Chili Garlic Noodles

I awoke this morning with the immediate thought that I would not let anything get in the way of an early bed time tonight. The sudden unwelcome arrival of a flaring toothache has kept me up more than I’d like to admit, and has rendered my even my sleep a restive and forlorn experience. Thus, you can imagine I was on a one-way trip to the Benadrylopolis…

And yet here I am. I just can’t stop the thoughts, so I shall let them run rampant on the back burner while I focus on this blog. The past month has not been a happy one for my coworkers, you see, and we unfortunately lost a beautiful, smiling, kind soul to the rabid beast of cancer. In all fairness, I barely knew her. Nevertheless, the loss was a complete shock, a blow to our collective psyche, and an obvious reminder that life is too short to play on the sidelines. Continue reading

If Bangkok lived in the suburbs…

… it would probably cry itself to sleep with this as its last meal. Don’t be fooled—the amalgamation of flavors are quite honestly delicious, and I would make this multiple times, especially considering the speed with which it is concocted. That said, I can barely even whisper the connection between this would be-faux-heretical-absurd rendition of pad thai. Hardly even a reimagining, if you will. Nay, I honestly can only call it the pseudo-pad thai of the suburbs.

And why do I say this? Because we are missing: fish sauce, palm sugar, scallions, flat rice noodles (ugh! I’m ashamed to even be sharing this!), to name the key ingredients at least. Nevertheless, I had been craving craving craaaaaaving thai food for ages, but we are on a staunch mission to only eat out once a week as a means of 1) keeping to a stricter healthy regimen and 2) to stimulate smarter economical habits so that I may spend more frivolously should I actually obtain my travel visa in time to visit India with the husband in March. While that is as yet unconfirmed, alas, it doesn’t mean I can’t try to be more wary of spending habits. And thus, the suburban pad thai was born from my kitchen.

But these experiences always remind me that while authentic cuisine is vital to understanding and respecting a culture, playing hickety-spicket with the ingredients is the breeding ground for such classic genres as “Asian fusion,” “Indo-chinese” and “Whatchamacallit” (a personal favorite and frequent guest of our abode).

In truth, I just winged this out of the left side of heaven, and thankfully was blessed with a lovely dinner dish. Continue reading

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

Lemony Garlic Chicken Noodles for the Soul

It’s a combination that is hailed and heralded in almost every culture (that I am familiar with at least)—lemon, garlic, pepper.  The Tang, the Flavor, the Bite. Sour, Savory, Spicy.  Triple S.  Ah, good times indeed.

Even far back in those decadent days of cooking all pasta all the time in college, just with varying kinds of chicken (yeah I wasn’t breaking any boundaries back then, let me tell ya), I do recall my friend Tehniat’s fixation with lemon pepper chicken.  I was fairly decent at it back then, and I’ve improved on it now.  Using thinly sliced breast meat is key for these kinds of dishes, where I want to have diced chicken floating in a whirlpool of marinated (wheat!) pasta.  It’s been fun and easy to try different marinade ideas in the morning, and just cook it up rapidly at night.  Gives me a sense of calmness to have figured out dinner plans early in the day, so I can just sit and write and write and write and exercise and clean and write or try to write and read and read and clean some more and read and… yeah those are my days lately.  Writing, or searching for jobs actually.  Can be stressful.  So a simple dish like this will do a lot to help ones brain out. Continue reading

NewlyWed Exploits

Looking back on the past two months, I can really see how much I have enjoyed cooking.  Washing the dishes, not so much (that’s supposedly what G is for) but I think I am finding a groove for myself, a discovery of new flavors, talents, mistakes, and the desire to explore.  But I haven’t written about any of it because my time has been consumed greedily by the stress of trying to adapt to this “merry land.”  However, I have taken a few photos, and thought perhaps it would be nice to give a brief photographic glimpse into our humble kitchen exploits.

Continue reading