Friday, 9 October 2015

We have a new home called cucumbertown

Dear Friends
My blog has moved to cucumbertown. You can find the latest recipes at
Thank you for reading my stories and recipes. Lets stay connected.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Mutton Pulao - Pakistani Style spice infused Mutton Pilaf

Muslims all over the world are getting ready to celebrate Eid this coming week. Every household has its own Eid traditions in Pakistan. Those of us who live away from Pakistan try to continue those traditions to ensure our kids stay connected to our culture. Eid ul Azha or Bari Eid as it is called in Pakistan is centered around food and family. This Eid is a bit more stressful because of the involvement of qurbani or animal sacrifice. Those who are incharge of qurbani at home, understand the preparation needed to buy animals for this ritual and arrange for the help needed for qurbani. Whichever day a household chooses to do qurbani is a chaotic one in the kitchen. The BBQs and the roasted raans – leg of lamb surely follow in the days ahead.
Eid is also the time to include the less fortunate ones in our celebration and remember those who are no longer with us.
I am sharing my favorite recipe of Mutton pulao. This pulao is beautifully flavored and deliciously fragrant. The stock is the key ingredient in this pulao. Stock can be prepared a night before, which can significantly reduce cooking time on a very busy day. Eid Mubarak to everyone! Here is the recipe.
Ingredients for Mutton Stock
Mutton – 1 kilo
Onions – 6 medium – sliced
Bay Leaves – 2-3
Ginger – 2 inch
Garlic – 6 large cloves whole
Cinnamon – 2 inch
Peppercorns – 1 tbsp
Cloves – 12-14
Black Cardamom – 5
Cumin – 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tbsp.
Salt – 2 tsp (adjust to taste later while cooking rice)
Oil – 5 tbsp
Water – 6-7 cups

Stock- Procedure :
  1. Use a stockpot to make the stock. Heat oil in the pan and fry diced onions till brown.
  2. Add ginger garlic and fry for about a minute till they get a bit of color.
  3. Add mutton and fry on high heat till it changes color on all sides.
  4. Add all the spices and fry for a minute or 2.
  5. Add 6-7 cups of water and salt. Once it comes to a boil lower the heat and cover the pan. The stock should simmer on low heat for 55-70 mins or till the meat is cooked perfectly.

Once done, let the stock cool. Strain it and separate the meat. Use the stock as per your requirement and save the rest to use for next matar pulao. I was using all of the cooked meat but the stock was more than what I needed so I froze the rest for later use.

 Ingredients for Pulao/Pilaf
Basmati Rice - 1/2 kgs - 2 cups ( will feed 3 people)
Onion - 1 medium - diced
Green Chili – 1
Cinnamon – 1 inch
Cumin – 1tsp
Peppercorn – 12 whole
Black Cardamom - 2
Cloves – 6-8
Mutton Stock (Including the cooked meat)– 2 ½ to 3 cups for 2 cups of soaked rice.
Salt - to taste. Be careful as the stock already has salt.
Oil – 2 tbsp

Pulao/Pilaf - Procedure:
  1. Wash and soak the rice for atleast an hour before making the pulao.
  2. Add 2 table spoons of oil in a pan and fry the onions till brown.
  3. Add all the dry spices and cook for about a minute.
  4. Add 2 ½ cups of stock along with the meat and let it boil.
  5. Add 2 whole green chilies. I love the fragrance they add to the rice. You can eliminate it if you wish.
  6. Drain the rice and add to the hot stock. Let the rice simmer over medium heat for about 5-8 mins. Once 1/4th of the stock is remaining, put the rice on dum/steaming.
  7. I use a hot griddle over the open flame or over electric stove. Seal the pan with aluminum foil and cover tightly with a lid, Put the sealed pan over the hot griddle over low heat. Add a bit of weight on the top to stop the steam from escaping. Use minimum heat setting/low flame for steaming.
  8. The rice should be done in about 10-12 mins. Remove from heat and open the pan carefully as it would have tons of seam inside.
  9. Mix the rice and fluff them. Let them sit for about 5-7 mins before serving hot.

This pulao serves well with yogurt raita or mint chutney, coupled with shami kebabs or potato cutlets.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Allo Bukharay ki Chutney - Pakistani Style Plum Sauce

Pakistani summer brings such amazing variety of fruits to the table. In old times without freezers and refrigerators readily available in homes, grannies made chunteys and preservatives out of seasonal fruits to allow the families to enjoy these fruits long after their season was gone. 

