Green Masala Chicken Biryani

chicken-biryani

I will be making this again this weekend…can almost taste it!

Eid is almost here, and I asked my mother-in-law what I should make. She had two words: chicken biryani.

Of course. I don’t even know why I asked.

Quick biryani lesson: the dish came by way of Persia (thanks Wikipedia) and is basically a rice dish where the rice is partially cooked, then layered with the other ingredients to steam the rest of the way (as opposed to cooking everything together as in a pulao). There are countless variations, which on one hand means there is room for innovation and creativity but on the other hand means everyone says everyone else is doing it wrong.

Pukka Paki’s My Tamarind Kitchen’s Green Masala Chicken Biryani is my favorite recipe that I’ve tried, because it is fresh and bright thanks to the handfuls of fresh herbs, and the whole garam masalas lightly spice the dish without weighing it down.

I’ve made it several times and have made just a few small adjustments – first, the masala is awesome as is, but it doesn’t hurt to throw in a couple extra Thai chilies. Second, this makes a LOT of curry – which is normally a good thing because you don’t want to be stingy on the curry, but where she lists 2.5 cups of rice I have gradually upped this to 3.5, and 4 would probably be ok. Last, before baking she says to stick lemon wedges here and there, but I forgo this because the first time I made it, it was overpoweringly lemony. I guess I could just stick less/thinner wedges, but I err on the side of caution and just serve with lemon wedges for a fresh spritz before eating.

A few helpful tips and musings:

  • The list of ingredients and steps is dauntingly long, but if you break it down into components its seems more manageable (Onions + yogurt, chicken + spices, tomatoes + green masala, mix mix finish and layer with rice).
  • I don’t have a good heavy-bottomed pot, but have found a nonstick wok is fantastic – you can crank up the heat and not worry too much about it sticking, so it works well for the onion and curry components.
  • Once you get your onions started, you will have plenty of time to prep your other ingredients (I’m usually a  “furiously multitask” type, not a “serenely mise” type, but I can be the latter in this situation because I am doing something productive on the side).
  • You may be scandalized by the amount of oil/ghee used. Just breathe into a bag for a minute or perhaps take a long walk or soothing bubble bath and then get on with it.
  • Lots of Pakistani recipes give you the instruction to “cook until the oil rises to the top” – including this recipe, several times. What does that even mean? I used to stare wistfully into my pot, wondering if I’d know the moment it happened. Now I realize that this is not that ambiguous. If you don’t see it, keep cooking. You’ll know.
  • I rarely have saffron on hand but I always have safflowers (from the Arabic market. Just as yellow, way less expensive), so I use these instead. You are going for several colors running through the rice, and this will achieve the pretty yellow part of that. The flavor is different, but as this is not a delicately-spiced bouillabaisse I don’t think it matters much. Some people actually use food coloring (bleh no thanks).
  • Lots of recipes have you finish the dish on the stove, but I like the oven versions such as this because you don’t have to worry about stuff burning to the bottom – plus although she has you put it in a serving dish, I think that’s unnecessary because the baking dish presentation is lovely.

Green Masala Chicken Biryani

Recipe from My Tamarind Kitchen

For the onion yogurt mixture

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup ghee
  • 4-6 medium red onions, finely sliced
  • 2 cups yogurt

Heat oil and ghee in a wok or heavy-bottomed pot and deep-fry onions until very brown (this will take awhile so in the meantime you can prep the rest of the ingredients). Stir occasionally and be careful not to burn. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on a paper towel. Whip yogurt, then add onions and mix.

For the half done rice

  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 green cardamom pods (bruised)
  • salt
  • 3 1/2 cups basmati rice

Rinse rice thoroughly and soak for 30 minutes before cooking. Boil a large pot of lightly salted water with the cinnamon and green cardamom pods. Add rice, rapidly boil until al dente (approximately 4 minutes). Drain and set aside.

For the green masala

  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup mint, chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups cilantro, chopped
  • 3-4 Thai chilies (a couple extra if you like more spice)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder

Grind all to a paste.

