Thursday, September 11, 2014

South Indian Rice and Yogurt Salad

This is one of my all time favorite salads. I had it ready for one of my first posts but somehow never found the right moment to publish it. When I made it this summer for a BBQ dinner, my friends loved it so much that I finally decided to share this recipe.

This rice and yogurt salad comes from the South Indian tradition and was invented to use old yogurt, which in India is usually home made. It is also an excellent idea to use any leftover basmati rice, which in my home I cook at least once a week.

I discovered it thanks to my neighbor who prepares it often when yogurts gets too tart. Once, after trying it, I asked for the recipe and since he was just making it that day, he offered to bring some for me. I could not have enough of it. Then when I was pregnant, not at all into cooking, and suffering lot from morning sickness, he made this dish often, leaving at the door. Nothing could have tasted better those days. Delicate rice, sour yogurt, and especially fresh ginger, which is known for soothing the stomach and nausea, were a prefect combination and this was a dish to dream of. Still, whenever some stomach problems occur, this salad is a good remedy and a dish I crave.

There are different variations of this salad but I am particularly sentimental about the simple version my neighbor makes. There is a very unique flavor in it coming from the fresh curry leaves. It is the only ingredient that might be more difficult to obtain, but worth trying, as this salad gets a very intense and unusual flavor thanks to carry leaves.

This salad can be eaten in room temperature but during a hot summer I like it cold, straight from fridge.

Rice and Yogurt Salad

1 cup raw Basmati rice,
2 and 1/2 cups plain yogurt,
1 green chili pepper,
1 inch-long piece of fresh ginger, grated,
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped,
2 tbsp vegetable oil,
1 tsp brown mustard seeds,
2 tbsp black lentil (urad dal),
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder,
a few curry leaves.

1. Cook, drain, and cool the rice, or use leftover rice.
2. Place the rice in a large bowl. Add grated ginger, chopped chili, coriander leaves and yogurt. Mix gently.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add mustard seeds, dal, asafoetida powder, and curry leaves.
3. When the mustard leaves start to pop, add the mixture to the rice. Mix again. Let it stand for 20 minutes and serve in room temperature or let it chill before serving.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Another Cabbage Salad--with Ketchup Dressing

As promised last time, today, cabbage salad.

Since it is about a sixth cabbage salad on my blog I do not really have much more to rave about. However, to convince those who have not found their way to embrace cabbage, I would like to mention an article from one of the health magazines I recently read. Once again it, quotes a study proving that cruciferous vegetables, which include Brussels sprouts, kale, arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, and of course all kinds of cabbage, are a powerful remedy against any inflammations in our bodies. Consumed daily, they help prevent heart disease and other problems caused by inflammation.

My cousin showed me this recipe many years ago. Back then I made it quite often. It came back to me recently after an international summer party I was invited to. There was a huge bowl of coleslaw salad to accompany pork that was roasted in a sputnik-like device. And I noticed how a mountain of that simple yest excellent coleslaw disappeared to the last shredded cabbage leaf.

This particular salad really is a simple coleslaw made of cabbage and onion. It also has a typical coleslaw dressing, to which an equal amount ketchup is added. Ketchup not only lightens the dressing but also adds extra sweetness and lycopene to that already very healthy salad, which can be served with grilled meats, cold meats, or sandwiches.

Cabbage Salad with Ketchup Dressing

1/2 small cabbage, shredded,
1/2 medium onion, sliced,
2 tbsps fresh chopped parsley or dill,
1/4 cup mayonnaise,
1/4 cup ketchup,
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Place shredded cabbage in a medium bowl. Add onion and herbs. Mix thoroughly.
2. In a small bowl mix mayonnaise with ketchup. Season with salt and pepper. Pour dressing over the cabbage and mix.

3. Let it marinate for 1/2 hour. Serve in room temperature.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Fava Bean Spread

During my recent visit to Poland I noticed that fava beans had become very present at farmers' markets. Some sellers offered them in pods but most often they were sold in bags, already shelled. Fava was displayed in large quantities at every stand and seemed even more popular that cabbage. I also saw fava beans on the menu of many restaurants, among them at the restaurant offering molecular cuisine.

Inspired by this newly discovered popularity of fava beans in my native country, I decided to post today a fava bean spread, which I had made just before I went to Poland.

Since fava bean has always been very popular in the Mediterranean cuisine, I decided to use in my spread some of the quality ingredients of this region. I cooked fava, puréed it, and seasoned it with olive oil, lemon juice, and thick Greek yogurt. You cannot ever go wrong with such ingredients so the spread turned out very tasty. At a midsummer party we threw in our garden, it become a big hit and many guests asked for the recipe.

Fava must be double shelled so the spread is smooth and delicate. You can husk it after cooking or use the frozen double-shelled fava bean, which you can buy some food stores. This spread can be served on a fresh baguette or on crispy crostini with extra shredded asiago cheese on top. You can also use it as a dip with baked pita chips or grissini.

Fava Bean Spread

1 lb fava beans, double shelled,
1 small garlic clove
2 tbsp lemon juice,
3 tbsp olive oil,
3 tbsp cup Greek yogurt, or Lebne Kefir Cheese,
1/2 small red onion,
2 tbsp fresh mint leaves, optional
salt and pepper to taste.

1. Cook fava beans until soft. For double-shelled it will be about 5 minutes, for other about 20 minutes, after which you cool the beans and husk from white skins.

2. Place beans in a blender, add lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, garlic and purée until almost smooth.
3.Add yogurt or Lebne cheese, season with salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. You can also add chopped mint.
4. Transfer spread to a medium serving bowl, drizzle with the remaining olive oil and decorate with slices of red onion.

Serve at room temperature as a spread

or a dip.