Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Pakistani Style Stir Fried Spicy Minced Meat – Bhunna Qeema

As a kid I was never a mutton/beef or milk fan. I got tons of scoldings from Ammi and Nana (Maternal grandfather) for that. I was told I will never grow tall enough or excel in class or be physically fit. Turns out I achieved all of that without eating much meat protein throughout my adolescent years. Something else happened as well! As I became an adult and moved away from Pakistan, the flavors and tastes that I took for granted came back to me as a longing. I missed eating the very things I despised as a kid. Mutton was one of them! 

While living in London, when I ventured out to find ingredients to fulfill that longing, I figured no matter how I cook the locally sourced meat, it will always have a nasty smell. There was plenty of lamb but hardly any goat meat that I was accustomed to. That was pretty disappointing!

Living in Manila the situation was worse. Locals don’t eat lamb or goat meat as it’s considered too expensive. Hence no one breeds these animals there. Whatever was available was ridiculously expensive and always had a nasty smell even after cooking. I eventually became a vegetarian but not by choice!

Coming to Pakistan means I can enjoy trouble free meat eating in moderation which I have been doing. This bhunna qeema is dry yet juicy and the husband loves it! This time around when I made it, it got a nod from Abbu as well. Here is the simple recipe. Hope you will enjoy it!

Minced Mutton – 1 kilo
Oil – ½ cup
Onion – 1 Large (Finely Chopped)
Tomatoes - 3 Mediums (Chopped)
Ginger Garlic Paste (freshly made) – 1 Tbsp Heaped
Roasted Cumin Seeds – 1 Tsp heaped (crushed)
Roasted Coriander seeds – 1 Tsp heaped (Crushed)
Cinnamon Sticks – 2 (1 ½ inches long)
Black Cardamoms – 3 whole
Cloves – 6
Whole peppercorns – 6 -8
Whole red chilies – 3-4 (round ones) or 2 regular dried ones.
Green Chilies – 3 Medium sized
Fried Onions – 3-4 Tbsp
Yogurt – 5 Tbsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Chili Powder – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ¼ tsp.
Fresh Ginger – 1 inch Julienne
Fresh Coriander – for garnish (handful)
  1. Put the minced meat in a tea towel and wash under running water for a couple of minutes. Let it sit for about 20 mins till the water drains. Squeeze the water out as much as you can before cooking.
  2. Heat the oil in the pan and add chopped onions to it.
  3. Wait till it becomes translucent, now add cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorn, crushed cumin and coriander seeds, whole red chilies and ginger garlic paste. Cook till everything changes color to gentle brown.
  4. Squeeze water out of the minced meat. Add it to the onions and cook it till it changes color to brown.
  5. Add salt, chili powder and turmeric. Mix further and dry half of the liquid in the pan.
  6. Add tomatoes and 2 green chilies and cook for 2-3 mins on high heat.
  7. Add yogurt and mix. Reduce heat, cover the pan and let it cook for 20-25 mins till the tomatoes break down completely and yogurt disappears.
  8. Add half of the ginger, fried onions and remaining chopped green chilies. Cook for 2 mins.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander, remaining ginger and fresh green chilies. This can be served with homemade flat bread, naan or even paratha for brunch.
The left over qeema makes an awesome stuffing for Qeema Paratha for breakfast or brunch the next day. Same filling can be used to make stuffed samosas at home. 

Pottery By : Blue Saint

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Sooji Halwa - Pakistani style Semolina Halwa

Semolina Halwa was amongst the first few things I learnt to cook primarily because it took less time to cook and I loved its mild sweetness. I wasn’t much of a halwa puri breakfast fan as the fried pooris dont sit very well with my tummy. The halwa however if homemade, was my favorite with tea in cold winter afternoons. 

Semolina halwa is also especially cooked in Pakistan on Prophet Muhammad's birthday and distributed amongst neighbors and poor households. Given the Prophet was born and passed away on the same day, in the morning the sweet Semolina halwa is cooked to mark the celebration of his birth. In the evening a salty, savory rice pilaf is cooked to mark his passing. This is a Pakistani tradition i particularly miss while being an expatriate Pakistani.

