Sunday, November 27, 2016

Bengali Mung Dal Kichuri (Kitchari)

Serve this on a rainy day with Begali Begun Bhaja

Mung Dal Kichuri (Kichri recipe)

Serves : 3

0.25 cup yellow split mung dal
0.25 cup white basmati rice
3-4 fingerling potatoes scrubbed  and quartered or 1 large Yukon Gold or a red potato peeled and diced into 0.5 in pieces
1 carrot peeled and cut cross wise into 0.25 in pieces
0.5 cup shelled fresh english peas or frozen peas
0.25 cup cashew
1 medium tomato quartered
2 tbsp ghee - maybe substituted with 2 tbsp of high quality organic sunflower seed oil.
1tsp whole cumin seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground coriander
0.5 in piece of fresh ginger grated or minced
1 whole dried cayenne pepper (optional)
1 bayleaf
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Cooking steps:

  1. Rinse and drain the mung dal and rice in 3-4 changes of cold water to remove the starch from the surface.
  2. Add the ghee to a 4 quart happy bottomed sauce pan and heat it under medium heat until the ghee melts and just starts to smoke.
  3. Add the bay leaf, cayenne pepper (whole) swirl around for 30 secs.
  4. Add the whole cumin seeds and use a metal spatula to stir  the seeds for  30s.
  5. Add the ground coriander and stir it with the spatula for 15 s and add the ginger and stir for approx. a minute or until the ginger starts to turn golden
  6. Add the cashews and stir for 30 s.
  7. Add the turmeric and the chopped tomatoes and periodically stir (~3-5 min) until the tomato falls apart.
  8. Add the potatoes, carrots, fresh peas and stir for ~ 5 minutes.  If you are using frozen peas add the peas at the end of the 5 minutes and stir for an additional 3-5 minutes
  9. Add the drained rice and dal, salt,sugar and stir for 3-5 minutes until the ingredients are well mixed together and coated with the spices
  10. Add 5 cups of cold filtered water, increase heat and bring it  to a rolling boil
  11. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 30-45 minutes depending on altitude and the freshness of the mung dal.  At the finished stage, the dal should completely disintegrate. You may want to check for every 15-20 minutes.
  12. Once done, leave the kichuri covered for another 15 minutes

Serve hot -  normally  the kichuri will be drizzled with melted ghee (optional) on top.

Note - If using a pressure cooker, add only 4 cups of water and cook for approximately 10 minutes under medium heat and let it sit under pressure for another 15 minutes. You can add spinach in step 9 - but the spinach will turn into mush and will impart a greenish color as opposed to a bright yellow.

Vegetarian Christmas Posole

The holidays in New Mexico are just not complete without Posole.  Traditionally made with pork, this vegetarian version can easily be vegan and/or gluten free with the omission of cheese and "fake" chorizo.

Christmas Posole
blue corn (or white corn) posole kernels
field roast veggie chorizo or other vegetarian chorizo substitute (or omit to be gluten-free)
sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
lime juice
salt to taste
veggie bullion cube

Garnish with:
sour cream
Goat, jack or cheddar cheese
fresh squeezed lime

rinse and soak posole overnight, rinse again
put in stock pot, add water and boil until starting to pop
peel and chop into cubes the onion and sweet potato
add salt to taste, veggie rapunzel bullion cube if desired

you can either:
1) saute them separately in oil with the chorizo then add to the boiling posole
2) add directly to the posole

add tomatoes if desired

cook until sweet potato is done, taste for salt after cooked - the chorizo has salt in it, add salt & cook a bit longer.   Squeeze lime over the top and diced fresh cilantro
Serve in bowls with avocado and other toppings.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What to cook when the world is ending.....

Last month, while in India, my friend Pam asked "What is your go-to comfort food?".  She told me hers was beans and cornbread, and I said I needed to think about it.  It took me a while to think over it, but I know tonight what mine is.

What do you eat when the world is ending?  I was going to name this post "What to cook when you feel like the world is ending...." but it actually does end, eventually, for all of us.

On a trip this weekend I read a touching article by Alison Miller, and what her mother who passed away from cancer had as her last meal.  Thank you Alison for sharing your story, and the leap your family took - for you all and really for the all of us.

The past month has been a succession of blows on a personal level, national and global as well.  Coworkers and friends are in mourning for loved ones lost, and the world is in mourning for our collective future.  Many tears have been shed over the election, the Standing Rock situation, dear loved ones are suffering personal tragedies while "the world is reverting to the conditions of the  beginning of the early 20th century".

The rise of nationalism, hatred, ignorance, entitlement, blaming others for their problems appears to be on the rise in all "first world nations" while the others have not had the luxury to go through the economic rise/stagnation/entitlement cycle.  In the US the robber barons are back en force - in fact, the US President elect has a son aptly named, "Barron", truth be told the kid is a poor child of history.  Maybe everyone will love Trump, his horrific schizophrenia, and the "image" of his "billionairness" possibly shining on THEM will cure their ills.

