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I first tried Greek Moussaka at a friend’s place and immediately fell for it. She was kind enough to share the source and recipe. It is a complete meal on its own and I love the fact that it is a perfect side dish to out otherwise main course eastern dishes.
Is Greek Moussaka Healthy/Low carb/ Keto?
Well, in my opinion most of the recipe can be made healthy by some little changes. The Bachemal sauce can be made
using cream and cheese in combination with eggs to make the rich sauce for layering. Hence it can be keto friendly.
Is Moussaka Turkish or Greek?
When I heard and made, it was called Greek Moussaka and various sources suggest that it is not a Turkish but Greek dish though it is found in Turkish cuisine also. I have added my desi twists by making mince more spicy and added crushed red chilli in sauce.
What to serve with Greek Moussaka?
A salad is best, some garlic bread is perfect with a soup to complete the meal. Talking in terms of brunches and dinners, its a great main course. You can even make ahead and bake it on the day of serving.
Recipe uses same mince meat and cheesy white sauce which can be found here.
Now on to the recipe:
An excellent nutritious dish that can be customized as per health requirements
Almond Biscotti is one of my favorite recipes and it took me long to post because I couldn’t click decent pictures. Biscotti reminds me of my brother in law who love these and buys big containers from costco. Once it was empty and I baked and filled it up. When he saw, he was surprised how it got refilled because he couldn’t distinguish between store bought and home made.
What is Biscotti?
Biscottis are Italian version of our desi cake rusk only with less fat/butter. They are perfect to dip in your tea or coffee and won’t betray you by breaking and slipping away in it.
They are twice baked cookies hence the extra crispness.
Almond Biscotti – Flavors and Variations
The variations also are infinite. You keep the base recipe same and add in anything you fancy like coconut, chocolate chips, nuts, dry fruit etc. I have a separate post for chocolate biscottis also which you can find here.
This recipe also yields a big batch so you can make on weekend and enjoy them rest of the week, perfect for lunch boxes. The entire recipe has 4 tablespoon of butter and is primarily an egg based recipe. I want to try with whole-wheat also but for now this is my go-to recipe.
How to store almond bisctotti?
They keep extremely well upto a week in an air-tight container. I feel they get only matured in flavor with time. I find them really nice for kids lunch boxes.
Now lets make it.
A staple for lunch boxes, teas and coffees, this Italian version of our Desi twice baked cookies called cake rusk are relatively less in fat and sugar.
Everyone is in a fix for healthier recipes, easy to make quick snacks and make ahead treats. This healthy strawberry recipe which is basically strawberry muffins made with whole wheat flour and oats are excellent nutrients packed and can be easily categorized as healthiest muffin. No sugar, no refined flour, no butter ticking all the boxes of a healthy treat.
I am a big fan of muffins owing to its simple process and possible variations. I have posted my go to muffins recipes on the blog and you can find them here.
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour (aata)
1/3 cup whole/old fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil/vegetable oil
1/3 cup honey
1 cup greek yogurt/regular yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
1 cup strawberries (leaf removed,washed and diced)
silvered almond slices to sprinkle
Line the muffin tray with 12 cupcake liners and preheat the oven at 350 F.
Whisk all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl except strawberries and almonds.
Whisk all the wet ingredients, eggs, yogurt, oil,honey and vanilla.
Mix the dry ingredients with wet until just combined. Do not beat. Few lumps are ok.
Fold in strawberries.
Place 1/3 cup of batter with the help of a scoop in the muffin tray.
Sprinkle almonds on top.
Bake for 20 minutes until light brown on top.
Ok, so long requested recipe is here. Read it till end and I have included make ahead tips as most of you asked. Halwa Puri and Tarkari is not a only a traditional Pakistani specially Karachi’s breakfast but this is something which I grew with. You can find amazing Halwa Pooris in every corner of Karachi and it is hard to rate them because they all are amazing. However, in the commercial setup, they make it with white flour/all purpose flour and roll out a little but mainly stretch with their hands before flipping in the hot oil in a huge wok.
