Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Veggies, Spice and Everything Rice has MOVED

If you are looking for Veggies, Spice and Everything Rice, I have moved.

Please find me at my new name and address: Silk Road Vegetarian

Monday, November 4, 2013

Baked Eggs with Arugula, Yoghurt & Chili


I have been inconsistent in posting recipes. Sorry for that. My hands have been very full lately. My father is quite ill and has been and out of the hospital regularly, which has been very disorienting for the entire family. He's at home now and quite a trooper. Never complains and just deals with his life.

My cookbook Silk Road Vegetarian is underway and my publisher has sent me the galley to review several times. Luckily they are always asking for my input, and want my artistic sensibility and the essence of who I am am to shine through the book. They haven't listened to everything I suggested, however the book is definitely forming into a beautiful coffee table cookbook.

Then there is the other book I am writing, on the intersection of Rosh Chodesh (head of the Jewish month) and challah. It's a monthly curriculum on how to incorporate the Jewish theme of the month into the shape of the challah.

Amidst all of this is my dutiful CSA which always comes in on Wednesday to deliver the freshest produce that has been picked the same day. This week I got some arugula and decided to try the very famous Ottolenghis' recipe, Baked Eggs with Arugula. I really savour the peppery kick arugula has near the end of a bite – the taste is nigh on mustardy. That spicy bite so characteristic of arugula has always inspired me to dress it with some yoghurt.  It makes for a quick and effortless meal, where the yoghurt and za'atar really make the dish.

If you don't want to bake this, you can always cook this on the stove and just cover it with the lid. From the much-loved Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’ cookbook.

serves 2


4 large eggs
2 tbsp olive oil
1 bunch Arugula
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
Drizzle of extra Virgin Olive oil

Za’atar, for seasoning


1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.

2. Place the arugala and olive oil in a large pan and sprinkle over a little salt. Sauté on a medium heat for a few minutes, until the arugula wilts and most of the liquid has evaporated.

3. Transfer to a small baking dish (or leave in the pan, if ovenproof) and make four deep indentations in the cooked arugula. Carefully break an egg into each hollow then place in the preheated oven to cook for 10-15 minutes, or until whites are set.

4. While the eggs are baking make your garlic yoghurt. Stir the garlic through the yoghurt and season generously with salt. Set aside.

5. When your eggs are ready to your liking, take them out of the oven. Spoon on a large dollop of garlicky yoghurt and pour over a drizzle of olive oil with za’atar. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Matboucha – Israeli Roasted Tomato Salad

Cooking a medley of tomatoes and red peppers for the Matboucha

I miss Israel. I was there this past summer for many happy occasions in my family. The main attraction was that my Italian cousin Jonny got married to Leor, whose an English Israeli. The common ground location for a wedding was naturally.... Israel.

Among the guests were my cousins from around the globe who came for the wedding – Thailand, Hong Kong, Italy, England, Los Angeles... and the list goes on. Seems like when God commanded his people to be fruitful and multiply, they took it literally. My family thought it meant to multiply in every part of the world, but what ever.... I digress.

A small fraction of my family that could fit into this photo. By the sunset. I am the one whose hand is on the man on the ground (my husband)

The other attractions were that we celebrated many big bash birthday parties in August. Seems like everyone was born in August. Again another reference to be fruitful.... There was my Italian cousin Suzanna's Birthday party on the beach, then there was my Italian cousin Ronen's Birthday party in a Hall where he pulled off a show for us. Like what I mean is that, he was the SHOW! He entertained us and sang to an audience of 200 people for 1 1/2 hours. And not to mention my Dad's Birthday, or so we think. Back when he was born there were no birth certificates, so most likely his parents just made up a day. Sure, he was born in August. Why not, the weather is nice, nice time for outdoor parties. So...

The Ronen Show

With all this movement, the common meeting ground every morning for us 60 cousins that were OCCUPYING HILTON, was the Hilton Tel Aviv Breakfast. I promise you that you have never seen anything like this. Gourmet food – buffet style – non stop. There were every single kind off egg concoction you could think of, waffles, pancakes, seasonal fruits, granola, Israeli yogurts and cheeses, croissants.... got the idea. There was a lot of food.

Honey for breakfast... honey?

