Everyone thinks their mom is the best cook in the world. But my mummy is seriously yummy! And this is the proof! My mother Gulnar, came from Basra, Iraq to Karachi in 1965 and brought recipes the likes of which Karachi had never seen (well, maybe). Here's some of her signature recipes that should try. Some of them are my experiments and food experiences from around the world. You can check out the menu and order details on facebook.com/yummymummyandme

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Latest Lasagna In Town!

After a really long, hard day at work (one that ends at 9 pm) , a friend/colleague and myself headed to our go-to-comfort-zone - Espresso on Shahbaz. I love pasta - pasta can do no wrong (unless the pasta has been done wrong). Looking at the chalkboard with the new additions to the menu, the obvious choice was the newly launched lasagna!

Looks fantastic, right? So first fork in to the dish and there is a clear absence/extreme lack of the any kind of sauce - red or white. But the pasta is perfectly cooked - nice and chewy. The minced beef is a little under-cooked and under-flavored for my taste. However, there was lots of sticky, stringy cheese on top which sort of redeemed the dish. But here's the confusing part, when I finished eating I wasn't quite as upset about the lasagna - blame it on a long day and hunger. Maybe it was meant to be a healthy lasagna - no decadent sauces and all that. But seriously, why wasn't my lasagna overflowing with the hot, sticky, deliciousness that is lasagna. Priced at Rs 375 with a good helping for any appetite, it's a reasonable buy.

Also, please don't serve me stale garlic bread. Just don't serve it at all.

The strawberry ice really hit the spot though. Better luck with the lasagna, Espresso!

Sunday, 13 May 2012

My Mother's Favorite Foods

Since it's Mother's Day today I thought I would ask my mother what her favorite foods are. She's a great cook but she hardly ever really says 'wow, that tastes good!' So today, I interviewed my mother....

1. Spinach

All forms of spinach - cooked with beef, mutton or chicken, creamed or steamed. This is the first things she mentioned when I asked about her favorite food. I guess this explains her flawless skin and fit figure! We usually cook spinach with dill and mutton at home - served with fluffy white rice. Iraqis and Iranis both claim the recipe as their own - however, the Iranian version has red beans in it too.

2. Fish-head Curry

My mum's really picky about sea-food. From our time in Malaysia and the extensive range of seafood cuisine available there, my mother loves Indian fish head curry the most. Basically this involves a whole fish head (Ikan Merah/Red Snapper) stewed with okra in a sour tamarind (asam java) based curry. However, it is not regular 'hawker fare' in Malaysia - it's an expensive local delicacy.

3. Food Centre, Burns Road

Food doesnt get better than Burns Road in Karachi. But my mother isn't one for eating in the car or on a roadside or a dingy local restaurant. So The Food Centre on main Burns Road solves that problem - airconditioning meets good, cheap local food. That's a plus for Mum!

4. Tebsi

Really should work on my photo skills
Staying true to Iraq, this is a dish of layered minced beef, grilled tomatoes and brinjal served with white rice. The mince is cooked with a mix of ginger, garlic, red chilli and salt. Simple cooking style but BIG on flavour.

5. BBQ Tonight, Boat Basin

BBQ Tonight is by far my mother's MOST favorite dining experience - fresh, quick and good value. Mum loves their bread selection too  and really savours the non-spicy barbecued meats. In fact, we're ordering in from BBQ Tonight for Mother's Day - pictures will be up later today!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's reading this! Hope you have a great day!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Creamy White Sauce Pasta

Pasta in white (bechamel) sauce is my favorite kinda pasta. Rich, juicy and warm - like a big hug from a good looking, sensitive man. Or woman. A bechamel sauce is really simple and really complicated at the same time - I know I've messed it up more than a few times before getting it right and be able to give it my own twists and turns.

You need:

250 g of boneless chicken - cut into bite size pieces
3-4 cloves of garlic - finely chopped
1 small finely chopped onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp of butter
1 tbsp of cooking oil
4 tbsp of flour (maida)
2 tbsp of cream
1 cup of milk
1 can of mushrooms
1/2 cup of parmesan cheese or 3-4 slices of packaged cheese ( it's easier to get!)
2 -3 cups of chicken stock
Crushed red chilli
Salt to taste
400-500 grams of pasta - I prefer using 'bigger' pasta shapes like penne or fusilli

Cut the chicken into bit size pieces and mix with Worcestershire sauce, 1 finely chopped garlic, 1 tbsp of flour and some salt. Marinate the chicken for a couple of hours if possible - else 20 minutes will do too.  Pan fry the chicken until its cooked but not browned. Set aside. Fry the chopped mushrooms next so they soak up the flavor of the chicken from the pan. Lastly, fry the onions until transparent and set aside

Here's the tricky part. Stay alert kids:

Heat up a large non-stick pan, and add the oil, followed by the butter. The oil will prevent the butter from burning too quickly. Add the flour and keep stirring with a wooden spoon. Keep going until the flour changes color slightly. Next, add the milk and keep stirring gently. Don't be scared of the lumps you see in the sauce. Keep stirring and rubbing the lumps down with the spoon. Add in the chicken stock and keep going until the lumps are gone. Next, add the the garlic and onions. Make sure the flame is really low. Add the cream and cheese and keep stirring. Next, fold in the mushrooms, chicken and salt. And our sauce is good to go!

Boil the pasta the way you like - I like it al dente, my mother likes it fully cooked. So when cooking for the family, I go all the way.

There's two ways to from here: my way or Mum's way.

I like to dish out the cooked pasta, add a couple of tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce and pour the sauce on top of the pasta. My Mum likes to mix the pasta and the sauce on the stove. She says its lets the flavors mix well. We leave the rest to your better judgement.

My mother was quite happy with the way the pasta turned out. Although she did complain about the crushed chilli being unevenly distributed on the dish. Sorry Mum!