Penne Pasta With Meat Sauce

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Out of every 10 people, at least 15 love eating pasta. (My math isn’t that weak, I totally made that up, thank you) The day I made this pasta, two of my uncles came to visit us. My mom asked me if I wanted to serve this dish too and I just couldn’t resist showing off a tad bit (Hey, who doesn’t like appreciation?) And so, when they ate their first bite, they were both pretty impressed. Huhu, scored!

Anyways, one of my uncles commented, “This is a pretty simple recipe, you just added pasta to already cooked meat from the last night or something,” and that was enough. I said, “Hello? I spent like 15 minutes making this meat sauce… how could you?” And then I realized he was ONLY kidding. Bad jokes, ugh!

Well honestly, it is a pretty simple and finger licking good recipe. If you love herbs and spices like I do, you’ll definitely give this a try and show off your cooking skills, like I did.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup penne pasta
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 5 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (available in the markets)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 pound minced beef (Add garlic/ginger paste, pinch of salt, chili powder prior to cooking)

Instructions:

  • Boil the pasta according to the instructions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large skillet heat the oil. Add the Italian seasoning, chopped onion and red pepper flakes and fry until the onion has softened.
  • Add chopped garlic, salt and pepper and cook until you smell the aroma of garlic. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Heat a pan and cook the beef until it is brown.
  • Add the cooked meat to the pan with the seasoning.
  • Add the sugar and tomato paste and cook for another 15 minutes.
  • Now it’s time to adjust the seasonings of your sauce. You can increase the amount of tomato paste if you find it a little dry. Add salt and pepper. Add more sugar if you find it a bit too sour.
  • Finally add the pasta and sprinkle with parsley.

Do try this recipe and let me know if you liked it or not. I love feedback, yo!

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Vinegar/Onion Flavored Chips and KFC Style Chicken Wings

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                                                        Mouthwatering… Isn’t it?

One fine day, I WAS DYING TO EAT KFC CHICKEN and I had no idea how to sate these random intense hunger cravings. (Like sheesh, give me a break tummy!)

But seriously, at that moment I thought I definitely needed to learn how to cook KFC style chicken pieces myself because one thing I was sure about: if I got my hands on that perfect recipe, I could stop worrying my a** over being broke and not being able to quieten the growling hunger.

And so my hunt for the recipe began.

It wasn’t much of a hunt to be honest, and after a bit of research, I finally got the hang of it. Just a few special ingredients and you’ve cooked for yourself, exactly the same chicken, ABSOLUTELY FREE!

And now let me tell you why I cooked these vinegar and onion chips.

Because I LOVE CHIPS! Who doesn’t, for God’s sake! I love making flavored chips and I wanted to try it the moment I bought “a certain ingredient.” *winks*

Okay, enough of the background stories. Let’s get back to food business, shall we?

Ingredients for KFC Chicken:

  • 8 chicken wings (cleaned & washed)
  • 50 gm all purpose flour
  • 50 gm bread crumbs
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 2 tbsp curd
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 green chili (cut these into the tiniest pieces possible)
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 1 tsp dried basil leaves
  • 1 tsp oregano (powdered)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)

Instructions:

  • Wash the chicken and let the water drain from it.
  • In a medium sized bowl, mix curd, egg, 1/2 tsp chili powder and salt.
  • Marinate the chicken wings in this mixture for 4 to 5 hours.
  • In a another large bowl, add the flour, green chili, pepper, basil leaves, oregano, onion powder, ginger powder, garlic powder and the rest of the chili powder.
  • Cover the chicken wings well with this spicy mix and then with the bread crumbs.
  • In a large frying pan, add enough oil to grease the base. I prefer not to deep fry it and rather just fry it. If you want to deep fry the chicken, adjust the amount of oil.
  • Fry the chicken until it is crispy and golden brown.
  • EAT IT !!!

NOOOO WAIT.

Let’s cook the chips now. How can you even THINK of enjoying this delicious chicken without chips? Just hide the chicken somewhere for a while; the fragrance is sure to attract a lot of people. Huhu.