For the biryani

  • 1/2 cup oil (divided)
  • 5 tbsp ghee (divided)
  • 1 medium whole skinless chicken cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces by butcher
  • Whole garam masala: 10 cloves, 1 stick cinnamon, 6 green cardamom pods (bruised), 15 peppercorns, 2 star anise
  • 3-4 medium chopped tomatoes
  • salt
  • green masala (above)
  • yogurt mixture (above)
  • half done rice (above)
  • 2 pinches of safflower or saffron (crumbled and soaked in hot milk for 15 minutes minimum to release color/fragrance)
  • 1 tbsp rosewater
  • lemon wedges, coriander leaves, yogurt or cucumber raita for serving

For the curry, heat 1/2 cup oil and 2 tbsp ghee in a large saucepan or wok. Brown chicken and remove. Add another 1/2 cup oil and 2 tbsp ghee, along with the whole garam masala, and heat until fragrant. Add the chopped tomatoes and a good sprinkle of salt, and cook, stirring, until the oil rises to the top. Add the green masala, cook until the oil rises to the top, then add the browned chicken and the onion-yogurt mix, cook until the oil rises to the top.

Heat the oven to 320° F. In a large baking dish, spread the curry on the bottom and layer the half cooked rice on the top. Sprinkle the safflower milk, a tbsp of ghee, and the rosewater over the top. Tightly cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes to an hour (this has always taken me an hour) until the rice is perfectly cooked through.

To serve, stir the rice and curry gently to mix, being careful not to break the rice. Serve with lemon wedges, chopped cilantro, and yogurt or cucumber raita.

It was a full month after my mother-in-law came before I made it for her because I was so nervous, but when I finally made this for her she ate plateful after plateful, and all but licked plate.


final-eid-eats

Flour and Spice and Chocolate and Chilis, two gorgeous cooking blogs I’ve been perusing lately for more recipes to try, are hosting a virtual Eid party, so of course I want to play :) Here’s my contribution to the potluck, looking forward to seeing what the other participates are cooking up!


Dahi Baray

dahi-baray

We are smack in the middle of Ramadan, and dahi barays – I know, I know, grammatically incorrect – are one of our favorite iftaari dishes. They are basically fried dumplings made out of besan (chickpea/gram flour) in a thin yogurt sauce. You can also make them with lentils but Shan has made it clear he doesn’t like those, and although I haven’t tried them they sound too heavy whereas these puff up into light, fluffy clouds.

A few little tricks

  • After frying and draining, dunk the barays in water for about a minute then gently squeeze them out before transferring to the yogurt mixture. Some people skip this step but it makes sure they are nice and soft. From what I’ve gathered, the Pakistani food circuit is brutal; you don’t want people gossiping about your crunchy barays.
  • Also, thin the yogurt with almost more water than you are comfortable with – the barays will soak up quite a bit so you need to overcompensate so it doesn’t dry up.
  • Make sure the oil is hot enough before you start dropping the batter. These are not hard to make, and they have come out perfectly for me every time except once. I had just gotten off an angry phone call and was storming around the kitchen, flailing and ranting while I threw this together, and distractedly dropped them too early in the still-heating oil. We ended up with sad little lumps in watery yogurt. And sad little lumps is what happens when I cook angry, so I have since resolved to take a few cleansing breathes and calm the eff down instead of messing up my food.
  • I usually just sprinkle these with chaat masala, but I’ve seen them drizzled with imli (tamarind) chutney too, which looks so pretty. I’m going to do that for our upcoming iftaar party, because presentation is everything.

Dahi Baray

Adapted from Dahi Baray by Chef Zakir

For the yogurt mixture

  • One heaping cup yogurt
  • 2 tsp (or to taste) red chili
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp chaat masala (more for garnish)
  • Salt to taste
  • tamarind chutney (optional)

For the barays

  • 1/2 cups besan
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • Salt and red chili to taste (about a tsp of each)
  • Oil for frying (an inch in a pan is fine)

In a large bowl, whip yogurt together with red chili, sugar, chaat masala and salt. Add water to make a very thin sauce. If you aren’t trying to impress anyone you can serve from this bowl, or you can pour two thirds into a large shallow dish and set the rest aside to pour over at the end.

