Aloo Gosht

aloo-gosht

I always jump the gun for soup and stew season because I love nothing more than a simmering pot, even on a hellish summer day. While I have no qualms about making inappropriate food if that’s what I want, we’ve had enough rainy, chilly days mixed in that aloo gosht has actually been perfect.

I usually make it with stew beef, but this last time made it with bone-in goat meat and it was delicious. This recipe from a Pakistani Cooking blog is solid, it’s now my go-to recipe. Side note, Pakistani cooking blogs written by non-Pakistanis amuse me, not in a bad way.

I am terrified of exploding pressure cookers, so for me this is a better lazy weekend dish where I can let the meat simmer slowly until it’s almost falling apart. The potatoes laced with brothy, spicy tomato gravy are perfect for sopping up with warm roti.

Aloo Gosht

Adjusted just slightly from Pakistani Cooking

  • One pound stew beef or goat or two pounds bone-in beef or goat
  • Several tbsp’s cooking oil, divided
  • 3 medium onions, finely sliced
  • whole spices: 1 stick cinnamon, 10 black peppercorns, 1 large cardamom pod, 8 cloves
  • 5 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1.5 inch ginger, grated
  • 5 roma tomatoes, diced
  • powdered spices: 1 tbsp red chili, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp coriander powder, salt to taste (about 1 tbsp)
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 6 medium red potatoes, peeling optional, cut into large chunks just before cooking
  • 8 green chilies cut into one inch pieces
  • a good amount cilantro for garnish, roughly chopped

Heat a couple tbsp’s cooking oil. Brown meat (in batches if necessary) on both sides and remove to a plate. Add a couple more tbsp oil and the onions, cooking for a few minutes until translucent. Add whole spices and cook, stirring, until very golden, lowering heat if necessary to avoid burning.

Add garlic and ginger and fry for a few minutes, then the tomatoes and powdered spices. Cook, stirring, until the oil separates.

Add the ghee, and the meat back into the pot and just cover with water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, covered, until meat is very tender (may be an hour and a half to two hours), stirring occasionally and adding more water if necessary.

Add the potatoes (and a little more water if needed, and cook, covered, until very soft but not falling apart. You can dry up some of the water if you like it more stewy than brothy. Add the green chilles and cook for just a few more minutes, then garnish with cilantro and serve with basmati rice, roti, or naan.

Edamame Hummus

edamame-hummus

This past month I joined a group called The Secret Recipe Club. Each month you secretly get somebody’s blog to try a recipe from…

…and someone secretly gets yours. I have been so anxious about who gets mine. What if they think taking pictures with a phone half the time is not charming but in fact lazy? What if they don’t think instructions like “a pinch,” “a handful,” and “an obscene amount” are valid measurements? What if they don’t like my cooking, or my recipe just doesn’t come out well? This is so much pressure!

(But enough about me, haha). MY experience this month was lovely. I was matched with Chris from The Café Sucré Farine – a collection of elegant and delicious-looking recipes. After scrolling through the mouthwatering list, I finally settled on the Edamame Hummus, something I’d been wanting to try. I made it for my sister’s baby shower, and I’m happy to say it did not disappoint!

It’s delightfully lemony, and the fresh green veggies and herbs make it perfect for spring. It was a hit at the party, getting snapped up with veggies and pita chips. Quote from my sister’s boyfriend’s mom: “I just love this hummus!”

Thank you so much Chris for your yummy recipe!

Edamame Hummus

From The Café Sucré Farine

1 pound frozen shelled edamame (soybeans)
1 pound frozen tiny peas
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ cup fresh lemon juice
lemon zest , from 1 lemon
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon crushed or ground corriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¾ cup tahini (can be found in many larger markets and in any Middle Eastern grocery)
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro plus more for garnish
sea salt and reshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook edamame in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender, 3–5 minutes. Add peas and drain well. Transfer to a large bowl of ice water then drain well again.

Pulse edamame and peas in a food processor until a coarse purée forms, about 30 seconds. Add lemon juice and zest, garlic, cumin, coriander. tahini and olive oil. Add the cilantro and process for 2-3 minutes or until very smooth adding a bit more lemon juice if too thick. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving

TO DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill. Transfer to a serving bowl; drizzle with oil and garnish with more herbs.



Moros y Cristianos (Black Beans and Rice)

moros-y-cristianos


Moros y cristianos: the most delicious dish with the most racist name! Make a cute little tower of arrogance by filling a tiny bowl with rice and overturning it sand-castle style.

