Food

Hearty Paneer Chilli


Until recently, I was afraid to cook with paneer. I just did not understand how it could be used in everyday cooking. Having cooked with paneer a few times now, I am a huge fan of the taste and texture it brings to ordinary ingredients.

In this rather quick recipe, I paired paneer with capsicum/green bell pepper, and those two combined create an amazing flavor. At first I thought, I would add more East Asian flavor to this recipe, but then I decided to stick to the South Asian spice palette to avoid any unpleasantries on Tuesday night. 😛 Would you like to see an East Asian variation? Let me know in the comments!

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This dish can be served with quinoa, rice, or flat bread. I will be taking leftovers in a wrap for lunch tomorrow. Why not, right?

So without any more story around paneer, let me list what you’d need to make your Tuesday evening slightly brighter. 🙂

Ingredients:

  • Oil (1/4 cup)
  • Onion (1 large chopped)
  • Ginger Garlic Paste (2 tablespoons)
  • Green chillies (4 chopped)
  • Tomato paste (3 teaspoons) or tomatoes (3 chopped)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Garam masala (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Red chili powder (1 teaspoon)
  • White pepper (1 teaspoon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Green bell pepper (1 chopped)
  • Paneer (250-300 grams)

Method:

  • Sauté the onion in oil.
  • When the onion is golden brown, add the ginger garlic paste.
  • Once the ginger garlic paste is fragrant, add chopped green chillies, tomatoes/tomato paste, and all the spices. Cook this mixture until oil separates.
  • Now add the green bell pepper and cook until it is 80% cooked. Add water if needed to make more gravy.
  • Once the bell pepper is cooked, add paneer and gently mix. Cover and cook for five to ten minutes. Voila!

Tips:

  • Garnish with chopped coriander if you’ve it on hand.
  • Serve with naan, wholewheat chapati/tortilla or rice.
  • Use leftovers to make a wrap for lunch on the go.


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Food

Thai Prawn Fried Rice With Tofu

I often try to recreate food I eat at restaurants; this recipe I am about to share dates back to a lunch I had almost two years ago in Thailand. I went to Phuket for my honeymoon in January 2016 and during that trip, the delicious Thai cuisine was irresistible to the point I was ready to have Green curry for breakfast.

One afternoon, after visiting the famous Chaithararam Temple, we decided to walk to a roadside joint, incredibly similar to a Pakistani dhaba. That is where I first had the authentic Thai edition fried rice , and was smitten by the layers of flavour that every grain of rice carried. Since after that experience, I have made countless online searches for the perfect “Thai fried rice” recipe, but nothing really worked until recently.

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Most online recipes for Thai fried rice for some reason ask you to add soy sauce, and that is one ingredient which is not as common in the Thai kitchen as it is in the Chinese. Once I stopped adding soy sauce to my Thai fried rice experiments, the taste started becoming increasingly like the fried rice I had at the joint in Phuket.

I think the recipe I am sharing tastes at least 90% same. 🙂 I have added tofu to it – that is because I am anemic and I try to eat iron rich foods like Tofu in as many of my meals as convenient. You may omit Tofu.

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Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

Ingredients:

  • Oil (1/4 cup)
  • Minced garlic (3 tablespoons)
  • Onion (1)
  • Green bell pepper (1)
  • Tofu (100 grams)*
  • Prawns – frozen or fresh (250 grams)
  • Fish sauce (2 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Oyster Sauce (3 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Sugar (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Crushed thai chilli or the regular one (1 teaspoon)
  • Green chillies (5)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Rice (4-5 cups)
  • Sriracha (3 tablespoons)

Method:

  • Heat some oil and sauté mince garlic.
  • Meanwhile chop the onion and green bell pepper. After the garlic is fragrant, add veggies and cook.
  • When the vegetables are 1/4th cooked, add prawns. Cook on high heat so the water from the prawns evaporates without making the bell pepper soggy.
  • Once the shrimp is cooked through, add both sauces, chopped green chili, crushed chili pepper, sugar, and salt to taste.
  • Push aside the whole mixture, and scramble two eggs on the side.
  • Add cooked rice and Sriracha. Mix until well-combined. 🙂

Tips:

  • If using tofu, slice and marinate it in one teaspoon each oyster and fish sauce. Before heating up oil, pan cook the marinated tofu. You don’t need oil for browning the tofu in a non-stick pan. Remove from the pan after cooked, and add it just before adding the sauces.
  • Garnish with crushed peanuts, basil leaves, and/or cucumber if you have that on hand. I did not. 😛
  • To keep the meal healthy, you could easily swap the rice with quinoa or bulgur.
  • Boneless chicken also will work great in this recipe.

