Punjabi Chana Dal

Punjabi chana1 (2)

According to WikipediaCultural appropriation is a concept in sociology, dealing with the adoption of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.[1] Cultural appropriation, often framed as cultural misappropriation, is sometimes portrayed as harmful and is claimed to be a violation of the collective intellectual property rights of the originating culture. This is a hot-button issue these days, particularly on college campuses. While I generally try to stay away from terribly controversial topics in this blog, I want to say that especially where food is concerned, this is complete bollocks. If I were limited to cooking and eating foods which were theoretically only within my cultural competency, I would likely die of boredom or worse. So I say “guilty as charged” that when it comes to food – and jewelry – I practice cultural appropriation and am proud of it.

This dish is a wonderful example of a basically humble food (the chickpea) that is elevated to an incredibly flavorful and satisfying dish. It is eaten as a snack by itself or with Basmati rice as part of a meal. If you are vegetarian, just add a vegetable dish and if you are an omnivore, it is wonderful with grilled meats or chicken. It can be garnished with a dollop of yogurt or eaten as is. This dish is not vegan because traditionally it is made with ghee (clarified butter), which is how I make it, however, if you wished to keep it vegan, using a neutral-flavored vegetable oil should work. It can be made ahead and gently reheated when you are ready to serve it.

Punjabi Chana Dal from the Flavors of India by Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff and tweaked by me   

Yield: 6 servings, although if I’m eating it the recipe only serves 3!

Ingredients

1 cup whole dried chana (chickpeas or garbanzo beans) The chana is a little smaller and softer than the garbanzo, but either would work.

1.5 teaspoons Kosher salt

2 Tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)

1/2 cup peeled onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

1/2 teaspoon finely chopped fresh ginger (I use the stuff in a jar)

1/4 teaspoon each: garam masala, ground turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste (optional)

Juice of one lemon or more, to taste

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional garnish)

Directions

  1. Soak the chana overnight in 3 cups of water.
  2. When the chana has finished soaking, drain and rinse them. Place 4 cups of water in a 4 quart pot and bring to a boil, adding 1 teaspoon of the salt. When the water has come to a full boil, add the drained chana. Allow the water to return to the boil. Then lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot and cook the chana for 45 minutes.
  3. Drain the chana into a colander over a bowl. You will be using some of the reserved liquid later.
  4. Place the ghee in a large frying pan with a lid over low heat. Add the onions, garlic and ginger and stir until the onions just begin to brown. Then add your spices and the additional 1/2 teaspoon of salt and stir through for about 1 minute. Now add the well-drained chana and mix through the spices and onion mixture. Saute for 7 minutes. The smell will drive you crazy – it is sooooooooooooo good.
  5. Now add 1.5 cups of the reserved chana cooking liquid. Stir through. Raise the temperature to high to bring the mixture to a full boil. Cook uncovered for 2 minutes.  Punjabi chana4 
  6. Now cover the pan, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Most of the cooking liquid should have been absorbed and the chana are tender but not mushy. [I have never had to add more liquid or cook the chana for longer, but depending on the chickpeas that you used it could take a bit longer to cook. If necessary, add a few more tablespoons of the reserved liquid and cook for another 10 minutes to get the chana to the right consistency.]  Punjabi chana8
  7. Add the fresh lemon juice and enjoy.Punjabi chana5

Amish Apple Pie

Amish Apple Pie

Since I have never been able to replicate my mother’s deep-dish apple pie to my satisfaction, I keep trying to find a recipe that will take its place. I made this pie for Thanksgiving along with my Bourbon Pecan Pie. It was a hit with everyone, although it still won’t fill the void of my mother’s pie for me….

NOTE: A few of the changes that I am mentioning here are not reflected in the photo but are what I would do when making this pie again. I have also given the non-vegan version of ingredients as well.

Amish Apple Pie from Cooking from Quilt Country by Marcia Adams and adapted by me

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

For the Streusel

1/2 cup all-purpose, unbleached flour

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 rounded teaspoon ground cinnamon

a pinch of Kosher salt

8 Tablespoons cold unsalted buttery vegan sticks (I’ll be honest – nothing truly is a substitute for butter, in my opinion, but if you want this to be vegan…) 

1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats OR 1/2 cup coarsely chopped English walnuts

For the Pie 

1 unbaked 10-inch pie shell, chilled (I used my go-to double crust vegan Crisco pie crust recipe.)

4 large apples (I used Honey Crisp, but other apples such as Granny Smith or McIntosh could also be used.)

3/4 cup granulated sugar

4 Tablespoons instant Tapioca

1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of Kosher salt

1 cup thicker non-dairy milk (I used the full-fat vanilla soy milk. If you are not going vegan, the recipe calls for heavy cream or half & half.)

