My Ninja Naan Baby Shower – Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Hello hello my wonderful readers! I know I know, long time no blog. Sigh.

When I was expecting my second child a wise man told me that 1 plus 1 does not equal two. I didn’t get it at the time, but now I do. My very dear friend and blogger Henna of My Ninja Naan is about to find out the same. Congratulations Henna on the upcoming birth of Baby Ninja Two!

I know this is when I wax lyrical about what a great food blogger she is, but I am pretty sure if you hop over to her blog (go now) then it will speak for itself. What you may not get from reading her blog is how incredibly supportive Henna is, she has talked me through many a stressful time and given me great advice when needed and for that I will be forever grateful.

My Ninja Naan Baby Shower Image (3)

So welcome to this surprise virtual baby shower for Henna. This virtual baby shower was the brainchild of Faaiza from Modest Munchies and I am thrilled to be part of it. We wish we were all a little closer so we could celebrate in person, but for now this is a happy substitute. The idea is simple, a few of us get together and make the things we would for a shower if we could be there in person, the only ‘guideline’ was that it be finger food.

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

One of the many things Henna and I seem to have in common is a love for spicy food. While I don’t know that any of us is a snacking on green chillies type, we do like food with a bit of a punch. So Henna I bring to you these spicy Buffalo Chicken pinwheels. They come together quickly and keep well making them the ideal thing to make for feeding a crowd. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do. Correction: did. I just checked and they’re all gone.

Buffalo Chicken Pinwheels

Hope you enjoy what the other bloggers and I have brought to the table, check out all this yumminess below!

My Ninja Naan Baby Shower

Snowball Whoopie Pies – Modest Munchies

StuffedMushrooms

Stuffed Mushrooms – Chocolate & Chillies

raspberry-jello-cake-III

Raspberry Jello Cake – Arabian Mama

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Taco Lasagna

I am not that good with crowd pleasing dishes – most things I make don’t quadruple well and if you’re Pakistani a small family dinner easily means 40 people and a whole bunch of quadrupling. Over time this cooking for a crowd has become a lot easier and I have fewer meltdowns (lol). However, that is in part because I have started building an arsenal of delicious recipes that are easy to whip together, make in advance, and double if need be.

Taco Lasagna

This Taco lasagna is the latest addition to that collection. The components come together quickly and since you bake it the day of the event it tastes fresh and delicious. I make it with a side of a cheesy spicy garlic bread loaf (recipe to be posted) and a nice bean salad.

Taco Lasagna

The best part is you can actually make this (minus the dicing bit) with a 1 yr old hanging off one hip as long as you give her a little bit of cheese to snack on. Oh and keep her away from the jalapenos if she is convinced all green things are delicious.

Taco Lasagna
Serves 8

Meat Mix:
1/2 cup diced onion
1 lb ground chicken (or beef)
Spicy taco seasoning – 1 packet or make your own and use 3 tbsp
24 ounces salsa
1 cup corn kernels

Ricotta Mix:
1 egg
15 oz carton ricotta cheese
1 jalapeno diced
2 cups shredded cheese – I used Monterey Jack + Mozzarella
Generous pinch of coarse salt and pepper

Additional ingredients:
1 box oven ready lasagna noodles (you can sub w regular, just parboil first)
2 cups shredded cheese for topping the lasagna
Chopped green onions for garnish

Note: Most pans and lasagna noodles aren’t friends. There is usually some rejigging and some swearing involved. To mitigate some of this lay out your (uncooked) noodles once in the pan to figure out how many noodles you will need and how many layers you will get so you can readjust layers accordingly. I am giving instructions for a roasting pan (what I use) and a 9*13 below.

Meat Mix:

Saute the onion in a little bit of olive oil until translucent, add the ground chicken and the seasoning then cook until the meat is browned. With chicken this is v quick. Add in the corn kernels and salsa and warm through.

Ricotta Mix:

While the meat is warming empty the ricotta container into a large bowl and mix in the egg, seasoning and diced jalapeno (deseeded or otherwise). Once well combined mix in cheese.

Roasting Pan:

Drizzle a little oil on the base of your pan layer as follows – a ladle or two of bolognese, 6 lasagna noodles vertically across, 2/3 taco meat mix, lasagna noodles, 2/3 ricotta mix, lasagna noodles, then lasagna noodles, then the meat mix dotted with the remainder of your ricotta mix, top with cheese.

9*13:

In a 9×13 baking dish, start by layering 4 lasagna noodles on the bottom of the pan. Next, layer ⅓ of the ricotta, ⅓ of the beef mixture, ⅓ of the salsa, and ⅓ of the cheese. Repeat the layers 2 more times.

To Bake:

When ready to bake preheat the oven to 350, cover the dish foil (tent to prevent it from sticking to the cheese) and bake for 35 minutes. If you don’t use foil then you will end up with what I like to call extra crispy edges (I was out of foil the day I took pictures). Remove foil and bake until the top is nice and bubbly and broil for a minute or two.

Taco Lasagna

Taco Lasagna

 

 

 

 

Haray Masalay ki Murghi – Chicken in a Spicy Cilantro Sauce

Because I am happppyyyyy…clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth…

Why the unnatural cheer you may ask?

Especially since this be a savory dish and I am clearly not on a sugar high – well, it’s thanks to this little round up of Pakistani foodies on instagram featuring yours truly along with some of her personal heroes. A HUGE thanks to Sadaf the talent behind Siddy Says for doing this!

Pssst you aren’t already following me on instagram then I am @sarahjmir.

