Channa Chaat is nothing short of super food! Chickpea is Channa in the Urdu language and chaat is any snack that’s spicy and has the wonderful tang from tamarind. You’ll find Channa Chaat in the streets of Pakistan, and on the Eid and iftar tables. Since Ramadan started, I have been making a big bowl of this Channa Chaat for iftar. It also doesn’t hurt that it literally comes together in 10 minutes.
I’d be more than happy to toss myself a salad for iftar, but when your parents are in town, you just have to don on the dupatta and feed some desi appetite. Speaking of parents, my dad loves hanging out at the grocery store more than I do! Let’s just say my pantry is bursting with canned chickpeas and my fridge has never looked this full since I moved into my apartment.
I hope you guys give this nutritious, delicious, full of fiber, protein and gas (ahem) Channa Chaat a try! Ramadan Mubarak to all those observing the month! I feel you bruh… 16 hours is no joke.
This is how Pakistanis turn chickpeas into a delicious tangy salad!
Author: Rookie With A Cookie
Recipe type: Appetizer
2 cans garbanzo beans
1 small onion, chopped (¾ cup roughly)
1 tomato, chopped
1 medium potato, boiled and chopped
1 serrano chili, finely chopped
Cilantro, a handful
2 tsp Chaat Masala or Channa Chaat spice mix (you can find this at any Pakistani/Indian grocery store)
½ tsp garam masala
¼ cup Tamarind pulp (you can find this at any Pakistani/Indian grocery store)
1 cup water
1 tbsp sugar
salt to taste
Dump beans, onion, tomatoes, potato and green chili in a large mixing bowl.
Sprinkle chaat masal and garam masala. Toss.
To make tamarind chutney, add tamarind pulp, sugar and 1 cup of water in a saucepan and let this come to a boil. Continue cooking for 10-12 minutes or until the pulp breaks down. Use the back of the spoon to help the process.
Next, strain the tamarind liquid into a bowl. Make sure to press down on the pulp with a spoon to extract as much juices as you can. Discard the pulp (I chew on it:p).
Now pour the liquid back into the saucepan and cook for another 5 minutes. The chutney will be very liquidy.
Remove from stove and let the chutney cool. as it cools it will thicken.
Pour the cooled chutney into the chickpea salad and toss.
Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro leaves and serve.
When you have the owner of the Best Fish Taco in Ensenada personally show you the secret to the best fish tacos, you know your taco-loving palate is taken care of. Being a regular customer of the taco joint, I secretly wished my fish taco game were stronger. And then lo and behold I run into the owner, Joseph, at the store and well… let’s just say my taco game never looked better! I had a lot of fun shooting this video with Joseph. Amidst the hilarity that ensued coupled with intriguing customers who thought that the taco joint would be featured on national television, I was able to get my act on and get this video to you guys!
Of course, I went back home to test out the recipe. OUTSTANDING! I think now I need Joseph to teach me how to make his secret salsas!
One thing I have an itch for when it comes to food is to experiment in my kitchen and I’d be damned if I was making Tandoori Chicken everyday (even though I totally could) and not venturing over to my beautiful neighboring countries to become, say, Thai for a day. This may or may not be the reason of idling around in the Asian aisle at the grocery store. I have to admit that Asian cooking especially Thai cooking has baffled me for quite a while. A few months ago I picked up a packet of rice noodles because I was in the mood to make Pad Thai. I grabbed a recipe from the internet to get started, altering it along the way. I was left with the smell of fish sauce in my hair and a dry stringy mess at my hands.
Many thanks to a dear friend who only eats Halal food, I can proudly say I have a really good recipe for Pad Thai under my black leather belt! A couple of months ago, she took me to this Halal restaurant in North Hollywood. You may turn down your nose at the shabby, grungy interior that admittedly is decorated rather kitschy but let me tell you guys, this place makes the BEST Thai food hands down. I remember saying to my friend, “I need to get the recipe for everything!” Fast forward to last week, thanks to my quirky, overly excited self that is ready to befriend everybody, I went and stole the recipe for this Pad Thai and a few other favorites–Fried Rice, Beef Chilli Dry, killer Eggplant Basil–right under the nose of the chef who pretty much runs the place by himself with no help. Watch this video to see exactly how I stole this recipe!
Below is the Pad Thai I made at home following the recipe and method I learned from the chef with minor substitutions (all noted in the recipe box) and I am proud to announce that it tasted like straight up takeout! Go make yourself this Pad Thai right now!
The easiest and foolproof, fail-safe Pad Thai you will ever make! This recipe is golden and comes straight from an authentic Thai restaurant!
