Karhi, a Yogurt Sauce

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This is a wonderfully fragrant heated yogurt sauce. The chickpea flour not only keeps the yogurt from curdling when heated but it adds a nutty flavor and extra nutrition, which is especially great for those following a vegetarian diet. The sauce is poured over rice or eaten with whole-grain flat-breads.  There are regional varieties and I look forward to trying them all. It is also enjoyed by meat-eaters and I served it with Lemony Ground Lamb with Mint and Red Lentils with Ginger. (See previous recipe)

Karhi, a Yogurt Sauce from At Home with Madhur Jaffrey and halved by me

Yield: About 1 quart

Ingredients

6 Tablespoons chickpea flour

1 cup plain whole milk yogurt with acidophilus

3 Tablespoons EVOO or Canola oil

3/4 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon whole brown or yellow mustard seeds (I used brown)

1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds

2 dried hot red chilies

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

8 fresh curry leaves, chopped (I bought these online and keep unused leaves in my freezer, which I pull out as needed.)

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Directions

  1. Put the chickpea flour in a large bowl. Very slowly add 1/2 cup of water, beating with a whisk as you do so. Keep beating until there are no more lumps.
  2. Add the yogurt and whisk until smooth. Add another 2 cups of water, gradually, whisking as you go.
  3. Pour the oil into a 3 or 4 quart pot and set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the seeds and the chilies. As soon as the seeds begin to pop, add the turmeric and curry leaves. Stir once and add the yogurt mixture. Stir with a whisk.
  4. Add the salt. Keep stirring with a whisk until the mixture thickens and starts to bubble. Partially cover the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes.  IMG_3996

 

Eggplant Raita Middle Eastern Style

img_2822I have often thought that it is possible to mix cuisines, especially with a bit of tweaking. I wanted something to go with my herbed lamb patties (see following post) in addition to the traditional tahini spread. I remembered that I had made a raita with roasted eggplant that I believed would do the trick. After reviewing the recipe, I decided to play with the seasonings a bit to take this Indian condiment and make it a bit more Middle Eastern. The original recipe came from The Vegetarian Epicure, Book Two by Anna Thomas. It is a wonderful accompaniment to grilled meats or as a dip with pita or other flat bread.

Eggplant Raita Middle Eastern Style

Yield: About 3 cups

Ingredients

1 eggplant (about 1.5 pounds)

2 Tablespoons EVOO

1 small onion, chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

1 teaspoon peeled and grated fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half or quarters, if on the larger side

1/4 teaspoon of Aleppo or cayenne pepper

Juice of 1/2 a large lemon

1.25 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 cups Greek-style yogurt

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

  1. Prick the eggplant all over with a fork. Place it on heavy duty foil in a pan large enough to hold that has sides. Roast it in a preheated 400 degree F. oven for 1 hour, turning once. The eggplant should be completely soft and somewhat collapsed. (This can also be done over an open flame, which tastes wonderful but can get very messy.) Allow the eggplant to cool slightly and then slice it in half. Scoop out all of the pulp, removing as many clusters of seeds as you can. Place it over a strainer and allow the juices to drain. Then coarsely chop the pulp.
  2. Heat the EVOO in a medium skillet and saute the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and stir over low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and salt and continue cooking until the tomatoes begin to soften. Add the eggplant pulp and stir through and remove from the heat. img_2821
  3. Stir the eggplant/onion mixture through the yogurt. Add the lemon juice and pepper and mix well. Taste and adjust your seasonings if necessary. Add the chopped cilantro and mix thoroughly. Allow to chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Eggplant and Tomato Bake

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I have never met an eggplant that I didn’t like and frankly cannot understand when someone tells me they don’t eat eggplants. They can be prepared so many ways! And they are beautiful. So when I saw this recipe for Tian d’Aubergines in last week’s Chicago Tribune I had to try it. Tomatoes are at their most gorgeous now and I was able to pick up some luscious ripe ones at my local market. The only thing I changed from the original recipe was to add garlic because who makes eggplant without garlic?? I also layered my herbs and salt and pepper because – well, layering flavors is just better. This dish can be eaten hot, room temperature or cold. I am serving it at room temperature tonight with some lamb chops and a lovely rosé from Provence. I imagine that leftovers will be eaten with just some crusty bread to soak up all of the delicious liquid and a bright green salad. I did buy some Greek cheese the other day so I might have some sliced on the side. This is one of those wonderfully simple and versatile dishes like a good ratatouille. I was skeptical when I read that it baked for two hours, but the final result is deliciously unctuous so don’t skimp on the baking time.

