Dad’s Chicken Curry

Several  of my friends have recently had little girls. I especially love to watch the otherwise super macho fathers coo and babble at their little bundles of joy.  My dad has always been a guy’s guy. He loves to watch football and doesn’t like the idea of men wearing wedding rings since “jewelry is for women.” 

He ended up having two daughters and ironically the same man who thought pink was a “girly color” would pick out our cute frilly dresses for our birthday parties or paint our nails with nail polish if mom was too busy.
More recently, my dad  discovered his talent for cooking and made me a great chicken curry on my last trip home.  I asked him for the recipe, but my version turned out nothing like his. (I mean not at all like his. Dad if you are reading this…are you sure you gave me the right recipe?? 😉   Anyway, I did make a chicken curry inspired by his, and it turned out great. Even the picky hubby enjoyed it, especially with parathas.
Dad’s Chicken Curry
8 skinless chicken thighs, approx 500g
3-4 red onions finely chopped (about 1 cup)
3 tbsp garlic, shredded
1 tbsp ginger, shredded
1 tbsp salted butter
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 14oz can of peeled chopped tomatoes
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder  (to taste)
½ cup plain yogurt
 ½ teaspoon salt (to taste).
1. In a large pot add butter and oil on medium high heat. In the melted butter add the finely chopped onion and the garlic and ginger pastes. Stir continuously for a few minutes until onions are soft and the contents become a paste.
2. Add the chicken pieces and cover them with the mixture in the pot. Cook for few minutes until chicken just about cooked.
3.  Add the chopped and peeled tomatoes, salt, turmeric powder, red chili powder and yogurt. Mix well.  
4. Cover the pot and let cook for additional 10 min, or until chicken is fully cooked and most of the liquid is absorbed. 
5. Remove from heat, add chopped cilantro and stir.
6. Garnish with a bit of chopped fresh cilantro and serve with paratha. Makes about 2-3 generous servings.

Zucchini Bread

It’s funny how easy it is to get difficult things done in Dubai, such as building 163 floors of the Burj Khalifa in only 5 years, yet it’s often difficult to get easy things done, such as ordering a zucchini. Here’s an excerpt from today’s order from my friendly neighborhood grocery store:

Me: Hi, can I order a zucchini?

Grocery man: No, don’t have. You want courgette?

Me: Yes, that’s fine.

Grocery man: No, don’t have. Have baby marrow.

Me: Huh? What? (Then remember baby marrow is a local vegetable that is kind of zucchini-ish). Oh ok, I’ll try that.

Grocery man: Wait, we have in yellow.

Me: What? The baby marrow?

Grocery Man: No, zucchini. You come look.

Me: OK. I’m coming. (Do my fat lazy expat stroll to the store…)

After arriving at the store, of course there are about 50 zucchinis on the shelf. I actually found the man I spoke to earlier and informed him, only to have him say:  Ohhh, you want Za-co-ni. Why you not say before?

Normally I would have been amused at this whole exchange. Living here has taught me patience, an invaluable virtue to have, especially for raising two crazy boys. But today I was just not in the mood. In fact, this ordeal made me feel kind of homesick. So instead of making my farfalle with zucchini ribbons as initially planned, I decided to make some zucchini bread.  It’s delicious and something I haven’t seen anywhere but in the U.S. and reminded me a bit of home.

Zucchini Bread

Original Recipe found here, Yield 2 loaves

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini
1 cup chopped walnuts

1. Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

3. Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.

4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.

Aloo Tikki with Coriander and Mint Chutney

My son’s current favorite bedtime story is the Gingerbread Man. He especially loves the part “Run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me I’m the Gingerbread Man!”  So when he asked if we could make our own gingerbread man I happily agreed. After quickly finding a recipe online and scanning the cupboard to make sure we had all the ingredients, we started. 

As we were rolling out the dough I noticed one item I did not check I had: the gingerbread man cookie cutter. Not wanting to alarm my adoring spectator I decided to cut out the gingerbread men freestyle with a knife. This task was not as easy as it would seem. Each gingerbread man came out more deformed than the next, with lopsided or broken limbs or with heads growing out of arms. None of them seemed like they could run like the one from the story, or even limp for that matter. Nonetheless, after they were baked and decorated, my 3 year old loved them all. Whew!

So after that ordeal, I needed something easy to make for dinner. I decided to make aloo tikkis since they are easy to shape (round!). Again I didn’t anticipate one small detail: everyone in my house likes to eat them differently.

1. I prefer my tikki slightly warmed with a side of green chutney mixed with a splash of kechup.

2. My husband makes a sandwich with a cheese bread roll, the bottom slice spread with green chutney and ketchup. He then adds a layer of crushed Nacho Cheese Doritos and then smashes the tikki on top. He covers the top slice spread with mayonnaise.

3. My one year old likes aloo tikki in a bowl with yogurt and ketchup all mashed together.

4. My three year old didn’t even eat one bite since he was so full with gingerbread men :).

I love how the simplest dish can be enjoyed different ways. I am already imagining tomorrow’s chutney sandwiches I am going to be making with the leftovers….

Aloo Tikki with Coriander and Mint Chutney

INGREDIENTS for Aloo Tikki:

3 large potatoes – boiled with skins on, then peeled
1-2  teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 chopped green chili (I leave this out when I make for kids)
½ teaspoon red chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 bunch chopped fresh coriander
1 bunch chopped green onion
2 eggs, beaten
Oil for frying
**Note all spices can be adjusted to taste.


1. Mash potatoes in large bowl, when potatoes are still slightly warm. Add all spices and chopped coriander,  green onion and green chili if using. Mix well. Taste and adjust spices and salt if necessary.

2. Shape the mixture into 3” flat rounds. Makes about 8-10 tikkis.

3. Beat 2 eggs in bowl and keep aside.

4. Lightly coat frying pan with cooking oil. Keep on medium high heat.

5. Take one potato round, dip in egg, then put in hot frying pan. Fry 2-3 minutes per side. Repeat  with remaining rounds.

6. Serve with coriander and mint chutney. Recipe below
INGREDIENTS for Coriander and Mint Chutney:

1 ½ bunch coriander
½ cup mint leaves
¾  cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 green chili (optional)
Red chili powder (to taste)
Salt (to taste)

PREPARATION for Coriander and Mint  Chutney:

1. Put all items into a blender and blend into a fine liquid. Taste and adjust spices if necessary.