Archives for posts with tag: potatoes

This is definitely not a Valentine’s Day dish.  It’s not special and it’s completely and utterly pedestrian, at least in Pakistani households.  Regardless, I wanted to share it with you today because it’s the first dish I ever cooked for my husband.  Way back when, five years ago, in April, I met my husband through my sister.  She met him and put him in touch with me, he was in grad school in Toronto and I was in grad school in Montreal and in my sister’s mind that was enough reason for us to get along.  We started talking and then one day on a whim he decided to visit me in Montreal.  As you can imagine, I was nervous.  In our conversations I told him I enjoyed cooking, though at the time I didn’t do much being a busy grad student.  So when he arrived and when we got over the initial awkwardness we both went grocery shopping together.

It’s not exactly the first date most of us imagine, but that is what happened with us.  The premise of the grocery shopping was that I would cook lunch for us.  I had no clue what to make, we were wandering through the aisles and I said that I would make keema (ground beef).  It was a dish I was comfortable making and my now husband was pretty laid back about the whole thing.  He told me he liked it with green bell peppers, in my mind I thought, “ew,” but I put some green bell peppers into our cart and also picked up some spinach to  make aloo palak, a dish I had never made before.  Back then, I was polite and didn’t say anything about the bell peppers, if it was today, it would be an entirely different story.

We got back to my apartment and I started cooking in my tiny kitchen with very little proper kitchen equipment.  We began talking and pretty soon we were more comfortable and it felt as though we knew each other for ages.  I made the keema, aloo palak (it turned out good), basmati rice, salad, and chutney.  My husband stuck with me after that meal and it’s safe to say he was a fan of my cooking.  After eating lunch we explored Montreal, which in of itself is a very romantic city, and then later had some late night bites at a restaurant, a “proper” date, if you will.

My husband’s favorite Pakistani dish besides channay is keema. I don’t know if he liked it before or if his love for it blossomed after I made it that first time.  He now requests it on a weekly basis.  He was just away for three weeks on medical residency interviews and whenever he would get a few days in the middle to come home, he would ask me to make aloo keema. Luckily for me it’s an easy dish and I also enjoy it.

I know this isn’t a gorgeous Valentine’s dessert of gooey chocolate, but it is one of “our” dishes.  Since my husband and I consider food a big part of what we have in common, it doesn’t matter if it’s simple Pakistani home cooking or some form of haute cuisine, we always enjoy it in each other’s company.  Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Aloo Keema

serves 3 as a main, 4 if served with a side dish


Canola oil, or any neutral vegetable oil

1 pound ground beef (chicken, lamb, goat) It’s also up to you if you want to use lean or not.  I like to wash and drain it in a colander.

1 red onion, thinly sliced into half moons

2 heaping tablespoons ginger-garlic paste (2 inch piece of ginger and 5-6 cloves of garlic blended together with a little water)

1 potato, peeled and cut into large chunks (you can also use peas, peppers, cauliflower, or any vegetable you choose, just adjust cooking times)

2 tomatoes, puréed (canned are alright, if they are out of season)

1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

1 teaspoon coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon red chili powder/cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

3-4 whole black peppercorns

2 cloves

2-3 green chilies, julienned, seeds removed if you like

nice handful of cilantro, chopped

3 scallions, chopped, optional

garam masala, optional

limes, for garnish, optional


Heat a large saucepan on medium heat and add in some oil, to your taste.  Let the oil heat up and add the onions and fry them for a few minutes until they start to almost turn light golden brown.

Add in the meat and ginger-garlic paste and keep stirring it until the ground beef is all broken up and in very small pieces.  Once the meat is slightly browned add in all the spices except the garam masala and keep mixing until everything is combined and the rawness is cooked out the spices.

Next, add in the tomato purée and mix it into the meat.  I also add in half a cup of water at this point.  Lower the heat to medium low and cover the pan and allow it to cook for 15 minutes or so.

