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Kay's House of Treats: June 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Mango Lassi

Decided to do another simple & refreshing drink today using the fresh mangoes in season. Not only does it taste delicious from the sweetness of the mango and the tart flavor from the yoghurt, but its also healthy. It would be great for breakfast and also during Ramadan which is just coming up in a few days. 
Mango Lassi
Serves 2 - 3 people

2 mangoes (about 1.5 cups), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup thick yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar, to taste (sugar is not necessary, and honey can be substituted to make the drink more healthy)
Ice-cubes - 4 to 5 cubes
Pinch of salt
Freshly ground elaichi/cardamom (optional) - 1/8 tsp and a pinch for garnish

1. Blend together the mango, yogurt, milk, sugar,salt, elaichi (if using) and ice-cubes until smooth. Taste, and adjust with extra sugar or salt. Garnish with a pinch of ground elaichi.

Optional Flavorings for Playing Around in Future -This recipe is like a smoothie and you can add/adjust flavors based on your personal preferences - giving a few ideas for experimentation :)

1.Saffron - 1/4 tsp dissolved in a little bit of milk; saffron's quite a strong taste, but for those who like it, this goes really well with mango and tastes delicous.
2.Pistachoes - Roughly crushed pistachoes added in the Lassi or sprinkled as garnish 
3. Toasted Coconut 

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cafeela - Review

Had been hearing about Cafeela on a lot of Facebook groups, and finally got the opportunity to try the food yesterday via home delivery. We were three people at home, and we decided to order a mix of things to be able to sample the menu. Ordered the sesame chicken as starters, chicken club sandwich, chicken fettucine alfredo & the chicken shawarma with pickled vegetables. Even though it was a strike yesterday, the order came exactly within 45 minutes as stated. 

The first thing that I noticed was the packaging followed by the presentation and size of the dishes ordered. Even though Cafeela is a mid-ranged delivery outlet, every item had been presented well with sides & garnishes and packaged in such a way that the presentation was not spoiled during delivery. The sauce and the coleslaw that accompanied the shawarma & the club sandwich respectively were packaged in little plastic boxes of quite good quality so there was no spillage; the sesame chicken & the alfredo were covered first in cling wrap and then cardboard. This is probably something very basic, but it does speak of an attention to deal from the owners perspective in not only just the food, but also in the training of the delivery boy.
Moving onto the food now. First of all, the deep fried sesame chicken which was served with what I think was a tartar based sauce with vegetables. I initially thought it was coleslaw, but on noticing the coleslaw with the club sandwich, I changed my mind. I was expecting some chilli garlic/ketchup sauce with this, but surprisingly the sauce complimented the chicken strips really well. The chicken itself was great, it was moist & crispy, with the sesame seeds giving it a nice crunchy texture. Overall, this dish was our favourite from the entire order.
The chicken club sandwich a pretty classic sandwich, quite filling and delicious and great value for money - definitely something I can see myself ordering again.  It was filled with chicken, omellete/egg and vegetables in three layers and served with coleslaw and a generous helping of spicy fries -pre cut into 4 pieces making it really easy to eat. 
The chicken shawarma was the one item that none of us were happy about. Presentation wise it was great; it came with pickled vegetables & the typical shawarma white sauce with olives as garnish. But we all felt there was something off in the taste of the shawarma. I personally thought the major issue was with the onions as they were a little bit soggy (making the shawarma soggy too) with strong after-taste and the shawarma itself was missing either some salt or lemon juice. But the pickled vegetables & the white sauce were good. Probably not something I would order again, but probably not something I would order again. It was a little too bland and would be preferred by people who like the authentic version and not the desified version that has become so popular here.  
The last thing we ordered was the chicken fettuccine alfredo with mushrooms and vegetables - definitely not the typical fettuccine alfredo but an interesting Desi version of an Italian classic. The fettuccine was cooked perfectly, the sauce was creamy and delicious, but it was a little bland for our taste. But in this case, its a matter of personal preference since we do like spicy food. 

Overall, I would give Cafeela an 8 out of 10 - great food at affordable prices; We did feel the food was a little bit bland, but again, that's more to do with what we ordered and personal taste. Next time when I order, will make sure to order appropriate dishes. 

Overall Rating - 8/10
Dishes Ordered: Sesame Chicken (PKR 385),  Chicken Club Sandwich with Fries (PKR 275), Fettucccine Alfredo with Chicken & Mushrooms (PKR 435) and Fried Sesame Chicken (PKR 385) for a total bill of PKR 1,445; Definitely good value for money since there was more than enough for 3 people with leftovers for the next day. 