Reading allo bukhara chutney post by a fellow blogger come - con - ella made me look for my mother-in-laws recipe of making this particular chutney and allo bokharay aur imli ka sherbat (Plum & Tamarind Drink) at home. I will share the drink's recipe at some other point in time. I was able to try MIL's version of plum chutney which turned out to be worth making again in large quantity to consume and distribute as a culinary gift.

Allo Bukhara Chutney is a perfect condiment that can be served with a meal or with your afternoon tea time pakoray and samosay. Once you have made this at home, you will never buy that bottle of ready made chutney. This can be made in large quantities and stored in sealed bottles in fridge for atleast 2 months. 


Fresh Plums - 1 kilo
Brown Sugar - 1/3 cup
White Sugar - 1/3 cup
Crushed Red Chilies- 1 tsp 
Roasted Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Roasted Char -e -Maghaz( Dried Melon seeds) - 1/4 cup
Salt - 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Water - 1 cup


  1. Boil a large pot of water. As soon as the water boils add washed plums to it. Time for 3 minutes and drain plums in a colander.
  2. Once the water drains, put a pan under the colander as the plums will start releasing its juices. Ensure that you save all of it.
  3. Peel the plums and put them in a cooking pan with all the juices.
  4. Add all ingredients to the plums except roasted Char e Maghaz/Melon seeds.
  5. Cook till plums break down completely (About 25-35 mins on medium heat) and the mixture becomes a thick syrup that covers the back of your cooking spoon.
  6. Let it cool for 15 mins and add the Char e Maghaz and mix. 
  7. Once cooled completely, the chutney can be saved in sealed jars or sealed plastic containers and put in fridge for extending its life.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Mango Yogurt

Mango season and Ramzan have been coinciding since last few years. My love for mangoes has made me incorporate mangoes in my iftar regularly. With June's blistering heat around, one longs for things that are cold and refreshing while breaking the fast. Mango yogurt provides that along with appropriate nutrition. It’s simple and easy to make. I always save an extra bowl for sehri as well. Hope you will try it out.

Unsweetened Yogurt – 500 gms
Sugar – ¼ cup
Mangoes – 3 medium sized (cubed)
Dated – 8 (pitted and chopped)
Fresh Apricot/Khobani – 5-8, (pitted and chopped)
Almonds – 8-10 (Coarsely chopped)

  1. Add sugar to the yogurt and mix till the sugar dissolves. I prefer lesser sugar as mangoes are pretty sweet themselves.
  2. Puree ¾ of the mango cubes. Save the 1/4th for adding to the yogurt.
  3. Add purred mango to sweetened yogurt.
  4. Add chopped dates, remaining mango cubes, chopped khobani and almonds. Mix and chill
  5. Garnish with a few mango cubes and serve cold.

Depending on the availability I also use cherries, lychees, bananas, peaches for this yogurt. 

Friday, 22 May 2015

Pakistani Style Vegetable Pickle - Achaar

Before the arrival of mass produced - ready to use jams, pickles and chutneys, everything was prepared at home. In early eighties, my Nani- maternal grandmother prepared achaar - pickle, murabbay and Chutneys at home ritualistically. These homemade products were consumed around the year and the friends and family also had their share in the prized produce. This activity would take place during summer holidays when tons of extended family would be over.

Nani, her sister and sisters in law and other lady cousins visiting her, would divide the work of cleaning and chopping up tons of vegetables along with cleaning, roasting and grinding of sack load of the spices. Rock salt was bought and crushed at home in a gigantic brass pestle mortar called hammam dasta. Dried Haldi rhizomes/roots were crushed to make powder at home. Large Martabans – Clay pots were bought and seasoned for the pickling process. Fresh Mustard oil was ordered from nani’s trusted Teli – the Oil maker. Mustard oil was prepared for use on an outdoor wood fire stove.

Pickling involved tons of work and working together allowed these ladies to bond and share their issues, stories and happy moments. During these moments Nani would find out the domestic issues and offer help, advice and intervention if needed. Nani being the oldest daughter in law kept her own and her husband’s family together which was a rare trait of hers.

This year I decided to make nani’s traditional pickle at home which was my first attempt of pickling. I had help from my cook hence the process was smooth. My produce also has share for my mother in law and aunts who are anxiously waiting for it to get ready. I hope I can continue to do this every year. To me this activity is therapeutic and my own way of connecting to a woman I loved and didn't get the chance to know alot.  