My mom used to make Halwa Poori very often. Usually our home which was a joint family system had lot of guests. And I remember that as soon as they arrived downstairs (we used to live on first floor), my mom’s wok would be on stove and dough knead in literally 10 minutes along with potato tarkari(gravy). I used to feel perplexed because I did’nt quite like the idea of she working in the kitchen while guests are sitting but she managed everything so beautifully with little help from me and my sister that the guests used to enjoy the hot pooris with condiments like tarkari, halwa and mince/qeema, kebabs or even kheer immensly.
The great thing about homemade pooris are that they can be made from wholewheat flour aka aata. The trick is to knead the dough medium soft and fry in very hot oil. I have not measured what temperature but when you place your palms above the wok, you can feel the heat and smoke. That is the key to have blown/phooli pooris.
Now years later when I serve them, guests not only enjoy but its quite amusing to see that they are curious how. I am a rebel Pakistani girl and I just do’nt like making rotis/chapatis and parathas not because they are time consuming but because of the sheer mess. The particles of flour really wreck my borderline OCD nerves. Give me Puris and I will make them happily. Another great thing about these pooris are that its dough can be used to make parathas and roghni roti. Quite versatile. Potato gravy/Aloo tarkari is really simple and everyone owns a recipe that just works well.
So lets talk about Halwa next. I like halwas/roughly fudge in English but since most of them take a lot of time bhoono/stirring, I always chicken out. But this one is exceptional. It is prepared in a jiffy and is match made in heaven for pooris. I am adding lot of tips in the recipe card so you can achieve traditional look and taste.
Making ahead tips
I recommend making poori aata atleast an hour ahead, covered with a damp cloth in a box so it does not become dry. You can even do it a night before you want to serve.
When your guests are due to arrive, you can make small balls/pairay and keep them covered again with damp cloth and in a box.
Your wok should be ready with oil filled to almost half mark.
Woks with a rounded bottom seems to work better and give required space to pooris to fluff up.
I have not experimented with freezing the rolled out pooris or dough as yet but I am planning to do. So may be you wanna comeback after a month or so and check if I have updated the post.
You can roll out pooris and lay them on big trays but again if they weather is too dry, they will get dry and if it is too humid they might become too soft to handle. So you might want to experiment if that works for you.
Tarkari is easy as is but if you are serving in the morning or next day, you can place all ingredients in a sauce pan/pot and refrigerate till required. It just takes 20 mins for the potatoes to get tender so plan accordingly.
Halwa can be made ahead as well and just needs to be microwaved/warmed prior to serving.
The above pictures are from the brunches I hosted in which I made Halwa Poori. I did a detailed post on how to host one efficiently step by step with sample menus and ideas. Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
Poori Halwa and Tarkari
A traditional staple breakfast from Karachi, Pakistan
2 medium potatoes, washed, peeled and cut in big squares
1 teaspoon cumin (zeera)
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (kalongi)
1 teaspoon mustard seeds (rai)
1 cup water
salt according to taste
1 teaspoon red chillies
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
For the Poori
In a large bowl put flour and salt. Add Ghee/oil and mix with your hands witll combined.
Start adding water slowly till it all comes together and forms a medium soft dough. The dough is the key which will allow you to use the dough without any additional flour or oil.
Place it covered with a damp towel in an air tight container for about 1 hour. You can skip the damp towel if you are in a humid environment.
Place a large walk filled with vegetable oil almost half full and heat.
Make small balls from the dough about half the size of roti/chapati.
Roll out with a rolling pin. We are aiming for 4 inches in diameter pooris.
Deep fry and with a slotted spoon slightly press the pooris so they are completely immersed in the oil and starts to puff up. Immediately turn and fry for another 10 seconds. The pooris should not take more than 20 seconds in total to get color and puff up.
For the Halwa
Place sugar and water in a pan and heat till sugar dissolves. Heat till it starts to splutter.
Add suji/semolina in a pan on low heat and keep stirring until semolina is fragrant. No need to change its color.
Then add the sugar syrup, all at once. Cook for 3-5 minutes*
Remove from stove and place in serving dish.
Garnish with almonds pistachios if required.
For the Tarkari
Place all the ingredients in a pot.
Give it a boil and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes till potatoes are tender.
Mash a little before serving.
*If the smolina is coarse, it will take more time, if it is fine, it will take less time.
In continuation to my last post “How to host a stress-free brunch“, this is part 2 “Brunch Menu Ideas” as promised, in which I am giving you some tried, tested, workable and appreciated menu combinations which are winner for sure. Links to recipes can be found in the end.
Also make sure, you scroll till the end to find a downloadable chalkboard image and how to make a quick menu online.
While designing the menu, keep in mind the following things. So, let us get started.
Ideally there should be couple of meat dishes (mince meat and boneless chicken is better) and few vegetarian dishes.
Menu should be combination of hot and cold items. I avoid fry items but if at all I keep one maximum for manageability.
Couple of baked items makes life easier as mostly they can be baked ahead and can be served warm.
A salad, some finger food and a couple of heavy/filling items makes the menu complete.
It is advisable to label each item, even if its a folded craft paper. This not only adds aesthetics but also keeps people from guessing specially if they have special dietary needs. Once I just place quarter doilies on a card holder.
Always, set table in groups, like mains together, and in order, appetizer, mains and sides.
Make sure whatever you serve is easily eaten. If there are wooden picks on aaloo bonday, small individual bowls under deviled eggs, chicken rolls are served wrapped and in a warmer, bun kebabs are cut in half etc. people are more likely to eat it. Like this gol gappay shots, were a huge hit and vanished in a matter of minutes.
You can also draw some fun graphics, like chillies for spicy, capsicum for vegetarian dishes etc.
You can even put up a menu on a white/black board.
Desserts and Drinks
Desserts should be a combination of a cold dessert, some kind of cake and cookies to go with tea/coffee.
For drinks, you can choose from infused water, to lemonade, cocktails, mocktails. My standard go-to drink is any fruit juice mixed with white fizzy drink. There is no right or wrong, you can add mint leaves, citrus fruits slices, chopped up apples etc. Last time I served Mint Yogurt Lassi which was very refreshing for a hot day. Do not keep drinks like smoothies and pina coladas which are heavy and can be quite filling before even food is served.
Mouth fresheners take hardly 5 minutes to put together and they add such a nice touch in the end. Store-bought options are great but you can dry roast equal quantity of fennel (saunf), desiccated coconut, and add either sugar crystals (misri) or granulated sugar.
Alternately, you can go to the category “Brunch” on www.bakefresh.net and you will find all related possible options and recipes. Quick Link here.
This is one time exercise and next time, you just go to Canva and make edits in your design according to the menu. For designing menu to be placed as a decoration, you can download the jpg file here and then follow the following steps.
Either choose any of over 800+ templates and customize or remove all the design and add the jpg file you downloaded and then add the menu. Different fonts in Text menu on left are available and you can plan around with them.
Alternately, you can go to this google doc, download and edit as per your requirement.
There are so many free lables templates according to your theme and party. Just do a quick Google search and hit images. Write “Free labels template download” and you would get many options.
I have also compiled a simple labels file which can be found here. You can edit them and add menu items in Google Docs.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This will come as a shocker for those who know me from quite a while and my mom will give this scornful look because I gave her not so good times when it came to breakfast. But in my defense, people change and if that change is for good then well, pat on the back. From a pepsi on empty stomach to without sehri fasting, I have come a long way. Lesson learnt before any lesson actually so thankyou Allah mian. I have realized a couple of things about breakfast, it sets your mood for the day, it keeps you full and less hungry for the entire day, you are more productive, energetic and alert. But healthy nutritious breakfast is a must. (sorry halwa puri won’t cut ;)).
My mornings have always been crazy, if it was not for rushing to school, college, university, it was office later on and then since I had kids, the crazy got a whole new meaning. Usually what I make for kids breakfast and lunch boxes, I save some for myself to have it later when they leave. Sometimes when I have time and mood to treat myself, I would do some overnight oats, granola parfait or make roghni roti with khageena like my mum makes (though its nowhere close to hers).During vacation and traveling also, I always try to opt for breakfast options in hotels because it keeps the sanity intact for the long day ahead.
Muffins are such a grab and go breakfast option, looks and sounds stylish and can be packed with all necessary nutrition. Contrary to cupcakes, they are supposed to be healthy and wholesome. In the same quest, I tried these chocolate banana muffin topped with oats crumble with no refined sugar or flour in a jumbo muffin pan I had bought a longtime back. They turned out such delicious bombs and are not boring at all. You can also freeze them and can be a great healthy treat anytime. Also as like all muffins, they are super easy to make with just one step of combining dry and wet ingredients together with a hand whisk. So here goes the recipe.