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Food

Tofu & Potato Curry

If you follow me on Instagram, you would know my husband and I are trying this seven-day detox diet which prescribes a very strict eating plan. Consequently, I have caught myself in a constant battle about what I want to eat (rice and curry) and what the diet asks (vegetable soup). I will do a detailed post about this diet in a post next week, so watch this space, if you are interested.

Being on a detox diet, or not, why can’t I do some wishful thinking about dinner, right? That’s where this recipe comes in. A couple of weeks, back I finally took the plunge to try cooking with tofu, and believe you me, I am converted from never eating tofu to including it in my weekly meal prep. Since after making the curry, I have used it in a few meals, including a killer fried rice skillet – let me know if you want me to share that recipe.

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Back to the curry – this is one you must try. I promise it won’t have the rubbery texture that tofu served in restaurants mostly has.

Ingredients for the tofu marinade:

  • Organic natural tofu (200 grams)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Yogurt (2 tablespoons)
  • Red chili powder (1/2 teaspoon)*
  • Cumin powder (1/2 teaspoon).

Remaining Ingredients:

  • Oil (3 tablespoons)
  • Onion (2)
  • Minced garlic (1 1/2 tablespoons)
  • Chopped green chillies (2)
  • Tomatoes (3)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Crushed red chilli (1 teaspoon)
  • Coriander powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Garam masala (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Potatoes (2 large or 250 grams)
  • Peas (1/2 cup)
  • Coriander (for garnish).

Method:

  • Roughly chop the tofu in chunks and marinate it using all listed ingredients.*
  • In a pot or pan, heat oil. Chop onions meanwhile.
  • Once oil is heated, sauté onions until golden brown. Chop the tomatoes meanwhile.
  • Sauté the minced garlic with onions until fragrant.
  • Add tomatoes, chillies, and all spices to the onion and garlic goodness.
  • Stir until the tomatoes are mushy and the oil is separated.
  • Add potatoes, peas, and tofu.
  • Break the tofu further with your spatula/spoon as everything cooks. The tofu you will end up with will have a minced meat texture.
  • Cook for at least ten minutes on medium high heat.
  • Now turn down the heat, add some water, and let those potatoes soften.
  • Once the potatoes are cooked through, garnish with chopped coriander and serve with rice, wholewheat wrap/chapati, or naan. Voila!

Tips:

  • Add more chili powder if you like heat.
  • Mix the spices first in the yogurt and then add tofu chunks to it while making the marinade.
  • For extra flavor, leave the tofu marinade in the refrigerator overnight.

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Food

Baked Salmon With Peach and Corn Salad

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For the most part I try eating healthy, which means I cut down on my sugar and refined oil consumption fairly easily. What I can never bring myself to do, however, is eat more salad. Coming from a kitchen where the base of no meal is complete without sautéing onion and garlic, it is no surprise that salads are rather boring to me.

But I can also not deny the importance of health benefits that salads offer, so I have been trying to actively and mindfully eat more greens. My struggle is that most salads available even at “health food stores” are often drowned in dressing filled with unhealthy fats and whatnot. So, I just ate a bunch of greens, but also ten times more fat and sugar? Umm, does not sound right…

Hence, I try incorporating my greens in smoothies, wraps, as a side for a brekkie of scrambled eggs or dinner of baked fish. Basically, the idea is to consume greens with foods that make greens irresistable without destroying their nutrient content.

In this post, I am sharing a combination of baked salmon with a corn and peach salad, which is to die for. The whole meal is a blast of flavors packed with tons of nutrition. Also, my god, it looks beautiful on the plate! The colors are just so appetizing together that you would not be able to resist no matter the salad.

So without further ado, follow the recipe below for a tasty and easy weeknight dinner, especially perfect in the summertime.

Ingredients for the salmon:

  • Salmon filet (1)
  • Paprika powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Garlic powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Lemon juice (to taste)
  • Olive oil (1 teaspoon)

Ingredients for the salad:

  • Your favorite green mix (1 cup)
  • Corn (1/4 cup)
  • Peach (1 – chopped)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Paprika powder (to taste)
  • Lemon juice (to taste)

Method for salmon:

  • Preheat the oven to 425F/220C.
  • Meanwhile, marinate the salmon in paprika powder, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic powder. You could also do this hours or night before preheating the oven for optimum flavor.
  • Once oven is heated, bake salmon for 8 minutes.

Method for salad:

  • While the salmon bakes, toss the corn in paprika powder and salt.
  • Add the green mix and chopped corn.
  • Squeeze some lemon juice on top.

