People, let’s talk about Ginger. See how I capitalized it just there? That’s because I have recently discovered a love for it thanks to this pilaf. You see garlic and I – we are tight – in my mind it goes with everything – well, almost everything. I went to this restaurant in San Francisco once called the Stinking Rose where each dish has garlic in it. Even the desserts. That I was not such a fan of. Anyway, back to Ginger with a capital G. I realize that it has a purpose and therefore I use it quite frequently in my food, but I do the same with cloves and would never eat one of those babies.
What I think makes the ginger flavor so beautiful in this dish is that you thinly slice your peeled ginger and then stir fry it in a little oil until it has delicate golden brown edges and a gentler perfume than I typically associate with this potent root. The ginger then becomes part of the base for the ‘broth’ that the rice gets cooked in and just gives the dish a very light, but unusual note that is so addictive that I actually wolfed down two sizable portions in a row and then realized I literally could not move from the couch. Really. The TV remote was far from me too (a whole 5 feet), thankfully my phone was nearby *phew*
Spring is a tease. Every now and then you get a nice, sunny, warm, bring out the water table and sand box kinda day (can you tell I am a mom??) and then you get a whole bunch of cold-wet-cold-wet-overcast-humid-wet-cold. Pfft.
Don’t worry, I did resist the urge to drown my sorrows in sugar and butter. Not just because I was out of butter. So here is another dish, with considerable less fat and sugar, which I find pretty comforting. It is a version of chicken curry called kalia (kul-ya) that I had not had until I got married. It is very different from traditional chicken curries in that there is no yogurt or tomatoes and of the ‘garam masala’ quartet (cloves, whole black pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon) this one only features one. This makes for a light very clean tasting curry which we all enjoy and trust me pleasing a household of adults and a toddler with the same dish is no easy task!
As a quick note I only use boneless chicken breast meat in most of my chicken dishes because my FIL has a heart condition and should eat minimally fatty foods. This curry still turns out pretty well, but would be far more delicious if you used half a skinless chicken cut into pieces.
I often wax lyrical about food, but the reality of it is that cooking can be a thankless labor of love. Especially if you don’t inherently enjoy it. A big part of why I chose to blog in the first place was to make it more fun. What I did not expect – and am so incredibly grateful for – is the joy I feel when someone tries a recipe and is happy with how it turns out. Suddenly, all of it seems like less labor and more love. I just want to say a big thank you to my wonderful friends for their support especially Saima, Laleh and Aalya. You guys make me happy 🙂
Sometimes I really let my kid down. Like this morning when she requested scones and I quite foolishly asked her what shape. Turns out I don’t quite know how to make a train shaped scone. It really is something when a two year old looks disappointed in you. Anyway, turns out that by the time I made them she was quite over them. Probably because they weren’t train shaped.
These scones were easy peasy and quick. I made a pretty basic version, but I imagine you can make all sorts of variations on them. Next on my agenda? Lime zest and toasted coconut flakes, orange zest and white chocolate chips and lemon with crystallized ginger. I suppose there is a bit of a citrus theme here, but after a long fall/water of earthier flavors I am ready for a little more brightness.
Cherry Tomatoes. Pasta. Balsamic Vinegar. Ten minutes. One Meal. Sold yet?
Okay so when I say ten minutes I am not factoring in the time it takes my pasta water to boil, but really ten minutes of active cooking time for one meal is pretty amazing as far as I am concerned. This recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution book, also known as, the start of my love affair with J.O. I am not a fan of the ‘cheffy’ dishes as he calls them, I do not grow pea shoots in my back yard, I am not entirely sure I want to make a dish that requires many lengthy steps (lasagna is a notable exception), and at the end of it I want my food to be homey and flavorful so for the longest time J.O. and I did not see eye to eye. This book/show changed things. I have tried many recipes from the book and they have been mostly home runs.
I once made the mistake of using suspiciously watery grocery store brand balsamic vinegar in this dish and it did not work at all. Currently we have some really good balsamic vinegar that we bought at a specialty store in the Distillery District in Toronto. It has a very deep flavor and as such I only used about a tablespoon and a half and found it to be perfect as is. I also make this with whatever pasta I have on hand. Check out how fun the shape I used today is – it is like the edge of a lasagna noodle!
So I don’t know about you guys, but we have seen a whole lot of rain in these parts. It has been either overcast or pouring for the better part of the last few days which is enough to make me wonder why on earth I was looking forward to spring! Anyway, on a day like today I thought a nice traditional breakfast is in order.
Halwa poori is the quintessential Pakistani breakfast, the kind that no one makes at home, but will pick up from the nearest ‘restaurant’ if you can call it that. Although it is called halwa poori it breaks down something like this. You get one large serving of aalu chana (potatoes and chickpea curry), several pooris (soft, thin fried bread), and a smaller portion of halwa (essentially dessert). Halwa shmalwa I say, it is all about the pooris and the aalu chana.
My friends and I were talking about it just the other day and I thought I would give it a shot at home. Brace yourself – this has been a three recipes kinda morning. For two of them I give credit to my friend Vaish whose blog you can find here. She calls it chana bhatura. I used regular chickpeas instead of the black kind because that is all I had and am not entirely sure what amchur powder is so I skipped that. Below is my (slightly) modified recipe, for the concise version please check out her blog, I have included a little more detail in mine for those who, like me, are a little bit more challenged in the kitchen. Also traditionally Pakistani pooris do not have yogurt, but Vaish’ bhatura did and I wanted to try it as written. I am so glad I did because as a result the pooris stayed soft even when they cooled down a little.
What I loved about this breakfast was that although the flavors of the dishes were different they went so well together. The back of the mouth heat of the chanas along with the tangy sour flavor of the potatoes was so delicious. And the bhaturas? Those slightly crispy, but soft and fried, but not greasy things? Sigh. Love.
On a practical note this breakfast easily serves 4.
My eldest brother, Haider, is a pretty cool guy. Am I biased because he is my brother? Of course not, don’t be silly. Pfft. He also makes my love of chocolate seem like an occasional indulgence. Let’s just say cereal and granola are not really his idea of a good breakfast. Once upon a time I made him a batch of brownies that drove me NUTS. It would not bake and after an hour in the oven I gave up. I ended up pulling the gooey mass out of the oven and was strongly considering tossing it, but the logistics of throwing hot brownies away seemed a little daunting. Turns out that the gooey mess with its crackly top was according to him the most delicious thing I had ever made. Its deep chocolate flavour seemed to get better with every decadent mouthful and the wafer thin subtly crunchy layer on top made it pure magic. No matter what I did I could never make it again. Clearly I did something very wrong/right that day and could never figure it out. When I started making David Lebovitzs flourless ‘idiot’ cake (original post here) I did not think I would be taken back to my teenage self beaming from the praise of an adored older brother, but folks, we have a winner. The paper thin crackly layer, the luscious chocolate rolling in my mouth, this truly is a dessert my brother would love. The good news is that now I can actually make it again.. and again.. and again. Oh and the really good news? That it is SO easy. I think it took me 15 minutes, and that accounts for time I may have spent ‘cleaning’ the spatula with the chocolate on it. It literally is melt chocolate and butter, whisk eggs and sugar, combine. Bake. Let this be our little secret okay? Next time I make it I am going to doll it up with berries and crème fraiche and pretend like I spent the entire day making it. Psst.. I do apologize for the sub par pictures, I made this at night not expecting to want to blog about it, but then I thought how selfish of me to keep this to my self, what if David Lebovitz had done that etc etc 🙂 Continue reading