Category Archives: Asia

2 May 2011 Dinner News – Abbottabad, Pakistan


Grab a roti or two and enjoy a spicy meal in the green foothills of Pakistan.

Like our own West Point, the main Army training college of Pakistan is located in a lush green rural suburb of a major metropolitan area. The images flooding the news tonight show one neighborhood in one district and there is much more to the people of Abbottabad.  The food offerings are internationally diverse and provide for everything from pizza delivery to fine French dining.

Tonight we take another look at the cuisine of Pakistan (28 March Dinner News – Pakistan & India) with an eye toward the cultural imports rather than just neighboring similarities.

The Menu

Islamabad and it’s suburbs are very commercialized areas.  Driving through the restaurant district you would be greeted by Kentucky Fried Chicken, Subway, and a variety of local Chinese and Italian locations. The native cuisine has the influence of vibrant fruits and spices with the dominance of chicken a whole wheat in this region.


Chicken Karahi – Fresh ginger and green chilies create a unique taste from other chicken dishes with garam masala.

Murgh Mussallam – Yogurt marinade is topped off with a rub of fried spices before a whole chicken is baked in the oven inside of a foil packet.

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Posted by on 2 May 2011 in Pakistan


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4 April 2011 Dinner News – Afghanistan

Qabili Palau

My first Qabili Palau was a tasty comfort meal

Several disturbing events have occurred over the past weekend surrounding the burning of a Koran in the US… the killing of UN workers in Afghanistan… and the escalating violence of a few in spite of the understanding of far away cultures by the many.  Tonight we will be taking a meal to try to better understand the culture of Afghanistan.  Please join us and share your favorite dishes or memories in the comments.

The Menu


Qabili Palau – The national dish is made from rice, carrots, nuts and spices. The many variation are described in’s article on How To Eat Qabili Palau. traditionally made of mutton, but this recipe switches over to chicken.

Aushak – scallion dumplings served with meat sauce and garlic yogurt.

Afghan Chicken Korma – mild onion and chicken stew.

Side Dish

Nan – Flatbread that is about 1.5 feet long and baked in a clay oven similar to Indian and African breads.

Salaata – Cucumber and vegetable salad.

Chatni Gashneez – Coriander chutney perfect for any grilled meat.


Kadhoo Halwa – Butternut squash and almond dish cooked to a fudge-like consistency. Listed at the end of a good article on the culture of Afghan cuisines.

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Posted by on 4 April 2011 in Afghanistan


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30 March 2011 Dinner News – Cricket World Cup

India Wins The Match
Both Countries Come Out Winners

Homemade Chicken Shawarma

Pakistan and India played each other in the Cricket World Cup with India winning the match, but both countries coming out winners as relations between the counties appear to be thawing.

Adapted from Chicken Shawarma at See the  28 March Dinner News – Pakistan & India post for side dish and dessert suggestions to accompany this grab and go meal.


Make the Tahini

Making tahini isn’t as straight forward as you would think.  Just trying to grind up sesame seeds leaves you with more husk than paste.  This recipe is for a saucy version and not a “store for later” stiffer mix.

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Posted by on 30 March 2011 in India, Pakistan


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28 March Dinner News – Pakistan & India

Cricket Match
Bringing Hope

High level officials of Pakistan and India are meeting today ahead of the Cricket World Cup match where the two countries will face off with both Prime Ministers in attendance. As the peace talks seem to be gaining traction let’s take an evening to enjoy the culture of these neighbors and prepare a Falooda for your next sporting celebration.

Falooda with a cherry on top

Prepare your Falooda for the post-match celebration

The Meal


Beef Curry with Basmati Rice – No curry paste here… mix from scratch way to learn to build a curry.

Masala Roasted Chicken Kurma – Tomato gravy with raisins, nuts, and herbs.

Kerala Fish Biryani – Curry leaves and Fish Masala powder can be found at asian and middle eastern markets or online.  Great recipe for building a pantry that can make a continent worth of recipes.

Side Dish

Dahi Baray – Daal fritters soaked in yogurt and garnished with your choice of chutney and masala.

Phool Gobhi Salad – Cabbage, carrot, and peanuts.

Raita – Yogurt and vegetable salad sometimes used as a condiment.


Gulab Jamun – Sweet fried balls milk balls in cardamom and rose-water syrup.

Falooda – Ice cream float with optional jello cubes and fruit… but also contains pasta… a must try!

The Chatter

Air force on alert as India gears up for mother of all matches (Guardian)
India, Pakistan in talks ahead of ‘cricket diplomacy’ summit (CNN)
Hope cricket can bring India and Pakistan closer: Lorgat (Hindustan Times)
EDITORIAL: Cricket mania and borderline hysteria (Daily Times)

(Falooda image taken by Ashwin Kumar and used by Creative Commons)

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Posted by on 28 March 2011 in India, Pakistan


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Brunch News – Yemeni Bint-al-Sahn

Honey Cake at Night
Egg Sandwich for Brunch

Dessert or Brunch

Sixteen layers of egg bread goodness goes into this family size “loaf” or maybe I should say “biscuit”.  We ate half with a honey butter dip for dessert and then egg sandwiches for brunch the next day. The dough came together quickly and creating the layers became a zen filled repetition of  care and touch.

