I am watching so many Indian movies these days, that now when I see an American show it sounds strange to my ears. I have become a big fan of the classic style Bollywood film, but also have seen many of the newer films like Dangal, Neerja, and Pink, which have little to no dancing but a very strong story, especially about woman power. Having always enjoyed Indian food, these movies are only making my cravings more immediate. Dal is a staple in the Indian diet whether you are a vegetarian or a meat-eater. If you have never eaten dal before – or even if you have – this recipe will make you a believer. It is a wonderful side dish or can become more of a main course served with rice and other vegetarian dishes.
Red Lentils with Ginger from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey
Yield: 4-5 servings
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed in a garlic press
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger (Make your life easier and buy this already prepared in a jar.)
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 Tablespoons EVOO or Canola oil
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 cup finely diced tomatoes (I actually used canned this time and it was wonderful)
1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained (skinless masoor dal – these are split red lentils and are readily available in Indian markets and online)
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (optional, but I used it)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- Mix together the garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, cayenne and turmeric.
- Pour the oil into a wide pan (I used a 10-inch pan with 3-inch sides and a lid) and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, put in the onions and fry until the edges begin to turn golden.
- Add the spice mixture and stir for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and their juices. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan. If you are using canned tomatoes, cook for about 2 minutes. If using fresh tomatoes, cook until the tomatoes have softened.
- Add the red lentils and 3.75 cups of water and the salt. Stir well and bring to a boil. Cover the pan partially and reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After 45 minutes, add the butter, if using and cook uncovered for another 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro and serve.
This Bismati pilaf would be a delicious accompaniment to many Indian meals or a side for grilled meat or fish. I used it to accompany Kashmiri Spiced Lamb (See previous recipe).
Bismati Pullao from Ismail Merchant’s Indian Cuisine
Yield: 4-6 servings (Can be doubled)
1.5 cups Basmati rice
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
2-inch piece of cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
1 bay leaf, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
1/2 cup raw cashews (or pistachios)
1/2 cup seedless golden raisins
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Soak the rice in cold water to cover for about 30 minutes. Then drain well through a sieve.
- Heat the oil or ghee in a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid. Add the onions and saute until the onion becomes translucent and softens. Add the well-drained rice, cinnamon, cloves, bay leaf, saffron, cashews and raisins and stir for 2 minutes, coating everything with the onions and oil or ghee.
- Add 3 cups of cold water to the pot along with the salt. Bring to a boil, cover tightly and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and fluffy and all of the water is absorbed. (The cooking time will depend on the brand of rice and how long it soaked prior to cooking.) Stir through with a fork and serve.
I served this dish as a side to my Goan chicken (See previous recipe), but it would also be delicious over rice as part of a vegetarian or vegan meal. While it is traditionally made with peas, the fresh edamame looked so good at the store that I used them instead. This recipe came from a wonderful vegetarian Hindu cookbook that I have had for years called the Flavors of India.
Cauliflower and Peas (Ghobi Aur Matar) from the Flavors of India by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff
1 large cauliflower
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
Kosher salt to taste
2 cups fresh or frozen, defrosted peas or edamame
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/3 cup of water
Juice of 1/2 large lemon
- Separate the cauliflower into smallish florets.
- In a frying pan or wok, place the cumin and mustard seeds in the oil over a moderate flame. When the seeds have all started to pop, add the cauliflower, turmeric and salt.
- Saute for about 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 3-5 minutes more.
- Uncover the pan and add the peas or edamame and the remaining spices. Mix well. Add the water, cover and cook for about 5-10 minutes more, depending on how tender you like your cauliflower. I tend to like my vegetables firm.
- Add the lemon juice, mix through and serve.
Looking for a light, refreshing summer salad? This the answer to any steak or other rich, red meat dish that needs a zesty sidekick (though this also went very nicely with salmon).We made this originally to pair with our steak with corn salsa, and then quickly realized it went well with an assortment main meats.
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 1.5 tbsp coarse grain mustard
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 cup of EVOO
- 2 tsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp chopped parsley
- 1 tbsp minced chives
- 1/2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp capers
- 2 tbsp cornichons
- 1/2 tsp liquid from canned chipotles in adobo sauce (optional but if you have the chipotles from the steak recipe then why not?)
- 1 large daikon radish, about 8 oz, peeled and dice
- 1 bunch red radishes, sliced
- 3 stalks of celery, diced
- 1/3 cup shelled pistachios
- (optional but good if you’re repurposing leftovers) handful of mixed greens
- Place the egg in boiling water for 90 seconds using a slotted spoon.
- Take the egg out of the water, let it cool slightly. Tap the top of the egg to peel of the top of the shell and using a small tsp, carve out the egg from the shell (think of it as a flash soft boiled egg). Add to a food processor.
- Add the lemon juice, mustard, salt and the pepper and pulse or blend. With the motor running, add the olive oil until it is emulsified.
