Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) or Chocolate Toffee Bark

Chocolate Caramel Crack

I wasn’t going to make this. Nope, not me. You see I usually like my christmas treats to be complicated and require at least an hour of labor. But then I had my second kid and she hit the terrible twos and now …well… now I am a lot more open to trying quicker things. But in all honesty I would not have tried this delicious recipe if it wasn’t for my all-things-food-person Marium. She made it and raved about it and then I had to. Yes folks, after all that resisting, all it took was someone I think is cool to make it and I turn into a big ol’ copycat.

Chocolate Caramel Crack(ers) or Chocolate Toffee Bark

The first time I made it I messed up a little (oops), but by the second I had learnt my lesson. The right sized baking sheet is key, otherwise the whole caramel to cracker ratio is off. The recipe is definitely very very sweet so adding instant coffee to the caramel helped temper that overt sweetness. Also please please stick to semi sweet chocolate or darker, anything sweeter is too much.

You could add anything you want to the top and I toyed with christmas-sprinkes, but then I decided that this delicious delicious beauty didn’t need to get any sweeter and I stuck to toasted flaked almonds as suggested by Deb at Smitten Kitchen.

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Tandoori Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Oven Roasted Tandoori Brussel Sprouts

You guys, I think I am doing that aging South Asian woman thing where I desi-fy everything.

(desi-fy= put a desi/south asian spin on)

Tandoori Roasted Brussel Sprouts

The other day I pulled out brussel sprouts to do one of my usual oven favorites. but instead of the parmesan I reached for the tandoori masala powder (premade readily available in many stores) and decided anything is worth trying once. They were awesome. Then I did the only reasonable thing I could under the circumstances; bought more brussel sprouts and made them again. This time I had two additional family members test them to double check. I have never seen brussel sprouts, especially ones cold from their photo-op fly off the plate so fast.

So here it is – an easy to do spicy vegetable side dish that would go well with a simple pilaf, daal chawal (lentils and rice) or even a tandoori turkey if you are so inclined. I swear I have seen ads for those.

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5-Ingredient Nutella Brownies

Have you ever wished you could just hold a piece of Nutella in your hands and bite it instead of that awkward licking it off a spoon thing? Well, here’s the answer to those prayers and all you need is a bowl, a spoon and five ingredients. Oh and something to bake the brownies in.

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Nutella brownie recipes have been floating around for a while but after a few run ins with recipes that consumed a jar or more of Nutella and had minimal Nutella taste I was very hesitant to try them. One day I succumbed, but not after making some alterations. First of all, I didn’t see the point in additional butter, second of all a little leavening never hurt anything and third of all Nutella is so sweet that some coarse salt is almost a must have. The result is what I had hoped it would be.

The best part? Because they are so gooey they don’t dry out making them a great make ahead dessert for the holiday season!

So without any further ado I present to you these incredibly gooey undeniably Nutella-y brownies.

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A White Garlicky Mushroom Pizza w Arugula, Mozzarella and Boursin

Peppery arugula. Melty mozzarella. Meaty garlicky Portobello mushrooms.  Savory creamy Boursin. A Scattering of chilli flakes.

I think I may have made my very favourite white pizza of all time. Now I have a big soft spot for all pizza, but white pizza was a revelation for me.  A pizza without tomato sauce? Now that’s just crazy. Crazy good that is.

A White Garlicky Mushroom Pizza w Arugula, Mozzarella and Boursin

The other day I opened my fridge and was looking around for inspiration when some beautiful portobellos caught my eye and I knew what was coming next. I used half the pizza dough from my favourite dough recipe of all time and went to work. It was fun. It also didn’t hurt that my wonderful niece kneaded the dough for me and my nephew who usually doesn’t like this whole spinach and mushrooms thing really enjoyed it. Family makes things better. True story.

Between you and me I may make it again sometime soon and eat the whole thing – by myself. Shhhh.

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Aaloo Chholay/Chana or Potato and Chickpea Curry

School was a hop skip and jump away from Boat Basin, an iconic strip of food joints that had some of the best food Karachi has to offer. Most people will sit in their cars and order food from the servers who will come up to the window. You could get a burger from Chips, a slush from Mr. Burger, Chicken Tikkas from Tandoori Hut, Caramel Crunch Ice Cream from Rajoos and a Cold Coffee from Baloch all without moving an inch. Just thinking about it is making me happy and hungry.

