Tender Seekh Kababs
Saturday, December 27, 2008
"Dec 27, 2008 - Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing more than 200 people and wounding nearly 400 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in years.
Most of those killed were security men, but an unknown number of civilians were also among the dead. Hamas said all of its security installations were hit, threatened to resume suicide attacks, and sent at least 70 rockets and mortar shells crashing into Israeli border communities, according to the Israeli military. One Israeli was killed and at least six people were hurt.
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Saturday blamed Hamas for breaking a cease-fire with Israel."
Really Condie? In the face of a humanitarian crisis, all you want to do is play the blame game? 200 people dead. 400 wounded. In one day. You think a palestinian mother doesn't mourn the way an israeli mother does? And representing the US, you actually have the gall to say "told you so" to one side while applauding the other?! I don't have enough words for you Ms. Rice.
Just remember, karma is a bitch.
Friday, December 26, 2008
There I was, driving into the parking lot of my local desi grocery store, and about to turn into a premium parking spot ... and right in the MIDDLE of it was an empty shopping cart! The cart return area was maybe ten steps away, but NO! Nope. That's too much of a hike for our lazy-ass shopper. I would say that 80% of the people frequenting that desi store would rather leave their empty shopping carts in the middle of the street, than put it back in the cart return area. If there are a total of, say 50 parking spots, most of those are taken up by empty shopping carts. Sometimes when I come out of the store with my grocery bags in hand, some wonderful person has actually parked their empty shopping cart just behind MY car! Or to the side, so that when the wind blows, the cart runs into my car and puts a neat little scratch on it. To that I have only one thing to say: WHAT THE F---?! Remember that you're NOT the only person shopping at that store, and show some BASIC courtesy! Stop being so SELFISH and LAZY! Unload your groceries from the cart into your car, close the trunk, then turn around, and take the extra FIVE seconds to return the cart to its proper place! TRY IT sometime, would ya?! *grumble grumble*
If this pet peeve gets you in a fiery mood too, then boy do I have a dish for you! No more cussing for the rest of the blog though, I promise.
Guys unabashedly gravitate towards food that's "homey" versus anything "fancy". Things that he can dig into with this bare hands make DH a happy man. Oh, I'm not saying he can't operate a knife + fork, but you can see him squirming for the most part! So where I come from, there's hardly a dish more "homier" than good 'ol Kadhai Chicken. It's fresh-tasting, with all that acid from the tomatoes, plus it has the zing of red + green chillies, black pepper (in my version) and garam masala. No onions. Simple, satisfying, desi soul food. The way our moms used to make it.
Pretty, no?! I want to take my hat off to this humble dish, by doing a lovely photo composition for it. I call it "A study in red".
1.5 lbs chicken pieces OR boneless chicken
6-8 plum tomatoes, chopped
2 small green chillies, finely chopped
1 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt (or more per your taste)
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp ginger paste
3 tbsp canola/vegetable oil
Handful of chopped, fresh cilantro
1. Heat the oil on medium-high in a kadhai (desi verson of the wok) or any pot with a lid, then add the chicken pieces, ginger paste, and garlic. Quickly sear the chicken (golden brown on the outside).
2. Add the chopped tomatoes, green chillies, salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and black pepper. Mix well.
3. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover the pot, and let the whole thing cook down for about 15-20 mins. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn't stick. No need to add water.
4. After that, take of the lid, turn the heat to high and bhoono (dry up the liquid partially by stirring often) for 5 mins. Some people prefer this dish to be quite dry, so they bhoono it for much longer.
5. Once the chicken is done, and the gravy is at the level I want it to be, I turn off the stove (remember to check for salt!) and garnish the whole thing with lots of cilantro. Serve hot with parathas.
Every pakistani household has their own version of Kadhai Chicken. Do share yours!
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Right off the bat, both DH and I were treated to fresh rosemary bread rolls, along with a pink slab of Himalayan salt, topped off with sweet butter. Pretty, no?! It was gooooooood start.
We were also pleasantly surprised by the great fixed price lunch options. A lot of great choices; three courses for only $24.07 per person. That's a DEAL by most standards, especially in the UES people! I ordered the California Scramble for my first course, which was an ostrich egg scrambled with veggies, and topped off with avocado and creme fraiche. Good brunch dish!
DH ordered the Salt n Pepper Calamari, which were the most tender calamari I'd ever had! They melted in my mouth. I soon switched appetizers with DH because I liked his a lot better than mine. DH wants to me state that he thought the calamari were too salty, just for the record.
Moving on to our second courses, I went for the Veal Saltimbocca. This was one fancy restaurant where neither DH nor I could complain about the portion sizes. Quite sizable, to say the least! So much so that I think they should make their appetizers a little smaller, so that people can have more room for the mains. The veal was good, but I didn't enjoy the coating, which I thought was browned too much. The garlicky spinach and smooth potato puree underneath were fabulous though.
Overall, we had a really good meal, at an amazing price, in an elegant, friendly atmosphere. It felt truly special. So if anyone is in two minds about going to this restaurant, I would say GO. Take advantage of their wonderful lunch options. You won't regret it.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
It seemed only appropriate that it was cold and raining the entire time we were there, making everything just that much more difficult and depressing. A simple procedure that should've taken only about 15 mins or so, ended up taking an hour and a half, and gave poor DH a LOT of grief!