I am on an extended stay in Pakistan these days and the approaching winters are making me long for things I had long forgotten. M insisted that I should make some halwa as she was dying to have some.....which i did. So here is the recipe.

Semolina – 1 cup
Sugar ½ cup
Whole Milk – 2 ½ cups
Butter – 100 grams
Egg – 1
Dried coconut – 3-4 tbsp - flaked
Raisins – 12-14
Almonds – 12-14 – chopped
Edible Silver -2-3 leaves


  1. Melt the butter in a pan and add Semolina to it. Mix it. It will become like wet sand.
  2. Cook on high heat till semolina changes color and you can smell fragrance of the cooked semolina. It’s similar to cooked flour in butter for b├ęchamel sauce.
  3. Add raisins to semolina.
  4. Mix half the milk with the beaten egg. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk-egg mixture and mix vigorously. Put the pan back on high heat and mix further. Now add the remaining milk and sugar. Mix further. 
  5. Keep mixing till the milk dries up and the halwa starts sticking together like a bread loaf. This would take about 3-5 mins.
  6. Remove from the heat and take it out in a tray lined with parchment paper. Spread evenly and let it cool. The cooking time for halwa is about 15 mins in all.
  7. Once cooled, sprinkle with chopped almonds and coconut. Cut in bite size pieces and dress them with edible silver.

Serve warm with tea.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Potato Bhojia - Pakistani Style Curried Potatoes

There are days when nothing is more comforting than a meal as basic and simple as Potato Bhojia. Whether its the plunging mercury which makes one crave for carbs or a crazy weekday when you don’t have time to cook an elaborate meal for the family. This humble dish never fails to satisfy and delight everyone. I tend to slice potatoes, tomatoes, onions and chilies together in my food processor. It takes less than a minute to slice everything with unified thickness hence reducing the cooking time significantly.

Leftover bhojia either becomes a sandwich on a weekday or becomes a stuffed paratha served with milky, sugary tea on a weekend. There is no waste and no matter how much you make, the cooking pan is always wiped clean. There are quite a few ways to cook a potato bhojia. I prefer this particular method. Hope you enjoy it.


Potatoes – ½ kilo – Thinly Sliced
Tomatoes – 2 Medium (Thinly Sliced)
Onion – 1 small (Thinly Sliced)
Green Chilies – 2 –Sliced
Oil – 3 Tbsp
Roasted Cumin seeds – 1 tsp (crushed)
Roasted Coriander Seeds – 1 tsp (Crushed)
Dried Crushed Chilies – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Fresh Coriander - for Garnish
  1. Heat 3 tbsps of Oil in a cooking pan and add roasted/crushed cumin & coriander seeds. Let it cook for about 30 seconds.
  2. Add thinly sliced onions and let it cook for 1 min or so till the onion becomes pink.
  3. Now add sliced potatoes, sliced tomatoes, Crushed red chilies, turmeric, salt and half of the green chilies. Mix it and cook on high heat for 2-3 mins.
  4. Add ¼ cup of water and reduce the heat. Let the potatoes cook on low heat in steam for 15-20 mins or till potatoes are done.
  5. Garnish it with remaining green chilies and fresh coriander.
I serve it with homemade flat bread. A mixed salad and homemade yogurt raita always adds to the bhojia flavors.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Teetar Masala - Pakistani Style Spiced Partridge

Abbu’s native area of Mianwali has abundant population of Teetar – Partridge and Batair - Quail. I grew up in a household where these two were served on the dinner table often. We had ample supply of these little things throughout the year. Myself and the sister were more interested in keeping these little fellas as our pets. Sadly no pets were allowed at our home. Hence our pets got cooked for dinner quite frequently! It was pretty tragic!

This week a fresh supply of teetar and Batair arrived at home. Given I am in Pakistan these days for work, I got a chance to see how they are prepared. Strangely I have never tasted teetar or batair. Abbu tells me they are delicious. I have to take his word for it. The recipe is rather simple one and the same marinade can be used to prepare chicken or fish. Hope the teetar lovers will attempt it. 


