Taco fried rice.

The first time I ever heard about taco rice I didn’t have much information to go on other than “yeah, duh, that sounds amazing. I would like to have that now, please.”

As usual, I wasn’t entirely paying attention and when it came time to try making it for the first time, I missed a few essential details.

Taco rice is one of those magical, confusing dishes that results from a bunch of ideas all jumbled up and served on one plate. It’s origin is Japanese – Okinawan, specifically – with influence from a bunch of taco-craving American GIs based on the island. It came up in the most recent episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, and it was only then that I understood. Says Bourdain: “This unholy, greasy, starchy, probably really unhealthy delight, a booze-mop-turned-classic, caught on big time.”

Taco fried rice baseIn short, what I thought was taco rice was not taco rice at all. Taco rice is a layered thing – spiced, fried ground meat on top of white rice, with lettuce and tomatoes and cheese on top of that. Taco fried rice is unholy in its own way, the kind of thing you would make if you were drunk in your kitchen late at night, or if it was the 1950s. It’s exotic! Except it’s not.

It’s comfort food and you should be comfortable when you eat it.

So, here’s my misinterpretation of taco rice. What is authenticity anyway?

Taco fried rice

(Makes 4 servings.)

  • 3 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and then diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 2 cups prepared salsa (either homemade or store-bought)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pan or Dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion, celery, bell pepper, jalapeño pepper, and corn until colours have brightened, about two minutes. Add garlic and cook for another two minutes, stirring occasionally until veggies have just begun to soften.

Crumble the ground pork into the pan. Add chili powder, cumin, paprika, black pepper, coriander, and oregano to the pan, and stir, breaking up the pork with a wooden spoon as you go. Cook for about five minutes, until pork is cooked through and the pan appears dry on the bottom.

Add soy sauce and rice vinegar, and stir to combine. Add rice. Stir again.

Add salsa, and stir. Cook for another three minutes, until most of the liquid in the pan has disappeared. Taste, adjusting seasonings as needed. Stir in cilantro and serve with accompaniments.

Taco fried rice with toppingsAccompaniments:

  • Shredded cabbage
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Diced avocado
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño peppers
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Hot sauce, such as Tapatio or Cholula

Hunger Awareness Week: Rice and lentil pilaf.

It’s funny how we think about poverty, and how we distance ourselves from it in reassuring ways. It’s a thing that happens to other people, and it is complicated. Maybe it’s because of their choices, we reason. As if we have made the right choices. (I, personally, am an expert in making questionable choices.) It’s a thing that happens to other people, not to us.

Not to us. But a third of us are still living paycheque-to-paycheque, at least in Canada; in the US, the numbers are even higher. According to Food Banks Canada, one in six people who access the food bank are currently employed, or have been recently. Sixty-four per cent of people who need the food bank are paying market rent. In Vancouver, nearly 20 per cent of those who need the food bank in a given week are seniors.

It could totally happen to us, to quite a few of us.

September 21 to 25 is Hunger Awareness Week in Canada. According to Food Banks Canada, “Hunger Awareness Week is about raising awareness of the solvable problem of hunger in Canada.”

Hunger in Canada exists because deep and persistent poverty continues in the country. For more than a decade, diverse and inter-related factors have sustained this situation: a labour market that fails to provide enough jobs with stable, livable wages; a rise in precarious and non-standard employment; a fraying income security system that does not provide sufficient financial support for those in need; a lack of affordable, social housing; and accessible and affordable child care. (Source: hungerawarenessweek.ca)

During Hunger Awareness Week, organizations across Canada have come together to raise awareness about the realities of poverty and the people who need food banks most. One of the major goals of this campaign is to dispel some of the myths around who accesses food banks and why. This is essential, because we’re never going to truly tackle hunger and poverty and inequality if we don’t see ourselves as part of it.

It’s not a stretch to see yourself moving from broke to poor. I can see it from here, just on the other side of some accident or emergency.

Food security is an issue that’s important to me, and so I’m spending the week highlighting a few simple, nutritious recipes a person could make to feed a family using some typical food bank staples. I’ll use the platform I have here to support the campaign, share my tips for stretching your budget and making donations anytime of year, and hopefully you’ll get a few budget-friendly recipes you can enjoy anytime, whether you need them or not.