Author: Rookie With A Cookie
¼ cup peanut oil
¼ lb chicken thighs, skinless, boneless and in very thin strips
½ a packet of rice noodles (I used the wider rice noodles at home but get the narrow one if you can find it)
5 tbsp vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp oyster sauce (thin it out with 2 tbsp water)
salt to taste
2 tbsp white sugar
Paprika to add color (I sprinkle about 1 tsp)
1½- 2 cups of bean sprouts
Peanuts, green onions, and cilantro to garnish
First we're going to cook the rice noodles like pasta until it's al dente, meaning it should not be cooked all the way through but should still have a bite. For this, add your noodles to a pot of water. Place the pot on the stove and on a low heat let the noodles soften for about 10-12 minutes. Once done, drain the noodles.
When noodles are done, heat up a wok on the highest flame. Once wok is hot, add oil and let it heat up.
Next, crack in an egg directly in the wok and stir.
To the eggs, add the chicken strips and stir until no longer pink and cooked through about 5-6 minutes. Make sure the chicken is in small strips so it cooks fast.
Next, add in rice noodles and stir.
Add the remaining ingredients: vinegar, lemon juice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, salt and sugar and stir really well. *Just throw it all in. This is why I love this recipe!*
Sprinkle paprika to give the dish a little color.
Pad Thai should not have a sauce so dry out the liquid by continuing to stir on the highest heat of the burner. *My wok is not restaurant quality so it took me about 10-15 minutes to dry out the sauce. So it is very important that your noodles are not fully cooked in step 1 because they will continue to cook in the wok.*
Lastly add in the bean sprouts and stir for a minute or two because we want bean sprouts to still be a bit crunchy.
Garnish with crushed peanuts, finely chopped green onions (just the green part) and cilantro and serve!
Oh where do I start about this dish–the only dish my non-desi friends know to be Indian. It pains every time I have to point out that Indian food and Pakistani food are really one and the same. The flavors running through, the spices lighting up the taste buds or really burning them up share a similar journey. Before I turn this into a history lesson about the partition of 1947, let’s focus our gaze back to this beautiful bowl of rich, saucy Chicken Tikka Masala. This along with my Seekh Kebab and Tandoori Chicken should have a permanent place in your arsenal of desi food recipes!
It took me a few tries to nail down this recipe. I decided that I did not want to use canned tomato puree, so I sliced up some juicy, fat tomatoes (along with my finger), and threw them in the oven with the marinated chicken at 425 degrees F. Roasting adds that touch of smokiness and wrinkles the tomatoes to a beautiful charred-around-the-edges look. Sometimes I even turn on the broiler because I love those black blisters on the chicken and tomatoes. So, if you feel me on this, just do it! Like Nike. Okay, maybe not. Do it at a slower pace, because baby it’s worth it. Give it to it, it’s worth it. I’m really sorry. I got some major wisdom tooth extraction done and clearly it wasn’t a good idea. So, I’ll just leave this recipe here for you guys and go search for it.
I have to admit I am that girl you see at the grocery store sampling soups at the soup bar. And this Tomato Basil Bisque or soup (but let’s go with bisque because it sounds more sophisticated) was inspired from one of those samplings. Anything I try lights up a tiny bulb in my head and I whisper to myself I need to make a video on this. So after sampling the tomato soup one fine afternoon, I brisk walked to the fresh produce, scooped up tomatoes on the vine into the plastic bag until the bag ballooned and threatened to rip, threw in carrots, onions, heavy cream from the refrigerator.
Tomato soup can be boring if you just throw tomatoes and other stuff in a pan and puree them. And people do that! But that’s not fun. I want that roasted punch. I have been hooked on roasting veggies lately. It brings out the sweetness in them and the slightly charred edges are worth picking at. So that’s what I did. Roast the veggies till they blister a bit and puree them. Voila! This is really a no-fail soup that will keep you filling your bowl again and again if only for the aroma of basil. KEY. The bisque is light and creamy. You want to serve it with a slice of buttery toasted baguette. Like my Chicken Tortilla soup and Clam Chowder, this Tomato Basil Soup is not fussy. I don’t like fussy soups and fussy people.
Tandoori Chicken is probably one the most loved Pakistani BBQ items. I remember those late summer nights back in Pakistan when my dinner was only a good juicy tandoori chicken from Ambala foods. I would wait in the car outside the storefront with my sisters and watch the guy in his sweaty kurta effortlessly flip the birds on the grill often with tongs, but sometimes with his bare hands. The hot to-go container exudes that strong, charred smell mingled with the most aromatic blend of Pakistani spices that instantly makes your mouth water. It hits your nostrils so hard you almost start crying. OK, maybe not. But you know where I’m headed, don’t you?
