Pakistani Chicken Karahi Qeema – Stir Fried Ground Chicken

chicken karahi qeema

You know how you feel when you keep meaning to call someone back, someone you really want to see/speak to, but somehow it doesn’t happen and then you run into them somewhere and are awkward and embarrassed? Well that’s how I feel right about now! I have been around though – there is this fun craft the girls I did this winter and my equally fun chat with Devina of My Little Pudding. At least I come bearing gifts – there is this delicious quick Chicken Karahi Qeema, and for those of you who don’t know her, an introduction to the talented Pakistani blogger Fatima from Fatima Cooks. I have been an admirer of hers for quite some time and was browsing her blog for dinner inspiration when I saw her Chicken Karahi Qeema recipe and I was sold. Frankly she had me at the no chopping onions bit. FYI when in my forgetful state I have thrown in a little onion it hasn’t been as good. Just sayin’

Chicken Karahi Qeema

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Pakistani Murgh Palak (Spinach and Chicken)

palak chicken

Moment of truth time folks: Pakistani food is hard, sorry Pakistani food can be hard. Not because of the techniques,  but because of the time. So much damn time. Now of course there are great short cuts, but for an anxious hovering over her food kinda cook like me it can feel exhausting. That is what makes this hearty Murgh Palak so so perfect, there is no slow cooking of onions, no waiting for flavours to develop. Once the chicken is done you’re done. No garnishing required either. Just pick up your roti, or ladle the Murgh Palak over your rice and eat. 

palak chicken

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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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White Chicken Salan or a White Chicken Curry

white chicken salan

It makes me laugh that for someone who barely ate a chicken curry growing up I am now posting my third incarnation. Where my first relied on jammy tomatoes for robust flavor, the second got it’s distinct flavor from the marriage between caramelized onions and a headier dose of turmeric than usual. This white chicken salan has none of that. It’s mellow clean flavour comes from the chicken itself. Because there is no chilli powder added to the white chicken salan the salan is extremely kid friendly. It is rare that both my girls will enjoy the same thing equally, but in this case they wolfed it down with equal enthusiasm. I, too, was happy to follow suit.

white chicken curry

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Thai Chicken Sliders with a Coconut Peanut Sauce and a Coconut Lime Slaw

Summers are for sandwiches. When I say sandwiches I mean anything you can stick between two pieces of bread – burgers, sliders, regular sandwiches, paninis – whatever the mood calls for. Last summer it called for these delicious Thai Chicken sliders more than once. I enjoy them so much that I may have made them a few times over the fall and winter as well – just to ‘test’ the recipe you know. Now it is with great excitement that I bring to you these flavorful Thai Chicken Sliders with a Coconut Peanut Sauce and a Coconut Lime Slaw. I simply adore the contrast between the flavorful mildly spicy coconutty chicken, the rich creamy peanut sauce and the bright fresh slaw. I enjoy it so much that if I don’t have any appropriate bread handy then I am happy to turn it into a big salad. And let’s be real – I am not one of those people who usually likes to eat salad for lunch and not feel like she’s been cheated.

thai-chicken-sliders4

The original recipe is from Olga at Ocean View Kitchen. She is an incredible food photographer and if this recipe is anything to go by then she is a helluva chef too! I made the recipe as written the first time and it was very good. In fact the marinade was so good that I felt that it was a crying shame to ‘waste’ it and transformed it by turning it into a coconut peanut sauce to top the sandwich. I also like to serve any extra on the side for dunking veggies in. If I were a more organized cook then I would be able to plan food so that extras of ingredients never go to waste. Since I am not I tweaked the recipe to make it work with just one can of coconut milk. Over time I have also stopped making my own slaw and buy the Asian style coleslaw from the store instead, frequently supplementing with the veggies in my fridge. Red peppers, shaved carrots, diced cilantro, sliced onions (white), julienned deseeded chillies, scallions (green onions) all have made an appearance in this slaw. Oh, and just in case you were wondering, the day I took these photos I, by some miracle, actually had red cabbage leftover from another recipe so I went ahead and used that.

thai-chicken-sliders-11

Sambal Oelek  – that great hot sauce love of mine – makes an appearance in the sauce here, but you could just as easily substitute it with jalapenos, sriracha, or any other Asian style hot sauce. I would walk away from the Franks here if I were you. I really do dig Frank’s, but here it simply doesn’t work.

thai-chicken-sliders-13

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A Kid Friendly Chicken Pulao

Food speaks. It isn’t always just about how it tastes, but also about the nostalgia it brings, and the memories it creates. A friend once spoke with great passion about how the food she cooks is the best way she knows how to communicate her culture to her kids, to instil a love for where she comes from, who she is, and who they are. Her words have stuck with me, especially since like her I too am raising Canadian kids who I hope will love their Pakistani heritage as much as their Canadian identity. That is where this kid friendly chicken pulao comes in.