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Using a food processor, mix the first 5 streusel ingredients. Add the cold butter with the oats or walnuts and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Don’t over-process. Set aside. (I used a different process which had me pulverize the oats and melt the butter, which is why my streusel looks wetter and less streusely than it should. The taste was fine, but it will be prettier if you do it the way I have instructed.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. You should have at least 4 cups.
  3. Place the apples into the chilled pie shell, arranging them to fill most gaps.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix the sugar, Tapioca, salt and cinnamon. In a glass measuring cup, add the vanilla to the non-dairy milk. Stir the liquid mixture into the dry mixture to thoroughly combine. Pour the mixture over the apples.
  5. Bake the pie for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes carefully remove the pie from the oven and working quickly, sprinkle the streusel mixture over the top, covering all of the apples. Return the pie to the oven for another 40 minutes or until the top puffs and is golden brown. Allow the pie to cool before serving. If you are not vegan, this is especially delicious with some good vanilla ice cream on top.

Holiday Coleslaw

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I could make the same thing every Thanksgiving and no one in my family would complain. But I would be unhappy and bored. So each year I try to keep all of the favorites but I then add some new element. Occasionally, like this year, one of the new things fails and ends up in the garbage before it ever makes it to my holiday table. However, I also had three successes and they are foods that would be delicious anytime. This is the first of those items and with the availability of pre-shredded slaw, it is a snap to put together. I used a colorful mix of kale, Brussel sprouts, carrots and cabbage which held up beautifully so that even with some left-overs, I could enjoy it a day later. While it added that satisfying crunch and lightness to my holiday meal, this slaw would be equally good with burgers (veggie or otherwise) or grilled meat, chicken or fish.

Holiday Slaw from kitchn and tweaked by me

Yield: 10-12 servings

Ingredients

For dressing

1/3 cup EVOO

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard (I used a wonderful walnut Dijon mustard)

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 of a medium red onion, finely chopped

Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

For the salad

Two 14 ounce bags of mixed slaw or about 2.5 pounds of green cabbage, shredded (about 10 cups)

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

3/4 cup dried cranberries

One bunch of flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

  1. Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. I made this the night before and refrigerated it. Make it at least 30 minutes before to allow the flavors to meld properly.
  2. Put all of the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Toss with the dressing. This can be tossed at least two hours ahead and should be tossed at least 30 minutes before serving for optimal taste.

 

 

 

Moroccan Style Sweet Potato Stew

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I came up with this recipe about 20+ years ago when my son went through a period of not eating any meat. I was looking for something that screamed “autumn” to me so I could serve it for the holiday of Sukkot, which we recently celebrated. If you do a lot of North African/Mediterranean and Indian cooking, as I do, then you will always have these seasonings on hand. The main ingredients can be varied to taste, substituting cauliflower for the eggplant for example. Just keep in mind textures, colors and cooking times for the different vegetables that you may use. And, of course, this can be doubled or tripled if desired. Left-overs are delicious but keep in mind that after a time some of the vegetables will get mushy with aggressive reheating. I usually serve this over cooked millet, couscous or rice but you can use any grain or bread that you prefer. My husband is not a big fan of very hot/spicy foods and neither was my son when he was little; however, if you do wish to add some heat to this otherwise well-seasoned dish, you have a few options. You can serve harissa on the side for diners to add their own level of heat individually or if you know that your crowd likes it hot, you can add some hot peppers along with the sweet bell pepper and/or add some cayenne pepper to the spice mix. There are no strict rules here.

Lisa’s Moroccan Style Sweet Potato Stew

Yield: 4-6 servings     IMG_3683

Ingredients

1 large onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and minced

2 Tablespoons EVOO or Canola oil

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into large dice

1 large red bell pepper, cut into large dice

1 long Japanese eggplant, cut into large dice

15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained (save the liquid for aquafaba!)

1 large Granny Smith or other tart apple, cut into large dice (no need to peel it)

14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes with liquid

1/2 cup of raisins

15 ounce can of pumpkin puree

About 1.25 cups of vegetable broth

About 3 Tablespoons apple juice or cider

1 teaspoon each of turmeric and cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon each of curry powder, ground cumin, salt and either freshly cracked black pepper or Aleppo pepper (my preference)

1/4 teaspoon each of ground nutmeg and ground sumac

2 teaspoons of tamarind paste

Optional Garnishes

Chopped cilantro

Lightly toasted pumpkin seeds, cashews, pine nuts or almonds

Greek Yogurt

Harissa (red or green)

Directions

  1. In a 4 quart heavy saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic until softened. Stir in the spices and add enough of the apple juice to keep the spices from sticking and burning. Stir for about 3 minutes or until the spices become fragrant.
  2. Add all of the vegetables except for the eggplant. Add the tomatoes, tamarind paste, apple, pumpkin puree, broth and raisins and stir through. Bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. After 20 minutes, add the eggplant, re-cover the pan and continue cooking for another 15-20 minutes or until the sweet potato is tender and cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over a cooked grain of your choice and with one or more of the optional garnishes.

