Lentils (Dal)

LentilsLentils (Dal)

This is a big batch, approximately 8 servings. Half the recipe, or make the whole amount and freeze any leftovers.

2 cups lentils (1 c. red masoor dal + 1 c. small yellow dal)

7 cups water

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ to ¾ teaspoon turmeric

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

2 teaspoons salt

Rinse and pick over lentils. Soak them for 15 – 30 min. Drain and add the 7 cups water. Bring to a boil, skim off foam. Reduce heat and add the turmeric and chopped garlic. Simmer covered for ½ hour. Then add plum tomatoes and salt and simmer, uncovered for ½ hour more.

For the Tarka:

3 Tablespoons oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 cloves garlic, chopped

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat the oil on medium-high heat, when heated up add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle and pop but are not too browned then add the garlic and then the cayenne and cook for about a minute more, careful not to burn the garlic. Then add this mixture to the lentils and stir in. It’s ready to serve with rice or Naan.

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Cabbage Soup

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Ready in about half an hour, this easy soup also freezes well. Change it up by adding a chopped carrot or substitute squash or cauliflower for the cabbage. I tried this with mitah kuddu yesterday (that’s a pumpkin in Pakistan, but it is often more squash colored than orange) and it was warm and comforting.

This recipe was inspired by the Cauliflower Soup recipe in this Williams-Sonoma Cookbook.

 

 

Cabbage (or Cauliflower) Soup

2 onions sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped

2 Tablespoons oil

1 small green cabbage, outer leaves removed. To clean: Cut into quarters, then cut away the hard core, slice it and soak it in salted water until needed, then rinse and drain  (Alternatively, use ½ a large cauliflower cut into large pieces, soak in salted water to clean)

1 medium potato, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 cups of chicken or other stock*,

Enough water to nearly submerge the contents

Salt and pepper to taste

Optional, 1 cup shredded cheese

Sauté the onion and garlic in oil for 3 min in a large saucepan or stock pot. Add the stock, cabbage (or cauliflower) and potato. Then add the water til the contents are nearly submerged. Less water makes a thicker soup.

Bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover and simmer for about 20 min and the potato is soft. Then blend the soup with a hand blender being very careful as it’s hot.

Add the cheese if you’re using it, then add salt and pepper to taste. Continue to simmer for 5 min more.

*I often use the stock that is formed when baking a chicken. I save it and freeze it for use in making soups. You don’t need a very strong stock for this soup. It’s really according to your preference.

 

 

 

 

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Carrot & Poppy Seed Muffins

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Enjoy this with your morning coffee, or have it as a snack on-the-go.

As you can probably tell from the picture, I didn’t even put poppy seeds in this particular batch of muffins. That’s the beauty of this recipe, you can adjust it as you like. For a healthy carrot cake-style muffin, leave out the poppy seeds and try adding things such as a 1/4 cup each of raisins & chopped nuts along with 1/2 to 1 tsp cinnamon. You could even frost them with a cream cheese frosting (See the link below).

 

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease 8 cups of a muffin tin, or use baking papers.

1 cup flour (can be half white and half wheat)

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 small egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup low-fat milk (or any type of milk)

2 Tablespoons melted butter

1/3 to 1/2 cup grated carrot (about 1 medium carrot)

1 Tablespoon poppy seeds.

In a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg, milk, and butter. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir until just combined. Add the carrots and poppy seeds. Stir them in, but don’t over mix.

Spoon the batter into 8 muffin cups. Bake until well risen and a wooden toothpick comes out dry, about 20-25 min. If they’re too “healthy” for you, have them with a pat of butter. Or frost them with cream cheese frosting, you’ll find a recipe for that at the bottom of the Pumpkin Bar recipe here Cream Cheese Frosting

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

IMG_0666Chocolate chip cookies – in a bar form. Quick and easy!

