Sunday, April 25, 2010

Masoor Daal with Nigella and Cilantro

A wet and dreary Sunday like today is a perfect day to tuck into a big bowl of light and healthy steaming daal and rice garnished with Aavakkai mango pickle. This super simple masoor daal recipe is from my maternal grandmother—the bright note of cilantro is perfect for a spring or summer meal.

1½ cups Masoor daal (split red lentil)
2 quarts Water
1½ tsp Turmeric powder
Salt (to taste)
1tsp Vegetable oil
3 tsp Nigella seeds (kalonji or kaalo jeerey)
1/4 cup Cilantro (roughly chopped) 
  1. Wash daal thoroughly and let soak, covered in water, in a bowl, for 30 mins. Drain water and set aside. 
  2. Bring 2 quarts water to a rolling boil in a large stockpot. Add daal and cook uncovered over high heat for 45 mins-1 hr, occasionally skimming the foam and scum that gathers on the top. About 20 mins into the cooking process add turmeric and salt. You know the daal is cooked through and ready when all the grains have completely disintegrated into the water resulting in a golden, soupy liquid. Turn heat to low and continue to simmer, as the spices are prepared. 
  3. In a small skillet heat vegetable oil over medium-high heat and add nigella seeds. Sputter seeds for a few minutes. Lower heat, add 2-3 ladles of cooked daal and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour the spiced daal mixture into the large stockpot with the rest of the daal. 
  4. Add chopped cilantro to daal and stir well. Turn off heat and let the cilantro flavour steep for 10-15 mins. Serve hot with rice and condiment of choice (a dollop of ghee, or spoonful of mango pickle, or both!). 
[Yields about 1½ quarts]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Summer blockbuster

Forget about Sex and the City 2, this is my summer blockbuster pick; complete with swords, chain mail, cavalry charges and Russell Crowe in tight hosiery.  :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Fragrant Fennel (Mouri) Chicken

Hubby and I’ve been going through the batch of merguez that I bought a week ago and the predominant flavours of chilli and fennel seeds (Mouri, in Bengali) in the sausage inspired this recipe. The technique of marinating meat in vinegar and spices before cooking, however, is similar to stir-fried Syrian-Christian curries from Kerala in south India.

4lbs bone-in Chicken pieces (combination of thigh, leg, and breast)
4 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp ground Cumin
3-6 tsp Chilli powder (adjust to your taste)
6 tsp Vinegar
6 tbsp Vegetable oil
2 large Onions, sliced
2 tbsp whole fennel seeds (Mouri, in Bengali)
3-4 Bay Leaves
2 tsp crushed Garlic
1 tsp crushed Ginger
Salt (to taste)
2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tbsp whole fennel seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle
  1. Thoroughly wash and dry chicken pieces and put in a large mixing bowl. Add coriander, cumin, chilli powder and vinegar and mix well. Let chicken marinate for 30-45 mins in the fridge. Bring chicken out of the fridge about 20 mins before cooking and let come down to room temperature. 
  2. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until smoking. Add onions, fennel seeds and bay leaves, and fry until the onions are golden brown and well caramelised. 
  3. Add crushed garlic and ginger and fry for 5 mins. Add a sprinkling of water if it gets too dry and starts to stick to the bottom of the pot 
  4. Add chicken and stir well to coat chicken pieces thoroughly with the spices. Add salt and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and simmer uncovered for 30-40 mins. Check the pot occasionally and stir to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. You know it is ready when a thick, glossy gravy coats the chicken pieces. Turn off heat. 
  5. Add crushed fennel and black pepper to chicken and stir well. Let sit for 15 mins before serving. 
[serves 4-6]

Friday, April 16, 2010

Ruben Toledo & Nina Garcia

Sincere apologies for being being MIA all week. I've been pulling 12-hr workdays every day since Monday, working feverishly on Nina Garcia's fabulous new book; in bookstores later this August. As many of you know, I've designed all of Nina's books over the past three years and am neck-deep into her latest tome. One of the best things about working on these books is the incredible illustrations by the genius Ruben Toledo. Here's a sneak-peek of my favourite looks from the book and the cover—yes, yes, I couldn't resist the temptation of using my favourite pinks and oranges again!
All images © 2010 Hyperion.

Cherry Blossoms: progress report

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sunday Lunch

One of the things I remember most about Delphi is not just the Temple of Apollo, but also the incredible green apple relish, which accompanied the roasted meat platter that Hubby and I shared for lunch at a taverna in the village. The cool and refreshing crunch of the fruit spiked with the brightness of lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil was made even more startling with the addition of nigella seeds. That relish inspired my green Matsu apple salad today, and I amplified the muskiness of the nigella seeds by sputtering them in olive oil first before adding to the apples.