What follows is a recipe for rice and lentil pilaf, a weeknight-friendly gluten-free vegetarian dish that’s easily made vegan. It’s good (and filling) on its own, or as a side for roasted veggies or sausages or pork chops, or as an alternative to stuffing for those who don’t do gluten. It tastes a bit like stuffing, because it’s meant to be comfort food. I serve this with beet pickles.

Rice and lentil pilaf with apple and mushrooms

(Makes four servings.)

  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium apple, cored and diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • Celery leaves, for garnish

In a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, such as a Dutch oven, melt butter over medium-high heat. Add onion, apple, and celery, and saute until fragrant and until onions are translucent, about three minutes.

Add garlic and mushrooms. Cook for another three to five minutes, until the mushrooms have given up most of their liquid. Add salt, sage, thyme, and pepper, and cook for one more minute, stirring to coat the veggies in the herbs.

Add rice and lentils. Add four cups of water (use chicken or vegetable stock if you prefer), and bring to a boil. Cover, then reduce heat to medium, and cook for 20 minutes.

Let rest, covered, for five minutes before serving. Garnish with celery leaves.

One-dish baked chicken and rice.

chicken and rice

If December was about coming undone, January is about putting ourselves back together (and lying to MyFitnessPal). We stole a whole day to ourselves yesterday, turned our ringers off and did laundry and made messes and ate Alphagetti on the couch in our pajamas and it was exactly what we needed. Today life returned to normal, and work was work and not an unending candy buffet. Everything is as it was, only now nothing really fits right and we’ve got to somehow pay all those bills we put off until after Christmas.

Part of putting ourselves back together is eating simply. After a month of rushing and driving and spending and feasting and drinking, all I want is to not feel like I am dying after eating a meal. At least for now. Simple, single-dish dinners that mostly prepare themselves are what will get us through this rainy post-holiday decompression phase (and, with any luck, back into our pre-Christmas dress sizes).

Happy New Year. I hope you’re easing into 2015, cozy, and eating something nice.

One-dish baked chicken and rice

(Makes 4 to 6 servings.)

  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 3 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped and divided
  • 2 cups basmati or other long-grain white rice
  • 2 1/2 tsp. coarse salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 4 cups low-sodium or homemade chicken stock

Preheat your oven to 375°F. If you have a large pan or Dutch oven, use this. If not, a deep 9″x13″ pan will work just fine.

Rub chicken thighs with oil, and season with 1 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Set aside.

Over medium-high heat, sauté your carrots, celery, and onion in olive oil for two to three minutes, until the veggies just begin to soften and their colours turn bright.

Add the garlic and 2 teaspoons of thyme, cook another minute, then add the rice. Stir to coat the rice in the oil mixture. Add remaining salt and pepper. Stir again.

Add lemon zest and juice and stock to the pan. Taste, and adjust your seasonings as needed.

Nestle the chicken thighs into the rice mixture, sprinkle with remaining thyme, and bake, uncovered, for  50 to 60 minutes, until chicken is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F, or until you find the juices run clear when you cut into a piece of chicken with a sharp knife.

Let rest for ten minutes before serving.

Something to Read: Hunt, Gather, Cook and The Homemade Pantry

30days

I’m not doing great at keeping to my schedule. Last night I ate some expired salad dressing that may have gone off and some shrimp that might not have been fresh and spent the evening in a state of discomfort, trying to focus on The Voice and also complaining a lot about my bad stomach feelings. I did not have an enthusiasm-filled day today.

So, to compensate, I’d like to tell you about two books from two bloggers I love and think you’ll love too.

The first one is Hunt, Gather, Cook, by Hank Shaw.

hagc

Hank Shaw is so cool. He hunts, forages, fishes, cooks, and writes about it, which is basically everything I look for in a marriage partner. I like to live with someone who will bring me wild meat every so often, and who keeps me in fish all summer. Who doesn’t, though … right?

