Confession: I have been so so homesick for the last few weeks. By homesick I mean homesick for Karachi. I miss my family, I miss the noise, I even miss the smell – and let me tell you Karachi does not smell particularly pretty. I also really miss the food. A lot of how I cook is shaped by how my husband and in laws eat, so there are only a few things that I make with any regularity that bring back memories of lunches and dinners at home. Lunches and dinners that involved extending our table so that we can could seat what was then our family of 7. Lunches and dinners that began with us waiting for my father to come to the table so that we could start eating while we surreptitiously picked at roti or naan. We always ate together; I don’t think I knew there was any other way.
Anday Aalu ka Salan or Egg Curry is one of those dishes that tastes like home. Ironically this recipe is actually not from my mother, but Shanji, my aunt/the big sister I never had. She is the cook behind the biryani recipe here. Shanji has mastered the art of making food from home taste like food from home even when none of the ingredients here taste like they do in Pakistan. I tell you that lady is a genius.
Before we get started, I think it is pretty evident that many of the foods we have made so far are oil heavy. That unfortunately is the nature of the beast. I do recommend, as always, that you drain excess oil off the top when you are done cooking. As your dish cools it will rise to the top and then you can gently tip it out or blot it with paper towels. The frying of the boiled egg – as funny as that sounds – makes this dish a little extra special, but feel free to skip it if you want.
Also I am currently cooking for 5 adults plus my tot so I doubled this recipe which is why it will look like I have a whole lot more masala than you will. However, the amounts of onion, potatoes and tomatoes are representative of this recipe.
You know that whole a rose by any other name stuff? Yeah well that’s how my husband, my mother in law and now even my two year old feel about Chicken Curry. It matters little which variation on the theme it is, the traditional spicy rich korma curry, the plain Jane chicken curry, the tomato-y chicken curry, or kalya a turmeric heavy curry, as far as they are considered it is the food of champions. This is why after spending my childhood successfully avoiding eating it for the most part I finally had to figure it out and I must say I have found a few versions I really like. Here is just one of them.
I like this one particularly much because I am a fan of all things tomato, plus even with the reduced red chillies (I only put in half a teaspoon when cooking for Zara) it still manages to be very flavourful. Also, for a dish with depth it does not take long or require for me to be standing at the stove anxiously the entire time. This recipe is an amalgamation of ones I have found on the internet and tips from one of my aunts. Did I ever tell you that my family is populated by amazing cooks? You would think it would mean I have some kind of natural talent… Anyhow, luckily for us, what I lack there I make up for with good note taking.
Creative cooking is generally not my thing. I am a baker you know – we don’t make up amounts as we go along. Working with a tried and true flavor base – now that’s my jam so to speak. I recently soaked and boiled an absurd amount of northern beans and only have so much room in my freezer. By only so much room I mean I think I can jam one Ziploc bag worth of beans into my freezer if I try really hard. And never open the freezer door again. You get the picture.
Anyway so here is what I came up with, it is light and spicy at the same time and makes for a really good quick lunch.
My husband is a good man. Really he is. No bias or anything. I am told that I used to know how to make biryani at the ripe old age of 12, but somehow over time I completely forgot how. And so for let’s say 4 years or so after we got married I served him biryani after biryani that was a 6.5/10 at best. Then, fortunately for him, my aunt who is my go- to person for recipes passed on her recipe for biryani and my husband suffers no more.
Biryani is essentially a meat and spices pilaf. The best biryanis in Pakistan are often found in places which would not survive any health inspection, but have managed to produce the most delicious of biryanis for decades. From the famous Student Biryani to newer (and cleaner) places like Biryani Centre it is definitely a big favourite of Pakistani people. When I was working in Karachi I think I had Biryani at least once a week if not more – clearly eating healthy wasn’t quite a priority back then 🙂