Monday, September 12, 2011

Quick and Easy Banana Bread

I absolutely LOVE a warm fresh banana bread, and this one takes barely five minutes to whip up and the rest of the time it just sits in the oven. Easy. I don't have a photo because it really never lasts too long in our house! So here is the base recipe with optional ingredients that you can leave out or keep according to preference:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees (farenheit). Grease a standard loaf pan.
Blend all your wet ingredients:
2 eggs
1/3 c milk
1/2 c oil (canola or vegetable)
1 c mashed banana (about 2 or 3 depending on size)
1 tsp vanilla extract
Add 1.5 c of sugar (or splenda they are equivalent in sweetness, I actually prefer only a cup but it depends on how sweet you want the bread) and cream together.
Add 1 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon (I've occasionally left out the cinnamon and it turns out fine, you can also add 1/2 tsp nutmeg too). Add 1 3/4 c flour and mix in until fully incorporated but be careful not to over mix this will cause your bread to be too dense and tough. Bake for an hour and insert a toothpick to check if it is done (when the pick is clean it is done). If it is not done check every 10 minutes here on out. Take out invert and turn right side up and let cool on a wire rack or plate. Parcel me a slice. Just kidding. Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Chinese Biryani!

Ha! A picture. How fancy am I? A fair warning: on paper this sounds like a very questionable recipe but this is not a prank, I actually made this the other day. It is a bit labor intensive but if you do the prep work ahead of time it hardly takes half an hour to put together. So before hand I would recommend, marinating your chicken, making the spicy sauce, frying the garnish, and chopping up all your vegetables:
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 onion, cut in squares
2 green bell peppers, cut in squares
1/3-1/2 cabbage head, cut in squares
a package of mushrooms, each mushroom cut in quarters
Put in a colander so the veggies dry out a bit.

Take 1.5 lb of boneless chicken and cut into small pieces, add to a bowl to marinate.
Chicken marinade: soy sauce, chili sauce, garlic, ground black pepper, a little flour so the marinade is not too watery. Refrigerate.

Take 4-8 green chilies (depends on if you have spice lovers at your table or not) and cut in half up to stem, but do not remove it. Take a head of garlic and thinly slice each clove. Deep fry the chilies until evenly blistered and fragrant but careful not to burn. Deep fry the garlic slices as well until a golden brown. Drain on paper towels. These will be your garnishes (I would highly recommend not skipping this step as it really is what makes it so good).

Spicy sauce: whisk together 1/4 c of mayo, 2 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp vinegar, 1/2 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (or to taste) and 1/4 tsp salt. Set aside.

Rinse two mugfuls (I know I'm a crazy person who uses coffee mugs instead of a conventional measuring cup. Sue me) of rice really well, until the water runs clear. In a pot, add 1/4 c of oil, heat and add 1 heaped teaspoon of both cumin (white zeera) and caraway seeds (kala zeera) and 4-5 star anises and lightly fry until fragrant. Add rice, and stir a bit to let the flavors penetrate the rice. Add 4 mugfuls of water and salt to taste, let boil and then simmer on low, covered (dum) when very little water is left. While the rice are simmering, prepare the chicken/veggie gravy.

Chicken/Veggie gravy: Heat 1/4 c oil and add 1 heaped tablespoon each of minced garlic and ginger. Fry until that raw smell is gone and add the chicken. After the chicken is no longer pink add the vegetables fry and generously sprinkle garlic powder (at least a tsp), salt, and black pepper (at least 1 tbsp) in the pan. Add 1-2 tsp of crushed red pepper, 4 tbsp ketchup, 2 tsp sriracha chili sauce, 2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (rec: mae ploy) 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tsp ground star anise, 1 c water, and boil. Add a
cornstarch slurry (1 tbsp cornstarch + a little water). Boil until the sauce thickens, remove from heat.