Teetar /Partridge– 4 whole
For marinade:
Yogurt – 500 gms
Ginger/ Garlic Paste – 1 tsp - heaped
Salt – 1 tsp – add more if needed.
Chili Powder – ½ tsp
Chili Flakes – ½ tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Garam Masala – ½ tsp
Carom Seeds (Ajwain) – ½ tsp (gently crushed)
Dried Coriandar seeds – 1 tsp (crushed)
Lemon Juice – 3 tbsp
White Vinegar – 4 tbsp
For Cooking:
Oil – 2 tbsp
Ginger/ Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
Tomatoes – 3 (make a paste)
Water – 2 ½ cups

  1. Prepare the marinade by mixing everything in the yogurt. Apply on teetar and leave it overnight.
  2. Next day heat 4 tbsp of oil in a large pan. Add the ginger garlic paste, mustard seeds, Tomato puree and the teetar.
  3. Add 2 ½ cups to it of water and let the mixture come to a boil over high heat.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium till oil comes out on the side and the teetar meat is tender. It will take about 40 mins.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Palak Paneer - Pakistani style Curried Spinach & Cottage Cheese

I have been in Pakistan for last few weeks to attend a sibling’s wedding. The current political situation in the twin cities led to cancellation and rescheduling of the wedding a few times, which resulted in a fraction of invitees actually being able to attend the events. The happy affair turned in to a stressful one as the two families tried to get through the logistical nightmare the blockages and long march had created between Lahore, Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The mehndi (pre wedding song and dance party) was cancelled, the Baraat (wedding ceremony) was done at 4 hours’ notice and the Valima (wedding announcement dinner hosted by the groom) was moved by more than a week. But nothing dampened the spirits of the lovely bride and the groom, which boosted everyone’s mood.

I am sharing the recipe for my favorite Palak Paneer – Curried Spinach with cottage cheese which was also on the Valima dinner menu and is particularly a winter season favorite in Pakistan. 

Chopped Spinach / Palak – ½ kg (I am using frozen – You can use fresh if available. Steam and blend about a kilo of fresh spinach)
Paneer /Cottage Cheese – 250 gms (cut in bite size cubes)
Tomatoes – 3-4 medium sizes (pureed with a green chili)
Green Chili – 1 medium sized
Fenugreek/ Methi Seeds – 1 tsp heaped
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp crushed
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp crushed
Dried Fenugreek leaves / Kasuri Methi – 1 tbsp heaped.
Whole dried chilies – 3 
Fresh Ginger/Garlic paste – 1 tsp heaped
Chili Powder – 1 tsp – adjust if more needed.
Salt – 1 tsp – adjust if more needed.
Oil – 4 tbsp
Oil – 1 cup - for frying paneer/ cottage cheese.

  1. Heat 1 cup of oil in a frying pan and fry cubed paneer till it turns golden brown. Remove on a kitchen paper. Set aside.
  2. Heat 4 tbsp of oil in pan and add ginger garlic paste. Once it becomes golden, add cumin seed, coriander seeds, whole red chilies & fenugreek seeds to oil and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Add tomato puree to oil. Add salt and chili powder and mix. Cook till the water dries completely.
  4. Add frozen chopped spinach to the tomato paste. Cover and let it thaw for 10-15 mins.
  5. Add dried fenugreek leaves to the spinach and let the water dry completely.
  6. Add fried paneer to the spinach and mix. Cover for 4-5 mins over low heat till the stream of oil comes out on the side.
Palak Paneer can be served with boiled rice and homemade flat bread.

Pottery by Blue Saint

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Nargisi Koftay - Pakistani Style Curried Scotch Eggs

Ramzan is finally over! Phew! We are celebrating Eid in far east on Monday. Fasting in peak summer is a real test of faith as well as of one’s endurance. My inquisitive non-Muslim friends often ask me, how we Muslims survive the long testing hours of fasting without food and water and soaring temperatures? I am not sure they believe me when I tell them it’s a mix of practice and unreserving faith that makes us get through very tough days of fasting and sleep deprivation.