Put it all together on a plate and voila! Time to devour the best dinner salad you will have this summer.

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Food

Egg Fried Quinoa With Vegetables

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Sunday evenings are normally quite busy for me. I am occupied prepping meals and work outfits for the week ahead. Today, I was even more pressed for time because I had to make a quick trip to the city center to buy a present (from my team) for a colleague who has just bought a house.

When I returned home, the thought of meal prepping just put me off. May be also because all week I struggled with a neck sprain that got the best of me. Now, I wanted some downtime. So, I decided to make about two servings of this easy peasy meal that came together in under 30 minutes. I will take the second serving for lunch tomorrow. And for the meal prep…we will think about it tomorrow after work, I think.

Let’s get right into this recipe that is uber convenient and quick, so that I can go back to my downtime. 😛

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Ingredients:

  • Quinoa (1 cup)
  • Oil (2 tablespoons)
  • Onion (1)
  • Minced garlic (1 tablespoon)
  • Chopped Chillies (3)
  • Chopped carrot (1 cup)
  • Peas (1/2 cup)
  • Eggs (2)
  • Soy sauce (1 tablespoon)
  • Sriracha sauce (to taste)

Method:

  • Boil two cups water. Add quinoa to the pot and bring heat to medium low. In 8-10 minutes quinoa should be cooked.
  • Heat up oil in a wok/pan.
  • Chop onions and fry until translucent.
  • Add minced garlic. Fry for two minutes.
  • Add chopped chillies and carrots, as well as peas.
  • After the vegetables are 1/3 cooked through, push them aside, and scramble two eggs in the same pan.
  • Now add the cooked quinoa, Sriracha and soy sauce. Stir until everything is well combined! Serve with lemon wedges. 🙂

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One Pot Mixed Veggie Galore

First of all, sincere apologies for not posting in nearly two weeks. I had to unexpectedly travel to London for work just before taking a week off for a holiday in Mallorca. It got busy! But now I am back and kicking things off with this absolutely delightful mixed veggie recipe that I learned from my father. 🙂

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Growing up, my father rarely cooked vegetables, but come winter and he would be cooking this recipe for the family. I have fond memories of going grocery shopping with him and then watching him be a “chef” in my mother’s kitchen while me and my three siblings acted as “sous-chefs.” It was a wonderful time when the whole family sat together relishing the rare delight that is my father’s “finger lickin good” mixed vegetables with hot naans out of the local tandoor.

While I was in Mallorca for my holiday, I ate a variety of different foods, but as cliche as it sounds, nothing matched the taste of a home cooked meal. So when I returned last night, I made a mental grocery list of everything I would need to make this warm, spicy, and hearty mixed vegetables with minimal gravy that is so reminiscent of family time and cold weather in Karachi. This recipe could also be served as a side dish alongside my all time favorite daal.

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So while the clouds covered Amsterdam skies, instead of being grumpy, I enjoyed this warm meal in the cosiness of my bed with the noise of rain falling on the windowpane, all while watching the first two episodes of Suits Season 7. Do not judge, I am returning to work tomorrow! 😛

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If you fancy a warm and cozy meal such as mine, follow the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • Oil (1/3 cup)
  • Onions (2)
  • Ginger garlic paste (3 tablespoon)
  • Tomatoes (2)
  • Green chillies (4)
  • Chili flakes (1 teaspoon)
  • Chili powder (1 teaspoon)
  • Garam masala (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Turmeric powder (1/4 teaspoon)
  • Cumin powder (1/2 teaspoon)
  • Potatoes (400 grams)
  • Cauliflower (500 grams)
  • Green peas (2/3 cup)
  • Carrots (1 cup)
  • Salt (1 1/2 teaspoon)

Method:

  • Finely chop onion, chillies, and tomatoes.
  • Heat oil in a pan and fry onions until golden brown. This would be a good time to chop the potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower if you have not bought pre-chopped vegetables.
  • Add ginger garlic paste to the onions and sauté for two minutes. If using store bought paste, lower the heat prior to frying the paste. That prevents the oil from splattering.
  • When the garlic and onion are fragrant, add chopped tomatoes and chillies.
  • After a minute or so, add all spices and stir until oil separates from the mixture.
  • Now add the potatoes and carrots and cook/stir for 10 or so minutes. Then, add the cauliflower and peas. Stir on medium heat for another 10 minutes.
  • Add half a cup of water and blast the heat until everything is sizzling. Cover the pot and bring the heat to medium low. Let cook for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
  • Serve with boiled rice or naan. Better yet, make a wrap out of it and bring it for lunch! That is what I do. 🙂

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