Among the list was my breakfast staple... Matboucha. May sound like throw up, but it's actually so not. Matboucha is a mezze dish usually found in a plate with chummus and techina – Middle Eastern staples. Through out the years, Matboucha has become known as an Israeli dish of roasted red peppers and tomatoes. It is served cold and is considered a salad although I use that term loosely. It can be a base for many other dishes... like Shakshuka – another Middle Eastern favorite, Tomato Sauce, spread for a sandwich... just use your imagination.

So when my husband and I came back from Israel, nostalgic,  my good dutiful husband brought Israel to me. He fired up the gill and made us a matboucha. You can forgo the grill and just use the stovetop to grill the tomatoes and red peppers. The roasted caramelized flavors of the two just bring out the sweetness for this matboucha salad.


2 lbs Tomatoes
1 lb red bell pepper
3 garlic cloves, quartered
3 dried chilies (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons hot paprika
1/3 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt


  1. Place bell peppers on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 350°F until the skins have browned. Alternatively grill them or use the stovetop and place them on the grills. 
  2. Submerge tomatoes in boiling hot water for 10 minutes or until the skin falls off.
  3. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out the juice and seeds.
  4. Cut tomatoes in chunks.
  5. Peel the skin from the bell peppers and remove the seeds and stem.
  6. Cut bell peppers in chunks.
  7. Add all ingredients to a soup pot and pour oil over top.
  8. Bring contents to a boil, then turn down to a medium heat.
  9. Cook covered for 2 hours.
  10. Remove cover and cook uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  11. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  12. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Crusted Lemon Tofu

A simple marinade for tofu that has a bright and fresh lemony flavor. Pan frying the pressed tofu in arrowroot flour creates a crispy outside that is so tender on the inside. This recipe can be used year round with a side of any vegetable of your choice forming a complete meal. You also might want to check out a blog post I wrote a little while back on how to successfully press tofu so that you always have a fabulous tofu.


2 blocks extra firm tofu, pressed and drained
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon agave
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup arrowroot powder, for dredging
2 tablespoon neutral tasting oil (refined coconut or canola preferred)

Sauce Ingredients

½ cup vegetable broth
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon agave
2 tablespoon sesame oil 

1 inch knob finely grated ginger
1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, diluted with 1 ½ tablespoon water
2-3 sliced lemon wedges, for serving

Toasted Sesame Seeds, for serving


  1. Press the tofu over a rack for about 10 minutes, or check out this product I reviewed on pressing tofu, which I now use regularly.
  2.  Slice into about ¼ inch thick strips. Drizzle the strips with the rice vinegar and agave and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Allow the marinate to coat the tofu for 10-30 minutes.
  3. While the tofu is marinating, create your lemon sauce by combining all ingredients except arrowroot and water in a sauce pan. Heat for approximately 3 minutes and add arrowroot slurry. Whisk and cook for only one additional minute. Set aside, covered to keep warm.
  4. Pre-heat a large skillet and add the oil.
  5. Place 1 cup arrowroot powder in a large dish and dredge each piece of the tofu in the arrowroot.
  6. Sauté coated tofu on each side for approximately 3 minutes, or until the tofu is golden.
  7. When the tofu is finished, place on platter and top with lemon sauce. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and lemon wedges.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Morrocan Carrot and Chickpea Salad

For the last two weeks, my CSA delivered baby carrots, so have been trying a few different recipes – from soups to salads. I came across a cookbook Roots, by Diane Morgan – catchy title that has so many insinuations, like back to the roots of cooking, and cooking with root vegetables.

This salad embodies what I love most about salads – quick, easy and the ingredients are available year round. I added a bit of my own variation from the original recipe, as really you can add anything to this salad and it'll work. It's that versatile. On the plate is a heady toast of cumin dressing over julienne carrots (which you can use the food processor to cut down on time) cooked chickpeas, little chunks of medjool dates, and some fresh mint to open the palate with slivered almonds to garnish.

