Thursday, 19 November 2015

Pan Seared Scallops

  Scallops are listed among one of the healthiest food. A 3-ounce serving of scallops contains only 80 calories from 14 grams of protein, 20 percent of the daily recommended value for phosphorus and vitamin B-12, 10 percent of the daily value for magnesium and smaller amounts of other essential vitamins and minerals. Scallops also are a source of dietary cholesterol which are good cholesterol.

Here goes my Panseared Scallops with Lemon, Herb brown butter sauce: I have marinated completely defrosted scallops that are patted dry and then lightly rubbed with garlic herb salt, pepper and lemon juice. Pan sear it in very hot skillet with a teaspoon of oil at one side for a minute and then butter for exactly 2 minutes each side basting with the butter from the skillet 


Sauce is made with browned butter, and then sauting minced onion in it followed by stirring some thyme, chopped coriander, lemon juice, salt and pepper in it.  

For side I have cooked quinoa and brown rice with garlic and scallions. To begin with soak a cup of mixed quinoa and brown rice. Now fry slivers of 6-7 garlic cloves in vegetable oil, take the fried garlic keep it aside. Drain the soaked and washed rice quinoa mix and fry them in the same oil for 3-4 minutes until fragrant, now add chicken stock and some garlic salt, cook until tender but not mushy.

Before serving mix finely chopped scallions and green garlic chives in the rice and top with fried garlic.

Scallops are expensive food, can be cooked for occasional treats and celebrations, definitely the final meal will be much cheaper then what we pay for it in restaurants that has scallops in their fine dining menu.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Oven Roasted Mutton Leg

Roasting a leg or two of the sacrificed animals during Eid-Al-Azha qurbani is a traditional feast for us.

This Eid instead of sending the mutton legs to bakeries and getting them roasted at expensive cost, try roasting them yourself and enjoy delicious spicy mutton leg roast, your family and friends would definitly be impressed with your culinary expertise.

This mutton leg roast recipe is very simple , unique, and can be cooked with very few basic spices yet it is totally juicy from inside and fork tender. It can be marinated ahead of any dinner or party and all you need on the day of feast is to stick it in a pre-heated oven and serve.


Mutton Leg One, (1.5-2Kg)
either remove the shin or cut it deep so it can be bend to fit in average size roasting pan
Freshly squeezed lemon juice- 1/2 cup
Red Chillie Flakes, coarsely ground- 2 tablespoon
Black Pepper fresh coarsely ground- 1 tablespoon
Garlic paste- 2 tablespoon
Garlic cloves- 20-25 peeled
Ginger Paste -2 tablespoon
Sea Salt- 1 tablespoon or to taste
Mustard Oil-1/4 cup 


- Wash and dry the whole mutton leg
- Using a sharp knife to drill holes in the  meaty part of the leg simply by inserting the knife and twisting it
-Keep inserting  whole garlic cloves as you drill these holes, try stuffing as many cloves of garlic as you can, but one per hole.
-Now in a small bowl mix all other spices, oil and lemon juice
-Rub the marinate on the leg ensuring it covers the entire leg specially the meaty part and that some of the spices goes into the holes

 -Cover the marinated meat with a cling film or thin plastic and leave on kitchen counter for 2-3 hours and then refrigerate for at least 48 hours. 

I have also frozen it, it remains perfect for 4-6 weeks.


- Take out the leg one hour before you want to start roasting so it gets back to room temperature
-Transfer the it on a big piece of aluminium foil, cover the leg with  any remaining marination and juices.
- Wrap the foil paper and put in a roasting pan that can hold it

-Pre Heat Oven to 450F or 220C
-  Roast the meat for at least 2 hours
-If you have a meat thermometer use it to test the temperature, it should register 180. Alternatively just take the pan out carefully open the foil from one side use a knife or spoon to check if the meat is tender.
- Now open the foil and roast for another 20minutes or untill the leg becomes brown and crispy from outside.

Serve hot with paratha, chappati or nan, salads and your favourite chutney.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Taste of Home Away from Home

Shan Foods Eid TVC by Showbizbuzz 

"woh maula sab ki sunta hai" the new heart touching TVC of Shan Masala going on viral is simply so wow!! 

This  emotionally intense 3 minutes trip to a world of memories, tears, many skipped heartbeats and nostalgia got over half a million views in less then two days and 35,000 shares.

