Thursday, 22 March 2018

Salad with a Maple Vinaigrette

Maple Vinaigrette Salad

Reminds me of a breakfast salad with all the smoked meat turkey/bacon egg  mushroom tomato combination! But it is hearty, refreshing and has a ton of flavour. Make it your own and add what you wish. 

Maple Vinaigrette
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp orange juice or a squeeze of lemon/lime
Shake or mix together before drizzling.

500 gms mixed salad leaf
4 eggs, hard boiled and sliced or diced
3 strips of smoked meat 
1 cup of mushrooms diced
1 tomato sliced 
6 olives, thickly sliced

Wash and dry the salad leaf.
Boil the eggs and prepare them, salt and pepper them. 
Pan fry the smoked meat and when it is almost done add the mushrooms and saute them. Add a touch of butter if you need more fat.
Prepare the tomatoes and olives.

Toss all of this together. Drizzle the maple syrup vinaigrette.
Toss lightly and serve.

You can add cucumber and also substitute tomatoes for fresh orange segments.
Add a handful of diced cheddar. Pick your favourite sort of olives and increase the amount as needed.

While this is such a versatile recipe the key ingredients that makes it special is the maple syrup and smoked meat. Bacon or Turkey Bacon works best.

For Parsi Food recipes click The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Navroze ~ Persian New Year

March 2018

Navroze or "New Day" in Farsi marks the first day of the Spring Equinox for the Northern Hemisphere, which falls on March 20th/21st each year. It reminds us that the cold is coming to an end and it's time to cleanse our homes that have remained closed over the wintry days, a new year to start afresh. The occasion is celebrated with friends, families, and neighbours, sharing what we are forunate enough to have with others

Navroze is a celebration of good health, happiness and prosperity, thought to be celebrated by over 190 million people worldwide, particularly by those from the Middle East and Central and South Asia.

The Haftseen table is a symbolic tribute to the seven creations of the universe; fire, water, air, earth, metal, the plant and animal kingdom. It thanks the universe for what we have and pray for continuity in the days to come. It is called Haftsheen or Haftseen, where 7 items start with the sound 'S' or 'Sh' are placed on the table alongside other symbols. 

Sumac - dried berry powder represents sunrise
Semanu - sweet semolina pudding 
Seb - apple representing health and beauty
Sabzi - greens or lentils representing life and rebirth
Seer - garlic representing health 
Senjed - olives representing love
Serkeh - vinegar representing age and patience

The table usually features candles, a mirror, coins, flowers, painted eggs, nuts and dry fruit, and gold fish in addition to the main 7 'S's.

Originating in the Persian Empire centuries ago when King Jamshed the Great declared this day as Jamshedi Navroze, the table continues to be a tradition in modern-day Iran, and other Middle Eastern and Central and South Asian countries, and of course amongst their diaspora around the world. 

The table and its offerings are a celebration of life. A thanksgiving for the abundant creations of nature and the universe, and a reflection on and appreciation of the beauty of all things around us.

The Western world in its own small way of recognition has declared this date as Poetry Day and United Nations Day. Some refer to it as International Day of Happiness.

I am guessing this date its not quite the same for the people in the Southern Hemsiphere, where its the Autumnal Equinox. But, hey you can't possibly have it all. There is always an exception to every rule.

My HaftSheen Table with the sharab/wine was for entertainment, siir which is garlic, sikka  which is the coin represents wealth, saeb the apple, sonbol the hyacinth plant life, rosewater, While the mirror reflects creation and remembering to look at one self and smile while making a wish for the upcoming year. The prayer book and candles placed for each member of the family.
Milk was placed for nourishment while a box or a shemshad represented wealth. A goldfish /Pisces placed in a bowl of water represented the end of  our astrological year . In ancient Persia people also floated an orange in a bolw to represence the earth as part of the universe.


It has been centuries since the Advent of Spring was marked universally.
After all its a celebration where we are thankful for all "life'' ; animal, plant and ourselves. It respects the elements of our planet; air, wind, water, fire and metal. Come join in by preparing a feast for the family or simply sharing a meal with your neighbour. A gesture of kindness and some zest for living has never hurt anyone. Be blessed. 🙏

A program called 'sharing and caring' has been set up to create an awareness of our heritage and traditions.  Preparing home made sweets to share with neighbours.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Mushrooms in Puff Pastry

Mushrooms in a Puff Pastry

While its simple to make the mushroom filling, serving anything in a puff pastry can be rather elegant. If rolled out pastry is not available to you, its simple to roll it out from a block. Make sure its old to touch, that the room is not too hot when you are working, and use a little flour both on the surface and the rolling pin. Roll it out on the parchment paper so you can lift it up and place on the tray without a chance to break it. Alternately  use vol au vents, party shells, filo cups etc.

