What is desi cuisine without chaat masala? Adults and kids equally enjoy the taste and it is a staple in the kitchen for most desi families. I just peeked into my spice cupboard and apparently I have 4 different bottles/packages. Ummm yeah, and trust me they all taste and look different.
There are many prepackaged chaat masala packages on the market. If you like, you can also make it yourself at home. I have had variouos homemade chaat masalas but they don’t taste the same as the prepackaged ones. I am sure there must be a special ingredient that we don’t add when making it at home. I have always used Shan or National chaat masala.
Perhaps you've bought it before and have an entire box of chaat masala sitting in your spice cupboard and you are stumped on how to use it- I know a lot of people are. Here are a few different ways that you can use chaat masala in your cooking:
What are the innovative ways you use Chaat Masala?
First of all, Eid Mubarak! For those of you who were fasting, and let’s face it, for those who weren’t either, it’s time for some amazing feasts. What will you be having? Chicken biryani, made well, is the food I know I want to have tomorrow for Eid. It’s what I crave the most. You can be certain that 9 times out of 10, if you ask me what I feel like eating, I will answer biryani. No, I don’t eat it all that often, it’s just something I do tend to want often. Fragrant, spicy, and bursting with a dozen flavours, it has so many of my favourite ingredients; such as, cilantro, lemon, chicken, rice, onions, garlic and more, why wouldn’t I want it?
I don’t think I have ever had 2 home made biryanis that tasted the same- even when both were cooked using the same ready made spice mix. Everyone adds their own flair to it, whether it’s how they fried the dried spices in oil or the garnish they added on top of the rice. However, nothing is as good as biryani made from scratch at home. A simple biryani can take as little as 1 hour from start to finish or 3 to 4 hours. I remember it was so exciting growing up when I came home from school and heard we were going to have biryani for dinner. It’s a labour of love as it’s made to share with family and friends and is generally made in large portions. Both my husband and I firmly believe that biryani tastes better the second and third day as leftovers so there is no hesitation in making a lot of it. The effort is the same after all.
Somehow, many people depend on restaurants for biryani, but I’m not sure why. I rarely like the way they make it, with the occasional exception of a really flavourful biryani made in a traditional clay pot sealed with dough to steam the rice. Those, I love. It’s the classic way to make a dum biryani. (Dum refers to the method the rice is steamed in by sealing the pot/dish). There is an inexplicable joy in tearing apart the baked bread gently to reveal steaming colourful rice and chicken under it in a clay pot. Absolutely drool worthy. Obviously, we can’t make these at home in the same way, unless you have a traditional tandoor or are using hot coals. So yes, restaurants that make biryani in that way, I am definitely paying a visit to.
I am fascinated by the spices and ingredients used in Indian/Pakistani cooking. They are so much fun to cook with and some times it feels like biryani uses so many of them! Chicken biryani is just the standard favourite. There are a thousands types of biryanis all over India and Pakistan. It changes so much depending on the main protein used and the location. South India alone has hundreds of variations. I would love to travel all over India and taste the biryani in every major city. A food + travel series that featured India that I really enjoyed was called The Great Escape, hosted by Gordon Ramsay. Here is a cool segment on a Goat stuffed with chicken stuffed with quail biryani! Fwd to 14:00 in the video.
Everyone has different versions they like outside of their home and I can guarantee that more often than not, it’s the roadside, cheap café style biryani that is the favourite. In Karachi, Pakistani, for example, there is a chain called Student Biryani that started with 1 man selling biryani outside a school over 45 years ago. Guess what? They have just opened up a location here in Canada and I can’t wait to go try it out because usually, what we eat in restaurants out of the subcontinent doesn’t even begin to cover it. It’s why I like experimenting with biryani at home and promise to continue to (hint- the dough/dum version is coming soon) and this is just one of the ways I have made it. It’s aromatic, light, and flavourful, and isn’t in any way pretentious. Perfect for family or friends coming over for Eid tonight or tomorrow. Let us know how you like it.
Coming soon: Spicy Masala Biryani
Whether it’s the creaminess of Wild Mushroom Risotto, the fragrance of Risotto Milanese, or the distinct nuttiness of Risotto with gorgonzola, I can’t get enough of this popular Italian first course staple. People often ask me what my favourite food is. Risotto tops the list. Always. If there is risotto on the menu, I am having it.
Interestingly enough, I have never been as fond of risotto that features meat or sea food. I prefer vegetarian options. This recipe is very near and dear to me. I have been using it for years now. I think I was 16 the first time I made it. It’s adapted from Antonio Cecconi’s book on Italian cooking. It is absolutely divine. There is no other word I can use for it.
Now, I love lemon; in fact, I am a lemon fiend but this is one case in which everyone agrees with me, that some freshly squeezed lemon juice and loads of black pepper are amazing with this creamy risotto. Zucchini and bell peppers never tasted this good. I can guarantee you that people will never forget this if you make it for them. It’s how my husband fell in love with me…
People always seem to ask me “Why are you sharing your favourite recipes online for free when you also offer catering services. I don’t get it?” and so let me tell you what my take is. Feeding people is an extension of love for me because food provides nourishment and sharing a meal is a way to bond and spend time with loved ones or build new relationships. A quick hot dog shared after a Blue Jays game, a 10 course meal at Shoto downtown and a summer barbecue have 1 thing in common- food brings people together. Yes, we offer our catering services for people who may not have the time to cook or need help with a special event, but most importantly, I truly enjoy cooking and want to share certain tried and tested recipes with you because this is a passion for me. Life has to extend beyond work, duties, and the mundane.
So I pass this recipe for Creamy Risotto with Zucchini & Bell Peppers on to you with lots of love in my heart and would love to hear what you thought about it. That would make me happiest- to get feed back from you guys. I don’t hear from you often enough.
Fair warning, this isn’t easy on the hands- do not plan any other complicated dishes if you are making a risotto in substantial quantity. A nice fresh salad and some baked chicken or grilled steak would be lovely with it. It’s a heavy item so people don’t tend to have it in copious amounts. Not that they wouldn’t if they could stay awake after of course.
I love squash. A lot of people underestimate it but it is versatile and soaks in flavours really well. I use Spaghetti Squash quite a bit, but I have not tried "pasta" with summer squash and looking at this, I will definitely have to. This is a wonderfully easy recipe Nida brings to us today that we can adapt to suit our taste buds. W.P
Oh my gosh Summer is fully in season - even though we're getting all sorts of rain (??) lol but I'm seeing lots of my friends talk about their farmers market finds and goodies. One of my favorite parts of summer is the squash and zucchini and i absolutely adore squash and zucchini noodles! The marinara is something i've been wanting to try for a while because there is nothing like fresh basil and tomatoes. If you can manage to get high quality olive oil, its well worth it in every scenario. The buttery, nutty taste of a pure olive oil really lends itself well to the sensational basil and tender tomatoes.
What you need:
2 yellow squash
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan/sea salt
6 Roma tomatoes
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes in olive oil & Italian herbs
2 tablespoons crushed walnuts
1 tablespoon garlic flavoured extra virgin olive oil (regular is fine too)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder (or 1 clove garlic)
1 teaspoon onion powder (or 1 tablespoon chopped red onion)
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
10-15 fresh basil leaves
1 pitted date
A few sprinkles ground pepper
A few sprinkles Himalayan/sea salt
How to prepare:
H/T: Divine Healthy Food
hAPPY eATING & kEEP sMILING
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