Coordinating high school student exchanges since 2003, I can totally relate to this TVC. Its not only on Eid that we miss moms cooking and family feast, craving for the taste and flavour from home is part of living abroad specially in countries besides South Asia . 

Shan spices has been an all time life saver and of course help not only to overcome homesickness but also to cook traditional Pakistani dishes for our hosts and colleagues we visit during international travels. This new Shan TVC beutifully reflects the  emotions, love, the family bonding so specific to Pakistani values, and the food memories one associate with home all set with a melodious sufi influenced lyrics as playback ‘maula sab ki sunta hai’.

Cuisine are by all means number one strategy to exchange and experience cultures. Shan spices comes handy for all my exchange students who are teenagers. They cook a Pakistani meal on special occasions like Eids while living with American families and turn their moments home sickness into opportunities to share the rich Pakistani culinary tradition and culture with the natives connecting the world together as they connect with their homes and families .  The cool thing is those delicious Shan spice mix are found in grocery store in almost everywhere in the world where we have even a small number of Pakistani community and a Desi food store. Making us feel home away from home having us enjoy the taste of home and happiness  #KhushiyanChakhLo. 


Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Pranzo-An Epicurean Surprise

I don’t like surprises but this one time pleasantly surprised and loved it to bits when I at random picked this new restaurant ‘Pranzo’ last evening and had truly a dinner night to remember forever. As I was looking for a place to take my daughter for a graduation treat, someone forwarded a Phegency promotional video of this place. I just picked phone and made reservation hardly ever thinking about it, considering it is easy to please kids, lets experiment with the new place.

 Wow it turned out an out of the world experience, the baroque style decor, the dreamy romantic chandeliers, the comfortable table settings,  the huge premises, high ceilings, and various levels and sections of seating including outdoors and indoors, all culminating into a beautiful overall uplifiting ambience that would linger on in our minds long after. Perfect setting for celebrations, unwinding or to just chilling out after a long day with friends and family.

Something I admired about the setting of Pranzo is that guests can have privacy and quiet dining experience even if the restaurant is full. The service is impeccable and the food is of course ravishing. Very few restaurants have such an extensive menu of  mutton dishes, and here we were digging our forks into tender juicy Lamb Shank, a huge rack of BBQ ribs drenched in awesome BBQ sauce, and creamy spinach shrimp pasta that is loaded with lots of medium sized shrimps that are just cooked to right tenderness and not rubbery as often the shrimp  dishes turn up.

Pasta Fettucinni in Spinach Sauce with Shrimps
Beside what we ordered the menu is extensive contained a range of meat dishes including seafood,  chicken, beef, mutton. A delicious selection of pasta and vegetarian entree is seen too. There were some great steaks on the menu too, will try them the next time.

BBQ Lamb Rack

I totally appreciate the generous servings unlike many fine dinning that has a morsel of food sitting at the centre of a huge plate. Yes we Pakistanis like our fine dining plates full, and Pranzo presented us  big plates laden with good sized servings right from salads, appetizers to main courses. All of this luxuries perfectly set amongst great music, looks like they had some international radio channel live streaming playing beautiful jazz that was aired all around on simply fantastic speakers giving the feel  as if there are live music playing somewhere.

The prices are moderate and justified, a three course dinner complete with fresh juices, we paid  5900/= for a dinner for three,  this includes the taxes and service fee/tip as well.

I had been limping with a hurting ankle for a week now, and finally got to unwind laugh and relax at this place. Yes Pranzo fit in my idea of fine dining in every way.

I have no clue when it is opened who conceptualized the idea or are the owners. But whoever it belongs to they  gave a great gift to us Karachiites.

‘Pranzo’! I see myself dining here many more times in the days to come. You are a KEEPER.

Note: These iPhone pictures all clicked in dark definitly did not do justice to the presentation and food we were served. 

Pranzo on Facebook

Location: Clifton-Karachi

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

National Taste of Pakistan-Book Review

Kolachi Jheenga Masala

How exciting it is when just one cookbook brings a flavorful revolution to cooking. It happened to me when a friend gave me  The Taste of Pakistan, a cookbook written by Chef Saadat. People told me he is also a TV Chef and cooks on a show. I am not a fan of TV cooking shows, but love to cook and follow recipes from books. Taste of Pakistan cookbook did it for me. Reading  the recipes i was thrilled and knew this book is a keeper and would help me take my cooking of traditional dishes to a different level. I have been  cooking non stop using these recipes.

