Aaloo aur Shimla Mirch ki Sabzi – Potatoes w Green Peppers

There are these moments you have when you move to a new country; the little slips that embarrass you, that shatter your sense of confident cool. It is hunting for Coriander leaves only to be pointed to the powder or looking for Capsicum only to finally locate them next to the “Green Peppers” sign. Over time you retrain yourself to look for Cilantro and to put Green Peppers on your shopping list. In my head though I still call them Capsicum or think of them as ‘Shimla Mirch’. The word Mirch means chilli or in this case pepper, and the Shimla is a reference to where this imported vegetable first began to grow in India under the British. Since then Capsicum or Shimla Mirch or Green Peppers grow all over Pakistan and India, but the name has stuck.

aaloo_simla_mirch_8

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Kaali Sabut Masoor ki Daal or Brown Lentils

Kaali or Sabut Masoor ki Daal  is made from brown lentils and is one of my favourites despite its misnomer of a name. You see kaali means black, but this daal is decidedly brown. Black or brown I love it’s bold heartiness, it’s comforting warmth and it certainly does not hurt that it is so nutritious.

The flavour of kaali daal alone isn’t what makes it one of my favourites. It is also the associated memories. It is that first meal back from a year away at college and the simple meal that I associate with the breaking of the fast on the tenth of Muharram. We are Shia Muslims and for us the Battle of Karbala is a defining moment in the history of Islam. I have made several attempts to write about what that means to us, but find that words fail me. Tamania of Super Urdu Mom and one of my favourite bloggers  does a far better job and you can read her piece over here.

kaali_masoor_daal_1

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Aaloo Gajar – Spicy Potatoes & Carrots

Aaloo Gajar reminds me of my father because I associate it with the large events we had at my house when I was growing up. The ‘niazes’ where people would stream in and out of the house, sampling the spread my mother orchestrated. More often than not, about an hour before the event was supposed to end it would become clear to my father that we were running out of food, an unforgivable sin for a Pakistani host. Us siblings would handle it the only way we knew how – by avoiding him (Sorry Abu). When the night would finally end my mother would hold up the two spoonfuls of chicken and two spoonfuls of aaloo gajar that someone left out of politeness as proof positive that we did not actually run out of food. My father, a committed husband, would pretend to agree. 

Aaloo Gajar

This is a simple sabzi (veggie) to make and I adore the contrast between the sweetness of the carrots and the heat of the green chillies. My tolerance for raw green chillies is pretty low so I add them earlier in the cooking process than some which allows their sharp fragrance to really flavor the dish and allows me to eat it without drinking a pitcher of milk. 

I like to make a small amount because I find that next day leftovers are not as good – maybe my mother was on to something there 😉

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Oven Roasted Tandoori Brussel Sprouts

Tandoori Roasted Brussel Sprouts

You guys, I think I am doing that aging South Asian woman thing where I desi-fy everything.

(desi-fy= put a desi/south asian spin on)

Tandoori Roasted Brussel Sprouts

The other day I pulled out brussel sprouts to do one of my usual oven favorites. but instead of the parmesan I reached for the tandoori masala powder (premade readily available in many stores) and decided anything is worth trying once. They were awesome. Then I did the only reasonable thing I could under the circumstances; bought more brussel sprouts and made them again. This time I had two additional family members test them to double check. I have never seen brussel sprouts, especially ones cold from their photo-op fly off the plate so fast.

So here it is – an easy to do spicy vegetable side dish that would go well with a simple pilaf, daal chawal (lentils and rice) or even a tandoori turkey if you are so inclined. I swear I have seen ads for those.

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A White Garlicky Mushroom Pizza w Arugula, Mozzarella and Boursin

Peppery arugula. Melty mozzarella. Meaty garlicky Portobello mushrooms.  Savory creamy Boursin. A Scattering of chilli flakes.

I think I may have made my very favourite white pizza of all time. Now I have a big soft spot for all pizza, but white pizza was a revelation for me.  A pizza without tomato sauce? Now that’s just crazy. Crazy good that is.

