October 21, 2010

Saag aur Gosh ka Salan (Spinach & Beef Curry)

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Spinach and beef sound like such modest and unassuming ingredients, until paired together, that is.Where I come from, this is perfectly served with steaming white rice. Where my husband comes from, that would be almost blasphemous as spinach is only served with fresh paratha or naan (flat bread). Either way, this is an ordinary dish with very extraordinary flavors.

I prefer a pressure cooker to cook the beef just because its quicker, but you can also cook it in a regular pot for at least an hour, or until beef is tender. Make sure to reserve some liquid from either method to add to your final product.

Frozen spinach can be used but use fresh when you have the chance. And if you get your hands on a really big pile of fresh spinach, go ahead and cook up some for these little guys too.

Saag aur Gosh ka Salan (Spinach and Beef Curry)

1 large onion, chopped, divided
4 - 5 chili peppers,finely chopped (adjust heat to your liking, we like it hot around here)
2 lb bag of prewashed spinach leaves
1 lb beef stew,cut into 1/2 -1" cubes
1 tblsp garlic and ginger paste, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chili powder (read note above about heat!)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tsp lemon juice (or the juice of half a lemon)

1. In a pressure cooker (or a large pot) add half of the chopped onion to a couple tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add your cleaned and washed beef stew. Add half a tablespoon of garlic and ginger paste, half a teaspoon of salt and black pepper. Cook until browned on all sides. Add enough water to cover your meat and cook per pressure cooker instructions until tender (if using a regular pot, add double the amount of water and cook for at least 1 hour until beef is tender).

2. In a separate pan, preferably a wide and open one, add the rest of your onion, chopped chilis and garlic/ginger paste to some oil over medium heat.Cook until soft and translucent, about 2 - 3 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make sure your spinach is well washed and dried. Any trace amounts of dirt ruin the entire dish. Add your spinach all at once and slowly mix or turn leaves until all are wilted. Once the spinach has all cooked down, add your cooked beef and 2 - 3 tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Add turmeric and chili powder and allow everything to cook together for 5 minutes. Keep adding the beef broth to keep the pan wet.

4. In the last 2 minutes of cooking, add cilantro and lemon juice. The lemon juice is optional, but I always add it to any green dish as I feel it brightens up the whole flavor. Serve hot with rice or bread.

October 17, 2010

Kid Friendly Fish Sticks

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I make an effort to give my kids the same food that the adults are eating. This way, they're exposed to new flavors and foods and I don't have to end up making 5 types of food for one meal just to make everyone happy. But every now and then, some meals are a bit too spicy for them, so I'll make the occasional modification or two.

On the night of the spicy fish, I reserved fillet for the kids and kept it spice-free. When it came time to cook them up I remembered how my children HATE fish. I mean, hate. I've tried mashing, mixing and flavoring it but to no avail, they can always detect it from before that first bite. But what if it was hidden under a crunch, flavorful coating? We've tried those horrible boxed, frozen fish sticks before but I know how different (better!) the home made versions of things can be, so I took a stab at it.

Success! The kids ate them, with the help of a little dab of ketchup but who cares, they got a huge serving of Omega 3's and didn't even realize it, alhamdulillah! This recipe can be modified so many ways: different types of fish, rolling in different sauce before the crumb coating, different herbs mixed into the crumbs, etc. Just remember to go easy on the oil when frying; you can still get a golden outer crust in a shallow fry while avoiding the extra fat of a deep fry.

Speaking of fish, my recipe was featured over here where some amazing stuff happens. Take a looksie at all the other cool things the sisters over there are doing, masha'allah!

Home Made Fish Sticks

1 Swai fillet (or any firm fish)
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning (fresh herbs would be much better)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, beaten

1. Cut the fish crosswise, into "sticks". Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

2. Mix the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and salt in a seperate bowl.

3. Dip fish into egg and then roll to coat in breadcrumbs.

4. Shallow fry on medium heat for about 2 - 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve warm.

October 16, 2010

Cinnamon-Chocolate-Sour Cream Part 2

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

This cake is an old favorite of mine, particularly because I always seem to have the necessary ingredients on hand, alhamdulillah. And also because its a little out of the ordinary while still staying true to some classic flavor combinations like cinnamon and chocolate.

For a change, I tried it out in a bundt pan (yes, I've been in a little bit of bundty mood lately). The only change I made was ommiting that top layer of cinnamon/sugar/chocolate chips since a bundt has to be flipped out. Instead, I used all the sugar mix in the middle. One full recipe filled the whole pan and made a very generous cake, alhamdulillah.

*As you can tell, there have been some changes around the Muslim Wife's Kitchen. Each new season brings out a different mood here and this time the vibrant colors of the changing leaves around me are really inspiring me. I can't say this look will stay long, but whatever it ends up, you can count on it being a pumpkin-y orange! Also a new feature are the linked pictures on the side bar. Everything's fixed now so the pictures directly link to the corresponding recipe. Watch that space, as classic pictures/recipes will show up there!

October 14, 2010

Spicy Fish

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I've never been into seafood all that much and it's taken me all these years to figure out why: it's boring. I have a hard time enjoying food that is seasoned with only salt and pepper and seafood seems to be exclusively prepared that way in restaurants. Sure, you get the occasional lemon juice here or fatty deep-fried crust there, but on the inside, its just a very plain and very boring fish.

So when I came upon an exciting recipe for salmon, I ran with it. I now make all my seafood with staple Indian spices. Oh, and I don't hold back either, so if the amounts are a bit much for you, feel free to halve them, but don't go blaming me for bland fish!

Spicy Indian Style Fish
4 fish fillets (I used a package of Swai fillets, but any firm fish would do)
2 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tblsp red chilli powder
1 tblsp garlic and ginger paste
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground corriander
1 tblsp chopped cilantro (reserve half for garnish)

1. Pat fillets dry to ensure the spices adhere better. Then sprinkle each side with your spice mix. Allow to sit at least 1 hr with spice, no more than 3.

2. In the last 30 minutes of marinating, add lemon juice, cilantro and oil, turning to coat both side.

3. Grill (or pan fry in medium high heat) for 4 minutes each side, or until cooked. Garnish with reserved cilantro and serve with hot rice.

October 8, 2010

Stepping Outside the (Pasta) Box

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Recently I had the chance to visit an ethnic supermarket and let's just say I went a little crazy. It was primarily catered to Hispanic customers so you can only imagine the abundance of things like tomatillos and varieties of adobo. But that wasn't the end of it: aisles and aisles of imported Italian cheeses and Asian cuts of seafood. I felt like a kid set loose in a ...ethnic supermarket? Well, you get the point, I was a very happy women leaving that store with all my treasures and goodies.One of those jewels was dozens of pasta varieties; shapes and sizes I'd never heard of including these cuties in the shape of tennis rackets and my favorite, spicy pasta.

I made a batch of it with some grilled chicken breasts and red-lobster-style biscuits, a great spin to an otherwise ordinary plate of pasta, alhamdulillah. So next time you see something that looks a little different, go ahead and try it.You never know when a spin-off may be better than the original!