April 26, 2010

Aaloo Gobi (Potatoes and Cauliflower)

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Aaloo Gobi: the quintessential Non-Indian's Indian Food. I can't tell you how many times I've heard this dish referenced, ordered and reviewed by people who were not of any Asian background. And there's nothing wrong with that, except that I'm Indian, and I don't eat aaloo gobi. I can't tell you how long it's been since I've eaten aaloo gobi (years?) . But I can tell you how many times I've cooked it : zero. That is, until tonight.

Somehow or another we ended up with lots of cauliflower in the house and after many unsuccessful attempts to get the kids to eat it raw, I decided it was time to cook it up into something more exciting than the only other cauliflower recipe I have. And that brings us to the very first time I made aaloo gobi.

I know for a fact there are many versions of this recipe floating around. Do as you like, add more of one thing, less of another. All measurements are approximate as I rarely measure spices in any dishes, especially Indian ones. Just taste as you go and personalize to your liking. This goes best with warm parathas or naan, but rice will do as well.

Aaloo Gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) 
(serves 2 adults)

1 potato, peeled and cubes
1/2 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut up
1/2 onion, diced
1 tblsp garlic and ginger paste
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp red chilli powder (I doubled this amount, as we like it hot around here)
1 tsp garam masala
salt to taste

1. Saute onions in a couple teaspoons of oil until translucent. Add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic and ginger paste. Saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add cubed potato, turmeric, red chili powder and garam masala. Stir until coated. Add enough water to come up half-way up potatoes. Cover and bring to simmer. Allow to cook until potatoes are half-way cooked.

3. Add chopped cauliflower (remember to salt as you go). Stir to combine all ingredients and cook until everything is tender, about 10 minutes. Add water as necessary.

April 20, 2010


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

If you've found yourself with some left over bulgur after making your delicious kibbeh, don't fret! Just dice up a bunch of veggies, throw in some homemade vinaigrette and left over bulgur and you've got tabouleh. Yes, I know that sounds a bit oversimplified, but that's just the point: it's so simple! And can be prepared a number of ways using what veggies you prefer, or in my case, what veggies need to get used up in your crisper ASAP. The distinctive characteristic of this salad over other salads is the fine and uniform dice of the veggies and spices, and of course, the addition of the bulgur. You'll need roughly same amounts of each ingredient and like I said, feel free to add and take away according to your preference. Spring is here, let the salads begin insha'allah!


1/2 cup burgul
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped cucumbers
1 cup finely chopped green onions
1 cup finely chopped flat leaf parseley
1/2 cup chopped mint leaves
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

1. Wash and drain burgul a few times.. Cover with boiling water, cover and set aside.

2.Chop all vegetables and combine with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well.

3. Strain burgul well (its important to get out as much water as possible), and add to vegetables. Chill for one hour before serving.

April 15, 2010

Grape Leaves, aka, My Most Favorite Food EVER

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

In our house, everyone likes grape leaves, even the kids! No, actually, we all love them. Better yet, WE DEVOUR A TRAY IN A MATTER OF MINUTES. We used to just wait to be invited by our Egyptian friends who make the tangy, thick, meat-less version. Then we were introduced to our Palestinian friends who make a thin, tiny, ground-lamb version and now we're in a sort of conundrum as to which we like better. I think its fair to say we  like  love both versions and will gladly clean off a tray of either type on any given day.WARNING: do not be intimidated by the long recipe, anything worth it takes a little work ;) Also, I firmly believe everyone should try making these AT LEAST once in their cooking lives!

Stuffed Grape Leaves - Shaami Style
1 jar of grape leaves, drained and rinsed
Rice and Meat Filling (below)
2 potatoes sliced into circles
2 tomatoes sliced into circles
1/2 - 1 can tomato paste
2+ cups water
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tblsp lemon juice

1. Using a large slotted spoon, submerge leaves (2 or 3 at a time) into boiling water for about 30 - 45 seconds. Remove onto kitchen towel. This will help soften the leaves slightly before cooking.

2. In a heavy bottomed and large pot, layer bottom with sliced potatoes and tomatoes. Lamb chops/ribs or any other meat is another great option. This is primarily to keep the bottom layer of grapes leaves from sticking and also adds more flavor to the overall dish.

3. In a separate pot, add tomatoes paste (use 1/2 - 1 whole can depending on how big your pot of grape leaves is as this will be your cooking liquid, you need it to fill to the top of your pot), enough water to thin liquid, salt , pepper and lemon juice. Cook until dissolved and smooth, remove from heat.

