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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Spicy Sunday

I was sitting with my Nani today, discussing the different spices that go into her basaar mix. Basaar is a mix of different spices, blended together into a perfect powdery mix that is used for any curry dish. People have asked me if I use curry powder, but I don’t even know what that is! I use basaar to get the perfect flavoring in any dish I create. Whether it be sabzi, chicken, daal, gosht, etc. Every dish has basaar as the secret ingredient. The recipe for basaar is so secret that, to this day, I’m not even sure how it’s made. My Nani is going to try to teach me next week, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a few lessons!

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Just a small sample of what goes into basaar!

 

Talking with Nani about all the different ingredients got me thinking about spices I know nothing about! As our family sat there Google searching Urdu to English and English to Urdu translations of different spices, I thought to myself, “I should really make a list.” So, here goes nothing! Keep in mind, these are not the ingredients for basaar. 

Ajwain – Carom Seed

Saunf – Fennel Seed

Hing – Asafoetida

Kali Mirch – Black Pepper

Jeera – Cumin

Elaichi – Cardamom

Daal Chini – Cinnamon

Laung – Cloves

Kasoori Methi – Dry Fenugreek Leaves

Methi Dana – Fenugreek Seeds

Deggi Mirch – A bright red chili powder. It adds a beautiful color to any dish.

Badiyan – Star Anise

Haldi – Turmeric

Javantri – Mace (I made a lot of jokes with this one today lol)

I’m no expert cook, but it’s good to know about different ingredients. A lot of the time, I only know the English or Urdu word for something, so a nice little list is handy!

What spices do you use on a regular basis? Tell me in the comments!

 

 

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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Desi Mom Hacks!

We’re all short on time. It’s just a fact of life. My kids love a homemade meal every single night, but it gets exhausting! Here are some of my favorite shortcuts when cooking (especially desi food!)

  • Soak kidney beans for at least two hours before cooking, then cook in the pressure cooker
  • Use pre-made ginger-garlic paste
  • Grind tomatoes so they will cook down faster
  • Marinate different meats and freeze for quick weeknight meals (lamb chops, chicken wings, legs, etc.)
  • Make dough for roti in the KitchenAid Mixer! (This is my favorite hack, and I have not made atta by hand in YEARS!)
  • Brown chicken while making the base (tarka)

 

What are some of your favorite hacks to get meals on the table faster?

 

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