Archives

Vegetable Biryani for my “Rickshaw Girl”

Cooking a pot of Biryani can be deer-in-the-headlights overwhelming – so much so, most people wouldn’t consider getting the spiced rice dish anywhere but a restaurant. But – ah! I recently learned a few tricks that make cooking this party dish less like facing an oncoming semi-truck, and more like conducting a well-orchestrated fireworks show. A lesson in perseverance Real talk: The first time I made biryani I crashed, burned, and vowed to never make it again. Though you can also find the recipe in India and other nearby countries, I first got the idea of tackling biryani while reading Rickshaw Girl with my daughter. This empowering Bangladeshi chapter book features a young artist who wants to help her struggling family. Though the little girl can’t make money with her Alpana drawings, she hatches a plan to drive her sick father’s rickshaw to supplement the family’s income. Though men traditionally earn the money in her community, she perseveres, proving that girls contribute as much as boys. When the girl’s family shares a platter of biryani on International Mother Language Day (February 21 – “to promote the …

Read More

Spiced Skillet Eggs | Yemeni Shakshouka

Eggs. In the shell, they seems so… ordinary. But glowing, too, like they’re full of potential. Like they’re ready to become something more. When it comes to breakfast, Yemen knows how to dress them up – as Shakshouka. Shakshouka is a beloved skillet egg dish popular all over North Africa and the Middle East. We’ve made shakshouka before – the kind that is rather like a tomato sauce with poached eggs inside (and, by the way, yum!) – but Yemen makes shakshouka differently. For starters, they include spices like cumin, turmeric, cardamom, and clove. They also add hot green chili peppers for kick. Anything from an anaheim to a jalepeno would work well for this recipe. I’m a half hot pepper kind of gal. Keith’s more of a whole hot pepper. If you’re a no pepper person, that works too – though a touch of heat does add a layer of authenticity to the dish. But the biggest difference of all  with Yemeni shakshouka is that, in Yemen, the eggs are scrambled, not poached. The result is …

Read More

Coconut Fish Curry | Cari de Poisson

When the sun dips low and spreads her rouge all over the sky, I enjoy knowing that this glorious watercolor of light travels around the world like a comet, leaving behind a glowing trail for all to see. No matter where they are from, or where they are going. The sun has universal beauty. It makes me smile to know that, somewhere in the Seychelles – half a world away – they, too, see her rose and curried colors curl through the clouds, right before bedtime. And I imagine that maybe, just maybe, they watch the darkening sky at the edge of their sandy shores, while spooning Coconut Fish Curry among friends. Considering fish curry is one of the most popular recipes  in this African island nation, this is a gamble I’m willing to take. Everyone on the islands, from weather-worn fishermen to stern grandmothers, serve up the day’s catch like this, with a little bit of India, China, and France, in the form of homemade curry powder (called massalé), fresh ginger, garlic, and thyme. …

Read More

Cumin Seed Potatoes | Batata b’kamun

When I look up at the turmeric-colored leaves that dangle in our now somewhat skeletal trees, I know I need a change. I crave something warm, comforting and full of spice. But I need it to happen quick, so I can run back outside, lay on my back, and watch those leaves shimmy and shake on their way down to the ground. Unless, I can find a compromise. A quick recipe I can bring on a picnic. One that can stand up to a chilly autumn afternoon and a toddler who recently got a big girl bike. A recipe I can bring to a potluck… perhaps a potluck featuring fairies from around the world. Well. Turns out, thanks to Qatar, I can. Enter Cumin Seed Potatoes – a recipe that rocks my world. The origins of this dish are a blend of Middle Eastern and Indian sensibilities, which is just about the way things work in Qatar. For a fun and equally authentic variation, try substituting some or all of the potatoes for steamed cauliflower. Ingredients: 2 lbs small …

