Indian Simmer Loves- The Spice Spoon

Its been quite an experience this past few months. Life couldn’t be crazier (or so do I think!) with the day packed with a never ending list of “things” needed to be done. Trying to juggle work, family and my sanity together. I do not say that I am doing a good job with it or have reached the goal, but I am getting there. Hopefully life will get back to normal soon and I will get to do things that I haven’t been able to do in months, like sleeping or sitting and wondering what to do next? And I could not thank you enough for your support and my friends who always have my back. One such dear friend I am featuring today as a part of Indian Simmer Loves is Shayma Saadat, the beautiful face behind lovely blog The Spice Spoon. If you want to read some good writing and some nostalgic stories which would take you back to your childhood and relive those forgotten moments, then you should read Shayma’s food blog. I for one am a great fan of her as a person and food writer. I am proud that she agreed to be a part of this series on my blog today. Please welcome Shayma Saadat!

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Tell us about yourself and what you would say is your food philosophy?
I am a Pakistani-Afghan with Irani ancestry. I was born in Lahore, Pakistan and grew up in Pakistan, the US, Nigeria, Kenya, Bangladesh and the UK. I lived and worked in Rome, Italy for several years after which my husband and I, true to our nomadic expat lifestyle, made Toronto, Canada our new home.
My cookery style is reminiscent of the comfort food I grew up eating in my home- clove and cumin fragranced basmati pilafs; slow-braised spicy mutton stews, laced with ginger and garlic; and cardamom-infused milky rice puddings. The dishes I prepare are a reflection of my heritage; the food prepared by the women in my family.

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What led you to start a food blog?
I had just moved to Toronto from Rome and wanted to recreate those dishes which reminded me of my childhood in an attempt to feel rooted in a place I felt lost. Since recipes are passed down through an oral tradition in my part of the world, I decided to put pencil to paper and document the recipes created by the women in my family – from my Afghan, Irani and Pakistani heritage.

chicken sliders image7 What would you say “The Spice Spoon” is all about and please share a recipe that best describes your blog?
My blog, based on heritage cookery, reads like a food memoir. I relate each recipe to a memory- often from my childhood- of loved ones and of the places I have lived in. When I write a vignette, I want my readers to feel that they can relate to it on a nostalgic level. I want it to remind them of the place and time they tasted a dish their mother prepared for them as a child.
Through my stories, I also want people to see my part of the world- Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran through a different optic- with a more human face, rather than in a negative light, as is often depicted in the media.

chicken sliders image10 The recipe I am sharing with you today, Chicken Sliders in the Pakistani Manner with Mint Aïoli, is based on my Ami’s (mother) love for green chilies, ginger and fresh, verdant cilantro. Ami and I often have these kebabs with our afternoon tea, as most Pakistanis like to enjoy something savory during tea time. We dip them in a mint-yoghurt sauce, which inspired me to create a mint aïoli for the sliders.

Chicken Sliders with Mint Aïoli
You will need 8-10 slider rolls
Serves 8-10

*1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted
*1 pound minced chicken (my butcher uses chicken breast)
* ½ a small onion, sliced very thinly
*1 small thumb ginger, julienned
*2 cups coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, stems and leaves
*2-3 Thai bird chilies, sliced straight into the mixture with kitchen shears
*1 egg
*2 tsp salt
*Any neutral oil (grape seed, for e.g.) for shallow frying
*Large frying pan

