June 29, 2012 § 2 Comments
J: Recently, one of my friends told us about United Noshes, an awesome project some people are undertaking to cook a meal from every member nation of the UN, in alphabetical order (thanks Colleen!). We decided that it sounded like a terrific idea. It’s always hard to try and come up with new exciting dishes that aren’t just variations on stuff we already make, so having 193 essentially pre-planned things to cook is awesome. We are starting off here with Afghanistan, and I will say right off the bat that this yogurt-nut curry is getting added to our regular rotation. It was absurdly delicious.
February 19, 2012 § 1 Comment
E: Now before anyone jumps down my throat here, let me clarify that title: this was authentic. I got the recipe from my good friend Aditya by watching him prepare it a few times for dinner parties when we were in college. I wrote down what I saw, and may have adapted for one or two things that are difficult to find, but I would say this is 80-90% faithful to the original. Hopefully, Aditya himself will be reading this (I know you do check this blog from time-to-time) and can chime in if I’ve erred somewhere.
Authenticity concerns aside, this recipe and I have a long and important history, and so I’m really happy to finally have taken pictures of the process so I can share them with all of you. This is the recipe that got me into cooking. When I tasted this the first time, I couldn’t believe how fantastic it was. And the process had seemed easy enough. So I learned to make it myself, and then promptly made it for everyone I could find. This was the “aha” moment for me, that interesting food could be healthy, tasty, and easily made at home.
Joanna and I have shared this dal many times. However, we often make it when we are tired and otherwise not looking to make an event of cooking. So we just haven’t gotten out a camera and photographed the process. But I picked up three recipes from Aditya during college (and I recently badgered him for some eggplant recipes that I hope to make and photograph sometime soon) and I really wanted to start getting them up on the blog. So here is the first of them. « Read the rest of this entry »
October 22, 2011 § 1 Comment
J: I have to admit that when I saw this post over on Smitten Kitchen, my primary reaction was a combination of wanting it and fearing it. It looked delicious — but it had some steps that seemed scary to me, like cracking eggs into a stewy-tomato-saucy-thing. Something that, a year or so ago, might totally have put me off making a dish. But now, feeling the echoes of that fear that I used to have about far more dishes and strategies, I just got more determined, pushed the fear aside, and said to Erik, “we’re making this.” And so we did.
October 2, 2011 § 2 Comments
E: Paneer is something I first tasted in college. I don’t think I really knew what it was until one of my good friends (yes Aditya, if you are reading this, that means you) cooked with it for an Indian dinner we had. Yes it is very dense, and the texture can be a little rubbery, but we are talking about fried cheese here. How could it not be good?
So when we saw that Nigella Lawson, the goddess of food, had a recipe for muttar paneer we simply had to try it. From some of the comments it seemed that her version was a bit plain, so we upped the spicing a little bit (and could probably have afforded to go even a little further). But as it stands it was warm if not spicy, and definitely had a good flavor. It isn’t even that hard to make, though frying the paneer can be messy. I tried to fry it dry but wasn’t thinking properly and used a plain skillet, which it subsequently stuck to. Adding some oil helped to fix that problem, but meant getting spattered with grease. I’d tentatively suggest using a non-stick frying pan that you can cover with a grease screen if necessary.
If you can’t find paneer at whatever grocery store you usually go to, and don’t have an Indian grocery store in your area, Whole Foods probably has it. Ours did. If you can’t find it anywhere, you could make this with tofu. It wouldn’t be made with fried cheese (so, you know, why bother?) but the dish would certainly still be tasty. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 11, 2011 § 3 Comments
E: So, as the title should tell you, this falafel is seriously real! Now, I’m no authority on falafel authenticity, but this is by far the best I have had anywhere. The recipe is also pretty easy, so this should be a short post about a quick meal. For those of you that aren’t really familiar with falafel, it basically consists of fried chickpea patties with herbs, spices, and, at least in this case, some onion. They really aren’t that bad for you (the only unhealthy stuff comes from the oil you fry them in), though I wouldn’t call them an out-and-out health food. But what they are is certainly warm and comforting. So let us take you on a journey about how to create some seriously good falafel!
August 6, 2011 § Leave a Comment
J: One night recently, as we so often do, Erik and I were trying to figure out what we were going to make for dinner that week. Ideas were hard to come by, so we turned to a resource we knew would probably yield a couple ideas: the Food Network website. We ended up settling on a recipe by Aarti Sequeira, of “Aarti Party” fame, for Lebanese “meat-stuffed pitas,” or arayes. We made a few minor changes and additions, but mostly this was quite a tasty (and really quite easy) recipe.
One of the bigger changes we made was substituting ground turkey for the ground beef as the meat, since we don’t eat a whole lot of red meat. This was perfectly tasty, but we lost a bit of the hearty earthiness that the ground beef would have imparted. Fortunately a few add-ins compensated for that: if you go the ground turkey route as well, try adding some barbecue sauce and/or some grated cheese (go with something fairly strong and earthy; we used a combination of cheddar and asiago). Heck, even if you do go with ground beef, you can try adding those things as well! And let us know how it turns out for you.
July 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
E: The slow-cooker is the fire-and-forget missile of the cooking world, and that’s something that comes in handy when you are busy around dinner time, say, for example, you have to bring your laptop in for an appointment at the Apple store (which you just know is going to start and end late). Then, if you have one of these nifty devices—mine comes courtesy of Joanna’s parents as a graduation present: thank you both! I’m sure we’ll get lots more use out of it—just load up the ingredients, press the proverbial little red button, and come back from your Genius Bar appointment—or wherever else you’ve been—to find fresh curry awaiting your return.
May 3, 2011 § 3 Comments
E: And so it is that my undergraduate thesis is basically finished, and has been presented to all the necessary persons. That’s not to say I don’t have quite a bit left to do before this year is over, but it means that the bulk of that-which-must-be-done-immediately is in fact complete, and so I will be back to posting more regularly. It is a relief to have that project off my back, but it just makes this whole graduation thing all the more surreal. I started my thesis almost a year ago, and it has occupied much of my attention, if not always my actual time, since then. I learned a lot in the process, and there’s much more I would do if I had the time, but I just did not expect to be “done” so soon.
So back to food, as I’m sure that’s why you’ve come. This one has been sitting on my computer for several months now (the recipe and pictures, not, thank goodness, the actual food), waiting for a time when I felt I could actually write it up and do it justice. And that time is now. I came up with this recipe as a modification of the French blended soup recipe we made a while ago. I wanted to take those flavors to the next level of complexity, and give it some aesthetic touches so it doesn’t just look like a bowl of blended stuff. It had been a while since I’d made anything with yogurt sauce, so I decided to go in a Greek direction (I’m pretty sure this soup would be delicious with lamb instead of chicken, if you wanted to try something different). Instead of serving soup and a side, I decided to put the side in the soup: a dollop of cool Greek yogurt sauce right in the middle. The slightly-spicy savory warmth of the soup contrasts beautifully with the cool, crisp cucumber and creamy yogurt. With some toasted bread and herb butter, I think it makes a delicious and complex meal, and I’d make it for just about anyone who likes soup and yogurt separately.