Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Kaddu ki Sabzi (Fresh Pumpkin)

This is a really exciting dish for me to share because I love making seasonal foods!  I had been searching for an autumn style dish that I could make for the months of October & November and last summer my mother-in-law taught me this amazing recipe.  Even though it is called "pumpkin," you shouldn't confuse it with the typical orange/Halloween pumpkin.  It isn't the same.  It's really more of a gourd.  Often I would pass by a "calabaza" or "gourd" in the supermarket and wonder what I could possibly make with it.  You can usually buy it by the pound, pre-cut.  This recipe is a combination of sweet and savory that you can serve as a main or side dish (if you are having guests, it is recommended as a side dish).    This is a perfect choice for the western guest, as it has many common ingredients in addition to Pakistani flavors.  Did I mention how quick and easy it is to make?  It shouldn't take more than 30 minutes.

Some ingredients you will want to have ready are coriander powder, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, red chili powder, tumeric powder, brown sugar, kalonji (this is also known as "nigella seeds") & wet tamarind (concentrate or fresh).

Start by cleaning out approximately 1 pound of a calabaza (or "gourd").  Cut it into 1" pieces with the skin left on.  Set aside.

Next chop half of a large onion (or 1 small onion) into small pieces.

Cook on medium/high heat in a medium sized pot in 1/2 cup of vegetable/canola oil until lightly browned.

Add 2 teaspoons of ginger & garlic paste and cook for about 1 minute.

Add 1 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon red chili powder, & 1 teaspoon of tumeric powder.  Cook for a few minutes.

Add 1 teaspoon kalonji, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, ~1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of fennel seeds (I used 1/2 teaspoon because I really dislike fennel...  I think it's really tasty with only 1/2, but some people may prefer a full teaspoon).

Add 1/2 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of tamarind concentrate (or 1 tablespoon of seedless, fresh wet tamarind).

Add calabaza/gourd pieces with 2-3 tablespoons of water.

Cover and cook on low heat for approximately 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  It should be soft after 20 minutes.

Add one tablespoon of light brown sugar and cook for approximately 5 more minutes, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and garnish with about a 1/4 cup of cilantro leaves.  Enjoy with naan or chapati!

(Did you enjoy this recipe??  If so, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!)

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Palak Paneer (Spinach Cheese)

Sorry for the super long delay between posts!  So much has happened in the last six months!  Our sweet baby boy turned 1 year old, we took on a huge move from Chicago to Jersey City, I started and left a life changing program for junior youth, my husband began a new job, and we are now just starting to have some normality in our lives.  Cooking has certainly been a large part of these last six months, but documenting and sharing have fallen to the way side.  I'm so very excited to start this back up again and I do hope that those who are following and have tried these recipes will share their experiences!!!  This blog has received an amazing number of hits and I hope it's been helpful!  Some upcoming recipes to look forward to:  Chicken Biryani, Kofta, Kofta Pilau, Urid Ki Daal, Kaddu Ki Sabzi, & Tahari! 


Palak Paneer (Spinach Cheese) is one of those dishes that almost every American that has tasted Indian/Pakistani food has tried or at least heard about.  It's one of the more popular dishes.  I'm not quite sure if I'm happy with this recipe or not...  something about the cream makes it taste a little different than I'm used to in restaurants.  It's still EXTREMELY mild and definitely something you should make if you are new to the Pakistani cooking realm.  I make it on occasion when I'm craving paneer and spinach.  Paneer is a sort of soft cheese that you should not really try to substitute with any other kind of cheese.  It holds its form while frying, which is an important part of the process.

First, chop & boil 2 pounds of spinach for about 10 minutes.  Drain the water.

Then finely chop 1 small onion.

(How it looks when boiled & drained).

Put in blender and blend into a paste.

Looking good!

In two tablespoons of vegetable/canola oil, and 7 tablespoons of butter (not pictured because I did it wrong in these pictures -- I added mine much later), fry your onions on high heat.

Until they are golden brown (like the above picture).  Add 1 tablespoon of Garlic Paste.  Fry for a couple of minutes on high heat.

Next add your blended spinach, about 1-1.5 teaspoons of salt, 1 teaspoon white pepper, and 1 tablespoon of green chili paste.

I used this sauce instead of the paste once and it didn't make a huge difference, so feel free to use what you can find.  Or blend up some fresh green chilis (maybe 1 or 2).  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium/high heat.

Add 3 teaspoons of corn meal (not corn starch), mix, and cook for another 5 minutes.


Add 1 & 1/2 cups of fresh cream (Puck is the brand that we use).  Turn off stove.

 Next cut up about 1 & 1/2 cups of paneer (maybe half a standard block from the store).

Fry on high heat in enough oil to cover the base of the pan.  Or you can deep fry them like I did in the picture...  but really you just need to brown the edges -- so what I did was a little excessive.

You just want to fry them until they are a nice golden color and then quickly take them out and put them on a paper towel.

Like this is good.

Then add the paneer to your sauce and it's good to go!  Eat with naan.  Hope the pictures weren't too confusing :(.  I'll have to swap them out with some updated ones at some point.