Now I’m 8000 miles away trying to replicate those flavors and smells of those nights back home when dinner was a family affair and meals were always taken at the table. Now I chow down everything right at the counter. But let me tell you I come so darn close to the restaurant-quality tandoori chicken that my brother (and yes, yet again I’m treating my brother’s word like it’s the holy word) said that I outdid myself with the roast! And because I make it in the oven, I’m not wasting time getting a grill going (I’d love to only if I had one). I give this Tandoori Chicken that smoky punch that we know a good tandoori chicken must have by placing a lit charcoal in the center of large pan, surrounding it with the oven-baked chicken, and finally “anointing” that coal with some vegetable oil. This is where the magic happens. As soon as the trickle of oil hits the burning coal, the smoke that materializes will seep into the chicken. So, pop the lid on and let the smoke penetrate and flavor the chicken. This Tandoori chicken with my Seekh Kebab is a duo that cannot be beat!
Learn how to make the best tandoori chicken in the comfort of your kitchen with all that smoky goodness!
Author: Rookie With A Cookie
Recipe type: Tandoori Chicken
6 Chicken Leg Quarters
3 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne)
4 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander powder
¾ tsp cumin powder
¼ tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon powder
1¾ tsp salt
2 tbsp chickpea/gram flour
2 tbsp ginger garlic paste
¼ cup full-fat yogurt
Juice of half a lemon (about 4 tbsp)
For the smoke:
A little Oil
Wash and pat dry the chicken really well. With a knife make cuts on the surface of the chicken at an angle.
Mix together all the marinade ingredients. Rub the marinade onto the chicken working it into the slits.
Cover with foil and let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 4 hours (overnight is best).
When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
Line a baking tray with foil and grease it with a little oil. Place your chicken face up on the foil and bake at 425 F for 15 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 400 and let the chicken bake for another 30 minutes flipping once during the baking time. (At this point you will not need to brush it with oil because unlike the open grill on which the chicken does not steam, the oven creates a lot of steam so the chicken will cook in its own juices. We're basically waiting for the juices to fully evaporate.)
To create the charred texture, place the grill on the top rack and turn on the broiler. Let the chicken broil for 10-15 minutes (flipping once). If you don't have the broiler option, just put the grill on the top rack and turn up the temperature to the highest setting on your oven. At this point you should notice the chicken start to crisp up so brush it will a little oil if needed. (Although it's a little dangerous, but I try to hold up the chicken to the flame of the oven to get the black spots on the chicken but don't do this please!)
Total baking time is around 60 minutes.
Final step is to smoke the chicken. For this, light up a charcoal on the stove. Nestle the lit coal in a foil blanket.
Next place the foil in the center of a large pan. Carefully place the chicken leg quarters around the coal.
Next, pour a little oil (about a 2-3 tbsp) right on top of the burning coal.
The smoke would release instantly. Pop the lid on and let the chicken smoke for 5-10 minutes. You are not turning on the stove at all, just smoking the chicken.
Serve with my Coriander and Mint Raita and serve hot!
It’s safe to say that all of South Asia thrives on chai. When guests come over, it’s customary to offer them “chai biscuit.” Similarly “evening chai” routine is ritually observed, at least in my household, and always taken out in the lawn in the company of mosquitoes that circle overhead.
To me, microwaving water or dipping teabags into water poured from the kettle is cardinal sin. It’s too English and never happening in my apartment. The real chai is the one that’s served in little glasses at the dhabas in Pakistan. Masala chai is more popular in India; it’s spiced with ginger and other stuff. But to be honest, chai is best when kept simple. Cooked on the stove and scented with cardamom (optional), chai is made with part milk part water. I’ve been making my chai this way and swear by it. Amongst my friends, I am the chai master, so this cup is worth hanging around the stove for.
While visiting Karachi a few months ago, I sat at a dhaba close to my house every single night, on plastic chairs, hot glasses of chai in hand. And because of the cool winter nights, I came back home unscathed (from mosquito attack and all else, if you know what I mean).
2 tsp loose tea (Tapal or Lipton from an Indian grocery store only)
1-1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
3-4 green cardamom pods
In a saucepan over medium heat, pour milk and water and let it come to a simmer.
Next add the loose tea and give it a quick stir.
