Sunday is pulao day in our house. Since I can remember, we have had some variation of a rice casserole dish for lunch on this day. Today was yakhni pulao. Yakhni refers to stock, usually chicken but can also be beef and pulao is, ofcourse, another variation on pillaf. So, we had beef pulao with chicken kababs and raita (yogurt sauce). After my morning routine, we settled down to a leisurely lunch.
In the evening, we were driving down an open road with the lightly-hued Karachi skyline stretching in front of us when I noticed a flock of birds flying across our line of vision. Soon it was followed by another flock till we noticed that the whole sky was full of birds, some in V formations, some not but always with a definitive leader, flying in the same direction. They were migratory birds. It was an awesome sight. This city reveals flashes of nature when most unexpected. I called my father-in-law in the evening and he invited me out to bbq dinner at his friends. I happily accepted and had a great time. His group of friends are mostly ex-naval officers and have many tales to regale a new person. The food was very meat heavy; kababs, chicken tikka, sauteed spicy kidneys, at least 2 variations of yogurt sauce, potato dish and of course, lots of wine. I had a merry time and came home smiling.
December 13, 2010 Monday- Day 7
Had a light lunch of delicious bhindi (okra) and daal. In the evening, dropped by at my aunt's for dinner and ate karhi, again a variation on yogurt and fritters, this time delicately flavored with red chillies and turmeric.
|White peacock (courtesy Maple Rose_stock)|
Again, the food is very similar to the past few days; lunch was chicken curry, medley of cauliflower, carrots and peas and sauteed squash and dinner was ground meat with bell peppers and turnip sabzi. It does sounds boring and repetitive but I am eating to my heart's content. An incredible thing happened today, we were driving on the same road as last time when I saw the birds and this time we came across two peacocks! One was white and the other was the more commonly seen emerald and blue color. They were just sauntering along on the side of the road! Really was the most random but joyous sight. Bizarre flashes of nature.. as I said, only in this crazy city!
december 15, 2010 Wednesday- Day 9
Today is the 8th of Muharram. The day today is dedicated to Abbas, the flag-bearer and defender of the group. Additionally, he was known for his towering physique and refined good looks and is held dear by many Shias. The activities from today build up and peak on the 10th. After that, the more strict Shias carry on mourning till another 30 days, while the moderates ease up. The day was filled with activity and visiting various majlises and homes. The biggest gathering for us is at my aunt's place. The highlight of the day is that the children of the family carry in the flags into the imambarah. They are the little flag-bearers. This is a generations old tradition; my mother remembers the days when she used to carry hers. So, lunch was a light helping of daal gosht (lentils with meat) but as the day went on, the list of hisas was neverending; sheermal, naan kabab, samosa, etc. Dinner was a niaz; prayers are read on particular foods and then shared within a group. The food is considered blessed. The traditional foods are: paratha (pan-fried bread), kabab or pasandey, halwa and a salad of onion, white radish, ginger and mint. These offerings are accompanied by sherbet of some sort. Well, we were invited to two niazes and of course, I had to taste at both places. Delicious. Groan.
This is another variation on the yogurt and fritters combination although this dish is more elaborate (the yogurt is made into a gravy) and always eaten as a main dish. Whip 2 cup of yogurt until smooth and creamy. Add 1/2 cup chickpea flour, 1 medium onion chopped, 1/4 tsp. turmeric, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/2 tsp. ground garlic, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, juice of one lemon, salt to taste. Combine the ingredients by gradually adding water (about 1 cup) and keep mixing into a smooth paste. Pour the mixture into a pan and cook covered on medium-low heat for about 2 hours. Add water as necessary over this period of time to ensure the right gravy consistency. Keep stirring. Separately, combine 11/2 cup chickpea flour with 3/4 cup water in a mixing bowl and whip thoroughly with a silicon spatula ensuring that no lumps remain. To this add, 1 medium chopped raw onion, 2-3 sliced green chillies, 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, a pinch of baking powder and salt. Mix again and let sit to settle. When the gravy is almost cooked, it is time to make the fritters. Scoop up a spoonful and drop into a wok of hot oil. Cook till golden brown, remove from the oil and directly drop into the yogurt mixture. Continue the process till all the batter is used up. Turn off heat and remove. For the tempering, add 2 tbsp. oil to a preheated pan. Throw in 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds, 1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 2 cloves garlic sliced, whole red chillies split in half and 5-6 curry leaves. Let the mixture sizzle and the garlic turn golden, then pour over the main dish and cover to smoke. Serve with white basmati rice.