Contact Details:
0213 - 5845618


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Almond Cake

Almost everyone who bakes usually has a good plain/pound cake recipe - something that you can have with tea, or when you want a light snack and something that the whole family enjoys. This cake is my to go favourite all rounder cake; not only is it a great cake for everyday occasions, but I almost always make it as a secondary cake for parties (especially Eid) for people who would like to have something light for dessert and might not prefer fudgy chocolate cakes. It can easily be made ahead and kept for at least 3-4 days (provided there's enough left :) ). 

Almond Cake
Enough for one 8 inch or 9 inch round pan; one loaf pan (8 1/2 x 4 1/2)
Recipe can be doubled for one 13x9 rectangular baking pan (this is how I usually make it because its a family favourite)
Ingredients (For reference, 8 oz = 1 cup)
6 oz flour (3/4 cup)
6 oz sugar (3/4 cup)
5 oz vegetable oil (1/2 cup + 1/8 cup) - don't use olive oil 
3 eggs
1.5 teaspoon baking powder
4 tbsp coarsely ground almonds (can be reduced - my family loves almonds, so I add more)
(I have a manual nuts mill which I use to coarsely grind the almonds - I like the crunchy texture in the mouth so I coarsely ground the almonds but can be processed more finely based on personal preference)
Almond essence - 1/4 teaspoon (can be increased to 1/2 teaspoon if a stronger almond flavor is preferred)
Vanilla essence - 2 drops
Sliced Almonds - about 1/2 cup (I prefer slicing them with the skin on, since it creates a better contrast with the white cake, but its easier to slice them if the almonds are blanched in hot water and skins removed) 

1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C. Line baking pan with parchment paper and grease well with oil/butter.  
2. Sift flour and baking powder together.
3. Beat sugar and oil together till mixed - about 2 minutes. 
4. Add eggs one by one, beating well after each addition. 
5. Add ground almonds, almond essence and vanilla essence and mix well.
6. Add flour and baking mixture and fold with a spatula or wooden spoon.
7. Pour into baking tray
8. Sprinkle sliced almonds on top for garnish - they will get toasted in the oven and get crisp. If you prefer the almonds untoasted, then you can add them in the end after taking out the cake. 
9. Bake at 200 C for 25 - 30 minutes till skewer comes out with moist crumbs. If recipe is doubled for 13x9 inch pan, then it needs to be baked for about 35 - 40 minutes.
10. Cool on a wire rack.
11. Once cake is cooled, it can be glazed with an almond syrup which adds a light crunchy & sweet texture to the cake. 

Almond Glaze
1 cup icing sugar/confectioner's sugar
1/2 - 1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon almond essence

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and add the almond essence and enough water to create a glaze with the consistency of light cream (should coat the back of a spoon). Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake.
Note: It is essential to sift the icing sugar, otherwise there will be lumps in the final product. 

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tomato Chutney & Loki ka Raita

One of my favourite meals in the hot summer months is Aalo bharay paratha's (Paratha's stuffed with Potatoes) served with Tamatar ki Chutney (Tomato Chutney) & Loki ka Raita (Raita with Bottle gourd). What we usually do is that my mother makes Aalo ka Bhurta for lunch, and then the remaining bhurta is used to make Aalo Paratha's. That's my preferred method of having the Raita, but it tastes just as great with roti or a normal paratha and in the hot weather, it feels good to have something light & cold. 

Just sharing a recipe of the Raita & Chutney right now, but will share the Aalo Bhurta recipe in another post. 

Tamatar ki Chutney/Tomato ki Chutney
Tomato - 1/2 kg (5 to 6 medium cut into small squares)
Onions - 2 medium (sliced)
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
Red Chilli Pepper - 1 teaspoon (adjust to taste)
Green Chilli - 3 to 4
Fresh corriander - 1/4 cup

Heat oil. Add onions and fry while stiring constantly till light golden. Add tomatoes and spices (salt & red chilli pepper). Cook on low heat, stirring every few minutes till oil separates. Add green chilli's and cook for 5 more minutes. Garnish with fresh corriander and serve slightly warm or room temperature. 