Once the color changes to brown, add sugar and the opened (or lightly crushed) cardamom pods
Now turn the flame a little higher and let the chai bubble and cook for 3-4 minutes. The milk won't split but make sure you do it on medium heat. Cooking the chai will make it richer and creamier, and deeper in color.
I don’t make soups all that often at the apartment. Usually, I throw down some tacos or a quick old-fashioned chicken curry with all the Pakistani spices to get myself out of a pickle on a work day. Honestly it’s more out of sympathy for my poor brother than anything. But when I make something good, I make it a lot of times until I tire from it. This Clam Chowder proudly simmers about twice a week in my apartment. Yes, I use canned clams for convenience and yes I cut corners, but I would totally scrub scrub scrub 3 lbs of fresh clam shells, boil it in salted water if i didn’t work and read books all day with bottomless mimosas…eh coffee in my case. But I’m being practical. Regardless, this chowder is delicious and thick and smells wonderful.
You are really just opening some canned clams, chopping some veggies, pouring some juice, adding some cream and before you know it, you’ll be chowing down on this chowder! But I don’t know which of my soups I like the best because I have a killer Chicken Tortilla Soup here that will knock your socks off.
At the time of filming this video, it was 80 degrees outside–temperature that definitely doesn’t warrant standing before a hot stove to cook soup. But if weather deterred me from making soup on a hot day, I wouldn’t take my coffee extra hot at the coffee shops I frequent. So my solution is to turn up the AC to full blast and get cooking. And just to be in the spirit of the changing “season,” I’ll throw on the coziest knitted sweatshirt because there is nothing like holding a warm bowl in hands gloved loosely with the sleeves of your sweatshirt. If the weather is particularly overcast, I would pull away my blinds, turn on some nostalgia-evoking classic movie and enjoy this bowl of comfort.
Now about this soup, I must admit with a great deal of humility that this chicken tortilla soup is very different from the ones I have tried at restaurants. The roasted pepper adds a wonderful smoky flavor and the tart tomatillos balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes and sweet onion. And of course, the spices are there to bring all these flavors together in holy matrimony... or something like that.
Also, I am happy to report that the heat is finally letting up now. My a/c is turned off, so aside from me clicking way on my laptop and the fridge slumbering away in the kitchen, the night is pretty quiet and cozy. I've slipped on that cozy sweatshirt for real this time, too. The only thing that makes sense right now is to pour some of that amazing soup and build a canopy of tortilla strips!
A chicken Tortilla Soup that will make you want to cozy up in front of the TV watching some classics!
Author: Rookie With A Cookie
Recipe type: Soup
1 lb chicken breast
¼ tsp each cumin powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper (roasted on stove and chopped)
4 tomatillos, husk removed and chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes in jalapenos (OR diced tomatoes in chilli, OR just diced tomatoes if you can't find the other two AND ½ of a jalapeno pepper deseeded and chopped)
5 cups chicken stock
1 15 oz can black beans
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 corn tortillas
coriander leaves for garnish
Sprinkle chicken breast with cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and rub evenly.
In a saucepan with high sides, add about a tbsp of oil and cook the chicken on high flame until brown on both sides. Remove to a clean plate. *The chicken doesn't need to be fully cooked right now.*
To roast the green bell pepper, simply place it directly on the burner with the flame on. Rotate the bell pepper until the skin is charred and you get black spots around it. Remove from burner. Let cool for a few minutes, then chop.
In the same saucepan in which you seared the chicken, throw in chopped onion, bell pepper and chopped tomatillo. Sautee the vegetables until soft, about 2-3 minutes on medium heat.
Next, add garlic, stir, then add in cumin and cayenne pepper.
Stir the vegetables really well until they're coated in the spices.
Next, tip in the can of diced tomatoes in jalapeno along with the chicken stock and black beans.
Squeeze the juice from one lime and let the soup come to a boil.
Once the soup is bubbling, immerse the half-cooked chicken breast into the soup and turn the flame to medium-low and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes.
Remove the chicken from the soup to a clean plate and shred it thinly.
To thicken the soup, ladle half the soup into a blender and puree until smooth.
Pour this back into the soup along with the shredded chicken and let the soup simmer for about 5 minutes.
To make the tortilla strips, cut corn tortilla length wise.
Next, heat up a few tablespoons of oil in a pan for frying. Add in your tortilla strips and fry them until they are golden brown and crispy. Remove them to a kitchen towel.
To assemble, ladle the soup into a bowl, add shredded cheese, crushed tortilla strips, and a few cilantro leaves. Serve warm and become a couch potato!