Shallots with Coconut and Tamarind

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If you start cooking Pakistani food somewhere in your teens, out of compulsion more than passion, then at some point it is starts feeling mundane. Like you’re running through the motions to achieve a certain result, but none of it excites you. Maybe you’re cooler than I, but I have definitely been in that rut a little lately. Now I am happily, safely, and deliciously out of it thanks to My Indian Cookbook by Amandip Uppal. 

Shallots with Coconut and Tamarind

Pakistani cooking puritans will be aghast at my blatant undying love for an Indian recipe book. Three words: Get over yourselves.

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A Sauteed Garlic Chutney

Garlic Chutney

I get really excited when I make new blogging buddies. Even more excited when they continuously come up with mouthwatering recipes like this sauteed garlic chutney from Beenish at This Cake is Desi. This sauteed garlic chutney has almost more garlicky goodness than I can handle and I have Beenish to thank for it.

I should be honest and say that I have consumed more than my fair share of garlic chutneys and usually they’re made by whizzing together garlic and dried red chillies to produce a delicious fiery concoction. This particular chutney has a more beautiful mellow flavour that is still profoundly garlicky, but without the assertiveness of it’s raw counterparts. 

Garlic Chutney

The garlic chutney is so good as written, but I have made a few adaptations to taste. I hope Beenish will forgive them – she has grown daughters and I am sure she is used to all kinds of crazy stuff by now 😉 Doubling it seemed to be the only rational thing to do (it’s THAT good) and adding Kashmiri Red Chilli powder which less spicy than cayenne gave the chutney a beautiful red hue. You can use paprika or cayenne (but less of it) instead. 

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Sabzi Raita – Mixed Veggies in Yogurt

I have a well documented love for raita, that savory yogurt accompaniment to a meal. Ideally I’d have it straight up with roti (flatbread) or rice, but I hear it is supposed to be a condiment. This raita is one my mother learnt from my aunt and can I say it was just love at first bite. I love serving it with a simple pea pilaf or my chickpea pilaf. Now that I think about it, it would go well with Tehri too. Really folks – what does raita not go well with? 

Sabzi Raita - Yogurt w Stir fried Veggies

Anyway, the key, and this is absolutely important is that you stir fry the veggies on high heat to get a nice char. I advise you to keep your windows open and exhaust vent on high. Also season season season. As the raita sits it does get yummier, but the veggies also tend to suck up a little salt, so please adjust before serving!

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Spinach Raita or Spinach and Yogurt

So much of Pakistani food is hot and spicy and as discussed before we are not big on salads per se, so what do we use then for a fresh counterpunch to our food? Raita. Raita is essentially plain yogurt whipped smoothed and seasoned a myriad of ways with varying veggies or none at all.

Spinach Raita or Spinach Yogurt

This version of raita which is dip like in it’s consistency is new to me. A few years ago, we were visiting friends in London and our friend, who was almost 9 months pregnant then, had a biryani dinner ready for us when we got in. The biryani was very good, but this raita, now this raita blew my mind. Spinach, yogurt, garlic? sold, sold, sold.

So here I present to you a simple, humble side dish, that you can put together in minutes for a lovely side to a desi meal or dunk some crispy pita chips into for a little snack. My girls had it over rice for dinner, I would say the same for me, but an Aunt of mine once pointed out that I have rice with my raita not raita with my rice 😉

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Green Peppercorn Mayo

Is it just me or does store bought mayo have a really unpleasant twang? Not to mention the odd mouth feel – really good mayo should be both clean tasting and luscious and I must say nothing beats homemade. Since I rarely use mayo I rarely feel the urge to make it, but today the urge to bite into a sandwich where the mayo added flavour and complexity was too great and I caved. 10 minutes after said caving I was done.

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This mayo has a really interesting flavour profile because the main ingredient is a heaped tablespoon (or more) of smashed green peppercorns. What are green peppercorns you may ask? Well, they are actually the younger sibling of black peppercorn. They are picked early and often packed in brine. The resulting peppercorn is tangy and spicy at the same time, which makes them the perfect addition to mayo. I first tried this recipe of Emerils many years ago with his blue cheese stuffed burgers, but as much as I loved it, I couldn’t really taste it over the blue cheese. This summer though I have big big plans for it, stay tuned for recurring appearances 🙂

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