  Chef Saadat presented 50 recipes in this book representing the diversity of culinary arts, skills and traditions from all over Pakistan.  The book is sponsored by National Foods and published by Liberty Books in 2013.

At first I thought that this book is some kind of promotional book by National Foods and the recipes wont turn great unless I use their spice mixes.  But this is not the case I read through each and every section. The book defintily refers to some National spices, but the way these recipes are developed we can follow them and present great tasting meals using any brand or kind of spices available.

Lakshmi Chowk ki Kali Mirch Karachi

 The recipes use fresh locally grown produce, minimum use of bottled, packaged or tinned ingredients neither any imported items.  The amount of spice is adjustable, and even if we use exactly as in the recipes it taste great and does not overwhelm the palate. They are easily adaptable and variations can be made without compromising  flavour, taste and presentation of the dishes. I cooked the Afgahni Pulao for an all vegetarian meal and instead of mutton used chickpeas, the final dish was equally tasty and well loved. Also for some of the dishes I reduced butter or replaced it with olive oil and it worked perfectly well.

Smoke and Meat the idea duo, this is a beef dish "Dhuwan Gosht

Afghani Pulao
I instantly fell in love with these easy to follow, no fail recipes that resulted in a range of delectable and outstanding Pakistani cuisine on my dining table. 

For someone like me who often host and cook for people from other countries, I felt proud presenting my cooking following these recipes and explaining some culture, geography and history of the region these dishes represent. 

Yes food is a great way of exploring and getting to know culture. 

Bhawalpuri White Qourma

The recipes in the book are divided in seven different sections  that includes; Street Food, Spices and Vegetable, Chicken, Meat, Rice, Seafood and Dessert. Wow!! So all we need is to pick up the book select a menu and surprise our family and guests by cooking these amazing dishes. Something that impressed me as a cook is the last section of the book giving a comprehensive explanation of some of the culinary terms, cooking techniques and ingredients.

This nice hard copy publication has a wonderful layout.  User friendly with clear step by step easy to follow instructions accompanied by thumb nail images of cooking step. I loved the full two page folded spread at the start of every section.
Banarsi Mutton Dumpukht

Everyone who tasted these dishes that I have been cooking following Taste of Pakistan, left completely impressed, their taste buds satisfied  and they got to experience Pakistan from just one meal table.

100% of the recipe that I followed worked perfect the very first time. I never cooked white qourma ever, but it was simply an epicurean delight when I cooked my first Bhawalpuri White Qourma, everyone on the table were  licking fingers. 

The Mdarasi Daal Masala is another winner with me,  I weighed different spices and herbs roasted and milled them, stored into a jar full of fragrant exotic spice mix called 'Madrasi Daal Masala". I wont be exaggerating if i say that it transformed the daal and daal sabzi that I have been cooking using the Madrasi Daal Masala.

Chicken Haryali

Something that might be a consideration in next addition should be measurements in metric units rather then cups and spoons, which vary in weight and volume from one kitchen to another. Many novice cooks might have difficulty determining the weight and measurements Also missing is a section on beverages, Pakistani meal tables are never complete without some amazing traditional drinks.

The book is must have for people who want to cook  and present great tasting traditional Pakistani menu.

Madrasi Daal Sabzi
Chicken Haryali- A spinach and chicken curry

Chinouti Mutton Kunna

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Kaiser Roll

Kaiser Roll Egg and Fresh Green Sandwich

Thin crisp and crackling crust topped with multigrain with soft and light crumb

Kaiser rolls, also referred to as New York hard rolls or Vienna rolls, are known for the classic five spooked swirling pattern on the top of the roll.  The traditional method for achieving the classic kaiser roll shape requires a series of overlapping folds. However during my recent visit to the Farmers Market at San Francisco, I got my hands at a Kaiser Roll stamp and that made it easy for me to create these beautiful rolls that are smooth even looking. With thin and crisp crust, and soft crumb– this is perfect for creating favorite sandwiches!

 classic five spooked swirling pattern

The one in this image is my Sunday Brunch today, organic eggs from my chicken coop, just flipped fried sprinkled with garlic herb salt and pepper. Topped with a stash of fresh baby Kale, Peppery Arugula, Cherry tomatoes from my Kitchen garden and flavoured with home grown and home made garlic chives and green chilli chutney.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Strawberry Jam

    The town is painted red with the ruby red jewels called “Strawberries”

Good things comes in small packages, and these little fruits are a proof of it, the tiny strawberries are packs of vitamins, fiber, particularly high levels of antioxidants known as polyphenols. Strawberries are low-calorie food and among the top 20 fruits in antioxidant capacity and are a good source of manganese and potassium. Just one serving -- about eight strawberries -- provides more vitamin C than an orange.