Aaloo Chholay or Potato and Chickpea Curry

My favorite Boat Basin memories are the early morning ones – the times where close friends and soon to be friends would show up long before the city was awake to sit on damp plastic chairs, huddling in to ourselves as we held our cups of chai tight and anxiously awaited our halwa puri breakfast. Now we call it halwa puri, but most of the times it was a ‘hold the halwa, bring me puris and aloo chholay” breakfast. I have blogged about this breakfast before and didn’t anticipate doing so again. But then I made a variation of this awesome recipe and I decided that with it’s extra everything it was just too good to keep to myself.

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Spinach Raita or Spinach and Yogurt

So much of Pakistani food is hot and spicy and as discussed before we are not big on salads per se, so what do we use then for a fresh counterpunch to our food? Raita. Raita is essentially plain yogurt whipped smoothed and seasoned a myriad of ways with varying veggies or none at all.

Spinach Raita or Spinach Yogurt

This version of raita which is dip like in it’s consistency is new to me. A few years ago, we were visiting friends in London and our friend, who was almost 9 months pregnant then, had a biryani dinner ready for us when we got in. The biryani was very good, but this raita, now this raita blew my mind. Spinach, yogurt, garlic? sold, sold, sold.

So here I present to you a simple, humble side dish, that you can put together in minutes for a lovely side to a desi meal or dunk some crispy pita chips into for a little snack. My girls had it over rice for dinner, I would say the same for me, but an Aunt of mine once pointed out that I have rice with my raita not raita with my rice 😉

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A Spicy “Chatpata” Tehri – a Potato Rice Pilaf

My name is Sarah and I am a carbaholic. There, I said it, it’s done. Judge me all you skinny people with your zoodles and quinoa. By the way I like both things just fine, but put a steaming bowl of tehri in front of me and well…. I think you know how this plays out.

A Spicy 'Chatpata' Tehri

I have always loved Tehri unlike the rest of my siblings which meant I didn’t get to eat it as often as I liked, but when I did it always felt special. It was a dish that I had only ever seen made in my house and it didn’t even occur to me that there was another way to make it. When I got married my mil told me about her way – a way that involves tomatoes, curry leaves, and onion seeds and creates a flavor explosion which makes this a fun change from my usual. It is also different from my usual curry that I do not pre fry the potatoes for it. In this one you slice them nice and thin and cook it with the rest of the dish making this a one pot meal. Who doesn’t like a one pot meal?

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Hara Bhara Kababs – a Guest Post from Aruna of Aharam

Hey guys – remember Aruna?  She was good enough to have me over at her blog Aharam and has now been kind enough to share a recipe from her impressive repertoire with you guys.

If you haven’t been over to her blog yet then be sure to check it out – it literally blows my mind that she knows how to make the number of things she does. And by blows my mind I mean inspires me to push myself a little harder 🙂

Thanks Aruna for sharing a yummy nutritious recipe with my readers and now with further ado here she goes…

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Hara Bhara Kabab is one of those omnipresent items on Mumbai restaurant menus. It is a simple
pan-fried patty of mashed potato mixed with spinach-coriander puree and boiled peas spiced up
with some green chilli and ginger paste.

I love Hara Bhara Kabab because it is rather versatile. You can munch on it by itself, spice it up some
mint or coriander chutney, or then have as a side with dal tadka and rice. A perfect Hara Bhara
Kabab is golden brown and crisp on the outside and melt-in-the mouth soft on the inside.

I chose it as the guest post recipe for Sarah because she has children and Hara Bhara Kabab is quite a
nutritious and delicious snack for children. It is also perfect as a starter for dinner parties in the
holiday season as it suits most palates.

Enjoy! 

Makes: 16-20 Servings
Preparation Time: 60 Minutes
Cooking Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients
1. Potatoes – 6 Large
2. Spinach Leaves – 2 Packed Cups (1 Large Bunch)
3. Coriander Leaves – 1 Packed Cup
4. Peas – 1/2 Cup
5. Cashews – 8 to 10 (Split in halves vertically)
6. Green Chillies – 6 to 8
7. Ginger – 1.5” Piece
8. Black Salt – 1 tsp
9. Besan or Gram Flour – 1 tbsp (optional)
10. Salt to Taste
11. Oil for Shallow Frying
The Prep Work

