An online food group I belong to is celebrating “rice month.” The idea is to highlight a recipe featuring, well rice. Someone suggested that nearly every culture uses rice so everyone ought to be able to find something to fit the theme. Unfortunately, I come from a long line of noodle and dumpling people. So, at first I was stumped. What could I possibly make for this challenge? Then I had an idea. I could borrow a “sister” culture! Eastern European Jewish people focus heavily on noodles, but the Sephardim (from Asia, India, the Middle East, etc.) have plenty of rice dishes. So, I looked through my cookbooks and found garlic ginger turmeric rice.
It’s a Bene Israel recipe, meaning that it was created by the Jewish population in India. You might almost call it a pulao. I’ve adapted this recipe from The Book of Jewish Food. Her version served six. Mine is about three servings (because extra rice is always good; more on that later).
This particular rice dish is packed with garlic, ginger, green cardamon pods, and a pinch of turmeric for that beautiful yellow color. It’s tasty (and it fights germs too, which made it even more appealing since I’m still fighting the creeping crud!). Don’t be put off by all the garlic and the ginger, both start out spicy and sharp but mellow and become almost sweet as they cook. The cardamom adds a complex taste; it’s a bit minty, with a hint of citrus and a spicy/warm flavor. The original calls for basmati rice (which I didn’t have), but ordinary long grain white rice will do just as well. If you use the basmati rice, rinse it several times before starting to cook it.
Blend the onion, garlic, ginger, and 2 tsp of the oil in a food processor or mini chopper until it forms a paste.
Pour the rest of the oil into a saucepan (about 2 quarts). Add the whole spices (peppercorns, cloves, cinnamon, and cardamom to the pan and cook on medium-high for a minute or two. The smell should start to waft through your kitchen and they may pop.*
Scrape the garlic ginger mixture out of the mini chopper and add it to the pan with the spices.
Reduce the heat to low, and stir everything around until the garlic/ginger becomes fragrant.
Now add the rice, salt, and the water and stir well.
Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a boil.
Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat. Stir the rice, and simmer, with the pot covered, over low heat for 15-18 minutes.
Once the rice is done, let it sit for a few minutes and steam.
*You can either leave the spices as is, and then make sure to pick them out of the rice when it's finished, or scoop them out into a tea ball. Then put the tea ball into the pot, and continue on with the rest of the recipe.
Turn Your Garlic Ginger Turmeric Rice Side Dish into A Main Dish
As is, this is a side dish. But with a bit of extra effort, it can become a main dish too. There are a couple of ways to do this. For example, you could make it more substantial by cooking up some chicken or adding leftover pre-cooked chicken to the rice. Or, cook up some spinach and fry and egg (in the same pan if you want), and add that to the top. You can do the same thing with the leftovers a few days. later. Instant food!
The recipe says that for special occasions, this dish was often served topped with blanched almonds and raisins. While this wasn’t a fancy occasion, I decided to do it anyway. I didn’t have blanched almonds, so I just roughly chopped a few whole ones. Soak the raisins in water a bit before you use them, in order to soften them.
Stuffy head? Allergies starting to act up? I’ve got the creeping crud, so this szechuan chili noodle recipe immediately caught my attention. It’s a cousin to Dan Dan noodles, but a lot simpler, with ingredients that are easier to find if you live in a western country and far fewer steps. Dan dan noodles require making the chili oil, then the meat mixture, and finally noodles and vegetables. For this recipe, you only have to make the oil and the noodles. Call it Chinese-inspired.
You can make this with ground chicken or pork, or leave it as is (fewer things to buy and cook) and have it as a vegetarian dish. I didn’t have any ground meat handy (it was all in the freezer) so I went without. If you don’t have baby bok choy, green cabbage will do just as well.
You can get pre-made chili oil, but (at least the brand I got) has an odd metallic taste that I don’t like. It’s easy enough to make yourself, and only requires one extra small bowl (no additional pots!) to hold the mixture while you make the rest of the recipe.