4. Stuff and roll your grape leaves. Use very little (less than a tsp) in each leaf and be careful to wrap tightly so nothing unravels during the cooking process. (For step by step wrapping directions, look here). Layer grape leaves in packed and concentric circles. Carefully pour cooking liquid to the top of the pot. Some people place a small glass dish on top to hold down the leaves while cooking, or you can just place the lid and leave, checking in often to make sure all are submerged. Lower heat to medium low (there should be very few bubbles as this starts to cook). Depending on how many layers of grape leaves you have, this will take from 2 - 4 hours to cook. Long and slow cooking process ensures tender leaves and fully cooked rice inside. Be patient, it's worth it!

1 cup Egyptian or Sushi Rice (short and fat grains)
1 cup ground lamb (ground beef or combination of both works fine. Or leave it out all together)
1/3 cup chopped parsley or cilantro
squeeze of lemon juice or sprinkle of citric acid
salt and pepper to taste
3 garlic cloves, minced (more if you like stronger garlic taste)
2 tsp garam masala or Arabic Spice mix
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 cup olive oil
2 chicken bouillon cubes

1. Soak rice for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour. Drain.

2. Warm olive oil on stove over medium heat and dissolve bullion cubes. Remove from heat.

3. To the rice, add meat, salt and pepper to taste, crushed garlic cloves, garam masala or Arabic spice mix (I added some more spices to my liking, feel free to do the same) parsley/cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil mixture and diced tomato. Mix thoroughly with your hands until everything is well combined (take your time here!). Set aside until ready to fill leaves.

April 11, 2010

Punjabi Chicken

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

My mom is hands-down the best cook I know, masha'allah (then again, doesn't everyone think of their mothers cooking that way?) She's also the one who raised me to love cooking, particularly cooking for others, and to this day is my teacher in all things food-related. May Allah reward and protect her, ameen! So when she recommends a recipe then you know its gotta be good. She saw this one for Punjabi Chicken on skewers on some cable channel and we both got busy in our respective kitchens, grinding spices and marinating chicken. Kitchens that are hundreds of miles apart, but hearts that are much, much closer. And as always is the case, her's turned out better than mine! I served this with vegetable biriyani, another one of my mothers classic dishes. I'm haven't mastered the recipe yet so I'm not comfortable posting that, but here's some pictures for your viewing pleasure.

Punjabi Chicken
1 whole chicken breast (~2lbs), chopped in cubes
1 tsp salt
2 tsp garlic & ginger paste
1 tsp red chilli powder (more if you like it hot)
1 tblsp garam masala (recipe below)
2 tsp yogurt or sour cream
1 tblsp lemon juice
3 tblsp oil

1.Mix all ingredients together and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight.

2. Thread onto soaked or oiled skewers (add veggies if you like) and grill or cook under broiler. Turn after 5 - 7 minutes. Add another squirt of lemon juice before serving.

Garam Masala
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp cloves

Grind in a spice grined and store in cool and dark place.

April 10, 2010

Cheesecake Brownies

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

Cheesecake is good. Brownies are good. Cheesecake marbled brownies are ridiculously good. You can definitely cheat and use a boxed brownie mix and just top with the cheesecake topping, but why cheat when making a homemade batch is so easy? I'll warn you, this is a very rich desert. Don't be fooled by the 8 x 8 pan size because one little square will be more than enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Marbled Brownies

Makes 16 2-inch square, thick brownies

Brownie batter
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup all-purpose flour

Cheesecake batter
8 ounces cream cheese, well softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Make brownie batter: Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Heat butter and chocolate in a 3-quart heavy saucepan — though I did mine double-boiler style, placing the mixing bowl I was using over simmering water, thereby creating one less dirty dish and melting the chocolate more gently — over moderately low heat, whisking occasionally, just until melted. Remove from heat and whisk in sugar, eggs, vanilla, and a pinch of salt until well combined. Whisk in flour until just combined and spread in baking pan.

Make cheesecake batter: Whisk together cheesecake batter ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Dollop over brownie batter, then swirl in with a knife or spatula.Sprinkle chocolate chips over cheesecake/brownie batter swirl.

Bake brownies: Bake until edges are slightly puffed and center is just set, about 35 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

April 8, 2010

Gingerbread Cookies

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

About 4 years ago, I bought a jar of molassas for some home made oatmeal cream pies. I think I used about 1/3 of a cup before I put back in the pantry, forgetting all about it. Since then, it's moved across country with me and only yesterday I decided to throw it out. Until I looked at the expiration date stamped on the top; it was good until the end of this year! Now the guilt consumed me and I decided I needed to use it right away. Being too lazy to Google molasses related recipes, I just made the recipe that was printed on the bottle for gingerbread cookies, and that's when my love for all things gingerbread began.

