Brown Lentil Daal / Sabut Masoor Daal

One of my goals for this year, in terms of blogging, was to share more traditional Pakistani fare and to share more of what we eat on a regular basis.  I have always had a hard time photographing Desi (hailing from the South Asian Subcontinent) food, and I guess I’ve allowed it to be the reason why I didn’t share much of it.  It’s funny because we eat more Desi food than any other cuisine at home, but this little virtual space doesn’t reflect that.  I hope to change that in the coming months.

As for the recipe I am sharing today, Daal translates to lentils, and there are literally hundreds of variations of soupy curries that can be made with these humble pulses.  This Daal is one that I make on a weekly basis.  It screams comfort and is homely.  It’s simple, filling, nutritious, and delicious. It’s great piled on rice, with some yogurt and sliced onions on the side.  Consider it Desi comfort food 🙂



Sabut Masoor Daal

Yield: 4 Servings


Note: measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.

  • 4 – 6 cups water
  • 1 cup brown lentils/ sabut masoor daal
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup oil
  • ½ medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • Handful mint leave, chopped, optional


In a large vessel, combine water, lentils, ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, and red chili powder. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until lentils are softened and water has significantly evaporated, about 45 to 60 minutes. Be sure to check on daal often, stirring and adding extra water as needed.

Remove from heat and use an immersion blender to pulse daal to desired consistency. Add salt and keep covered.

Warm oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add sliced onions and cook, while stirring often, until they start to show signs of browning. Add cumin seeds and cook until the onions are golden brown. Pour oil and onion mixture (tempering) over the daal, and let it sit undisturbed, and covered, for 5 to 10 minutes. If using mint, stir it in to the daal, and let it sit covered, and undisturbed, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes.


Minced Meat and Lentil Biryani / Keema Masoor Biryani (Memon Masoor Pulao)

2 posts in one week? Whaaaat?

Well, this is my first shot at the Muslim Food Bloggers Challenges. Every month there is a new theme, and the month of February’s was Biryani. Biryani is basically just a spiced rice dish (often times paired with meat). In the South Asian culinary scene, the difference between Biryani and Pulao is that biryani is cooked in layers (the rice is par-boiled and then layered with the meat/masala), whereas in pulao the rice is cooked with the spices in a broth.

I chose to share the recipe for a very traditional Memon (the sub-ethnic group that I hail from) recipe, Masoor Pulao. It’s a bit of a misnomer because although it is called a pulao, it’s actually cooked in layers like biryani.

I’m excited to share this recipe for several reasons, but mostly because (a) I’ve always had trouble taking pictures of traditional Pakistani food, and I’m ready to take the plunge, and (b) it’s a recipe that has been passed down in our family, and I’m happy to finally be sharing it with actual measurements (y’all know how much trouble it is to find a desi recipe using actual measurements and not “a little this, a little that”!)



Keema Masoor Biryani

(Memon Masoor Pulao)

Yield: 4 – 6 Servings


Note: Measurements are in actual measuring spoons/cups and not eating utensils.

  • 3 cups basmati rice
  • 2/3 cup brown lentils
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ¼ cup neutral flavored oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 1-2 green chilies, to taste, sliced lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons coriander powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder
  • ¾ teaspoon turmeric
  • Salt, to taste
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup yogurt
  • ½ teaspoon whole black peppers
  • 4 dried bay leaves
  • Handful chopped cilantro
  • Handful chopped mint
  • Handful fried onions
  • 3 boiled eggs, peeled and sliced in half


Rinse rice in cold water a few times, cover with water, and set aside.

Heat a small saucepan filled with water over medium-high heat. Add lentils and bring to a boil. Cook for 15-20 minutes, until mostly cooked through (should not be mushy; there should still be a bit of bite to the lentils, as they will continue cooking with the rice later). Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Add meat and ginger-garlic paste and cook for a few minutes. Add chilies, coriander powder, black pepper, garam masala, red chili powder, turmeric, salt, and lemon juice. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated. Add yogurt, mix well, and cook until mostly dry. Add lentils, mix, cover, and remove from heat. Set aside.

Heat water (enough to boil rice in) in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add black peppers, bay leaves, and salt. Once it comes to a boil, add soaked rice (drain before adding), and cook until about 75% cooked through. Drain and set aside.