I was excited about Hank’s book because I knew it would contain recipes we would use. He’s got recipes for big game, like deer and moose, and for ducks and geese (which we get on occasion), and fish (though I had hoped there would be more on trout) and crabs, and since he’s from the west coast, a lot of what he talks about is relevant to our proteins of choice/availability. He writes about fruit and flower wine-making, meat curing and sausage making, and his chapters on foraging are the stuff of aspirations, at least for me. I long to trudge through the woods to find nettles and fiddleheads, which Nick calls  “hiking” (and I don’t care for it).

You can read Hank’s blog at Hunter Angler Gardner Cook and if you haven’t already been reading his posts, you should definitely start, especially if you are interested in sustainable diets and interesting recipes for wild meats and vegetation. He was profiled in Field & Stream, which I think proves he’s legit. I’ve never read Field & Stream, but I assume it is to outdoorsy people as Bon Appetit is to indoorsy people. Gospel.

When we first started smoking fish, we turned to Hank Shaw first and he did not let us down. And what’s helpful about Hank’s blog is that when I need to learn how to do something, like butterfly a fish, the instructions are probably there. He’s like a really helpful friend you can call up anytime you have a weird question about animal parts. If only my IRL friends could do what Hank does for me.

The following recipe is from his section on wild greens, and the time is right to make this dish. If you have nettles nearby, grab some gloves, pick some weeds, and turn them into a creamy, extremely iron- and Vitamin C-rich risotto for dinner this week.

Nettle Risotto

(Serves 2.)

  • 1 cup blanched nettles (about six handfuls of raw nettles boiled for three minutes)
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup Arborio rice (I use half rice and half pearl barley)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 cups homemade or low-sodium chicken, vegetable or beef stock
  • 1/4 cup grated Pecorino cheese

Once your greens are blanched and cool, drain them and roll them into a tea towel and squeeze out any excess water. Chop them as finely as you can.

Heat stock to a gentle simmer.

In a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat, melt two tablespoons of the butter. Once the butter is melted and has stopped frothing, add shallot, garlic, and rice, stirring for a minute or so until rice begins to look opaque and is nicely coated in fat.

Stir one cup of stock into the rice with the salt. Stir frequently, and when the first cup of stock has been absorbed by the rice, add the second cup. Repeat the waiting and stirring.

When it comes time to add the next round of stock, add your greens as well, this time with about a half a cup of stock. Your stirring should be more frequent now. Keep adding water in half-cup amounts until your rice is al dente and has reached the consistency you prefer. I always use all four cups, as I like my risotto loose.

Add the cheese and the last bit of butter. Stir, taste, and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve immediately.


The next blogger I’d like to tell you about is Alana Chernila of Eating from the Ground Up. I’ve been reading her blog since almost the beginning, marveling at how lovely her life seems out there in the Berkshires, wherever that is (I assume it’s like Narnia and I have to find a secret passageway to get there). Her book, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making has improved my life in simple, wonderful ways. I don’t buy ricotta anymore. There’s no need.

the-homemade-pantry

 

The best thing in this book might be the recipe for homemade instant oatmeal – ween yourself off that terrible-for-you sugary packet-stuff and start making instant oatmeal with rolled oats from your pantry – there’s a bonus recipe for homemade brown sugar, if you need it. This has been a life-saver for me with Toddler, who eats too much sugary crap but who can be tricked with better-quality stuff if you catch him before he’s formed a habit for the store-bought version. I’ve made it with Porridge Oats, which comes with bran and flaxseed in it, and it works just as well.

The recipe I’ve made over and over is her recipe for ricotta, which, if you leave it long enough, becomes paneer. A batch of ricotta is cheaper than the stuff you buy in plastic tubs from the supermarket, and it’s infinitely better and much more impressive when you serve it to friends. The recipe makes about a cup and a half, but I usually double it because why not.

Ricotta

  • 1/2 gallon whole milk
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Sea salt to taste

Add the milk, lemon juice and cream to a cold pot (with a heavy bottom) off  the heat, and stir for a few seconds.

Affix a candy thermometer to the side of your pot, and warm the pot over low heat. You want to warm the milk mixture to 175°F, which at this low temperature should take somewhere around 45 minutes. After 30 minutes, be vigilant about checking. Stir a couple of times, here and there, as you putter around doing other things.

