Friday, 29 March 2013

Mixed Sabzi - Mixed Vegetables Masala

While growing up in Pakistan, mixed vegetables masala was always a winter delight. Peas and carrots were winter vegetables and hence their availability back then was seasonal, unlike today when almost everything is available year round in Pakistan and elsewhere. 

This vegetable stir fry with a tomato gravy is a simple, pleasurable and back to basics home cooking enjoyed in Pakistan in short chilly winter days with sunny afternoons.  Hope it cheers up your dinner table where ever you cook it.

Oil – 4 Tbsp
Potatoes – 2 Cups (Diced)
Carrots – 1 Cup (Diced)
Peas – 1 Cup (Frozen or fresh)
Tomato Puree – 1 cup (Freshly made- with a green chili)
Ginger/Garlic Paste – 1 Tbsp
Mustard Seed (Rai)– 1 Tsp
Cumin Seed (Zeera) – 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Dana) – 1 tsp
Chili Powder – 1 Tsp
Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp (adjust to taste)
Green Chili – 1-2 chopped
Water – 1 – 2 cups
Curry Leaves – Few
Dried Kasuri Methi – 1 Tbsp
Fresh Coriander – Handful (chopped)
Butter – 1-2 knobs

  1. Heat oil in the pan and add ginger/garlic paste,whole cumin, mustard seeds and Fenugreek Seeds.
  2. Once the ginger/Garlic changes color slightly add tomato puree.
  3. Cook till oil separates. Now add chili powder, salt, turmeric and cumin powder. Cook for 30 secs.
  4. Add diced potatoes and carrots. Cook for 2 mins on high heat. Add about a cup of water and curry leaves.
  5. Let it boil on high heat and then immediately lower the heat to a medium simmer. Cover the pan and cook till potatoes and carrots are almost done. Add peas (The peas I use are cooked in 5 mins hence I add them in the last).
  6. Add around ½ cup of more water. Let it gently simmer till everything is cooked through and there is a bit of liquid and oil at the base of the pan.
  7. Add kasuri Methi and cook on slowest heat for 3-4 minutes with lid on the pan. Mix it and switch off the stove. Add fresh coriander, chopped green chili and knobs of butter and serve hot with a chappati and mint chutney. 

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Lahori Murgh Channay – Lahori Chickpea and Chicken Curry

I was introduced to Lahori Murgh Channay after i moved to Lahore in 2003. My Lahori work colleagues somehow made it their mission to feed (Read: force feed) the new girl with authentic Lahori food. Those who know Lahore would know that no other urban city in Pakistan can compete and match the Lahori hospitality. Lahoris show their love and affection towards outsiders and visitors by feeding and overfeeding them with the best of the punjabi food which is rich, meaty & spicy.  

My Lahore born mother's cooking is clearly inspired by Punjabi food due to her roots. I am sharing this recipe from my mother’s kitchen where i have also added my two cents. This is a must try with boiled basmati rice or Roghni Naan.

Oil – 6 Tbsp
Chickpeas – 600 gms (cooked)
Chicken – 450 gms (6-8 pieces)
Onions – 3 Medium (finely chopped)
Tomatoes – 4 Medium (Pureed)
Garlic/Ginger – 1 Tbsp
Cumin – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds(Rai)– 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds (Methi Dana) – 1 tsp
Nigella Seeds(Kalonji) – 1 tsp
Green chili – 1 medium
Red chili – 1(Use more green chili or chili powder if you cannot find fresh red chili)
Chili Powder – ½ tsp (adjust in accordance with the use of green & red chili)
Cumin Powder – 1 tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp (adjust as per your taste)
Water – 700 ml
Fresh Curry Leaves –  few (if you can find them)
Amchoor – Dried Mango powder – 1 tbsp (optional)

  1. Heat Oil in the pan and fry onions till light brown.
  2. Add ginger/Garlic paste. Cook for 30 sec.
  3. Now add chicken and cook it for 3-4 minutes till the chicken changes its color.
  4. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, nigella seeds, fenugreek seeds. Cook them for about a minute. Deglaze the pan with 100 ml of water. It ensures that the seeds don't burn.
  5. Add tomato puree, salt, chili powder, turmeric and Cumin Powder. Cook till the water dries up and oil comes out on the sides.
  6. Add drained chickpeas, one green chili and a few leaves of Curry Leaves (optional) and mix thoroughly.
  7. Add 700 mls of water,  mix it and let it boil on high heat for 5-7 minutes.
  8. Now reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover the pan.
  9. Take a cup of chickpeas from the pan and mash them in a plate with a fork. Add the mashed chickpeas to the curry. This will thicken the gravy.
  10. Simmer for around 20 mins till the curry has reduced to about ¾ of the water and has thickened.
  11. Once you remove the pan from heat, you can add a tablespoon of dried mango powder to give the curry a slight tanginess. The curry tastes fabulous without Dried mango powder as well.
  12. Garnish with fresh Coriander.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013


An associate from my former university who is currently working on his PhD thesis on Pakistan asked me if I could share a simple and basic recipe from Pakistani kitchen that he could try. As I sat and thought about it, it took me a while to come up with it. This was the first thing I learnt to cook as a 13 year old. Nothing fancy!  Just the Pakistani version of spiced scrambled eggs that is eaten with homemade chappati or toasted bread. It’s called Khageena. 