I remember being forced to make gingerbread houses in elementary schools, but don't recall ever eating one. And the boxes of gingersnaps my mother used to buy were certainly not my favorite. So I just assumed I wouldn't like it and this would instead be a nice treat for the kids. In the end, we all were fighting over the last cookie! The dough came together very nicely and quickly. I didn't freeze/chill the dough as written in the recipe and it still turned out well. I left out the cloves because I couldn't be bothered to ground some up and was worried it'd be too strong for the kids. They're not very sweet or too gingery, but just enough spice in them to make them stand out amongst the usual cookies. I kept a 1/3 of the batch in the freezer to bake off in case some unexpected company ever drops by, I can't wait to serve these with some hot tea.

Grandma's Molasses Gingerbread Cookies

1 stick butter (8 Tablespoons)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup Grandma's molasses
1 egg
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves ( I left this out)

Cream together butter, sugar, and molasses. Mix in egg. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Chill dough for 2 hours. Sprinkle flat surface with flour and roll dough to preferred thickness (thick for chewy, thin for crunchy). Cut dough with cookie cutter, place on baking sheet, and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Cool and decorate, if desired.

April 4, 2010

Nutmeg is a No No

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

 "The answer of the Believers, When summoned to God And His Apostle, in order That he may judge between them, Is no other than this: They say, "We hear and we obey":  It is such as these That will attain felicity." (An Nur : 51)

As Muslims we know that our religion is more than a once a week ritual or a couple fancy holidays a year, rather its a complete way of life. Islam dictates not only how we worship, but also how we dress, how we talk, how we sleep, and even how we eat. We know carrion, pork and alcohol are not permitted in our diet but did you know that nutmeg also falls under that category? That is because nutmeg is an intoxicant when consumed in large amounts and anything that intoxicates in large quantities is forbidden even in smaller quantities. There is a difference of opinion here, but the majority opinion is to be safe and leave it out. It's better to leave the "gray" areas and stick to the clear and safe ways. And remember, do something with a sincere intention and be certain that Allah subhanahu wa t'ala  will put the barakah in your affairs. So those muffins that call for a 1/8 tsp of grated nutmeg? Leave it out for the sake of Allah and insha'allah, they'll be more delicious and filling than any other recipe :)

Fatwa with daleel and explanation can

be found here: Islam Q&A on Nutmeg

April 2, 2010


Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

If you stopped by anytime last night, you might have seen as many as three different layouts here at the Muslim Wife Kitchen. Obviously, I'm in the mood for some change around here. The warm weather, green trees and spring flowers are putting me in the mood for something new and clean. I haven't settled on something yet, so this space may take on a couple different looks before I'm finished, whenever that'll be. But I don't know how it looks on your end; if something looks or read a little off or you're having some problems with the comments, please let me know at: bintnizam@gmail.com

Happy cooking, y'all!

April 1, 2010

New York Crumb Cake

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

I don't know why, but I've always been very intimidated by coffee cakes. Maybe its because I don't drink coffee? Or the big crumb layer seemed so...crumbly? But the thought of making one from scratch just scared me. Until I had a sister over and couldn't think of anything else that paired with afternoon tea better then coffee (eh, tea?) cake. And if you're gonna make a coffee cake, you gotta do it New York style! This was surprisingly easier than I imagined and took a little under 30 minutes to bake. And that thing, messy top layer of sugary crumbs? It's actually stays put! Well, most of it anyways ;)

New York Crumb Cake


(after reading some reviews, I decided to add more oil and vanilla to make up for a dry cake and additional cinnamon and a pinch of salt in the crumb topping)
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for pan (I added one more tablespoon)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract ( I doubled this amount)
  • 1 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon( I doubled this amount)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

  1. Place rack in center of oven, and heat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly brush a 9-by-12 1/2-inch baking pan with canola oil, dust with flour, and tap to remove excess. Set aside. In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a second bowl, whisk together egg, milk, canola oil, and vanilla. Using a rubber spatula, fold dry ingredients into egg mixture.
  2. Spread batter evenly into prepared pan, and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon. Pour melted butter over flour mixture, and toss with a rubber spatula until large crumbs form. Sprinkle crumbs over batter.
  3. Transfer pan to oven, and bake, rotating pan after 10 minutes. Continue baking until a cake tester comes out clean, about 10 minutes more.
  4. Transfer baking pan to a wire rack to cool. Dust with confectioners' sugar. Using a serrated knife or bench scraper, cut into 3-inch squares. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.