After fifteen minutes, check the meat and mix it.  Cover and let it cook for fifteen more minutes.  After fifteen minutes, add in the potatoes and mix everything together a few times.  You should no longer see individual pieces of onion (it should have melted into the “masala,” and the oil should start to separate from the meat.  If necessary, add a little water (1/4 cup) to help the potatoes cook.

Once the potatoes are cooked, add in the green chilies, cilantro, scallions, and a sprinkling of garam masala and cook for another few minutes.  Serve with rice, chapati/roti, or naan and green chutney, limes, spicy pickles (achaar), and salad.

*Leftovers taste even better!


Pakistani street-foods are the ultimate in sweet, salty, and sour deliciousness.  I am a huge fan of chaat and when I miss the taste of chaat I usually opt for this version with potatoes and chickpeas.  In these hot summer months, it’s the perfect light snack.  The temperature is scorching hot and I feel so very lethargic that I just want to  make something easy.  I no longer have the patience to stand in front of the stove and sweat, even in air conditioning.

I last went to Pakistan for my wedding shopping, I haven’t been back since due to schedules and the like.  But, the thing I miss most, besides family, of course, is the street food.  My mom, my aunt, and I went crazy during my wedding shopping, getting my bridal dresses, jewelry, and the various other outfits.  Despite all the rush and chaos, we could calm down with a bowl of chaat practically everyday.  Sitting on a rickety chair with an even ricketier table at a street vendor, we would just relax with our chaat.  The scorching sun in the market, the pollution from traffic and rickshaws, the fan that was blowing around hot air didn’t even phase us.  It was our time to unwind.  Let me tell you, wedding preparations are stressful.

Now that I’m way beyond my newlywed days and back to reality, I have the responsibility of making the chaat.  As we have established before my husband is good for nothing in the kitchen.  Thankfully, chaat is simple and pantry-friendly.  I always have potatoes and chickpeas on hand.  I don’t think my household would run without them.  The tamarind chutney adds the right amount of tang.  I love tamarind, I love tamarind candies coated in chaat masala.  I am salivating just thinking about them.  (You can get similar candies in Mexican/Latin American grocery stores).  My chutney recipe isn’t 100% authentic because I make mine in 5 minutes.  The real version is slowly simmered on a stove all day and I haven’t learned how to make it yet.  My shortcut chutney is just fine for the time being.  Chaat is a nice departure from usual summer fare and could also be considered a salad of sorts.  You don’t even need to go to Pakistan to try it, but I must admit, even though mine is pretty tasty, it is not even close to Pakistani chaat.

Potato and Chickpea “Chaat” with Tamarind Chutney

Serves 3


2 cups cooked chickpeas

1-2 medium-sized potatoes, boiled until tender and then peeled and cut into a small dice

1/2 a medium-sized red onion, finely chopped

1 long green chili, finely chopped (seeds and ribs removed for less spicy)

1 tomato, finely chopped, optional

1/4 bunch of cilantro chopped (use as much as you like)

a few mint leaves, optional

chaat masala, (as much as you like, I like to add a lot, about 1 tablespoon, you can find it in Indian/Pakistani grocery stores, I use Shan brand)

for the Tamarind Chutney:

2 heaping teaspoons of tamarind paste

juice of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 teaspoon chaat masala

1/4 teaspoon red chili powder (as much as you like)

1 tablespoon raw sugar


First, make the chutney by combining all the ingredients for the chutney in a small saucepan on medium heat and melt the tamarind until it becomes liquidy, about 5 minutes.  If your chutney is thick, thin it out with some water.  Chill for an hour.

Next, combine all the ingredients for the chaat; the chickpeas, potatoes, red onion, green chili, tomatoes (optional), cilantro,  mint (optional), and chaat masala.  Check for salt.  I don’t add salt because the chaat masala already has it in it.  I got ahead of myself and mixed in the tamarind chutney with the chickpeas, usually I just drizzle some on top of the chickpeas.  If you would like you can mix the chutney in with the chickpeas as I did here.  Chill the chaat for an hour in the refrigerator.  Some people like to drizzle on thinned out yogurt on top as well.  Garnish with cilantro leaves and a sprinkling of chaat masala.