[click to enlarge]

1 lb green apple, diced
Juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp nigella seed
½ lb pea greens, thoroughly washed and dried
½ tsp sea salt (or kosher salt) 
  1. Mix the apple and lemon juice in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In a small skillet, heat 1 tsp of olive oil, add nigella seeds and sputter for about 1 minute. Pour the seeds and oil over the apples.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the apples and mix well. Let sit in the fridge for 10 mins.
  4. Spread the pea greens on a platter and add the apples on top. Garnish with a sprinkling of sea salt.
 [Serves 4] 

Hubby and I’ve been hooked to the fresh egg pastas from Knoll Krest Farms since last summer. They usually have a selection of whole wheat and durum wheat, spinach, carrot, beet and pumpkin pastas for sale in the farmer’s market every week along with a few different raviolis. For today’s lunch, I selected the plain durum wheat fettuccine, which I paired with chopped merguez (a spiced Moroccan lamb sausage) from Catskill Merino Sheep Farm and baby red spinach.

[click to enlarge]

24 oz fresh egg fettuccine
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb merguez, chopped
2 shallots, sliced
¼ cup dry white wine
½ cup milk
1 tsp fresh thyme, or ½ tsp dried thyme
Salt, to taste
½ lb baby red spinach, roughly shredded by hand
1/4 cup parmesan, grated
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat; add the chopped sausage and brown on all sides. Set aside sausage in a bowl.
  2. Lower heat and add shallots, sautéing them until golden. Add the sausage back to the pan and deglaze the pan with ¼ cup dry white wine, scraping off all the brown bits stuck to the bottom.
  3. Add milk, thyme and salt and simmer for 5-7 mins.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, bring a stockpot with water to a rolling boil, add a liberal sprinkling of salt and cook the pasta for 5 mins. (This is fresh pasta and cooks very fast.) Drain pasta and set aside ½ cup of the pasta water.
  5. Add pasta and pasta water to the sauce and mix well. Add spinach and stir. Let simmer, covered, for 2-3 mins until the spinach wilts.
  6. Serve in a warm platter sprinkled with parmesan cheese. 
[Serves 4]

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sewing & Crochet classes

I just received the Spring-Summer class schedule at City Quilter and I’m excited to see that Polly Whitehorn is offering two ribbon embroidery classes—the intro one that I took in March and another beyond-basics class. I’m definitely registering for the intermediate class and maybe also the one on Contemporary Needlelace. Go to their website for a complete listing of classes.

I’ve also been looking into taking crochet classes. There are a bunch of places in the city that offer intro classes and the prices vary quite a bit. Sew Fast Sew Easy has an online video for $7.99 which is quite good. But for hands-on tutoring, I’m waffling between the classes at Purl SoHo ($85) and Lion Brand Yarn Studio ($50). Purl is the most expensive but it also has the smallest class size. At Lion Brand, you have to use their own branded yarns and threads.

I’ll post my decision once I register.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Presies: trinket boxes

Proof that ribbon embroidery is super fast and looks great-- I whipped
these up as presents in one afternoon before I left for Greece.

This one is for Madre

The Tupperware headquarter in Athens-- no kidding!!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Goodbye Greece

I'm in Athens airport waiting for my flight to JFK and consoling
myself by browsing condo prices in Santorini.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Santorini all lit up for Easter.

It is midnight and all the church bells are ringing, chanting is in
the air and lots of fireworks. It is Easter!

Volcanic islands

Red, white and black lava rock (top to bottom).

Top: Our sailboat--Blue Lagoon I--the big white catamaran with the
tall mast.
Bottom: Captain Ted Stathis and first mate Dina (his wife).

Nautical FS & TB

1. Billowing sails.
2. TB takes a dip in the Aegean sea.
3. Nautical FS.
4. Dapper TB.
5. TB & Gutu cruising the starboard.


Bihu (top), Tastey Boy & (Bihu's) Péter (bottom)

Perfect morning for sailing

On our last day in Santorini and Greece, we are going sailing in the
lagoon today on a 40' catamaran yacht. I will post pics once we get

Friday, April 2, 2010

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Santorini: colours & textures

A Perfect Life

This is not a promo shot!

The view from our hotel room in Santorini.

© Copyright 2012 Shubhani Sarkar