before dinner. That way it comes piping hot with the most indulgent melted cheese layer which is exactly what Ali wants on his plate.
Nishana is one of the many wonderful people I have met after being married. Our husbands are technically uncle and nephew in relation but only a few years apart in age. We all spoke together on a conference call after our engagement when she was expecting their first child. I visited her home in Kerala after she had her baby and then they visited us in Abu Dhabi when they were flying back to United Kingdom. That was the beginning of innumerable number of hours spent on the telephone. A decade later, we have shared recipes, travel lists, pregnancy and labor stories’, and countless laughs. The number of times we have met in person can actually be counted on one hand. Ever since we’ve both had children, the number of chats have lessened too. Yet, our conversations, filled with warmth and quite laughter, flow effortlessly even when we haven’t spoken for months. When we do talk, it always ends with inviting each other to holiday at their part of the world. We did so late last year and that is when she made this incredible Chicken Fry.
When my son was born, one of the things that I waited till he was a bit older was to be in the kitchen together. I was not really allowed to help with cooking growing up. The occasional baking I was allowed were done completely independently and would almost come out of the oven completely burnt. When we first moved back to Dubai from Abu Dhabi, our home had an open kitchen plan. He would take onions and sit on the floor removing their skins. I would give him little cups of water and he could spend an hour pouring it back and forth. Around the time of weaning, he would bring his kitchen toys, set it on the floor and tell me what he was doing. I was thrilled when I felt he was ready to help me with a simple recipe. That day we made oatmeal cookies. I have a picture of helping himself to remnants of the batter on the spatula he was holding. That was the beginning of us cooking together and it has been wonderfully messy yet fulfilling. This year started with us making these mini Pizzas.
During the early years of my marriage when we used to live with my husbands’ parents, these Curry Puffs were was a recipe I earned brownie points with. Prior to my arrival, these were not made at home. For me these curry Puffs were a staple for Iftar, growing up, especially when we had cousins over. For this reason, these were one of the first recipes I could make from scratch independently. Cubed chicken is marinated briefly with spices and a dash of lemon and cooked and shredded. Onions are caramelized alongside garlic and ginger paste, chillies for heat and a little more spices are added before the chicken is mixed in for the filling. It has all the ingredients you would use in a good chicken curry except for whole tomatoes to keep the filling dry. With the notion of the table has to be filled with favourites when entertaining for Iftar, these would almost always by my contribution.
In a household where at least one fried dish is expected for Iftar, you’re constantly looking for new options. Kerala has plenty of fried food options and Cutlets and Samosas stuffed and filled with meat are a staple on most tables. My home is no different and we have some form of fried dish almost every day for my husband. It’s mostly boiled egg, spicy Potato masala or thinly sliced onions dipped in Gram flour batter and fried till gold and crisp. These options are rotated throughout the week and he’s content with the options. On the other hand, I still look out for new recipes that are a bit different from the usual Malayali fanfare. Last year, I was introduced to these Mozzarella stuffed Potato Croquettes. I added one little tweak and it’s now one of my go-to recipes when entertaining family members for Iftar.
Ramadan Kareem to you! It’s that time of the year to reflect, to be grateful and to gather around the table with family and loved ones. We’re precisely halfway through the month and the routine of kitchen frenzy is balanced with introspection and worship. It is also the time when the last round of Iftar invites are sent out before the blessed ten nights of worship begins. Through this week, I will be sharing recipes that will make entertaining easier. Like these elegant croissant sandwiches filled with garlicky Chicken salad and a tang of citrus. It comes together very quickly and will make a classy yet fun addition to grace your table.
Today has been a whole year since Vellima left this world. Truth be told, we didn’t share a close bond. She came to live with us in Dubai 15 years ago right after I turned 15. She had a very strong personality and was a stickler for routines. The word clockwork could have been coined just for her. She always spoke her mind and was not one to sugar coat her words. And today when I think of her, I admire her. And for someone I haven’t seen preparing meals, a few of her recipes have a firm place in my list of favorites. Today I am sharing her recipe for Chemeen Vada.
I finally have a skillet recipe on my blog! Having bought it close to two years ago, I always thought I’d be sharking a cookie or a cake recipe first. But since I am way beyond fashionably late to the skillet party, I have a chicken pie recipe for you. I’ve been holding off sharing this recipe waiting for the weather to be pie perfect. Last year, this time it was pouring heavily. I would know because it caused quite some damage to my (only proper) Curry Leaf Plant. This last week has been pretty warm for Dubai winter. But not too warm to bake a pie.
It started with reading a recipe for Murg Makhani. A restaurant feature in TimeOut Abu Dhabi covered Ushna, a fine dining Indian restaurant in Abu Dhabi. To start of, the sauce requires 5 kilograms of fresh tomatoes to be boiled for two hours. I’m sure most of us home cooks don’t have stock pots large enough to hold even 3 kilograms of tomatoes. In any case, I kept reading. If there’s one thing I have learnt from Masterchef classes and recipes is that more than adapting it to the home kitchen, it’s the technique that we can learn from. This recipe, too, had an important line that will shatter one of the most common concepts of a great butter chicken. Chef Amrish Sood states the logic behind the curry is that the texture of the sauce should be similar to butter, smooth and fine. You would think the idea was that the sauce itself should taste buttery. It just happened that I was on the lookout for a sound lasagna recipe at the same time. That’s when I had the Eureka moment. Given the amount of tomatoes that go into the sauce, why don’t I make a Lasagna using butter chicken?!
Ramadan Kareem to all my lovely readers. Another Blessed Month has descended upon us and I’m geared with a quite a few goals I pray to accomplish. My blog is rather dormant given the time restraints of raising a toddler. However, every year I have the urge to share with you recipes my family enjoys suited for the month of Ramadan. This year is no different. I’ve planned way ahead and have a few recipes in my kitty that I can’t wait to share. Given that I know quite a few children who will be fasting this month, the first recipe I have is for the little believers amongst us who are fasting. For their will and determination, a little something for the little hearts patiently waiting to break their fast.