When you reach 175°F, turn the heat up to medium-high. Do not stir. Watch your pot, and wait for it to get to 205°F. Should take three to five minutes. Don’t let it boil.

When you reach 205°F, take the pot off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.

Line a fine-mesh sieve with cheesecloth, and strain your mixture. Strain it over a bowl or something, as you will want to save the whey that’s left behind – it’s beautiful in homemade bread, and I’ve also used it in muffins and soups. Leave the cheese for another 10 minutes, then sprinkle with salt. Serve warm, as is, with toasted nuts and honey, or chill it for later use, or use it as an ingredient for something else altogether.

Something to Read: The Billingsgate Market Cookbook

30days

I think I’ve said it before, but I have a bit of a soft spot for British food. And not, like, the new kind, that Marco Pierre White-inspired next generation British cuisine, the stuff of Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson. I mean, like, BRITISH food. Sausages and potatoes. Stuff where herring features prominently. Dishes composed of varied shades of beige. I like gravy. British food is all about gravy. Carbs and gravy. Gravy carbs.

It’s a bitter, bitter shame that when I actually went to England, I was still in the throes of my picky-eater stage, which lasted from sometime after I started solid foods until I was about 22, and included a confusing period where I didn’t eat red meat for texture reasons. I suppose if I were to really think about my life, my biggest regret would be all those years when my metabolism was at its peak and I was just squandering my advantage.

Fortunately I’ve always been fish-positive, and when I went to England I ate a lot of seafood. Even though I have good reason to believe I have a mild shellfish allergy, I would endure the consequences and sidle up to the table for another round again and again. I’d rather have shellfish plus consequences (and a slightly shortened life expectancy) than no fish and shellfish at all.

A couple of years ago, a book fell into my collection that I have come to refer to at least once per month. The living room in our apartment has a window that juts out a bit from the building, and when it rains the water pounds the glass and it’s quite loud; on afternoons when the rain pours and pounds (often) and Toddler’s down for his nap, sometimes I like to read my book in the chair beside the window and imagine a busy fish market in England and being treated to a plate of kedgeree made by somebody else.

I’m talking about The Billingsgate Market Cookbook.

billinsgate_market_cookbook

The Billingsgate Market is a fish market in London. According to the book:

Situated in the heart of London’s Docklands, the frenetic pace and historical kudos of the market are more than a match for the financial institutions that surround it. Although the unassuming building sits squatly in the shadows of its impressive high-rise neighbours, the bland facade only serves to belie what’s going on side. Here, shirts and ties are swapped for Wellington boots and aprons, and city lingo takes a back seat to market banter.

Sounds fun. Don’t you want to go to there?

The book has a history of the market and info about choosing sustainable seafood, among other things, and the recipes are for things as simple as herring on toast and as unexpected as taramasalata and ceviche. Unexpected might be the wrong word, but if you have notions about British cuisine, I think you might be pleasantly surprised by the recipes you’ll encounter in this book. British food is not all beige. I promise. (More on that later.)

For now, because I’m thinking of kedgeree because it’s looking like another night of rain, here’s a recipe. It calls for “smoked fish;” I usually grab a tin (or a couple if the store only has small tins) of smoked mackerel, which you generally get in the same place your store stocks its canned tuna. It’s cheap, and it’s actually really good for you, with it’s DHA and calcium. If it’s cold where you are, make it tomorrow. It’ll warm your bones.

Kedgeree

(Serves 6.)

  • 1 1/2 cups basmati rice
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 12 oz. smoked fish
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 5 tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. yellow/Madras curry powder
  • 2 tsp. ginger, finely minced
  • 2 red chilies – whatever kind you prefer – seeded and chopped
  • 2 bunches scallions, finely sliced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Using a saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, bring the rice with the turmeric to a boil in three cups of water. Turn on the lid, reduce the heat to low, and cook for 20 minutes, not removing the lid until 20 minutes has passed.

If you’re using fish that hasn’t been cooked, poach it in milk for three to four minutes until it’s cooked through and opaque. If you’re using canned fish, put the milk away and skip this step.