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Plum (or Apple)and Almond Paste Tart

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The French and Italians learned a long time ago that more does not always mean better. While I love a really good “mile-high” apple pie (and my mother still made the best, in my opinion) there is definitely something to be said for a simple fruit tart with just a thin, but very flavorful filling. This recipe (and I use the term loosely) is very flexible. I made it with golden delicious apples for Rosh HaShana and it would also be delicious with other stone fruit such as apricots or peaches. It is easy to throw together and the resulting tart will draw surprised looks and oohs and aahs with that first bite. The surprise comes from the layer of almond paste that lines the pastry shell and makes this seemingly simple dessert so decadent and satisfying. This tart was made with some end of season plums that were available in the market.

Lisa’s Plum (or Apple) and Almond Paste Tart

Yield: One 9-inch tart that serves 6-8 (A little goes a long way)

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Ingredients

One unbaked 9-inch pastry shell (This is my go-to crust, which is also vegan)

About 4 medium plums or about 3-4 apples

7 ounces of almond paste (I like Odense brand)

1/4 cup of granulated, raw, or Demerara sugar

2 Tablespoons sliced natural almonds (optional)

1 Tablespoon of Amaretto (optional)

2 Tablespoons of good margarine or unsalted butter (My preference is for butter, but a good margarine will do)

About 2 Tablespoons apple or red currant jelly

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Line a shallow pie plate or fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (If you are going to be baking , you really should buy one of these.) Roll out the almond paste into a 9-inch circle. Don’t worry about being perfect. A little patching won’t show. Refrigerate or freeze the dough while you prepare the fruit.
  3. Wash, dry and slice the fruit into thin (but not so thin that you see through!) slices – between 1/8 and 1/4 inches. Remove the dough from the fridge or freezer. Lay out the slices of fruit so that they slightly overlap and form concentric circles. Sprinkle with the sugar and scatter the almonds, if using, and then generously dot with the butter.
  4. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet to catch any oozing that might occur. Bake for about 45-55 minutes. Ovens vary so watch the tart. You want the fruit giving off some juice and the pastry should be golden.
  5. Remove the tart from the oven and place on a cooling rack. Sprinkle the tart with the Amaretto, if using. While the tart is till warm, carefully brush the fruit with a little of the apple or red currant jelly. It isn’t essential to do this step, but this not only adds a bit more fruit flavor but it also gives the tart that gem-like glisten you see in professional tarts. I was able to buy a wonderful apple jelly online that is very clear and which just melts beautifully over the fruit. If you can’t find a really clear jelly you might need to heat and strain the jelly before using it.
  6. Allow the tart to completely cool before removing it from the tart ring. You should slice relatively small wedges for serving. It may not look it, but this is quite rich and a little goes a long way.

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad with Pistachios

Beet and Orange Salad

I find that North African food and Indian food mix and match beautifully. So when I was serving an Indian-themed dinner for the first night of Rosh HaShana, I didn’t hesitate to use this Moroccan beet salad as a side dish. Aside from being healthy and delicious, beets add such vibrant color to any table and when paired with bright oranges there are few foods that are more visually stunning. I saw this recipe in the Chicago Tribune and immediately decided to include it in my holiday dinner. Since now you can easily purchase pre-roasted and peeled organic beets in your grocery store, this dish only takes minutes to prepare. I prepped all of the elements ahead of dinner and then combined them just as my guests were arriving. If you add the oranges too soon, they will pick up the color from the beets and while the salad will still taste wonderful, the effect of the contrasting colors will not be as pronounced. And here for a perfect pairing of Moroccan and Indian….

Moroccan Beet and Orange Salad by Joan Nathan from “King Solomon’s Table”

Yield: 8-10 servings

Ingredients

6 to 8 medium beets

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 to 3 navel oranges

Juice of 1 small lemon

2 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp. ground cumin, or to

taste

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

½ bunch fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp. chopped green

pistachios

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse the beets, rub them with the olive oil, and then wrap them in foil and put them on a baking sheet. Roast them for about one hour until tender when poked with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut into bite-size wedges. (Or buy pre-roasted and peeled beets, simply drain and cut them.)
  3. With a sharp knife, cut off the tops and bottoms of the oranges. Slice off the peel and the white pith and cut in between the white membranes to extract individual segments.
  4. Mix the lemon juice, garlic, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl or jar. Whisk in the olive oil, then toss with the beets. Let sit for a few hours at room temperature.
  5. Just before serving, add the orange segments and sprinkle with the parsley and pistachio nuts for color.