In a large vessel, drizzle in a bit of oil. Top with half of the rice, followed by the meat and lentil mixture. Top with cilantro, mint, and fried onions. Cover with remaining rice. Sprinkle on additional fried onions, and gently place the boiled eggs on top. Cover. Cook over low heat until the rice has finished cooking, about 30 minutes.



Check out everyone’s interpretations and adaptations of this month’s challenge below!

Chicken Over Rice (Halal Cart Inspired)

We visited New York two years ago, and while there I was able to try a plate of Chicken over Rice from the famous Halal Carts (didn’t get a chance to visit the OG of halal carts, the Halal Guys on 53rd and 6th. Boo!). You guys, that’s some good stuff! There is a local restaurant that sells New York Style Gyros, which truly aren’t gyros, but actually a personal take on Chicken over Rice. Whenever we visit this restaurant, we always get an order of it. To say it is delicious is an understatement.

This recipe, courtesy of Flour and Spice, is a homemade take on the yumminess that is Chicken over Rice. The marinade on the chicken is fabulous and so versatile, that I imagine it would be great in anything (sandwiches, pizza, salad!). The original recipe also includes a recipe for homemade harissa (!), which I didn’t include because I had a jar stored in the refrigerator that needed to be used up.



Chicken Over Rice

(Halal Cart Inspired)

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings


For White Sauce:

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water, cold
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt, to taste

For Chicken:

  • 1 ½ – 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons yogurt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon coriander powder
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

For Rice:

  • 3 ½ cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups basmati rice, washed and soaked in cold water for 2 hours
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • Salt, to taste
  • Ground black pepper, to taste

For Toppings:

  • Shredded lettuce
  • Pocketless pita bread, buttered or oiled and toasted, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Harissa or hot sauce


Make White Sauce:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Taste and season accordingly.

Note: White sauce can be made in advance and kept refrigerated.

Make Chicken:

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Add chicken and marinate for several hours (overnight is best).

Heat a lightly greased fry pan over medium heat. Add chicken, along with marinade, and cook until completely cooked through, about 10 to 15 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken and cooked marinade to a plate to cool slightly. Once cool enough to handle, dice the chicken into bite size pieces and toss with the cooked marinade/juices. Set aside.

Make Rice:

Melt butter in a large vessel over medium-high heat. Add turmeric and cumin powder, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add drained rice and stir to coat. Toast for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow the rice to sit undisturbed (do not remove lid) for an additional 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork.


Place rice in a plate, top with diced chicken, shredded lettuce, diced pita, and white sauce and harissa as needed.

Fritters in Yogurt Based Curry / Pakoray Wali Karhi, & Fool-Proof Basmati Rice

Pakoray wali Karhi, Fritters in a yogurt-based curry, is a hit in our home.  It is one of my husband’s favorite foods, and I make it 2 to 3 times every month.  It’s a wonderful vegetarian meal to have, and it satisfies like no other.  Karhi, the yogurt based curry, is made a variety of ways throughout the Asian subcontinent, and the recipe I am sharing today is one that is specific to my husband’s side of the family.  I grew up eating Karhi that was a lighter yellow in color, almost a neon yellow, and without fritters.  With fritters or without, Karhi is Desi comfort food at it’s best 🙂

A few weeks ago someone left a comment asking me to give some tips on cooking rice.  Well I’m not an expert, and I always seem to have an issue with cooking rice with a measured amount of water, so I’ve outlined the fool-proof way of cooking Basmati rice that results in long grains of rice that doesn’t clump together, and also doesn’t require measuring water.

  • Put desired amount of rice in a large bowl and wash 3 times with warm water.
  • Soak the rice in enough water so that it is totally covered.  If the rice needs to be cooked right away, soak in warm water.  If the rice needs to be cooked later, soak in cold water.
  • Allow the rice to soak until the color changes to a bright white.  We basically want to remove as much starch as possible.  Too much starch results in clumpy rice.
  • Fill a large vessel with water.  We don’t need to measure the water, we just need enough to boil the rice.
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add rice and cook until the rice is about 75% done.
  • Strain the rice through a colander, and rinse quickly with cold water.  We want to rinse off any leftover starch and stop the rice from cooking further.  Too much heat + Starch = Clumpy rice.
  • Return the rice to the pot, add salt as needed, add a little bit of oil (this helps prevent the rice getting stuck to the bottom of the pot), and add a little bit of water.  The amount of water depends on how much rice you’re cooking.  You basically need enough to create a steam that would help finish cooking the rice.  For example, if I boiled 1 cup of rice, I would add approximately ¼ cup or less water.
  • Stir everything together, cover with a lid, and cook over low heat until the water had created a steam and all of it has evaporated.  The rice should be completely cooked through, but if not, add a splash of water, cover, and cook until completely done.


