Monday, January 30, 2012

Baingan ki Borani (Eggplant Borani)

[Updated July 29, 2013]

This is one of my favourites!

I could eat this borani every day!


I couldn't because I didn't know how to make it.

But now I do know how to make it (thanks to my mother's aunt) so, if I wanted to, I could eat it every day.

Because it's ridiculously simple.

1 eggplant
1 potato
1 1/2 to 2 cups yogurt
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
Salt, to taste

  1. In a medium bowl, add the yogurt and some salt. Whip with a fork until the yogurt is smooth.
  2. Cut the eggplant in half, lengthwise, and thinly slice. Cut the potato in the same way.
  3. Shallow fry the eggplant until light golden brown on each side. Fry the eggplant slices in batches, do not crowd the pan. Remove from the pan and allow to cool.
  4. Next, shallow fry the potatoes until tender and lightly golden brown on each side. Remove from pan and cool.
  5. Sprinkle some salt on the eggplant and potato.
  6. In the same pan, heat about 3 tablespoons of oil (there should be enough left over from the shallow frying, if not add more). Add the garlic and turmeric, and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add the cumin seeds, cook for a few more seconds and remove from heat.
  7. Add the eggplant and potatoes to the pan and mix well.
  8. Add this mixture to the yogurt. Stir to combine.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Macaroni and Cheese

Who doesn't love Mac 'n' Cheese? It's the ultimate comfort food. Once you have your basic recipe, there are a million ways to jazz it up if. Throw in veggies, leftover meat, whatever you like...

The basic recipe is simple to remember, 2 of everything. 2 cups macaroni and, for the sauce, 2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons flour, 2 cups milk and 2 cups grated cheddar cheese.

You can top the macaroni and cheese with breadcrumbs and bake it until the breadcrumb topping is golden. Or you could sprinkle crushed potato chips on it before serving...

This velvety cheese sauce has a mellow hint of garlic and the mushrooms add some flavour and texture.

2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
2 cups fresh button mushrooms, thinly sliced (or 1 cup canned mushrooms, thinly sliced)
2 cups + 1 cup full-cream milk
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 oz (2 tablespoons butter)
2 level tablespoons flour
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper

  1. Cook the macaroni in boiling water until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, lightly smash the garlic cloves and add to a saucepan with 2 cups milk. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes, or until it has reduced by half.
  3. Strain the milk into a jug and add the additional 1 cup milk, so that you have a total of about 2 cups of milk. Do not discard the garlic, mash it with a fork and set aside.
  4. In a large pot, heat a few tablespoons of oil and saute the mushrooms until golden brown. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  5. Add the butter to the same pot. When the butter has melted, whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes.
  6. Gradually whisk in the milk, stirring constantly for a few minutes until the sauce has thickened. Then add the mashed garlic and cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. When the cheese has melted, mix in the sauteed mushrooms and macaroni.
  8. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lunch at Khaas

Khaas Gallery Cafe is where we often end up when I'm meeting my friends Nadya and Maha. I met them while working at The Express Tribune. (Well technically I met Nadya for the first time. I knew Maha from school but I didn't really get to know her until we started working together.)

While I was still working there (I left in August 2010 to pursue a Masters degree) we'd sometimes go to Khaas for lunch before work. That's right, before work. Because we journalist-types started work at 2:30pm. Now you might think that's awesome, no early mornings. However, it also means late nights, no social life and working on weekends.

Anyway, this time I order the Laksa: noodles, chicken and prawns in a delicious spicy coconut broth...

... recommended by Nadya.

Maha ordered the Thai Red Curry, which I used to love, but either the curry got spicier in the year that I was away or my tolerance for hot curries went down. Bottom line, I cant eat it anymore.

The Thai Red Curry is a big serving. A big round metal tray with three white bowls on it is placed in front of you, one with chicken cooked in a spicy creamy coconut curry, one full of vegetables tossed in sesame seeds and a wonderful salty Asian dressing, and one bowl of white rice. I always used to eat the entire bowl of veggies first, before even starting on the curry, because they were so good.

That's not Maha's sipping-my-iced-tea face. That's the look she gets when Nadya is giving her advice that she (and we) know she won't follow.

For dessert we shared a rich chocolate mousse. It was perfectly balanced, not too sweet and just enough of the slightly bitter aftertaste of dark chocolate.

Khaas Gallery Cafe: House 1, Street 2, F-6/3, Islamabad.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Apple Muffins

I rescued a poor neglected apple from my fruit basket today.

And turned it into muffins.

These are simple, quick and delicious. 10 minutes to make the batter, 20 minutes to bake.

Perfect accompaniment to my afternoon tea...

