Who says NO to pizza, no one, ever!

By Maasi Javeria

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Well, almost.

Having the opportunity to enjoy a good thin crust pizza and that too which is appealing to eyes as well is rare.

As my daughters were on their own to a trip to New York with their grand father (lucky them) couple of weeks back, I went with my hubby and my 61/2 years old son, to try a new restaurant. My little one was blackmailing us like any thing and we were pampering him like our first born.

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I wanted to have Chinese and enjoy a hot bowl of soup but no sir! the prince wanted to have a pizza. So we went to this new place discovered by the hubby called “pizzeria by Nishat”. I had doubts about the new venture until I was served their thin crust cheese margarita and an all vegetarian. I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that it was few of the best thin crusts I ever had. The flavours were really good as well but it was more the colourful combo of jalapeños and peppers that really caught my attention. And the best part of it all was that I could witness how the pizza was being made in the beautiful brick oven. From the chef’s expert rolling of the dough to the sprinkling of the yummy toppings and finally both the cheeses, it was a feast to the eyes to watch and I already had imagined myself eating it even before I actually was.

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Where’s the Beet?!

By Maasi Saba

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It’s still quite hot here in Lahore. The temperature has lowered a bit where at times the fan is enough to cool me. Even though schools have reopened this week and inshallah I will get back to my old routine, I’m still a lazy bum. And a bum just wants to eat. To eat something cold, and ready to eat is more my style these days. So, I wanted to share with you all a recipe for a salad my mom makes. Her salad had these ingredients, apples, beets, and pears. Mine just has apples and beets. My kids don’t like the pears available here, they say they feel too bumpy, and sometimes they can’t seem to swallow them. Don’t ask me why.

In this salad, I used 2 beets, and about 3 apples since apples these days are a bit small. After peeling the beets, I diced them up as I would when making fruit chat. I peeled and diced the apples as well.  Boil the beets until tender. Just make sure they are boiled through. Let the beets cool down and then mix with the apples in a container.  Now, on to the dressing….

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When I asked my mom how she made this salad, she just told me the things she added and no quantity. I like to know the quantity and my mom would just say, “mera andaza hai,” (It’s according to your taste) which didn’t help me much. She tried her best to tell me how much, and the rest was up to me. So trial and error many times this summer and I found a balance I liked. The funny part is, I didn’t use measurements either! So let’s see if I can explain it well enough for you to try this as well.

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The dressing consists of yoghurt (I used Nestle and not homemade because this is a sweet/tangy salad), mayonnaise, vinegar, salt and sugar (I use castor sugar because it dissolves quicker). Now, in my head, I feel using a bit more yoghurt than mayonnaise is a healthy decision. So I use more of yoghurt and mix it well with some mayonnaise, then I would use a cap half way full of vinegar and a bit pinch of salt, and 2 big pinches of sugar. Does this make sense? Well, today, I measured the ingredients and well, it didn’t come out the way I want it. I think it needs a bit more vinegar. But since I already have mixed it for you all to see, I’ll just eat it the way it is. It’s still tasty! So I measured it this way: ½ cup yoghurt, 1/3 cup mayonnaise,  ¼ tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, and 1 tsp vinegar. There is something wrong with this, it isn’t tangy enough, so yes, I need to add a bit more vinegar, and I might have added a bit more sugar than I stated, and not enough salt. You guys can figure it out. Sorry ladies, I’ll try better next time, inshallah.

Mix both dry and wet ingredients and refrigerate. After a few hours, it will turn a nice shade of purple. Serve chilled as a side dish or your main course. And it tastes better the next day. Be careful though as beets to stain clothes! I think one day I will try it when I attempt to dye things using natural household items. Lol!

7 Layered Salad

By Maasi Saba

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Salads are quite refreshing. Some with a light vinaigrette, and some with a creamy dressing. I love the crunch sound in my mouth because of the juicy, crunchy lettuce and bell peppers, and the juicy tomatoes. I love to add some fried cottage cheese to my salads sometimes too. Though I’m not sure what the health ratio is in that particular salad.

