Pad Thai with Paneer

*Firstly, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear sweet husband who puts up with all my shenanigans! You are the inspiration, motivation and guinea pig for this endeavor, so readers should be grateful to him too. :)*

The past 45 minutes were consumed with straining soaked imli (tamarind root) to make my favorite chutney later. While arching my back to alleviate strain and doing leg lifts to glean some form of physical benefit from spending ALL my time in the kitchen this weekend, I remembered a dish I made a few weeks ago, a most delicious if slightly unauthentic pad thai. Don’t misunderstand, I adore abiding by authentic rules and principles when possible, but I’m not going to go buy fish sauce just to make one dish. My sincerest apologies, but my prevailing sentiment is to adjust when necessary.

In fact, I tinkered quite a bit with this dish (was the paneer not a dead giveaway on that point?), not even going to the lengths that I am for the aforementioned chutney; but that of course is for a sublime dish I’m making for Eid-ul-Fitr, the Islamic holiday that follows Ramadan. More on that dish another time though (forgive me for unabashedly grasping for your anticipation). So no, I used a ready-made tamarind paste for this pad thai which can be bought in most grocery stores I presume (I snagged some from my sister-in-law, score!). And of course, I used Paneer (Indian blocks of cheese) rather than tofu. They have a similar firmness but the husband warrants that paneer soaks in more flavor. Since this would hardly be a dish found on the streets of Bangkok, what harm could arise from a bit more tinkering—and thus was born a quick vegetarian pad thai meant to please with ease… and cheese (Oh Alya, did you actually just say that?!? ). Continue reading


Beyond the Blog: February 2011

Because I haven’t had time (or the longevity of a properly functioning memory) to write up posts for every single dish I have made, or at least the ones I photographed, I thought I might make a habit of sharing, every month, the missed opportunities that befell the four prior weeks.  In doing so, I get to share some of my other exploits with you simply for the joy of loving food.  And perhaps you may find inspiration in my simple endeavors.  Feel free to ask for recipes on any of them; I may or may not remember exactly, but I can share broadly my experiences at the very least.  And at the very most, you might hit the jackpot on a stellar super feasting idea.  Probably not though, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Soooooo… off we go into the Smoky tendrils of Alya’s kitchen…. Continue reading

Litereature 101: Maltese Falcon

Here’s the syllabus, folks.  Twice a month (hopefully) we will be summarizing, analyzing, and/or in all general respects, discussing a work of literature.  Our aim is to broaden horizons, enlighten readers and ourselves, and bring out the zest in books and poetry.  Following our concise but rewarding discussion, we’ll then work to create a feast inspired by the work.  This can range from a dessert, an entrée, or even an entire dinner spread.  We might focus upon themes, specific characters, physical recreations of items, or a play/pun upon the title or subject matter.  The furthest reaching edge of Creativity is our only limit.


The subject matter itself is not set in stone; rather, we will see where the days, weeks, and months take our appetite for reading.  Be it fiction or memoir, fantasy or historical, we will be confined by nothing but what we desire to read and cook and eat.  So let us

move to our first novel: The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett.

Continue reading