2 cups flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 cup brown sugar, lightly packed

1 cup butter, softened (200 to 225 grams in Karachi)

1 large egg

1 cup chocolate chips (semi-sweet)

½ cup chopped walnuts (optional)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I can only get imitation vanilla here so I never put it in)

Preheat the oven to 350° Mix flour and baking soda together in a bowl and set it aside. In a medium bowl, stir together the butter and brown sugar until well blended (use a hand mixer if you have one). Add the egg and beat further. Then add the flour mixture and stir until almost combined. Add chocolate chips and walnuts and stir until combined and the flour is incorporated. Spread the mixture in an even layer in a 9 inch by 11 inch rectangle baking pan. I use parchment paper to line the pan but it’s not necessary.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350°. Allow the bars to cool before cutting.These bars are delicious right away, but somehow they’re even better the next day. So make them ahead of time if that’s more convenient.

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Scottish Scones

For many years we’ve used this recipe that my mom came across in a newspaper. It’s especially nice with butter or jam. Preheat the oven to 375 ° F

Scottish Scones

1 1/2 cups flour

3/4 cup oats, uncooked

1/4 cup packed, heaping brown sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine the above ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, then cut in:

1/2 cup cold butter (75 g. in Karachi), til crumbly as if for pastry. Then add:

1/2 cup milk

Mix to combine, knead the dough a few times (in the bowl).

Then place the dough on a buttered (or parchment lined) baking tray. Press into a 8 inch circle. Score 16 slices with a knife (see photo below), then bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Ready for the oven

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Food Handling Safety Tips

This note is mainly for beginning cooks. I have to admit, I am known for being a bit paranoid of germs and contamination in the kitchen. Yes, it’s true that some germs are good for us; but it’s also important to understand a bit about food safety as well. No one wants that food to come back fighting!

A quick note on cooking safety in handling raw meat (including, beef, eggs, fish or chicken).

Wash your hands before you start cooking and wash hands very well after handling raw meat, etc. Also, wash the faucet knob or other surfaces you may have touched when you had raw meat on your hands.

Change the spoon at least once during the cooking process. It is important to change the spoons or spatula you are using when cooking any kind of meat, chicken, fish or eggs. You don’t want to use the same one at the end on the cooked food that you used at the beginning on the raw food.

Use a different cutting board for cutting raw meat than for vegetables.

Use a clean platter for serving. When removing cooked foods, make sure to place them on a clean plate or serving dish – not on one that held raw meat, etc.

It is also important to clean up spills of raw meat, fish, egg, etc. from the countertops, and in the refrigerator as well. I usually pre-wash bowls, spoons, etc. that had raw meat on them so that they don’t contaminate the dishwater.

Don’t store a packet of raw meat, etc. above cooked food in the refrigerator as drips may contaminate the cooked food.

Always defrost frozen meat in the refrigerator or in a bowl of cold water on the counter if it won’t take very long. Generally, you should never leave meat out to defrost at room temperature as too much bacteria will grow and it becomes toxic.

Be careful not to leave cooked food at room temperature for too long. As a rule of thumb, you can eat it within up to 2 hours at room temperature (but not outdoors in hot sun). If left out for 2+ hours, it should be re-heated thoroughly before consuming. If left out for more than 4 hours, it is not safe even if cooked as the bacteria can make the food toxic and make you sick. This is even true of rice.

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Cooking in Karachi Travels…

Go now?After spending most of the past 19 years in Karachi, I am on the move! I will miss many nice things about life here, but I will especially miss the friends I’ve made! It’s the kind of place where you are able to meet people, not only from Pakistan but from all over the world…and you often have to say goodbye to them when they move on. This time it’s me saying goodbye.

You can never have too many friends, though, and the Karachi bonds are binding. I think I’ll be posting in the future, here (on this blog) – but technically not here in Karachi. I will spare you the list of things I won’t miss. Suffice to say, I look forward to milk that I don’t have to pasteurize myself; and tap water that flows abundantly and doesn’t need to be boiled. Ahhhh, the luxuries!

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