Now that ramzan is over, it’s that time of the year when we feast (read: over eat). Eid menus are planned out days ahead and tons of sweet and savory delicacies line up the dinner tables and tea trollies. At ammi’s house, there was a bit of set menu for Eid ul Fitar.  Breakfast will always have boiled vermicelli served with hot milk. Abbu liked having a bowl of it before heading for Eid namaz.  Dessert will be either Sheer Khurma or a dense milky Kheer – rice pudding. Haleem is always a non-negotiable which is prepared a day ahead of Eid. The tea trolley will be decked with savory spicy channa chaat and some gulab jamans. All guests coming to the house will enjoy all of these things for 2-3 days of Eid, meaning ammi will prepare these things in large quantities. Fresh channa chaat will be made every day and will be served with lemonade or tea.

For Eid lunch, there would be a pulao, a kofta curry for sure and some special chicken dish of hers. I don’t remember eating nargasi koftas at home a lot, but they were cooked only on very special occasions or for some very special guests. I am sharing my recipe of Nargisi koftas that fits Eid festival perfectly.

Eid Mubarak to everyone back home! Please don’t forget to include the less fortunate ones in our festivities and especially remember nearly one million people displaced from their homes as Pakistan fights the battle for its survival. Let’s hope that tomorrow will be a better day!

Ingredients for Koftay- Scotch Eggs

Minced beef – ½ kg
Chickpea lentil - Channa Daal – ½ cup – soaked overnight
Garlic 5-6 cloves
Ginger – 2 inch
Onion – 1 medium sized (chopped)
Green Chilies – 2 medium sized
Water - 1 ½ cup
Salt – 1 tsp
Eggs – 2
Dry Spices:
Whole Cloves – 8
Whole black Peppercorn – 10
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch
Black Cardamom – 2
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp heaped
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp heaped
Whole dried red chilies – 3 - Round  
Egg – 1 for coating
Oil – 1 cup – for deep frying
Eggs – 8 (hard boiled)

Ingredients for curry

Onions – 3 Large
Tomatoes – 2 medium sized
Ginger/Garlic paste – 1 tsp
Water – 1 cup
Oil – 6 tbsp
Dry Spices:
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp heaped - Crushed
Coriander seeds – 1 tsp heaped - Crushed
Whole black peppercorn -6
Cloves – 5
Black Cardamom – 1
Green Cardamom pods – 3
Cinnamon stick – 1 inch
Yogurt – 1/3 cup

Koftay - Scotch Eggs : Make this mixture a day ahead.
  1. Dry roast all the spices and grind them in a spice mill.
  2. Add minced beef, ginger, garlic, green chilies, onion, channa lentil, ground spices, salt and water in a pan. Cook it over medium heat for 45 mins till the water dries up and the lentil is fully cooked. Let it cool down completely.
  3. Add the cooked minced meat to a food processor. Add 2 eggs, 1 medium green chili and grind everything finely. Store it in a sealed container overnight in the fridge.
  4. Next day: Wrap hard boiled eggs in the minced meat.
  5. Coat it with a lightly beaten egg and deep fry on high heat.
  6. Brown the koftas carefully. While frying, do not touch them unless needed as they can crumble and break, remove on kitchen paper.

Curry :

  1. Heat 3 tbsp of oil in a pan and fry onions till translucent. Add ginger/ garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add tomatoes and cook for 2 mins on high heat. Add a cup of water and boil. 
  3. Blend the onions & tomatoes in to a fine paste in a liquidizer.
  4. Heat the remaining 3 tbsp of oil in the same pan and fry the dry spice.
  5. Add the paste to the oil and cook till water dries up and oil comes out on the side. Be careful as the water dries up, boiling hot bubbles can burn your hands. Cover the pan as the water dries up.
  6. Add yogurt and cook till water dries up.
  7. Add 2 ½ cups of water and let it come to a boil. Lower the heat and let it simmer till oil comes out on the top.

Serving: Ladle the hot curry in a serving dish. Cut the fried koftas in half and arrange them on the curry. Garnish with fresh coriander. Serve it with homemade flat bread – chappati or Naan.