Monday, March 31, 2014

Zucchini Koftas in Creamy Coconut Tomato Sauce

My family moved to India from Kuwait when I was just out of high school.  At a confused end of teenage years, academic pressures and moving countries left me at very angry-at-the-world grumpy seventeen year old. To add to the pain, we were shifting to a town. A remote town.

There was nothing much to do at first. No scratch that, there was nothing to do at all. Cousins, whom now I know where ticketed by Ammi came to hang out with me, often returned disappointed in my lack of interest to create a conversation. The only activity that felt remotely similar to my life in Kuwait was reading. I begged cousins to borrow books from the school library. I asked them to hunt down people who might have used books. Most of the books I gathered had been left unattended for years. I felt a terrible comfort in those yellowed pages, sniffing through the smell of old pages that sometimes would surprise me with  the stale smell of dried roses. Days would pass into nights, and I would for all I can remember, sleep reading. 


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Coconut And Lime Olive Oil Cake

Must have been sixth or seventh grade, a classmate who's name I have conveniently forgotten but the taste of her mom's tender pound cake, the one we used to get the thinnest slice of considering it had to cater to a class of twenty five, still lingers on in my fondest memories. The sight of the glossy aluminium foil loaf pan would get us all excited and I would for an otherwise timid child be a part of all the hullabaloo the class created.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Work Update - The November Company

 I have been such a huge fan of Bibi Hayat's events and everything she does looks beautiful! So when she called me to photograph her bakery - November Bakery for the upcoming mother's day, I knew it's going to be fun. They decided to go with the citrus theme for Mother's day which is so refreshing compared to all the pinks being overdone otherwise.

Some photos from the shoot I styled and shot.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Panko Crusted Ginger Lamb Chops With Mint Labneh

My daughter will eat or at least attempt to eat anything that can be held in hands and has some crunch to it. Because potato chips (ahem) are not an option I'm always looking to turn regular recipes into finger foods and add some crunch to it. 

These chops, that Ammi makes with ginger and then pan fries them until well done sprinkling water as it dries to keep it moist and juicy has been a family favourite for years but I think the crispy panko makes it even better. 

Mint, ginger and lamb are a fabulous trio, so the mint labneh is a must here. It cuts the spiciness and adds a fresh dimension. Greek yogurt would work well, but if you have time let the yogurt drain in the fridge overnight to get creamy tart labneh. Ginger is a natural meat tenderiser so you don't have to cook the lamb chops for too long, else they get tough. 


Monday, March 10, 2014

Tadka Dal - Everyday Indian Lentil Soup

India and dal are synonymous to each other. One can't be in India if they haven't had some version of dal, whichever part of the country they may be in. It's not like we talk lengths about it or how it should be made. For most cooks can blindly make dal, a little bit of this and that lentil, a few spices from the masala dabba (a spice box used by Indians to keep day to day spices), a trusty pressure cooker and a pot full of dal is always simmering away.

As much as dal is a necessity, so are the condiments served with it. Achar (pickle, usually lemon or mango), kachumbar (an onion salad) and if it wasn't enough some papadam (wafer-thin lentil crisps) to crunch on are always stationed close to a bowl of dal. While roti is fine, fragrant white grain rice is the lustrous companion one craves. Slurping through the dal coated rice is truly what composes comfort food for most Indians. In my family, it is a twice a week affair, but many vegetarians will tell you that they have some form of dal everyday along side a vegetable preparation. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Green Goddess - Quinoa, Avocado, Peas and Pistachio Salad With Coriander Basil Pesto

Couple of years back, I started growing Italian basil. There is a local variety that's good for flavour but I somehow always missed the lighter hued, crisper Italian basil that holds much better in recipes. It grew rather well.  Every once in a month I could gather enough basil for a jarful of pesto and I treasured it more than saffron. I added it to pretty much everything for a day or two. Pesto paratha? Yes. Pesto curry? Yes, been there. But of all things, we savoured a sprouted wheat berry salad with coriander basil pesto and cherry tomatoes and it became a regular at dinners. And then, I stopped making it.

Well that and I got pregnant, I travelled, then I travelled more and my basil plant died. Amongst the new responsibilities of being a mother, getting meals ready for my family and just trying hard to be good at everything, I forgot all about my balcony herbs.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chana Bateta - Chickpeas and Potato in Tamarind Sauce

If you ever happen to be in India, outside a Bohra pilgrimage place, you will likely spot a stall with chickpeas and potatoes simmering on the stove, stationed closely would be suspicious looking neon red liquid, a deep brown tamarind sauce and chopped red onions. On placing an order, the vendor wearing his rugged topi (a white and golden threaded Bohra cap) takes an earthenware bowl from the tall stack and ladles in heaps of chickpeas and potatoes. He will ask you if you liked it spicy, and even though the thoughts of the burning sensation crosses the mind, it is inevitable to answer - yes.

My favourite has to be the vendor in my own town or the one found in Mumbai. They both have different approach to it. The former adds red chilly liquid and tamarind followed by fresh sprinkling of chopped coriander. The one is Mumbai adorns his with fresh chopped onions, diced tomatoes and sprinkle of red chilly powder along with tamarind sauce.

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