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

Friday, 9 January 2015

Make Ordinary Meals into Extraordinary Treats

Chatkhar Mango chutney with lovely chunk of spicy and tangy sweetness perfectly paired with spicy handi kebabs
A chatpatta appetizer, chopped tomatoes garlic chives and Chatkhar Green Chillie Pickles tossed on freshly baked dal papar

Chutneys, sauces and pickles bring enhancement and surprises to your tastebuds.
Condiments are traditionally a part of Pakistani meal tables and comes in endless varieties, colours and flavours. Most of these are prepared with fruits, vegetables, added with spices preserved with salt, sugar, oil and some kind of natural or artificial acidic medium.

Ever popular dal chawal spiked up with the Chatkhar Mixed Pickle

At a recent workshop that i facilitated, the CEO of Naurus gave us out a neat box of ‘Chatkhar’ products. These bottles and jars were bursting with flavours and colours, and non ending varieties. Hummm made it really difficult to choose from what to try out first. Yet there is one that can be paired with every meal, and spike up the taste of ordinary meals into extraordinary ones by topping, dressing, dipping, drizzling one or the other of these sauces, chutneys and pickles on food. World on Your Table is rightly claimed by Chatkhar

What works for me with Chatkhar is the usage of olive oil in their products, not sure if many local manufacturers of condiments use olive oil. The sugar content is extremely low.  However like all preserved food, it has sodium, so we need to keep salt low or omit from the main dish if using condiments that has salt.
Chicken Achar is my new discovery!! Made the paratha  achar very special

These are high end products given the use of prime quality ingredients and oil. These are locally prepared Pakistani products, giving us a wide range of products to choose from and easily available off the shelf at most super markets. I always suggest to use locally produced bottled products if we have to, at least it is not been travelling forever to reach the supermarket shelves. 

I have used some of these products in my everyday meals, specially when you have guests,  these “Chatkhar” products featured in this blog are some of the the way they appear on my meal table making simple meals into special ones.