This Bint Al-Sahn or Sabayah recipe comes from A Temeniyah’s Recipe blog via originally posted on July 25, 2010 by Dr. Lamya Almas. She creates a 14 inch diameter cake in a special pan made for this type of cake. I have a temperamental gas oven, but a great convection toaster oven so mine was made to about a 9 inch diameter without a pan.

Take the time to make ghee if you do not have any on hand. Removing the milk solids from the butter will help lubricate the layers and give you the most flakiness for your efforts.

If you prefer a more visual presentation step by step pictures are available on Flikr at Yemen – Bint-Al-Sahn




1 t. Yeast
1/4 C. Water, Warm
4 Eggs
3 C. Flour, All Purpose
1/4 C. Water
1 t, Salt, Table or Kosher
1/4 C. Ghee or Butter, Melted


1/2 C. Ghee
1 Egg
Sesame or Poppy Seed Sprinkle


~1/4 C. Honey
~1/4 C. Ghee

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Posted by on 27 March 2011 in Brunch News, Yemen


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25 March 2011 Dinner News – Syria



Start dinner with a Mezze that includes Kofta

The Meal


This can be an elaborate spread of forty or fifty hors d’oeuvres or simply a salad and a bowl of nuts. But it is always a social occasion when friends and family gather to enjoy appetizers and conversation before lunch and dinner.

The Wikipedia article provides a good list of dishes that may be served at mezze.

Over on they provide recipes for Hot Spiced Cheese Goreme, Fattoush Salad, Lamb Koftas, and Warm Roasted Olives with Preserved Lemons.


Rishta – Noodles, lentils and tomato (this will be our dinner tonight and the play-by-play will be a future post)

Sambusak – Triangle filled turnovers.  This recipe provides both options for chickpeas and meat filling.

Chicken Shawarma – Like a gyro… like a taco… folded bread, meat and veggies with a variety of spices. Lamb would also be a common option.

Sujuk – two-part video recipe showing how to make these sausages without casing.


Ba’lawaBaklava – This is Alton Brown’s version, I have made it several times and it is easy to make. Browse through the travel photo links below to see amazing piles of different shaped versions.

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Posted by on 25 March 2011 in Syria


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18 March 2011 Dinner News – Yemen

Looking past the Demonstrations and Bloodshed


Even if not traveling to the city of Moka (also spelled Mocha) you are surely familiar with the drink of choice – coffee!  The coffee of Yemen is unlike anything you will find in Europe or the United States and has a wonderful history and lore.

Qishr – Ginger coffee, but an explanation of the steeped version can be found at the end of The land where coffee began…

Qahwa – Saffron and cardamon coffee.

The Meal

Here are some suggestions for soothing beverages and a wonderful meal to celebrate the culture of Yemen:


Naqe’e Al Zabib (Cold Raisin drink), and Diba’a (Squash nectar) are cited in Wikipedia, but recipes could be found on the internet… have you had these?  Please leave a comment and share these dishes.


Saltah – The national dish is made in 3 parts more by final taste than a strict recipe.

Lamb or Beef Stew
Zhug – hot sauce added to taste
Hubla – Green fenugreek paste added on top of the stew before serving.

The National Dish – Description of how a busy restaurant prepares the dish and recipe for their version.
How to eat Salta
– set of photos showing lunch at a restaurant in Yeman.

Hawayil –  Spice mix used in many dishes.

Yemen Fatah – Spicy lamb or beef dish served over couscous.

Lamb Thareed – Spicy chickpea based stew

Side Dish

Meals are often served with different kinds of flat bread such as Malooga and Laxoox which are used as an eating utensil.

Aseed – Dumpling in tamarind and tomato gravy with a warning to have strong helpers.

There are many other side dishes attributed to Yemen, but formal recipes are difficult to come by:

Fahsa,Samak Mofa, Fahsa, Fattah, Rashoosh, Osahra, Kudam, Fateer, and Khamira.


Bint-al-sahn – Honey Cake made with many layers stacked together and served with honey or butter.  Some recipes suggest spinach or meat filling for special occasions, but this explanation and picture describe the process clearly.

The View

Dar al-Hajr - The Rock Castle

There are several ancient sites and some modern adventures that can be toured from your computer to help learn about the culture and geography of this beautiful country:

World Heritage Sites – photo tours of Zabid, Sana’a and Shibam

Wadi Dhahr: Rock Palace

Surfing in Yemen

Road Trip Yemen: Bura’a and Back






The Chatter

Political unrest is common in this portion of Asia. Formerly Ottamans occupied the North and British claimed the South. The current Yemeni nation was formed in 1990 and brought an uneasy peace to the relationship between the tribes of Hashid and Bakeel.

The news today has been dominated by an ugly turn in demonstrations:

Yemen troops shoot protesters dead (
Yemeni Government Snipers Open Fire on Protesters, Killing Dozens (Fox News)
Protest security committee investigates alleged sniper, thug attacks (Yemin Times)



(200612_Yemen-212 photo is the work of Ai@ce while the Dar al-Hajr is the work of Island Spice and is used under Creative Commons License)

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Posted by on 18 March 2011 in Yemen


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