Last year was a bad year for peas in Simsbury. There was too much rain and the peas did nothing. Maybe I got one meal out of them. As the snow fell in January, Priscilla and I sat by the fire with a cup of tea and a basket full of seed catalogs. We browsed through the seed write-ups, dreaming about next year’s garden. We tried to imagine which peas, peppers, brussels sprouts, lettuces, or onions would do well in our Connecticut soil. We strategized on how to rotate our crops this year to defy the squash borers or the cabbage moths without using poison. We tried to guess how much of each vegetable our family would want to eat in 2010. Priscilla lives five minutes away and like me she has an organic garden. She spends every available moment during the school year and all summer amidst her tomatoes, raspberries, blueberries and her 1000 heads of garlic. She and I often plant different vegetables or different varieties and then share our harvests.2 Comments » Keep reading »
I wanted to share with you a delicious little secret that has been keeping me happy and healthy for the last few months. Matt and I have been on the move a lot lately. We were in India in March, spent some time on the Ayurvedic detox treatment Panchakarma, then two incredible weeks at Tom Brown Jr’s Tracker School learning tracking and survival skills, and a lot of time going here and there and everywhere. 2010 has been an amazing journey. This spring has been about getting back to the roots of our heritage, nature, and bodies as physical beings.3 Comments » Keep reading »
I’ve been visiting my Mom in Connecticut. See, we’re enjoying the first crop of asparagus and writing a cookbook together. Yes, that’s right. We woke up one morning and this view came out of nowhere. What do you see when you look at this photo? A field of flowers, dandelions, perhaps? A mowed lawn in dire need of weeding? My Mom, well she sees food. On this particular morning she looked out over the dandelions, their bright yellow heads sprouting up through the freshly cut lawn and said, “Let’s make some dal.” This is my first spring outside of New York and I am just adjusting to pollen, let alone a garden and a lawn. Making a meal of this lawn… a dal at that, sounded like the best food idea I’d heard all year. So the following morning she headed out with a gardening fork and cut that first bed of dandelions and piled them into a basket. They were fresh, young, a bit sweet and wonderfully bitter – so far away from that summer bitterness that makes you gag, and nothing like the matured and metallic farmed variety you find in the store.4 Comments » Keep reading »
We recently joined a CSA in the West Village. For those unfamiliar, CSAs are local agricultural programs where an organizer establishes a drop point and relationship with a local farm. Members can apply for a “share” of produce, ranging from $200-500 for a 20 week season. Being a member means coming to collect your produce once a week at the designated time, and being flexible enough to cook whatever you get. (Check out Just Food for more information.)6 Comments » Keep reading »
This year’s Christmas dinner was homey and low-key. Everyone came together and cooked, and everyone felt a sigh of relief that we were making a no-fuss but excellent meal. This dish was surprisingly outstanding. By that I mean the recipe was of Indian roots, was repurposed and gussied up by a Californian and presented as a “holiday” dish, and turned out a flavorful and prosperous union of two different cultures. Not an uncommon find in this household, but still happily surprising.2 Comments » Keep reading »
Cashew burfi (बर्फ़ी) is a sweet Indian dessert made with cashews, ghee, and sugar. They are traditionally eaten during holiday, especially Divali, the Hindi festival of lights (actually meaning “row of lights”). Divali is celebrated the world over Amaavasya, the 15th night of the fortnight of the month of Kaartik in October/November.
Part of the reason must be due to the fact that you need a lot of people around to stir. We made these yesterday in celebration of another holiday. Everyone pitched in with the stirring (and eating). In stores, burfi’s commonly come with a piece of silver foil at the top. Ours our naked and better for it. They have a wonderfully rich and nutty flavor, and are incredibly smooth like fudge.2 Comments » Keep reading »
Chapatis (also known as roti) are a staple bread in Northern India, and have been in our Indian cooking home as well. In the US they are generally glossed over by restaurant-goers in search of the ever-popular naan. My mother learned to make chapatis from my aunt on a trip to India. Like ghee, there technique is best seen in person. I have attempted below for second best, giving you instructions and visuals to help guide technique. It’s easy once you get the hang of it.
If you eat a meal with chapatis, no utensils are necessary. If you’re unfamiliar, rip off a piece of chapati, scoop up some of your subgee or curry, fold it over, and pop it in your mouth. Whatever you do, eat with your hands. It’s a whole different world out there.8 Comments » Keep reading »
This gem comes from one of my favorite Indian cookbooks, Yamuna Devi’s The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. This book is a great intro to dals, breads, chutneys, vegetables, and desserts concentrated around South Indian cooking. The dish hits you with a little spice and also has a hint of sweet from the garam masala. The tomatoes are quite savory and add some acid and juice to the mix.2 Comments » Keep reading »
Aki came over for dinner last night and we tried to do all the dirty work in advance. However, we seem to go at our own pace when cooking, and things rarely turn out like magic. After a bit of practice with this recipe, the 10 minute theatrics of making the curry come to life will surely be something to save for the crowd. The spicy and very savory curry of this dish goes well with the softness and sweetness of the fish. The shallots are similar to the small pinkish onions found all over India, and give a more complex flavor than yellow onions.7 Comments » Keep reading »
Ghee, or Indian clarified and caramelized butter, is hard to relay in a recipe. There are many visual and aromatic cues to watch out for, and all are subject to interpretation. Learning how to make ghee in my family, like most other things, has always been show, not tell. When my parents were newlyweds, they went to India. My mother spent much of the time observing in the kitchen with my relatives. When I learned, I brought my camera along. Now, four years later, I’m attempting a written version for public consumption. So we’re breaking new ground here. Why? Because ghee kicks butter’s ass.125 Comments » Keep reading »