Lemon Crunch Cake (Lemon Drizzle Traybake)

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I am a little obsessed with this idea of a crunchy/contrasting topping on cakes. I am also a little obsessed with all things lemon – desserts like this Lemon Mousse-y creation or a generous squeeze at the end of Pakistani dishes like fish biryani. When I saw a recipe for a Lemon Drizzle Tray Bake in Mary Berry’s Baking Bible, a thoughtful gift from one of my three favourite brothers and his wife, I knew it had to be. The lemon crunch cake is easy to put together – you literally just dump all the ingredients in the bowl and mix till smooth. The fabulous crunch topping is as simple as lemon juice + sugar and it totally works

lemon crunch cake

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Chicken & White Sauce Squares

Chicken White Sauce Squares

Desi truth: We love white sauce. Not the milk/cream, butter, nutmeg and a sprinkling of cheese kind, but the fully loaded variety with things in it that would appal French grandmamas. These Chicken & White Sauce Squares are inspired by the memory of another impressive woman. When I was a teenager there was a lady who made part of her living going from house to house making these squares. They were built with samosa wrappers that would shatter ever so slightly when you bit into them and savoured the creamy deliciousness of the white sauce filling.

Chicken and White Sauce Squares

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Sheer Khurma & Eid Eats 2016!

sheer khurma

Eid Eats 2016 is here!!! I am so thrilled to be co-hosting this events with blogger buddies Henna (My Ninja Naan) and Asiya (Chocolate & Chillies). What is Eid Eats you may ask? Well it is a fun round up of Eid recipes from our blogger friends world over. The recipes usually range from traditional to non traditional with a common theme of deliciousness. Blogger friends check back here for the how tos and don’t forget to use the hashtag #EidEats2016! My wonderful readers can see what everyone else is bringing to the table at the bottom of the post. Please do keep checking back as recipes will continue to be added over the next three days!

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I had initially thought of making something more ‘creative’ but then I decided to hold on to that thought and instead offer to you Sivaiyan/Sheer Khurma, the vermicelli & milk dessert that is almost compulsory on Eid-ul-Fitr. My Mamas Sivaiyan – or Sheer Khurma if we are going to be technical here – comes together in fifteen minutes and never ever have I had a bite and thought “How could I make this better?” For me it is just not possible. Her secret? A piece of mithai (traditional sweet dessert). One piece of qalaqand which is readily available at Pakistani/Indian stores goes a long way in adding real depth to what can sometimes be an underwhelming dessert. If you don’t have it don’t fret: my other favourite ingredient Condensed Milk does some delicious good here. 

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Quick Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies

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The Story of Quick Strawberry Nutella Hand Pies:

Once upon a time there was a girl who is now a woman, but still calls herself a girl. In her head she is the kind of person who makes everything from scratch, it is her dream to make her own bread. The only reason she doesn’t is because she would eat it all. She pins the same Strawberry Nutella Hand Pie recipes over and over ooh-ing and aah-ing over the variations in crust. She has done this for two years. And then one day she does something scary: she walks into a store and buys a premade pie crust. After that something wonderful happens – with five minutes of work she makes these delicious little hand pies, cute as a button, their flaky crust oozing with strawberry and nutella, their tops crackly and finished with a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. One bite and she stops judging herself, but just to be safe she took two (hand pies not bites) and now plans to live happily ever after. The Beginning. 

strawberry nutella hand pies

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Qeema Chawal – Rice & Ground Beef Pilaf

beef and rice pilaf

Qeema Chawal. Rice and Ground Beef. Is this a qeema biryani? I don’t know, but when I think of biryani I think of headier spices, bolder flavors. Qeema Chawal for me is it’s more mellow beautiful counterpart. It is more pulao like in it’s simplicity of flavors and it is one of the few dishes where I will not be able to resist seconds (and maybe thirds but whose counting). This is another one of my mothers recipes and one of those which I make almost as well as she does. Almost. That’s more than good enough for me. 

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I wasn’t sure whether I should post this recipe or not, but the further we get into Ramzan the more my body craves foods that are light yet flavorfully spicy and this checks those boxes. I love it most with a loaded raita, but then I love most things with a loaded raita. This rice dish improves in flavor and the best way to reheat is to sprinkle it with a little water before microwaving it. If you feel like your beef has become too ‘dry’ then add two additional tbsp of room temperature whipped yogurt into the qeema mixture before layering it with the rice.

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No Churn Kulfa Ice Cream

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Hello hello everyone! I feel like it’s been a while so some niceties are in order. Where have I been? Battling technical demons courtesy my love hate relationship with my iPhone which happens to be my camera. Rest assured that there are many yummies coming your way soon! Speaking of yummy you won’t actually find today’s recipe here, instead it will be hanging out over at Lubnas blog which is appropriately titled “Yummy Food| Fast to Cook, Good to Eat”. Now who doesn’t like the sound of that? Lubna was kind enough to ask me to join once again in her Ramadan recipe round up called “Joy From Fasting to Feasting” and I couldn’t say no 🙂 I’ve visited once before and look forward to doing so again in coming years!

(Am I hinting? only a little…)

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This no churn trend really has me hooked guys – I even bought a can of condensed milk the other day “just in case”. First there was the sublime coffee toffee ice cream and now it meets a sunnier more refreshing counterpart, my riff on the classic kulfi, that milky dense delicious treat studded with pistachios and almonds that is one of my favorite desserts of all time. I happen to make some pretty good kulfi, but I really wanted to make an ice cream, one that was simultaneously light in flavors and luscious in texture and I knew this had to be. One bite and I wanted to pat myself on the back which in case you’re wondering is a lot more awkward to do than it sounds. Also, that exra swirl of honey? That is a thing of beauty and it amazes me how wonderfully it pairs with this divine kulfa ice cream *sigh*. 

Want to make this happen? Go check out how!

 

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Asian Inspired Corn Fritters

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For Muslims across the world this is the month of Ramadan, a month where we fast from sunrise to sunset with the intent of gaining greater empathy with those less fortunate, being more grateful for our blessings and learning to subsume our physical desires in favour of spiritual ones. It is perhaps somewhat ironic that during this month there is a strong culture of food traditions. Be it the lentil soup of  some Arabs, or the pakoras of us Pakistanis aside from the proscribed opening of the fast with a date there is a great deal of variation across the board. In Pakistan if you open your windows in the hour before iftar then you will smell the delicious smells of crispy fried goodness – samosas, jalebis, pakoras – they’re an almost staple at an iftar table.

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Today I am sharing with you – and more accurately the readers at My Ninja Naan – my recipe for Asian Inspired Corn Fritters, a fun change from the usual. These are simple corn fritters (yes, corn is my new nutella) that come together in a jiffy, you can put the batter in the fridge and fry them up at iftar time. They are best when fresh and a spicy condiment is not optional. I love the slight crunch of these tender fritters with their sweet corn and fiery chillies. Skip the chillies and they are immensely child friendly. Want to add a desi touch? Skip the soy sauce and generously season with the desi trifecta of salt, cayenne, and cumin. 

To learn how to make this happen head over to my lovely friend Henna’s blog and read more! Henna is also amping up her posts for this Ramadan so subscribe to her blog so that you don’t miss out – I am already SO intrigued by her creative Mango Chickpea Salad.

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Brigadeiros – Irresistible Brazilian Chocolate Fudge

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What are Brigadeiros you ask? If I told you these yummy little things are like caramels and fudge had a beautiful baby then would I need to say anymore? How about if I said that there are only six ingredients involved? How about we just take a minute and look at one. 

Aah Brigadeiros, you get me every time *sigh*

I first discovered these chewy chocolatey treats when I was in college. The international house often had these themed dinners and these made what for me was an unforgettable experience at the Brazilian one. I pestered the Brazilian girls for the recipe, but they suggested that it wasn’t something that could be easily done with American ingredients. Let’s just say I am thrilled to bits that they were wrong (or just messing with me). 

Brigadeiros: A Chocolatey Fudgy Brazilian Treat
Having made them once or ten times I have made probably all the mistakes you can make and here is what I have learnt. They are best consumed that day or a day after. If you really wrap them tightly then two days at most, but room temperature is the only way to go. If they are undercooked and not rolling well run to the party store grab those tasting spoons that resemble the ones you have soup with at a Chinese restaurant. Put a dollop in each spoon, top with sprinkles and call it a day.  

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Crunchy Corn and Green Chilli Aaloo Cutlets / Potato Cakes

Aaloo Cutlets

One of my brothers likes to tell the story of how when he was back in Karachi during one of his college breaks he walked into the kitchen to find a girl he had not seen before with her head submerged in our deep freezer, furtively foraging for something to eat. When he asked her who she was she responded by asking him who he was to which he said “I live here” to which she exasperatingly replied “I’ve never seen you before”. My poor brother then retorted with “well I haven’t seen you either” Once they has resolved their impasse and she had told him she was one of my friends he asked where I was and she said “not home” and continued to rummage through the deep freezer until she found these Corn and Green Chilli Aaloo Cutlets. Moral of the story:  food first, all else later.

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With their crunchy exterior and creamy spicy interior nubbed with corn these are one of my mothers trademark cutlets/kababs. The friend above was not the only one who would drop in after school to snack on these babies. They were pretty much a hands down favorite of most of my friends. Some of my happiest memories from those days are the ones that were made in my sweltering kitchen, friends sitting around the table, plates with cutlets and ketchup smears and lots of the unrestrained laughter that is the hallmark of teenage years. 

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As an adult, one who is forever ‘behind’ in the things that need to be done I can really appreciate how much work it would have taken for my mother to keep that freezer stocked for the hungry teens that were always welcome in our house – whether we were home or not. My hope is that by the time my girls are older they too can have that same experience. I don’t think it’s ‘cool’ for kids to hang out at each others houses when Starbucks is an option, but I would like to think that if you cook it they will come 🙂

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Cake Rusks + Eid Eats Invite!

cake rusks

I get a little confused when I do these ‘double’ posts – I mean do I talk about the cake rusks first or the Eid ‘potluck’? It’s a tough choice – excuse me while I use some sophisticated eeny-meeny-miney-mo to decide.

Okay, Eid Eats! it is. Readers of my blog (I love you) will remember that we have done this before, twice before to be precise. This year, just like last year, it is hosted by Asiya at Chocolate & Chillies and Henna at My Ninja Naan and the premise, as always, is simple. It is a ‘potluck’ where we ask our blogging friends to ‘bring’ any recipe that they would make for Eid. Sweet, savory, traditional, or entirely new – it is always so much fun and some of my favorite eats have come from this foodie get together!

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The rules if you will are these:

1.) Make any dish of your choosing that you would make for Eid, write a post and have it ready for the 3rd of July 2016, you are also welcome to add your links until the 6th of July. Please submit only ‘new’ recipes!

2.) Our posts will also be live July 3rd 2016. You can link back to our blogs i.e. My Ninja Naan, Flour & Spice and Chocolate & Chillies  through a link party  we will set up and use the button above in all of your posts 

3.) Remember to check out and leave comments on participating blogs!

4.) Please use the hashtag #EidEats2016 on your social media posts so we can follow along there too!

Cake RUsk

Now with the business of partying out of the way (lol) let’s talk about cake rusks shall we? This recipe is adapted from Henna at My Ninja Naan. I know all of you know her by now so introductions are unnecessary, but since she is one of my blogging besties I have to just throw out there that I love her to bits and am so happy to have her (and her blog) in my life.

Ode to Henna done, let’s go back to the Cake Rusks. These are a classic Pakistani tea time treat. Where Italians make biscotti we essentially twice bake our cake. The first time will render you a delicious vanilla cake which is so good that I will probably make it just like that this summer and top it with some jam. The second baking turns that sweet vanilla cake into a crispy crunchy less sweet classic cake rusk which is perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.  I halved the original recipe and used a 8*8 square pan to bake the cake. It did lead to some less pretty looking pieces, but fortunately those somehow magically disappeared. 

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In all other respects I went with the original recipe and it has that classic bakery taste. Big plus of making your own? That you don’t have 50 humongous ones staring at you for months on end. Another plus? You can have some fun with it. In the future I think a simple substitution like using a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract would take it to the next level! You could also go the biscotti route with lots of add ins – would love to hear what you come up with!

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