Monday, May 30, 2011

Broccoli Rabe and Chickpeas with Cumin and Dried Red Chillis

Rapini, also known as Broccoli Rabe, has a distinct bitter taste, which mellows when charred. The key is to cook it in a smoking hot skillet without any oil or fat. I paired that delicious blackened flavour with the smokiness of cumin and dried red chillis, and the sweetness of caramelized shallots and garlic. This dish is great served warm, or just as delicious when made ahead of time and put out as cold antipasti.

1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1½ tbsp whole Cumin
6–8 whole Dried Red Chillis
3 Shallots, finely sliced
3–4 cloves of Garlic, cut into thin slivers
1½ lbs [700 gms] Broccoli Rabe, washed and with the ends of the stalks trimmed off
16 oz [2 cups] canned Chickpeas, drained and thoroughly washed
Salt (to taste)
  1. Heat oil in a large skillet or frying pan over high heat until smoking. Add cumin and dried red chillis and stir briskly for about a minute until the chillis just start to blacken. Lower heat to medium, add shallots and fry for about 3 mins until they are lightly golden. Add garlic and stir for another min. Remove skillet from heat and pour shallot-garlic-spice mixture, including the oil, into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Heat the same skillet until smoking. Add broccoli rabe and sauté for 5–7 mins until the ends start to char and blacken. Add chickpeas and salt, and continue to stir for another 2–3 mins, making sure the greens are evenly charred and the chickpeas start taking on some colour.
  3. Turn off heat, add shallot-garlic-spice mixture to skillet, and stir well. Put a lid on the skillet and let sit for 5 mins before serving.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

2011 Spring-Summer Home Refresh

I’ve been in the throes of spring-cleaning all May. I kept up with my seasonal ritual of changing throws on sofas, covers on cushions, and rotating linens—all quick and easy ways to update the look of any space.

I also made a new addition to my living room. I had a golden yellow slipper chair in the corner, in front of the window. The chair is lovely, but always seemed a tad petite for the space. So I was thrilled when I spied a darling settee 2 weeks ago on one of my sojourns to ABC Carpet & Home. It was upholstered in a neutral, grey-ish woven chenille with flecks of metallic silver, which complemented the mid-century modern upholstery of my main sofa nicely.

As luck would have it, it was the last piece in the store and I bought the sample off the floor at a discount. The yellow slipper chair has moved to the guest bedroom and the settee is now happily nestled under the window, and is a perfect finish to the conversation area in the living room.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Orange Blossom–Scented Spring Berries

I had bought bottles of Persian orange blossom water and rose water during my stay in Dubai in January. They are perfect alternates for alcoholic liqueurs when macerating berries, and their floral scent adds a heady complexity to the end of a meal.

1 lb [500 gms] Strawberries, trimmed and cut into quarters
6 oz [170 gm] Raspberries
2 tbsp Orange Blossom water
1/8 tsp Rose water
1 tbsp Sugar, or honey
1 cup Crème Fraiche, or Sour Cream
¼ cup whole Mint leaves, for garnish
  1. Combine strawberries, raspberries, orange blossom water, rose water and sugar in a bowl, and mix gently, making sure not to bruise the berries. Store in a fridge for 30 mins to allow the flavours to steep.
  2. Remove from fridge and spoon berries into individual cups. Top with a dollop of crème fraiche and garnish with mint leaves. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Cucumber Radish Salad with Ginger and Green Chillis

This is a wonderfully fresh and colourful salad that complements a lot of roasted and grilled meats and kebabs. I dished out my mandoline and sliced the cucumber and radish super-thin with the skin on. The resulting translucent discs ringed with jewel-toned red and green, showcased the bright note of the ginger and heat of the green chilli beautifully. The recipe works equally well as a crunchy relish if you finely dice the cucumber and radish instead of slicing it. I add the salt just before serving to prevent the water in the vegetables from being leached.

1 large Cucumber
8–10 small Radishes
1-inch piece Ginger, peeled and grated
4–6 Green Chillis, finely chopped
1/8 cup Parsley, finely chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
1/8 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
Salt (to taste)
  1. Slice the cucumbers and radishes as thin as possible with the skin on, preferably with a mandoline. Alternately, you can finely dice the vegetables.
  2. In a large bowl, mix cucumber and radishes with the rest of the ingredients, except salt, and toss well. Store in a fridge for 30 mins to chill. 
  3. Remove from fridge, add salt, toss well and serve immediately.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Memorial Day meal

Dear Readers,
Due to an overwhelming response to the recipes for Spice-Roasted Whole Cauliflower and Coriander-Tomato-Crusted Lamb Chops, I'm going to post suggested accompaniments to complete a perfect Memorial Day celebratory meal.

