My girls have gone to bed, spent from hours spent in a friends pool, stuffed from the delicious food they ate there. As I sit here and soak in the quiet I can not help but think about how each one of these days goes towards knitting the fabric of their lives. Nothing has quite the charm of memories and there is something ever more alluring about the present when you are cognisant of it creating memories for the future. One of my childhood memories is of my mother baking cakes in her orange cake pan, orange on the outside grey on the inside. That pan is still going strong as is the memory of my mother flipping over her Pineapple Upside Down Cake with bated breath. That moment of hesitation, the exhale of relief, that I remember.
Eid Mubarak to those celebrating and welcome again to another ode to my love for puff pastry 🙂 When Lubna of Yummy Food kindly asked me for a recipe for her tenth and last year of hosting “From Fasting to Feasting” on her blog I thought it best to bring something simple, easy and a little different from the usual Ramadan fare. These Eggplant Tartlets fit the bill. It blows me away that Lubna has managed to bring together 30 bloggers every year to contribute a recipe a day for the holy month of Ramadan and I am honoured to be included in such good company.
Hello my lovely readers! We are days away from Eid (woohoo!) and that means it is time for Eid Eats, that delicious roundup of Eid recipes. This year it is hosted by My Ninja Naan & Chocolate & Chillies. Do hop over on to their page to check out whats cooking! I have had a bit of a history of bringing desserts to the table. There were the Chocolate Covered Ice Cream Stars, the Coconut Barfi, and the Eid classic of Sheer Khurma. This year I decided to break from tradition and share something that I make for all kinds of parties, not just Eid. This Spinach & Artichoke Puff Pastry Braid is filled with a creamy bechamel filling that has some spice from green chillies, the sweet nubbiness of corn and fantastic flavor all around. It is a cinch to put together with store bought puff pastry dough and looks so pretty on the table. It also meets my two main requirements for a party. One is that the filling can be prepped ahead of time, the second that it reheats beautifully. The Spinach & Artichoke Puff Pastry Braid is versatile in that it’s perfect for tea, brunch or even lunch depending on what you serve it with.
There are few things in life that are as soul satisfying as a masala-licious biryani. You know what I am talking about – the kind of biryani where you can see the gravy clinging to delicate long strands of rice, wrapping themselves around flavorful spuds and permeating the meat. At the end of long Ramadan fasts all I want is for someone to make it and for me to eat it. With lots of raita, of course. This beauty over here, right down below, is extra delicious. Want to know why (Hint: read the title). Because it is made with Canadian Turkey meat which cooks to tender delicious perfection in this gravy. This Turkey Biryani made its first appearance at our Ramadan table this year, but Turkey Biryani, my new friend, it shall not be your last.
I have biryani-ed here a few times before and I am pumped about it each and every time. When the opportunity to be part of this exciting campaign to discuss the benefits of Canadian Turkey came up I knew exactly what kind of biryani I wanted this to be. My usual biryanis rely on tomatoes for flavor, but this time I wanted to marinate the turkey in a yogurt mix and let caramelized onions bring their rich brothy flavor to the Turkey Biryani. I wound up adding a tomato, but should you not have one feel free to skip it. Rest assured that this Turkey Biryani will still turn out yummy.
Would you laugh if I told you that I think of Caramel Crunch Ice Cream as a Pakistani dessert? Probably not if you are from Pakistan and a Karachiite like me. Our Karachi summers constituted a heady number of late night trips to Boat Basin for some of Rajoos Caramel Crunch Ice cream. We would pile into my grandfathers Charmant with the AC on high and jauntily make our way to what is essentially a food street. Most of us would order the same thing – a Caramel Crunch Ice cream with it’s milky stick to the roof of your mouth taste and bursts of shattery almond crunch. There is something so utterly irresistible about the velvety ice cream with it’s contrasting slightly bitter caramel almond bits. The adult in me has had to learn restraint, but the child with the fantastic metabolism polished off a generous serving.
As the weather becomes nicer I start to really resent making dishes that take hours. I type this after having the last two and a half hours of my life cooking/cleaning. It makes me positively nostalgic for quicker, more flavorful dishes like this Thai Red Curry Beef made with Mae Ploy Curry Paste. Mae Ploy is a Thai brand which sells curry pastes ( on amazon!) that are bigger on flavor than insipid grocery store ones. By the time I am done ‘fixing’ those I often feel that I may as well have made the paste myself! But that runs counter to my whole wanting to spend less time cooking thing. That said, when I first used this paste I found it unpleasantly punchy. However, with some tweaking I have found ratios that work well for me.
It is almost that time of the year folks. Ramzan/Ramadan is a month observed by Muslims world over by fasting from sunrise to sunset and focusing more on spiritual needs. It is a time to both be grateful for ones blessings and to assist those less fortunate. With Ramzan falling in the summer this year I thought it fitting to share with you these delightful Watermelon Rooh Afza popsicles. It is my spin on a deeply delicious and incredibly satisfying drink that my mother makes. Now I turn it into a refreshing and simple popsicle for my girls who share my love for watermelon and Rooh Afza. In these popsicles the Watermelon is the star and the Rooh Afza a back note. Should you want to up the Rooh Afza flavor feel free to just add more.
There are certain Urdu words that I really enjoy saying, those that sound exactly like what they mean. Kurkuri, that delightful word for crunchy and crispy is one of them. The first time my daughter had this Kurkuri Bhindi she was 3 years old and we were visiting my parents in Karachi. Her Nano had made this bhindi and Zara upon trying them said “these sticks are yummy!” It then occurred to me that my daughter had never had Okra except for its cornmeal battered deep fried incarnation. As yummy as the Deep Fried Okra was that way it was far too much work (and oil) for my liking.
I once read that the essence of a culture is in the words that cannot be translated. Explained yes, but not directly translated. The example given by the author was of Urdu word “takalluf”. “Takalluf” is that polite first and often second time refusal of an offer that stems from good manners. Someone asks for tea and you politely refuse the first time, perhaps even the second even as your eyes are practically glued shut from exhaustion.”Khasta” is another such word for me – the perfect “Meethi Tikiyaan” (sweet fritters) should be “khasta”. The way to best explain it seems to be that the exterior of the tiki should have the sturdy flakiness of a sweet pie dough while it’s centre should have the lavish butteriness of a rich cake.
I often think about what it means to blog about food, about Pakistani food specifically. A part of me feels that I should keep recipes alive, carrying them forth in their unaltered state, preserving them for generations to come. The reality is that I cannot do that even if I wanted to. My culinary journey is very much shaped by my mother who if you ever meet her you would know is an immensely practical person. I cannot recall her ever saying she would spend hours slaving over a stove to get the onions browned just the way her grandmother did or that any recipe was sacrosanct because of who gave it to her. Adapt, make it easy, and make it work. That seems to be her approach to cooking and it is that philosophy that makes up my culinary DNA.