Kolache pohe

The Indian region of Konkan in the west has a rich tradition of coconut based dishes similar to many other coastal regions. This is a supremely easy and extremely satisfying recipe :sour from the tamarind, creamy from the cocounut milk, sweet from the jaggery and savory from the phodni; the flavors are complex and delicious. Recipe credit to Sharmila, my cousin who sent me the recipe on whatsapp. My grandmother (also from Konkan) loved pohe with dahi, doodh, sakhar ani meeth (yogurt, milk, sugar and salt). Coconut milk was a treat because it had to be manually extracted. This recipe reminded me of her.

Poha is flattened beaten rice (easily available in the Indian store and on amazon). I used thick red poha for this recipe. Other essentials for this recipe are tamarind pulp (I boil tamarind with water and strain it to make my own pulp which I then freeze but there are plenty of pulps available commercially) and cumin seeds, asafetida and curry leaves (Indian store).

In a colander, rinse 2 cups of thick poha till soaked through and drain. The poha will soak through while you prep the rest of the dish.

Make the Kol- the coconut milk mixture: To one 14 oz can of light coconut milk, add 2 tbsp of jaggery (or brown sugar), 1 tsp or so of salt, 2-3 tbsp of finely chopped cilantro and 2 tbsp of so of tamarind pulp. Tamarind pulp varies in it’s sourness. Taste the kol, would it you it to be saltier, more sour, sweeter- adjust the flavorings till the coconut milk is delicious.

Make the tadka/phodni: To 2 tbsp of ghee or butter, add 1 tsp of jeera, wait for it to sputter, then add 1 pinch asafetida, 3-4 torn curry leaves and 2-3 dried red chillies.

Mix all 3 together and serve with fried papad or potato chips or not. Village food made easy using modern technology.

Grits with blistered vegetables

This is one of my simplest weekday meals. Prep work consists of smashing 2-3 cloves of garlic. It is delicious every time – top it with cheese, sausage, veggies, fried egg – it’s a very comforting dinner when you’ve had an extremely annoying day at work.

Grits: I use Alton’s foolproof recipe. Boil 2 cups of water and 2 cups of whole milk. Add one cup of grits (stone ground is best) and 2-3 crushed whole garlic cloves while whisking continuously. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes while whisking every 4-5 minutes especially in the corners. Add salt and 4 tbsp of butter.

Blistered haricot beans and corn: heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil toll smoking. Add frozen beans and corn- cover for 5 minutes. Once blistered, add lots of pepper and 1 tbsp of butter.

Add veggies to beans and top with some gochugaru pepper or not 🙂

Eleven Madison Park Granola

I’ve never eaten at Eleven Madison Park even though they offer a vegetarian tasting menu. I’m waiting for my 10 year old to become a little more adventurous. But their granola is sublime. I’ve previously substituted walnuts and pecans for the pistachios and raisins for the sour cherries. I would keep the liquid proportions the same because they are perfect. I found this recipe in the NYT.

Heat oven to 300

Mix 2 1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup unsweetened dried coconut flakes, 1 cup shelled pistachios, 1 tbsp kosher salt (decrease if using fine salt) , 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

In a small utensil, heat 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup maple syrup and 1/2 cup  light brown sugar till the sugar dissolves

Pour over dry ingredients, mix well and bake for 30-35 minutes (tossing the ingredients every 10 minutes) till golden brown

Add 3/4 cup dried sour cherries.

Enjoy however you love granola, with yogurt, milk or in our house- just snacking on it.

Vegetarian pozole

Vegetarian Pozole

Vegetarian Pozole

I love all varieties of corn and all varieties of soups with toppings and when I came across Rick Bayless’ episode on pozole with pork, I knew I had to try it. Pozole corn is the nixmatalized corn (say that five times fast) that is used to make hominy ( boiled), dried masa (ground) or wet masa(cooked and ground) for tamales, tortillas etc. The flavor difference between dried Pozole and canned hominy is worth the effort of soaking and cooking it. I get my pozole from amazon or the Mexican grocery

I cup Pozole grains- soaked for 24 hours, discard the water, pressure cook for 1 hour till they “bloom” like pop corn and drain

1 cup kidney beans – soak for 24 hours.

Add one tbsp oil and 6-7 crushed cloves of garlic to a pressure cooker (I used my Cuisinart). Add beans and enough water to get about 2 inches above bean height. Pressure cook for 20 minutes. The garlic disintegrates to a flavorful stock,

Add Pozole, 2 cups of vegetable stock (I used better than bouillon after serious eats kept talking about how good it was and they were of course right)

Oh – before you started cooking stuff in the pressure cooker, you should have dry roasted some aromatic Mexican chillies (I used 4 pasillas) and soaked them in warm water for 2 hours. Now blend that to a paste

Add chili paste to soup, 1 tbsp cumin powder, 1 tbsp coriander powder, thin with water, add salt (this soup needs a lot of seasoning)

Cook everything on a slow simmer for 30-40 minutes.

The toppings make the Pozole

Radish shaved thin is my favorite (didn’t have any today), thinly sliced cabbage, onions, cilantro, avocado and so on and on.

The only essential topping is a huge squeeze of lime and some crushed Mexican oregano

Very good and smoky and healthy (1 tbsp of oil in the whole soup) and so worth the effort. It’s even better the next day

Mushroom Barley Burgers

This is my favorite vegetarian burger – the barley makes it particularly toothsome. Mollie Katzen’s “the heart of the plate” is a fabulous vegetarian cookbook.This recipe is adapted from a recipe in that cookbook.

Start with 1.5 cups cooked barley (boil barley with plenty of water for 30 min to cook and then drain-use the water to make barley water lemonade). Cook ¾ cup onion, ¼ lb finely chopped mushrooms and 1.5 tsp garlic in olive oil till dry and slightly brown. Deglaze with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and add to barley. Mix in ½ packed cup shredded mozzarella, ½ cup finely chopped cashews, 2 eggs, 6 tbsp all purpose flour, salt and pepper and mix well

Add some oil to your non stick griddle and use non stick spray on your measuring cup and on your spatula. Measure out ¼ cup of the batter onto the griddle- flatten with the spatula into burger shape. Cook for around 5 min each side till brown.

These are great in burgers with your favorite toppings and in tacos in place of meat

Farro Bhel

In my never ending quest to marry healthy food with street food- I discovered farro bhel.

Farro is an ancient whole wheat grain that cooks up beautifully in the rice cooker. 3 cups of water to 1 cup farro and the rice cooker does its thing in 30 minutes or so.

Tamarind Chutney: My recipe is approximate and involves boiling ½ cup of tamarind pulp with 1/3 cup of jaggery, 1 cup of water, 1 tbsp of cumin powder, 2 tbsp of dried ginger powder, salt, 1 star anise pod, ½ a stick of cinnamon and ½ tsp of black pepper till the consistency is syrupy (around 20 minutes).

Green chutney: Grind chillies and cilantro together with salt

Other Bhel ingredients- boiled potatoes, raw onion, cilantro and sev

Mix! Its Bhel for dinner