Ingredients for Vinegar/Onion flavored Chips:

  • Potatoes (Duh!)
  • Vinegar
  • Onion powder (this is the ingredient I was winking about, remember? No? Fish memory!)
  • Salt

Instructions:

  • Slice the potatoes into the thinnest round shape possible. It is pretty easy to do if you use a chopping board and a sharp knife (just like your tongue, heh!) You can keep the skin if you want.
  • In a large frying pan, heat oil. Like I said before, I prefer using the least amount of oil and it does no harm to the dish being cooked, trust me.
  • Fry the potatoes till they are golden brown.
  • Add the salt, vinegar and onion powder seasoning to the chips right after you take them out on a paper to dry. That way, the flavor will be absorbed.
  • What are you waiting for? EEEAAAAATTTT!!!

This is probably the best weather to try out these dishes. Dryness makes it more crunchy. Also, I have learned from my experience that garlic, onion and ginger powder are some ingredients you should always have in your kitchen. You can add them to ANYTHING for an excellent flavor.

Please do let me know when you try out these recipes. I love knowing if you enjoyed them or you wanted to push me down a cliff for wasting your time. Haha.

 

5 culinary herbs you should add to your diet

People nowadays, are facing major health issues because of inadequate nutritional values in their food intake. Even the slightest deficiency or excess of some important elements in our body, like potassium, sodium etc., can lead to dangerously fatal disorders. Therefore, it’s very important to make sure your family has a proper nutritional diet. Keeping this under consideration, it is advised to eat all kinds of meat as well, along with vegetables & fruits, unless you’ve been advised, otherwise, by your doctor.

Before I start though, here’s a general question: What’s the best thing about herbs/leaves? Minimum calories, is the answer. If you’ve decided to lose some weight, the best idea is to add more leaves to your food instead of starving yourself. Choose from the following:

  • Arugula (Rocket, Rucola)
                       Salad of Arugula Leaves                                                    (www.health.com)

Arugula is commonly known as qulfa in our language. It’s a highly under-rated, Mediterranean herb. It has an acidic taste and a strong fragrance and is usually used in salads. But in some desi families, it is cooked along with potatoes, lentils etc. and eaten with bread.

Benefits:

Arugula has shown to have lowered blood pressure levels and increased athletic activities.

Scientifically it has been proven that people who consume this vegetable have lower risk of cancer, mainly of colon, & lung. The bitter taste of these vegetables is due to the presence of cancer fighting compounds in Arugula leaves.

Arugula is rich in Calcium and thus helps in preventing osteoporosis.

It also helps in decreasing the glucose levels, thus very beneficial for Diabetic patients.

Tips to increase Arugula intake: 

Add Arugula leaves in different pasta to give it a strong taste along with minimal spices. It can also be added to pizza.

Add a handful of Arugula leaves to your omelette, sandwiches or even cooked bread.

You can also sprinkle Arugula leaves in your juices or smoothies.

  • Parsley
parsley
                   Making Parsley Tea (www.teamajesty.com)

Parsley goes by many names in Urdu, mainly dhaniya and ajmooda. Prasley also has a slightly bitter taste and is often as a garnish to bring freshness to delicacies. This vegetable is rich in Vitamin K, A, C, Iron and Folate and is very much unappreciated despite being highly nutritious. It is advised to use fresh parsley instead of dried parsley because it has a stronger flavor.

Benefits:

Being rich in Vitamin C, it is helpful in preventing the progression of asthma, colon cancer and diabetes.

It is also helpful in the prevention of rheumatoid arthritis & osteoarthritis.

Parsley leaves can be used to avoid heart attack and stroke.

Tips to increase Parsley intake:

Parsley leaves can be added to salads, lentils or any other cooked vegetable or meat.

You can add Parsley to your pasta for an enriched flavor.

Parsley can also be added to omelettes, soups and herbal tea.

  • Lettuce
lettuce
      Lettuce leaves (www.mynortherngarden.com)

Lettuce is known as salad patta in Urdu. So basically, it is used in salads. Lettuce has a succulent, juicy taste and has quite a few varieties, the most common being Romaine. Lettuce has been appreciated since ages and guess what? Chinese people consider lettuce gives good luck so they consume it on special occasions!

Benefits:

Lettuce contains compounds which have relaxing properties. Thus, it is a perfect vegetable for insomniacs.

It helps preventing the production of cholesterol & plaque.

This is one of the best vegetables for the people who are trying to lose weight.