Serves 6
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more to taste
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

10 ounces carrots, julienne
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15- ounce can, drained and rinsed)
2/3 cup medjool dates, cut into chickpea-sized pieces
1/3 cup fresh mint, chopped
For serving: lots of toasted almond slices
  1. To make the dressing, first toast the cumin seeds in a dry skillet until fragrant and lightly browned, a minute or two. Let cool, and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle.
  2. In a bowl or jar, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, honey, ground cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the carrots, chickpeas, dates, mint, and almonds. Gently toss until everything is evenly coated. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. (You can toss this salad, minus the almonds, hours in advance. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Curried Coconut Tomato Soup

As the tomatoes in the farmers market or your homegrown ones start to proliferate, this soup will make good use of those fresh tomatoes. Alternatively, you can use whole can tomatoes, preferably fire roasted. Make sure you get canned tomatoes that have the BPA-free liners. What makes this soup different from the ones you would find in a restaurant, is that it's influence is from India – with some hot flakes of chili and a cool down of coconut milk. Simple, quick and a perfect summer soup on those hot nights. Inspired and adapted from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now.

Curried Coconut Tomato Soup

4 tablespoons olive oil, or coconut oil
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, plus more to taste
3 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chile flakes
2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes or 20 peeled tomatoes*
          6 cups (1.5 L) of water
          1 (14-ounce can) coconut milk

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions really soften up - 10 minutes or so.
  2. Stir in the curry powder, coriander, cumin, and chile flakes, and cook just until the spices are fragrant and toasty - stirring constantly at this point. Just 30 seconds or so.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, the juices from the cans, and water. Simmer for fifteen minutes or so, then puree with a hand blender until smooth. Pour in the coconut milk. Taste and adjust with more salt to taste.
* To peel fresh tomatoes, the easiest method is over a gas flame. Remove any stems that are still attached to your tomatoes. Rinse the tomatoes clean and pat dry. Spear the tomato with a fork at the top, where the stem core is visible. Turn the stovetop flame to medium high. Hold the tomato an inch over the flame, turning slowly, until the skin begins to split and blister. It should take about 15-25 seconds for the skin to loosen all the way around the tomato. Don't hold it over the flame too long or it will start to cook the tomato. Place the tomato on a smooth surface and let it cool off enough for you to comfortably touch it. Begin peeling the skin where it split, making your way all around the tomato till all the skin is peeled off.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Looks like Brick Oven Pizza
Just to be clear, this is not a pizza with cauliflower on it. This is a gluten free pizza where the actual crust is made from cauliflower. Interesting?..... right. That's what I thought when I first found this recipe and had to try it for myself. It is so simple to make.

I think everyone has a food weakness. What I mean is that we all have something we could eat day in and day out that could pack on the pounds, but then... we have to face the treadmill. I am so not into conventional exercising machines, and I do love my pizza. So I am here to introduce to you a really low fat, high fiber healthy pizza. If you ever thought pizza was just fattening, think again. It has been reinvented.

Actually pizza has been morphed quite a few times along the Silk Road. Although the origins of pizza are quite fuzzy, there is an agreement that it did come from Central or South Italy. Originally it's thought that pizza was a focaiccia dipped in fresh tomato sauce. In North Africa, we can find many cuisines that dip their bread in tomato sauce – so my thinking is that pizza originally came from North Africa, maybe even Yemen who are known for dipping the malawach (fried pastry bread) into a tomato puree. There was a direct connection between Africa and Italy in Ancient Rome, where slaves were imported from Africa. I know... not Rome's most stellar act in Ancient history.

Anyway, back to the recipe. The method for making this cauliflower pizza crust is by "ricing" the cauliflower. May seem like an odd term, but essentially what are going to do, is to process the raw cauliflower through a mill until it's broken down into little rice resembling pieces. If you want to make use of all the tomatoes coming in for the summer season, then you might want to make a fresh batch of tomato sauce.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Serves 4; Adapted from Your Lighter Side.