Read More

Vegan Spiced Yellow Split Peas | Dhal Baht

If you wake up in Nepal, chances are you’ll be eating Dhal Baht. In fact, you’ll probably also eat Dhal Bhat as the sun bobs below the horizon. Nothing wrong with eating the same dish twice in one day. There’s a beautiful simplicity in waking up and knowing that, as certain as the sun will circle the sky, there will be Dhal Bhat. Ah, yes. There’s something to be said for consistency. And for not having to make quite so many decisions during the day. I’m not sure what in my life is that certain. Perhaps my daily cups of tea. All day long I drink glass after glass of the stuff. This fancy name simply means lentils, split peas, or other pulses (dhal) with rice (baht), but each bite reveals so much more. This might as well be the national dish of Nepal. While rice doesn’t grow well in the mountains, this is a dish from the valleys. The seasonings in Dhal vary widely, but most commonly this soup-of-sorts contains tomato, turmeric, ginger, onion, and garlic. …

Read More

Vegetarian Momos

Today let’s stove top travel to Nepal, sit in the afternoon sunshine, and make our own little mountain ranges, good enough to eat. Momos are carefully folded dumplings, each crease like a ridge in the most glorious of mountains, Mount Everest. (Did you know Nepal has 8/1o of the world’s tallest mountains?) This is a recipe for quiet days. Contemplative days. Days when you want to be more, learn more… and find out what you’re made of. With each fold you evolve. Listening becomes easier. Being present is the only option. Today’s recipe is entirely vegetarian, made from a a traditional combination of cabbage and carrot, seasoned with golden turmeric, fresh ginger and sweet onion. You’ll find similar recipes south, towards India and across Tibet, through China. From what I understand you can fold your momos in circles or half moons. The circles are typically used for meat while the half moons are typically reserved for vegetarian. You can also steam or deep fry them, although steaming is the most popular. NOTE: In case you …

Read More

Mauritian Chili Poppers | Gateaux Piments

If you have a hankering for a munchin’, come with me via “stove top travel” to Mauritius. While there, we’ll cozy up, picnic-style, with a basket of Gateaux Piments. These crisp, crunchy poppers are quite a bit like falafel and I got to try them thanks to you, dear readers, since they won your vote on our Facebook Fan Page as the split pea recipe you’d most like me to try. (Thank you!) What I find most exciting about these chili poppers is their intense, fresh flavor. Each bite reveals earthy nips of cumin seed, springy green onion and cilantro sprigs, all tossed around in a golden tumeric glow. These “gateaux piments” would taste fantastic on any salad but, if you want to be totally authentic, try them sandwiched inside a buttered baguette [recipe], perhaps while overlooking the laughing horizon. Talk about epic comfort food. Makes a dozen 1 1/2 inch balls Ingredients: 1 cup yellow split peas, soaked for 4-8 hours 1/2 tsp cumin seed 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped rough 1 green onion, chopped rough …

Read More

Machboos

Certain times call for celebration. Babies. Birthdays. Finding the love of your life. Daydreaming about the love of your life. When a light turns green at the exact right moment, before you have to apply the brakes. For those times, I present Machboos. Take a dive off the deep end with this beloved Kuwaiti dish that boasts warm hits of cinnamon, turmeric, saffron mingled with sweet caramelized onions and raisins. We made ours with chicken, but you can also make it with fish or lamb. If you get a big enough chicken it can feed a happy collection of people (about 4-6). For our version the traditional preparation involves simmering the chicken in fragrant water (which is then used to make the rice). Next, we rub the chicken with more seasoning and pop it in the oven to brown. All kinds of flavor goodness. It took me to happy town, and it can take you there, too. Ingredients: To simmer the chicken: 1 whole chicken 2 bay leaves 1 cinnamon stick 3 cloves 3 cardamom pods …