Lemons – 12 (Quartered – remove the seeds)
Fresh Green Chilies – 20 long (make a lengthwise slit)
Carrots – 4 Medium. (Cut like match sticks but thicker in size)
Green Mango – 6 – Cut in chunks
Fresh Curry Leaves - 24
Garlic – 2 bulbs (Peeled)
Mustard Oil – 6-7 Cups
Fennel seeds /Saunf– 2 Tsp – heaped
Nigella seeds/ Kalonji – 3 tsp – heaped
Mustard Seeds / Rai Dana– 3 tsp – heaped
Fenugreek Seeds /Methi Dana – 3 tsp – heaped
Crushed red chilies – 3 tsp – heaped
Turmeric/ Haldi – 1 tsp
Salt – 10 tsp – Heaped

Prepare the Mustard oil

Pour the Mustard Oil in a deep sauce pan. Put 3 cloves of garlic with skin in the cold oil. Boil the oil at high heat for 15 mins. This is done to eliminate the natural bitterness and dense smell of the mustard oil. Ensure that the kitchen is well ventilated as you boil the oil. It will release tons of smoke and unpleasant smell so be prepared. It’s a good idea to exit the kitchen as it boils and come in to switch off the stove. Light some extra candles in the kitchen as you undertake this activity. I would not suggest doing this if you live in a flat with open plan kitchen as the house will smell of oil for days.
Cool the oil. Put aside.

Prepare the vegetables

Cut all the vegetables as instructed.

Mix all the spices and spread evenly over the vegetables. Use a glazed clay dish or High grade plastic utensil for this activity. Grannies advise not to use any metal utensil in pickle making as the acid from the lemon can corrode the metal leading to pickle going black and bad in days ahead. I have used clay pots and a wooden spoon to do the mixing.

The spiced vegetables need to be put in sun for about 2-3 days till their water dries up.

On the third day, add the vegetables to the big claypot /martabaan and pour the cold mustard oil over the vegetables till everything is completely submerged in the oil.

The pickle is required to be put in sun daily for about 10-15 days in summer and 15-20 days in winter before the vegetables become soft and ready for consumption. Mix the pickle daily with a dry wooden spoon. 

Everyone has their own favorite things to eat with this condiment. I enjoy this with Daal Chawal - Curried Lentil and boiled rice. Happy Pickling! 

This is how the final product looks after 15 days of sun bathing.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Pakistani style Spinach and chicken curry - Palak Chicken

Palak gosht was cooked a lot in my mother’s household during the winter season. I never liked what meat did to the spinach. While living in London, once I had Palak chicken at one of the Pakistani restaurants and loved it. Later I tried my own version at home and have not looked back ever since. My brother O who was studying at University of Warwick during that time, became the guinea pig for my cooking experiments.

My palak chicken not just got a high approval rating from him but I also got a request to make some palak chicken for him to take along to Warwick. For the year he was there, I used to make a stack of food for him and freeze it which he would take along to eat for next 2 weeks. A quarter in to the year, I started getting phone calls from his Pakistani and Indian class mates with specific requests for food, followed by thank you phone calls.

I wasn't thrilled to find out that O’s flatmates were eating all of his home cooked food. My firsthand experience taught me that the one thing that you miss the most while living away from home is the home cooked food. I quietly doubled the food he took to Warwick. Things sisters do for little brothers!!! Last night O called me from his office and asked me if I could make some palak chicken for him. I am always happy to fulfill such farmaish. We had it with boiled rice.
Here is the recipe.

Chicken – ½ kilo (6-8 pieces)
Fresh Spinach – 1 kilo (You can use frozen if fresh is not available)
Tomatoes – 4 Medium sized (make a puree with 2 green chilies)
Fresh Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 tbsp (heaped)
Mustard Seeds – 1 tbsp
Dried Whole Chilies - 4-5
Roasted Cumin seeds – 1 Tbsp (crushed)
Roasted Coriander seeds – 1 Tbsp (crushed)
Crushed Red Chilies -1 tsp (Adjust to taste)
Salt – 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Oil : 6 Tbsp

  1. Wash the spinach and steam it in a large pan. Once steamed, puree it with the hand blender. Put aside.
  2. Heat the oil and add ginger garlic paste to it. Cook till its changes color.
  3. Add mustard seeds to it. Let it cook for a minute till you can smell them. Add the dried red chilies and cook for 10 secs. Add a dash of water to stop it from burning.
  4. Add cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for 30 sec.
  5. Add chicken and cook for 5 -7 mins till it completely changes color.
  6. Add tomatoes, salt and crushed chilies and cook till the water dries.
  7. Now add pureed spinach. Cook till the water dries and the oil comes out on the side.
I love serving this with boiled basmati rice. This also pairs well with homemade chappati – flat bread.