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.
Jump to the 30 Minute Fajita Pasta Recipe
November 1st. There is something about that date that I find positively intimidating. It is a little silly I know, but somewhere over the course of the next few weeks is my older ones birthday party, my younger ones birthday party, a possible trip out of town, the usual pre Christmas madness, and Christmas itself. While we don’t celebrate Christmas per se, Santa does come to our house with something for the girls. Why you may ask. Well, because this Mama is all about any kind of magic.
I grew up reading this Enid Blyton series called the Wishing Tree in which these two children would visit the extraordinary inhabitants of the Enchanted Tree and explore the lands that came to visit the tree. Even then I was too old to believe in this notion, but it was such fun to play what if. I want my kids to have that – that life full of what ifs and possibilities, a half belief in a world where magic is around the corner, where a kindly figure magically appears and leaves them a special present.
Now I know that this sounds like it has nothing to do with 30 Minute Fajita Pasta, but it kinda does.
I ran a little Instagram poll the other day to see if this Baingan ka Raita was worth posting and apparently over 90% of you think so.
Was I surprised? Not really.
I remember calling my mother one chilly evening in Toronto, at some absurdly early time in Karachi because I had managed to mess it up. My mother did her usual “so easy, just namak-laal-mirch and lehsan (garlic)”. Aah garlic. The tiniest smidge was what my dahi was missing and suddenly all was right again. Incidentally, NamakLaalMirch – always said as one word – is a Pakistani recipe must have. Namak=Salt and Laal Mirch= Red Chilli Powder. It is probably for South Asian food what salt and pepper is for much of the world. But if anyone in my family is giving you a recipe then it is always said as one word because they are considered so inextricably linked. Making an omelette? Put in NamakLaalMirch. Aaloo ki Sabzi? NamakLaalMirch. It’s all NamakLaalMirch.
As followers of my blog know, I adore a good raita and already have a recipe for a Palak/Spinach Raita and for this killer Sabzi Raita (a total must try). This Baingan ka Raita is one I enjoy making and eating because it is such a simple way to make a meal delicious. I will happily have it with store bought Aalu Parathas. Yes, I said store bought, I am not industrious enough yet to make my own. It is also so yummy with a simple Matar Pulao (Pea Pilaf).
It’s sunny, it’s beautiful, but there is a decided nip in the air. The kind of slight chill which makes you reach for that cozy blanket even in the day. At times like these what is a girl supposed to do, but crave cookies. And when a girl wants a cookie what is she supposed to do, but bake some. If she has been baking for the bulk of her 35 years then she probably knows what kind of cookie she craves. Something choclatey (because duh), but with a cheesecake-y depth and tenderness. Something like these Triple Chocolate Cheesecake Cookies below. Is she the stuffing cookies with bits of cheesecake filling type? Nope. Clearly she is the speaking in third person for no damn reason type. Ok then, will stop now.
There is no question in my mind that I am an emotional eater. I am not sure what the mechanisms there are – is it because chocolate floods your brain with all those positive feel like love chemicals or is there more to it? Note to self: ask husband, he knows everything.
Some times when I post a recipe I am torn between that “here it is” and “I am so so sorry it took so long” sentiment. I want to give a really good reason to you all for the wait, but I’d rather be honest. The reality is that when I make Enchiladas I am in such a rush to eat them that pictures aren’t really high priority at the time. That’s really it. It is incredibly hard to resist that sizzling sauce, the crispy melty cheese, the caramelized bits at the edge of the pan that I want to err…. tidy up. Yes let’s call it that. Whatever the reason for the delay, these Spicy Chicken Enchiladas with our Favourite Enchilada Sauce are finally here. I can make zero claims regarding the authenticity of these Spicy Chicken Enchiladas, but I can tell you that they are make-for-dinner-guests-good. If you’re the sharing kind that is.
Isn’t it funny how the forever recipes sometimes get ignored? The ones that you make for so long that they become the equivalent of boiled rice (but much tastier). This French Yogurt Cake is one of them. I first made it as a little girl and many times over since. The premise is simple, all the ingredients are in a fixed ratio measured by yogurt containers. After a lifetime of eating it I relegated it to the past when some years ago a friend (Hi Reshma!) reminded me about it. Like many recipes that handed down to me there were two versions of this one too. I prefer this one because it makes a more modest cake and one that I can actually fit in my rarely used bundt cake pan. Dust it with a little icing sugar, glaze with marmalade, or serve just as is. This French Yogurt Cake is a wonderful mid day pick me up or after school snack.
One day. Just one day of I need a light jacket weather is all it takes for me to start craving some serious comfort food like this Chicken Tetrazzini for Four. When I was growing up in Jeddah my mother would throw lots of dinner parties, elaborate affairs with many mains and an almost equal number of desserts. Or so it seemed. For a while Chicken Tetrazzini was part of the regular rotation. It eventually went out of vogue and became replaced by her Chicken & Cheese casserole, but for some reason I thought of it recently and decided to make it. I had her recipe which I scribbled all over and as well as other recipes for Chicken Tetrazzini and I remembered why it is that I don’t make it.
This Bhindi Masala is my copy of the one my Nanis cook makes. True Story. Nani, incidentally, is the word for maternal grandmother. My Nani has been Nanna to all of us and Nonni H (H for Hussain) to me. We are coming up on the 9th of Muharram, a poignant day for Shia Muslims, but when I think of the 9th of Muharram I inevitably think of my Nonni. In her prime my Nonni was feisty with a sense of humour and a naughty contained laugh that radiated from the centre of her grey green eyes to the gentle crinkles around the corners. The 9th of Muharram is a solemn night, one where people would stream in and out, soberly praying. The last time Nonni was well enough to be there for the night she mischievously regaled my sister and I with stories from her youth. Of a little girl who would break into the achar (pickles) when her mother wasn’t looking, of the summertime antics of women we knew as grandmothers. My sister and I would burst into giggles at inopportune moments causing our mother to sternly admonish us with her silent glare. It would take all of a second for Nanna to resume her storytelling. Suffice is to say my sister and I did not end the night in my mothers good books.
Home. After spending the summer travelling through other homes – mine in Karachi, my brothers’ in Oxford, a friends in London and a beautiful apartment in Paris I find myself rethinking what home means. Clearly, I have been thinking hard and not blogging quite enough, but on to cheerier things 😉
This recipe for Peanuttiest Blondies is ever so slightly adapted from one of my favourite cookbooks of all time “Baking” by Dorie Greenspan. When I first moved to Toronto almost ten years ago I found myself friendless in an unfamiliar city and without *gasp* google maps. So I did what I could, I wrote directions down in a notebook, searched out independent coffee shops, and familiarised myself with the bookstores. There was a big Indigo at the corner of Richmond and John and it became one of my Toronto go tos. It was there that I discovered this cookbook. Although I would read it there many times over I couldn’t bring my unemployed self to buy it. That’s where my friend stepped in for which I am forever grateful. Given how well used it is, my family and friends in Toronto are too 🙂
There are foods that I think of as seriously desi (south asian) in their flavors, the kind of foods I wouldn’t make for someone who was just trying out Pakistani food. Kharay Masalay ka Gosht is one of them. With it’s heady aromatic spices – the name Khara Masala literally means whole spices – this unassuming dish packs a punch! As those of you who cook regularly from the blog (thank you!) know, I am not a fan of the “garam masala” taste. I love using it in powder form as an accent, but usually keep the whole spices moderate. However, for kharay masalay ka gosht I am willing to make an exception! This aromatic dish goes best with some simple bread, although a little sheermal never hurt anyone 🙂