Meaty Mushroom Pasta

mushroom pastaWarning: the foodstuffs here do not look at all like their components. This is a wonderful little guise for those who rabidly desire meat but venture into a tepidly omnivore household that leans toward herbivoraciousness. It’s an entirely mushroom-based pasta sauce, but with the right ingredients becomes rich, succulent, and fulfilling.

So, Ramadan came and went, and I surprised myself by how enthusiastically my body responded to the call. Like a horse fresh out of the gates, I galloped full stride into the blazing long days of fasting, somehow procuring during my first week alone at least 4 new recipes for dinner meals. Let us not discuss how the subsequent three weeks unfolded, with root canals and illnesses. But that first week was glorious! (and the last week, pretty good too.) For the unfamiliar, breaking fast during Ramadan consists of iftar, followed by the evening prayer, and then dinner. Traditional iftars vary from culture to culture, but are usually filled with much fanfare. I tried to change that for the husband and myself this year, especially since the fasting was so long (15+ hours) and the feasting so short. So we usually broke fast with a few dates and water (or Rooh Afza, a rose-water syrup which is sublime when mixed with water and a generous squeeze of lime). Dinner as such became the exciting mealtime (which typically included some fruit chaat because how can I deny myself the quintessential dish of my Ramadan experience). Continue reading

Advertisements

LiterEature 101: The Scorpions of Zahir

coverThis particular book has been on my agenda for months. I’ve read tons of books in the past few months, but I desired to craft this one into something tasty simply because it takes place in Morocco. Hence a chance to delve into Moroccan flavors! Something new for everyone. And yet, upon completing The Scorpions of Zahir by Christine Brodien-Jones, I had a deflated sense of excitement. I couldn’t quite pin it down; certainly there was mention of the aromatic marketplaces, and phyllo-wrapped chicken with almonds and spicy roasted plums. But, the title should indicate there were some unpleasantries as well. Like a plethora of scorpions. And an abandoned soul in the desert feasting on fried purple locusts. *sigh* Nevertheless,I fought against the insects to bring you this new post. Please enjoy. With a side of spotted lizard if you desire (I assure you, I do not). (FYI scroll to the bottom if you just want the recipes) Continue reading

2012 Wrap Up (and yes, I’m Still Here)

Oh my! How many months have gone by! Ay, I really did begin a few posts in October… and November… but fine, perhaps not in December. I just suppose my follow-through hinges were a tad rusty (*sigh* my old tennis coaches would be ashamed to hear that). I also had a bit of a balancing act to contend with. Oh but guess who survived her first semester of graduate school?? Sweet bubbly goblets of Martinelli’s! Oh wait, that’s my new year’s treat. Still, I did manage to trespass into the academic world once more and not only emerge unscathed, but with a banner of flying colors undulating behind me. Another time I’ll share details about some of my most interesting projects, but for now let’s just raise our voices in a collective “Huzzah!” that 2012 culminated in good vibes, despite all the heaviness of personal and national calamities that may and have befallen many. A new year emerges, not that I really buy into the “new year” mantra of resolutions and whatnot. I don’t deny that it’s an astronomical miracle of science to behold the world completing another revolution around the Sun, but… well, if it lends a sense of motivation and control over the limitless track of time and circularity for the greater population, then so be it. How about we all endeavor to make 2013 a wee bit more consistent in all our pursuits then? I for one have epic visions of “litereature” posts galore (since I basically read nonstop now, much to my glorious delight). Let’s see if I can maintain an evenly scheduled serving of these posts for you in general, sprinkled with recipes, stories, and reviews.

Now that 2013 is well upon us, I do want to move forward afresh and new, focusing on upcoming recipes and exploits, but I would also like to recap the last few months with a sampling of the goings on down here in San Diego. Admittedly I fell off the virtual map because of academic commitments and personal events that elicited monumental distraction and required a steely grasp on focus–occasionally the hand does slip from sweaty beads of nerves and anxiety, but so it goes. Amidst all that, I did remind myself to cook well, eat well, and try to live well. I wonder why that has to be such a struggle; for something that brings so much harmony, it is painfully difficult to maintain isn’t it?? Don’t digress, Alya! The point is, I did some fun little concoctions, culminating in a swirly cake of fruitastic proportions. So for now, let me hearken back to those simpler times, when the raw pulse of 2013 did not beat upon my weathered head with demands for more work, more stress, more pursuits, more projects, and hopefully more accomplishments! Continue reading