I know I sound like a broken record, but a big pot of beans or legumes (snobby voice) is the way to go in weeknight meal prep, paving the way for days of remixed meals at a time in our lives where my biggest complaint is that I have a scant two hour window each evening to come home, cook, play with my angel, feed her, bathe her, read her stories, and tuck her in bed (perhaps two or three times if she’s feeling mischievous) – and depending on the day, she may be tired and crabby and uncooperative during this process, making it all the more grueling. That sentence was very long, but as you can see I am very busy and have little time for full stops.

I know this is one of the most magical times in Zoeya’s little life and I don’t want to miss it by spending all my time over the stove. Pot of beans is easy and reheats well for tasty leftovers (no-cook evenings). Plus it’s vegetarian. Plus it’s cheap!

This lost a couple authenticity points for extra spices (you don’t expect me to cook with my recently refreshed dabba chilling right beside me and not touch it, do you?) and a little extra veg (love veg!), and canned beans (disorganized and pressed for time), but that still puts it at about 87% authentic Cuban.

Moros y Cristianos (Black Beans and Rice)

For black beans
2 tbsp olive oil
Semi-finely chopped: 1 red onion, 4 cloves garlic, 1/2 red pepper, 1 stalk celery, 1 carrot
Ground spices: 1 tsp ground annatto, big heaping tsp cumin, 1 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp oregano
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 can black beans, rinsed
water
spritz lemon or lime juice

Heat olive oil on medium high. Add all chopped veggies, spices, oregano, bay leaves, and a generous sprinkle salt and pepper – this is your sofrito. Cook, stirring, until veggies are soft and wilty (the carrots might still be a little crunchy, they will cook in the water). Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for a minute, then add can of black beans and one can water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until veggies are very soft and falling apart. You may need to add more water if the mixture becomes too dry or starts to burn. Adjust seasoning (more salt perhaps?) and finish it with a spritz of lemon or lime juice.

For rice
1 coffee cup jasmine rice
2 coffee cups water
generous pinch salt
dash olive oil

Bring water and rice to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 20 min. Fluff with a fork.

Serve with the rice in a pile and the beans all around it. I also made some pickled shallots which I love and eat at every opportunity.

Leftovers – for lunch Zoeya is taking the rice and beans mixed together and wrapped in a tortilla. I am topping mine with sliced avocado.

Prelude to Valentine’s Day with Red Food: Harissa; and Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

quinoa-fennel-pomegranate-salad

This Saturday, the weekend before the much loved/dreaded Valentine’s Day, my sister had a potluck with her work friends. As she is aware of my enthusiasm for potlucks, she invited Zoeya and me. The theme was Red Food. (Sidenote: this was not my first Red Food potluck). She made a delicious baked spaghetti and one of her friends brought an amazing red velvet, white chocolate and raspberry trifle – no beef, we asked. My contribution was a harissa-esque dip served over hummus, and a quinoa salad.


I tried to shape the harissa into a heart!

Here’s something spicy you can make for your lovah: harissa. I use the term “harissa” loosely – this was more of a dip than a sauce or paste, and I made it not-too-spicy lest there be wimpy tongues at the party, but honestly the heat could have been to be turned up a notch (next time!). The other silly thing I did was that after I blitzed it the first time I decided that in color it wasn’t red enough for a red food party so I added some tandoori masala thinking that spices were spices. Mistake! Although it still tasted good, it starting smelling distinctly Indian instead of a North African…so next time, paprika.

This is very versatile! Use as a dip, condiment on salads or sandwiches, or as a wet rub or part of a marinade. I served it over hummus.

Red Pepper and Sun-dried Tomato Harissa

3 red peppers
heaping tsp each cumin and coriander seeds
seeds from 2 cardamom pods
5 cloves
1 jar sun-dried tomatoes (minus the several I ate)
heaping tsp paprika
salt & pepper
1/2 – 2 tbsp red pepper flakes, depending on how hot you want it (maybe a little less for a dip and more for a condiment or wet rub)
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat oven to 450° Roast the red peppers by placing them directly on the oven rack and roast until blacked, turning once. Remove to a glass bowl and cover to sweat them (so it will be easier to take the skins off). Once cool, remove stems, seeds, and skins.

In the meantime, in a dry skillet toast cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cardamom seeds and cloves. Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process to a thick paste. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.

I also made:

I had my Persephone Salad in mind, but was in the mood to make something with quinoa. I found this recipe for Quinoa, Fennel, and Pomegranate Salad online, which looked delicious, but I still wanted to make pomegranate vinaigrette so I combined the two!

Quinoa Salad with Fennel and Pomegranate

For the quinoa
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed (red if possible! I couldn’t find it so used tricolored)
olive oil
2 bulbs fennel, sliced (reserve fronds)
4 cloves garlic
tsp cumin seeds
tsp chili powder
handful fennel fronds (removed from stalk), chopped
handful cilantro, chopped
handful mint, chopped
1 head red leaf lettuce, chopped

Bring 5 cups of water to a boil. Add quinoa, reduce to a simmer, and cook covered until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. Drain.

