When we started Cookups, we were pretty confident that we would find a lot of talented home Cooks but as everybody’s offers kept pouring in, we realized that we had no idea about the sheer scope of their talent. The fact that Cookups allowed us to sit at home, in our pajamas and have a smorgasbord of food at our fingertips that could rival any restaurant – was mind blowing for us. These are a few of my favourite dishes. This is based on nothing else, but my own subjective taste – I am sure there are actually many more that I have actually forgotten about because there have been SO many amazing offers. So here goes, in no particular order my top 10.
– Namira Hossain, CEO
- Midnight in Tokyo by Mostafiz Kazi – The name itself sounded like a movie title and the items sounded like something that characters from a Murakami novel would eat. The offer consisted of a deliciously subtle miso soup, udon with black fungus and black bean and the quintessential chicken katsu which is a famous breaded Japanese chicken cutlet and for dessert chocolate spring-rolls, handmade using Meiji chocolates. Points for creativity and presentation and definitely for taste as well. I picked this offer by Kazi, who has had many more amazing dishes because it shows off his style and versatility.
2. Shahi Murgh Pulao and Achari Beef by Arshia Karim – This dish is a classic and this is what catapulted one of our most popular Cooks, Arshia Karim to Cookups fame and glory. The murgh pulao recipe had been handed down to Arshia by her beloved grandmother, and was a staple in the Dhaka Nawab family household. With its hints of milk, ghee and saffron – the taste brings you back to simpler times and the marriage of achari beef and the murgh pulao is like one of those sitcoms where you see a couple and you think ‘eh?’ but they work so well you forget you ever thought it wouldn’t. Hats off to Arshia, for taking this classic and pairing it with a perfect complementary dish.
3. Bibimbaap by Prescila J Rahman – This dish was offered in the very early days of Cookups and I simply could not believe that somebody had prepared this at home. Even though it is one of Korea’s most popular and well-known dishes, the concept is as Bangali as you can get as it is simply a bowl of rice, mixed with assorted vegetables, a fried egg and a good old dollop of gochujang – which is the Korean red pepper paste (not for the faint of heart). Prescila’s love of traveling and experimenting really comes through in this dish. But it was the presentation and freshness of ingredients that made this offer one to remember.
4. Moricher Achar by Baboye Intikhab Nasir – Have you ever had that one pickle? That you know will go with everything and can either dress up a meal or just go perfectly with everything else. This was love at first bite for me, and with its’ perfect balance of spicy, tangy and salty prompted me to buy a second jar before I had even finished my first one. Technically, it is Baboye’s mum who gets the nod for this one as it was prepared by her. The consummate baker will tell you himself that he prefers spicy food over sweet and this achar is probably the reason why!
5. Classic Chocolate Fudge Cake by Fareeha Chowdhury – I can’t even write about this cake without dreaming of its’ super moist base and thick, fudgy icing. This double layer cake is perfect in its’ simplicity and does not have any high aspirations of looking all fancy for the ball – it is just a classic chocolate fudge cake as the name suggests. Fareeha is an extremely talented baker who can pair interesting flavour combinations – but also knows exactly how to execute the classics. If you are a chocolate lover or have a sweet-tooth – then this cake is a must try!
6. Pan Grilled Chicken, Vegetables and Mashed Potato by Sablima Sadat Anuja – We are lucky to have so many talented home cooks on Cookups. Sabilma has been a guest on many cooking channels and her repertoire of dishes range from Indian to Japanese but it was this simple dish of pan grilled chicken, veggies and mashed potatoes that won over my tummy. Every bite of this meal was bursting with flavour and the chicken was plump and juicy even after a reheat. This meal is another testament to the fact that the best things in life truly are the simple things!
7. Swoodles and Meatballs by Anika Farha – In the dead of winter, in a sea of biryanis – Anika was a shining beacon of hope for those of us who try to eat healthy. The swoodles (made painstakingly from sweet potatoes) have a similar texture to pasta without the heaviness and the salisbury meatballs with mushroom gravy made this a great little weekday lunch that is also kind on your waistline. The very first student to sign up for Cookups, Anika wants to revolutionize eating habits in Bangladesh and with innovative offers such as this one, she just might be able to pull that off!
8. Burns Road ki Nihari by Nadia Omar – Burns Road has been quoted as an immovable feast and boasts some of Karachi’s best nihari. Never having been myself, my only yardstick for good nihari is the one that is prepared in my household which I find myself always preferring over any others I’ve tried. Even though I can’t vouch for its’ authenticity, others who have visited the famous Burns Road have said that Nadia can do the perfect replica. Add a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of spices to this gelatinous mix of fat and gravy and your tastebuds will be dancing in no time!
9. Bangla Lunch by Chobi Rouf – This meal showcased a medley of bhortas like chapa shutki, chingri and borboti and a beautiful narikel with naga morich, and mains like ilish wrapped in lau shak, chingri dopiaza and rui mach-er kofta along with a daal-er chorchori to make this a perfect weekend lunch that you just need a nap after! Every flavour was on point and we were savouring this meal long after for its’ generous portions. Home-cooking at it’s best!
10. Handmade Belgian Chocolates by Nusrat Tabassum – Every list has to have a one-hit wonder and this is mine (although I really hope Nusrat posts again very soon). Her one time offer made people go crazy and I was stunned to see the beautiful little dark chocolates with fun flavours like cherry glacier and raspberry and pistachio. The quality of the chocolates and the beautiful presentation beggars belief that these were concocted in our very city of Dhaka and not by some upscale Belgian chocolatier. Please do come back soon with more delicious treats, Nusrat!