In a large tray, spread all the rice evenly. top with half of the chicken/veggie gravy mix, top that with the spicy sauce, spread remaining gravy mix on top of that. Garnish by scattering the crisp garlic on top and in the middle, neatly arrange fried green chilies in the center. Voila! And that is Chinese Biryani (if there ever were such a thing :P). I would say this dish easily serves 8 hungry people (if it is served alone) Enjoy! And leave your comments if you try it!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lahori Fried Fish

Happy Ramadan everyone! I pretty much almost forgot I had a blog (but that's what a newborn and toddler will do to you :D). Here is my latest recipe that I'm making today, Lahori Fried Fish! I've never had real Lahori Fried Fish but seen many approximations of the recipe and it tastes pretty good.

2 lbs fish, cut into fish finger type pieces
1 tbsp lal mirch
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin, coarsely ground
juice of one lemon
1 tbsp each: ginger and garlic paste
1 tbsp coriander, coarsely ground
1 tbsp qasuri methi (fenugreek leaves?)
1 tbsp pomegranate seed, finely ground
salt to taste

Combine all ingredients and marinate for a couple of hours. When ready to fry combine the ingredients for the batter, coat, and deep fry.

1 cup besan (gram flour)
1 cup rice flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ajwain (oregano seed)

salt, black pepper, garlic powder to taste
1 egg

water as required

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Scrumptious Baklava

Baklava has got to be my absolute favorite dessert. And until I tried to make it on my own I thought it was some labor intensive mystery. But it is actually really easy! And way more cost effective to make yourself :). You'll need:

  • 1 (16 ounce) package phyllo dough

  • 1 pound chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, walnut or pistachio or a combination!)

  • 1 cup butter

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1/2 cup honey (I personally prefer orange blossom)

  • 1 tablespoon rose water (totally optional, I do not use this)

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F(175 degrees C). Butter the bottoms and sides of a 9x13 inch pan. Chop nuts and toss with cinnamon. Set aside. Unroll phyllo dough. Cut appropriately to fit in pan.

    Now there are two ways you can layer this:
    1. (A more Greek baklava) Place two sheets of dough in pan, butter thoroughly. Repeat until you have 8 sheets layered. Sprinkle 2 - 3 tablespoons of nut mixture on top. Top with two sheets of dough, butter, nuts, layering as you go. The top layer should be about 6 - 8 sheets deep.
    2. (More Middle Eastern Style): Layer half the sheets alternating with butter and mix some butter with the nuts to press all of them into a thick layer. Layer the remaining sheets alternating with butter.
    I typically use the Greek way.

    Using a sharp knife cut into diamond, square, or triangular shapes all the way to the bottom of the pan. You may cut into 4 long rows the make cuts of your choice. Bake for about 50 minutes until baklava is golden and crisp.
    Make sauce before baklava is baking. Boil sugar and water until sugar is melted. Add vanilla and honey (and rose water if you so choose). Simmer for about 20 minutes. Let cool completely. You can do this step before everything else if you wish because the secret to a crisp baklava is either completely cooled baklava and hot sauce or cool sauce and hot baklava (I choose the latter, it just seems more time efficient).
    Remove baklava from oven and immediately spoon sauce over it. Let cool and enjoy!

    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    Seekh Kabobs

    Kabobs are one thing you will almost always find in my freezer, I usually make them from 3-4 pounds of meat at a time and freeze them and keep them in ziploc bags for when I don't feel like cooking. Ideally they are grilled but you can also throw them in the pan and give them a sear while covering them so they don't dry out. Seekh kabob is traditionally made from ground beef or lamb but I've tried them with chicken as well. You can increase or decrease all these quantities according to personal preference but I find these to work for us (at least my 2 year old doesn't complain :D). You'll need:

    2 lb ground beef (for seekh I do ask the butcher to run it through the machine twice)
    1.5 onion
    3 green chilies
    1/4 bunch cilantro
    2 tbsp ginger
    2 tbsp garlic
    5 tbsp melted butter
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tbsp red chili powder
    2 tsp garam masala (see last post)

    I usually throw the onion, green chilies and cilantro in a food processor and blend until smooth (I like a seekh kabob with a fairly uniform texture but this is personal preference and you can certainly finely chop all of these instead). Combine all the ingredients and mix really well. I do keep in the fridge overnight I think it gives the all the flavors a little time to incorporate well into the meat and it is easier to form into kabobs (seekh kabob are usually formed in a cylindrical shape rather than round patties). These freeze well, or you can throw them on a grill or pan sear them. Enjoy with preserved thinly sliced onions (just onion in vinegar) and you may also garnish them with freshly chopped cilantro. Serve with naan and yogurt (raita) or basmati rice.

