Sunday, April 14, 2013

Pineapple and Green Peas in Almond Broth, Rice and Cauliflower Pilaf, and Green Beans in Yogurt-Poppy Seed Sauce

The combination of flavors in this Indian soup -- saffron, pineapple, peas, coconut, almond, cashews, sesame, coriander, ginger, green chili, mustard seeds -- was so surprising and remarkable.   I made this last night along with a rice and cauliflower pilaf and green beans in a yogurt-poppy seed sauce.

Everything was delicious, but the soup definitely stole the show.  I would definitely make the cauliflower rice pilaf again, but next time I will serve it with a main that has more sauce -- perhaps a masala or curry.  The green beans (which were very spicy!) would also make a good side dish for something.  Together these weren't perfect, as they both felt a little like side dishes, but with the soup it was plenty of food!  The soup is the star of this post though -- I will be making it again for sure!

The recipes all come from the cookbook The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi.

Pineapple and Green Peas in Almond Broth
Ananas Hari Matar Shorba
(from southern region of Maharashtra) 

serves 6 to 8
prep time: 20 minutes
cooking time: 30 minutes


3 Tbs. blanched almonds, halved
3 Tbs. raw cashew halves
1 tsp. sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
2 Tbs. grated fresh or dried coconut
1 1/4 cups water or coconut milk
1/2-inch piec of fresh ginger root, scraped and cut into thin julienne
1-2 hot green chilies, stemmed and seeded
3 Tbs. ghee or unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds
12 high-quality saffron threads
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 small ripened pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup fresh peas or frozen baby peas, defrosted
3 Tbs. heavy cream
1/8 tsp. frhesly ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. garam masala


1.  Place 1 1/2 tsp each of the almonds and cashews and all sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and coconut in a blender or food processor, cover and pulse to a coarse powder.  Add 1/2 cup of water or coconut milk (I used water) and the ginger and chilies, cover and process until smooth.  Pour through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing out all of the liquid.  Reserve liquid. 

2.  Heat the ghee or butter in a 3-quart saucepan over moderate heat.  Add the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs. each of cashews and almonds and stir-fry until golden brown, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Drop in the black mustard seeds and fry until they turn gray and pop.  Pour in the reserved seed-nut milk and cook, stirring to prevent sticking, for 2-3 minutes.  Pour in the remaining 1 1/4 cups water or coconut milk and the saffron threads and salt.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

3.  Add the pineapple and peas if using fresh peas, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the pineapple and peas are tender.  If you are using frozen defrosted peas, add only 1-2 minutes before serving.  Remove pan from the heat, stir in the cream, nutmeg and garam masala, and garnish each serving dish with the fried nuts.


Rice and Cauliflower Pilaf
Gobhi Pulau

serves 6 to 8
prep time: 30 minutes
cooking time: 45 minutes

For the Cauliflower:

1/4 cup fresh or dried grated coconut, lightly packed
1 Tbs. minced seeded hot green chilies
1 Tbs. scraped, finely shredded or minced fresh ginger root
3 Tbs. minced fresh parsley or coarsely copped coriander (cilantro)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. ghee or vegetable oil
1 small cauliflower, washed, trimmed, and cut into small florets

For the Rice:

1 cup basmati or other long-grain white rice
3 Tbs. ghee or a mixture of begetable oil and unsalted butter
1 small cassia or bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp. black mustard seeds
2 large black or 4 large green cardomom pods, slightly crushed
1 3/4 cup to 2 cups water
1 tsp. raw sugar
lemon or lime wedges for garnishing

To Cook the Cauliflower:
1. Combine coconut, green chilies, ginger, parsley or coriander and yogurt in a blender or food processor.  Cover and mix until smooth.  Scrape into a small bowl and add turmeric, salt and pepper and mix.  
2.  Heat 3 Tbs. of ghee or oil in a heavy 2-quart saucepan over moderately high heat until it is hot but not smoking.  Drop in the cauliflower florets and stir-fry for about 5 minutes or until cauliflower has light brown edges.  Pour int he yogurt mixture and stir well.  Reduce heat slightly and fry until the vegetable is dry and half-cooked. 
3.  Remove the pan from the heat and transfer contents to a small bowl.  Wipe the pan clean.

