the mushrooms, salt, pepper, herbs, chili flakes, breadcrumbs and mix well.

4. Cook the mixture for a couple of mins and turn off the flame, cool for 10 mins and then add in the parsley, feta and processed cheese, mix.

5. Stuff the chicken breasts, close the edges, beating it a little with the back of a knife and place them on a roasting tray. Cook it in the oven for 15- 18 mins at 180 degrees celsius, cover with aluminium foil and cook if the heat gets too high. Using a knife cut and check once chicken is cooked. Remove and serve hot. Garnish the plate with fresh crispy cuts of veggies and enjoy the chicken with a splash of fresh lime juice.

VEGGIE PAN PASTA WITH FETA 

VEGGIE PAN PASTA WITH FETA

Ingredients:

For the Pasta:

  • Spaghetti pasta/your choice- 150 gms, boiled
  • Olive oil- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Garlic- 2 tsp chopped
  • Onion-1 small chopped
  • Red capsicum- ½ cut into strips
  • Yellow capsicums-1/2 cut into strips
  • Green capsicums- ½ cut into strips
  • Salt to taste
  • Crushed black pepper to taste
  • Garam masala powder-1/4 tsp
  • Fresh basil- 6-8 leaves
  • Chili flakes-1/2 tsp
  • Tomato sauce- 1 cup
  • Water/stock-1/2 cup
  • Red chili sauce/tabasco-1-2 tsp
  • Peanut butter-2 tsp
  • Tomato ketchup- 2-3 tbsp.
  • Fresh cream – ½ cup
  • Feta cheese- 150 gms, crumbled
  • Breadcrumbs-1/2 cup
  • For the assorted choice of veggies:
  • Roasted/ fried cubes of eggplant
  • Blanched cubes of zucchini- green/yellow
  • Blanched broccoli florets
  • Blanched asparagus spears
  • Blanched baby carrots
  • Artichoke/ bamboo shoots/ water chestnuts

To serve with:

  • Assorted bread rolls
  • Herbed bread
  • Focaccia bread
  • Whole wheat and flax seed rolls

Method:

1. Prepare all the ingredients for the yummy pasta recipe.

2. Boil water, add in a little oil and salt and boil the pasta of your choice until just firm to the bite/ al dente stage, drain the water, refresh the pasta and keep aside.

3. To prepare the pasta in the pan, heat oil and add in the garlic, onions and saute for a few seconds. Add in the choice of veggies as desired from the list and add seasonings, herbs, chili flakes and little water/stock and allow the veggies to get cooked.

4. Add in the sauces, add in the cooked pasta and peppers, give it all a nice mix, simmer the pan and cook for 3-4 mins. Add in a little fresh cream, herbs, peanut butter and mix well, cook for another 2 mins, turn off the flame.

5. Finally, portion the feta crumbles on the top just before serving and add a touch of finesse with olives, micro-greens, herbs of your choice etc. Serve hot.

Celebrity Chef Kaviraj Khialani has varied experience with hotels and airlines. He is also a consultant, food designer, and food stylist. For more such interesting recipes from the chef, stay tuned to HerZindagi.

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