I once posted on Instagram that my culinary autobiography would have to be called “The Pulao Diaries”. For someone who has next to no memory of eating chicken pulao as a child I now find myself making it at least every other week, sometimes more. It is a dish my children love, a dish that captures so many Pakistani flavors without setting tongues on fire.  I suspect when my kids look back on their childhoods their memories will be scented with caramelized onions and the sound of the exhaust fan on high 😉

Chicken Pulao - Chicken Pilaf

Pulao purists will recognize that this isn’t an ‘authentic’ pulao in the sense that it is not a yakhni pulao (one made by creating a broth). While I adore those the reality is that I don’t usually have the time to make them. 

This is a one pot meal that requires minimal chopping (2 onions) and minimal prep work if you buy your chicken cut into pieces. Also while it has considerable flavour thanks to the caramelized onions and the garlic and ginger the actual spice level is low enough for kids. You can increase it – and the whole spices – to suit your taste, but this is how I make it for my little ones. When I am low on onions I will use one and it is still yummy, if not quite so rich. A palate cleansing raita is a great accompaniment as is a garlicky chutney (to be posted soon). 

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My Ninja Naan Baby Shower – Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Hello hello my wonderful readers! I know I know, long time no blog. Sigh.

When I was expecting my second child a wise man told me that 1 plus 1 does not equal two. I didn’t get it at the time, but now I do. My very dear friend and blogger Henna of My Ninja Naan is about to find out the same. Congratulations Henna on the upcoming birth of Baby Ninja Two!

I know this is when I wax lyrical about what a great food blogger she is, but I am pretty sure if you hop over to her blog (go now) then it will speak for itself. What you may not get from reading her blog is how incredibly supportive Henna is, she has talked me through many a stressful time and given me great advice when needed and for that I will be forever grateful.

My Ninja Naan Baby Shower Image (3)

So welcome to this surprise virtual baby shower for Henna. This virtual baby shower was the brainchild of Faaiza from Modest Munchies and I am thrilled to be part of it. We wish we were all a little closer so we could celebrate in person, but for now this is a happy substitute. The idea is simple, a few of us get together and make the things we would for a shower if we could be there in person, the only ‘guideline’ was that it be finger food.

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

One of the many things Henna and I seem to have in common is a love for spicy food. While I don’t know that any of us is a snacking on green chillies type, we do like food with a bit of a punch. So Henna I bring to you these spicy Buffalo Chicken pinwheels. They come together quickly and keep well making them the ideal thing to make for feeding a crowd. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Correction: did. I just checked and they’re all gone.

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Hope you enjoy what the other bloggers and I have brought to the table, check out all this yumminess below!

My Ninja Naan Baby Shower
Snowball Whoopie Pies – Modest Munchies
StuffedMushrooms
Stuffed Mushrooms – Chocolate & Chillies
raspberry-jello-cake-III
Raspberry Jello Cake – Arabian Mama
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Taco Lasagna

I am not that good with crowd pleasing dishes – most things I make don’t quadruple well and if you’re Pakistani a small family dinner easily means 40 people and a whole bunch of quadrupling. Over time this cooking for a crowd has become a lot easier and I have fewer meltdowns (lol). However, that is in part because I have started building an arsenal of delicious recipes that are easy to whip together, make in advance, and double if need be.

Taco Lasagna

This Taco lasagna is the latest addition to that collection. The components come together quickly and since you bake it the day of the event it tastes fresh and delicious. I make it with a side of a cheesy spicy garlic bread loaf (recipe to be posted) and a nice bean salad.

Taco Lasagna

The best part is you can actually make this (minus the dicing bit) with a 1 yr old hanging off one hip as long as you give her a little bit of cheese to snack on. Oh and keep her away from the jalapenos if she is convinced all green things are delicious.

Taco Lasagna
Serves 8

Meat Mix:
1/2 cup diced onion
1 lb ground chicken (or beef)
Spicy taco seasoning – 1 packet or make your own and use 3 tbsp
24 ounces salsa
1 cup corn kernels

Ricotta Mix:
1 egg
15 oz carton ricotta cheese
1 jalapeno diced
2 cups shredded cheese – I used Monterey Jack + Mozzarella
Generous pinch of coarse salt and pepper

Additional ingredients:
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (you can sub w regular, just parboil first)
2 cups shredded cheese for topping the lasagna
Chopped green onions for garnish

Note: Most pans and lasagna noodles aren’t friends. There is usually some rejigging and some swearing involved. To mitigate some of this lay out your (uncooked) noodles once in the pan to figure out how many noodles you will need and how many layers you will get so you can readjust layers accordingly. I am giving instructions for a roasting pan (what I use) and a 9*13 below.