Read More

Saag Paneer

Serves 4 It’s creamy. It’s earthy. It’s one of my favorite dishes from India. Ladle saag panner over basmati rice and it’s also a surefire way to get a picky man to eat his spinach. Ingredients: vegetable oil 1 tsp fresh grated ginger 1 tsp fresh grated turmeric 2-3 tsp homemade garam masala 1 onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic Serrano chili, sliced thinly (to taste) 1 lb frozen spinach, thawed, juices retained homemade paneer, to taste salt pepper finishing touch 2 Tbsp butter 1/4 cup half and half (or more to taste) Method: There’s only one way to get a picky man to love spinach. Load it up with good flavor. Blend it so it’s no longer slimy. And add some delicious cheese to distract him from all the green. First step: gather the ingredients. Whole Foods had fresh turmeric this week (see bottom right), so I did my happy dance. Next, toast the ginger, turmeric, and garam masala in vegetable oil over medium heat until fragrant. Add the onion, garlic, and Serrano chili. Cook until softened, …

Read More

Garlic and Walnut Sauce | Garo

Makes 4 cups This bold tasting spread/sauce from Georgia will have your mouth asking “What is in this!”  I couldn’t decide what it reminded me of, which I find exciting (trying new flavors is the purpose of eating the world, A-Z!). The bold flavor of cilantro and walnut are the main body of flavor, with an earthy, almost bitter note from the spices. You can knock the bitter profile back a bit if you use less fenugreek seeds. Adapted from The Silk Road Gourmet: Volume One: Western and Southern Asia. Ingredients: 1 bunch cilantro, including stems 4 cloves garlic 2 cups walnuts, chopped 2 cups stock (chicken is traditional, but vegetable is fine for a vegan recipe) 1/4 cup lemon juice 1 1/2 tsp ground coriander 1 1/2- 1 Tbsp fenugreek seeds (add to taste) 1 tsp ground turmeric salt pepper Method: Welcome to Georgia – this picture shows so many of the characteristic flavors of this beautiful country. First, blend together the washed cilantro (stems and all) with walnuts, garlic, lemon juice, and stock. …

Read More

Homemade Curry Powder

Makes about 1/4 cup Curry powder isn’t just for India anymore. Fijians, all the way in Polynesia, also love the golden goodness. I took a look at Mark Bittman’s curry recipes (he has three different ones in The Best Recipes in the World), and made a version which combines the best of his fragrant curry and mild curry. The result? An all-purpose curry that will taste great on almost anything. Except maybe ice cream. This version ended up quite a bit different than Bittman’s, most notably because of a little extra cardamom and a bit less fennel seed. I’m just not that into fennel. If you’d like more heat, try mixing in extra cayenne until you get a blend you like. If you want bonus points, toast and grind each spice individually – you’ll be able to toast the spices more evenly and you’ll also have better control of the grind. You know… unless you have a little Miss Ava to keep up with. Ingredients: 2 tsp black peppercorns 2 tsp ground turmeric 2 tsp coriander seeds …

Read More

Berberé |Hot East African Spice blend

Berberé is a spicy and savory spice mixture used all over Eritrea and Ethiopia. This blend goes well with chicken, beef, or lamb, and would also be great with lentils and other legumes. I’ve used it with our Doro Wat (chicken stew) and Awaze Tibs (lamb stew) recipes. A few sprinkles would also be great in our Lentil Wat. Makes about 1/4 cup Ingredients: 3 cloves 1/2 tsp coriander seeds 1/2 tsp  fenugreek seeds 1 tsp cumin 1 Tbsp paprika 1/4 tsp peppercorns 1/4 tsp ground ginger 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 1/4 tsp ground turmeric 5 whole allspice balls 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds (removed from pods) 1/8 cup chili powder Method: Heat the spices in a clean, dry skillet to toast them. Once cool, grind them in batches. Keep going until most of the stragglers get ground up! Hey, that’s my sister! Enjoy. Votes: 0 Rating: 0 You: Rate this recipe! Print Recipe Berberé is a spicy and savory spice mixture used all over Eritrea and Ethiopia. This blend goes well with chicken, beef, or lamb, and would …

Read More