- Add the tomato paste, parsley, chives, capers, cornichons and the chili liquid and keep processing until well mixed.
- Separately, combine the radishes and celery in a large bowl. Add about 1/2 cup of the remoulade to coat completely and mix. (Save the remaining remoulade for seafood dishes or sandwich condiment. We still haven’t figure out what to do with our leftovers quite yet. Mainly because we forgot about it.)
- After mixing thoroughly, refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
- Prior to serving, add the pistachios and mix.
Adapted from the Wine Lover’s Cookbook.
So I had half of head of red cabbage leftover from my red cabbage, goat cheese and walnut salad and hated for it to go to waste. I was making some lovely grilled trout and corn on the cob for dinner and thought about what would go well alongside that would be fast, easy and didn’t require any ingredients that weren’t already in my fridge. I was able to throw this together in minutes in the morning and left it covered on my counter until dinner. I hadn’t planned on blogging about this since it seemed almost too simple. But when my husband saw how beautiful it looked he decided to take a photo. And then of course, it tasted great. So especially now that it is officially barbecue season, this is one side that goes with just about any grilled meat or fish. I don’t actually have a grill, but broiled or oven roasted foods work well too. The amounts are a guideline and can easily be doubled or tripled.
Red Cabbage Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 small head of red cabbage, cored and sliced thinly
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated with the large grate (or if you are REALLY lazy, you could use the bought julienned carrots)
Juice of 2 fresh limes
4 Tablespoons EVOO (I used a Meyer Lemon EVOO but you could use just a good quality plain EVOO)
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 small bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped
freshly cracked black pepper to taste
Toss everything in a non-reactive bowl and cover for a few hours, tossing when you think of it.
I don’t know if it is because my parents are both now dead or if it is because the world seems like such an unsettled place these days – or simply because it is winter – but I seem to be turning more and more to simple comfort foods. I’m sure you noticed that I did not say because I am getting older! While it may seem strange, I have never been what I term a “foodie.” I have not been terribly interested in fads and eating at fancy restaurants where they mist my food in front of my nose and call it dinner. That is no place that I want to eat. I may enjoy the artistry involved in some of these creations, but it is not how I would choose to spend my money or tickle my palate.
I have been making this fruit compote for as long as I can remember and my mother made it before that. I have no idea where the recipe, such as it is, came from. It is simple to make and wonderfully versatile. It is equally good on its own as it is over a good pound cake and I have used it to stuff Rock Cornish Hens or loin of pork. It lasts a very long time in the fridge and every time I eat it, I recall my father teasing my mother about serving “ein bisschen com-putt.”
There is no magic mixture of fruit to use and you can buy packages of mixed fruit. I would recommend buying really good quality dried fruit, preferably unsulphured. I usually make sure that I have dried apples, pears, apricots or peaches, prunes and figs, but I will use what I happen to have around as I have done this time because I am too lazy to go shopping. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled. This can be enjoyed warm, at room temperature or even cold from the fridge over vanilla ice cream. This humble dish will definitely brighten these dark days. Tomorrow I will post an orange currant pound cake to go well with this.
Yield: About 10 servings
1.5 pound of mixed dried fruits
3 cups of cold tap water
3 fat cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon of whole cloves
1.5 cups of granulated sugar
2 or 3 thinly sliced strips of lemon peel, yellow part only
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Soak the dried fruit in the water for 3 hours
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
- Drain the liquid through a sieve into a saucepan and arrange the fruit in a non-metal baking dish
- Add the sugar to the water and cook the mixture on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
- Place the cinnamon sticks, cloves and lemon peel in with the fruit. Pour the sugar syrup over everything
- Bake uncovered for 45 minutes to one hour or until the fruit is plump and tender. How firm you want your fruit is a matter of personal taste
- Squeeze the lemon juice over the fruit and allow it to cool. I like to store mine in a glass jar.
Sunday was the unveiling of my mother’s gravestone and since family was in for the ceremony, we decided to host a pre-thanksgiving dinner. I took advantage of the opportunity to make some things that were not my traditional thanksgiving fare. I found this recipe for carrots that sounded incredibly easy and were also attractive. While I won’t be making them this thanksgiving, you easily could.
Harissa and Maple Roasted Carrots from Bon Appetit, November 2014 by Alison Roman
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup EVOO
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 Tablespoon red harissa paste
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
2.5 pounds, rainbow carrots, peeled, trimmed, cut in half and split
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Whisk garlic, EVOO, maple syrup,harissa , cumin seed, slat and pepper together. Pour over the carrots and sliced lemon and mix through.
- Place in a roasting pan and roast for 40 to 45 minutes r until the carrots are tender and the lemons are caramelized.
Note: This can be prepared up to 6 hours ahead. Allow to cool, cover and keep at room temperature. Just before you are ready to serve, warm the carrots in a 225 degree F oven until warmed through.