Last summer, my sister was visiting, and she made this particular salad at my parents’ place several times. And each time, I was not there! But, this year, my sister in law made this salad for us one day when I was visiting. She kept going on and on about how amazing it was and so forth. I didn’t really believe her. LOL! Since we were all preparing for the lunch, she asked me to cut the vegetables. I tried my best but she did go back and recut some of the things. She explained to me that she wanted the vegetables cut in a certain way so one could get everything on the fork. It didn’t really make that much sense to me because to my knowledge, I was cutting the stuff small and thin. Anyway, we set out every vegetable we needed, sliced onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, black olives, and jalapeños. Since she had made this several times, she knew that the onions needed to be rubbed with salt and then washed well. They also needed to be drained well, and the dried in a towel (reasons I’ll share later). The olives, corn and jalapeños also needed to be properly drained. After about 20 minutes, she started layering the salad. It’s best to make this in a glass dish so one can see all the pretty colors of the vegetables.

So here is the order she liked best:

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-Sliced onions
-Sliced tomatoes
-Corn
-Sliced bell peppers
-Layer of salsa
-Sliced olives
-Chopped jalapeno peppers
-Layer of yoghurt

Set in fridge for an hour and it’s amazing. You’ll see.

So there are a few things I noticed and wanted to share with you all.

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Vegetables should be properly washed, drained and cut into small pieces.

Our onions were quite strong, so we cut ours in thin bit size strips and rubbed with salt. We washed them well, and after draining them for about ½ hour, we then proceeded to dry them in a towel. Because onions have water, it will actually make the salad liquid-y, and that isn’t nice. (I once forgot to dry them in a tea towel and low and behold, after a couple of hours, the yoghurt and water from the onions had made a layer at the bottom). All of the vegetables were sliced into bit size pieces. We used sliced olives to cut our time short. And I only used a few jalapeños, which I chopped into very small pieces. I felt a layer of these would be too spicy for my kids. I also used a medium flavored salsa, which is the imported kind because that is what I like. Also, we used the Nestle orange container yoghurt because it’s not sweet. My sister in law likes to use the juice of the jalapeños in most of the layers to make it tangy.  She just uses a few drops.

The actual recipe has mashed refried beans, avocado and sour cream. It’s actually a dipping sauce. They use cheese and some even bake theirs to make it into a salsa dip. It looks amazing on Pinterest. But alas, we don’t have all the ingredients available here, though this version is equally good. I made it the other day and it was even amazing with my daal chawal. My kids had it with their chicken tenders and rice. It makes for a nice side dish, and even a main dish as well. It’s cold, refreshing and healthy! What more could a gal want!  So please try it and enjoy.  I hope you all find it equally satisfying.

P.S., in my pictures, you will notice that my layers of bell pepper and olives aren’t fully covering the dish, I actually ran out. It is best if each layer is properly filled.

This is not another weight loss article!

By Maasi Wajo

Hello guys and I hope you all are fine and since we’re almost done with Ramadan, busy preparing for the splendor that’s Eid. Ramadan this year, has been really challenging for the most of us, mostly because of soaring temperatures in our country coupled with the very irritating load shedding (non) routine. Speaking of which, please do say a little prayer for all those people we lost in Karachi due to this terrible, terrible situation. My heart goes out to their families 😦

Now coming back to the article, it is about something that I should’ve written at the very beginning of Ramadan but my procrastination got the better of me; as it almost always does. Sigh.

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Our usual Iftar table looks a little like this!

Binging on food is an extravagance most of us like to indulge in during Ramadan, something that basically kills the main purpose of the Holy Month, i.e. detoxification. The trick is to eat properly and to remain hydrated, especially in a climate as hot as ours. We can work upon getting our whole twisted eating lifestyle back in order during Ramadan if we try enough.

And this year this is exactly what I tried to achieve. Before the beginning of this month, I vowed that I’d change this overeating routine of mine, and guess what, it worked out just fine.

I started keeping track of my portions with the use of this very effective App, MyFitnessPal— and made it a point to not drink water an hour before and after my khana. At Iftar time it can’t be helped of course, but I handled this by taking only a few sips, painfully ignoring the very tempting Rooh Afza on the table. Sigh.

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Oh how I missed thee, my lovely!