In the meantime, heat olive oil to medium high and saute fennel and garlic with salt & pepper until fennel is very tender. Add cumin seeds and chili powder and saute for another minute.

Toss warm quinoa with fennel, herbs, and lettuce (I just love tossing warm things with lettuce because it makes it super green and wilts it just slightly).

For the vinaigrette
3 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp honey
salt & pepper
6 tbsp olive oil

Whisk all together.

Toss quinoa and vinaigrette together, and top the whole thing with 1/4 cup or so pomegranate seeds

Someone enjoyed dinner (although she was more a fan of the spaghetti than the salad).


Zoeya’s favorite thing to say to me nowadays is “I am waiting patiently, but you are taking TOO LONG!”

Roasted Green Pepper Soup

green-pepper-soup

The notion often occurs to me that I could both be saving a lot of money as well as buying healthier food. It’s not that I make a lot of expensive purchases (well…sometimes for parties). I don’t eat out a lot, lentils are a staple, and I am definitely not spending a lot of money on processed, nutritionally devoid crap. On the less-healthy side of money-saving, produce is organic only if it’s from the farmer’s market or if aftershocks of various documentaries are rippling through my mind, same for meat, and I still buy regular eggs.

I think with a little planning I can save money and buy better. Although I do have a well-stocked pantry which allows me not to run to the store all the time, often I’m just dropping in to Harris Teeter (expensive!) out of convenience instead of going to the right shops for the right things. I have a Costco membership where I know I can be buying organic chicken and grass-fed meat, but I rarely make the trek over there. I continuously allow HT to gouge me for avocados, coconut milk, and Bustelo when I don’t feel like making an extra trip to the Indian/Arabic/Spanish grocery. I think if I’m planning ahead, shopping at the right places, I can not only save money but buy organic all the time.

I was talking about planning with my sister and she said “Oh that sounds so depressing!” Does it? I was thinking it sounded fun, but I’m a nerd. She’s right in a way though, I do love to feel gloriously extravagant and go where I want when I want and buy whatever I want. The dichotomy of wanting to save money yet feel rich was on my mind as I flipped through BrokeAss Gourmet, a site I love with lots of delicious recipes you can make to feel fun and festive while saving your hard-earned cash.

I liked the idea of this Roasted Green Pepper Soup which uses the cheaper yet oft neglected green pepper. As I am obsessed with coconut oil/milk and Indian spices, I took this idea and made my own version, pondering the delicate balance between time, money, health, and festivity as I stirred the pot.

Roasted Green Pepper Soup

3 green bell peppers
1 heaping tsp cumin seeds
1 heaping tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
salt & pepper
1/2 c coconut milk
1 1/2 c chicken or vegetable broth
sriracha

Roast the green peppers exactly as you would red (I do mine at 450° right on the grate, turning occasionally, until they are blistered). Put in a glass bowl and cover with saran wrap, this will make them really easy to peel.

In a dry pan, gently toast cumin and coriander seeds until they are fragrant. Grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle (it’s ok if you don’t completely pulverize it).

Heat coconut oil and cook onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and spices until soft. Transfer to a blender, along with peeled, seeded, and sliced green peppers. Blend, adding a little broth if necessary.

If you are feeling fancy you can put this through a sieve before returning to the pot (but if you were feeling fancy, wouldn’t you have used red peppers?). Add coconut milk and chicken or vegetable broth, adjust seasoning if necessary, and heat through. Serve drizzled with sriracha.

This soup was the perfect balance of sweet to salty to spicy, and although hot it felt fresh and summery. As a red pepper worshiper, I did like the use of green peppers, and I really want to say I’m a green pepper believer, but…I couldn’t help but wonder how this would be with red peppers. Choose as you will.

Paki Tacos

thumb_paki-taco

I absolutely love Latin culture. I love the language, the food, the music, the dancing. When I met Shan, I was pretty much immersed. I was going salsa dancing every weekend, and I was eating arroz con gandules instead of biryani. After we got married, I started cooking mostly Pakistani and Indian food, but I will never stop cooking Latin food; it’s such a nice reminder of that time in my life and the people that are still dear friends, even though we don’t see each other as much anymore.

Tonight I made a dish that’s a fusion of the foods that Shan and I both love. This dish is my past and my future on one plate.

Instead of pulled pork (we don’t eat pork!) this is made with pulled chicken thighs, with a spicy tomato sauce flavored with both South Asian spices and smoky chipotle pepper, and just a little brown sugar. With gingery basmati rice, a fresh, sweet corn relish, and delicate pickled shallots (I put pickled shallots on everything), this is a delightful mix of flavors and textures.

Shan approved; he ate four and gave them their name – Paki Tacos.