Melt butter in a large pan, and add the curry, ginger, chilies, and onion. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for three to four minutes, until the onions have softened. Add the rice, and stir together until the rice is well mixed. Using your fingers, break the fish into chunks and add it directly to the pan. Taste, and adjust seasonings as needed.

I like to serve this topped with a runny-yolked fried or poached egg; try it. You’ll like it, I promise.

 

 

Nasi goreng.

For the past six months, with one of us being off work and on parental leave, after the rent and car insurance come out there isn’t much left for the first two weeks of the month. I spent what little was leftover on clothes to wear to job interviews and a cute outfit for the baby, and why can’t I stop buying cute outfits for the baby? He’s like a damp, squirmy doll. One that never stops eating. The kid lives for food – convulses for it, even – so maybe the outfits are a kind of reward for fitting in with the rest of us around here?

Anyway, we’re in for a week or two of pantry meals.

One that we eat frequently during times like these is nasi goreng, a spicy Dutch/Indonesian fried rice dish I learned about the first time I went to meet Nick’s family. There’s a Dutch breakfast restaurant near us that serves nasi goreng wrapped in a pannekoek. The Dutch are into it.

It was Nick’s and his sister’s birthday when he first brought me over, and he’d requested nasi goreng with beef for their special birthday meal. I wasn’t eating red meat at that point, so his mom made me a separate meal (Relationship tip: start out high-maintenance, especially with your in-laws!). I was grateful – “nasi,” as they called it, looked semi-unappealing due to the unusual and disgusting (to me) addition of fried bananas.

Nasi goreng is one of Nick’s favourite dishes, so fortunately I would encounter it again later after I had re-embraced red meat and understood that bananas aren’t mandatory. Side note: I am living proof that there is someone for everyone, even if he probably did something awful in a past life to deserve this. He doesn’t like bananas either.

There are no actual unappealing parts to this dish, which I would come to learn (bananas aside). It’s salty and spicy and meaty, and there is so much garlic in it (I use nine cloves, but you can use less if garlic isn’t its own food group at your house). It’s especially good after Christmas or Easter dinner when you end up with a lot of leftover ham – a little diced ham goes a long way in this. If you have a lot of leftover chicken, dice that up instead of the ground meat. Add shrimp if you’ve got it. Make it vegetarian with smoked tofu and a few handfuls of frozen peas.

This is best if you have a lot of leftover rice, but more often than not I end up making rice fresh due to my having forgotten to plan ahead. We use brown rice, but you can use whatever you want – three to four cups of cooked rice is about what you’ll need. And if you don’t have the ingredients I have listed below, substitute freely – soy sauce and sugar for the ketjap manis, sriracha for the sambal oelek.

Nasi goreng

(Serves four to six as a main course.)

  • 2 cups long-grain brown rice
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 6 to 9 cloves of garlic, sliced
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. sambal oelek*
  • 2 tbsp. ketjap manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce) **
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. lime juice
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup finely sliced cabbage, packed
  • Salt and pepper

Accompaniments

  • One fried egg per serving
  • Cilantro, for garnish
  • Chopped scallions
  • Additional sambal oelek

In a medium heavy-bottomed pan with a tight-fitting lid, over medium-high heat, bring rice and vegetable stock to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 45 to 50 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool completely, which will take between two and four hours.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, sauté garlic in oil until it is golden and crispy but not burned (two to three minutes – any longer and it will become too bitter). Remove garlic from pan with a slotted spoon, and drain garlic on a plate lined with paper towel. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, purée the shallot with the sambal oelek, ketjap manis, fish sauce, sesame oil, lime juice, and cumin. Set aside.

Add ground beef to the now garlic-infused cooking oil in your hot pan. Continue cooking over medium-high heat until meat has browned and is cooked through. Add cooked rice, shredded carrot, and cabbage. Pour shallot mixture over pan contents and stir to coat. Cook an additional three to five minutes.

Stir the crispy garlic into the rice. Taste, adjusting seasonings with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot, topped with a sprinkle of cilantro, some scallions, and an egg fried over-easy, so that the yolk is still runny. Nick always adds more sambal oelek, and then apologizes as he douses the whole thing in Maggi sauce.

