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Achaari Paneer

‎It’s been a while. Although I miss photography and writing(it’s always been my escape), it’s safe to say‎ I’m finally, actually thoroughly enjoying living in the moment and absorbing every moment instead of worrying about getting the right shot or the right words to preserve the moment with. Yes, often in retrospect, I do miss being able to reflect on that moment with words and pictures but during that moment, I don’t want to bother with capturing it but instead, just want to live it.

Summer is here and after this long, endless winter, it feels like a sensory reawakening. The freedom of opening the windows, the sound of the birds chirping, the gentle breeze, .. it’s been a delight!

Part of enjoying summer in our family is taking things outdoor and really spending a lot of time out in the sun. Summer is all about outdoor entertaining and making the most of the warm weather to enjoy cooler meals while leaving the mess outside.

My kids LOVE and really enjoy paneer. The soft, bouncy texture, the salty taste. We were introduced to it while DH was in the hospital and my FIL and I needed a last minute ‎meal. The restaurant down the street was closing for the night and all they had was matar paneer left so that’s what we brought back. My husband and I fell in love with it! I started making it at home and soon enough, it became a weekly staple in our house. Because cheese goes bad fast and each packet made enough for two meals, it became a twice a week meal item.

Now I don’t know about you, but I get sick of the same thing really fast. I need change, constantly. I tried by changing ingredients, diff cooking methods… but the kids ended up liking it even more.

This week, I really got sick of it and decided to make something different. I was going through my masalas and found all the ingredients ‎to make Achaari chicken. Now, if u know me, you ‘ll know that I love all things tangy. Achaari ingredients are nothing but tangy and pungent!

Needless to say, my family and I have discovered a new love. Yum!!

Ingredients:

300 grams paneer, cubed 1/2 tsp gara‎m masala 1/2 tsp each of cumin (zeera), fennel(saunf), coriander(dhaniya) & brown mustard (rai) seeds 1/4 tsp each of nigella(black) & fenugreek(methi) seeds 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste Chilli powder to taste 4 tbsp plain Greek yoghurt Salt to taste ‎(I didn’t put any because the paneer has its own salt)‎

‎Method:

In a tawa on high flame, slightly roast the seeds. Be careful not to burn them – about half a minute. Cool and grind into a powder form. In a big bowl, combine all ingredients – paneer, yoghurt, roasted seeds, garam masala, ginger garlic paste and salt. Marinate for atleast an hour!

Skew onto sticks with garnish of your choice. I used grape tomatoes, red onions, red and green bell peppers. I would love to try eggplants and zucchini next time as well!

Skew, bbq and enjoy!

Note: if using bamboo skewers, soak in water for atleast ten mins.

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Raspberry Lime Cheesecake

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I.Love.Pinterest. I could spend hours planning meals, parties, vacations, photography sessions, hairstyles, kids crafts etc etc etc! You name it, its there. When the creative juices start to get elusive, pinterest is my go-to place to get the *oopmph* back into everyday things.

Its.quite.pinteresting.how.pinspired.i.have.been.by.pinterest.

Recently I discovered this website through pinterest Oh Em Gee. I was introduced to a whole new world. The world of desserts! I made her nutella cheesecake for Imran’s 30th surprise. amidst the mayhem, we forgot to collect any picture evidence. Next I tried the recipe in the link above. I didnt find it sour enough. I readjusted the recipe and made it with lime instead of lemon. Voila!!

Here’s how to make it, according to “My Baking Addiction” (with slight modifications by me):

For 10 individual cup portions:

Crust

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon crushed pecans

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Filling

2/3 cup sugar
zest of 2 lime
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1.5 (8 ounce tubs) frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup fresh raspberries, slightly mashed with a fork

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, pecans and 1 tablespoon of sugar and melted butter. Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the sugar and lime zest until the sugar becomes moist and fragrant. Add cream

cheese and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add lime juice and vanilla mixing to combine. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped topping until well blended, then fold in the raspberries.
3. Evenly spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Garnish with raspberries.

Those who know me, know that i LOVE lasagnas. I could inhale it, if I could.
When my sister had her baby, my sister in law dropped off a mean tray of lasagna. Oh em gee! We literally licked the tray clean. It was YUM. Needless to say, I requested Maryam to make a guest appearance with her recipe. She sent me this recipe back in April, and in the midst of this madness we call summer, it got drowned in my inbox. Luckily it resurfaced today. With a few minutes to spare, i decided to post it before it got buried again!

Without further ado, here’s Maryam!

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Sheza requested this recipe almost a year ago, but everytime I attempted to take pictures with my 7.2MP Cybershot camera, I never got around to emailing them to her. We finally upgraded our camera last night to a 16 MP so finally, the pictures were worth sharing.

