Much before I became a food blogger, I have been a cookbook lover. I remember spending hours pouring over the many cookbooks that Maa possessed, even Sananda, a Bengali monthly which was a treasure trove of recipes, going through the ingredients, trying to imagine the dish in my head and then sometimes experimenting them in the kitchen. My favourite was a Bengali recipe book,more a bible, that had every possible recipe gifted by our Bangladeshi neighbour. The books is in tatters now, still very special. I am hoping Maa will pass it down to me one day! Thankfully this love for cookbook has remained and now I am myself a very proud owner of a worthy collection. Thanks to the many online portals, you can now own your favourite book with just a click! And I am a compulsive buyer when it comes to books – especially food memoirs. With a steady growing stash , I thought it only made sense that I share what I read and cook from it with my readers. So, hereby I start a #cookfromcookbook series that will have me sharing my favourite authors and their creations that I recreate in my kitchen.
Yotam Ottolenghi – a name resonant in the British culinary scene , a chef and cookbook writer with strong Mediterranean roots that reflects deeply in his recipes. I have been following him on the social media for a while now and only very recently got hold of his book ‘Plenty’ a collection of vegetarian recipes or “new vegetarianism” as he calls it. With every new test recipe that he Instagrams,I would go gushing over the use of everyday ingredients and how it is so doable in your very own kitchens. His book Plenty has plenty recipes that can be made a part of your everyday meals. He picks up one favourite ingredient and builds a recipe around it. Much like what we do too. I have been eyeing the Burnt Aubergine Dip with Tahini and finally ended up making it too. A very flavorful condiment that can be served with cut vegetables or even as a refreshing salad in summers.
I keep going back to the book looking for inspirations in my everyday cooking and I am sure I will cooking a lot more from this one. The recipe I am sharing today is broadly inspired from the original as I have replaced a few ingredients based on availabitiy. Instead of parsley I used fresh coriander and added some red chillies for the zing.
First, roast the brinjal, with the skin on the gas stove, like we do for Indian bhartas. This can be done in the oven too. But make sure to make deep gashes on the brinjal and smear with some oil, or else it will burst.
Remove the charred skin from the brinjal, scoop out the flesh.
Chop the flesh roughly and transfer to a medium mixing bowl.
Add the tahini paste, water,lemon juice,garlic, coriander , salt and pepper.
With the festival season coming to an end for the time being, now with Diwali over and before the Christmas cheer starts again, its time to give your palette some rest! How about trying this Couscous Salad with Grilled Cottage Cheese. Couscous is a versatile grain and packs a punch when served along with a variety of vegetables. With winters approaching, there is an array of green vegetables in the market, so its best to use them regularly in our meals. If your everyday Dal – sabzi doesn’t seem palatable enough, you should try this dish.
In anticipation of those dreadful summer days I am already exploring cool summery recipes. Come summers – well, its already here considering the temperature is already soaring as high as 35 degress we all need to plan our diet to include fresh vegetables, fruits a plenty. Salads will surely be a part of our daily menu. Like this Summer salad made with everyday vegetables with a generous drizzle of Lemon Pepper vinaigrette.
On my recent visit to Bangalore to spend two days with my friend of 15 yrs sans the little boy and the husband I explored few food stores in the city and was spoilt for choices. I was like a little girl in a candy store who didn’t know what to buy and what to leave. What first caught my fancy was the variety of peppers – I didn’t know of more than 3 kinds and here there were more than 10! There was pink , long and green pepper that I was seeing for the first time. Ideas started flooding my head and I picked up an assortment of 6 kinds of pepper.There were hoards of other stuffs I picked up which would need a dedicated post I suppose. Coming back to my Summer salad with a dressing of lemon pepper vinaigrette using some pretty pink peppers! Those peppers were a revelation..very sweet at the first bite with a woody fiery after kick to it. I couldn’t resist eating those while I prepared the dressing.
This salad is best served chiiled. You can use whatever fresh vegetable that catches your fancy!
Instead of pink pepper use normal black pepper and white pepper.
Rice wine vinegar can be substituted with apple cider or even normal vinegar.
Penne pasta - 1 cup - boiled al dente - follow instruction given on the packet
Cucumber - 1 cup - diced
Red bell pepper - half cup - diced
Cherry tomatoes - a handful - halved
Green olives - a handful - halved
Oilve oil - ¼th cup
Rice wine vinegar - 1 tsp
Lime juice - 1 tbsp
Pink pepper - 1 tbsp. - crushed
Black pepper - 1 tbsp. - crushed
Coarse sea salt - 1 tbsp. - crushed
Fresh mint leaves - few sprigs - roughly chopped for garnish
Lettuce or any other salad leaves - few leaves for garnish
Grated Parmesan cheese - for garnish - optional
For the vinaigrette:
Mix together the olive oil, rice wine vinegar,lime juice, crushed pepper and salt. Give it a good stir and keep aside.
This dressing can easily be stored for later use .
For assembling the salad:
Line a salad bowl with the salad leaves. Toss together the pasta, diced cucumber, red bell pepper, tomatoes, olives into the salad bowl. Put in a good drizzle of the vinaigrette. Give it a good mix. Throw in the chopped mint leaves and some grated parmesan. Serve chilled.
The thing with having foodie friends is that you are constantly learning new things from them too. My one such very dear friend A is my partner in crime when it comes to food. We do lunches and dinners to satiate our souls every now and then! She is from Nepal and she treats us to these Nepali delights often. I wouldn’t be exaggerating, if I say that she make the best momos I’ve ever had, so much so that now I never want to eat momos outside! Nepali cuisine is extremely under rated I would say and there is definitely more to momos. One such delightful dish is this Aloo ko Achaar – Nepali Style Potato Salad that A makes and we all love . She was very kind to part with the recipe and I did not lose much time preparing it in my kitchen. It is a delightful salad made with potatoes, red onions, garlic and sesame seeds. And what makes it so different is the tempering with mustard oil . Serve it as a starter with your drinks or as a side dish to your meal – you are going to love it anyway!
This is best served at room temperature. A tells me that another variation would be to add dried fish or shrimps to enhance the taste. Sometimes even diced cucumber is also added to it. The options are many and in any which way this is one yummy dish that can be prerpared in a jiffy.