*Toast sliced bread till crisp. Allow to cool, then pulverize in a blender or food processor till it transforms into crumbs. Place in large mixing bowl.
*Add minced chicken, onion, ginger, cilantro, chilies, egg, salt and mix to combine. Use a spatula or gloves as the chilies can burn your fingers.
*For a salt-taste test, place frying pan on medium-high heat and add 1 teaspoon oil
*Take ½  a teaspoon of the mixture and drop into the hot oil. Flip on other side till done. Taste for salt. Add more salt to chicken mixture if necessary.
*Apply oil to your hands (or use gloves) and form meat into 2-inch round flat patties, about ½ -inch thick. Set aside on parchment / wax paper.
*Heat ¼ inch of oil in a pan over medium heat. Working in batches, add patties to oil and fry for 60-90 seconds per side or until golden brown and cooked through, adding more oil as needed (you may need to change the oil as it darkens)
*Transfer to a newspaper or paper towels to absorb excess oil

chicken sliders image2Mint Aïoli   

*2 fresh egg yolks (or pasteurized yolks)
*1 teaspoon minced garlic
* ½ cup fresh mint
*1½ cups olive oil
*1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
*Sea salt to taste

*In a blender, blitz yolks. garlic and mint till well incorporated
*While the blender is running, add oil in very slowly, in a thin stream
*Add lemon juice
*Add sea salt to taste

You will need olive oil
Slice the slider rolls in half, and brush the insides with olive oil. Place under your broiler till golden. Sandwich chicken kebab between slider roll after you slather it with mint aïoli. Serve with an arugula and cherry tomato salad, dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.
Enjoy with family and friends on a lovely spring afternoon. And if you so please, pop open a bottle of a chilled Italian Falanghina.


  1. Hello Nisha,
    We love your recipes, especially when its on Chicken.
    These are so delicious.
    I have always looked at your blog for the various pictures and the way you write.Just Love it!
    You have shared some nice information about Chicken Sliders With Mint Aioli in this post.
    The points you mentioned are genuine and perfect.
    The content completely describes about the topic you wanted to portray with us.
    Thanks for sharing such valuable post.

    VentairIndia Team

  2. If you want to read some good writing and some nostalgic stories which would take you back to your childhood and relive those forgotten moments, then you should read Shayma’s food blog. I for one am a great fan of her as a person and food writer. I am proud that she agreed to be a part of this series on my blog today. Please welcome Shayma Saadat!

  3. Shayma these sliders look so amazing! A lovely recipe and thanks for introducing me to Prerna’s site.. absolutely love her work!

  4. What a great guest article. I love to read about the food and life in countries that do feel so foreign to us. Stories like this is exactly what the world needs to better share ourselves with each other. The beauty of food writing at its finest!

  5. Prerna, I hope your everyday life calms down a bit. I love Shayma’s blog – we approach writing from the same perspective, deep from the heart, evoking memories and awaking emotions and nostalgia:)
    With every blog post I learn more and it makes me feel closer to the person I only met through words and photos. This is a beautiful recipe, so fitting to be on your blog:)
    I hope the book is coming along without too many hiccups. I cannot wait to see it in print!

  6. my favorite people 🙂 Thanks for doing this P!

    S, I remember we chatting about this one and I’m so happy to finally see you post it! A great recipe indeed. Loving the photos, the tones are gorgeous.

  7. Two lovely blogs and two lovely talented women coming together … this was a treat to read!

    And such lovely pictures …you have me drooling right in the morning!
    Thank-you ladies :))

  8. I adore Shyama’s work… the writing … the mood, the dreamy effect she sets in her photo. Every bit is beautiful. I love lemon aioli, and mint aioli is new to me but i know it will taste amazing with kebab!

  9. Thank you so much for all the kind words- and thank you, Prerna, for the honour to be able to blog for Indian Simmer 🙂

    @Jagruti Thank you so much. If you don’t like raw egg yolks, you can always make a yoghurt chutney- I use greek yoghurt (or a thicker yoghurt like Lebanese labneh) and add the mint/garlic/lemon to it, sort of like how we make chutney, except this would be thick enough to slather on the sliders. Hope that helps. x shayma

  10. Shayma’s such an inspiration! I love the sliders though I was wondering if I could opt out of the egg yolks in the aioli?

    Will it make a huge difference? Raw egg yolks seem a glitch for my family, though i absolutely love the flavor mix in the aioli 🙂

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