Global Cuisine

Where the Peacocks Sing - Adventures in Delhi

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by Alison Singh Gee

final-peacocks-coverEver wonder what it would be like to marry a man who grew up in a palace? I did exactly that when I wed Ajay Singh, a fellow journalist who had grown up in Old Delhi and the Himalayas. Throughout the 1990's, I even lived for weeks at a time behind the rusted wrought-iron gates of the Singh family's one-hundred-room Indian palace.

Ajay and I met when we were both worked at Time Inc.'s newsweekly Asiaweek in Hong Kong. Although I knew very little about my fiancé or his family background, we still got engaged within three months of meeting at a company offsite event. A few months after this engagement, I discovered that not only did Ajay grow up in a rambling old 19th-century grand manor on the outskirts of Delhi, but also that we were now set to inherit the grandest wing of the house.

It may sound like a fairytale but, of course, there's always the fine print. Mokimpur - as the house is called - turned out to be not much of a fantasy palace. Believe me, it was no luxurious showcase of velvet daybeds, gilt-framed portraits of maharajas and other lofty ancestors, and sweeping palm-dotted landscapes. Instead, it was more of a sprawling moldy tear down, with hot-and-cold running mosquitoes, belligerent peacocks, and the odd royal ghost or two.

Butternut Squash, Red Lentil, and Chickpea Stew

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by Joseph Erdos

squashcurryYou can find a version of lentil stew or soup in almost every country. It's a dish that's popular because it's hearty, filling, and inexpensive. Some would call it food for the poor, but lentils stand for more than just that. Many cultures give it significant meaning, equating the small legumes with coins, symbolizing prosperity. Besides that, lentils are very nutritious, delicious, and perfectly satisfying on a cold fall day.

The cuisine of Morocco inspires this dish, which features a classic combination of lentils, chickpeas, and squash. Ras el hanout, the Moroccan spice blend, as well as saffron, give this stew its exotic flavor. Translating to "top of the shop," Ras el hanout is a special spice blend that is traditionally sold in markets by spice mongers, each of whom has his own secret mix, which can include cumin, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, pepper, and other spices. It's like the Moroccan version of the Indian spice blend Garam Masala.

The choice is yours—make this recipe into a stew or soup. The ingredients give you the option of using more or less stock, depending on how thick or thin you want the consistency. Since this recipe uses vegetable stock and contains no dairy, it's completely vegan. But all you omnivores, don't be afraid, it's packed with protein and fiber, so you won't even miss the meat. But if you can't live without meaty flavor, use chicken stock.

Keep Calm and Carry Apps

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by Alison Wonderland Tucker

mise-en-placeYesterday afternoon, I was lost in a meditative moment of nothingness while pleating dumpling skins around mound of shrimp filling.  A gentle fall breeze had been blowing through my kitchen window, transforming the room from a sweaty summer dungeon to an autumn playpen.

A podcast of This American Life was playing in the background and it would drop in and out of my consciousness as I prepped my food for the day.  My fingers danced through my mise en place bowls, filled with carefully prepped components of the dish I was focused on.  It all came together in perfect harmony, with me paying very little attention.

Do you want to know a secret?  Cooking is the easiest thing I do.  I don’t mean that in a nasty “Pah ha, I’m so awesome at my job” kind of way.  I just mean that, once I’ve made it to the actual cooking part of my job, I know that my mind (body, soul) knows what to do.  By the time I’ve arrived in the kitchen, I have spent hours working with the client to specify the preferred regional cuisine, protein specific, dietarily proactive meal of their dreams and formulated a procedure and plan to carry out said dream meal. 

Celebrate Oktoberfest with Individual Casserole Meals

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by Sue Doeden

german-mealYou really don’t need to be German to have fun celebrating Oktoberfest. And, you don’t need to travel to Munich to enjoy the food we associate with Germany and its festival that lasts several days, providing a gateway for summer to turn to fall. This year, the celebrating begins September 22nd and will run through October 7th.

My dad was German, so I’ve eaten plenty of roast pork, sauerkraut and huge boiled dumplings that my Hungarian mom became proficient at creating. But when Oktoberfest rolls around, I start thinking about sausage. And sauerkraut. With boiled potatoes. In my column, I shared a recipe for German-Style Potato Bake. Thick slices of red potatoes blanketed with a smooth, creamy beer-spiked sauce, tender bits of onion swimming through it. I’ve served the potatoes with grilled bratwurst and sauerkraut that’s simmered in beer. It’s delicious.

I decided I could combine the potatoes with sausage and kraut all in one dish. I used some enamel-coated cast iron individual serving-size casseroles that a friend gave me as a gift quite a long time ago.

Eat Indian Tonight — Start with Pakora

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by Sue Doeden

pakora-006My favorite guy had a birthday last week. We decided to make Mango Rice Pilaf and Pakora for the evening birthday meal. We had never even heard of Pakora until we ate at an Indian Restaurant in Fridley, Minnesota a month or so ago.

When I asked the server how the crunchy dumpling that tasted like well-seasoned onion rings was prepared, he mentioned chickpea flour and water, onions and I think he said chili powder.

When I got home, I checked my copy of “Sherbanoo’s Indian Cuisine: Tantalizing Tastes of the Indian Subcontinent,” by Sherbanoo Aziz. I found her recipe for Pakora. I knew it would be good. Several years ago, Sherbanoo came to Bemidji from her home in Moorhead to do an Indian cooking class for a small group of people. The food was amazing.