To Cook the Rice:
1.  Heat 1 1/2 Tbs. of ghee or oil-butter mixture in a heavy 2-quart nonstick saucepan over moderate heat.  Fry the cassia or bay leaf, cumin seeds, black mustard seeds and cardamom pods until the mustard seeds turn gray and sputter and pop.  Pour in the rice and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.
2.  Add the water and sweetener, raise the heat to high and bring the liquid to a full boil.  Stir in the seasoned cauliflower and immediately reduce heat to very low and cover with a tight-fitting lid.  Simmer gently, without stirring, for 20-25 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender and fluffy.  Turn the heat off and let the rice sit, covered, for 5 minutes to allow the fragile grains to firm up.  Just before serving, remove the cover, add the remaining 1 1/2 Tbs. of ghee or oil-butter mixture and fluff the piping-hot rice with a fork.  Garnish with a lemon or lime wedge.


Green Beans in Yogurt-Poppy Seed Sauce
Barbatti Tari Sabji

serves 4 or 5
prep time: 30 minutes
cook time: 5 minutes

(Note: everything can be done ahead for this dish and it can be cooked at the last minute)


3 Tbs. white poppy seeds (or chopped cashews)
2 hot green chilies (I used one Serrano chili and it was REALLY spicy so I wouldn't use two unless using a mild pepper)
1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, scraped and coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) or parsley
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 pound green beans, trimmed, cut into 3-inch pieces and steamed until tender-crisp
3 Tbs. ghee or unsalted butter
6 curry leaves, preferably fresh, or 1/2 cassia or bay leaf
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1.  Put the poppy seeds or cashews in a food processor or blender, cover and pulse until powdered.  Add the chilies, ginger, cumin, half of the fresh herb, and the yogurt.  Process until creamy smooth, then combine with steamed green beans in a bowl and toss well.
2.  To assemble the dish, heat the ghee or butter in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over moderate heat.  Drop in the curry leaves or bay leaf and let sizzle for a few seconds.  Pour in the beans and sauce, salt and nutmeg.  Stir-fry until the sauce thickens, either slightly or until almost dry.  Serve with the remaining herb, piping hot, at room temperature or chilled.


-- Anya

Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes

My favorite Sunday morning food is pancakes and I really love love love cornmeal pancakes.  I think that they are the king of pancakes, putting all other pancakes to shame.  (yes, even the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes I made for easter with homemade ricotta).  These panckaes are hearty and textured, crunchy on the outside and soft inside.  

They are perfect with just a bit of butter and maple syrup (and OK yes, bacon).  Let's face it, cornmeal just makes everything better.  These would be good with blueberries too, but they needed nothing extra.  I got this recipe from Bon Appetit, but adjusted it by adding an extra 1/4 cup of flour and cornmeal each, and I used half whole wheat flour and half pastry flour because I didn't have any all-purpose flour on hand (this is a shameful fact, I admit, but I have not been baking recently... I know this is shameful too but I am trying to avoid cookies, bread, and other baked goods after a long winter of unhealthy eating... not that these pancakes fit the diet, I know! but I ate them anyway, as I stared out at another burst of snow flakes in the middle of April, thinking "I DESERVE THESE" and "WHEN WILL WINTER EVER END?!").  
Anyways... um... I think the texture of these is perfect and I will make it exactly this way next time.

Here's the recipe!

Cornmeal Buttermilk Pancakes
adapted from Bon Appetit (February 1998)
makes approximately 12 pancakes


1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour  (or white pastry flour)
1 cup yellow stone ground cornmeal
2 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk  (make your own by combining scant 1 1/4 cups milk and 1 Tbs. + 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar.  Let mixture sit for 5 minutes before adding to other ingredients)

oil for pan
butter and real maple syrup for serving 


1.  Preheat oven to 300 F.  Whisk together first 6 ingredients in large bowl. 
2.  Combine eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter (make sure butter is cool before adding) in a medium bowl and whisk to blend.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.
3.  Coat bottom of heavy skillet with oil (I used coconut oil which worked wonderfully) and heat over medium heat.  Working in batches, pour approximately 1/4 cup worth of batter for each pancake and cook until both sides are golden brown and edges are crisp, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Transfer pancakes to platter in preheated oven to keep warm.  Repeat with remaining batter.  Serve warm with maple syrup and butter.