1 large cauliflower, riced
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp dried oregano
3 cloves garlic, garlic
1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
olive oil,for glaze

1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
Fresh Italian Herbs, such as basil for topping


To "Rice" the Cauliflower:
  1. Take 1 large head of fresh cauliflower, remove stems and leaves, and chop the florets into chunks. Add to food processor and pulse until it looks like grain. Do not over-do pulse or you will puree it. (If you don't have a food processor, you can grate the whole head with a cheese grater). Place the riced cauliflower into a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 8 minutes (some microwaves are more powerful than others, so you may need to reduce this cooking time). There is no need to add water, as the natural moisture in the cauliflower is enough to cook itself.
To Make the Pizza Crust:
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the cauliflower, eggs and 1 cup mozzarella. Add oregano, crushed garlic and salt, stir. Transfer to the cookie sheet, and using your hands, pat out into a 12" round pan. Brush olive oil over top of mixture to help with browning.
  3. Bake at 450 degrees for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven. To the crust, add sauce, remaining mozzarella cheese and any Italian herbs of your choice. Place under a broiler at high heat just until cheese is melted (approximately 3-4 minutes).
*Note that toppings need to be precooked since you are only broiling for a few minutes.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Spicy Cucumber Peanut Salad in Lime Dressing

This salad is the best of both worlds for me. Cucumbers and limes which are so refreshing and cooling against the backdrop of the slight bite from the chilies. My taste buds just do a happy dance when I eat this. The utter simplicity of this salad with just a few ingredients; a hit of citrus, toasted peanuts and an exotic touch of slivered coconut –  transforms this ordinary cucumber salad into a complex and layered salad. This recipe has been Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor's Cucumber Salad {Khamang Kakdi) in How to Cook Indian. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang, April 2011.

Serve 4

3 medium cucumbers, partially peeled
1 green serrano chile, stemmed and minced
1/2 cup peanuts, toasted
1/3 cup dried large-flake coconut, toasted
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon natural cane sugar
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
a handful cilantro, chopped
  1. Halve the cucumbers lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and chop into1/4 inch cubes. Just before you're ready to serve, transfer to a mixing bowl and toss gently with chile, peanuts, coconut, lime juice, and sugar.
  2. Over medium heat, heat the oil in a small skillet and stir in the mustard seeds. When they start to pop, add the cumin for 15-30 seconds – just long enough to toast the spices. You'll know from the fragrance. Remove from heat, sprinkle in the salt, and immediately stir this into the salad. Turn out onto a patter topped with the cilantro.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Life and Times of Afghan Jews from Babylonian Captivity to Modern Times

This video is on the Afghan - Bukharian community that has roots from the Babylonian Exile. My family is part of this traveling pack that moved from country to country along the Silk Road. They started in Babylonia and then moved to Persia, Bukhara, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. There is so little information on Afghan Jews, although at their peak there were 40,000 Jews thriving economically in an Muslim country as Jews.  The men were all travelers, trading and expanding their cultural repertoire. So happy to see many photos of my parents that I have never seen before.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cauliflower Cheese Quiche in Potato Crust

It has been a wild few weeks now, which has resulted in me not being able to sit down and share some recipes with you. First off, it was Passover and I went down to Miami to spend the Seders with my extended family. We were 60 people on both nights of the Seders! It was a bit of a fiasco as everyone was singing out their own tunes at their own pace. Sounded like a singing audition where ever one is in their own world warming up their voices. It was a fun 2 nights, regardless.

It is customary for Bukharian Jews to wear a jomah during the Seder. Yes, you read that right, a jomah,  not a pajama, which is a silk brocade dress worn on festive occasions. My parents are posing the latest fashion trend - H&M - watch out! I am wearing an ordinary Chinese embroidered jacket, since I did not have my very own jomah to wear:-(

I came back to NY, only to fly back to Miami a week later, because subsequently my father became extremely ill and I went down there again to relieve my mother and brother of their hospital duties.

In the middle of all this, I found an amazing editor for a book I just finished writing called, "Spiritual Kneading for Rosh Chodesh" It's about the significance of baking challah on the Jewish New Moon every month. I am afraid I wont be posting anything from that book here, because it's all about challah - not OK for the gluten free community here.

On top of that, my publisher has asked me to buckle down and write out a marketing plan for my forthcoming cookbook "Silk & Spice: Recipes from the Silk Road for the Mindful Vegetarian" due out next Spring 2014. Although this was initially done when I wrote my proposal over a year ago, many things have changed since then, including my circle of foodies. So I had to revamp my marketing plan, which extended to my amazing circle on facebook. A big shout out to Mark Zuckerberg. I don't know what I would do with out him.

Amidst all of this, I was in the mood to cook something really satisfying, as this winter or Spring - what ever you want to call it, just does not end. I wanted comfort foods. Something grounding and earthy.