Combine besan, baking soda, salt and red chili, stirring well so there are no lumps. Add enough water to make a thick batter. Have a paper towel-lined plate and a large bowl of water ready.

Heat oil. Fry in batches by dropping spoons of batter into the oil – they should immediately puff up. They only take a minute or so on each side to fry, so once you finish dropping the first round of batter you can go back around and flip them (I use two spoons or a spoon and a fork to flip). Remove to the paper towel-lined plate for a minute or so, dunk in water for a minute, then gently squeeze them out and transfer to the yogurt mixture (either in the bowl or the shallow dish).

Continue frying in batches until all the batter is used up. To serve, pour the rest of the yogurt on top (if applicable), sprinkle with chaat masala and drizzle with tamarind chutney.

Devilish Eggs

devilish-eggs

devilish-eggs

Despite all the Pakistani food around here, I’m still a Southern girl…of course I have a deviled egg plate.

For deviled eggs, most use a sprinkle of paprika or aleppo pepper as a garnish, but the hedonistic and excessive use it by the tablespoonful. Since the flavors are otherwise subtle, the aleppo pepper shines – or smolders.

A couple gathered tips: Virginia Willis’s deviled eggs in Bon Appetit, Y’all contain her French secret ingredient: butter. I never miss an opportunity to hide butter in things, and it really does take these to the next level (of hell! muhahaha). Also, for easy-to-peel eggs, use eggs that have been in the fridge a week or so. Much recommended – mine were super fresh since we go through eggs like chickens were going extinct, so they were annoying hard to peel.

Devilish Eggs

(recipe can be doubled)

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 tbsp aleppo pepper (or an equal amount using 3 parts paprika to 1 part cayenne)
  • generous pinch or two cayenne
  • scant 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • coase salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • green onions, chives, or other herbs for garnish

Hard boil eggs, cool and peel. Slice in half and remove yolks to a medium bowl. Smash yolks as smooth as you can get them.

In a dry pan, lightly toast spices to wake them up a bit. Add to yolks, plus mayonnaise, butter and salt and pepper to taste. Combine thoroughly.

Spoon mixture back into eggs (piping is lame), garnish with greenery.

Fish Fragrant Eggplant

eggplant

eggplant

Yesterday afternoon I could be found in my cube, listening to back episodes of Spilled Milk – specifically the eggplant episode, silently shaking with laughter to the point of tears about heirloom eggplant names.

On a related note, I’ve decided to name my next cat “Little Spooky.”

The recipe that followed, Fuchsia Dunlop’s Fish Fragrant Eggplant sounded so delicious I had to make it immediately. Like seriously, I left work early to buy eggplants.

A couple of substitutions (per usual) for weeknight convenience of not having to run out of my way to the Asian market: although I had Chinese black vinegar on hand, I didn’t have the Sichuan chili paste (Google said sambal oelek was comparable so I used that – but since it is straight chili and lacks the fermented beans there was definitely an umamious element missing), and also I used corn starch instead of potato starch which is a more acceptable swap.

This turned out completely silky spicy delicious, I don’t even know if I should make it with the right chili paste because it might blow my mind.

Fish Fragrant Eggplant

Found in Fuchsia Dunlop’s Land of Plenty: A Treasury of Authentic Sichuan Cooking

1 1/4 lbs eggplant (about 2 large or 3 medium eggplants)
salt
oil for deep frying (about 2 cups)
1 1/2 tbsp Sichuan chili bean paste (sambal oelek in a pinch, but I will absolutely get the right stuff next time)
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp grated garlic
2/3 cup chicken stock
2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp potato flour (or corn starch) mixed with one tbsp cold water
2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar
4 tbsp finely sliced spring onions (green part)

Slice the eggplants lengthwise into 3 thick slices, then into evenly sized batons. Toss them with a good sprinkle of salt and leave in a colander for 30 minutes to drain.

Heat oil in a wok, and fry the eggplant in batches (3-4 minutes until golden). Remove to a paper towel.

Pour off the oil from the wok and add back 3 tbsp. Heat on medium and add the chili paste and stir-fry until the oil is red and fragrant. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes (do not burn).