In the meantime - if you are not so disgusted with the state of things and have not switched to a fermented liquid diet, what do you eat?

We have a world of cookbooks in our library, literally chronicling the Earth in a breadth-first search, but there is a gap in African dishes.  Northern African/ Egypt has coverage, but we will rectify this tomorrow night as we confer with our African definitive source.  I find comfort in the diversity, pouring over pages of recipes from around our planet that have nurtured and sustained families just like my own, from all nationalities, faiths, and cultures.

This temporary collective misery we are all in currently, it will pass, and we are hoping sooner than later.  So what are we eating for dinner tonight?  In our home we are having pinto beans, rice, calabacitas and tortillas.  Simple, humble food we prepared ourselves.  This is our comfort food.  I'll tell Pam.

Here's to Gwen - and all of us!  I ask you now - what will you eat?  What is your comfort food?  I'd love to hear.

Recipe for Simple Calabacitas

small yellow and green zuchinni, washed and sliced 1/4" thick
onion - sliced or diced
garlic - slided or minced
corn kernels - fresh off the cob or frozen
roasted New Mexican green chile, seeded and chopped (optional)
salt &/or pepper to taste
dried oregano (or italian spice mix), to taste
olive oil to line pan
chedder or jack shredded cheese to garnish or add in (optional)

Saute the squash, onion and garlic in the olive oil, add the corn and chile if using, salt, pepper and spices to taste.  A large saute pan or skillet is preferred because the squash and onion have water that will evaporate off as it cooks.  There is a balance between caramelizing the onion, squash and corn and not having things too soggy.  Estimated cooking time is 20 minutes or longer on medium heat or lower.

Variations: other friends add mushrooms, or other types of squash or potatoes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bengali Begun Bhaja

Various versions of this recipe floating around, but this is the go-to recipe in our home.

Good quality eggplant.  Typically smaller, with few or no seeds.  Hasn't been sitting on a shelf or in transport for weeks, looking beat up.  The eggplant should not be black inside - ever,  outside skin should be smooth and not shrunken or shriveled.  The stem should be in tact, green in color and looking fresh, not like a dead vine.

Slice the eggplant into 1/4" rounds, do not peel the skin. 
Place in a bowl, sprinkle salt and turmeric, optionally red chili powder & toss to coat.   For a 1/4 lb, medium sized eggplant, this is 1 teas. salt, and 1/4 t. turmeric.  You have to eye this but don't overdue it on the turmeric or it will be bitter.  Let rest for 30 minutes in the bowl.

Traditionally fried in a kadai (Bengal word for East Indian wok, karahi in Hindi), but you can use a wok or non-stick pan with a tight fitting lid.

Heat a few Tablespoons mustard oil until it's smoking in the kadai, over medium heat.  Once the oil is smoking, swirl to coat the pan, then add eggplant slices one at a time such that they don't overlap.   Cover immediately, lower the heat, fry on one side until golden and crispy, then turn over and fry, covered again, until the second side is done. 

Serve with dal, rice, greens, chapatis, kitchari, use as a a curry pizza topping.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

What Happened??????

CANCER!!!!!!!!  UGH, the worst nightmare that has so far ended in the "happy cancer story".  Yes, it scared the hell out of us.  No it wasn't genetic, and there is zero clue from the oncologists where it came from.  More on that later. 

Let's get to the point - what have we been cooking for the past 2 years??????

Monday, January 6, 2014

Creme Brulee - not as hard as you think

We received a torch, ramekins and Creme Brulee cookbook for Christmas.  Last night Debashis made basic vanilla and for his amateur attempt, it was already better than most we have had in restaurants.  YUM!

Olive Oil Hysteria

UC Davis recently came out with a new Olive Oil study that is causing a frenzy and pointing out some potential supply chain quality control issues around olive oils.   Thank you UC Davis for providing this great service to us all.  No, I drink Mondavi wines.

The study can be found here:

We checked out this UC Davis Study, and I sent in a question in particular to Whole Foods, however, I can't publish the email response here because the "email is the copyright of Whole Food Market IP, LP."

The bottom line is:
- in the UC Davis study they bought their WF 365 olive oil from 3 different locations - 2 flunked, 1 passed.
- the UC Davis study states that variation can be caused by ripeness of the olives (overripeness), poor storage OR adulturation.   Possible hypothesis: Sacramento and San Francisco are cooler, thus, unrefrigerated storage.  LA is always hotter, probably always temperature controlled due to AC.   Another option - bad batch, they happened to get 2 bottles from it.     We think storage is the most likely culprit, because we have bought wine at Costco that we know is good wine, but tastes horribly.  Our Sommelier friend said, "yeah, you shouldn't ever see wine on a pallet at the top of a hot warehouse", so we stopped buying our wine at Costco.
- based on the WF email, it appears as if WF feels confident their supply chain is not messing with them.  Since is the only grocer who is willing to label all products as GMO, etc., chances are we can believe them?  Still not sure about this one.