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 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.
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.
Eid Eats 2016 is here!!! I am so thrilled to be co-hosting this events with blogger buddies Henna (My Ninja Naan) and Asiya (Chocolate & Chillies). What is Eid Eats you may ask? Well it is a fun round up of Eid recipes from our blogger friends world over. The recipes usually range from traditional to non traditional with a common theme of deliciousness. Blogger friends check back here for the how tos and don’t forget to use the hashtag #EidEats2016! My wonderful readers can see what everyone else is bringing to the table at the bottom of the post. Please do keep checking back as recipes will continue to be added over the next three days!
I had initially thought of making something more ‘creative’ but then I decided to hold on to that thought and instead offer to you Sivaiyan/Sheer Khurma, the vermicelli & milk dessert that is almost compulsory on Eid-ul-Fitr. My Mamas Sivaiyan – or Sheer Khurma if we are going to be technical here – comes together in fifteen minutes and never ever have I had a bite and thought “How could I make this better?” For me it is just not possible. Her secret? A piece of mithai (traditional sweet dessert). One piece of qalaqand which is readily available at Pakistani/Indian stores goes a long way in adding real depth to what can sometimes be an underwhelming dessert. If you don’t have it don’t fret: my other favourite ingredient Condensed Milk does some delicious good here.
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?
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!
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)
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.
Some foods make me think of being a small child, of little hands and not so little hands, sneaking pieces when no one is looking, only half sure that the consequences of this petty theft won’t be so bad. This barfi is one of them, my mother usually made it on special occasions and colored it so that one layer was pink and the other was green. The coconut she used was sweeter, heftier, and my little self couldn’t get enough of it. Yes, my dental problems started early.
My older daughter has a surprising love for all ‘desi’ desserts. Kheer, kulfi, shahi tukray, gulab jamun – she loves them all. And I love passing down a love for culinary heritage. When I said I would make something for Eid that her Nano (grandmother) made when I was young it made her beautiful little eyes sparkle with excitement. Sometimes I wish I could bottle that stuff up and keep it forever. But to me that is what Eid is about, sheer happiness. While I am far from the land of glittering ‘chaand raats’ (the night before Eid) we are building our own Eid traditions and homemade Pakistani desserts will always be part of them.
This barfi is not the usual white kind; the ingredients combined with the cooking down of the dairy make it taste like a caramelly coconut fudge. I used unsweetened coconut, but my mother put sweetened coconut. Use whatever you prefer, but just remember to stir stir stir otherwise this will burn burn burn!
Another new tradition that I am very excited about is Eid Eats, we had our first annual eid potluck last year and thanks to it I discovered many delicious recipes and some wonderful bloggers who I now think of as friends. This is year two and I am even more excited to see what my fellow hosts – Henna at My Ninja Naan and Asiya at Chocolate & Chillies – and other remarkable food bloggers have to share. Please click on the Eid Eats graphic below to see the full gallery of yumminess and add yours to the mix; remember we would all love to hear from you! Hope this inspires you to have a deliciously happy Eid!
Eid Mubarak to you and your loved ones!!!
Psst for those of you wondering how to join in, hop on over here.
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.
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.
All things tomato-y are delicious. IMHO. I know some of my family members will disagree – you know who you are 😉
So for my meat loving tomato loving self timatar gosht ranks pretty high in my list of favorite foods. It is not the same as my previously posted, but also delicious Bhunna Gosht – there is no boiling, no shredding, etc. This is a one pot dish that is delicious with a side of raita and your flatbread of choice.
My only complaint with this dish is that as opposed to a rice dish or a curry this doesn’t stretch very far since there no fillers, just solid meat. You can easily double this recipe if needed and if you make it ahead then I would suggest reheating it on the stove. Beef chunks and microwaves are not good friends.
It really is at it’s best when you put in as many green chillies at the end as you can handle. You can cut them lengthwise instead of chopping them so that you can pick them out if need be, but that way at least you get that green chilli flavor and aroma that really makes a good timatar gosht sing. I’ve attempted to make this without tomato paste, but it always pales a little in comparison,
For my firstborn we did a very girly nursery, a soft purple and off white room with panel moldings and chair rails, plus a chandelier (of course lol). Girl 2 is going to get her own room this summer and this time I have something very different in mind and I am really excited about it! Think a bright white room with pops of color and some Pakistani kitsch thrown in. So this…
Whaddya think? Yes, no, maybe?
You can find my Pinterest board for the room here.
Thing Two: Qwirkle
I’ve been seeing this game around for a long time and got the travel version recently and it is so much fun! I love the strategy element of it and that my 4 year old gets it. She still needs a little help, but it is a game that we can enjoy now and play for many years to come.
Between Hello Kitty cookies, Frozen cookies, and these just for fun cookies, I have really started to love decorating cookies with royal icing. Would any of you know where I can take classes to get better at it or is YouTube my best bet?
Have a great day and come by tomorrow for my last post of the South Asian Blogger Networks 2-week challenge!