Sherbanoo told me when she moved to the Fargo-Moorhead area from Arlington, Virginia in 1996, not many people in the area were familiar with Indian food. She had a hard time finding the ingredients she needed for her recipes. Now many of those ingredients, such as chickpea flour, often referred to as garbanzo bean flour, are available in mainstream grocery stores. Sherbanoo reminded me that garbanzo bean flour has a low glycemic index making it a good choice for those who must watch their blood sugar levels, it’s a good source of protein and it’s gluten-free.

Cilantro-Lime Shrimp, Corn and Black Bean Taco Salad

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by Cathy Pollak

shrimpsaladThis just screams summer and Mexico! Doesn't a tropical Mexican Riviera vacation sound good about now? A few margaritas, a couple of these salads....I'm in...who wants to go?

My oldest boy loves shrimp, I mean, really loves shrimp. And he loves taco salad. In fact, I'm not sure which one he loves more. So I decided to combine these two loves and make something summery and delicious. I think I succeeded, since he gobbled this up in no time at all. It was an epic gobbling, let me tell you.

I love watching people eat and enjoy the things I make....it's like a weird voyeur thing, but I can't help it.

I first cook the shrimp in this buttery-lime-cilantro sauce. I slice the shrimp lengthwise before cooking because it doubles the amount of shrimp bites in your salad. And, the shrimp cooks a little faster so there is a less chance of overcooking it.

Minty Mushy Peas

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by James Moore

mushypeasMushy peas are a traditional side dish to the British classic - Fish & Chips. I was recently in London for the Queen’s Jubilee and stayed at the incredibly beautiful Corinthia Hotel.

It is truly one of London’s best properties. The hotel’s restaurant, The Northall, features "traditional British fare focusing on seasonal produce supplied by artisanal producers from around the British Isles."

Without hesitation, I chose the Deep Fried Haddock in Beer Batter, chips and “proper mushy peas”. My version of mushy peas may not be “proper”, but they are delicious.

Bright, vibrant green with just a hint of mint, they’re great with fish or chicken. Use caution when pulsing with the food processor, you want them coarsely mashed, not pureed.

Currant Scones

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by Joseph Erdos

currantsconesOn the quest to bake the perfect scone, I've baked batch after batch of flat, hard, and dry scones. But as the saying goes, the third time's the charm. On my third try I created the fluffiest, most tender, high-rise scone. I have a great love for scones. Some of my best memories have been made while eating scones over tea with friends. I love them spread with clotted cream and jam. I remember the first time I had a scone was at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens in London. A group of us had the full English afternoon tea treatment with cucumber sandwiches, pots of the best tea from India, scones, and other tea cakes.

Typically scones are made plain or with sultanas, which are what the British call raisins. But any dried berry or chopped dried fruit works well. I especially love currants, cranberries, golden raisins, or chopped apricots. Chopped nuts also work well. Spices such as ground cinnamon, ginger, or cardamom lend a festive touch. Lemon or orange zest in the batter adds a nice citrus fragrance. Whatever combination you choose, scones are always well received around the holiday time. They make an ideal offering for whenever family or friends stop by to visit. Best of all they can be whipped together in minutes.

Fish Tacos with Homemade Tortillas and Pico de Gallo

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by Joseph Erdos

fishtacosFor the longest time I didn't know what a real taco was. As a kid we ate tacos from the store-bought kit, and on rare occasion we might have fast food tacos from that place with the bell. But the first time I had real tacos was at a popular Mexican restaurant in New York during my college years. It just so happens that those first tacos were fish tacos. Since then they've been my all-time favorite.

I've never been to the place where fish tacos originated, Baja California, but I can easily imagine myself eating them on a beach with white sand and crystal clear waters. Some fish tacos are made from fried fish, but I like mine grilled with a spice-rub. This recipe is just that—it's packed with flavor and perfect on a summer day spent out on the patio.

I like to make my fish tacos with mahi-mahi, which works very nicely on the grill. Its meaty and doesn't fall apart too easily. But once it's cooked, it's easy to flake into big, juicy chunks, perfect for packing into tacos. I don't just use any store-bought tacos, I make mine from scratch—it's easy because all you need is the corn flour and water.

Garden-Fresh Cucumbers Get Traditional Hungarian Treatment

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by Sue Doeden

cucumber salad 012When I was growing up, my mom often made two different cucumber salads. For each of the salads, she sliced fresh cucumbers into very thin rounds. In one salad, the cucumbers bathed in a clear vinegar-water solution seasoned with sugar and lots of black pepper. I always liked that salad. My favorite, though, was the salad made of thinly sliced cucumbers swimming in a delicious sour cream sauce with sugar and vinegar stirred in along with thin, delicate threads of fresh dill weed.

During the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to purchase English, or seedless, cucumbers at my local farmers market. These long, slender cukes are not really seedless, but the seeds are so small and insignificant compared to regular cucumbers, they seem seedless when they’re being eaten.

Last night I served the Sour Cream Cucumber Salad with grilled pork chops, potatoes and beans. This is a salad that is good with everything. My Hungarian mother always served Sour Cream Cucumber Salad with a traditional meal of Paprika Chicken and tiny homemade dumplings. Since my mom taught me how to make this salad, I often refer to it as Hungarian Cucumber Salad.

 

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