    Garam Masala

    So I know most people just buy premade garam masala from an indian store (at least I used to) but ever since I've become a bit of a spice junkie I really just like to make it myself. So here is what you need:

    1/2 cup whole cumin
    2 tbsp whole coriander
    1.5'' cinnamon
    7-8 green cardamom
    2-3 black cardamom
    2 tsp cloves
    1/8 nutmeg (I typically leave this out or use a few pinches preground nutmeg)
    2 blades mace
    1 tbsp black peppercorns
    2 star anise
    4 bay leaves
    1 tsp fennel seeds

    Roast spices on the stove until fragrant but not burnt. Cool completely and grind everything to a powder. Store in an airtight container. You can use this in most anything from a chicken curry to kabobs as it is a very versatile mix but because the spices are freshly roasted and ground it is very potent and a good idea to start out with a little, taste and gradually add more to your cooking.

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Summery Pakoray (Fritters)

    So, like a true desi I love pakorey! For any non-Pakistani/Indian readers, a pakora is a fritter, just like little fried dumplings. Pakorey are mostly rainy day or winter comfort food items (with the exception of Ramadan) but these pakorey are a bit different as they are not traditional in any way. They are also the only pakorey that I've had that taste good cold and so you don't have to serve them right away.

    Oil for deep frying
    2 cups all purpose flour
    1 cup cornstarch
    1.5 tsp baking powder
    half a head of cabbage shredded
    shredded carrots (equivalent to the amount of cabbage)
    one bunch green onions, chopped
    black pepper (use liberally)
    1.5 tsp ground mustard
    2 eggs
    Heat oil. Combine your dry ingredients well. Add cabbage, carrots and green onions. Gradually add water to make a thick batter. Drop into oil using either an ice cream scoop or heaped tablespoons (it really depends on whether you like your pakorey to be large or small). Fry to a golden brown (this will take longer than traditional pakoray mostly because it is made with flour/cornstarch rather than gram flour). Enjoy!
    These are the perfect summer pakorey and if you want kind of a preview in terms of taste profile, my husband said it best when he described it as a "spring roll in pakora form".

    A Super Simple Burger Recipe!

    Okay, so by popular demand I am going to put up a burger recipe. It is by no means a fusion burger just a simple burger that a friend from Chile used to make and is perfect on the grill. I actually do not measure the ingredients and kind of just add them according to the amount of meat (I know, I know, this used to drive me crazy all those times that I'd ask Ami for recipes and she's say add some of this and some of that and I'd have no idea how much some was :D). But anyway, combine according to personal preference:

    ground beef
    garlic (liberally)
    ground cumin
    ketchup and spicy brown mustard (yep directly into the meat :D)
    fresh chopped italian parsley
    fresh thyme, finely chopped
    olive oil

    Mix well and usually my husband shapes 4 patties per pound of beef about 1/2'' to 3/4'' in thickness. Grill to perfection and enjoy with all the trimmings (my friend would also prepare a nice chopped mushroom and onion mixture to go on the burgers, essentially just mushroom, onion, garlic, salt and pepper). Bon Appetit!

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011

    Good Food (I think) and Random Musings

    So my husband has been after me for the better part of last year to start a food blog with recipes. I think I finally am ready (or at least bored enough :P). I may or may not include semi-coherent ramblings about kind of important stuff. But we'll see :). Also I would like to give a special thanks to my sister Rabia who helped me get started, please give her a visit at :)