For D-I-Y muffin liners, check notes in the end.
Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana Muffins
A healthy chocolate banana jumbo muffin packed with nutrition with no refined sugar and flour
2 bananas* mashed and over ripe (we need about a cup of mashed bananas)
1/4 cup coconut oil**
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup buttermilk*** or yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup whole wheat flour****
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup whole oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cold butter
handful of walnuts crushed
For the Muffins
Combine bananas,yogurt,oil,egg,honey and vanilla with a whisk.
Combine flour,cocoa powder,baking soda,baking powder,salt with a whisk in a separate bowl.
Mix the two together with a whisk just until combined.
Line the jumbo muffin pan for 6 with liners or 12 regular muffin pan.
For jumbo muffins, pour half cup of batter in each and for regular, pour 1/3 cup in each.
For the Crumble
Combine flour,oats and sugar.
Rub in butter till it resembles bread crumbs.
Equally divide and top the muffins with this crumble.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400 F for 5 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350F for another 15 minutes.
The size of the muffins will impact on baking time. Jumbo will take more time than regular ones.
*We need about 1 cup of mashed bananas. If your bananas are over ripe and you cant use them that day, peel and freeze them in a box. Thaw before mashing. Remove excess water.
**Any other vegetable oil with milk flavor like canola or sunflower or even melted butter
***Buttermilk is laban in Middle East and can be substituted by yogurt or homemade buttermilk. Simple take 1 cup of regular full fat milk and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar and let it stand for 5 minutes.
For the DIY parchment liner bakery style, take 6×6 inches of non greasy parchment or baking paper of good quality. For the regular muffin pan, take 5×5 inches. Place it on a inverted glass. The glass should easily fit into the muffin cavity. Press and wrap the centered paper and let the natural creases take their shape by smoothing with the hands.
Some memories are instantly revived. With these cookies, I remember my Naani’s home (maternal grandmother), where we used to go for sleepovers on weekends. When all the cousins got some money from her to buy goodies. We used to buy these assorted bakery cookies being freshly baked.
I still go to Karachi’s best bakeries and try to recollect the same taste but usually its a miss for whatever reasons. The other day, while kids are vacationing at home, I tried to get them involved in the whole process of choosing, baking and shooting a recipe. They make a great giveaway too!
It is such a simple recipe yet yields rewarding result. It is like a cross between short bread and the rolled out cookies. Cookies are one of my favorite things to bake as they can so versatile. If you go here, you will find 14 cookies recipe and they all are love. With this one also you can pipe in different shapes and fill them with some jam, sandwich them with buttercream or ganache and so on. It has no leavening or flavoring agents hence imparts a pure distinctive buttery flavor. I have used icing sugar also known as powdered or confectioners sugar because of the desired delicacy of the cookie and also to be able to pipe them easily without clogging the nozzle. If you don’t have piping bag, you can try piping with zip lock bags with one end snipped off.
For now here is this cool recipe!
Easy Homemade butter cookies
a delicate and crispy piped cookies with only 5 ingredients
9 ounces or 250 grams butter - unsalted and room temperature
3/4 cup icing sugar/confectioner's sugar or powdered sugar*
2 and 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
Cream butter and sugar.
Add in egg.
Add in 2 and 1/4 cups of flour and beat until mixed. Check for consistency and adjust.**
Take out half the mixture and add cocoa powder to one half. Beat until mixed.
Fill in piping bag w=fitted with a large open star shape with white batter first.
Pipe in desired shape.
Repeat for chocolate batter, you can attach two batters or pipe them separately.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 F for 15-18 minutes until light gold in color.
Store after cooling in an airtight container for upto 5 days.
*Castor sugar or ground sugar is not recommended as it doesn't impart that melt in mouth texture and will cause problems while piping. Also commercial icing sugar has a little corn flour added which also contributes towards the final texture. If you don't have then you can use at home ground sugar but sift it a coupe of times and then measure and use.
*Every flour is different and has different levels of gluten and protein. This is the reason, you may or may not utilize the entire flour. So just don't add 1/4 cup and check if it requires more flour to be able to pipe easily.