Half an hour after a very light Iftar (usually a couple of pakoras and a very small amount of dahi bhalas), I would take another glass of water; after an hour of which I’d take dinner. Now, after an hour and half of dinner I’d go on a water binging spree, drinking a glass of water after every half an hour. I made it a point to drink at least 7-8 glasses of water every night. At around 2 I’d stop drinking water altogether, because really, my tummy’d start protesting by that time. I’d take some namkeen lassi instead, and at 2:30 a cup of tea. At 3 I’d take my sehri, and finish it off with a cup of green tea.

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My love, a glass of namkeen lassi, that I took every day in sehri!

Now what I was essentially doing here was that,

1) I was eating sweet and salty food separately, and,
2) I was giving at least half an hour in between any two meals (or water drinks)

I found this regimen really helpful since unlike the previous times, my tummy feels really nice this Ramadan and I don’t feel as bloated as I used to. At Iftar parties, a little bit of gluttony couldn’t be helped but while doing my Iftar at home, I tried to stick this routine as much as I could.

And about whether or not this regimen helped me with my weight loss issues? Well, I reluctantly weighed myself today and guess what……… it says I’m a little over ten pounds lighter than the last time; which was about a month ago!! Trust me, it’s as much of a surprise for me as for you since we all tend to gain weight in Ramadan, rather than lose it. I just hope I don’t go completely excited on Eid and eat myself to oblivion again. But one can hope.

I know I know, I should’ve written this way back since Ramadan has now almost ended but trust me, you can try it later as well. Since I definitely am going to! Better still; let’s do this together and keep each other in check! Let me know what you think of it!

Recipe: Paratha Rolls

By Maasi Javeria

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Salam Dearies!

And Ramadan Mubarak! Well yes, it’s a bit late for greetings, and I am really sorry for catching up this late with you guys. But it won’t happen again. Promise! So this Ramadan it’s our humble Goal to make it easy for you ladies out there regarding the age old “what to make for Iftar” problem. We will try our best to provide you with recipes that are made with ingredients, which are already present in almost every home. And you won’t have to rush to the super market for anything. Absolutely loved Maasi Saba’s jalapeños poppers recipe. Definitely will try it sometime soon.

Today I will be providing a recipe for Paratha Rolls. Noooo!!!! We are not going to use any frozen flour based paratha’s. We will make our own wholesome, healthy and of delicious home made paratha’s. Trust me your kids will love it and you never know, may be that finicky hubby of yours might also show some appreciation :p 

Ok coming back to the recipe, I’ll be giving u minimum standard recipe that you can double as per your family members/requirement.

PARATHA

1) 1/2 kg whole wheat atta, or your regular atta would do just fine. You can also put 1/4 kg chookar in 1/2 kg regular aata to give it that whole wheat touch.

2) One instant yeast sachet (instant yeast will spare you the hassle of first soaking the regular yeast and waiting for it to rise). Do read the instructions, usually one sachet is enough for 1/2 or 1 kg whole-wheat flour.

3) 1 egg

4) 3 tablespoons oil or desi ghee (I prefer desi ghee as it makes it super moist)

5) 5 Tb sp black seeds (kalongi seeds)

6) 4-5 cups of warm water

7) 1 tsp salt

8) 1 tbsp sugar (trust me!)

For the Filling:

 1) One whole chicken: get it bone less n ask the butcher to cut in small cubes, smaller than the regular sized cubes, that way u get both type of pieces the breast n thigh.

2) 2 tsp black pepper, crushed

3) 4 tbsp oil

4) 1/4 tsp garlic paste ( i always prefer home made )

5) 1 tsp salt

6) Cheese slices

7) Ice berg

8) Plain ketchup and chilli garlic ketchup.

METHOD :

Now don’t get scared looking at such long method I have only tried to explain it to you guys till the last bit.

First we will make parathas so that the time it takes to rise, we will be done with our chicken.

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Mix all the dry ingredients of paratha, no sequence required.

Now start putting water, those of you who are going to knead it in food factory or the mixer should put eggs and oil half way between when the dough is kneading.

Those using hands should make a centre in the atta ( whole wheat flour)

Put water n eggs n oil n start working from the centre, until it is firm not very hard or soft, just the right amount of firmness which would be easy to handle it for making the balls n Roti.

Now we don’t to put all the water all at once, just enough that your dough is kneaded to perfect consistency. Like wise if the dough becomes too soft you can add more whole-wheat flour, or if too hard take some more water but remember it has to be hot.

