Life and Other Miracles

Where we go from here …

Destination: Pakistan

on February 10, 2013

We head back to Asia for this week’s entry in our culinary trip around the world. I was actually really pleased with every component of this week’s menu, though I wasn’t nearly so confident when I began cooking!

Our menu for today:

Pakistani Bean Salad 
Chicken Karahi 
Zeera Biscuits (Cumin seed cookies)

The bean salad was fantastic and easy. I’ve already mentioned it, but Global Table Adventure (the source of the recipe) was our inspiration for this project. So far, everything I’ve tried from her site has been amazing, and this salad was no exception. I think the only thing I would do different is add more garam masala. Otherwise, it was perfect. It would be great as a side for a summer barbecue or as a simple lunch served with pita bread.

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Mike chose the chicken karahi for our entry. After doing a little bit of research (ie: I googled it): I learned that chicken karahi is a pretty typical Pakistani dish and is also served in Northern India (I wish I’d made this when we traveled to India instead of the disaster that was my mattar paneer). 

If you follow the link above, you’ll see the the recipe is pretty simple. Instead of green chiles, I used an anaheim pepper and a red chili, since I am a bit of a spice baby. I also used only 1.5 lbs of chicken, instead of the 4 lbs called for in the recipe (but kept all other amounts the same). The use of heirloom tomatoes really added to the flavor profile. 

The directions for the chicken were a little weird: “fry [the chicken] on low heat until the water in the chicken dries”. I can honestly say, I’ve never seen an instruction like this before. Basically though, I just cooked the chicken on low heat until it was white all over (and there was noticeably more liquid in the pan) and then cranked it up to brown it. After adding the spices and tomatoes, I let it simmer away for about 20 minutes, then topped it with some fresh cilantro. It was pretty AND tasty.

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For dessert I made zeera biscuits. This was a bit impulsive – I basically googled “Pakistani desserts” and this was one that seemed easy and didn’t require ingredients that weren’t already in my cupboard. These cookies turned out to be my favorite part of the meal – and the component I was most worried about. 

To begin with, the recipe I used calls for 1.5 tsp of salt. I have NEVER tasted such salty dough. I’m still not sure if this was a typo or if in fact this cookie is supposed to be salty. I ended up adding about another 1/4 cup of sugar to the mix. I also added about 1/4 cup of water, since my dough was extremely crumbly. I cut the cumin seeds to 1 tbsp (because that is all I had) and used coconut oil. After chilling them for about 15 minutes, I rolled them out about to 1/4 – 1/2 inch think and then used biscuit cutters to shape the dough. 15 minutes in the oven (rotating at the halfway point) and out came some of the most delicious cookies I have ever had. The cumin seed is definitely noticeable, giving these cookies a savory component. The cookie was crumbly, almost like soft shortbread, which was surprising, considering the recipe didn’t call for any butter. I’d love to make these again, but I’m afraid that would be terrible for my waistline! These cookies would be the perfect compliment to a hot glass of chai (or wine, as the case may be).

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All in all, the meal was a success! I think of all our destinations, this has been my favorite meal so far. Funnily enough, it was the cookies that tasted the most “foreign.” 

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Even Quinn seemed to enjoy the chicken, though not as much as the cookies!

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