1. Boil the potatoes till they just start to soften and are mashable.
2. Wash with cold water and drain all water from the potatoes.
3. Set the potatoes aside to dry and cool to room temperature.
4. Blanch the spinach leaves in boiling water.
5. Drain all the water from the spinach leaves and set aside to cool.
6. Boil the peas and drain all water.
7. Set the peas aside to cool.
8. Grind the blanched spinach, coriander leaves, ginger and green chillies to a smooth paste. Avoid using any water; if you do need to add any water just add a teaspoon at a time.
9. Peel and mash the boiled potatoes.
10. Add the spinach puree and black salt to the mashed potato.
11. Mix well.
12. Add the boiled peas and mix with a gentle hand.
13. Taste and add regular salt as required. The salt should be a tad lesser than required. Remember all fried items taste saltier after frying.
14. Take a small portion and for a ball.
15. Pat down to form a patty.
16. If it does not hold the shape, add 1 tbsp besan/gram flour to the mashed potato and mix
well.
17. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Making the Hara Bhara Kabab
1. Divide the potato mix into 16 to 20 equal portions.
2. Roll each portion into a ball and then pat down to form a patty.
3. Heat a tava or a griddle.
4. Spread about 1 tbsp of oil on the surface of the pan.
5. Plan a few Hara Bhara Kababs on the pan.
6. Over medium heat, let the kababs cook.
7. Lift each kabab to see if the side touching the pan is golden brown.
8. Flip the kababs over and cook the other side. If required, drizzle a few drops of oil around the
edges of the kababs.
9. While the second side is cooking, press half a cashew into the side that has been cooked.
10. Flip over and cook for a few seconds.
11. Repeat the process till all kababs are cooked.
12. Serve warm with Pudina/Mint Chutney or Coriander Chutney.

Tips
 Be careful not to overcook the potatoes. If you do, then the potato mash will become soggy.
 Drain the potatoes, spinach and peas completely. I usually leave them in separate colanders
for about 20 minutes. This ensures that there is no excess water.
 If your potato mix is soggy, add more besan. The raw mix does taste of besan but as you
cook the kababs, this taste will disappear.
 Do not make the potato mix very hard either. I find that the kababs harden a bit after they
are cooked.
 You can make these kababs well in advance and heat them up just before serving.

Warm Spinach & Pomegranate Salad with Walnuts and Pan Seared Halloom

Growing up in Karachi it seemed to me that all of my friends ate more or less the same food my family did. Except for one. My friend A has a Syrian grandmother and thanks to that influence the food at her house was always so different and so darned good. I shamelessly invited myself not only to her house, but to her grandmothers on more than one occasion because I simply could not get enough of the clean bright flavors. Everything was no muss no fuss delicious. I suspect the novelty of it made it seem even more delicious because once I was telling her something was really good and she said “it’s just aalu gosht with no masala for Godssake!”

Clearly she didn’t appreciate it as much as I did.

Warm Spinach Salad w Walnuts, Pomegranate and Pan Seared Halloom

This warm spinach salad is one of her family recipes. The lemony garlicky spinach provides the perfect base for some lovely healthy winter flavors. The bright pomegranate seeds and the toasted walnuts provide flavor and crunch that is perfectly complemented by pieces of pan seared halloom (my addition). For those of you unfamiliar with it Halloom is a salty firm Arab cheese that lends itself well to grilling or searing as the insides melt, but the outside will turn a lovely crispy brown while still holding shape. It is now commonly available in most grocery stores in Toronto much to the delight of Zara, my 4 year old Halloom fiend.

This salad comes together quickly and is infinitely adaptable. Just use the spinach as a base and add whatsoever your heart desires. I imagine it would be equally good with some feta or goat cheese and I happen to know it is yummy without any cheese at all. We usually have prefried onions in the pantry (readily available and they keep well), but if you don’t then you are welcome to make your own or omit them entirely.

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A Simple and Delicious Sun Dried Tomato Pesto w Toasted Walnuts

Frantic. That is the word that comes to mind most evenings when I am trying to cook, feed the girls, bathe them, change them and put them to bed. I always think of things I would like to cook the night before, elaborate things, yummy looking things – things that would take more than 15 minutes, but when it is crunch time those dishes hardly ever make an appearance. Fortunately for me – and you – there are many yummy from scratch dishes out there that can come together pretty quick. The fact that I have made this particular one three times in the last week speaks for itself.
Pasta w Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

I like the ‘usual’ basil/parm/pinenuts pesto, but the price of pine nuts and the amount you usually need keeps me at bay. This sun dried tomato pesto with it’s more humble composition of pantry staples packs an even more delicious punch of flavour and is as versatile as it’s greener counterpart. Add it to your grilled cheese, smear it onto your chicken and bake, or just keep mixing it into your pasta over and over again like I do 🙂

The recipe for this pesto comes from the beautiful blog Simply Scratch. It is intended to feed two people and that makes it perfect for me and my girls (daddy is a desi food kinda guy). Because it makes such a small amount you are best off using a mini blender like the Magic Bullet. If you are to double it and make it ahead then I suggest using only 1 garlic clove not two as the raw garlic flavour tends to get stronger over time.

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