Loki ka Raita / Raita with Bottle Gourd 
Yoghurt - 1/2 kilogram
Bottle gourd/Loki - 1/2 kilogram (peeled and cut into thin slices or grated)
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Red Chilli Pepper - 1/2 to 1 teaspoon
Garlic - 2 to 3 cloves (minced)
Roasted white cumin - 1/2 teaspoon

For Bagarh/Tempering
White Cumin - 1/2 teaspoon
Whole Red Chilli Pepper/Sabit Laal Mirch - 3
Curry Leaves/Kari Patta - 3 to 4 leaves
Oil - 1 tablespoon

1. Boil the squash/loki in about 3/4 cup of water for about 10-12 minutes till cooked and soft and mash if necessary (if the squash/loki has been grated, then mashing should not be necessary). Drain the water well. 
2. Whisk yoghurt. Add bottle gourd/loki, salt, red chilli pepper, garlic & cumin seeds. Mix well.
3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small saucepan or tempering pan. Once oil is hot, add cumin seeds, whole red chilli peppers and curry leaves and fry for a minute or two till toasted. Add the tempering ingredients including oil to the yoghurt mixture. Serve cold.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pina Colada

Another quick and refreshing drink for the summer. It's my favourite drink to order when eating out as I love the combination of pineapple & coconut and its an absolute breeze to make at home.

Pina Colada 
1 can of pineapple chunks - the 500 - 550 grams can size available in the market (depending on brand)
Santan Coconut Milk Powder - 50 gram (1 Sachet)
Sugar - 2 tablespoon
Ice - 1 cup (crushed)
Lemon Juice (1/2 teaspoon) - optional

Add ice, pineapple chunks, sugar, lemon juice (if using), coconut milk powder and about 3/4th of the pineapple juice from the can. Blend together well. Taste and adjust by adding the rest of the pineapple juice.
Note: I usually use the entire quantity, but I just reserve some of the coconut powder and pineapple juice so I can adjust if required.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Shikanjabeen - Mint & Lemon Slush

Summers have arrived with a bang in Karachi, and in this hot & humid weather just calls for a cool and refreshing drink to provide some comfort from the heat. One of my favorite beverages to drink from outside is Shikanjabeen, and my absolute favourite version of it is from Koel Cafe where its made in a slush form with mint & lemon and a little bit of black salt on top. Since I can't go there all the time, I decided to try making it at home and the recipe turned out excellent - just the right amount of mint in an icy-cool slush format. Definitely something I will be making over the summers on a regular basis.

Shikanjabeen - Mint & Lemon Slush

Sugar Syrup - Boil 1 cup water with about 1/2 cup sugar till it dissolves, then let it cool
Ice-Cubes - 2 cups (crushed)
Cold Water - 1/2 cup
I put them in a clean plastic bag, and crush with a big spoon;
Lemon Juice - 3 big lemons or 4 small lemons
Mint - 1 bunch (about 8 to 10)
Salt - 1/4 tsp (or to taste)

Add ice-cubes, water, sugar syrup, lemon juice & salt in a blender. Blitz for a minute till the sugar is crushed and it becomes drink form. Add mint leaves and pulse it for a few seconds. Make sure that you pulse it so that the ice becomes slushy but don't blitz it too much otherwise it will turn watery and the slush effect will disappear. Taste and adjust if required. I like it more minty and less sugary, so I add a few more mint leaves, but you can reduce based on personal preferences and also add a little bit more sugar.
For garnish, you can add a bit of mint leaves, or crushed black pepper or black salt.


Monday, June 10, 2013

Shawarma Chicken Wraps

Hello everyone! Today I am featuring a middle eastern inspired dish. I am sure everyone must have had shawarma's in one form or the other - either from the roadside stall or at a dhabba/restaurant or even at weddings. I wanted to try making one at home to experiment with flavors and adust as required for the next time :). I also came across this wonderful recipe online and it just called out to 'make me' - made a few adjustments from this other gyro recipe (obviously) that I came across and well, here is an absolutely fantastic Sunday night dinner. This time, I had decided to do an entire meal so made the Halal Food Cart style spiced rice (on request from my little brother) and icy cold Shikanjabeen (lemon and mint drink) as well which was so refreshing in this hot weather.

For those of who are you who are looking for the recipe for the Shikanjabeen, will post that in a few days along with a really simple recipe for Pina Colada - absolutely a breeze to make and requires just a few basic ingredients and a blender. 

Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wraps
Sides: Tzatziki Sauce (Garlic and Yoghurt Sauce), Mango Salsa & Spiced Rice
Shawarma Chicken Wraps Adapted from An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair by Faith Gorsky
Serves: 4
Spiced Shawarma Chicken Wraps
  • Shawarma Spice Mix (Recipe below)
  • 1/2 kg boneless chicken (cut into pieces)
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cup plain yogurt
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 3 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • Oil - about 4 tablespoon
  • To Grill: Brown Sugar - about 2 tablespoon (adjust as required); Hot Sauce - 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • Pita Bread - 8 (Lightly Toasted on a skillet)
  • Salsa or Salad (Recipe for mango & tomato salsa below) 
  • Tzatziki Sauce
  • Caramelized Onions
  • Lettuce/Tomatoes/Cucumber for filling - this is upto taste - I decided to make a salsa instead of raw vegetables
Shawarma Spice Mix
  • 1 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste or finely sliced ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fenugreek (methi)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom + seeds/elachi + elaichi kay daanay (I grounded the cardamom & cloves in a mortar and pestle)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves (2 to 3)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon chili pepper (can be decreased)

  1. Prepare the Shawarma Spice Mix.
  2. Combine the spice mix with the yogurt, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar and salt in a large bowl. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
  3. Heat a grill pan (a skillet can be used if a grill pan is not available) with about 1 tbsp of oil. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a dash of hot sauce (2 to 3 drops) then add the chicken. Make sure that the chicken pieces do not overlap one another. Cook till one side is golden brown making sure the chicken does not burn. Sprinkle a little bit of brown sugar and hot sauce on the top of the chicken then grill on the other side. If required, cook the chicken in two batches, sprinkling brown sugar and hot sauce as required. Add oil as required when cooking the chicken on the other side and in two batches - about 4 tbsp of oil should be required if cooking the chicken in two batches. 
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and then transfer it to a cutting board - slice the chicken into thin pieces. Transfer the chicken back to the grill pan, and cook for 1-2 minutes enough to just heat through the chicken again. 
  5. For caramelized onions, just add the onions to the pan and cook for a few minutes till golden brown - the remaining brown bits to the pan will give flavor to the onions - in case the grill pan has become too black, clean with a paper towel otherwise the chicken and the onions will turn black. 
Note: The brown sugar is added to add in the caramelization of the chicken and to give a lovely brown color - it will also give a subtle sweet flavor to the chicken which is really tasty in the dish, however, in case you don't like the flavor, then brown sugar can be reduced or not even added altogether - the grill pan will still give a good char on the chicken.
Please be careful while re-heating the chicken - I left it for a few minutes and the chicken turned just slightly dark - it tasted great but it lost the beautiful golden brown color from the grill pan and the brown sugar.

Tzatziki Sauce - Garlic Yoghurt Dip
1 cucumber - finely chopped without seeds (I prefer it with skin)
Salt - 1 tsp
2 garlic cloves - crushed 
lemon juice - 1 teaspoon/half a lemon
1 cup thick yoghurt (also known as Greek yoghurt) - just take regular yoghurt and put it in a fine mesh strainer or in a muslin cloth for a few hours till the liquid drains out and you are left with thick yoghurt 
Note: I didn't do this, because well, I couldn't strain my strainer and that's why my sauce is more like a thick Raita than a dip which is what is required. 
Method Put the finely chopped cucumber in a colander and sprinkle salt on top. Let this sit for an hour with a plate below it in the fridge so that the water from the cucumber is is reduced. Add the cucumber along with crushed & chopped garlic to the yoghurt. Add lemon juice and mix it all up. Taste and adjust as required.

Mango Salsa
1 cucumber - finely chopped (without seeds)
2 tomatoes - finely chopped (without seeds)
1 small to medium onion - finely chopped
2 slices of Mango (used a large mango - Sindhri but a whole small Mango can be used)
Vinegar - 3 teaspoon
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Corriander/Cilantro - 1 tablespoon (finely chopped) - optional

Mix all the vegetables together. Add vinegar and salt and mix well. Serve. 
Adjust the ingredietns in the salsa as per your liking, I had fresh mango at home so I decided to add some for a sweet flavor and I also increased the ratio of tomatoes because I love tomatoes. Alternatively, you could use corn, pineapple, avacodo, jalepeno's depending on what is available.

Final Assembly 
Take the lightly toasted pita bread, add chicken, tzatziki sauce & salsa. Add caramelized onions on top. Roll it up and eat :). 
I also served spiced rice on the side - the one that I had made earlier with the Halal Chicken with Rice. 

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