Eggplant and Tomato Bake from Monique Hanson

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Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced

Lots of fresh thyme leaves

3 medium eggplants

4 large ripe tomatoes

5 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

4 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

8 Tablespoons EVOO plus more for drizzling

Kosher or sea salt to taste and fresh ground black pepper or Aleppo pepper if you have it

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly drizzle oil on the bottom of a heavy rectangular baking dish (mine was 9.5 by 13) large enough to hold everything very snugly (there will be some shrinkage when it bakes). Place the baking dish on a pan since there might be a little spillage when it bakes.
  2. Layer the onions and garlic over the bottom of the pan and sprinkle with lots of fresh thyme leaves, a sprinkling of salt and some pepper.
  3. Cut off both ends of the eggplants and then slice almost all of the way through but not entirely at 1/2 inch intervals. Slice your tomatoes and nestle one slice between the cuts in the eggplant.
  4. Place the stuffed eggplants in the baking pan over the onion and garlic. Don’t worry if you have to squish things a little to force them in. They will bake down. Sprinkle with more thyme, salt and pepper.
  5. In a small bowl, make the vinaigrette. Mix well and drizzle it over the eggplant. Drizzle a little more EVOO and sprinkle a little more salt.
  6. Bake uncovered for 1 hour. Then cover and bake for another hour until the eggplant is cooked through, the house smells amazing and the liquid is bubbling up in the baking dish. Serve at any temperature that you choose.

Moong Dal and Lemony Ground Lamb

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My birthday was Saturday and my wonderful son and daughter-in-law sent me the perfect gift – a cookbook by Madhur Jaffrey, amazing spices and a gift certificate for cooking lessons of my choice at a local school. I adore Indian food so I immediatelyt started reading Jaffrey’s book over my morning coffee. Some women get seduced by a new pair of shoes. My downfall is cooking ingredients and gadgets. We have some wonderful Indian/Pakistani stores in Chicago and I have things in my pantry that caught my eye, but somehow never got used.

I came across Jaffrey’s recipe for Moong Dal and since I never met a lentil that I didn’t like, I kept reading. While, it’s true that the average American cook doesn’t just happen to have moong dal and asafetida in the pantry, I actually do. I’m sure that I bought both after reading some recipe and then never got around to making it. Well, I am making it now! Jaffrey serves it with Basmati rice, which I always have on hand and she mentions Lemony Ground Lamb with Mint and Cilantro. Coincidentally, I have all of those ingredients and so am planning a mini-feast. It’s only a shame that Frances and Matthew aren’t here to share it with us since I know that they would enjoy this meal as well. Andrew and I are looking forward to many happy meals thanks to our children!

Of course, if you are a vegetarian or a vegan, the Moong Dal and Rice together are a wonderful meal, perhaps with another vegetable dish added. This is real comfort food.

Every Day Moong Dal by Madhur Jaffrey

Yield: 4 to 6 Servings

Ingredients

1 cup (7 ounces) moong dal (hulled and split mung beans) washed and drained

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon asafetida

1/2 teaspoon whole cumin sees

1 to 2 dried hot red chilies (the short cayenne type) or ground cayenne pepper to taste

1 medium shallot, peeled and cut into fine slivers

Directions

  1. Put the dal in a medium pot and add 3.5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and skim off any froth.
  2. Add the turmeric, stir to mix and partially cover the pot. Turn the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 45 minutes.
  3. Add the salt and stir through. Turn off the heat.
  4. Pour the oil into a small, heavy frying pana nd set over medium heat-high heat. When the pan is hot, add the asfafetida, cumin seeds and chilies, quickly and in that order. As soon as the chilies darken (a matter of seconds), add the shallots. Stir and cook until the shallots brown and then quickly pour the contents over the cooked dal. Stir to mix and serve with the rice.

Lemony Ground Lamb by Madhur Jaffrey

Yield: 3-4 portions

Ingredients

2 Tablespoons olive or canola oil

2 2-inch sticks of cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped onion

1 pound ground lamb (on the lean side)

2 teaspoons very finely grated, peeled fresh ginger

3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste

1/4 tp 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

1/4 to 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves

Juice of one lemon

3/4 teaspoon garam masala

Directions

  1. Pour the oil into a large, heavy-duty frying pan (I like cast iron) and set over medium high heat. When hot, put in the cinnamon sticks. Allow them to sizzle for a few seconds, until fragrant. Add the onions. Stir and fry the onions until the edges turn brown.
  2. Add the lamb and ginger, breaking up the lamb with a wooden spoon. Stir and fry for about 5 minutes.
  3. Add 3/4 cup of water, the salt and cayenne. Stir and bring to a simmer. Cover the pan, turn the heat to low and simmer gently for about 40 minutes.
  4. Add the lemon juice and garam masala. The dish can be made ahead of time up to this point. When ready to serve, bring the mixture to a simmer and add the mint and cilantro, stirring through. Heat uncovered for about 5 minutes.

Serve with Basmati rice and the Moong Dal, Naan and any chutney of your choice. This can be wrapped in the flatbread and eaten as a wrap, with some chopped fresh tomatoes.