Tips to increase lettuce intake:

People use lettuce leaves in smoothies and desserts.

Lettuce leaves are perfect complements for cheese, mayonnaise, oil, peppers, onions, eggs & vinegar. Now let your imagination explode and make something delicious!

  • Basil (Saint Joseph’s Wort)
basil
                Basil leaves (www.almanac.com)

Basil is more often known as tulsi or niaaz boo. Basil is a key ingredient in Italian cuisines, typically pesto sauce. Jews believe basil gives strength to them when they are fasting. It is known as a royal herb by the French. Basil has medicinal uses. It is of various types, most common being sweet basil which is used in Italian cuisines. the other types are lemon and  lime basil, which are rich in citrus fragrance.

Benefits:

Basil has the ability to reduce swelling and inflammation.

It is a stress reliever and a great ingredient for anxiety patients. (WOW!)

Women use basil water for beauty purposes, like the removal of blemishes on their skin. Also, dear ladies, it is a beneficial ingredient during THAT time of the month. It helps fighting bloat.

Tips to increase Basil intake:

To relieve stress on a hot, tiresome day, add a few leaves to your tea, either green or iced.

Who doesn’t like sauces and pasta? Make your favorite pesto sauce with basil leaves and eat it with pasta.

You can add basil leaves to your soups, salads and stir-fried vegetables to experience an extraordinary flavor.

  • Mint (Mentha)
Mint leaves (www.greensmoothiecommunity.com
 Mint leaves (www.greensmoothiecommunity.com

Mint is commonly called podeena. Mint is one of the most commonly used leaves, not only in cuisines but in various market products such as toothpastes, soaps, air fresheners and even candies. It is rich in anti-oxidants. Mint has a cooling taste, which itself is a mystery (how can “cool” be a taste?!) It is fresh green in color and has a strong aroma. It has multiple varieties including spearmint and peppermint. Mint has excellent medicinal properties.

Benefits: 

Mint has compounds that can combat seasonal allergies like inflammation, cold etc.

It is a valuable appetizer and helps in digestion.

Some people suffer from severe bouts of nausea and headaches. Mint is a great remedy for these ailments.

Mint oil is great for skin, specially breast feeding women.

Peppermint chewing gums are very common and it has been shown in studies that people who chew these gums have higher cognitive abilities. (Keep it going!)

Tips to increase Mint intake:

To get the best out of these leaves, it is advised to use them raw or uncooked and should be added to the dishes at the very end.

Mint leaves can be added to cooked vegetables, soups and meat.

Mint can be used in tea or smoothies along with honey and lemon juice.

If you’re just in a mood to laze around, you can simply chuck in a few leaves to the water you’re about to drink.

Long-chirray: An Indian delicacy

I googled long-chirray recipes, one fine evening while having tea, and I was astounded that there was absolutely no mention of this recipe anywhere online. I decided that instant, I had to share this recipe with you people. It will be an utter loss for the foodies if you die before you taste it. Trust me.

Before I type the recipe, I would like to introduce the dish first. My family is pretty “chatori” i.e. we love spicy foods and different fried stuff ranging from samosay to pakoray to karri (though I don’t like karri) to different chatneys (Oh, you’ll find a variety of them if you ever open our refrigerator). That’s partly because our taste-buds are very desi. And partly because of the fact that our grand-grand parents and generations of them have spend their lives in India and these recipes have been passed on and cherished, much to our delight.

Long chirray, was a dish my maternal granny used to make in huge amounts, as my mom narrates, specially for the aftari arrangements in our granpa’s mosque. So, naturally, my mom grew up seeing this dish. Later, when she got married, she prepared this dish when one of my paternal uncle’s family came over to the newlyweds’ place for lunch. And voila! They absolutely loved it and it became an instant hit. Bonus points for Ammi! And since then, it remains as one of the most love-able dishes, all thanks to my mom, at my paternal side.

Long-chirray, are basically soft, chickpea flour fritters, garnished with a sweet-sour-&-spicy chutney which eventually, makes the time cease for you and you can’t help closing your eyes, dreaming of love for food and savor the taste on your tongue.

I hope this intro is enough to increase your appetite and your curiosity.