1/2 cup plain white flour
1/2 cup wholewheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup yogurt
1 apple, peeled and grated

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C (350 F).
  2. Sift the flours, baking powder and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the sugar, egg, oil, yogurt and grated apple. Mix until just combined. Don't stir or mix too much.
  4. Grease six muffin cups and divide the batter evenly between them.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Street 1 Cafe

The first time I went to Street 1 Cafe with some friends, I asked my sister what I should order and she said Italian Chicken.

On subsequent visits, I have mostly ordered the same thing. And I'm not one of those people who always eats the same thing and never tries anything new.

It's just that nothing else on the menu sounds to me like it will be half as good.

I went to dinner the other day with my family and not only did I order Italian Chicken for myself, I ordered it for my dad too.

The Italian Chicken is quite a large serving as well with two breadcrumb-coated chicken fillets topped with tomato sauce, mushrooms, black olives and cheese, served with penne pasta in a delicious creamy sauce.

The Thai Red Curry (Chicken) was really good as well. The coconut curry was creamy and well-spiced. Some Thai curries are too spicy for me but I thought this was just right.

The Mexican Burger was good, as chicken burgers go; a grilled chicken fillet topped with cheese, lettuce and salsa. The only problem was that the bun started to break and fall apart, making eating the burger a bit of a problem.

Street 1 is quite nicely decorated, marble floors and beige upholstery on the ground floor, wooden floors and rich blue upholstery upstairs. The best thing about this place is the big comfy sofas instead of dining chairs.

Woven ball lights above the stairway...

Street 1 Cafe is located in Kohsar Market, F-6.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Eve's Pudding

I've been meaning to make Eve's Pudding for some time now. I don't know why I haven't gotten around to it.

It's an English dessert and it's very easy to make. The apples are cooked for a few minutes to soften them and then they are topped with a thick fluffy cake batter. The pudding is then baked for about 35 minutes until the top of the pudding is a nice golden brown.

You can add a bit of cinnamon to the apples. I thought about it while making the pudding, but then I decided I wanted nothing to interfere with the flavour of the apples. Also, where it calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar while cooking the apples, I used 1 tablespoon white sugar and 1 tablespoon brown sugar.

The result is a delicious dessert. Eat it hot out of the oven with warm vanilla custard or ice cream if you like the hot-and-cold thing. The pudding is really good when eaten cold as well.

I used a recipe from BBC Food.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Apple Pie Pancakes

There's nothing like warm homemade pancakes on a cloudy winter day. With a big mug of tea.

It doesn't have to be for breakfast either. I made these at 4pm.

1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon wholewheat flour
1 tablespoon powdered milk
1 egg, separated
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 apple, peeled and grated

  1. Sift the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk in the milk, egg yolk and melted butter until the batter is smooth.
  3. Stir in the grated apple.
  4. Whisk the egg white, by hand or with an electric mixer, until soft peaks form.
  5. Fold the egg white into the batter.
  6. Heat a frying pan or griddle and cook the pancakes (about 3 tablespoons batter for each pancake) for a few minutes or until browned on each side .
  7. Serve with maple syrup or honey and some single cream.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Kashmiri Chai

It's wedding season and, in winter, dinner is usually followed by Kashmiri Chai. Sadly, most wedding caterers aren't very good at making it...

At best, it seems to be a cup of hot milk with the faintest tinge of pink pretending to be Kashmiri Chai...

Today my mother made some and I was reminded what Kashmiri Chai really is, what colour it's supposed to be, what it's supposed to taste like...

It's the perfect winter drink, it has a beautiful rich pink colour and, in my experience, just about everyone likes Kashmiri Chai.

So here's my mother's recipe. She got it from her mother, who got it from her mother.....


4 cups water
2 teaspoons Kashmiri tea leaves
1 star anise
3 cardamom pods
A pinch of salt
A pinch of baking soda
2 cups ice-cold water
2 cups full-cream milk

1 tablespoon unsalted pistachios
1 tablespoons almonds

  1. In a saucepan, add 4 cups water, 2 teaspoons Kashmiri tea leaves, 1 star anise, a pinch of bicarbonate soda and a pinch of salt. Lightly crush the cardamom pods and add to the saucepan. Boil this mixture until it reduces by half.
  2. Now add 2 cups ice cold water and bring to a boil.
  3. While the mixture boils, take a large spoon or ladle and whip the tea mixture by taking spoonfuls or ladelfuls of the mixture and dropping it back into the pan from a height (Bring your arm up above the level of your head and then drop the tea mixture back into the pan from this height). Continue to do this about 4 minutes. (This process is what brings out the colour of the tea.)
  4. Strain the tea into another saucepan and add about 2 cups of milk. Continue to boil and whip for 1 to 2 minutes. Taste the tea and add more milk if you feel the tea is too strong or if you would like a creamier tea. (Even with a lot of milk the tea will still have quite a dark pink colour.)
  5. Crush the almonds and pistachios together in a mortar and pestle. Put this mixture in a small bowl to serve with the tea.