This recipe is based on my Bhabhi’s lasagna. I loved the white sauce on top and the mix of flavors it has with the pasta sauce. I normally make this with ground beef and regular lasagna noodles, but I have been trying to incorporate more meatless meals and veggies into our dinners so I thought I would try this method instead. And much to my delight, no one, not even hubby, realized the difference. Score!

Here is the super easy recipe:
12 cooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 can of Hunt’s Mushroom & Basil Pasta Sauce
1/4 zucchini, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 bell pepper, diced
2 frozen chopped spinach cubes
1/2 cup sliced olives
1/2 cup diced mushrooms

Milk
Shredded cheese – any kind
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper

Method:

While I bring a pot of water to boil for the noodles, I added a tablespoon of canola oil to a pan and added the diced veggies to sautee them. I wanted them as soft as possible, so the kids wouldn’t notice the crunch of the vegetable. Once they were cooked to my satisfaction (without browning them), I added the can of pasta sauce. I only ever buy this brand and flavor, the Mushroom & Basil provides a real kick with a bit of sweetness in the sauce. Heat the sauce through, and let simmer till noodles are cooked ala dente.

In a smaller sauce pan, add the butter to medium-high heat till melted. Add the flour, and with a spatula, mix thoroughly and let cook without burning. Once butter and flour is mixed, add the milk and let cook through. It should thicken into a basic bechemel type sauce. Add Italian Seasoning, Salt & Pepper to taste and add as much (or as little) shredded cheese. Cheddar provides a stronger flavor.

In a lasagna tray, cover the bottom with a thin layer of sauce. Layer three strips of noodles, and cover with 1/3 of the sauce mix. Repeat steps twice more, using the remaining sauce on the third layer of noodles. Top with the remaining 3 noodles, and cover the top layer with the bechemel sauce. Top with desired amount of shredded cheese. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes.

Serve with garlic bread and salad of your choice.

It is so simple, and pretty yum (if I do say so myself), but I was surprised at how much Sheza and her sisters loved this recipe. (I had sent a tray over when Sheza’s niece was born).

I LOVE crepes. Its one of those easy to make recipes that I thoroughly enjoy because of its versatility. Moreover, I love the flexibility of preparing the batter and filling beforehand and just being able to put it together on the go.We usually eat it with a variety of fillings, but for today’s recipe, I added a dash of peri peri sauce to give it that kick! (btw, did I mention that Nando’s peri peri sauce is a major weakness of mine?!)

Crepes: (adapted from allrecipes.com)

  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 hot water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Directions:

  1. In a blender combine eggs, milk, flour, salt and oil. Process until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into pan, tilting to completely coat the surface of the pan (drain excess). Cook 2 to 5 minutes, turning once, until golden. Repeat with remaining batter.

For the filling:

  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 1 can mushrooms, finely diced
  • 2 tbsp nando’s peri peri sauce
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Pinch of oregano

Directions:

In a saucepan, heat butter and saute onions till transparent. Add chicken continue to saute till chicken changes colour, add water if desired. Add nandos sauce and stir. Add salt, pepper, soya sauce, w sauce and continue to stir. Sauce should be thick in consistency. Lastly add cream, bring it to a boil and turn off the flame.

To put it together:

Take a crepe, spread peri peri sauce on half the crepe. On a fourth of the crepe, put a serving of the filling, fold the crepe in half and then half again to give it a quarter shape. Sprinkle some parsley or oregano and serve!

Image If you’ve been lingering here long enough, you’ll notice that I love appetizers and side dishes more than I love main dishes. They’re oozing goodness and generally light to taste (let’s not forget. extremely fattening). Now I don’t know about you, but I go quite passionately where my taste buds lead me. A very valid reason why the weighing scale seems to keep tipping further to the right each day.

I wish I could tell you that the next recipe will keep you within your weight watcher’ points. Or that it would help you shed some pounds. I swear I tried to keep the weight in check. That is until I discovered these Ultimate Stuffed Mushies in one of my What’s Cooking subscriptions. The first time I made these, we found them too bland but found alot of potential within them. The next time around, I reduced the number of crackers and added coriander and hot sauce for some flavour and aroma. Voila!

Here is my slghtly tweaked version:

20 fresh mushrooms
3 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onions
2 Tbsp. finely chopped red peppers
12 Ritz Crackers, finely crushed
2 Tbsp. parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp hot sauce
pinch of coriander
Method :

Heat oven to 400°F.

REMOVE stems from mushrooms. Finely chop enough stems to measure 1/4 cup. Discard remaining stems or refrigerate for another use.

MELT butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add chopped stems, onions and peppers; cook and stir until tender. Stir in cracker crumbs, cheese and seasoning; spoon into mushroom caps. Place on baking sheet.

