December 18, 2010 Saturday- Day 12
Lazy leisurely day. Lunch was normal; daal, salan and roti. Simple. In the evening, we were invited out for dinner to my Dad's friends place. They have a new cook who is great at Chinese food. I was looking forward to the meal all evening. Chinese food in Karachi is delicious. It is the right mix of flavor with a good amount of spice thrown in. Also, I suspect, the use of Ajinomoto or chinese salt (MSG) is quite common and keeping all the negative effects in mind, it does impart a particular something to the food. So, for dinner we had fried rice, fish in tamarind sauce, pineapple chicken and noodles. All were delicious and some wine was much savored.
Another Sunday tradition is the beach. I love, love Karachi beach. The journey through the traffic, the financial area and the truck stops eases up as soon as you start nearing the coastline. The air becomes balmy, the light softens and the mood mellows. The dirt road seem to be leading into nowhere but soon, from afar, you see the 'huts' (fully built houses) lining the coast. Many bumps and jumps later, we arrived at our hut. It was a lovely day. Soaked up the sun and breathed in deeply, chatted, went for a long walk and then a jeep ride. Snacked the whole day on Paradise sandwiches, chips, French Bakery patties, Sind Club cookies and, of course, a few cold ones. As it started getting dark, we built a bonfire, huddled around and let the magic of the night sky and sound of the waves wash over us. These magical moments are what make Karachi.
Crazy, busy day. My sister arrived with her kids and the little monkeys ran all around the place, amusing everyone and generally creating a ruckus. The menu of the day was kumdah (pumpkin), kurkuri bhindi (crispy okra), shami kabab, aloo salan (meat and potato curry) and daal.
The name translates as crispy okra. The dish is served as a side and usually accompanies daal and rice. I avoid deep-fried foods mostly but melt when confronted with this delicious combination of crunchy, salty and spicy. It is an easy recipe and, when eaten in moderation, nourishing. Wash and pat dry 1 lb. okra. Cut into small pieces. In a bowl, toss the okra with 1 tbsp. chaat masala, 1 tsp. cayenne powder, 1 tsp. garam masala, juice of one lemon and salt to taste. Set aside. Now, thinly slice a medium onion and fry in a hot wok till golden brown and crispy. Remove the onion and drain on a kitchen towel. Keep the wok hot. Sprinkle the okra with chickpea flour till lightly dusted and add to the hot oil. Deep fry till crisp. Remove and drain on a kitchen towel. Once drained, move to a serving dish and mix with the crunchy onions. If desired, the final serving can be tossed with some more chaat masala and lemon juice. Serve immediately.