Thai Style Yellow Curry with Sweet Potato

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I saw this recipe in the weekend Wall Street Journal and immediately decided I had to make it. It either can be made with shredded chicken or cubed tofu for a vegan version. This time I went for the chicken, but I’m sure that I will also make the vegan version in future. The spices are what make this dish, so while I freely admit that I am not always such a purist and will use bought spice mixes and pre-ground spices, there are times when I will go all out and grind my own and this is one of those times. Relatively recently I have been seeing fresh turmeric in my grocery store, but had never bought it until now. Since I do both Mediterranean and Indian cooking, I knew that the turmeric would not be wasted and decided to give it a try. I understand that it also can be used as an herbal infusion, which is supposed to have many health benefits as an anti-inflammatory.

Obviously this dish is not something you are going to make after you arrive home late from work, but it is fun to try for a lazy Sunday. I did cheat by using a store-made roasted organic chicken since I am all for short-cuts when they don’t compromise the end product. I followed the recipe pretty strictly (unusual for me) except I did not bother to strain the curry or put it into a new clean pot before adding the chicken and final ingredients. That just seemed like needless extra work to me and I can live happily with a bit of texture in my final dish.

Thai Style Yellow Curry with Sweet Potato by Mary-Frances Heck from her new cookbook Sweet Potatoes: Roasted, Loaded, Fried, and Made into Pie’ (Clarkson Potter)

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

15-ounce can coconut milk (full-fat, please)

For curry paste

1 Tablespoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon  cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon yellow mustard seeds

3 dried small, hot chilies such as Arbol

3/4 cup chopped shallots

1/4 cup garlic cloves, peeled

Chopped stems from one bunch of cilantro

1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1-inch piece fresh turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced (or 1 Tablespoon ground turmeric, if you must)

For curry

1 large orange-fleshed sweet potato (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

3 cups water

About 12 ounces shredded cooked chicken or firm tofu, cut into cubes (I ended up using an entire small rotisserie chicken)

1 Tablespoon fish sauce

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 pound Chinese-style egg noodle (See Note at the bottom.)

Garnish

Thinly sliced shallots

Cilantro leaves

Lime juice

Chile oil

Directions

  1. Place the unopened can of coconut milk in the freezer for 15 minutes to solidify the layer of cream at the top.
  2. In a dry skillet set over medium heat, toast the seeds, shaking the pan frequently until fragrant and a few of the mustard sees pop, about 1 minute.
  3. Pour the seeds into a dish to cool. Place the hot chilies into the dry pan and toast, turning them as they puff and turn bright red, about 30 seconds. Allow the chilies to cool.
  4. Once the spices have cooled, place them between waxed or parchment paper and using a heavy pan, crack the spices.
  5. Add the cracked spices, shallots, garlic, cilantro stems, turmeric and ginger to the bowl of a food processor or blender and pulse to form a paste.
  6. Open the can of coconut milk and spoon the solid cream into a heavy medium pot. Set over medium heat and melt the coconut cream. Add the curry paste and stir through, frying the paste for about 1 minute or until smooth and everything is combined. Reduce heat to low and continue cooking uncovered, stirring frequently until the paste darkens a shade and orange oil begins to seep from the paste – about 8 minutes.
  7. Stir in the remaining coconut milk, the cubed sweet potato and 3 cups of water. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Cook, stirring often until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly.
  8. Using a standing blender, puree the mixture in batches until smooth. Please be sure that the liquid has cooled first and do in batches. Otherwise, you will be cleaning up a mess! I tried using an immersion blender but I just couldn’t get the mixture smooth enough. (The directions then say to strain the curry through a fine-mesh sieve, but after trying to do this, I thought it was a total waste of time, although it will make for a thinner curry. If like me you are okay with a slightly thicker end product then simply puree it well in the blender and skip the sieve. It also said to transfer to a clean pot. REALLY?! No way.)
  9. Stir in the shredded chicken or cubed tofu, the fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice and salt. Adjust the seasoning to taste by adding more fish sauce or brown sugar. Warm through. The curry is only moderately spicy. I found the flavors delicious and very subtle – rounded out by the sweet potato and coconut milk. If you are looking for something with more heat, you will need to use a hotter chili pepper or simply add more hot chili oil.
  10. Cook the noodles according to the package and drain well. Divide the noodles into 4 bowls and ladle the hot curry over the top. Garnish.

NOTE: While the recipe called for noodles, I would use rice the next time I make this. The dish is quite rich tasting and I think the rice provides a better foil.