*I find sambal oelek hotter than our usual hot sauces, so tread lightly if you’re spice-sensitive. If you don’t have sambal oelek, Chinese chili garlic paste will work, and so will Sriracha (which goes with everything).

**If you don’t have or can’t find ketjap manis (also called kecap manis), use two tablespoons soy sauce with one tablespoon brown sugar. You can find ketjap manis as Asian grocers or Southeast Asian specialty markets – I got a huge bottle for  less than three dollars at Thuan Phat Supermarket on Broadway and Prince Edward in Vancouver (though I hadn’t had much luck finding it at T&T). You can also find it online.

Guest post: Vegetable pulao and fruit lassi.

Today’s guest post comes to us from Sandy of mango on an apple. Sandy and I were a year apart at the same high school, and somehow reconnected after ten years, despite a distance of 3,400 kilometers, via the Internet. She’s now travelling India and having grand adventures, and graciously offered a recipe from a cooking class she took along the way. I’m making this tonight for Meatless Monday.

***

On our year off to find the cure for quarter-life crisis, we began in India where in addition to sightseeing and avoiding cow poop, we took a cooking class in Udaipur at Shashi’s Cooking Classes. We learned lots of Indian cooking methods for rice, naan, and curries, plus how to make a delicious cup of masala chai. Check out mango on an apple to see more of our trip so far!

DSC_4769In keeping with the theme of cooking healthy and staying low-GI, I thought the vegetable pulao would be great here, along with a nice fruit lassi to finish off the meal.

Pulao means more vegetables, less rice. Biryani, on the other hand, means more rice, less vegetables. The vegetables used in this recipe are flexible – use what’s in season, but make sure to include something crunchier in texture, like cabbage, to give the dish more personality.

Vegetable pulao

  • 2 tbsp. oil
  • 2 shallots, sliced*
  • 2 tsp. dry anise/fennel seeds
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced julienne
  • 1/2 cauliflower, sliced into long strips
  • 1/4 small cabbage, sliced julienne
  • 1 carrot, sliced julienne
  • 1/2 tsp. – 1 tsp. chili powder, to taste
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • 1 generous pinch of turmeric
  • 1 generous pinch of garam masala
  • 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup water, depending on the vegetables you choose
  • 3 small firm tomatoes
  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice
  • 2 tbsp. cashews, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp. sultana raisins, soaked in water for about 5 minutes before using so they’re nice and plump
  • Salt to taste

*Shashi used red onions, but they were really small and flavourful, so I’d suggest using shallots if cooking this in North America

DSC_4721  DSC_4725
DSC_4726  DSC_4728

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan until hot, and then add anise seeds and onion. Cook until onions become translucent and start to caramelize.
  2. Add in the sliced vegetables and green onions, chilli powder, coriander powder, turmeric, and garam masala. Correct with salt to taste.
  3. Add the water, stir, and then cover and let simmer for about five minutes.
  4. Add in the chopped tomatoes, stir well, and simmer for another five minutes.
  5. Once the vegetables are cooked through (not necessarily mushy, but if you like softer vegetables, give it a little longer), add in rice and combine.
  6. Add in the cashews and raisins, toss together, and correct again with salt.
  7. Serve with freshly chopped cilantro and perhaps a bit of grated cheese if you have some on hand.

DSC_4729After a meal in India, with all the spicy tastes lingering in your mouth, the best dessert is often a lassi. Lassi in India is a milky drink, although depending on the fruit used, sometimes it is a bit more like a smoothie. The best kind of lassi we found was plain, sweetened, and sold in terra cotta cups that you throw out when you’re done!

Fruit Lassi

  • 1 cup pureed fruit (banana and mango are typical choices in India, and I think peach, when in season, would be delicious as well)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • Pinch of cardamom powder, or open up two cardamom pods and crush the seeds between your fingers and a little bit of granulated sugar
  • 2 – 4 tbsp. of milk or water, depending on the thickness you’d like, the thickness of the yogurt you use, and the fruit in question

Whisk everything together, and serve. If you’re feeling extravagant, top with one tablespoon of finely shredded coconut.