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Now when you are done with the kneading of dough cover it with cling film or cloth and keep it aside in a warm place for 1/2 an hour to let it rise. Don’t worry if it hasn’t risen exactly double or even near it as per your expectation, this is not a pastry competition we are having so chill n relax; you can never go wrong with this dough.

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Filling method:

Now if you r even little bit of familiar with cooking or even if not, this part is piece of cake.

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Fry the garlic in oil, don’t let it gain colour. Put chicken, salt, pepper, and let it cook on low flame first and covered, after fifteen minutes or when the water is drying out almost, start frying it on medium flame till it is nice and tender.

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Now take your dough, half hour is maximum for giving it rest. Start making balls little less than almost the size of tennis ball.

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Roll out a Paratha and carefully put this rolled out Paratha on the hot flat pan or tawa. Now put ghee just enough to cover it don’t let it run on the hot plate on both sides and let it get a nice golden brown colour— those of you more diet conscious can go with only putting oil on one side, which I normally do for my self or skipping it altogether.

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Now when your done with your Paratha, the dough will make easily 6-7 paratha’s or may be couple more. Depending on the size of balls you have made.

Take one Paratha, put plain ketchup and chilli garlic ketchup spread it on Paratha (my little one doesn’t like ketchup so I put cream cheese for him), put your chicken in the centre length wise, a nice quantity, take slice of cheese, half it and put it on the chicken both halves again length wise. Now top it with ice berg or what ever veggie (like shredded carrots or cucumber, my personal favourite is ice berg).

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And fold it, now don’t roll it, just bring the both corners on each other and lock them in place with 2-3 tooth picks on top n bottom. No need for centre.

VIOLA guys enjoy and let me know. If you guys had a good time making and eating it. Total prep time is an hour and a further half an hour for filling.

Same as it takes us to prepare a Salan or gravy, but lot yummier!

Recipe: Jalapeño Poppers

A couple of days back I was having a little chit chat with Maasi Saba and well, the subject of Iftari came up, which usually is the most popular topic of discussion in our households during Ramadan. I wanted to make something simple but different and voila! She recommended this amazing jalapeño poppers recipe, which I made as soon as i could and was an instant hit in my family!!

Read the recipe in her own words and discover for yourself, these scrumptious little jalapeño poppers. And do try, I’m sure your kids will love you for this!

— Maasi Wajo

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By Maasi Saba

All day long, you think of what you would like for Iftar. You go through the list like a routine. Pakoras? What kind of pakoras? Fruit chaat, dahi bharray, dahi pakoria, chinese rolls, sesame chicken on toast, kebabs, shami kebabs, etc. But as the time rolls on, going into the kitchen is like jumping over a hurdle. But, alas, we still go in, and we prepare Iftar for our loved ones. We try to make it tasty and interesting. (But there is always one person who is not happy.) We make different drinks, different types of milk drinks, and have an assortment of dates on the table. We also put out all the sauces, ketchups, and chutneys we have in the house to make the food more interesting. I hope our families will be happy with our effort.

Trying to make different things for Iftar isn’t easy. Sometimes our efforts backfire and everyone looks at the dish and then our faces thinking, “What is that supposed to be!” I think we all have those bad days. Those days I wish I had someone else doing the work in the kitchen!

Today, we have a quick and easy recipe to share with you. I have been making this for a few years and my family loves it. Well, minus my younger two who don’t like jalapeños. In the U.S., my mom would buy jalapeño poppers from Costco and we would devour them before we sat down at the table. They were delicious! They made them using whole jalapeños stuffed with cheddar cheese! YUM! You can’t find them here, and you can’t use cheddar cheese either. That particular cheese here is a bit in the oily side and it will just lose its shape n become mush. My mom tried making it with cheddar and mozzarella cheese and they opening while she was frying them.

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For this recipe, you will need to buy fresh cottage cheese, a bottle of jalapeño slices, egg, flour (optional) and bread crumbs for coating. 

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 I took about 3-4 heaping spoonfuls of jalapeños, drained and roughly sliced them.

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I have a family of eight members all under our roof so I used two cottage cheese and crumbled it up with my hands at first and then a fork.