Add stock and sugar and mix. Add the fried eggplant and let simmer gently for a few minutes. Stir starch mixtures, then pour over eggplant and stir gently to thicken the sauce. Season with salt if necessary, but it’s probably salty enough already. Add vinegar and spring onions, stir in and serve with rice.

No fish were harmed in the creation of this fish fragrant dish.

Punjabi Kadhi

kadhi

kadhi

These pakoras look a little sad – I was running out of besan so they didn’t get quite the batter they needed. Yummy nonetheless.

I was feeling very smug during our last trip to Pakistan as my husband told my mother-in-law that I had been cooking a lot of Pakistani food at home…much less smug after the very first thing she asked me was if I had made was kadhi. Which I had not.

Immediately upon our return I made an attempt to close the gaping hole in my repertoire. The concept of “yogurt stew” was unfamiliar, so more than usual with my homemade Pakistani food experiments I was chasing poor Shan around the house with spoonfuls, demanding “I think this tastes good, but is it authentic?”

Now I make it pretty frequently, and it’s come to taste just as comforting and homey as everyone claims it does. I tried a few different recipes (including my sister-in-law’s), but our household favorite and the one that I follow almost exactly is the Kadhi from Veg Recipes of India (a site I cook from fairly often – the recipe is very detailed with pics of each step).

A few things I learned or found helpful:

  1. This is Punjabi kadhi. Gujarati kadhi is thinner and I am not making that because no one will be impressed.
  2. From my vast internet research, there seem to be different variations, for example with tomatoes or other vegetables, or without pakoras or eaten as a soup without rice. However, hubs said the only way his family ever ate it was with the pakoras and rice.
  3. Curry leaves look like bay leaves but they are not. I had actually never used them before this, because although I had seen them in recipes I’d wanted to try, I didn’t know where to find them (my regular desi market only has dried spices). Then I trekked to an Indian grocer with a fresh produce section, where I found them with the refrigerated greens, veggies and herbs. Curry leaves have a distinct, lovely fragrance, and now I love using them.
  4. My sister-in-law instructs letting the kadhi simmer for at least 5 hours to make it sufficiently sour. I don’t often have 5 hours to babysit a simmering pot, so the sourness is much more easily achieved by leaving your yogurt out in the morning to sour a bit before you cook it in the evening (ideal) or cheating with a little amchoor powder (less ideal, but not beneath me). Then you only have to simmer 15 minutes.
  5. All the recipes I saw instruct you to mix the besan with a little water and make sure you get out all the lumps before you mix it with the yogurt. My original and ingenious technique is to instead sift the besan over the yogurt then whip it in with a whisk.
  6. This recipe calls for yogurt from a half liter of milk (which she elsewhere says is equal to a large bowl…?). So translation for us lazy grocery store yogurt procurers: 1.5 to 2 cups
  7. She also calls for 4 red onions for the pakoras, but I must have atomic onions because two was plenty.
  8. Kadhi tastes better the next day, so get ready for happy desk lunches.

Kadhi

Recipe from Veg Recipes of India with just couple adjustments

For the onion pakoras
2 cups besan
1 cup water
2 medium sized red onions, sliced
1 tsp ajwain seeds
1 tsp red chili powder
½ tsp garam masala powder
a pinch of asafoetida

Mix besan in a bowl with carom seeds, red chili powder, garam masala powder and salt.
Add sliced onions to the bowl and pour a little water. Don’t add too much water as the onions will release water later.
Mix well and set aside for 0-30 minutes.

The onions will release enough water to make the batter liquidy. If the batter still feels dry, add some water to it. check the seasoning. Heat oil for deep or shallow frying. Fry on both sides until crisp and brown, drain and set aside.

For the kadhi
curd made from half a litre of milk (1.5 – 2 cups)
1 cup besan
4 cups water
2 tsp red chili powder
1 and half teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tsp garam masala powder
salt to taste

In a big bowl, whip the yogurt until it is smooth. Using a strainer or flour sift, sift besan over the yogurt and add turmeric, red chili, garam masala and salt. Whip until very smooth, make sure there are no lumps. Add water and mix well.