Having these fruits preserved in jars is another great way to enjoy them.  Making jams at home without any preservatives, artificial colors and being able to control the sugar quantity is a very good step towards healthy and hygienic eating and of course home made products are much cheaper then their store bought counter parts. 

With the first sight of strawberries on fruit carts, I ventured into jamming some of the these sweet and tangy berries and a blog post for all to preserve these tasteful delights in jars. I chose firm, deep red and plump berries, for preservation prime quality and fresh produce always yield great results.   

Lets make Strawberry Jams this season!

Before starting to cook, wash and sterilize the bottles or jars in which you will preserve the jam.

Sterilizing Jars:

For canning and preservation, your first step would be to sterilize the bottles and jars you would be using for your produce.

- Boil washed bottles, jars, and their lids for five minutes in a big pot filed with water

- Take them out with tongs and let them dry outside on a clean counter or kitchen towel


1 KG washed and hulled strawberries sliced

300-400gms white/brown sugar (if not using pectin then increase the amount of sugar to 700-800gms)

75gms pectin

 60ml lemon juice

Cooking Instructions

  • Sprinkle half the sugar on fruits
  • Leave for 3-4 hours or better overnight in refrigerator 
  • Add lemon juice    
  • Cook for 15-20 minutes on low heat or until all fruit is mushy 
  •  Add pectin mixed in rest of the sugar
  • Cook fruit stirring very fast with a wooden spoon for 3-4 minutes
  •  Rolling boil the mixture of pectin, sugar and fruit 1-2 mins
  •  Remove any foam or scum from the top
  •  Immediately ladle into sterilized jars
  • Keep the jars undisturbed until set this might take as long as overnight or 24 hours in some cases
  • While the jars are cooling dont seal the caps tightly just cover  without screwing the lids
  • Keep the jams refrigerated once cooled, since these does not have preservatives they may get fungus at room temperature.


Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Spinach Soup

Cream of Spinach Soup

Spinach is considered worlds healthiest food
Spinach is considered worlds healthiest food, and I am proud of having some part of my kitchen garden growing fresh spinach for most part of the year. Spinach is nutrient dense vegetable packed with vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. It is a good source of vitamins A, B2, C and K, and also contains magnesium, manganese, folate, iron, calcium and potassium.

Benefits of Spinach are endless,  it possess anti-inflamatory properties, fights against cancer, lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Helps immune system and brain functions.

Crunchy fresh huge spinach leaves growing in my kitchen garden

Here goes the recipe of the Cream of Spinach Soup

Serves 4-5


350gms fresh Spinach leaves washed stems removed and chopped

1 Litre Chicken Stock

1 Large: Potato cubed with skin on boiled and set aside

4 Table spoon Olive oil or butter

1 medium onion chopped

¼ cup chopped green onions

1 teaspoon Curry powder

2 tablespoons  maida/white flour

2 tablespoons Lemon Juice

½ cups or 100gms- Labaneh/Double Cream (use tetra pack of cream) 

Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

- Boil the potato cubes and set aside

- In a big sauce pan pour olive oil and heat

-Saute the onions until tender and fragrant

-Add boiled drained potatoes and cook for 2 minutes

- Add chopped spinach, curry powder and cook for 5 minutes until spinach are wilted,  turn off fire

-Using a hand blender/smoothie maker puree the spinach mixture and add lemon juice

-Take ¼ cup chicken stalk stir flour in it and make a batter like paste

-Turn on the fire and slowly add the flour and stock paste in the puree and stir fast so no lumps are formed

-Now simmer for 2-3 minutes

-Take out 1 cup of the soup and add the Labaneh/Cream and stir it until very smooth.(Please note  Labaneh is soft greek yogurt and has less calorie then thick cream, I always use Labaneh).

-Add it back in the soup pot, stir and turn off the fire, add salt

-Ladle in individual cups, top with parsley, and Labaneh, croutons and freshly cracked black peppers

-Serve with hot rolls or bread slices