Meat Mix:

Saute the onion in a little bit of olive oil until translucent, add the ground chicken and the seasoning then cook until the meat is browned. With chicken this is v quick. Add in the corn kernels and salsa and warm through.

Ricotta Mix:

While the meat is warming empty the ricotta container into a large bowl and mix in the egg, seasoning and diced jalapeno (deseeded or otherwise). Once well combined mix in cheese.

Roasting Pan:

Drizzle a little oil on the base of your pan layer as follows – a ladle or two of bolognese, 6 lasagna noodles vertically across, 2/3 taco meat mix, lasagna noodles, 2/3 ricotta mix, lasagna noodles, then lasagna noodles, then the meat mix dotted with the remainder of your ricotta mix, top with cheese.

9*13:

In a 9×13 baking dish, start by layering 4 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Next, layer ⅓ of the ricotta, ⅓ of the beef mixture, ⅓ of the salsa, and ⅓ of the cheese. Repeat the layers 2 more times.

To Bake:

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 350, cover the dish foil (tent to prevent it from sticking to the cheese) and bake for 35 minutes. If you don’t use foil then you will end up with what I like to call extra crispy edges (I was out of foil the day I took pictures). Remove foil and bake until the top is nice and bubbly and broil for a minute or two.

Taco Lasagna

Taco Lasagna

 

 

 

 

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Haray Masalay ki Murghi – Chicken in a Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Because I am happppyyyyy…clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth…

Why the unnatural cheer you may ask?

Especially since this be a savory dish and I am clearly not on a sugar high – well, it’s thanks to this little round up of Pakistani foodies on instagram featuring yours truly along with some of her personal heroes. A HUGE thanks to Sadaf the talent behind Siddy Says for doing this!

Pssst you aren’t already following me on instagram then I am @sarahjmir.

Anyway, on to the dish of the day (yes, yes still singing “Happy” as I type this)…

Cilantro/Coriander is my favorite fresh herb. Although I love the flavors of basil, oregano and thyme the desi in me would not survive without cilantro. It brightens up every dish from a cool raita to a spicy daal. If I like hints of this stuff so much then, well, a dish that relies on cilantro and green chilies for it’s flavorful savory base has got me hook line and sinker.

Hara Masala Chicken

This folks is what I like to think of as my one blender version. The chicken gets cubed, the onion chopped and the rest of the ingredients get ground into a paste in the blender. Saute some onion, stir fry some chicken, throw in the paste and cook on. It’s pretty straightforward and as long as you have the cilantro, green chilies and garlic in there you can play around with the other ingredients to suit your fancy.

A quick note on the spice level – 4 green chillies may seem like a lot, but a lot of the spiciness will actually cook out so if you want it to be seriously spicy then add at least 2 more. I wouldn’t drop below 3 though. Just sayin’

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Chicken Ginger

14th August. Fluttering flags, endless patriotic songs, skits in school, shalwar qameez for even the most ‘burger’ of us. Those are my memories of Pakistan’s Independence Day and they are happy memories. When I look back at my life, my parent’s lives, and my grandparents’ lives, I realize that we are so fortunate to be able to carve out the lives we had in the country my family chose. I am proud to be from Pakistan and my hope is that as my girls get older they too will be proud of their Pakistani heritage. If nothing, I really hope they like Chicken Ginger 😉

This recipe for Chicken Ginger came to me from a scanned newspaper clipping I found on the web a long time ago. It claims to be a copycat of the famous Chicken Ginger from Usmania which is one of Karachis older family restaurants. The fare is mostly Pakistani and mostly delicious, but when we would go there – usually with a large group of people – this Chicken Ginger is what everyone reaches for first.

Chicken Ginger

I have not been to Usmania in a long time now, but I still think fondly of those happy times when in the midst of companionable laughter I would scoop up the chicken ginger with some hot naan straight into my mouth and relish the pungent taste of the fiery tomato based masala. This recipe brings back all those feelings and for that I will continue to make it over and over again.

Some of the ingredients, namely the soy sauce and ketchup, are admittedly a little odd, but when I skip them this dish seems incomplete so please try not to. Also my tolerance for sliced green chillies is a little low so I am happy with 2, but usually put 4 for my far braver husband and in laws.

Azadi Mubarak to my fellow Pakistanis, stay safe Pakistan.

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