Stories about recipe

Daal bharay karele – The bitter delicacy

This is one of those jealously guarded recipes that rarely appear in blog posts and cooking shows. For one, bitter melon is not a vegetable everyone is fond of. Karela (bitter melon) is a very popular vegetable in Bengali cuisine. Traditionally, the first course of Bengali cuisine is bitter, to cleanse the taste palate for the main course, much like smelling coffee beans which prepares the nose to appreciate and discern the scents in a perfume shop. Daal is a soothing and comforting staple of vegetarians; the bitter savoury makes a delightful, nutritious combination preferred by many Bengalis. It is one of those things, ...

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Remembering Anwer Sultana with some Baisani roti and Afghani chuttney

Dill always reminds me of my Nani (maternal grandmother), Anwer Sultana. A couple of decades earlier, during winter vacations, all of us cousins would come down to Rawalpindi to spend winter breaks with our grandparents. Nani had a huge herb and vegetable garden at the back of the house. The garden always had one particular herb every winter – soy/dill. The shrub always grew taller than me, an eight-year-old back then, making me disappear in the dill patch while trying to catch ladybirds. The ladybirds too loved the perfumed dill as much as I did. Nani loved getting baisani (gram/chickpea floured) roti made at the tandoor (cylindrical clay oven) situated close by. ...

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Winter cravings? Have some banana samosas with a chai chocolate twist!

It is that time of the year when the breath of the crisp sandy cool sea breeze in the mornings confirms that our mild, desert winter is here. With it, it brings a gush of festivities, weddings, parties and many visitors – the return of old friends and family living abroad, to enjoy winter Karachi-style. I suppose it’s because the best weather comes around this time of the year and people choose winter holidays over the summer ones to plan their events and trips. Suddenly, Karachi comes alive during the morning, afternoon and evening, as opposed to just the evening like in the ...

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Appeasing the meat-eater in you with this Pakistani styled stir-fried spicy minced meat

As a kid I was never a mutton, beef or milk fan. I was scolded a tonne by Ammi and Nana (maternal grandfather) for that. I was told that I would never grow tall enough or excel in class or be physically fit. Turns out, I achieved all of that without eating much meat protein throughout my adolescent years. However, something else happened as well. As I became an adult and moved away from Pakistan, the flavours and tastes that I took for granted came back to me as a longing. I missed eating the very things I despised as a kid. And mutton was one of ...

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The artistic and extraordinary, freshly baked bread

Bread making is both science and art. It’s science in the sense that it involves a lot of chemistry, including fermentation, temperature control and enzymatic activity. It’s an art because crafting and baking artisanal handmade breads ensure quality, taste and satisfaction. So, here is an artistic and extraordinarily versatile recipe for a very popular bread loaf.  I regularly bake this for home consumption as well as for my friends and family. I bake these using either pre-fermented dough which requires a portion of the bread to be fermented for 16 to 20 hours. The method I am sharing here is for straight dough which requires hardly ...

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Warming up the winters with Sooji ka Halwa and chai

Sooji (semolina) halwa was amongst the first few things I learnt to cook primarily because it took less time to cook and I loved its mild sweetness. I was never much of a halwa puri breakfast fan as the deep-fried puris don’t sit very well with my tummy. The halwa, however, if homemade, was my favourite with some tea during cold winter afternoons. Sooji halwa is especially cooked in Pakistan on Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) birthday and distributed amongst neighbours and poor households. Given the fact that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was born and passed away on the same day, the sweet halwa is cooked in the morning to mark the celebration of his birth. In the ...

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Hara masala machchi: Devouring fish, the Parsi style!

I adore hara masala (green masala), as you might have noticed from a few of my earlier recipes. In this recipe, the marriage of green chilli, coriander and mint is sublime. The leafy pungency of the coriander, the sharp fragrance of the mint, coupled with the grassy heat from the green chilli, brings out the aquatic essence of the hake or haddock (use only a chunky, meaty white fish), together with the addition of coconut, which adds exotic nuttiness, and this will give you a match made in heaven. This recipe was passed on to my mother by a Parsi friend at university where my mother ...

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Craving for carbs or had a crazy day? Potato bhujia is the way!

There are days when nothing is more comforting than a meal as basic and simple as a potato bhujia. Whether it’s the plunging mercury which makes one crave for carbs or a crazy weekday when you don’t have time to cook an elaborate meal for the family, this humble dish never fails to satisfy and delight everyone. Leftover bhujia either becomes a sandwich on a weekday or becomes a stuffed paratha served with milky, sugary tea on a weekend. There is no waste and no matter how much you make, the cooking pan is always wiped clean. I tend to slice potatoes, tomatoes, onions and chillies all together in ...

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Soggy rains and crunchy okra pakoras

We have had some rainy days in Karachi but, while I was there, they were always welcome and for some reason just very ‘happy’ – I call it ‘happy rain’. We would go out in our clothes and get drenched and love it. There was something liberating about the rain, maybe it was freedom from the constant 35 degree weather in the summer and the oppressive humidity. And that it washed the dusty hot city clean – though I can’t say the knee deep puddles and traffic jams as a result were enjoyable. Nevertheless, rainy, hot days laced with the ...

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Winter delights and the heavenly gajar ka halwa

While growing up in Pakistan, gajar ka halwa was a winter staple in our home. Back then, carrots in Pakistan were a seasonal vegetable so Ammi made it regularly during winters as the new carrot crop would hit the market. These days, however, carrots are available all year round. But sticking to tradition, Ammi still makes gajar ka halwa only in the winters. This halwa is calorie-laden and heavy in nature as it is laboriously cooked for hours in full cream milk, ghee or butter and plenty of sugar. It is advised not to have it during summers when the mercury hits 40 degrees all across Pakistan as the heaviness ...

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