Thursday, September 20, 2012

Kale & Potato Curry

We just celebrated Rosh Hashana in the sign of Virgo where attention to systems, health, details and routines are all up and in the lime light during this time. It is a time we renew ourselves and start over in this new year. Intentions and goals set during this time find energetic support by the newly born year.

I ended my year with submitting my manuscript to my publisher for my upcoming cookbook Silk & Spice: Mindful Eating for the Vegetarian from the Silk Road  due out in Fall 2013. It was a three year process to formulate and write my cookbook, and although I am ecstatic that it's getting published, I am a bit sad that this project of mine is over. It was my companion for a long time. We cooked, tweaked and revised together until we got to perfection. I will write another post about the process of writing my cookbook.

For me, this Rosh Hashana is about introspection and food, and connecting them both in a way, where food can be used to grace ones life with Gods presence. I will be working on my next labor of love, Spiritual Kneading for Rosh Chodesh which is about taking the physical matter of dough and kneading it as a means to clear the mind and connect with God and your innermost goodness. 

And speaking of goodness, I just made this Kale & Potato Curry dish utilizing Falls' typical produce, which shines on your face like a warm summers day with these golden potatoes. If you want to make it ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze it, leave out the yoghurt and add it at the last minute, just before serving.

Servings 4


1 bunch kale
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 onion, halved and finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 inch piece of ginger, minced
l ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
l ½ teaspoon ground cumin
l ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 cardamom pods, smashed
4 medium potatoes, cut into bite size chunks
1 cup plain (full-fat) yoghurt
1½ tablespoons tomato purée
small bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
small handful of almonds, cashews or pistachios, toasted and chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Separate the kale from the stalks and roughly chop the leaves.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and saute until just golden.
  3. Meanwhile, pound the garlic, chili and ginger together with a pinch of salt to a paste. Add to the onion and cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes. Tip in the rest of the spices and stir for a minute or two.
  4. Add the potatoes and chopped kale and saute, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, so that they are well coated with the spice mixture.
  5. Pour in enough water to just cover the vegetables. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes until the potatoes are just tender. Add the kale, stir and cook until just wilted.
  6. In a bowl, whisk together the yoghurt, tomato puree and some of the hot liquid from the curry. 
  7. Remove the curry from the heat, stir in the yoghurt mixture, return to the heat and warm through very gently (if it gets too hot, the yoghurt will curdle). Stir in most of the cilantro.
  8. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Scatter over the toasted nuts and remaining cilantro, then serve with rice.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Olive Oil Cake with Red Wine Glaze

In the last post, I told you about a cooking class I took with Jennifer Abadi at Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. She introduced this olive oil cake, which has it's roots in the Mediterranean. Her specialty, like mine is to teach and write about dishes from the Silk Road. Jennifer's predominant focus is on Syrian cooking. Mine is Central Asia. In any event, all countries along the Silk Road have influenced each other in one way or another. The traveling caravans, not only passed through the countries, but picked up a dish and morphed it. Much like the game of telephone.... you say a message and then some where along the line, the message has completely changed, but maybe a word here and there has remained. Same holds true for this cake. As cake moved to Europe, butter became the fat and flavor of the cake, probably because olive oil was virtually non existent.

You might think, a cake is a cake. Flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Presto! Typically when we think of cake, we think of butter, but here the olive oil is used for fat which is pretty standard in the Medditerenean. Much better and healthier than butter, and yet it also gives it a rustic flair. This cake has a slight crunch at the edges, like a beloved one at a nearby coffee shop. And above all else, it has lemon zest for flavor and red wine which needs little in the way of a supporting cast.But I know, you’re just here for the cake. And you should be, as it meets all of the aforementioned cake batter requirements, but gets a little pretty boost from the red wine. Wine and olive oil are wonderful together; they both have bitter undertones and fruity finishes and in this cake, you taste both things with each bite. 

Serves 8 to 10


For Glaze:

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup unrefined whole cane sugar
1 tablespoon red wine

For Cake:

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3 cups All Purpose Gluten-Free flour
3/4 cup unrefined whole cane sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 1/3 cups extra virgin olive oil
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup water
2 tablespoons red wine (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350º F. Grease a standard loaf pan.
2. In a medium size mixing bowl combine all 3 glaze ingredients and mix well. Set aside to
prepare batter for cake.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine baking powder, flour, sugar, cinnamon, and cloves and mix well.
4. Add the lemon zest and mix again.
5. In a separate large mixing bowl combine the olive oil, eggs, water and red wine
(optional). Add to the dry mixture above, and mix well until it becomes a smooth batter.
6. Pour the batter into the greased loaf pan. Place the pan on the center rack of the preheated
oven and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Gently pull the rack out just enough to pour the glaze over the entire top of the cake.
Carefully slide the cake back into the oven and bake an additional 15 to 25 minutes, or
until a toothpick inserted into its center comes out clean (time will depend upon the heat
of your oven and size of your pan).
8. Remove cake from oven and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before inverting the pan and
dislodging the cake. Turn cake upright and sprinkle with additional sugar if desired.

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