For the tempering
A couple tablespoons mustard oil
1 medium sized onion, finely chopped (optional – I skipped this time)
1 and half tbsp garlic ginger paste
1 tsp cumin seeds
¼ tsp methi/fenugreek seeds
2 small sprigs curry leaves
2 green chili
1 or 2 dry red chilies (optional, but recommended as are very pretty floating in the yellow kadhi)
3 tbsp mustard oil or ghee or any vegetable oil
a pinch or two of asafoetida
 

Heat mustard oil on high until smoking (to remove the raw taste). Cool a bit, then add cumin seeds and let them sizzle. Add garlic ginger paste and green chili, cook for a few minutes, then add curry leaves and dry red chilies.

To finish:
Poor the yogurt mixture over the tempering, bring to a boil then simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add the pakoras (that will fit, there will be more on the side) to the top of the kadhi, cover and close the pan so they can soak in for a few minutes.

Garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice.

Rising like a phoenix from the ashes…??

Oh my poor, poor, sad, neglected blog. Turns out a new baby, a school-aged child, and a job career are a lot of work. I have probably/definitely said that before, still true. However, now that my baby has completed his first year and can now basically fend for himself, compounded with the fact that I am no longer attempting to control my coffee intake (some battles are just lost), I find myself with an hour or so of free time here and there for my frivolous internet pursuits.

I hate these fits and starts, and to be honest for awhile I was just going to move on completely, but I had a change of heart and some new ideas. I do have Plans. I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Don’t worry, I never left the kitchen. Although admittedly I didn’t make all of these, some I just ate:

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Game of Thrones Potluck: Across the Narrow Sea

pomegranate-goat

We picked Across the Narrow Sea as our second potluck, hosted by House Rashid (that’s us!). I was super impressed with the menu we came up with, it was fresh and exotic and delicious.

Across the Narrow Sea – The Menu

Thanks to all the dear friends who contributed!

Appetizers: Fruit, olives, manchego drizzled with honey, toasted pita bread,
yogurt honey tahini harissa dip

(No recipe, except maybe for the harissa, so I’ll add that later).

Harira – Moroccan Chickpea Soup
(Everyone loved it, and I can’t believe I forgot to snap a picture of this! But I have made it before after he talked about it, so you can see my similar version of Harira here).

Iced Green Minty Drink
(From A Feast of Ice and Fire)

Dolmades with Avgolemono
(Recipe coming)

Greek Salad
(Just romaine, red onions, tomatoes, feta and kalamata olives, but I made a nice dressing with lemons, honey, garlic, parsley, mint, dill and olive oil)

Pomegranate Goat
(Inspired by Goat with Firepods and Sweetgrass but I irreverently changed pretty much everything, my version of recipe coming)

Sweet and Spicy Drumsticks
(From Inn at the Crossroads)

Magister Illyrio’s Dubious Mushrooms
(From Inn at the Crossroads)

Olive Oil Cake with Citrus Fruit and Yogurt
(Inspired by Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake, my recipe coming)

apps
Appetizer spread.

honeydew-mint
Meg’s Iced Green Minty Drink (delicious! Honeydew, mint and lime. Non-preggos added vodka. Not the prettiest snap because I couldn’t wait to take a sip.)

dolmades
Glorious dolmades. So lemony!

greek-salad
Greek Salad. Nothing special, just something fresh and green.

pomegranate-goat
My pomegranate goat turned out beautiful – very rich, sweet and spicy.

sweet-and-spicy-chicken
Yummy chicken.

mushrooms
Dubious mushrooms.

olive-oil-cake
My citrusy olive oil cake. I love this cake, literally the easiest and most versatile cake I’ve ever made.

Some of the recipes came from or were inspired by Inn at the Crossroads blog or A Feast of Ice and Fire cookbook, and the rest have Greek or North African influence. I dressed my daughter up Sindhi style (which we will just pretend is Dothraki style) and for our listening pleasure played my Niyaz Pandora station – which some people liked but my husband made fun of. He better be careful not to stir my wrath though because, you know, Fire and Blood!

Check out our first potluck, Winterfell.