IMG_7973Even though I looooveeeeeee cooking, there are times I have no idea what to make.  Or more accurately, I don’t feel like making anything!  I beg and plead with my husband to make me something because I know if he HAD to he could make a decent meal.  He knows all my cooking secrets and what ingredients pair well together but he just pretends he has no clue.  So on this night, when I had no idea what to make, I asked him my daily question, “What do you want for dinner?”  Usually, he says, “anything” but on this day, glory be to God who helped me out, he said a roast of beef.  Of course, I don’t have a beef roast on hand so obviously we have to go out and get one (after a stop to the video rental store of course to get some movie like Reservoir Dogs or something I am totally not interested in).

IMG_7940Once we reached the butcher, being a small city he didn’t have the beef tenderloin roast I was imagining in my head.  But, an option of eye of round or prime rib.  Though prime rib is YUM, I would like to save it for special occasions due to its fat content.  I got the eye of round.  I came home having no idea of what sort of cut it was, though the butcher said it was very tender and to cook it at a high temperature then turn it down for the remainder of the cooking time.  I looked it up and it said it was a popular cut in the 1950’s.  I thought to myself, “great, it’s like the food on the show Mad Men, an era when eating Ceasar Salad was exotic.”  Anyhow, I ignored that and cook it as though it were a tenderloin.  Giving the roast a bit of an ego boost if you will.  I used my guru/mentor/idol’s (Ina Garten) style for making a filet roast.  A link to her Filet of Beef recipe is here.

The preparation is so simple, that I know my husband could have done it just as well as me.  No chopping (other than the potatoes), no slaving over the stove (just throw everything in the oven and forget about it)!  The meat was tender and juicy.  The perfect solution for a day where you don’t feel like cooking.  Unless, you go out to eat or  get takeout…..YUM!

*The 2 pound roast was reasonablly priced as well.  My original tenderloin idea would have put a dent in our wallets.  Hehe  🙂

Roast Eye of Round with Roasted Potatoes with a Pan Gravy

loosely inspired by Ina Garten

Serves 3


Eye of Round Roast

2 pound eye of round roast (ours was tied by the butcher with butcher’s twine)

1 whole bulb on garlic, peeled

1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt, or to taste

1 1/2 teaspoons of ground black pepper, or to tasteIMG_7977

5-6 sprigs of thyme

3-4 Yukon gold potatoes in wedges

drizzle of olive oil

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.  Take a baking dish or sheet pan place the beef in the center cover with salt and pepper, leaving a little to put over the potatoes as well.  Throw in the peeled garlic cloves.  I poked holes in the meat and stuffed the holes with some whole cloves, but this is entirely optional.  Put the potatoes in the dish, season them with some salt, pepper, and some thyme.  Cover the beef with the thyme.  Drizzle the whole dish with olive oil.  Place in roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 500 degreees.  After 20 minutes turn it down to 300 for about 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes turn the oven off and let the roast sit for 10-15 more minutes.  Take the roast out of the oven after 10-15 minutes and let it rest for about 15 minutes.  Slice and serve.  (This cooking time is for medium rare bordering medium).

*This roast tasted great the next day in sandwiches.

To make the gravy, take out any drippings from the beef baking dish.  Put them in a small saucepan add about a tablespoon of flour.  Whisk in the flour until it dissolves.  I also added the leftover thyme sprigs into he gravy.  Add 3/4 cup of chicken of beef stock and allow the gravy to thicken on medium heat for about 5-7 minutes. If you wish, you may add a dab of butter at the end to make the sauce glisten.  Serve over the beef.

I also served a tomato, red onion, avocado salad on the side.  IMG_7964