BAKE 15 min. or until heated through.

Kraft’s Make Ahead Tip
Mushrooms can be stuffed several hours in advance. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Bake, uncovered, at 400°F for 20 min. or until heated through.

About three years ago, after watching qurbani for eid, my son decided to become a vegetarian. We’ve tried to coax and convince him to eat meat but he wouldn’t budge. There are days when he’ll eat meat but then all it takes is a book about animals, a show or on most days, even the sight of a cow in a field – he’ll revert to being a vegetarian again.

He lived off daal (lentils) and rice for the longest time. This is also around the time when fried rice became a staple at our house.

 

In an ideal world, I would have store bought carbs and dessert all day long. Needless to say, one of my biggest disappointments with adulthood has been the sad crushing of my childhood dream of being able to devour (and exist) solely off of tiramaisus and cheesecakes  for breakfast lunch and dinner everyday. But alas! as mature, responsible *cough* adults, we have to ensure healthy, wholesome meals are served in the family.

That’s where this recipe comes into our family.  Its a variation of this pinspired recipe that I came across while searching for menu ideas. We could do chinese food every day in this house. Kids love it, hubby loves it, sister loves it and I LOVE it. Its healthy and all it needs is a bunch of chopped up veggies which can be transformed into a number of dishes just by varying the sauce ingredients. Although this chicken isn’t exactly the epitome of a healthy and balanced diet, the taste more than makes up for it. And the bonus? Its one of the few meat recipes that my DS would actually eat!!

Ingredients.

 

1 ½ lbs (or approx 3 pcs) boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
Oil
Batter-

4 tablespoons cornstarch

¼ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ cup water
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg
pinch of salt
Sauce-

2 tablespoon chilli sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

1 teaspoon soya sauce
1 ½ tablespoons oil
2 teaspoon ginger (minced)
3 tablespoons garlic (minced)
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons honey
½ teaspoon vinegar
½ cup water
1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 teaspoon water)
Sesame seeds (for garnish)

Method

– Mix all the batter ingredients and let it sit for 30 mins. Add chicken, coat and deep fry till golden brown.

– For the sauce, heat oil and fry ginger and garlic for a minute. Add vinegar, water and honey. Stir. Add the rest of the ingredients. Stir. Add one teaspoon of cornstarch to one teaspoon of water. Add and stir.

– Toss chicken with sauce. Sprinkle with sesame seed and serve.

Last weekend, I had two highschool friends coming over for breakfast. I met them after a good 12 years!Boy, have our paths changed? We’ve all become so different from what we were back then. A different sense of maturity. I love meeting old friends, reminiscing old times and laughing at our goofiness, mistakes and achievements. Its a very different feeling. *sigh*

Since both of these friends lived alone, I thought it made sense to have a desi addition to the menu. This aloo bhujia recipe was suggested to me by the same friend who had recommended the Haray masalay ki chicken. She’s my go to place for awesome recipes these days! This aloo bhujia reminds me of boat basin in Pakistan. I could picture myself sitting on chaar pai’s, eating aloo puri nashtas with the hustle bustle of Karachi life in the background. The bhujia has a nice pickled taste to it and was an instant hit with the Gobbler who had it for lunch and dinner too.

 

Ingredients

4 medium potatoes, quartered and sliced

2 medium onions

2 tsp ginger garlic paste

1 pkt achaar gosht masala

salt to taste

Method:

Fry nions to golden brown. Put in the ginger/garlic paste, achaat gosht masala and salt. Add 1/4 cup water and let it cook till it becomes a paste. Add in the potatoes and keep cooking. Stir occasionally. Keep adding water to make sure paste doesnt stick. When potatoes are done, serve. Garnish with coriander.

tip: if there is a lot of water left even after the potatoes are tender, mas a couple of potatoes to thicken the liquid!

For my husband’s birthday we visited Tucker’s Marketplace in Mississauga for dinner. It was love at first sight. There was food and there was food! Everything you could possibly want, under one roof.

Anyhow, my only disappointment came from their rose sauce. It just didn’t have the flavors that I was looking for so

I came home and tried the recipe it out. Needless to say, my first attempt was a failure as well. The next day, I tried to revive the recipe and came up with THE perfect taste that I was looking for.  I was shocked at how simple it was.

Last week, I recreated the recipe and it was a success. Without further ado, I present to you my Penne Rosé.

Ingredients:

900 gms cooked Penne or whatever shape pasta you prefer; boiled with salt seasoning.