Jamaican Stir Fried Eggplant

Oh my friends. Where do we begin? I promised myself I would get this out to you within the next hour so I could return to that most beloved of acts, reading. But the word and all its magic has taken quite the toll on me this past week, as I have never been so overwhelmed with such a deluge in recent years! the short of it: grad school is demanding! It dares to challenge my love affair with words (second only to that for my husband though it does fluctuate spots with food. Words or food? Food or words? I love them equally!). Of course, I am thoroughly enjoying myself, but at the same time I have never imbibed so much theoretical text coupled with philosophical writing along with a Thomas Hardy novel in so short a period of time! My brain, she hurts a wee bit.

So I purposely set myself to write this up for you, because my lovely little eggplant dish which I may have raved about at an earlier time has been pouting at me with forlorn eyes, wishing to be shared, desperate for worldwide web attention. I do have a Litereature post brewing in the works (Oh if I had a cauldron! I could actually brew something! Halloween approacheth, and there are plenty of awesome witchy stories…. alas, another lifetime perhaps. Unless you want to buy me a cauldron?). It helps that I am now working, at least for the semester, within the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at school, and will be limitlessly exposed to all sorts of kids/Young Adult books! I dream of all the food/book connections I could come up with… Continue reading

Fennel Spiced Daal and Brussel Sprouts

The perils of fasting: exhaustion, wonky sleep schedules, possible indigestion from eating so early and so late, abnormally delusional behavior at work, Charlie horses, massive stomach aches and unseemly consequences that render one unable to fast for a day or two…

Oh, those last two aren’t very common, at least not to the level of severity that keeps one from completing her fasts. Ohh but life ain’t a bike ride through the park. More like a merry go round, without the merry and more of an abundance of ups and downs to make your inner self disoriented at best, nauseated at worst. My inner self let my outer self feel that too closely today, which is why I stayed home to weather the after effects. Finding time to rejuvenate my strength, replenish my stomach’s acceptance of food, and banish the pain from a stupid charlie horse (or muscle spasm in the calf for the unawares) that had to hit at the same time. Continue reading

Zucchini Tofu Wraps

It lies in wait. The hunger, the ferocity.  Burrowing further into my core, sinking but a flashing beacon, only growing, only stronger, the longer it must abide the passage of time.

Thaaaaaat’s how I feel.  The hunger to create. To write. To read. To share.  Pulsating, chiming stringent chords, repeated reminders that the best is yet to come. Yet to come. Yet to come…

I went to California this weekend, and my reasons were three fold.  First, tremendous huzzahs to my dear friend Waheeda and her newly wedded bliss! Second, how does one venture to the motherland without visiting… her mother… and the rest of the family? if only for a day.  Three, to acquaint myself with the general hubbub, surroundings, goings on and climate (both physical and theoretical) of the San Diego region, a locality only once ever equated with “Sea World” and “Wild Animal Park” and even “Raving Seals ans the loonies who swim with them in La Jolla”.  Whilst these are brilliant facets which make the soul of SD glow like a Columbian summer firefly, I need to delve further because I can’t really live with animals. Continue reading

Sundried Tomato Hummus

The mission: empty out the pantry.  The challenge: don’t buy anything else to fuel the possible recipes gallivanting through your head. The struggle: but what the hecks do I do with cream of wheat, curry leaves, and light brown sugar? (answer: nothing… yet).

While certain combinations won’t see the light of existence, some other medleys worked out far better. Although every minute that I spend inside my apartment is overlaid with the mantra, I need to pack I need to pack I MUST NEEDS PACK, I find myself cooking instead.  Call it stress relief. Or denial.  Whatever. I need to get rid of my groceries too, okay? (technically it’s not that big of a deal, as we are moving into his sister’s place close by first, and then the ALL IMPORTANT MYSTERIOUS SHIFT SHALL OCCUR IN THE MIDST OF RAMADAN AND FASTING. Nevertheless, would rather clear it all out now.) Continue reading