This will make a filling for two rolls and can serve upto 16 persons with a full menu

1kg sliced mixed mushrooms
2 oz butter salted
2 oz oilve oil 
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
Add to it 1/4 cup of Port
pinch of salt
2 sauteed leeks
300 gms of cream cheese, preferably garlic and herbed flavour.

2 sheets ready to use puff pastry
An egg, egg yolk, cream or milk for the ''wash''

Melt  and heat the butter and olive oil. Add the chopped leeks. Saute until soft and add the mixed mushrooms, the thyme, port and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook well  for about 20 minutes. Give it a stir, remove the cover and  allow all the liquid to evaporate. Cool completely.
Add the cream cheese and mix it in with a spoon. Divide it in half and fill the rolled out puff pastry sheets.
Fold in the sides, bring the bottom to fold up and bring down the top to fold over the bottom. Turn it over, on a baking sheet on a butter paper; ensuring the seam is down.
Apply an eggwash, or milk/cream wash.
Make two slits on each roll. 

Bake on 400F preheated for 30 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
Serve immediately.

If your cream cheese is plain, add two tsps of fresh herbs that are finely chopped and one crushed clove of garlic. 
Slicing the cooked pastry with a pizza cutter is the simplest.
Keep the creamcheese at room temperature to help it mix easily.
If the mushroom mixture is not fairly stiff refrigerate it for 30 minutes. The mixture will melt and ooze out if it is runny or too thin.
Always thaw puff pastry in the refrigerator overnight.
It should be cold to touch when you are working with the pastry.
Ready to use rolled out pastry is available in many stores.

For Parsi Food and recipes click on The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Photo Courtesy Mehreen B

Monday, 5 March 2018

Seafood Chowder

Seafood Chowder

While there are many variations of a New England Clam Chowder, soups depend on the stock or broth one uses for the base. Here I have used a vegetable stock which I put together with some boquet garni, a few root vegetables like garlic, carrot, onion and celery with a tsp of salt. Bring it to a boil and simmer it for up to 3 hours. 
Using fresh seafood makes it par excellence. Using frozen seafood is at best mediocre. Use a fish head if you wish, or fish bones to enhance the flavour especially if you are not using a variety of shell fish. Adding small pieces of lobster, crab whatever you find locally makes it exceptional.
There are so many options, add what you love best. 

Melt in a pot
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium very finely chopped onion
pinch of brown sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp white pepper powder
1/4 cup of finely chopped smoked meat ( bacon, turkey, chorizzo )
Saute` this until it is lightly browned takes about 7 minutes
add a medium potato, peeled and diced

Add 4 cups good vegetable stock.

Bring it to a boil, cover, lower the flame and simmer for 40 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Once it is thick and consistency you desire, add any or all of the following. 

Optionally add any or all of the following
1/4 cup ice brandy
1/4 cup cream at room temperature
1 large handful of  fresh chopped mixed herbs
1 finely diced carrot
1 finely diced stick of celery

Bring all of this to a boil and add the seafood.

Preparing the seafoodWash and add  1 lb/500 gms mixed seafood of choice. Sprinkle them with a touch of salt and saffron. Freshly squeeze a lemon all over. Toss and keep aside. Fresh mussels, clams, shrimp, prawn etc. (Discarding any open shell fish); Keep only the firmly shut ones.
Once added to the boiling chowder, cover the lid and cook for up to 3 minutes until shellfish is done. Give the pot a good shake let it rest for 5 minutes and serve immediately for best results.


Eat only the open clams and mussles discarding the ones that are still closed. 

Buy the shell fish on the day of use or leave overnight on a bed of ice in the refrigerator.

Only wash and remove the beards with a scissors a few minutes prior to cooking. Do not leave aside for more than 5 minutes without  an ice bath, The mussels and clams will start opening up in the warmth of the kitchen and will need to be discarded. Beards are the thread like structures that are often found stuck in the shell.

Ice brandy is a white clear brandy available in any liquor store. Optionally use white rum or some sherry or even gin.

White Pepper is the perfect accompaniment of a chowder and enhances the flavours. 

You can serve black pepper at the table.