1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper

1/2cup chopped sweet orange pepper

1.5 lbs Chicken breast, cubed

1 cup chopped onions

2 tsp garlic

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 can crushed tomatoes, 756 ml

1/2 cup water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp dried basil

1 tsp dried oregano

Pinch of dried rosemary

1/2 tsp black pepper

3/4 cup evaporated skim milk (if you’re on a diet) or for the real deal – half and half cream

Salt and Pepper to taste

Parmesan for garnishing.

Method:

Heat pan and drizzle with oil. Fry peppers, onion and garlic for two minutes to blend flavours. (psst, take a moment to enjoy the aroma, the sweet red peppers are what gives this recipe the extra kick!!).  Add chicken and saute till colour changes and vegetables are tender. Add water, tomato sauce, sugar, salt and pepper. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat and let it simmer covered for abt 7-10 minutes. If the sauce is too liquidy, uncover and cook for a little longer. Add cream and let it heat through. Bring to a boil.

Serve over pasta. Garnish with Parmesan and pepper!

Devour!

ps. you can skip the chicken to make this an equally enticing vegetarian option. Likewise, you may also include other vegetables like mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, eggplants etc to up the vegetable count a notch!

Ps. the flowers are from our front yard. MashaAllah, I’m amazed by the vibrancy of the yellow colour!

My husband and I are pretty outdoor-sy people. Any opportunity we get, we love to walk, trek or hike to explore nature. Ironically enough, for the last four years we’ve lived in a house with a hill in the backyard which, although ideal for tobogganing in the winters, pretty much rendered itself useless during the summer. There simply wasn’t enough room to bbq or have outdoor dinners. This year, we mustered up the courage to go ahead and build a 20 ft deck to extend our living space outdoors.

Boy! have we been glad? Although we built it towards the end of the summer months, we’ve enjoyed every possible moment on it. We started having our dinners outside and once the kids were asleep, we’d sit outside to chat over a cuppa. What could possibly be more beautiful than saying your night prayers in pitch darkness, amidst the sound of nature? (SubhanAllah!)

I decided to try out these tomatoes on an evening when we’d invited my husband’s family to join us for an outdoor BBQ. I had seen this recipe earlier and was waiting for the opportunity to make them. It was an instant hit. We ran out even before dinner was served! Which brings me to the best part about this recipe: its soo quick and easy, it was a breeze to make a second round! The only variations that I made to the original recipe is that I also included mozarella (as opposed to just Parmesan in the original recipe) and used dried oregano instead.

Ingredients:

4 Roma (or any firm variety) tomatoes, sliced

300g Mozarella cheese, grated

100gm Parmesan cheese, powdered

1 tbsp Oregano

Method:

Mix shredded mozarella and parmesan in a bowl.

Slice tomatoes horizontally and place on to a foil lined baking tray. Brush with Olive oil.

Drop mounds of cheese onto each tomato. Sprinkle oregano.

Bake at 350 for 10 mins or until tomatoes are tender.

Cool before serving!

Very rarely do you come across people whom you can relate to instantaneously. Hina Mommy is one of those people. Infact, her entire little family is the same way. Although we’d met before, the first time I met her family, we had a sleepover. It was awesome to see our families gel so well. Her elder two children and mine are the same age.

Hina and I have known each other from our personal blogs for almost 6 years. We spin out stories and share jokes about our selves and our children. What could be better than sharing stories online?

Sharing them in person, dammit!

Alhamdolillah, we’ve been blessed to have children the same age and hubbys who get along really well too. Ever since her move to TO two months ago, Hina and I, we try and make it a point to meet at least bi-weekly for lunch and a chat. It is during one of these lunch dates that I was introduced to this haray masalay ki chicken. Hina is a woman of many talents, cooking being one of them.

This haray masalay ki chicken was scrumptious to say the least. I instantly fell in love and vowed to make it at home. I LOVE the taste and aroma of the flavors in this chicken. The texture is different from the typical, off-the-mill salun recipes too. Here is the recipe as Hina whatsapp’d it to me!

(may I add that HinaMommy’s recipes ALWAYS begin with the phrase “its soo simple, all you have to do is..” and then she cringes and yells: “dammit, I used to hate it when my mom used to say that”)

Ingredients:

2 medium onions, chopped

1/2cup mint leaves

1 cup corriander leaves(u can leave the stems on)

3 pieces of green chilli

1 and 1/2 cups yoghurt

1 tbsp ginger garlic paste

Salt to taste

Method:

Fry the onions in oil. Once they are golden brown (not dark!), take them out of the oil.

In a blender, blend the onions, mint and corriander leaves, chilli and yoghurt to make a paste.

In the remaining oil. add ginger/garlic paste and fry the chicken with salt. Cook the chicken until colour become light brown. Then add the green paste and let it cook. Once the oil starts separating from the chicken (you should be able to see the oil on top), the chicken is done!

Voila! Garnish with friend onions and enjoy with naan!

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