Years ago when I was veering towards vegetarianism, Mollie Katzen was the IT person for hearty vegetarian recipes. She still is the Queen. I am just a Queen from Queens... (little humor needed when in crisis) I still turn to her recipes that never disappoint. I often make this quiche when I have a HUGE bag of potatoes lying around from my left over winter CSA season. Make use of the food processor to cut down on time for the crust. This potato crust quiche is moist and stays put together after cooking. Make sure you pick from the freshest cauliflower around, otherwise it alters the taste to mush.You could always experiment with different cheeses. Enjoy this quiche with a nice big leaf lettuce salad on the side. This recipe comes from The New Moosewood  Cookbook.

Cauliflower Cheese Quiche in Potato Crust

Serves 4


for the crust
2 cups grated raw potato (from 2-3 peeled potatoes)
½ teaspoon salt
1 egg white, beaten
¼ cup grated onion

for the filling
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
½ teaspoon dried basil
1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
1 cup (4-5 oz.) grated cheddar cheese
2 eggs
¼ cup milk

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F and generously oil a 9″ pie dish, so that your potato crust does not attach to your pie dish.
  2. Pull out your food processor with a grating disk. That will make for quick work grating each of the following separately: the cheese, then the potatoes, then the onion.
  3. To make the crust, place the grated potatoes in a colander and toss them with the salt.  Wait 10 minutes, then squeeze out the excess water.  A salad spinner works well for this, or you can wring the potatoes out in a dishtowel.  Stir together the potatoes, egg white and onion in a large bowl, then pat the mixture evenly into your pie dish , building them up the sides to form the crust.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, then brush the crust lightly with olive oil and bake for 10 more minutes.  Remove from oven and lower the temp to 375°F.
  5. While the crust bakes, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper (to taste) and herbs and sauté for about 5 minutes until the onions are translucent.  Add the cauliflower and stir well to coat.  Cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, 8-10 minutes.  Add a tablespoon of water if the cauliflower begins to stick to the pan.
  6. Spread half the cheese over the crust and spoon the cauliflower mixture over, then sprinkle with the rest of the cheese.  Whisk together the eggs and the milk, then pour this mixture over the cauliflower cheese mixture.
  7. Bake 35-40 minutes, until set.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

There are times, when not to judge a book by its cover. Sometimes looks are really deceiving and I think that could be a good thing. If everything looked as it seemed there would be no mystery. Mystery is needed to seduce and to entice curiosity. That being said, let me address this picture before anything else. I wish I could blame the appearance of this meal on my lack of camera skills, or that it was having a bad "vegetable day" (Ha, Ha... ok I thought that was cute) however it's just no beauty.

In spite of its less then stellar looks (poor thing) this peanuty coconut curry cauliflower dish tastes divine on a bed of brown basmati rice doused with raita, lemon slices, toasted slivered almonds, fresh or toasted coconut, raisins and sliced cucumbers. Shew.... Try saying that all in one breath. Pick your choice. This time around I chose coconut flakes.

This recipe comes originally from The New Moosewood Cookbook. I have modified some of the ingredients and recipe techniques to not only give it more protein and less carbs, (I do like to watch my figure;-) but to mimic authentic Indian cuisine. Sauteing the spices before the onions, creates the foundation for this dish and intensifies the flavors even more. And I definitely like intensity.

Cauliflower Peanut Curry

Serves 6

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
2 tablespoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon Sea salt 
3 medium cloves garlic, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, minced

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut, reserve some for garnish
1/2 cup lightly toasted peanuts
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
1/2 cup water (more, as needed)

1 large cauliflower, cut in 1-inch pieces
1 medium carrot, cut into coin medallions
1 cup cooked chick peas
Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet and add the mustard seeds, turmeric, ground cloves, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper.  Once the mustard seeds start to pop,  (less than a minute) stir in the onions and salt. Saute for 5 minutes over medium heat, until onions start to become translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant.
  2. In the meantime, in a blender puree the peanuts, sesame seeds and shredded coconut with water. If it's too thick, add more water. This should have the consistency of a thick paste.
  3. Then add cauliflower and carrot and mix well. Cover and cook about 10 minutes, then add the paste. Mix well. Cook, covered, over low heat until the cauliflower is tender, stirring every few minutes. Add more water, if necessary, to prevent sticking.
  4. Add the chick peas, and lemon juice, and cook a few more minutes. Taste to adjust salt, and serve hot, with rice and condiments.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