So keep a look out for:
Cucumber Radish Salad with Ginger and Green Chillis
Orange Blossom-Scented Spring Berries

Hello summer. . . !

Coriander-Tomato-Crusted Lamb Chops

Just in time for Memorial Day and the official start of summer grilling season, here is one of my signature lamb chop recipes, which can be cooked either in the oven or on an outdoor grill. Like my spare ribs recipe, you can marinate the meat well in advance, and easily size-up the quantities for large gatherings.


5 lbs racks of Lamb rib chops (trimmed of excess fat and frenched)

1 small Onion, peeled and quartered
8–10 cloves of Garlic, peeled
2-inch piece of Ginger, peeled
1 small Tomato, quartered
1 cup Coriander leaves (Cilantro); plus an additional ¼ cup, finely chopped, for a garnish
4 tbsp ground Coriander
1½ tbsp ground Cumin
1 tsp ground Fennel
1 tsp ground Fenugreek
1/8 tsp ground Cardamom
1 tsp Black Pepper
2 tsp Chilli powder
Salt (to taste)
  1. Put the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato and coriander leaves in a food processor and grind to a smooth paste. Pour into a bowl, add remaining marinade ingredients, and mix well. 
  2. Wash and pat dry racks of lamb. Thoroughly slather lamb on all sides with the marinade, lay flat and stack them in a large airtight container, pouring any leftover marinade over the meat. Cover the container will plastic wrap and seal tightly. Let meat marinate in the fridge for at least 1 day, and up to 7 days if needed. 
  3. Remove lamb from fridge and bring down to room temperature. Place lamb onto a large roasting pan with the fat side up and cook in a 425ºF (220ºC) pre-heated oven for 20 mins. Then lower temperature to 400ºF (205ºC) and cook for 35–40 mins, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat reads 140ºF (60ºC), i.e.—medium-rare. For well done meat, cook an extra 15 mins until the meat registers 175ºF (80ºC). 
  4. Remove lamb from pan and rest on a cutting board, covered in foil, for 15–20 mins. Cut lamb in between each rib bone, garnish with chopped coriander and serve immediately. 
[If you’re using a grill, then roast the ribs in the oven for 20 mins only, then cook the remaining time over indirect heat on a charcoal or gas grill.]

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Spice-Roasted Whole Cauliflower

This recipe is a “looker”—definitely one to easily wow a crowd. But it’s also easy enough to make for a weeknight supper, and endlessly versatile if you change around the spices to suit your mood.

Tonight, I used a fragrant combination of sweet garam masala spiked with musky ground coriander, smoky cumin and finally a piquant note of asafoetida; all kicked up a notch with chilli powder and black pepper.

½ tsp ground Garam Masala
½ tsp ground Coriander
¼ tsp ground Cumin
¼ tsp Asafoetida
½ tsp Chilli powder
¼ tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
1 whole head Cauliflower (about 1½ lbs [750 gms] after the stalks and leaves are trimmed)
3 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt (to taste)
6–8 cloves Garlic
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425ºF (220ºC). 
  2. Combine all the spices together in a small bowl and set aside. 
  3. Wash and thoroughly dry cauliflower. Trim stalk and leaves, and set on a shallow baking dish.
  4. Drizzle cauliflower with 2 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle spice mixture and salt over cauliflower and rub the spices in, making sure the whole cauliflower is well coated. Using a knife, cut slits into the cauliflower and tuck in the garlic cloves.
  5. Set cauliflower in the middle rack of the oven and roast for 1 hour. About 30 mins into roasting, drizzle the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil over the cauliflower and baste it with any escaping juices. If the top starts to brown too much, cover lightly with tin foil. You know the cauliflower is ready when a knife inserts easily into the centre and the top is evenly caramelised. 
  6. Remove from oven and cut cauliflower into smaller pieces. Serve warm.
    [For extra effect, you can present the cauliflower whole and make a grand gesture cutting it at the table!]

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar