Monday Masala – Lubna Habibi

Our Monday Masala series highlights female Pakistani entrepreneurs, business owners and bloggers. 

Today, we have the famous Chef Lubna Habibi of The Clay Oven! With two locations in New York, she’s busier than ever, but was kind enough to talk to us for Monday Masala!

FB_IMG_1538362113962 - Lubna Habibi

How did you get started in this business?

I loved to cook since I was a child. By profession, I was an electrical engineer. I started to cook for my coworkers and invite them over for dinner parties and my husband got tired of us constantly hosting and jokingly suggested to open a restaurant. The rest is history!

What does a typical day look like for you?

A day for me is always looking forward to the next day! People tell me I should slow down now that I’m 59 but I don’t have the term “slow down” in my dictionary. I love working a 14 hour day and I don’t see myself slowing down any time soon 🙂

When you are short on time, what are your go-to recipes or meals?

After 30 years in this business, you tend to manipulate every recipe into a 20 minute affair. My favorite is a quick and easy Tandoori Wings recipe that is super simple but very delicious!

What kitchen gadgets can you NOT live without?

A very good quality knife! You can do a lot of things in the kitchen with a great quailty knife!

What’s your favorite thing about your kitchen?

My incredible coworkers. We make a really great team and that makes everything flow really nicely!

Can you give us your favorite recipe?

Tandoori Chicken Wings

2 lbs wings

2 tablespoons garlic ginger paste

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 teaspoon cayenne paper

1 teaspoon paprika

4 tablespoons yogurt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Salt as your requirements

Marinate 2 hours then you can bake or BBQ.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then broil for 4 minutes to give a barbecued look. I love to do it on flame. This recipe was featured on Newsday and Channel 12.

Be sure to follow The Clay Oven on Facebook and Instagram!

 

The Clay Oven has two locations:

SMITHTOWN

863 W Jericho Turnpike

Smithtown, NY 11787

HAUPPAUGE

601 Veterans Memorial Hwy

Hauppauge, NY 11788

 

 

Click here if you are interested in being featured in our Monday Masala series!

 

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A Grandmother’s Love

Growing up, I was blessed to know and spend time with all of my grandparents. I had a special and different relationship with each of them.

Today, I am only left with my Nani. Nani and I have always had a special relationship. I don’t even call her Nani, but rather, Ummie. I try to spend as much time with her as possible, as I know what a blessing it is to have her in my life.

Friday night, I picked Nani up and brought her to my mom’s house. We love a Friday night sleepover and since I live right upstairs, it’s a great way for us all to get together. The next day, we made basaar together!

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Just some of the ingredients we used for basaar!

 

Now I realize everyone doesn’t know what basaar is, but I mentioned it in this post. It’s a Kashmiri spice mix. I’m not ready to share the entire recipe here, since I’m still learning (and Nani doesn’t measure ANYTHING!). We spent an hour toasting spices, grinding them up and mixing it all.

 

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A sample of the spices we ground up! Seen here: cinnamon, cumin, methi seeds and black elaichi seeds.

Part of the reason I wanted to learn Nani’s recipe was to have something of hers that I can have for the rest of my life. Nani is one of those people in my life that I can call whenever I want and ask her how to make something and she’ll tell me. She tells me even when I don’t ask her. We talk a lot about food and recipes, life, work and family. I can sit with her for hours watching cooking shows and judge them harshly, and then laugh hysterically afterwards.

Even when my grandmother scolds me, I know she does it from a place of love. And even though I’m almost 35 years old, I still listen to what she tells me to do. After I had my second daughter, she told me to eat lots of fruit and drink milk.

If you still have your grandparents in your life, treasure them. They are so full of wisdom, love and they have our past within them. So much of what we do in the kitchen has been passed down from our ancestors. Whether it be basaar, the way you cook daal or what kind of atta you use for roti, you have more history in the kitchen than you think.

On that note, I think we should end with the best advice my grandmother has ever given me and will apply to EVERYONE. “Cook with love, because if you don’t, nothing will taste good.”

 

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Monday Masala – TeaforTurmeric

On Mondays, we talk to Pakistani female entrepreneurs, bloggers and business owners. Today, we have Izzah from TeaforTurmeric!

Izzah’s blog is filled with delicious meals that are healthy, but don’t sacrifice the taste we have come to love.

Instant Pot Butter Chicken2 - Izzah - TeaForTurmeric
Seriously, this is the stuff dreams are made of. And it was made in an Instant Pot! http://www.teaforturmeric.com/2018/08/instant-pot-butter-chicken/

How did you get started in this business?

I started my blog a bit sporadically, not knowing how intense the online entrepreneurship journey would be. But now that I’m in it, I love every bit of it! I hope to continue it as a part of my career.

What does a typical day look like for you?

