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!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Leftovers: Baked Pasta

Wondering what to do with the leftover pasta and sauce in the fridge? This recipe uses up plenty of leftovers. Now is your chance to get creative.

8 oz. cooked pasta, any shape
1 cup red sauce*
1 cup white sauce*
100 to 150 g. cheese, grated

In a large bowl, mix the pasta, red and white sauces together. (You could use just red sauce if you wanted). Put into a buttered or oiled 8×8-inch casserole dish and sprinkle grated cheese on top. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes. Alternatively, mix up ahead of time, refrigerate and bake for 40 minutes.

Variations: Add any of the following: a 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/2 tsp. dried basil, some sliced mushrooms, frozen or leftover veggies into the pasta. Dot the top with olives, a sprinkle of parmasean, if you like, and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Just use the ingredients that you and your family like and forget the rest. You are in charge!

*See previous posts: ‘Red Sauce for Pasta’ and ‘White Sauce with Broccoli and Bowtie Pasta’ for these sauce recipes. You could also use storebought pasta sauce.

Posted in Recipe | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Chicken and Corn Fried Rice

This is a favorite recipe of ours. I’m reprinting it exactly, and giving the link. It was a recipe I picked up as an NPR listener where chefs were asked for recipes that fed a family on a budget. This recipe is easy and awesome!

Copyright 2009 Ming Tsai

Chicken-And-Corn Fried Rice With Lemon Spinach



Serves 4

1 pound ground chicken
2 eggs
1 large yellow onion, minced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon ginger powder
2 ears of corn when in season, or 1 bag frozen (12 ounces)
1/2 (10 ounces) bag spinach (washed, spun dry, de-stemmed, leaves torn)
2 tablespoons naturally brewed soy sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
4 cups cold, cooked long-grain rice, brown and white combination, preferably day-old so it’s nice and dry*
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Canola oil

Heat a wok or large saute pan over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with oil. When oil shimmers add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and brown, breaking up any large chunks with wooden spoon or spatula. Remove chicken to a plate. Add about 1/2-inch oil to wok and allow to heat; add eggs, which will puff up. Cook scrambled eggs and remove to a paper towel-lined plate. If necessary, add more oil to wok to lightly coat, then add onions, garlic, and powdered ginger, and cook until nicely caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add corn, rice, chicken and egg, and toss to combine. Add naturally brewed soy sauce, toss to combine, and check for seasoning. Place mound of raw spinach in center of four dinner plates. Drizzle with lemon juice and season. Top with fried rice to cover. Enjoy!

*Alternatively, if you’re not cooking rice the day before, place the cooked rice in a single layer on a sheet tray, and place in freezer to cool and dry.

Copyright 2009 Ming Tsai 

Posted in Recipe | 1 Comment

Big City Bird Watching

I am terrible at identifying birds, I admit it. But I am great at knowing when there’s an interesting one to identify! On one of those four palms that I see out of my kitchen windows, was an unusual bird today. I tried to get pictures and I even took a picture through my binoculars! I  really think it looked like some kind of eagle, but is most likely a Kite that is seen everywhere in Karachi. Whatever it is, though, it’s been really fun to watch!

Whenever my mom visits Pakistan, we do lots of birdwatching, and it’s because of her that I notice in the first place. You can watch birds anywhere! Even in this huge city of Karachi. Identifying them? Now that’s another story! Here are some more pictures of this mysterious creature, and the Princeton Field Guide open to the page on the eagles, what do you think?

Posted in Karachi in Pictures | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Chinese Noodles

Easy and light, these noodles are a dish that everybody likes. Adjust the veggies, adding only those that your family prefers, there are so many variations you can make to this recipe (mushrooms, corn, green pepper, the list goes on). It was originally adapted from a recipe that a reader posted at Jamie That recipe link is below. Give it a try too, you might like it even better!

Chinese Noodles

  • 1 to 2 Tbsp. Vegetable oil for stir-frying
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • Salt to taste (about ½ to ¾ tsp.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp chili flakes, or to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into small strips
  • 1 large handful of bean sprouts, or about ½ cup sliced cabbage
  • 1 carrot cut into matchsticks or grated
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. unsweetened apple juice
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. soy sauce (a good quality one like Kikkoman really makes a difference)
  • 1 box (8 oz.) Chinese egg noodles, cooked and drained*
  • Green parts of 2 spring onions, washed and sliced into thin rings.
  • Small amount of sesame oil for dressing (optional), be careful, it has a strong flavor
  • Pass at the table: chili-garlic sauce, Tabasco sauce and soy sauce

Chop and prepare everything before you begin. In a large stock pan, or wok, add the oil and get it hot, then add the chopped onion and salt and stir-fry for about a minute. Then add the garlic and chili flakes and stir briefly. Add the chicken and stir frequently until cooked. Then add the bean sprouts and/or cabbage and/or carrots. Continue to cook for about 1 minute. Then add the soy sauce and apple juice; stir and cook for about 1 minute.
Empty the contents of the pan into a clean bowl and set aside.

Add a bit more oil to the pan, when hot, add the egg noodles and fry, stirring constantly for a few minutes. Add the spring onions and toss well. Add the chicken and vegetables back into the pan and continue to turn the ingredients until heated through. Add the sesame oil, if using. Pass sauces at the table.

Original recipe came from a post by ‘lemonpye’ at this link:

*I use Kolson Chinese noodles in Karachi

Posted in Recipe | 1 Comment

Cooking for Real

We had an unusually long winter this year, it lasted all the way up until the very end of April. Then the heat hits you like a wall, but on the other side is mango season. You can’t have one without the other in Karachi. Not much will be cooking in my kitchen today.

Posted in Karachi in Pictures | Leave a comment

Hey! Where’d that Silver House go?

Now you too can buy one of these innovative Chandi Ghars. These structures are not only helping the environment through the recycling of materials, they are also inexpensive, weather-resistant, durable and a relief from the heat. This one moved from the Submarine Chowk to Gulshan – just like that! It is yet another outstanding advantage of such structures – they can be easily moved on very short notice! Sadly, we won’t be able to donate our recyclables to that location any longer though as the NGO had to vacate the Submarine Chowk.

Gul Bahao is run by Nargis Latif who has put 18 dedicated years into this research and development that could truly change the world. There are tremendous commercial applications in this innovative technology. The structures are modular – the building blocks can be used as furniture such as a couch, bed or chair or made into a combination of rooms according to your needs. The organization is making Chandi ghar (silver house) classrooms and examination halls for Karachi University.

Gul Bahao is asking for your help. They are appealing, with some urgency, for financial donations of any amount to keep this innovative work progressing. They are also asking for you to consider buying a cool Chandi Ghar for your home or educational institution. It can be used at factory sites, building sites, as a guard’s house or gazebo. The applications are endless.

Donors are desperately needed. Please contact Gul Bahao at: 0333 886 9491

Nargis Latif would be happy to meet with potential buyers or donors to the NGO.

This website has news and pictures about the projects Gul Bahao are involved in. Check it out!

Donations can be made directly to: Gulbahao Account number 010052-34 First Women Bank (0007)

For a better world, support Gul Bahao!

Posted in Karachi in Pictures | Leave a comment