Spiced Butternut Squash and Farro Salad

Oftentimes at work, we have vendors come through telling us about their amazing products, from flavored vodka to pistachios.  The flavored vodka vendors brought a manicurist, a masseuse, a bunch of Pottery barn soft, fuzzy robes that redefine “fuzzy robe” because they are so soft, and well, flavored vodka.  More directly relevant were the Pistachio folks who came through, and set up a veritable feast with every dish including pistachios.  It was basically a pistachio party, and my favorite takeaway was the inspiration for this butternut squash and farro salad.

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I love making grain salads that incorporate random tidbits from my kitchen, and when the grain salad incorporates free bags of pistachios, even better.  This was so good that it could have been a meal in and of itself.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of farro
  • 1/4 tbsp paprika
  • 1/4 tbsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 lb butternut squash (peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup of pomegranate arils (or just whatever one pomegranate yields)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup arugula
  • 4-8 oz goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup pistachios

Directions

  1. Cook the farro according to package instructions.  (Usually just put the farro in a pot with enough water to cover it, bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the farro is tender about 30 minutes).
  2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Take out a baking sheet, line with foil and drizzle some EVOO.  Put cut up butternut squash on the pan, sprinkle all the spices on the butternut squash then stick in the oven until the squash is tender, about 35 minutes.
  3. Drain and transfer the farro to a large mixing bowl, and add the butternut squash, EVOO, pomegranate seeds, arugula, and pistachios.
  4. Serve with a dollop of goat cheese, good both warm and at room temperature.

Carrots and Spicy Harissa Yogurt

One of our favorite “date night at home” menus includes a cast iron steak cooked to crispness on a cast iron skillet plus some roasted vegetables.  The struggle has been trying to find inventive sides to go with the steak just for some variety.   Lately I’ve been really into these colored carrots that seem to taste better than the average Bugs Bunny carrot, really only because I’m easily distracted and impressed by colorful food on my plate!

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This recipe would be a lovely side course to serve at a dinner party, as well, as it would plate beautifully and be a creative way to jazz up the side potatoes routine.

Ingredients

  • 1 head of garlic
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • salt
  • 8-12 medium to small carrots
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Moroccan harissa (or paprika and chili powder)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, toasted
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, toasted
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh parley
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Slice the head of garlic in half widthwise and toss in oil just to coat.  Wrap in foil.  Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour and then mash into a paste.
  3. Slice the shallot into paper thin rings and toss in a bowl with some lemon juice to coat.  Allow to sit for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat the broiler.  Peel the carrots and trim the tops and ends.  Cook the carrots in the boiling water until they are just shy of fork tender.  Remove the carrots and lay on a baking sheet.  Toss them with oil.  Place the baking sheet under the broker until the carrots are slightly blistered.
  5. Put the yogurt in a small mixing bowl.  Stir in the harissa until you get your desired spice level.  Do the same with the roasted garlic paste.  Then add the lemon juice and salt to taste.
  6. To serve, spoon some of the yogurt on each plate, put carrots on top, and finish with the sunflower seeds, pistachios, the shallot, parsley and mint.

From Twenty Dinners by Chris Taylor 

Green Beans!

green beans and tomatoesGrowing up I watched the old tv show, The Waltons, and was imediately taken by Livvy sitting at the large kitchen table or Grandma, sitting on the porch trimming fresh green beans and talking about whatever was on their minds. As it was supposed to, it evoked a sense of home, family and warmth that we all wanted to replicate. While my childhood was a time of the “miracle” of frozen vegetables, I remember nagging my mother until she bought fresh green beans in season. I have never looked back and will only buy fresh green beans whether at the grocery store or at the farmer’s market. To this day, one of my favorite things to do in the kitchen is to take a crisp, fresh green bean and to snap off the stem end.

These green beans are easy to make and can be enjoyed hot or at room temperature. A pound should feed 4 people, but my husband and I finished them off ourselves.

Green Beans

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

1 pound crisp, fresh green beans

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 rounded teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 to 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (or sea salt)

cracked black pepper (about 10 grinds)

2 teaspoons EVOO

Directions

  1. Trim the green beans by snapping off the stem end. If they are fresh, they will snap cleanly.
  2. Place the beans in a pot of water to just cover them and cover the pot. Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Immediately rinse the beans in very cold water or plunge them into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and to retain the bright green color. As soon as they have cooled off, place the beans in a dish towel and wrap them to dry.
  3. In the now dry pot that you cooked the green beans in (I have a wonderful oval pan from Rachael Ray that is a favorite for so many things, including cooking green beans) add the EVOO, the garlic, salt, pepper and the dried beans. Turn the heat to high, add the tomatoes and just gently toss for about 2-3 minutes – just to heat through and until the tomatoes barely begin to soften. I dare you to not start stealing beans before they ever make it to the serving bowl!