Game of Thrones Potluck: Winterfell

winterfell

As I’ve probably mentioned, I’m completely obsessed with Game of Thrones, as are my sisters. We’ve been watching the show, reading the books, and most recently we (and the rest of our potluck people) have been cooking the food!

Our first potluck was in dreary January at my sister’s house, and the wintery food of Winterfell sounded like a good place to start. She set her table beautifully with white and silver – Stark house colors! – and we loaded it up with delicious fare.

winterfell

Winterfell – The Menu

Thanks to all the dear friends who contributed!

Onion Tarts
(Recipe coming)

Turnip Soup
(Recipe modified from A Feast of Ice and Fire – they were supposed to be mashed turnips but they came out very thin so I added broth and made them into a soup)

Roast Aurochs with Carrots, Garlic, and Leeks
(Recipe from A Feast of Ice and Fire)

Buttered Beets
(Recipe from A Feast of Ice and Fire)

Mixed Greens, Blackberry and Walnut Salad with Mustard Seed Vinaigrette
(Recipe coming)

Kumquats
(Hot tip: you eat the skin! News to us ignorant peasants)

Baked Apples
(Recipe from A Feast of Ice and Fire)

My friend craftily made wine labels which I got a kick out of: Arbor Gold and Dornish Red. A lovely time was had by all.

We had our next potluck, Across the Narrow Sea, just last weekend at House Rashid, so I will be recapping our spicy exotic menu soon (as well as the recipes above).

We’ve been using several sources for inspiration. My sister gave my other sister and I A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Game of Thrones Companion Cookbook for Christmas, and we’ve been cooking medieval fare from it quite a bit. The authors’ blog Inn at the Crossroads is also a wealth of recipes straight from the books. We’ve also been just cooking whatever we feel is appropriate and mixes in well with the rest of the dishes, whether we get the idea from somewhere or just feel inspired to experiment in our own kitchens.

The Game of Thrones themes have managed to revive potluck – the group has taken a few years’ hiatus with a lone potluck thrown in here and there, but now we’ve already have had two and we have two more scheduled in the coming weeks. Besides an excuse to get together with good friends, it’s a fun way to learn more about medieval cooking, and a delicious way to get our GoT fix until the next season starts!

Empanadas and Quinoa Beet Salad

empanadas1

I’ve been bugging my friend for awhile to teach me how to make her famous empanadas (or pastelitos, whichever). She is Ecuadorian and therefore knows what she’s doing. Unfortunately this weekend our plans fell through, but another always adventurous friend, my sister, my husband and I decided to forge ahead anyway and try our hand at it. The results were delicious, and we had a lot of fun muddling through!

empanadas1

One thing we learned is that we need to seal them a little better (and be careful not to let the filling split out the back…oops). This made for splattery oil that threatened to disfigure my sister, and the emapanadas weren’t quite as pretty. But they were still just as delicious, I probably ate the weight of my unborn child in them. Thank goodness for stretchy maternity pants.

We made three kinds – beef, potato, and some little mini guava ones for dessert. ¡Deliciosos!

Empanada Dough

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup masa harina
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cups water

Mix dry ingredients, stir in butter, and add water to form a dough. Combine well, roll into a ball, and wrap with plastic to refrigerate for one hour.

Divide into 4-8 sections (however much your counter space will allow), and roll as thin as possible. Use a cookie cutter to cut into circles (various sizes, Mariela makes hers big, ours were medium with little bitty baby ones for dessert), and they are ready for filling.

This dough can be baked or fried. We fried – decadent Saturday night! We stuck them in the freezer for a few minutes, then fried them in an inch of oil on medium heat for a few minutes on each side until deep golden brown before removing to paper-towel lined plates.

empanadas3

Suggested Empanada Fillings

We took my friend’s authentic recipe as a base and kind of ran with it. So no guarantees on authenticity, but the fillings turned out really really yummy:

Beef and Pea

Ground beef, sauteed garlic and onions, peas, tomato paste, olives, raisins, boiled egg, lemon, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper, ranchero sauce.

Potato and Corn

Boiled potatoes, sauteed garlic and onions, corn, cilantro, olives, boiled egg, lime, sazón, ranchero sauce.

