Kashmiri culture and
ways of preparing the food lends to its exquisite and unique taste. An art form
which is then accented by how the food is served….in copper dishes, with
flavorful white rice, rich yoghurt and tart chutneys.
In the series of
Kashmiri chutneys, this one is a little unusual and delightful. Made with
boiled bottle gourd (Lauki), yoghurt and a dash of honey, it brings a slight
sweetness to the table of spicy food.
In my version I have omitted the honey and the raisins but do add them if you prefer the sweetness. I also made a vegan version by using coconut milk instead. Either way it will come out just superb.
These are images of Bottle Gourd growing and being sold in the floating vegetable gardens on the Dal Lake in Kashmir. A visit to the pre-dawn vegetable market on the lake is a memory that does not leave your soul.
It’s a vegetable overload weekend in our household. We had pea protein packed smoothie this morning and then ran a 5k in freezing temperatures. But the sun was out which gave energy to the mind and body. Riding the veggie theme for lunch I wanted to make something that continues to feed the body with energy.
So what I have here is a simple harissa roasted and charred cauliflower that is a sensory gift to the taste buds. The fact that it is plant based and has plenty of protein is something wonderful. The cauliflower is crusted with a mix of harissa paste, Labneh and Tahini dressing that amplifies the taste. The Avocados add the much needed fat and the citrus from the grapefruit balances it all.
1 head of cauliflower cut into thick steaks.
1 tablespoon harissa paste
1 tablespoon labneh ( or greek yoghurt)
1 tsp of the tahini dressing
2 tablespoon tahini
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoon pomegranate
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 handful of cilantro
Pink or Sea Salt – to taste
Salad greens and Topping
Arugula and Baby spinach
Putting it together:
Blend all the ingredients for the tahini dressing adjust for consistency and salt.
Mix the harissa with labneh and a teaspoon of the tahini dressing.
Smother the cauliflower steaks with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Roast in a 450 degree oven for about 20 mins until slightly charred.
Dress the flowerets with the harissa dressing and put back in the oven for 5 mins. Remove and cool
Remove the grapefruit meat in slices being careful to remove the skin.
Slice the avocados
In a large bowl add the arugula and spinach and dress lightly with the tahini dressing
Plate the green, adding the grapefruit, avocado. Top with cauliflower and walnuts.
The magic of Kashmiri cooking always inspires a smile and a happy tummy. So simple and fragrant served with steaming steamed rice and some pickles. The cheese can be homemade or you can buy a block of Indian Cheese which is pretty readily available in supermarkets now. I do find the homemade version with organic milk much better and softer.
For the greens, I prefer the leaves called Chinese broccoli but collard green work really well too. Remove the leaves from the stems. If the stems are thick, peel the skin and use the inside, they are packed with flavor
The key flavor enhancer, I find is 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.
Here is the recipe
Collard greens or Chinese
broccoli – 2 bunches
Indian cottage cheese sliced
into 2 inch pieces
Cloves 2 pices
asafetida – 1/4 Tsp
1 tsp crushed garlic
Ground ginger powder – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 Tsp
Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
Fennel powder – 1 tsp
salt to taste
1/2 cup mustard oil
2 cups of water
Fry the cottage cheese pieces in oil until lightly golden ( not too dark), remove and immerse in warm water. Set aside
In a pressure cooker add the same mustard oil and the cloves. Add Asafetida and garlic. Add water and the rest of the spices and bring to a boil. Add Salt to taste
Add the greens and pressure cook for 5 mins.
Remove the lid and add the cheese.
Cooks for 5 – 10 mins until the flavors combine and the cheese is soft.
Serve as a main dish or side dish with steaming rice.
Ok…. so this is not much of a recipe but more of the art of putting it all together…but I just had to post. Such an amazing crunch and taste that it leaves you craving for more. And it is healthy, nutritious and scrumptious. If Gluten bothers you, this is GF.
My cauliflower pizza base is Cauliflower and Corn flour from Trader Joes or Moms Organic market. On my trip to MOMs, I brought back beautiful garlic, asparagus, fresh Kale, Jalapeño, and mushrooms. I had some Parmesan and Halloumi in the fridge so putting this together was a breeze.
Note this is not a typical pizza smothering in tomato sauce and cheese. This one showcases the beautiful vegetables so adjust if you need more of the cheeses or add some tomato sauce.
The Kale and chopped mushrooms need to be sautéed in chopped garlic with a pinch of salt and set aside.