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I mixed the two by hand and was able to shape them into small little croquet shaped balls. I had to put them in the fridge for an hour because that day it was particular hot, and my own sweaty hands were ruining the shape.
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After 2 hours, I dipped them in a well beaten egg and coated then with breadcrumbs. (You can add flour as well if you like). I froze mine immediately for later use.

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When frying, make sure the fire is not on low or they will open up before they are golden brown.

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Jalapeños give it the right tangy and spicey taste! These jalapeño poppers are very tasty. Now you will have to adjust to your liking the amount of jalapeños added. I didn’t add any seasoning, but you can if you want.

Some of My Favourite Swiss Roll Recipes

By Maasi Maryam

Don’t we all want to get a little creative in our kitchens? Well, most of you already are but today I want to show you that being creative and original can be very basic and rewarding. Playing around an old favorite is never easy, but with a little dedication and some hard work, (yes the love of food can make its way into the busiest of schedules, trust me) we can come up with things that would take a lifetime to forget!

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It’s all about a few creative twists and turns to the humble sponge. A good sponge cake sheet can be the basis for a variety of delicious desserts. Let’s start with some tips for a perfect sponge every time. The cake batter is always baked in a large shallow Swiss roll tin to make sheets of sponge.

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To prevent it from sticking to the pan and breaking when you take it out, butter the tin, line it with greaseproof paper and then butter again. Once the cake has cooled down, you can then start filling it with fruit mousses (any soft fruit mango berries peaches), chocolate ganache or cream patisserie. You can get as versatile with the fillings and toppings as you please…how about a layer of homemade jelly or walnuts and cream? It all depends on your mood and what flavours amuse you the most.
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Today I want to share with you all some combinations for filling and toppings I adore. So that basically means that I’ll be sharing some recipes from one of my favourite cookbooks, “The Creative Kitchen”. The recipes include peach fruit mousse, chocolate ganache and walnuts and cream topping.

Let’s get working mommies !

Peach fruit mousse

Gelatin 15 g
Peach fruit juice 1/2 litre
Sugar 200 g
Water 3 1/2 fl oz
Egg whites beaten until stiff  3
Heavy whipping cream whipped to soft peaks 3/4th litre

IMG_0965Start with pouring some tropical juice in the gelatin to soften it, mix until smooth. Melt the sugar in the water over a low flame, while stirring gently. Gradually increase the heat and boil the syrup. Then take it off heat and immediately dip the base of pan in cold water to stop the cooking process. Put this hot syrup on the beaten egg whites in a thin stream, whisking without break and continue beating until all the syrup is incorporated and the meringue is cool.

IMG_0971NOTE: what you ‘re making here is a meringue. The finished meringue should be very shiny and white and form a stiff peak on the end of your whisk. Now melt the smooth gelatin and peach juice mixture over a low heat and add the rest of the peach juice as well. Carefully fold the gelatin and juice into the meringue, and then fold in the whipped cream as well.

Chocolate Ganache

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Hard semisweet chocolate chopped 250g
Whipping cream (not whipped) 1/4 litre

Put the chocolate and cream in a heavy based saucepan over a low heat and stir until all chocolate has melted. Continue mixing over heat for about 10 more minutes, but do not bring to a boil. The chocolate cream mixture should be smooth and thick by now. Now pour the mixture into a large bowl and refrigerate at least an hour.

When you take the bowl out of the fridge whisk the chocolate mixture with an electric beater for 10 minutes or until it doubles in volume, very light in texture and a pale brown.

Walnuts and Cream

Ground walnuts 1/2 cup
Heavy whipping cream (whipped and chilled)  2 cups
Sugar 4 tablespoons (less if you like)
Vanilla essence 1/2 tsp
Salt a pinch

Mix together all of the above and chill overnight.

Serving suggestions

All these fillings can be used to fill layers of sponge that have been moistened by spraying with sugar water syrup. (1 part sugar to 2 parts water mixed and poured in a spray bottle)IMG_0970

Use the Swiss roll tin to pour over some jelly into, let chill and set completely, top with the fruit mousse and finish with the sponge cake sheet, trimmed to fit the top of the tin. Take the finished layers out by placing the tin upside down so you see the jelly layer on top.

Or simply spread the walnut whipped cream onto the cake sheet and roll it to make a lovely Swiss roll.

Believe it or not, working with different tones and textures brings out the best chef in you. Happy cooking mommies 🙂