Pakora Karhi

Yield:  4 Servings


For Curry/Karhi:

  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped + ½ cup water
  • ½ cup gram flour
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt, to taste
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 ½ teaspoons red chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste

For Fritters/Pakoray:

  • 1 ½ cups gram flour
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 6 – 8 tablespoons water, lukewarm
  • Handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • Handful mint, finely chopped
  • Oil, for frying

For Tempering/Bhagaar:

  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4 dried red chilies
  • 20 curry leaves


Make Curry/Karhi:

Combine onions and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together gram flour and yogurt until thoroughly combined.  Add water, one cup at a time, and whisk until completely smooth.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a large vessel over medium-high heat.  Add two-thirds of the onion paste (reserve one-third for the fritters), turmeric, red chili powder, and ginger-garlic paste and mix well.  Cook for a few minutes, uncovered, until the oil begins to separate.

Slowly add the gram flour and yogurt mixture to the pot, stirring all the while. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until thickened. Make Fritter/Pakoray batter and set aside.  If the Karhi seems to be boiling over, uncover the pot a little to allow the steam to escape.  Once thickened to desired liking, remove from heat.

Make Fritters/Pakoray:

Combine reserved onion paste, gram flour, red chili powder, cumin seeds, baking soda, ginger-garlic paste, salt, and water and mix well to form a thick batter. The consistency should be so that it can easily run off of a spoon, yet thick enough to hold its shape when fried.  Add cilantro and mint and mix well.  Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok over medium-high heat.  To test if the oil is ready, drop a little bit of the fritter batter.  The batter should begin to immediately sizzle and rise to the surface of the oil.  Drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and cook until golden brown.  Transfer fritters directly to Karhi once cooked through.

Make Tempering/Bhagaar:

Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic and fry until the edges begin to lightly brown.  Add cumin seeds, dried red chillies, and curry leaves.  Stir and fry until the onions are completely golden brown.  Pour this mixture directly into Karhi and cover.  Allow the Karhi to remain undisturbed for 15 minutes.  Stir and serve.

South Asian Rice and Lentils/ Khichri

Khichri, a dish consisting of rice and lentils, is the epitome of South Asian comfort meals.  Just like any other comfort meal, Khichri can be prepared in a number of ways.  Some people, like my Mummi, cook it with mung beans and to a mushy consistency, while some people, like my mother in-law, cook it with green mung beans and like a pilaf.  Khichri can be eaten plain, with yogurt and mixed pickles on the side, or with any curry.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is one that was taught to me by my mother in-law, Ammi.  She is known in her circle of friends for her amazing cooking skills, and I have been very fortunate to have learned a number of things from her.  This recipe is very basic, and can easily be customized to one’s preferences.  Enjoy!





Ammi’s Khichri 

Yield: 2 – 3 Servings 


  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • ½ cup split mung beans with husk/ green moong daal
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • ½ onion, sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 2 small pieces cinnamon
  • 6 cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 black cardamoms
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ginger-garlic paste
  • Salt, to taste
  • 2 ¼ cups boiling water


Combine rice and mung beans in a bowl and soak in cold water for at least 2 hours.

In a large vessel, warm oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and sauté until transparent.  Add cumin, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, and black cardamoms and cook for a few minutes.  Add ginger-garlic paste and salt and cook until the oil begins to separate, 3 to 5 minutes.  If the mixture is sticking to the pot, add a splash of water.

Drain rice mixture and add it to the simmering spices.  Mix well and add boiling water.  Once the water comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for 15 minutes without disturbing the rice.

Remove from heat and allow it to sit undisturbed for an additional 15 minutes.  Stir and serve.