Immersed in summer mountain vegetables is happiness. Kashmir is a place that gives me that.
Traveling through this tormented paradise brings out some bittersweet emotions. The consistent source of joy besides the rocking landscape is the produce that feeds the souls. The streets are of full of apples, peaches, and pears freshly picked from the nearby trees and accompanied by so many vegetables that you cannot stop filling up your bags to take home.
Kohlrabi is an important part of the Kashmiri diet and prepared with its leaves and served with a light gravy and eaten with rice. Monji Haakh is a simple dish and packs flavor and nutrition. .The key difference in taste I find comes from the use of Mustard oil. You can always substitute with regular vegetable oil. I used a pressure cooking but you don’t have to, it cooks just fine in a regular pot.
Wash and peel the Kohlrabi and cut into slices. Remove the stems from the greens.
Chop 4-5 cloves of garlic, 1 onion, and 1 round plump tomato.
In a pan use a tablespoon of mustard oil and heat until sizzling.
Add garlic, 2 green chilies, onion and 1 tsp of cumin seeds.
Fry for about 30 secs and add a pinch of hing ( asafetida)
Add the Kohlrabi pieces and fry for about 3 mins or so, add tomatoes, cayenne, turmeric, ground coriander, ground ginger, and salt to taste.
Fry the spices for a couple of mins and then add the greens. Add baking soda and a cup of water. I use a pressure cooker to cook everything at this point for about 4-5 whistles. If using a regular pot, let it cook on medium heat until the vegetable is tender
Note: If using a pressure cooker, open the lid of the cooker immediately to retain green color of the greens.
Summer brings inspiration and love, it brings the abundance of fresh vegetables in your garden or the farmers market. Veggies like broccolini and cauliflower are so rich for your mind and soul that they need the simplest of preparation.
So what I have here is a simple roasted and charred presentation that is a sensory gift to the taste buds. The fact that it is plant based and has plenty of protein is something wonderful. I have roasted the beets separately wrapped in a foil for 30 mins in a 375-degree oven. These stay in the fridge for multiple uses throughout the week.
The sauce is a kicker…soaked walnuts, wasabi powder, garlic and garden herbs. This can showcase just about anything you put on a plate.
So here goes
Slice I head of organic cauliflower in steaks.
Take a bunch of broccolini
Sprinkle with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano and some olive oil
Mix well with your hands and lay it out on a baking tray
Roast at 425 degrees for 20 mins. The idea is to char it and still keep it somewhat crunchy
For the sauce
1 cup soaked walnuts ( 1 hr)
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp wasabi powder
1 bunch parsley
2 sprigs of basil
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
Blend together and adjust the oil and salt to taste.
Moroccan flavors favor the spices used in Indian cooking like coriander, saffron, and cumin. I love these aromatic spices and the heavenly aroma. I own a beautiful clay tagine bought from a friend who carried it from Morocco, It makes such a beautiful presentation and keeps the dish juicy and moist.
A tajine or tagine is a Maghrebi dish which is named after the earthenware pot in which it is cooked. The pot has a unique conical shape which helps make your dish moist by letting the steam rise, condense and trickle back down into the shallow base.
I used my tagine right on the burner but have experimented with putting it directly in the oven at 300 degrees F. Of course then you can’t see the beautiful pot simmering on your stove 🙂
Onions are a must in a tagine using them as a bed for the chicken, also layer in cut carrots and fresh cut fennel. Chicken thighs and leg are the best pieces to use to keep it all moist and juicy
The spices are simple, ground coriander, cumin, fennel, cayenne and some ras-el-hanout if you have it.
Watch this 20 sec video to get the real cooking experience of using a tagine.
Who doesn’t love falafels?? A plant-based vegan protein-packed food that is ever so delicious. Whether it is in sandwiches or salad toppings or cooked in sauce, falafels are versatile and very easy to make at home.
Did you know Chickpeas are the oldest consumed crop in the world? Besides the historical fact, they do help keep you full and balance your blood sugar levels. Add spinach and fresh herbs to that and you are looking at a nutrient loaded food that is so good for your body.
I was experimenting with a healthier version that is not deep fried and these turned out amazing.
A beautiful filet of wild salmon, some fresh organic zucchini and arugula were the inspiration for this plate.
I am always looking to add spices and tastes from my heritage to my cooking when I can.
I also grew up with beautiful large walnuts trees which first gave the succulent raw walnuts which are white in the interior and then the beautiful dried ones that we all know so well. Walnuts are a staple in my pantry, I buy in bulk and keep them in the freezer.
The sauce is a play on the flavors of cumin and mustard to start with and then the flesh spiciness of arugula an garlic pulls it all together. It will stay in the fridge for a while to be used on salads and others dishes during the week so do invest in making a batch.
I have used 3 organic zucchinis so you will have leftovers for the week. The zucchini is inspired by Ayurveda which calls for simple ingredients. I have used clarified butter, cumin, mustard and fresh curry leaves….. the flavor is just amazing
Pat fillets dry with a paper towel. Season on both sides with salt and pepper and set aside.
Run the ingredients for the sauce through the food processor adding water if needed and set aside. I like the taste Feta brings to this sauce but do adjust to your own taste
Chop the zucchini into bite size pieces. In a skillet, add Ghee, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
When the spice starts to splutter add the cut zucchini and sauté on medium heat until tender. Salt to taste as you go,
Put a cast-iron skillet or heavy pan over high heat. Add grapeseed oil and when the oil is hot the fillets in the pan, flesh side down and let sear for 1 minute. Flip to skin side down and let it cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp.
To serve, plate the sauce and layer on the zucchini topped with the Salmon.
We are waiting for spring on the east coast so patiently but it keeps testing our patience. The first day of spring has come and gone bringing beautiful snow with it…..cold days, blossoms annoyed to be out in this cold and leaves struggling to show their faces.. I am trying to brighten up the “almost spring” spirit with some amazing fresh ingredients and flavorful spices like Za’atar.
Za’atar is a blend of herbs and seeds often used in the Middle Eastern cooking. I bought my Za’atar mix from a local middle eastern store but you can always make it at home and use your variations of this herb and spice blend. Typically, za’atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, and salt. Mine also included roasted flour.
The lemon zest is a key ingredient enhancing the flavors so beautifully so don’t skip that.
The chicken comes out tender and juicy, and you can prep this recipe a day or 2 ahead on time, keeping it in the fridge until you are ready to roast
The cauliflower steak is also as simple as it can be, sliced, sprinkled with the spice blend and roasted until brown. It is a delicious, healthy and gluten-free side for any occasion.
I do tend to make and store a lot of fermented foods so served it with a side of grated Daikon radish pickle. You can find some of my pickle recipes on my blog
Make some knife incisions or cuts in the chicken pieces for the marinade to get in. Pat dry.
Mix all the ingredient together for the chicken and rub it in the chicken pieces thoroughly.
Store overnight or longer
Roast at 400 degrees for 45 -55 minutes until golden brown
Slice the cauliflower like large steak pieces
Sprinkle with the Zataar spice and some grapeseed oil on both sides.
Roast at 400 degrees for 30 mins or until browned slightly
You can serve this with a salad or pickles. I have here some Diakon Pickle with fresh radishes and an arugula walnut pesto ( will post the recipe soon).
This is a fun week for another reason. There is a fab party at Angie’s Fiesta Friday and I am co-hosting with Petra. Petra’s blog has one of the most creative recipes with fresh ingredients that I have seen and so do check it out!