Ingredients: 

  • Chickpea flour (basen) (1 cup)
  • Roasted cumin seeds (1 tsp)
  • Carom (Ajwain) (1/4 th tsp)
  • Salt
  • Oil (for frying)
  • Water (2 cup)

Chutney (sauce):

  • Pulp of Tamarind (imlee mixed in water) (1/2 cup)
  • Sugar (2 tsp)
  • Roasted cumin seeds (1/2 tsp)
  • Ground red chillis (1/2 tsp)
  • Salt (to taste)

Instructions:

  • First of all, prepare the chickpea mixture/dough. Add water to it & mix, to an extent that it isn’t as thin as you prepare for the usual chickpea fritters; this flour needs to be a bit thick so that it is easy to give the fritters a good shape and to keep them soft. Add the other ingredients and salt to taste and mix it well.
  • In preheated oil, add one fritter at a time. Don’t use a spoon; trust in the powerful art of your hands and it’ll give you cute, endearing, squiggly shapes. Fry them until they turn brown. Make sure, while frying, the fire should be medium. Pro tip: The best fritters have small holes.
  • Put these fritters in a bowl of water. Let them soak as much water as they can until they are soft. The better & softer the chickpea mixture, the softer would be the fritters in less time.
  • Take them out in a dish and prepare the chutney.
  • The chutney or the sauce, is all about your taste. You can add more sugar if you like sweeter sauce or you can add more chillis if you need a little more spice. Mix them up and chill the sauce for a while.
  • Garnish the fritters with the sauce. Make sure all the fritters have at least 3 drops of the sauce. It would be good not to use the whole sauce at once; save some and present it in a small bowl along with the dish.

Finally, the dish is ready. It is an excellent mouth watering delicacy, a must have for your beautiful table on the next dinner/lunch you prepare for masses. I can guarantee you that the flavor will leave you craving for more and it would be hard to stop eating it once you have started.

Do give me your feedback & share it with your friends and family, please, if you like this dish. It would be a great help. 🙂

Indonesian Rice

Heya sweetplums!

Here’s the first recipe, as promised. Indonesian rice are pretty tasty. When I cooked these the first time, I invited my uncle’s family over for graduation lunch. Oh boy, it was fab, I’m telling you. I made tons of other stuff, but we’re focusing only on the rice dish, right now. Sooorrryyy.

I found this recipe in a cooking book by Zubeda Tariq. The best thing about her books is that everything, ranging from ingredients to the cooking instructions, is perfectly explained. In short, the best gift for amateur cooks.

Without further ado, let’s move onto the recipe. It’ll take about half hour to completely prepare this dish. Results will be delicious! *fingers crossed*

Pehle aap zara dish ki shakal dekh leyn, takay aapki bhook chaar guna zada barh jaaye. Aaaah, that’s right!

Don’t drool on my dish, please. Hosla rkheyn.

 

Ingredients:

  • Boiled rice (1 cup)
  • Green chilli (2 medium sized, chopped)
  • Spring onion (2, chopped)
  • Red chilli (1)
  • Salt
  • Oil (2 tsp)

Sauce:

  • Red chilli (4)
  • Capsicum (green/red, or both) (1/2, roughly chopped)
  • Onions (2, roughly chopped)
  • Garlic (4 cloves, roughly chopped)
  • Oil (1 tbsp)

Instructions:

Let’s first prepare the rice. For that, heat the oil in a frying pan on medium fire and add the spring onions, green chillis and the red chilli. You can add any other thing you like, maybe mushrooms or corns. Fry them for 3-5 minutes. In case of corns, check if they are tender. Add the rice to the pan and add salt to taste. Fry these for 5 more minutes. Keep them warm.

Now make the sauce. Fry oil in a pan on medium fire. Fry the red chillis, capsicum, onions and garlic in the pan for around 2 minutes. After this, add these things to the chopper and grind them together until they take the form of a thick paste. If you want bit of a color, you can add more red chilli but keep in mind they are very strong. Finally, add this paste to the rice. Mix well. Heat the rice before serving.

And finally…

Ta-daaaaaaa! Indonesian rice are reaaadyyy!!!

“Let the feast, beginnnn!” *Spreads hands like him* (He was so cool, right?)

Heh! I hope you all like it. Please share your feedback. Oh, and please make sure you wash the vegetables well. Specially the leaves. And the red chillis.

Cheers!