Guava and Cream Cheese

Cream cheese and guava paste.

Feel free to get creative; if the filling is tasty, you really can’t go wrong!

empanadas2

To accompany our empanadas I made a lovely quinoa and beet salad, which turned out the obscene magenta color I love and left me with leftovers for work lunches this week. Apologies for no exact measurements, I will probably revisit this one to make a proper recipe.

Quinoa and Beet Salad

Quinoa, roasted beets, and toasted walnuts dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and dijon mustard, tossed with arugula and topped with sliced avocado and pickled shallots.

Oh hi. It’s been awhile.

horse-heart

After a longer than expected break, I feel renewed creativity, and am wanting to get back in the blogosphere – and also back in the kitchen, which I’ve been desperately missing for the last couple months!

Because: very exciting news! We have a little bitty naan in the tandoor (which is a more fun way to say bun in the oven). Which is making me very happy, but also very tired and nauseous. My poor family has been getting very little in the way of home cooked meals and lots in the way of peanut butter sandwiches. And let’s be honest, not much in the way of laundry either. However, this last week I started feeling a little better and this weekend I even made soup.

Just like with my pregnancy with my daughter, things I used to love are completely turning me off, and not just in the way of food. With my daughter, I had to quit listening to Latin music, watching The Wire, and wearing this one yellow shirt, because they all made me nauseous. It’s weird and I have no explanation. This time around I have been forced to give up: lavender soap, pumpkins, rings and bracelets, general bohemian gypsyness in favor of a more streamlined aesthetic both in dress and home, and Indian food.

However, what has blossomed is a renewed interest in experimenting with web design (like playing with some HTML5 animation), and a return of a love for geeky things such as anime and fantasy novels. Stuff I liked anyway that has lain dormant for awhile. And that I guess is the strange way hormones can make you flip flop.

Here’s what I’m into nowadays, besides neglecting my household chores:

1. Sweet and Salty Granola Bars and a cup of Earl Grey

Earl Grey and Granola BarsSince I’m not cooking much, I’ve been buying all that packaged crap that I normally never buy, and I have to say these are delicious. And I’m not drinking my beloved coffee (at first it was on purpose, but now just the smell produces waves of nausea), but am instead sipping on lovely bergamot scented tea, with sugar.

2. Game of Thrones

Awhile ago I watched the first season and loved it, but decided to read the books before I watch the second season. My sister is on the third book, I need to catch up with her so we can discuss. Right now it’s mainly her going: I can’t believe what just happened!!! And me: No spoilers I’m not there yet!!

Boars, Gore, and SwordsSo now I’m pretty much obsessed, and am also listening to a Game of Thrones podcast, Boars, Gore and Swords which is really funny and also comforting as sometimes they have as much trouble as I do figuring out what the hell is going on. Introduces words and phrases like “bro king,” “the three-eyed crow of happiness,” and “the Dink.”

Inn at the Crossroads Horse HeartI’m also perusing this amazing food blog featuring recipes from the books, Inn at the Crossroads. I mean, come on. They made a horse heart out of red velvet cake. I’ve already made the Beef and Barley Stew – authentic Winterfell fare (and tasty on a chilly night!)

3. Japanese Food

Not cooking it much yet, just thinking about cooking it as I ease back into the kitchen. As opposed to my usual spiced-up desi dishes, I am wanting the more delicate, clean flavors. Once I really start feeling better (which is to say, once the smell of food heating in a pan doesn’t make me want to vomit) I am going to go crazy in the kitchen, but so far all I’ve made is a cucumber salad and some pickled daikon and carrots, and a couple umeboshi onigiri (pickled plum filled rice balls).

Harumi's Japanese CookingI have purchase a cookbook which I have been pouring over and can’t wait to try out: Harumi’s Japanese Cooking.

MisohungryI’ve also been listening to episodes of Miso Hungry – a super cute and informative podcast all about Japanese food!

So yeah. Lots of culture absorption, not too much actual activity. Kind of just biding my time over the next couple of weeks until I feel like staying up past 9 PM, and I have energy for all the things I love like yoga, working on non-work related projects, and of course cooking!