Anyway, on to the dish of the day (yes, yes still singing “Happy” as I type this)…

Cilantro/Coriander is my favorite fresh herb. Although I love the flavors of basil, oregano and thyme the desi in me would not survive without cilantro. It brightens up every dish from a cool raita to a spicy daal. If I like hints of this stuff so much then, well, a dish that relies on cilantro and green chilies for it’s flavorful savory base has got me hook line and sinker.

Hara Masala Chicken

This folks is what I like to think of as my one blender version. The chicken gets cubed, the onion chopped and the rest of the ingredients get ground into a paste in the blender. Saute some onion, stir fry some chicken, throw in the paste and cook on. It’s pretty straightforward and as long as you have the cilantro, green chilies and garlic in there you can play around with the other ingredients to suit your fancy.

A quick note on the spice level – 4 green chillies may seem like a lot, but a lot of the spiciness will actually cook out so if you want it to be seriously spicy then add at least 2 more. I wouldn’t drop below 3 though. Just sayin’

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Chicken Ginger

14th August. Fluttering flags, endless patriotic songs, skits in school, shalwar qameez for even the most ‘burger’ of us. Those are my memories of Pakistan’s Independence Day. And they are happy memories. When I look back at my life, my parent’s lives, and my grandparents’ lives, I realize that we are so fortunate to be able to carve out the lives we had in the country my family chose. I am proud to be from Pakistan and my hope is that as my girls get older they too will be proud of their Pakistani heritage. If nothing, I really hope they like Chicken Ginger 😉

This recipe for Chicken Ginger came to me from a scanned newspaper clipping I found on the web a long time ago. It claims to be a copycat of the famous Chicken Ginger from Usmania which is one of Karachis older family restaurants. The fare is mostly Pakistani and mostly delicious, but when we would go there – usually with a large group of people – this Chicken Ginger is what everyone reaches for first.

Chicken Ginger

I have not been to Usmania in a long time now, but I still think fondly of those happy times when in the midst of companionable laughter I would scoop up the chicken ginger with some hot naan straight into my mouth and relish the pungent taste of the fiery tomato based masala. This recipe brings back all those feelings and for that I will continue to make it over and over again.

Some of the ingredients, namely the soy sauce and ketchup, are admittedly a little odd, but when I skip them this dish seems incomplete so please try not to. Also my tolerance for sliced green chillies is a little low so I am happy with 2, but usually put 4 for my far braver husband and in laws.

Azadi Mubarak to my fellow Pakistanis, stay safe Pakistan.

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Chicken and Rice

Don’t let the humble name fool you. This recipe makes one big ol’ plate of deliciousness.

For those of you familiar with New York this is a copycat of the chicken and rice that is found at the corner of 53rd and 6th. Friends of mine introduced me to it on one of my NYC trips and can I just say that it was love at first bite? The very reasonable price tag (6 bucks) and sizeable portion also went a long way to making this a must have for my college-student-poor self. You know that’s the kind of poor where you will eat at even the most mediocre cooks’ house for a free meal, where you will find yourself attending club meetings just for the free pizza. I digress. Point is that Chicken and Rice was a winner all around.

Here’s the thing though – I don’t remember how it tastes. It has been a very very long time, so I cannot say how authentic the recipe is, but it is easily one of the best things I have made. What makes this dish extraordinarily fun is that it has so many layers of flavour. There is the buttery yellow rice, the garlicky chicken with its hit of oregano, the cool garlic-dill sauce and the fiery harissa. I made mine from scratch, but that is because I could not find one in store. I think this would also work well with Sambal Oelek. Then again I think everything works well with Sambal Oelek.

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Before I go onto the recipe here’s a quick shout out to my friend Maryam who first brought this recipe to my attention and recommended this combination of recipes for the different components. I did have to take some short cuts, for the non shortcut version I am including the links to each recipe. Don’t let the components intimidate you – the actual cooking time is very little. The Harissa and White Sauce can also be made a day in advance.

Note: I have changed the Harissa recipe a little to make it easier to make in a mini blender and to make it a little less spicy, mind you it is still very very very spicy!!! (June 8, 2015)

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Hand Pies i.e. Pot Pies to Go!

People it is cold outside. And snowy. I have now been more or less home for a week now. What is a girl to do, but turn to some good old comfort food and what could be more comforting than Pot Pies that little hands can pick up and dig in to? I tried this recipe from Sophistimom some time ago and was very pleased with the result. It is flavourful and reheats well. I used store bought pastry dough, but next time I will make my own so I get something that is sturdier and less salty. Making this recipe vegetarian would be very easy, just swap out chicken boullion for veggie boullion, omit the chicken and up the veggies.

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Murgh Chholay or Chicken and Chickpea Curry

There are some things I wish my mama had taught me how to cook – Murgh Chholay is one of them. Well, why didn’t she you may ask? As far as I know my mama has never made murgh chholay. You see, we are from Karachi, a boisterous city by the sea, whose 15 million inhabitants hail from all over Pakistan and pre partition India. Murgh Chholay is a very Lahori dish and one that I had only had in restaurants until I moved to Canada and concluded that if I wanted good murgh chholay on a regular basis then I better figure out how to make them. Folks, I think I have it now. Thanks to the combination of a little googling and a few past attempts I seem to have figured out how to get the subtle back of the mouth heat of this dish without losing the flavour of the ingredients. Phew. All that mediocrity was getting to be exhausting!

Turns out the problem I was having was that I was using similar ratios of spices for the murgh chholay that I would with a regular chicken curry and what that meant was that it would always end up tasting a little – well boring, for lack of better word. You see the chickpeas really soak up flavour and so you need to create a strong spice base otherwise there just is not enough to go around. So don’t be shy about the chilli powder and the green chillies at the end. Just remember when we cook the green chillies a lot of the aggressive heat of the chillies cooks out anyway.

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