I’m a mom, so you can say it’s not as efficient in terms of work. But I do wake up early and that helps me get centered while getting some work done!

When you are short on time, what are your go-to recipes or meals?

Easy Masoor Dal (and it’s on the blog too), Chana Masala, and Fish

What kitchen gadgets can you NOT live without?

Rice Cooker, Instant Pot, Kitchen Aid..I’m all for simplifying life with kitchen tools!

What’s your favorite thing about your kitchen?

I have 2 pantries 😉

Can you give us your favorite recipe?

http://www.teaforturmeric.com/2016/11/easy-slow-cooker-nihari-beef-stew/

Thanks Izzah for participating in our Monday Masala series! Head over to her Instagram for some absolutely mouthwatering pics and show her your support!

 

Click here if you are interested in being featured in our Monday Masala series!

 

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The Perfect Kava to Kick Any Cold

Last year’s flu season in NYC was brutal. It was reported to be one of the deadliest on record. My family and I always get flu shots and try to implement healthy habits, especially as the weather gets worse. Simple things like washing hands with soap as soon as we come in, drinking lots of water and orange juice, eating fruits loaded with Vitamin C and taking our multivitamins every morning.

Even after all that, my husband still came down with the flu. My first instinct was to make kava.

Now, I didn’t really grow up drinking kava. Rather, my mom always made plain English tea for me when I was sick. I learned about kava when I was going to school in Pakistan and my Nana and Nani would make it whenever someone was sick.

I sent my husband to bed as soon as he showed me his diagnosis form from the urgent care and went straight into the kitchen. Luckily, I had everything I needed on hand.

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Here’s the recipe:

4 cups of water

4 black tea bags

1 lemon sliced

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 inch piece of ginger chopped

1 tablespoon of honey (to taste)

Add all ingredients to the pot (excluding honey) and boil for 10 minutes. Take out all ingredients and strain. I poured the kava into a carafe to keep warm and to have on hand. Add honey (or sugar if you prefer) to each individual cup.

My husband didn’t love the taste of this kava, but I thought it was yummy. And it made the whole apartment smell like fall. Who needs a candle when you have homemade kava brewing? I even gave a cup to my neighbor, who said he enjoyed it as well. And he’s not Pakistani.

What are some of your favorite recipes during flu season to help you keep healthy? Share in the comments!

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Chicken Stock for Beginners

With two daughters who are constantly getting sick in the winter and me trying to stave off whatever they have, soup is a staple in our house.

I have been trying to perfect my chicken stock for years. While it’s always been delicious, I’ve always craved that delicious golden color, much like the chicken noodle soup found in old-school kosher delis in Brooklyn.

I finally got it!

Chicken Stock
It’s taken me years to get my stock this color!

 

My local butcher shop had wings and I ran to get about 8 lbs. My family loves chicken wings, and I often marinate and freeze them for a quick weeknight dinner. This time, I saved all the wing tips for a special stock that I had been craving for over a week.

Want to know how I got this color? Read on:

2 lbs of wing tips, cleaned and dried

2 stalks of celery, including the leaves

2 carrots, peeled and washed

1 onion, peeled

2 tablespoons of Vegeta

 

Place all the ingredients in an 8 quart stock pot. Fill with cold water. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer.

I cooked the stock for 6 hours, but you can always leave it on longer.

The taste was so rich in collagen and chicken-y goodness, I think it knocked out whatever was ailing my husband. Plus, it makes you feel all warm inside.

 

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Gajar ka Halwa

I’ve spoiled my family with homemade Pakistani cooking almost every single night. While I don’t mind it, I’m always on the hunt for new and exciting recipes that might satisfy everyone’s palate!

I have a slow cooker and my first thought was to make chili. But, I’m pretty sure my crew will not eat it. So now what?

I’ve made kheer and gajar ka halwa. These are definitely NOT up my alley. I’m not a Pakistani sweets girl. Give me chocolate cake any day of the week! These are for Chaudhry (not his real name), who loves a good old-fashioned “sweet dish”.

Gajar ka Halwa
Not the most beautiful pic, but hubs and father in law enjoyed it!

There are lots of great gajar ka halwa recipes online, but here is the one that worked best for me. I’m sure I’ll end up tweaking it at some point.

10 carrots, grated

2 cans of evaporated milk

1/2 cup of whole milk

2 cans of sweetened condensed milk

 

I don’t add any sugar, because the sweetened condensed milk is quite sweet. If you would like to add sugar, I would remove one can of condensed milk and add 1/2 a cup of sugar.

 

I add all ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 8 hours. If the halwa gets dried before then, just add a little more milk. Once the halwa is done, sauté in a little bit of ghee for 5 minutes. This adds shine and flavor to the halwa.

Serve with slice almonds or pistachios for decoration. (Obviously, I didn’t get that far, since hubs devoured it before I could get to the store for the add ons!)

 

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