Slice or chop some Asparagus, Jalapeño, Roma tomato and set aside
Slice the cheeses.
Cook the crust according to instruction until it is firm and slightly crisp. The TJ version had me cook at 450 degrees and flip the crust to cook 12 mins on each side. That was perfect
Top the crust with veggies and cheese and put under a broiler for 3-4 mins.
Douse with some good avocado or olive oil and red chili flakes.
Sometimes the simpler the food the more rewarding for your taste buds. Visions of many beautiful vegetarian tables with paneer, lentils, and pickles seem to stay with me. The memories range from restaurants to friends houses after school, to street side travel shacks and many more…..but they are always vivid and connect me to a rich past.
Growing up our family were big meat eaters…it would not be “food” without lamb or chicken 🙂 However, every now and then we would have a vegetarian day where Paneer would be the showcase.
When I first moved to the US, store bought paneer (cheese) was not an option so making the paneer at home was the only way. Don’t get me wrong, homemade cheese is the best but sometimes a working girl needs a premade handy version so dinner can be cooked at moments notice.
The local Asian stores now have the most amazing Paneer available so I keep a block in the fridge or freezer for quick dinner situations.
This is a curry, which as always is spicy, tangy, rich, gentle, soft and ever so delicious.
I have paired it with butter rice, lentils and pickles. Naan or roti would be perfect with the platter.
While I was in NYC for a conference, I had the pleasure of dining with my sister and brother in law at a fabulous restaurant Cleo at Mondrian Park Ave. The chef certainly had a way with Mediterranean small plates but one particular dish that caught my attention was the vegetarian Moussakah with eggplants and feta immersed in delicious béchamel sauce.
I have made Mousakkah many times with Lamb, beef and also with just vegetables and it always comes out warm and comforting.
Inspired by Cleo I experimented with a new recipe and it was a winner.
Moussakah is a very popular Greek dish but there are many versions of it through the Mediterranean, all equally worthy of trying.
In a traditional Greek Moussaka recipe, minced beef (or lamb) is cooked in a tomato base and spices then layered with eggplants and topped with creamy béchamel sauce and cheese.
In this vegetarian version, my basic ingredients are sweet eggplants and mushrooms. Then the béchamel sauce and the topping of feta and gruyere. I have made two small plates here for lunch but you can adjust and make one large one. The béchamel sauce has leftover which was wonderful. I have stored it for use during the week.
1 large eggplant or 3-4 slim ones
Cremini mushrooms – I box around 20 pieces
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 of a cup olive oil or avocado oil
1 cup pureed tomatoes
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste
Stick of butter – 4 ounces
Whole milk – 3 cups
Flour – 4 ounces
2 egg yolks
1 cup Grated Gruyere
a pinch of nutmeg
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut the eggplant into slices (1 inch), Season with salt and place in a colander for about half an hour.
Squeeze the liquid from the eggplants with your hands and pat dry with a paper towel. Drizzle the eggplants with some olive oil and bake them for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven until golden brown.
Add olive oil to a pan over medium heat and stir in the chopped mushrooms and sauté for about 5 minutes, add the garlic and chopped onions and continue to cook. Add the cinnamon and adjust the salt and pepper. Cook until the sauce thickens.
For the béchamel sauce use a deep pan and melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour whisking continuously to make a paste and add warmed milk pouring in a stream. Continue to whisk the whole time to avoid lumps and get to a smooth paste. Remove the pan from heat and add the egg yolks, salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg and the grated cheese. Whisk to incorporate all the ingredient and get a smooth and creamy paste
To assemble I have used 2 small dishes, you can use a large baking dish as well. Sprinkle the bottom with some panko or breadcrumbs and layer the eggplants. Add the mushrooms sauce and another layer of eggplants.
Top with the béchamel sauce, feta, and more gruyere.
Cook in a 400-degree oven for 15 mins until bubbly. Cool for a few minutes before digging in
Cauliflower has become a staple in the house and is an ingredient in a variety of dishes spanning cuisines. I used riced cauliflower as a substitute for rice which has been a phenomenal adjustment of carbs in our diet.
When you combine cauliflower with a nice tomato curry you just can’t go wrong. My local Traders Joes store has made it even easier for me by selling already riced cauliflower which saves me a ton of time and the mess on my counter with grains of the vegetable flying around 🙂
This is really easy to make and just perfect for a cold winter day. Serve with some flatbread or rice with a side of pickles.
If you love cauliflower do check out my other recipes: