Growing up in Karachi with it’s brutal summers we were always admonished not to eat nuts (as they are warming) in the summer months. Come winter that embargo would be lifted and my father knowing cashews are my favourite would buy several kilos of them. A little excessive? Probably, but you couldn’t convince him of this if you tried. I always had cashews roasted and salted, not realising that there a world of flavour that could be added on! My brothers wife Renae introduced me to homemade spicy roasted cashews and I was a little in love. There may have been some sibling tussling over her spicy roasted cashews. My brother is stronger, but I had just had a baby so sympathy win you know!?
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When we were kids we took a trip to the Northern parts of Pakistan, to Swat and Kaghan with their beautiful peaks and glacial rivers. I would share pictures, but I have some izzat (i.e. self respect).
Those weren’t necessarily my best years.
I don’t remember many details about the trip, but I do remember those delicious bags of chana daal that we would pick up from the nearest restaurant for dinner. When I say bags I am serious. The chana daal or chanay ki daal actually came in clear plastic bags that I would clumsily try to serve myself from, using roti to scoop up what I could, spilling some in the process. It was one of my favourite things about that trip and I really wish that I could recreate that kind of nostalgic magic.
I know, I know, you’re confused. What is butter sugar carbs loving Sarah doing baking sugar free sweets and gluten free ones on top of that? Getting ready is what. Here is a Fact: South Asians are at a higher risk for Type 2 Diabetes. My father is diabetic. I love me some sugar. See where I am going with this? Yup, people, Stevia is my future. Might as well embrace it now, no?
My husband used to be a consultant which meant a lot of his weekdays were spent in a different city or country. On those days I would usually foodnetwork.com my meals. That means spending hours searching recipes, reading reviews and walking to the neighborhood Rabba for ingredients. This Mushroom Stroganoff from Alton Brown was a favourite, but it got supplanted by the Garlicky Mushroom Pasta my kids love.
Yes, I am a mathematical genius like that. Don’t beat yourself up about it, all of us just aren’t wired that way….
I kid, although now that I am on the subject of math I should point out that baking really helped my fraction game. Half my life my mother would say “Oh yeah, this recipe that feeds 12 people, go ahead and make 3.5 times the amount.” Now if only calculus and baking were somehow related.
Did you ever watch Home Alone? You know, from back when Macaulay Culkin was cute. Apparently it released in 1990 and the fact that I remember it well makes me way old. But back to the movie. Growing up in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia that movie was the first time I was exposed to Christmas. You see we are Muslim and before the whole world shrank thanks to the internet Christmas was still a very North American/ European thing. Now I see friends still living in Pakistan putting up trees with twinkling lights. It is fun to see that Santa has gone global 🙂
I love the carols, the lights, the magic of it all, but I also really love having another excuse to bake. When I spotted these Lindt Shortbread Cookies from Salma of The Write Balance I knew I had to bake them pronto. Because, well it’s the season after all.
I am slowing down with age. That’s a thing right. Is it a thing at 35? If not let’s pretend I am 55 and excuse my laziness. Here is the plain truth. I am all about everything from scratch meals. But sometimes, sometimes, I want to be able to make a no muss no fuss meal that’s inviting and impressive. And sometimes, sometimes I think it’s okay to take some short cuts. Like bust out a Shaan Masala packet (or two) and make some quick Instant Pot Tandoori Roast Chicken that literally falls of the bone. Imagine being so tired and being able to easily pull that off. Nothing feels quite as good as using some hot naan to break off some tender masala-licious chicken, scoop up a little of that spicy gravy and savour all that deliciousness.
Paris is simultaneously exhilarating and intimidating. I am searching for words to describe what it felt like to be there for a few days this summer and am a little at a loss. Minus those times when the 6 yo and 3 yo both wanted to sit in the stroller, that experience I have words for, but I do like to keep it PG here. Let’s revert to the positive shall we?
Although I thought I knew what to expect I really did not. Not with the city, or the monuments (hello Eiffel Tower, you are ginormous) or the patisseries. They’re everywhere. As a home baker that sheer amount of talent astounds me. How is it possible I wonder for so many gifted people to reside in one city and produce this endless array of perfection. I am still not entirely sure.
People go to weddings for the korma. I don’t. I am straight up there for the Lahori Fried Fish and the dessert. For most of my life my “shadi” plate has been half a plate piled with hot naans and the other half with savory unctuous battered deep fried, but so damn good Lahori Fried Fish. My father would always warn me about the perils of eating seafood in the summer, but fish over korma any day.
So in my head Lahori fish always has a spiced chickpea batter and then. Well, and then, my brother got married. That was exciting and all, but there was this fish at his nikah (the Muslim wedding ceremony). This crunchy, spicy, punchy fish. It had all the flavors of a lahori fried fish, but the CRUNCH people, the crunch.
I was so excited that I immediately went into the hosts’ kitchen in my “chamak challo” (glitter and sparkle) dressed for a wedding state and enthusiastically began complimenting a confused catering staff who told me where I could leave my plate.
Leave my plate. Pffft. I had just started eating.