NYC Vegetarian Food Fest

This past weekend was the Third Annual NYC Vegetarian Food Fest held at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 18th Street. Outside was the most exciting event of all, the Cinnamon Snail Vegan Food Truck which was parked right outside of the venue and the line to their truck was nearly as long as the line to the entrance.
Hubby(the told dude with sunglasses) waiting in line to taste a delicious Seitan Burger

Luckily... and I mean real lucky, my husband and I had VIP passes to get in. I would not have had the patience to wait out in the cold to get into the then really hot vegetarian food fest.
Cinnamon Snail Menu

So here's my take on the food trends happening... gluten free and vegan are the biggest things to hit the food world since sliced bread- that's the good news. The sad news is that most of the gluten free products I saw at the fest were DESSERTS! So at every corner there was someone else trying to promote their GF product in the form of chocolate chip cookies.... and almost everyone had that one on the menu. Some originality please.
Looks delicious!

On the interesting front, there was a vendor there trying to promote her artisinal cheeses made from cashews. It was an interesting taste... but a little too salty to compensate for the lack of cheese. Otherwise, it would have been divine on a little cracker.

Another vendor was promoting his RAW vegan ice cream made from coconut. Coconut is in... that's for sure. It's actually a great product with high fiber, the only downside is if you don't like the taste of coconut - it's definitely pronounced. I happened to like it. I am rooting for this Raw Ice Cream because their factory is in Long Beach, NY and they got hit really hard from Hurricane Sandy.

So here are some of the pictures from todays outing. Please comment if you have questions. Would love to hear your thought on Gluten Free sugary desserts and the foods trends you notice.Also, there was a vendor selling fake crab meat... what do you think of the fake meat market for vegans?? I mean if you are vegetarian, what are your reasons for becoming vegetarian? Why would you want to eat a product that tastes like meat if you made a conscious decision not to eat meat?? I am on the fence about that one. I don't crave meat... so don't have the thirst for it, but I suppose if you are vegan and you do crave the taste of meat... maybe you should eat it. Just saying.... What are your thoughts about that too?
Konjac is a Japanese root vegetable used to make fake fish meats

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Dovgha ~ Azerbaijani Yogurt Soup with Rice, Spinach, and Mixed Herbs)

Dovgha  ~ Azerbaijani Yogurt Soup with Rice, Spinach, and Mixed Herbs

This is a yogurt cream soup has its origins from Azerbaijan- a Turkic state that is right in the middle of the Silk Road. Russia to the north, Georgia (the country, not the state) to the northwest, Armenia to the west and Iran to the south. 
Finely chopped Scallions and Coarsely Chopped Spinach
Azerbaijan's climate contributes to the fertility of the land, which in its turn results in the richness of the country’s cuisine. It is famous for an abundance of vegetables and greens used seasonally in the dishes. Fresh herbs, including mint, coriander, dill, basil, parsley, tarragon, leek, chive, thyme, marjoram, green onion, and watercress are very popular and often accompany main dishes.

Yoghurt, Rice flour, olive oil and salt
The main course of Azerbaijani cuisine are over 30 kinds of soups, including those prepared from plain yoghurt. This is my favorite soup now and so fulfilling. It’s made of yogurt mixed with water, rice, and as many green herbs that you can get your hands on. It can be served hot or cold depending on the season. I love it either way.

Whisk the Yogurt into the pot so that it does not clump

(Tangy Azerbaijani Yogurt Soup with Rice, Spinach, and Mixed Herbs)

Yields 6 servings


6 cups vegetable broth or water
1/4 cup brown basmati rice
2 cups plain, whole milk yogurt
2 tablespoons brown rice flour
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons Sea Salt
3 loosely packed cups coarsely chopped spinach
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 (15-ounce) can cooked chickpeas* *
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh dill leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley leaves

       1      Bring broth or water to a boil with the rice in a large soup pot over high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a medium heat, and gently boil, covered, for 20 minutes.
       2      Combine yogurt with flour, olive oil, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Very slowly pour the yogurt mixture, a little at a time, into the pot while vigorously whisking with the other hand to prevent curdling. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce to a medium-low heat and gently boil for 10 minutes for yogurt to thicken slightly.
       3      Mix in the spinach leaves, scallions, and cooked chickpeas and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes, uncovered. Add mint, dill, and cilantro (or parsley) leaves, and cook an additional 10 minutes, uncovered.
       4      Serve hot or warm garnished with extra chopped herbs and/or scallions.