A White Garlicky Mushroom Pizza w Arugula, Mozzarella and Boursin

The other day I opened my fridge and was looking around for inspiration when some beautiful portobellos caught my eye and I knew what was coming next. I used half the pizza dough from my favourite dough recipe of all time and went to work. It was fun. It also didn’t hurt that my wonderful niece kneaded the dough for me and my nephew who usually doesn’t like this whole spinach and mushrooms thing really enjoyed it. Family makes things better. True story.

Between you and me I may make it again sometime soon and eat the whole thing – by myself. Shhhh.

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Aaloo Chholay/Chana or Potato and Chickpea Curry

School was a hop skip and jump away from Boat Basin, an iconic strip of food joints that had some of the best food Karachi has to offer. Most people will sit in their cars and order food from the servers who will come up to the window. You could get a burger from Chips, a slush from Mr. Burger, Chicken Tikkas from Tandoori Hut, Caramel Crunch Ice Cream from Rajoos and a Cold Coffee from Baloch all without moving an inch. Just thinking about it is making me happy and hungry.

Aaloo Chholay or Potato and Chickpea Curry

My favorite Boat Basin memories are the early morning ones – the times where close friends and soon to be friends would show up long before the city was awake to sit on damp plastic chairs, huddling in to ourselves as we held our cups of chai tight and anxiously awaited our halwa puri breakfast. Now we call it halwa puri, but most of the times it was a ‘hold the halwa, bring me puris and aloo chholay” breakfast. I have blogged about this breakfast before and didn’t anticipate doing so again. But then I made a variation of this awesome recipe and I decided that with it’s extra everything it was just too good to keep to myself.

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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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A Spicy “Chatpata” Tehri – a Potato Rice Pilaf

My name is Sarah and I am a carbaholic. There, I said it, it’s done. Judge me all you skinny people with your zoodles and quinoa. By the way I like both things just fine, but put a steaming bowl of tehri in front of me and well…. I think you know how this plays out.

A Spicy 'Chatpata' Tehri

I have always loved Tehri unlike the rest of my siblings which meant I didn’t get to eat it as often as I liked, but when I did it always felt special. It was a dish that I had only ever seen made in my house and it didn’t even occur to me that there was another way to make it. When I got married my mil told me about her way – a way that involves tomatoes, curry leaves, and onion seeds and creates a flavor explosion which makes this a fun change from my usual. It is also different from my usual curry that I do not pre fry the potatoes for it. In this one you slice them nice and thin and cook it with the rest of the dish making this a one pot meal. Who doesn’t like a one pot meal?

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Hara Bhara Kababs – a Guest Post from Aruna of Aharam

Hey guys – remember Aruna?  She was good enough to have me over at her blog Aharam and has now been kind enough to share a recipe from her impressive repertoire with you guys.

If you haven’t been over to her blog yet then be sure to check it out – it literally blows my mind that she knows how to make the number of things she does. And by blows my mind I mean inspires me to push myself a little harder 🙂

Thanks Aruna for sharing a yummy nutritious recipe with my readers and now with further ado here she goes…

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Hara Bhara Kabab is one of those omnipresent items on Mumbai restaurant menus. It is a simple
pan-fried patty of mashed potato mixed with spinach-coriander puree and boiled peas spiced up
with some green chilli and ginger paste.

I love Hara Bhara Kabab because it is rather versatile. You can munch on it by itself, spice it up some
mint or coriander chutney, or then have as a side with dal tadka and rice. A perfect Hara Bhara
Kabab is golden brown and crisp on the outside and melt-in-the mouth soft on the inside.

I chose it as the guest post recipe for Sarah because she has children and Hara Bhara Kabab is quite a
nutritious and delicious snack for children. It is also perfect as a starter for dinner parties in the
holiday season as it suits most palates.

Enjoy! 