Paki Tacos

For pickled shallots
Combine 2 sliced shallots, 2 tbsp red wine vinegar, 2 tsp honey, and a couple pinches of salt in a coffee cup and let pickle while you cook the rest.

For chicken + tomato sauce
4 chicken thighs
salt & pepper
olive oil
1/3 c sherry (white wine, chicken broth, or water also fine)
1 tbsp butter
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp each: ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, garam masala
1 can diced tomatoes
1 large carrot, chopped
2 chipotle peppers (and a tbsp or so of the adobo sauce)
1 tsp brown sugar

Heat olive oil on high while you salt and pepper chicken thighs. Brown chicken thighs on both sides, covered so they start to cook through. Check for doneness, you may need to add a splash of water and cover so they cook through the rest of the way. When they are cooked, let water evaporate and remove chicken to a plate to cool.

Deglaze pan with sherry, reduce by at least half, then add butter, cinnamon, and cloves and reduce heat to just above medium. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are translucent. Add garlic and ground spices and cook, stirring, for several minutes. Add tomatoes, carrots, chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, and about a cup of water, cover and crank the heat back up. Cook for 10 minutes or so, uncover and reduce if it’s too liquidy (you want it not too dry, but thick), remove from heat, and stir in brown sugar.

While the sauce cools, shred chicken thighs with two forks. Transfer sauce to a food processor, puree, then combine chicken and sauce in the pot and gently warm through.

For corn relish
2 ears white corn
small handful cilantro
1 lime (zest of all, juice of half)
2 tbsp yogurt
salt & pepper

Boil corn in pot of generously salted water. Drain and cool. Finely chop cilantro and combine with lime zest, lime juice and yogurt. Cut the corn off the cob and gently stir with yogurt mixture.

For gingery basmati rice
Rinse and soak 1 c rice (15 min is fine). Boil and salt 2 c water, grating in 1/2 inch ginger. Add rice, cover, and reduce heat to low, cooking until done, about 15 to 20 minutes.

For tacos
Assemble all of the above in warm corn tortillas and enjoy.

The Secret Ingredient in my Goat Curry is Love

Life is going really beautifully lately. I feel peaceful and happy and completely in love with my little family.

Lately I am one of those obnoxious people who is just floating on a cloud, enjoying my life. I think it’s doing good things for my cooking, because we all know home cooking comes out a lot better if you are cooking with a heart full of love and sweetness (versus evil salty bitterness!). Because of Ramadan, every evening we are partaking in a lovely family dinner. My husband Shan owns a Quiznos, and the nights he closes I just cook the meal at home and pack it up to eat there. I think it’s funny to be eating things like Goat Curry at Quiznos.

If you’ve never cooked goat before, try it! It is not gross, as we tried to convince one Quiznos employee. It is the most widely used meat in the world, it tastes a lot like beef (only leaner), and it is available at your local halal butcher. If you want a recipe that is a little more cold, stormy American night, you can try my Goat Stew. However, if you’re in the mood for a delicious spicy curry, this will hit the spot.

Goat Curry

It’s based on this recipe for Pakistani Goat Curry at a blog called What You Having For Your Tea?, which features the food I most love to cook, South Asian and Spanish. It’s written by a British bloke who moved to Australia, so this American chick has to do a little temp and measurement conversion, but it’s worth it since the recipes look absolutely sumptuous. I changed this up just a little; I cooked the whole thing stovetop instead of in the oven, and since I love the nutty flavor of coconut milk in curries, I used this instead of the yogurt. If that makes it more Indian than Pakistani I don’t know, but tastewise either is fine. I also used tomato paste instead of fresh tomatoes, as had no fresh tomatoes, and changed the spices up a little; curries give you some room to adjust to your tastes and pantry.

Goat Curry

1 pound bone-in goat meat, cut in 2 inch chunks
salt and pepper
1 tbsp (or so) olive oil
1 onion (roughly chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)
1 cinnamon stick
3 whole cloves
1 tsp red pepper
1 tsp tumeric
2 tsp coriander powder (I say “coriander powder,” and yet “fresh cilantro”)
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup water plus you’ll probably need some more later
1 tbsp tomato paste
juice of 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil on high heat. Salt and pepper your chunks of goat meat, and brown both sides.While that’s browning, in a blender or food processor, puree your onion, garlic, and ginger. When the meat is browned, remove it to a plate and pour the onion mixture into the pan, along with the cinnamon stick and cloves. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns golden.

Add the meat and everything else to the pan. Stir it all up, turn the heat to medium, cover and simmer for an hour to an hour and a half, adding water as needed, until the meat is nice and tender. At the end you can uncover the pan and thicken the sauce to your desired consistency. There should be a good bit of gravy for mopping up with warm naan.