* * To Prepare chickpeas: ¾ cup dried chickpeas; soaked overnight, drained and rinsed and boil for an hour. Remove outer layer; once cooled.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Curried Cabbage (Cabbage Sabzi)

Cabbage Sabzi
A few months ago I signed a cookbook deal with my publisher for my upcoming book; "Silk & Spice; Recipes from the Silk Road for the Mindful Vegetarian" due out in Spring 2014. As you may have gathered, the book is an ode to my ancestral ties to the Silk Road. You can read more about that in the About Me page and my family history.

Since many of the recipes are from my childhood, and most have been modernized to suit my vegetarian lifestyle, my publisher asked me to include photos of my family around food. Old photos, of course. So I plumaged my parents old photo albums scouring for photos. One of the photos was of my Indian nanny growing up, Morris. May seem bizarre that I had a male nanny, but he was not my full time caretaker. Morris primarily took care of my grandfather who lived in Japan. When my grandfather, known as Bobosh, would come to visit us in NY, Morris would come and stay with us for a few months.

When I looked at the photo of Morris, standing so proudly like a dutiful soldier, I was pulled back to my memories of him growing up in NY. Morris was a small, dark man that resembled Gandhi, except he had more hair, wore clothes (and not a diaper like Gandhi) and had a little mustache.

Morris, was a sweet, quiet Indian Christian with Hindu principles, who was vegetarian. The interesting story behind how my parents met Morris is quite astonishing.

When my parents got married over 60 years ago, they lived in Bombay (Mumbai). One night, in the middle of the night, my mother got up from her sleep and walked into the backyard. She saw a little family living there, like the way nocturnal animals do. They simply needed a place to sleep and found refuge in my parents quiet backyard, without my parents realizing it for years. Until..... that one night.

Sleeping in the backyard were three cousins: Morris, who would later be my Bobosh's caretaker and my nanny; Paul, who would later be my father's bookeeper and Cornelius, who would later be the housekeeper and most of the time DRUNK!

My mother accosted these young very skinny men and somehow, in typical Zina (my mother's name) fashion they became employed. I can tell you that these kinds of stories happened hundreds of times to my parents. If there is one thing I appreciate about them is that they are open to all opportunities and cultures.

As a child, I remember Morris helping my mother cook all the traditional Bukharian dishes which consisted of meat, in spite of him being a vegetarian. He cooked meat like nobody's business. How?.... I have no idea.

Typically the help in my parents house would eat the food that was being prepared, but Morris could not eat any of the food. He would quietly make a simple vegetarian Indian dish for himself, while he was stirring my mother's pots.

The one dish I remember Morris cooking for himself was this Curried Cabbage. I am not sure why I recalled this dish out of all the foods he prepared. I think because when I was a kid, I was thinking at the time, who eats cooked cabbage as a meal? As a child, I suppose those kinds of foods were unthinkable to me. Now.... it's the norm!

So here is the Curried Cabbage that Morris made and has become one of my favorite dishes. First off, it's so easy to prepare as this humble cabbage gets transformed into a delectable dish flavored with fresh coconut and some hot chile. A food fit for a Hindu Prince.

Cabbage Sabzi
1 head cabbage, Finely chopped
2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 Green Chili, finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/4 cup Freshly grated coconut

1/4 cup Coriander, finely chopped

1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sea Salt, to taste
 1.  Wash the finely chopped cabbage in salt water and then soak for 5 minutes to remove any debris and bugs.
2.  In a saucepot, heat coconut oil over medium heat and add the mustard seeds and wait until they splutter. Then add the green chilie, curry powder, and turmeric powder. Add the cabbage and mix well. Cover it with lid and let it cook in its own juices for about 15 minutes or until the cabbage becomes transparent.
3.   Once cooked, add the grated coconut, cilantro, sugar, lemon juice and salt. Serve with a side of Basmati rice.

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