Wednesday, September 30, 2009
kind of looks like a baguette I know, but it's naan!
I have always been a bit shy of making Indian breads - maybe because everytime I've made them, it has been a complete disaster. To put an end to all of my burnt and crunchy rotis, I decided to take an Indian breads class and it worked! I made my first naan bread this weekend to rave reviews (it made an appearance and disappearance at the party of my dear friends, Kim & Matt).
I took my breads class with Chef Richard LaMarita and he has kindly allowed me to share some of his recipes here. I highly recommend his class at the Natural Gourmet Institute. It is really hands on and so much fun. One thing to note though is that since naan in the restaurant is made with a clay oven, it has a bit of a different texture when made at home, but tastes pretty much the same.
With the naan, I made Richard's mint chutney which is so quick and easy. You just blend and mix in a few ingredients and you're done.
Chef LaMarita demonstrating how to dimple naan dough with water.
Naan, courtesy of Chef Richard LaMarita
yield: 8 naan
2 1/2 cups warm water
1 package (1 tablespoon) dry yeast
1 cup whole wheat flour
4-5 cups unbleached all purpoase flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon nigella (black onion) seeds
Place the water in a large bowl and add yeast, stirring to dissolve. Add the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all purpose flour and stir well. Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes, covered, until it starts to bubble.
Add the salt, then another cup of all purpose flour. Continue to add flour until a dough forms. Knead for about 10 minutes. Let it rest, covered, in a warm place until it doubles in size.
Punch the dough down and place it on a lightly floured surface. Let it rest a few minutes. Meanwhile, preheat a baking stone (I used the back of a cookie sheet) in the middle rack of the oven heated to 500 degrees.
Cut the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a flat oval (or baguette shape as I did). Let each oval rest for 15-20 minutes. Dimple the surface with wet fingers and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
Sprinkle some flour on the baking stone and place the naan on it. Bake for about 4-5 minutes, until lightly golden. Serve immediately or keep warm by placing them wrapped in a towel.
Mint Chutney, courtesy of Chef Richard LaMarita (with notes from me)
yield: 1 1/2 cups
1/2 cup mint leaves
3/4 cup cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped (or 1 small green Indian chili)
1 teaspoon ginger juice (or 1 teaspoon of shredded ginger with some water)
3/4 cup yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon agave (or honey)
1 tablespoon lime juice
chaat masala, to taste (optional)
Place mint, cilantro, jalapeno and ginger juice in a blender and blend until smooth, scraping down as necessary (add a few drops of water to help blend). This should be liquid, not too thick. Place contents in a bowl.
Fold in yogurt. Add salt, agave, lime juice and chaat masala, to taste.
Friday, September 25, 2009
My father may be potato's biggest fan. He can talk about the vegetable at great length and those who know him know what I'm talking about. Surprisingly though, we never ate potato salad in my house growing up. I was introduced to it later in life, but once I tried it, I was hooked. I came up with this recipe for my dad and hope to make it for him next time I see him. He prefers not to eat eggs so I nixed the mayonnaise and replaced it with Greek yogurt. This is my attempt at adding some spicey to the potato salad canon:
2 cups boiled red potato, chopped into small cubes
1 stalk of celery, chopped fine
1 small shallot, chopped fine
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon ginger, finely chopped
few grinds pepperFor frying
1 tablespoon oil
1/3 teaspoon coriander powder
1/3 teaspoon cumin powder
1/4 teaspoon chili pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1-2 teaspoons fresh dill, chopped
salt to taste
Boil the potatoes in salted water until done, but not mushy. Rinse potatoes in cold water so they stop cooking.
Stir yogurt, garlic, mustard, ginger and pepper in a bowl.
In a small saucepan, add oil under medium heat. I usually throw in a cumin seed to make sure the oil is hot enough (when the cumin seed starts to sizzle, that's hot!). Throw in the cumin powder, coriander powder and chili and fry just for a few seconds. Pour the spices onto the yogurt dressing and also add back some of the yogurt to the pan to get all of the spices out. Finish with the lemon, dill and salt.
Place chopped potatoes, celery and shallots in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and mix. Toss everything with the dressing.
You can eat as is or place in refrigerator to chill a bit.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Dakos Salad in Crete
From Turkey, I took a ferry to Greece and made my way down to Crete. I really got into eating Dakos Salad, which is found on most every menu on the island. The salad is made from a toasted barley bread and topped with olive oil, grated tomato, olives, feta (or myzithra cheese if you have) and oregano. The salad is light, but quite filling and can be a complete meal. The bread has a very wholesome flavor and texture and is sometimes referred to as Cretan bread or barley rusk. In the US, you can find it in speciality Greek markets. This dish is kind of the Greek version of bruschetta. The recipe is so simple to make.