Ammi would cook this for a quick lunch or dinner when her fridge would be empty of the groceries or we had just returned from a long journey. It takes about 15 mins to prepare and is delicious. This one is for you Captain Kirk.

Eggs – 4
Oil – 3 Tbsp
Onions – 1 Large (finally chopped)
Potato – 1 small or ½ medium sized (finally chopped in small pieces)
Tomatoes – 2 Medium (finally chopped)
Green Chilies – 2 medium
Cumin – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp (adjust as per taste)
Chili powder – ½ tsp
Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
Fresh Coriander for garnish (chopped) – a handful

  1. Break the eggs in a bowl and beat them lightly. Keep aside.
  2. In a frying pan heat the oil and add chopped onions and potatoes. Fry for 7-8 mins till the onions are translucent and potatoes are almost done.  
  3. Add Cumin and tomatoes. Be careful as the tomatoes will splash. Add around ¼ cup of water to it. This will help the tomatoes to breakdown. .
  4. Add green chilies, salt, chili powder and cumin powder to the mixture and wait for the water to dry.
  5. As soon as the water is gone, add eggs and mix. Cook the eggs and keep mixing till the eggs are done and the mixture resembles minced meat.
  6. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Remove from the heat and serve with roti or bread.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Allo Gosht & Thunder Cats

I was about 13 when Pakistan's first private television channel - NTM started broadcasting. Thunder cats became my favorite cartoons back then. The Thunder Cats used to be aired around dinner time. Meaning all of us siblings will be fixated around the tv while having dinner. Ammi gave up on trying to station us at the dinner table while our favorite cartoons were on. Our favorite dinner was potato and meat curry served with a paratha while watching our favorite cartoons. Life was perfect!

It still amazes me how a 13 year old could eat parathas without any guilt or even a remote thought of weight gain. Now i feel that even the thought of having a buttered paratha adds couple of pounds to ones waist. I am sharing my favorite curry recipe in the loving memory of my favorite cartoons, guilt free Paratha eating and being a 13 year old.  At the same time i am thankful to the cosmic forces for letting my generation grow up without Hanna Montana. 

Maryam this is for you. Thank you for sending me down the memory lane.

Potato and meat curry can be served with pea pulao, home made chappati - flat bread or buttered paratha. 

Mutton – 250 gms (6-7 pieces)
Onions – 250 gms (4-5 medium – finely chopped)
Tomatoes – 150 gms ( 3 medium – pureed)
Ginger Garlic Paste – 1 Tbsp
Potatoes – 350 gms (3 Medium – peeled and diced)
Oil – 5 Tbsp
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp
Methi Seeds/ Fenugreek seeds – ½ tsp
Cinnamon sticks – 2 (2 inch each)
Black Cardamom – 2 pieces
Chili Powder – ½ tsp (adjust to taste)
Cumin Powder – ½ tsp
Salt – ½ tsp (adjust to taste)
Water – 3 ½ cups
Garnish: Dried Methi(dried fenugreek leaves)- ½ tsp, garam masala (2 pinches), chopped coriander.

I use pressure cooker to cook the meat as it reduces cooking time. If you want to do it without pressure cooker, it can take up to an hour for cooking the meat alone. 

  1. Heat oil in a pressure cooker, add onions and let them become translucent.
  2. Add ginger/garlic paste, cumin seeds, cinnamon, black cardamom and fry for a minute.
  3. Now add meat and fry till it changes color to brown.
  4. Add tomato puree and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  5. Now add 350 ml ( 1 ½ cups) of water and put the cover on to pressure cook.
  6. The pressure cooking time for the meat depends on the meat itself. I needed about 15 minutes of pressure cooking to cook the mutton I had. (You might need more or less).
  7. After 15 mins depressurize the cooker under cold water and open it.  Check if the meat is tender or not. (If it is not done yet then pressure cook it further for 5-10 mins. Replenish with a little bit of more water.)
  8. Once the meat is tender then remove the meat from the cooker and let it rest in a plate while you work on the gravy. This ensures that the meat does not break down in further cooking.
  9. Now increase the heat and dry up the water in the mixture. It should become thick and the oil should come out on the sides (see the photo).
  10. Now add potatoes and the already cooked meat. Add 450ml (2 cups) of water and let it boil on high heat.
  11. Once it starts boiling reduce the heat and let it simmer. The aim is to cook the potatoes and the oil comes up on the surface. It can take between 15-25 mins(see the photo).
  12. Once done garnish with dried methi, 2 pinches of garam masala and fresh coriander leaves.