Spicy Sunday

I was sitting with my Nani today, discussing the different spices that go into her basaar mix. Basaar is a mix of different spices, blended together into a perfect powdery mix that is used for any curry dish. People have asked me if I use curry powder, but I don’t even know what that is! I use basaar to get the perfect flavoring in any dish I create. Whether it be sabzi, chicken, daal, gosht, etc. Every dish has basaar as the secret ingredient. The recipe for basaar is so secret that, to this day, I’m not even sure how it’s made. My Nani is going to try to teach me next week, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to need a few lessons!

Just a small sample of what goes into basaar!


Talking with Nani about all the different ingredients got me thinking about spices I know nothing about! As our family sat there Google searching Urdu to English and English to Urdu translations of different spices, I thought to myself, “I should really make a list.” So, here goes nothing! Keep in mind, these are not the ingredients for basaar. 

Ajwain – Carom Seed

Saunf – Fennel Seed

Hing – Asafoetida

Kali Mirch – Black Pepper

Jeera – Cumin

Elaichi – Cardamom

Daal Chini – Cinnamon

Laung – Cloves

Kasoori Methi – Dry Fenugreek Leaves

Methi Dana – Fenugreek Seeds

Deggi Mirch – A bright red chili powder. It adds a beautiful color to any dish.

Badiyan – Star Anise

Haldi – Turmeric

Javantri – Mace (I made a lot of jokes with this one today lol)

I’m no expert cook, but it’s good to know about different ingredients. A lot of the time, I only know the English or Urdu word for something, so a nice little list is handy!

What spices do you use on a regular basis? Tell me in the comments!




The Perfect Kava to Kick Any Cold

Last year’s flu season in NYC was brutal. It was reported to be one of the deadliest on record. My family and I always get flu shots and try to implement healthy habits, especially as the weather gets worse. Simple things like washing hands with soap as soon as we come in, drinking lots of water and orange juice, eating fruits loaded with Vitamin C and taking our multivitamins every morning.

Even after all that, my husband still came down with the flu. My first instinct was to make kava.

Now, I didn’t really grow up drinking kava. Rather, my mom always made plain English tea for me when I was sick. I learned about kava when I was going to school in Pakistan and my Nana and Nani would make it whenever someone was sick.

I sent my husband to bed as soon as he showed me his diagnosis form from the urgent care and went straight into the kitchen. Luckily, I had everything I needed on hand.



Here’s the recipe:

4 cups of water

4 black tea bags

1 lemon sliced

2 cloves

1 cinnamon stick

1/2 inch piece of ginger chopped

1 tablespoon of honey (to taste)

Add all ingredients to the pot (excluding honey) and boil for 10 minutes. Take out all ingredients and strain. I poured the kava into a carafe to keep warm and to have on hand. Add honey (or sugar if you prefer) to each individual cup.

My husband didn’t love the taste of this kava, but I thought it was yummy. And it made the whole apartment smell like fall. Who needs a candle when you have homemade kava brewing? I even gave a cup to my neighbor, who said he enjoyed it as well. And he’s not Pakistani.

What are some of your favorite recipes during flu season to help you keep healthy? Share in the comments!

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The Best Halal Items Found in Supermarkets

We keep a zabihah halal household, so we’re very particular about what kind of items we buy and what the ingredients are. We’re constantly reading ingredient lists and making sure there’s no gelatin, whey and “natural flavoring” that we can’t identify.

I can easily go to the Pakistani grocery store and get halal items, but I get excited when I find halal items in my regular supermarket! There are some AMAZING certified halal items out there. Here are some of my faves!

You all know I love a good homemade stock, but in a pinch, I keep Saffron Road Chicken Broth in my cabinet. It’s great for when you need to make a quick soup, gravy or sauce! I also like that it’s low sodium, so I don’t have to worry about salt levels too much.



Other Saffron Road items that are a staple in our home? Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Biryani frozen meals. And no, it’s not for me. My daughter hates sandwiches (I told you they were spoiled) and lunch for school is such a pain. Often, she’ll take leftovers to school in a thermos, but in a pinch, she warms up these meals and puts them in her container. She loves them and they’re easy enough to “prepare” that she can do it herself. I limit her to one per week, so she’s not having them everyday. I’m lucky that I found it in my local supermarket, so I can purchase them easily.


Halal Marshmallows! I was super surprised when I saw these in ShopRite. My aunt was telling me how my cousin loves marshmallows but couldn’t find halal ones locally.  Rice Krispie Treats anyone?



Cabot Cheeses are the BEST! I use them for taco/nacho night in our house.

From Cabot:

“All Cabot cheeses, with the exception of Colby Jack, Shreds, Slices (including American), 3/4-ounce Bars and Cubes are certified by the Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America and by Tablet K. Cabot cheeses are free of all animal by-products, and are made without any animal rennet.”

Cabot Cheese is wonderful because it’s so readily available. Often, we have to be careful with cheeses because they can contain rennet or whey, which we cannot eat.


Now I want tacos….


I’m so excited to see Muslim buying power at work in traditional supermarkets. I think this is going to open the door for more halal and Muslim-owned brands!

Did I miss any major brands? Tell me in the comments!



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The Kitchen is the Soul of a Home

Gathering in the kitchen is a typical pastime for women across all cultures. I know whenever I need to have a talk with my mom, it’s usually in the kitchen when she’s cooking. She has a stool that I can sit on and just chat with her about anything. I also know that it’s a great place to have a private conversation because no one else will really come in there!

I truly believe every kitchen should be beautiful, with small touches that reflect personal style. I found adorable printables from this site that I used to add some color to my kitchen. I printed them on 8.5″ x 11″ glossy photo paper and just taped them to the wall. You can always get a cute frame and hang them for a more elegant effect.

Every kitchen needs a comfy stool to sit on. Especially when mom needs a break and wants to sit for a few minutes! I love this stool from Target because it’s really beautiful and the seat is comfortable! Plus, it’s not too big, so it can be taken from room to room as needed. And if your Big Pakistani Family is anything like mine, you’ll definitely need extra seating from time to time!

These stools are the perfect height and oh so comfy!


A really good way to make some quick and cheap updates are peel and stick tiles. I know, I know, you’re hesitating. Please don’t! I purchased these tiles for a quick update in my bathroom, and THEY LAST! Seriously, they don’t move! And it looks really beautiful. I’m planning on getting more for my kitchen, for the wall on the side of the stove. Because if you cook like I do, there’s probably grease on there. Which I hate. These are easy to wipe clean!

Stick on tiles
It might not look special, but it really is!


Everyone who knows me, knows I LOVE peacocks. It’s an obsession. Really. That’s why I love these peacock magnets! They add that little bit of pizazz to the fridge and they are small. I hate large magnets, so these 2″ x 2″ are perfect for hanging another picture on the fridge.



What are some of your favorite ways to add personal touches to your kitchen?


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