Slices of crisp  or garlic bread may be enjoyed to dunk into the chowder.

For recipes from the Parsi Food repertoire click The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

French Macaron

French Macarons

Macarons are said to be a rage of the 21st Century  and seem to be "The Gift" to present at a wedding or a special event. Initiated to fame by the French Cuisine, these delicate bites of goodness are light, airy and simply melt in your mouth. 

The perfect French Macaron is dry at the touch and soft and gooey from the center. 

Italian by origin, Macarons were made popular by the French who were living as asylum seekers in Italian Monasteries and Churches in the 1780's during the French Revolution.  (Although it seems there is a mention of the Macaron even earlier than this time period.)

Macarons are round circles, two pieces glued together with a thin film of sticky jam, jelly or ganache. My creation is to stick it with a cream cheese (It does taste just as divine) and an exclusive to Niloufer's Kitchen.

Basically macarons are made up of egg whites, sugar and almonds. Later on other European nations like The Netherlands and the United Kingdom substituted almonds with coconut. This makes them chewier but are not as airy and light. These are called Macaroons. They even changed the shape to a conical wavy mound to differentiate! Perhaps saving themselves from the 'whip'  of the Culinary World for imitation?

Most cookery schools courses on preparing Macarons but they are not as intimadating as they look and following the step by step instructions can bring you success the first time round.  You find them in every colour, flavour and edible filling possible. All major cities of culinary standing has at least one "Macaron Shop" worth its reputation. Toronto, Paris, London, Montreal and Florence having been on my tried and tested list so far.

Dab them in melted dark chocolate  if preferred, it tastes perfect with or without the Chocolate Ganache. Add some gel food colouring to make it your own. 

The Macaron Mat with 28 pieces

Macaron with a Rose Petal Jelly center.

Makes 28 Macaron pieces or 14 complete Macarons.

3 oz/85gm skinless almond slivers
1 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup fine grain white sugar
2 large egg whites at room temperature

gel colouring of choice
jam/ jelly/ cream cheese/ chocolate ganache for centers

Preheat the oven on 350F or 177 C
Lay out the Macaron sheet on a baking tray. Prepare a large icing bag with a plain nozzle by standing it in a tall bottle.

In a food processor grind together the slivered almond and icing sugar for 3 minutes. 
In a large bowl seive it out. Return the remaining almond and sugar left in the seive back to the food processor and repeat grinding it for another 2 minutes.
Seive it out and repeat one more time.
At the end there will be a few teaspoons left in the seive. Keep it aside to use in something else.

In the meantime, using a spoon vigorously mix the 2 egg whites and the fine grain sugar until it looks well mixed and foamy. Do this in your electric mixer bowl to avoid any wastage. Now attach the bowl to the mixer and start beating the eggs doing 3 minutes on low, 2 on medium and 3 more minutes on high. It will be glossy and shiny.
Now add the colour gel and all the dry seived ingredients. With a rubber spatula mix well lifting it up from the bottom and scraping it flat down. The idea is the incorporate all the dry ingredients well, while keeping the mixture smooth and shiny with the colour coming up as brightly as desired.
The end result will be a smooth thick mixture, ready to be filled in the ready piping bag.
Swirl in the ready macaron mat. Tap hard to make sure there are no bubbles at the bottom.
Now refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place on the lower part of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Let it cool for 10 minutes and snap them out very gently. Apply the choice of your fillings. 
Keep it in an airtight box preferably refrigerated.


Using a macaron mould makes it simple. 

The sieving process is very important. It keeps the dry ingredient light and airy and refrains from clumping together, it also makes it voluminous. This in turn makes it easier to incorporate into the egg white.

Using almond slivers that have been blanched and free of skin, are the best to use. All nuts have natural oils and using the almond powder or almond meal cannot result in the same as the process may differ.

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Green Chutney Sandwiches

Green Chutney Sandwiches

This chuntey is a typical food prepared in most homes that enjoy #ParsiFood. It is versatile and although mainly prepared for the Patra ni Machi ( Fish in Banana Leaves ) it is also used  in many different dishes; Ribbon Rice, Scotch EggsFish in Pastry Roll etc. 
Chutney Sandwiches were a favourite growing up, but not until I had tasted this version thanks to my loving and generous neighbour Baki aunty, that I actually started eating these delicious sandwiches. She put that extra touch that has taken these sandwiches up a notch. 

Green Chutney sandwiches made extra special.