1 barley rusk
2 small plum tomatoes, grated or chopped fine
2-3 tablespoons crumbled feta or myzithra cheese
4 kalamata olives
salt and pepper to taste
green onions (optional)
Sprinkle the rusk with very little water to dampen and soften slightly. Place it on a plate. Layer rusk with tomatoes (as little of the juice as possible), feta, oregano and olives. Top with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
I just got back from a trip to Turkey and wanted to share some photos of the markets and foods I had there. This picture above is of an apple cut into a spiral. It was pretty crazy to watch. This guy used this wierd machine to skin and spiral the apple in just a few seconds - definitely worthy of an infomercial!
During this trip, I spent some time in Istanbul and then drove around the countryside with my friend Marissa. We visited a small hill town called Selçuk and made our way to the Ephesus ruins, which were incredible.
The Spice Bazaar
If you go to Istanbul, you have to visit the Spice Bazaar. The vendors can be a bit overwhelming, but there is so much to see here from dried fruits and nuts, to teas, spices, cheeses, etc.
nuts and dried fruits
dried vegetables (included eggplants and okra which I had never seen before)
Turkish delight (not my fav)
Kasari cheese is popular in Turkey. Its made from sheep's milk and has a sharp, nice flavor. Kind of reminded me of provolone.
so many olives
We took a ferry over to the Asian side of Istanbul to visit Kadıköy. I really liked this part of the city. There were so many small markets, clothing shops, cafes and bookstores.
vegetable market in Kadıköy
I had my favorite meal in Turkey in Kadıköy at Çiya (pictures below), where they serve regional cooking that is not typically found in Turkish restaurants. In this restaurant, they have a ton of sides (all vegetarian) and you just load up your plate with them and then everyday they are cooking a number of dishes and you just point to a few and they are brought to your table. I especially loved this place because, like me, they love to put yogurt on everything!
all the sides I pigged out on at Çiya
rice and spinach with yogurt
red lentil dumplings with yogurt
While driving to the Ephesus ruins, we visited Selçuk, a little picturesque town on the very top of a big hill. We stopped at an outdoor restaurant on the road and this nice lady below made me an otlu peynirli (kind of like a Turkish quesadilla). It is made with a dough that is rolled out very thin with different ingredients inside. Mine had cheese and spinach. It is folded up and then put on a hot skillet in a chimney. So good!
otlu peynirli was folded and then put on skillet in chimney on left
spinach and cheese otlu peynirli
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Last weekend, I rode my bike for what felt like a very long time (when you ride at granny speed) to Rooftop Farms in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The farm was started by two very sweet people, Annie Novak and Ben Flanner. On Sunday, they had a farm market where you could buy some of the vegetables grown on the roof. I decided to go check it out and also volunteer on the farm. I wanted to share this picture from that day because it was such an amazing site.
I ended up buying some eggplant, tomato, kale, basil and Ben threw in some sage for me.
I have shared a recipe that I made using the eggplant from the farm in the post below.
Gojju is another dish that is typically only found in South Indian homecooking. I grew up on it, but never realized the rest of the world was so deprived until I moved away from home and couldn't find it anywhere. It sounds funny and doesn't look too great I know, but it has a really nice blend of so many flavors: chilis, tamarind, coconut, curry leaf, roasted dal, etc. See? Doesn't that sound good?! Also you definitely feel some accomplishment from grinding down all the ingredients to make your own spice paste. You'll see what I mean:)
Before making this dish, I called on my mother and aunt to send me their versions as I had so many scribbled pieces of paper with the recipe - and of course all with different measurements and methods. I ended up taking from both of their versions. I think I did something right because the taste was reminiscent of my growing up.
I used eggplant and green pepper, but you can make many gojju variations: green onion, okra, bitter gourd, tomato and even pineapple!
For cooking vegetable
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon mustard seed
few fenugreek seeds
1 red chili
2 curry leaves
1 1/2 cups thin, long eggplant, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup green pepper, rough chop
1 cup onion, rough chop
2 dried chilis
2 small green chilis
1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
pinch of hing
3 curry leaves
1 tablespoon roasted chana dal
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
few sprigs cilantro
1/4 teaspoon tamcon (tamarind paste)
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut (can use thawed out frozen)
1/2 teaspoon jaggery or sugar
salt to taste
Put oil in pan under medium-high heat. When hot, place mustard seeds in. When mustard seeds start to pop, put in fenugreek and let it brown a little. Turn the heat to medium and put in the red chili and curry leaves and coat with oil. Cook for a few seconds and throw in the onion. After the onion has softened a little, put in the greenpepper and the eggplant. I add a bit of water too so that the vegetables stay moist.
While the veggies are cooking combine all ingredients for grinding in a blender and make into a paste. If it is looking a bit dry, you can add some water to make it more paste-like.
When the vegetables are almost done cooking, mix in the grinded paste and the sugar and salt and bring to a boil. You can add water here too if there is not enough moisture. Let this boil for a few minutes. Turn the heat off and it will thicken a bit.
I like to eat this with roti and recently have been rolling it into a whole wheat tortilla. You can also eat gojju with rice.