Makes: 16-20 Servings
Preparation Time: 60 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients
1. Potatoes – 6 Large
2. Spinach Leaves – 2 Packed Cups (1 Large Bunch)
3. Coriander Leaves – 1 Packed Cup
4. Peas – 1/2 Cup
5. Cashews – 8 to 10 (Split in halves vertically)
6. Green Chillies – 6 to 8
7. Ginger – 1.5” Piece
8. Black Salt – 1 tsp
9. Besan or Gram Flour – 1 tbsp (optional)
10. Salt to Taste
11. Oil for Shallow Frying
The Prep Work

1. Boil the potatoes till they just start to soften and are mashable.
2. Wash with cold water and drain all water from the potatoes.
3. Set the potatoes aside to dry and cool to room temperature.
4. Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water.
5. Drain all the water from the spinach leaves and set aside to cool.
6. Boil the peas and drain all water.
7. Set the peas aside to cool.
8. Grind the blanched spinach, coriander leaves, ginger and green chillies to a smooth paste. Avoid using any water; if you do need to add any water just add a teaspoon at a time.
9. Peel and mash the boiled potatoes.
10. Add the spinach puree and black salt to the mashed potato.
11. Mix well.
12. Add the boiled peas and mix with a gentle hand.
13. Taste and add regular salt as required. The salt should be a tad lesser than required. Remember all fried items taste saltier after frying.
14. Take a small portion and for a ball.
15. Pat down to form a patty.
16. If it does not hold the shape, add 1 tbsp besan/gram flour to the mashed potato and mix
well.
17. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Making the Hara Bhara Kabab
1. Divide the potato mix into 16 to 20 equal portions.
2. Roll each portion into a ball and then pat down to form a patty.
3. Heat a tava or a griddle.
4. Spread about 1 tbsp of oil on the surface of the pan.
5. Plan a few Hara Bhara Kababs on the pan.
6. Over medium heat, let the kababs cook.
7. Lift each kabab to see if the side touching the pan is golden brown.
8. Flip the kababs over and cook the other side. If required, drizzle a few drops of oil around the
edges of the kababs.
9. While the second side is cooking, press half a cashew into the side that has been cooked.
10. Flip over and cook for a few seconds.
11. Repeat the process till all kababs are cooked.
12. Serve warm with Pudina/Mint Chutney or Coriander Chutney.

Tips
 Be careful not to overcook the potatoes. If you do, then the potato mash will become soggy.
 Drain the potatoes, spinach and peas completely. I usually leave them in separate colanders
for about 20 minutes. This ensures that there is no excess water.
 If your potato mix is soggy, add more besan. The raw mix does taste of besan but as you
cook the kababs, this taste will disappear.
 Do not make the potato mix very hard either. I find that the kababs harden a bit after they
are cooked.
 You can make these kababs well in advance and heat them up just before serving.

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White Pizza w/ Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms and Spinach – a Guest Post from “I’ll Cook You Wash”

Hello people – do you know Indira? Of course you do, I just did a guest post over her at her blog in the form of an indulgent fajita pizza. Indira is bringing some class into our post exchange by making her spin on a much loved white pizza. You already know I think she’s cool and so less babbling from me and more talking from her… Indira you’re up 🙂

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Today I’m excited to visit all of you Flour & Spice readers. I’m Indira over at I’ll Cook, You Wash and Sarah has become a pretty good blogging buddy of mine. We’ve been talking about guest posting for ages and I’m happy that we can finally do this.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a super fancy and easy twist on comfort food. What’s more comforting than pizza? I mean, pizza comforts you when you don’t even need comforting…Pre-emptive comforting if you will.

In recent years, I’ve moved past the classic cheese and tomato sauce combo (don’t worry, that staple isn’t going anywhere) to experiment with different toppings and sauces. I’ve always found comfort in what I think are indulgent flavours – white wine, roasted garlic, caramelized onions, butter – and one day the thought to combine them all hit me. Hello inspiration! While I’ve been using this pizza as comfort food (i.e. cut haphazardly and inhale accordingly), I also feel that it will work very well at a dinner party or special occasion. You can also cut into smaller squares and serve as mini appetizers.

Granted, there are quite a few elements to putting together this pizza, but it’s very minimal prep and can be cooked simultaneously so that you can use the waiting time to take a bath, change into your comfortable clothes, set up a show you plan to binge watch, and close off all your other responsibilities for the night. By the way, I sincerely despise any sort of kneading, and making use of flatbread is one of the more genius ideas of mine *blows on fingernails & buffs them against shirt*

Important note: a bit of planning will cut your cooking time significantly. The garlic by far takes the longest to cook, so roast your garlic beforehand (up to a week & a half before you make the pizza) and store in the fridge. It will help you get to that first bite so much quicker.

White Pizza w Caramelized Onions, Roasted Garlic, Mushrooms and Spinach

 

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