Makes 24 sandwiches

Mix the prepared Chutney with soft, salted butter until it is a smooth consistency. Approximately 4oz/125 gm will be sufficient. Apply generously to both sides of the bread. 
Thinly slice 2 firm ripe tomatoes. Remove the seeds and place on a paper towel to remove extra liquid. Sprinkle lightly with salt
Thinly slice one cucumber and place on a paper towel, sprinkle lightly with salt. 
Place a piece of each on any one side of the sandwich on top of the chutney. Place the other side over, press lightly.
Repeat and serve.


Makes approximately 2 cups Chutney

1 cup desiccated coconut
1 ½ cups of coriander leaves; packed tightly
2 tbsp jaggery
6 green chillies
½ tsp salt
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
2 green peeled mangoes
10 fresh mint leaves


In an electric grinder/food processor or blender; grind till fine and smooth the desiccated coconut. Then add the rest of the ingredients in order green chillies, salt, coriander leaves, salt, diced mangoes, mint leaves and lemon juice. Taste for the salt, the heat from the chillies, the sourness and the sweetness. Balance must be perfect to suit your palate.  


Prepare ahead of time and freeze. It will stay for up to 1 month.

Defrost for 24 hours in your fridge. 
Texture of the chutney must be as smooth as possible. This will depend on your grinder and the coconut. 

For more #ParsiFood click the link for my cookbook The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Photo Courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Nectarine and Chillie Jam

Nectarine and Chillie Jam
Homemade jams and preserves are so delicious. The real fruit flavours that are natural and without additives make up for any time and effort one takes to prepare them. It is definitely worth a try. 

1 kg ripe Nectarine; washed and peeled
1/2 kg sugar
Juice of one lemon; freshly squeezed
pinch of salt
1 fresh thin long red pepper finely chopped

In a pot place the prepared nectarines roughly chopped. Include the kernel/seed.
Pour the sugar over it.
Sprinkle with the juice of one lemon or lime
Add the pinch of salt and the finely chopped pepper
Cover and keep for a few hours.

Remove the cover and place it on the stove on a low flame, keep stirring until all the sugar has melted away.
Bring it to a boil and let it cook for 20 to 30 minutes until its the correct consistency you desire.

Fill in sterilised jars. Cool and seal. Refrigerate.


Nectarines in season are flavourful and sweet. Use fruit that you have tasted for best results.
If the nectarines are not fully ripe you may need to blanch them for a few minutes to peel the skin off easily.
To check if the jam is thick drop a teaspoon of jam on a small plate. Cool. Push it with a finger and the wrinkles will show you the thickness. It will get slightly thicker as it stays in refrigerator.

For more Parsi Food recipes click The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine

Photo Courtesy Shamineh M

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Chicken Salad Sandwich

Childhood memories are made up of people and food. This sandwich takes many of us back to birthday parties, picnics and movies. At times simple things like this can simply never be forgotten. 
And so I share my version of a sandwich that many of my aunts used to make for us. Its always appreciated even if it doesnot hold the same affection or sentiment to those who get to eat it in my kitchen!

Chicken Salad in a brioche bun

12 brioche buns

1 1/2 kg of roasted or poached chicken chopped finely
1 cup mayonnaise or as needed
1 tsp mustard
2 tbsp sweet gherkin relish
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
pinch of sugar

Mix everything well ensuring the mixture is moist.
Fill the brioche buns generously
Serve fresh


The buns should be milk buns or brioche that has a tinge of sweetness and are wonderfully soft.
The mixture can be made and kept for up to 48 hours covered in the refrigerator. It cannot be frozen.
Use your favourite mayonnaise.
Taste for salt and pepper
If you wish to prepare the chicken at home you can poach the chicken in herbs, salt whole pepper,cloves and an onion, carrot and celery

For Parsi Food recipes click on The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Masala ni Daar ~ Spiced Lentils

Masala Ni Daar ~ Spiced Lentils

Comfort food at its best. This is the simplest of dishes enjoyed by millions of people all over the Subcontinent inclusive of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.  Full of protien, ginger, garlic and aromatic spices. Served with warm rotli, karak ~ crisp bread or naan it is often the main course for a family meal. 