I was definitely able to salvage the day by window shopping and having lunch at a wonderful spot in the UES, which I promise to review in detail in my next post.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
This also happens to be my first submission to Tyler Florence Fridays! I'm very excited to be participating in this group - mmmmmmm, I see a lot of yummy deliciousness coming my way in the near future!
Chocolate Banana Bread (adapted from "Tyler's Ultimate: Brilliant Simple Food to Make Any Time")
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted
1-1/3 cups mashed very ripe bananas (about 3 bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Ladies & gents, this bread is a winner. Denser than a cake, but lighter than a brownie, and moist. So moist. Makes me want to be a better person ... so in that spirit, I am off to share a few slices with my friendly neighbor. She has NO idea how lucky she is.
This time of year is all about sweater dresses. Pair it with some shimmery tights, boots, layer on some knockout accessories and you're ready to party all night long without freezing your ass off! But it's not easy to carry off this look, thanks to the nature of the material sticking to ALL your curves (especially those unwanted ones). So here's my Fashion Tip Of The Week:
Get sweater dresses that either cinch you just below your bust, or at the waist, then the rest (and this is key) floats away from the body. This will camouflage the tummy, hips & thighs, giving everyone the illusion of a sleeker and sexier you!
Check out the above sweater dresses that I'm oggling at the moment:
(Top) Banana Republic's Wool Knit Dress - on sale for $99.99
(Bottom) Victoria's Secret Stretch Cotton Rib Turtleneck Sweaterdress - on sale for $39.00
Monday, December 22, 2008
2. In the meantime, warm up the oil on medium, then put in the cardamom, black cumin, cloves and onion. I use the inner container of the rice cooker for this - it works fine on the stove.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Still ... this girl has enough willpower to turn down a trip to the mall, BUT she can't pass up on pancakes ... especially the ones at IHOP! That was where we had brunch a few days ago. You tell me if this image doesn't make you smile, huh?! Little pillows of doughy goodness, smothered with just the right amount of syrup and butter - savory AND sweet. Fork it, chew it, swallow it, and repeat till you end up licking the plate ...Ok that's a lie. Does anyone ever finish their food at IHOP?! Oh it's goooooooooooood ... but it's too much. For short pakistani chicks like me anyway.
Nutella, for those of you who haven't tried it (go yell at your friends, they've been keeping it from you) is a delectable hazelnutty-chocalatey spread that you can find at any grocery store these days. Right next to the peanut butter.
I loved this Stuffed French Toast people. No syrup needed. Just hack into it with a fork.
I'm a whipped cream person. My hubby is not. He just doesn't get it. Pfffft. Men. The Verdict: That toast may be stuffed, but you'll DEFINITELY be stuffed after eating it. But it's all worth it, trust me. I will not lie to you my friends. Nutella is king, and those berries worship at its feet. Top that off with eggy, caramelized bread and you have yourself a romantic breakfast-for-two to get you in the "mooooooood". That whipped cream has multiple uses. Oh yeah.
Today is officially my first day creating my own little space here in the blogosphere. And I'm grinning like a monkey!
*Deep breath out* ... why am I doing this? Putting out another food blog into a blogosphere already full to the brim with them? Because it feels right. Believe in kismet anyone? I do.
Coming from a family where get-togethers were just an excuse for all of us to gather around and admire the food, dig into it with gusto, shower praises on the cook, lick our fingers and sit around discussing the world's problems around the dinner table for hours ... this blog was just a matter of time!
Looking forward to the next great meal, whether from my own hands or someone else's, has become my subconscious quest. It's always there at the back of my mind. It could hit me in the middle of a conversation, or as I'm walking down the street, or typing furiously on the computer ... "what's for lunch/dinner?". My mind will rapidly scan images of the contents of my fridge. If the verdict is something satisfactory then I'll quickly resume my current activity without barely a pause. But oh ... if the mental images leave my stomach yearning for something else ... well then. THEN I have to start my search immediately for that elusive "something else". Because, let's face it folks, you are reading my blog because we believe in a universal truth ... that there aren't many things more disappointing than a bad meal.
"Say it again, sista!" you say! I hear you folks ... and I'm here FOR you.
So there's going to be recipes and general food porn for all. There will be discussions about books, fashion and maybe politics ... with a nod to the two men in my life that consume all the love in my heart, my darlin' hubby (henceforth known as DH) and my little munchkin Ozzy (cat, but oh so much more). I'll be talking about anything that I'm feeling particularly strongly about, so watch out for the occasional cussing! I can only hope that you'll walk a few steps with me on my culinary journey. You could dance a little jig when I experiment successfully with a new recipe, or give me your shoulder to cry on when I fumble ... and I will. But mostly I just hope that you'll try my recipes for yourself and your loved ones, and add them to your own "foolproof success" recipe file!
You know that feeling as the airplane you're sitting in is 30 secs from landing, and you can see your destination rushing up to meet you, followed immediately by the final touchdown? That sense of relief .. of "I'm here! I made it!"? That's how I feel right now, as I'm finishing off my first blog post. I'm home!