Sunday, June 4, 2017


Wow, did the weather finally turn into summer! I took off to go to the zoo with my son’s 2nd grade class, and this coming week, I’m going to the symphony to hear Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, and my husband has a car show this coming weekend. Not to mention that the last day of school is this week and then I’ll have a 6th grader and a 3rd grader. So, it’s super busy right now. But for this afternoon, I’m going to relax with some Pakistani food. 

Such a perfect little bread for dipping, sopping, and scooping.

I’m starting off with Lahori Kulcha. This grilled bread is often eaten with curry. In a large bowl, I mixed together 3 c all-purpose flour with 1 tsp sugar, ½ tsp baking powder, a pinch of baking soda, and 1 tsp salt. Then I poured in a ½ c of vegetable oil (actually more of a vegetable oil-olive oil mix—I didn’t realize I was almost out of vegetable oil!) and 6 oz plain yogurt and stirred it all together. It was pretty crumbly, so I had to add just a tad bit of water to help it along. I covered this with a damp cheesecloth and let it sit for 2 hours. It should’ve swolen up a little during that time, but mine didn’t do anything. Afterwards, I heated up my griddle on high heat (I didn’t use my grill because I didn’t want to take the time to clean it and set it up, nor do I have a portable grill). I made small balls of dough and spread it out by hand, rubbing oil on one side of the kulcha. Placing it oil side down, I let it grill until there were scorch marks on it, then I flipped it again to scorch the other side. It didn’t take that long to cook through, but I had my heat up pretty high for the most part. I’m sure it wasn’t quite the same as grilling it, but it was fine. I thought it had a nice flavor and went well with the curry. It was good for scooping my food.

Fragrant and aromatic and full of flavor.
To go with the kulcha, I made Aloo Chole, or Potato and Chickpea Curry. I started with sautéing some diced onion until it was translucent. Then I added in my ginger garlic paste (which I improvised by using minced fresh ginger and minced garlic and pounding it together with a mortar and pestle). I added in my cumin and bay leaves, and a bit of onion powder (in lieu of nigella seeds because I couldn’t find them) and stirred. After a minute, I added in my turmeric and potatoes. I let this cook for about 2 minutes before adding in my other spices: crushed red pepper, cilantro, and salt. I let this cook for about a minute before adding in ¼ c of water to the mix. After a minute or two, I stirred in a half can of diced tomatoes and let it cook until most of the liquid is gone. I added my can of chickpeas and stirred to make sure everything is mixed well, letting it cook down for about five minutes or so until the potatoes were soft. When the potatoes were done, I squeezed a little bit of lemon juice on top of the whole dish and garnished it with more cilantro. I thought this was amazing. It was one of my favorite parts of the meal. The potatoes and chickpeas together gave a heartiness to the whole dish and the sweet and savory spices complemented each other.

Much better with rice. I think it would also be good topped with pine nuts. But maybe I'm just nuts.
The main dish today is Tawa Tadka Keema. I actually started this by boiling some boneless chicken thighs until they were cooked through and shredding the meat when it was cool and set it off to the side. I sautéed some ginger and garlic in some ghee and added in chopped onions, diced tomatoes, mango chutney (in lieu of mango pickle paste since I couldn’t find it where I was) along with some green chillies, crushed red pepper, turmeric, garam masala, curry powder, and salt. I did leave out the kasoori methi, which is basically dried fenugreek leaves. I wasn’t able to get to the international store. Anyway, once I let this cook down for a few minutes, I added my shredded chicken back in, stirring to mix everything evenly. I let this cook down for about 10 minutes, garnishing with cilantro when it was done. I did make some rice and serve this on rice, and I think without the rice, it would be a little lacking. So, good job to me for thinking ahead. I really liked this dish. It could’ve actually been a little spicier for my taste, but I kept it light for others. Even my picky son ate the chicken and liked it.

Simple, with many ingredients. This makes a good summer salad if served on a bed of spinach or arugula.
And finally to go with this as a cooler side dish, I made Kachumbar Salad. I starting by dicing my vegetables into small pieces: cucumber, turnip, red onion, and tomatoes and mixed them all into one bowl. Then I added in my other ingredients: sweet corn, green onion, almond oil (forgot to look for this: I made a substitute by mixing together a little olive oil with little bit of almond extract), whole black olives, green chillies, cilantro, mint, thyme, black pepper, and sesame seeds. I tossed everything together, but I also forgot to find hung curd to garnish it with. Apparently I could’ve used Greek yogurt as a substitute, but I used the rest of mine in the bread. Oh, well. Even without any garnishes, this salad was pretty good. The olive oil-almond extract idea had a subtle sweetness to it, which was met with the more bitter flavors of the olives and other vegetables. I actually want to buy some salad mixed greens and put this salad on top of it. I think it would be awesome.

What a great meal! I loved everything about this.
If there was a theme with this meal, it was substitution. The thing about South Asia and the Middle East is that they have tons more spices than we have available. I was fortunate to have some of them, but others were harder to find or I didn’t have much left of my own supply. So, I had to improvise a bit here and there. So things may not have been exactly to the letter, but I think it was close enough. I thought the food was fantastic. I would totally make these dishes again. I think through it all, if things were different, I would like to visit Pakistan one day. And maybe some day, it won’t have the stigma it has now. I mean, we can now travel to Cuba.

Up next: Palau

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