My personal favourite, lentil

Serves 16

Pot of  Spices/Masala

1tbsp oil

In a food grinder blend till smooth to make the masala
2 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp ginger paste
8 large dry red kashmiri chillies or 2 1/2 tsp chillie powder
4 green chillies
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp garam masala  
2 generous tsp dhansak masala ( read note below)
2 tsp of jaggery
1 cup fried onions
3 chopped tomatoes
1 tsp tamarind paste
 1 cup fresh coriander leaves
 6 fresh  mint leaves

In a pot heat a tbsp of oil add the masala mixture and fry it on a low flame stirring all the time. When done, you will see tiny droplets of oil release from the sides of the pan at the edges. Do not keep the flame on high. Keep stirring it. And remove from fire after 3 minutes.
Keep aside.

Pot of Lentils

In a large pot boil together

3 cups Toor/tuar lentil; washed
1 cup of red masoor lentil; washed
If these are soaked for an hour or two it will cook very quickly.
1 tsp turmeric
1 1/2 tsp salt
8 to 10 cups water

Add 190gm/6 oz of salted butter to the pot half way through the cooking.

Cook the dar/lentils for about an hour and add mix the spices/masalo prepared. Mix well and bring to a boil. Cover, simmer and cook for another 30 minutes or until it is cooked through and the liquid has evaporated.
Taste for the salt, spices and the jaggery. Check for the consistency and serve.


The chillies in this recipe are for an average mild Lentil/Dar. Add chillies and chillie powder according to your taste.

Toor or Tuar is also called  split pigeon peas. They are golden in colour. They are oily or plain. I use the plain variety as it is easier to digest. You can use a combination of lentils like red masoor, yellow mung, tuar/toor and channa. 

Taste for khatu~mithu~thiku (sour~sweet~spicy) before serving and adjust the flavours. Add lemon juice if necessary.

Tarko an optional step to finish it off.

You have the option of doing a tarko before serving which is simply heating a tablespoon of ghee or oil and adding a few round red chillies, a handful of curry leaves, a tsp of mustard seeds and poruing this over the ready to serve dar/lentil just before serving. It only takes a few seconds to cook in hot oil, and work quickly or it will burn.
You may also add slivers of fresh garlic if you enjoy it.
For more Parsi recipes click to order
The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Dhansak No Masalo.
There is controversy about what some of the mixed blends of spices are called. Growing up the black-karo dhana jeera no masalo is what we bought ready from a specialist store, still available in Karachi at the Empress Market.

It generally includes all the dry ingredients like coriander seeds, cumin, black cumin, black cardamom, bay leaf, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, black pepper, caraway, mace and more.  I do know a variation of this type of powder is available to buy ready for use in Indian stores under the label of Dhansak Masala.

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Almond Soup

Almond Soup

The almond soup was a favourite in our home growing up. The only difference between then and now is access to a very special kind of almond from the kernel of the apricot fruit and not the fruit of the almond tree itself; which is what we buy in North America. Having been requested to share the recipe I prepared it last night and here it is to enjoy as best as we can!

This soup is delicate in flavour and does not need to be doused with milk or cream nor overpowered by seasoning. However if you are looking for bold tastes and any kind of kick; this one is not the one you are after!

Serves 4 to 6 persons

1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
4 stalks of celery
1 small potato
2 stems of parsley
1 bay leaf
3 cup chicken stock
3 oz/85gm blanched, peeled and ground almonds

Salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste

In a pan melt the oil and butter. Add to it roughly chopped onion. Allow it to saute for 5 minutes till it is soft and translucent. Add the celery and potato and cook for another 10 minutes. Add the parsley and bayleaf. Pour in the chicken stock. Bring it to a boil, cover, lower the heat to simmer and allow it to cook for 20 minutes. 
Now add the almonds, mix well and continue cooking for another 20 minutes; covered and on a low flame. Turn off the heat and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. 

Remove the parsley and bay leaf before pulversising.

With an immersion blender pulverise the soup to a creamy thickness. 
Season it with salt. Optionally add black or white pepper and or freshly grated nutmeg to taste

To serve, ladle it into bowls, add a swirl of cream and top with roughly chopped salted roasted almonds and  finley chopped fresh parsley leaf.

Not to take away from the flavours but adding a teaspoon of dry sherry can be delicious for some. 


The chicken stock is the base and will make a difference. Use your favourite recipe or store bought stock.
This soup can easily be adapted to make it vegetarian or vegan by using a vegetarian stock.
I used store bought ready almond powder/meal which is granular.

The size of my onion and potato were like a large "plum". 
Bay leafs are bitter when crushed.
The soup will turn ''green'' and the flavour will change if the parsley stems are not removed.

For more Parsi Food recipes click The Art of Parsi Cooking; reviving an ancient cuisine.

Photo courtesy Niloufer Mavalvala