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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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.

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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Lemon Velvet – A 3 Ingredient Wonder

Every family has it’s go to recipes, the ones with a totally retro vibe that make a steady appearance at dinner after dinner, but somehow never get boring. For some it is a classic cake or a kheer, but in my family that dessert is Lemon Velvet and the best way I can describe it is as an eggless lemon mousse. It is sweet, tart and utterly luscious. Like most things I like to make it is also a cinch to pull together and can be used in many ways.

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We usually served lemon velvet in a square or rectangular dish, layered with salty buttery Tuc biscuits, stabilized with two spoons of dissolved gelatin and cut in to squares for serving. These days I love prettying it up by serving it in glasses and adding some attitude with crushed gingersnaps. You can also layer it with fruit, spread over meringue, use it as a tart filling – the possibilities are endless.

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(between you and me, it’s yummiest licked of the spatula … shhhh)

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Aalu Gobi – Spicy Potato and Cauliflower Curry

This one’s for me. I know, I know, that sounds terrible. But it is.

It is so hard to cook like someone else, but for people like me who grew up only eating their mothers cooking so much of our sense of what food ought to taste like comes from mama. The other day I had this sudden craving for this dish, but truth is I had never made it before and I have had several versions of it which I do not like very much. So I took a risk, called my mother and this is the recipe she gave me. And it works. Mama Jafri, bless her heart, isn’t necessarily the most accurate recipe relayer – often times when I would complain about how something didn’t turn out well she would say “oohhh… but if you wanted to make it really good then you should have…”

Aalu Gobi / Spicy Potato and Cauliflower

Like on what planet am I aiming to cook mediocre food?

Anyway, points to Mama J on this one.

The reason I say this one is for me is this: I cannot afford to lose it. And if I scribbled it down  on a piece of paper somewhere then I most certainly would. Seemed best to put it out in the internet-verse where others can have access to it as well.

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Eggplant, Mushroom, and Spinach Saute

If you asked me a few years ago I would have told you that I categorically do not like eggplants. The usual desi eggplant dishes – baingan ka bharta, bagharay baingan, etc. do not do it for me at all. But then, then something happened. I discovered that you actually  do not have to cook it to soft mushy pulpiness. You can cook it until just tender – a magical point where eggplant pieces retain their ‘skin’ and shape and yield a creamy softness. That friends is my happy point.

This dish meets several of my requirements for something I would make again – it is quick, easy, can be made spicy, and between the eggplant and spinach it is quite healthy for you too. Today’s version was topped with some nice bright feta, but I imagine it would be delicious with some toasted pine nuts strewn on top or even some crispy fried onions.

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The recipe, only mildly tweaked, is from Pretty Delicious by Candice Kumai. I have tried a few of the recipes in this book with mixed results (probably due to my own errors), but I love the premise of the book. Unlike books which tend to be low-fat or low-carb this one takes a FWB (Food With Benefits) approach to food. In a nutshell what we put in our body should nourish it. Sometimes ‘healthy’ cooking tends to focus on minimizing foods impact on us, this book tries to maximize its impact in the best way possible.

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Bhindi ki Sabzi or Spicy Pakistani Style Okra

At the age of 12 I remember telling a family friend that I knew how to cook. When she asked what I could make I rattled off a list of things and when I said “bhindi” (okra) she stopped me and asked how I cook my Okra. I remember being nervous and subsequently relieved that I could ‘remember’ the recipe. My adult self realizes just how funny that was given that this dish has a grand total of 5 ingredients and that’s including the Okra.

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This is one of my favorite ways to eat Okra and it is one of the things I make when I want to eat a dish that reminds me of home. It also cooks pretty quickly which is a huge plus in my book.

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Pakistani Style Spicy Baked Eggs

On my recent trip to Karachi I realized that I have turned into one of those people – you know the kind of person who goes out for brunch and orders the Pakistani Omelette – an eggy creation choc-a-bloc with onions, tomatoes, and green chilies with the occasional cilantro thrown in for good measure.

My younger self would consider me a  little lame, my older self knows that when I go out to eat in Toronto The Pakistani is hardly an egg menu staple. Here I am an Eggs Florentine kinda girl.

Anyway, with Mothers Day and all things brunch around the corner I began to have a hankering for those flavors, but I wanted a cleaner version – i.e less oil and certainly no paratha.

This riff on the classic French baked eggs hit the spot. It is both light and deliciously spicy at the same time. The fresh oregano although optional adds a savory note that rounds out the flavors of this dish. I highly recommend it, use dried oregano if fresh is unavailable.

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Adjust the green/red chilies to your liking, the best part about this dish is that it is infinitely customizable. Continue reading