Achari Bhindi or Okra in Pickling Spices

Let’s talk about achar – it is that very subcontinental of condiments that includes a range of spices that give the achar it’s depth and fiery heat. You can make an achar out of many things but I suppose the most common ones are mango (the unripe kind), carrots, green chillies, lemon, and garlic. Me? I am not such a fan of the stuff. My husband? He probably secretly fantasizes about a day when we have no food in the house and he can just eat achar and roti (bread) – or achar and rice. I used to think of his fondness for achar as a cute quirk until Daddy Jafri pointed out that ‘that says a lot about what he thinks of your cooking’. Pfft.

So anyway, I have learnt to adapt and have added things like this dish to my repertoire. My favorite part? Thanks to the existence of frozen chopped Okra I just toss a bunch of stuff together and then let it cook. Eassssyyyy Peassssyyyyy.

As a disclaimer there is a family of ingredients that will give you that ‘achari’ taste and if you are missing some then you probably will not get the same flavour but it will still be quite delicious. The one element of this recipe that I skip quite frequently is the ‘kachri’ powder which I believe has the unique capability to hide when I need it.

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Scallion Pancakes with Ginger Dipping Sauce

I have been having a lot of sweet stuff lately. I blame it on the holidays. Or the newborn. Or family birthdays. Really with all those reasons to eat dessert it astounds me that I can make time for more savory foods, but I somehow did 🙂

For those of you familiar with a ‘paratha’ this is the Asian version of it. The recipe is from Brown Eyed Baker and with the exception of the addition of half a finely diced green chili I made it as is. My husband described this as a fun snack and I agree. My pancake/paratha making skills are pretty pathetic so it took  me a while to figure out how to roll the dough out right, but the dipping sauce was a breeze and I am sure it would work well with a variety of things.

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Aalu Shorba or Potato Curry

Guys it turns out that Google is not quite as reliable as I thought. When you google ‘Pakistani food blogs’ it seems like there are hardly any out there. However, thanks to the awesomely named My Ninja Naan I have discovered a whole slew of Pakistani food blogs. She was nice enough to pop by and when I checked her blog out (my way of saying read almost every entry) I discovered many others as well. I have bookmarked many of her recipes to try, but today’s potato curry comes from Ambreen at Simply Sweet ‘n Savory. When I saw this recipe it reminded me of something I had eaten at a relative’s place and really liked and so I thought I would try my hand at it. SO glad I did! It is yummy!!! My usual potato dish is very different from this one – a lot more tomato, curry leaves, etc but this will definitely come into regular rotation. I made some very minor changes to it, but have stayed true to it for the most of it.

By the way you know something has turned out well when half way into your write up about it you find yourself getting hungry and take a break to eat some more!

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Dahi Baray – Lentil Dumplings in a Spicy Tangy Yogurt

You know how you just take some things for granted and don’t think about them very much?

Well, for me Dahi Baras are one of those things. They have been there at every ‘tea’ that I have been to for just about my entire life and my mother makes a variation (Dahi Phulki/Dahi Boondi) but I never thought about how to make them or what goes in and not because I don’t like them. I can certainly polish off an immense amount of dahi baray, especially the savoury and spicy kind. So much so that I am now grateful that I am pregnant and don’t have to justify how much I eat. I just never thought about how to make them because someone else always did.

This summer I decided to be brave and make them for a potluck lunch and playdate a friend was hosting. Is it brave or foolish to try something a little tricky for the first time for a crowd? Let’s just pretend it is brave since that is the kind of thing I do with some regularity.

The good news is that all is well that ends well and to ensure that it was not some kind of fluke I made them again today for a friend who was visiting from out of town. The very empty dish speaks for itself 🙂

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Perfect Pasta with Mushrooms

Some time ago when I had posted the Jamie Oliver Cheat’s Fresh Pasta recipe a friend of mine had asked about the pasta with mushrooms that I had made when she was visiting. While I was meandering through the grocery store (which is what happens when I leave my list at home) I saw a box of mixed mushrooms and figured why not.

And I am so glad that I did. I had forgotten just how incredible this simple dish can be. I usually make this with the meatier Portobello mushrooms, but today I picked up a mix of shiitakes, chanterelles and baby portobellos and it was perfect for a spring day. Flavorful,  but not too over the top, satisfying yet I could still move from point A to point B after. This recipe is a modified version of a Jamie Oliver recipe that I tried several years ago and have made countless times since. The original recipe is at the food network site here – yes, I am a gigantic wimp and scaled down the red chilli. Those dried red chillies are really spicy okay! Do I get points for increasing the garlic? Well, given what it does for this dish, I certainly think I should 🙂

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Chickpea Pilaf or Chanon Wale Chawal

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*

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Spicy White Beans

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.

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