Now about the actual noodles. The recipe I adapted this from used what she called “wide Chinese egg noodles.” I had never seen that. I looked and couldn’t find anything easily. Then in the comments she said it was really pappardelle. OK! Easier to find (and I love pappardelle). Plus then I get to make White Ragu Pappardelle with the rest of the pasta. If you want to be more authentic, use real Chinese wheat noodles or rice noodles.
One final recipe note. The original calls for chili paste (sambal oelek), which is essentially just a jar of spicy, ground chilis. You can get it online, or check your grocer. If you can’t find it, substitute garlic chili sauce (and possibly remove the garlic clove from the recipe, depending on how spicy you like your food). If not, then substitute sriracha or even hot sauce instead.
The whole thing comes together in about 30 minutes or so.
1/2 cup baby bok choy, chopped (or use cabbage if you prefer)
Fill a 2 quart saucepan (medium size) with water and bring to a boil.
First start by making the chili oil. You’ll need a good sized (large) skillet. Heat that over medium heat. Then add the oil, garlic, ginger, and chili. Cook, or about 5 minutes, until the garlic becomes fragrant. Stir it occasionally and keep an eye on it so the garlic doesn’t burn.
Add the sesame seeds and stir, cooking about another 30 seconds. Then carefully pour the mixture into a bowl.
The water should be boiling by now, so add the noodles and cook according to the package directions. Packaged pappardelle noodles should take about 7-10 minutes to cook. Fresh ones will cook faster, about three or four minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, in a separate, small bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, chili paste, and water.
Add the scallions to the skillet you used to cook the chili oil and cook for two or three minutes. Pour the soy sauce mixture into the skillet and add the box copy. Simmer for 3-5 minutes until the vegetables are cooked. Stir the mixture occasionally so the box chop gets coated with the sauce.
Drain the noodles and add them to the skillet as well as half of the chili oil mixture. Stir everything to coat. Pour into a bowl and serve with the remaining chili oil and extra scallions.
Szechuan Chili Noodles Tools and Ingredients
Huey Fong Sambal Oelek Chili Paste Made by the same company that produces the wildly popular sriracha sauce. This is spicier, since it has more chili in it. Put it on noodles, in omelettes, or in soup.
The same great chili paste, plus extra garlic! Use it in Pad Thai, mix into eggs, stir fries, soups, or any food that needs a kick of flavor. I sometimes put it in my caldo verde. Doesn’t have sugar (unlike the sriracha sauce) so it’s more potent (also good if you want to avoid extra sugar).
Caldo Verde is a traditional Portuguese soup that’s made in one pot. And, it takes about half an hour to cook. It’s filling, spicy, and great for cold weather. The usual way to make this is with kale and linguiça, which is a garlicky pork Portuguese sausage. Except, I don’t like kale. Some use collard greens instead, or cabbage. I didn’t have cabbage, but I did have spinach. As far as I’m concerned, that works! It’s still a bitterish green and it takes less time to cook too.
This is good right away, but like many soups, it’s even better after it sits for a day or two. I’ve cut the recipe from six servings to about 2 or 3, depending on how hungry you are.
It does come with a few minor cooking decisions. You can cut the greens up roughly, or chop everything up into fine ribbons. And, you can either purée the soup, or leave it as is. I went with rough chopping and skipped the purée this time, mostly because I was feeling lazy. The last thing I made was pizza and I somehow got the tomato sauce everywhere: the stove, the floor, the cabinets, the sink. I’ve had enough cleanup to last me for a while, so I didn’t want to clean one extra thing (even a stick blender).
Also, if you can’t find the Portuguese sausage, any other garlicky sausage will do just fine.
Adapted from a Jacques Pépin recipe, chicken with balsamic vinegar sauce is an easy and satisfying one pot meal. There’s also a secret ingredient you might not expect (especially from someone known for French cooking). It’s…ketchup! It deepens the flavor and provides just a little hint of spice and sweetness. The balsamic vinegar adds a slightly tart, fruity tang that complements the sweetness of the ketchup and the cooked onions.
He used chicken breasts, but I find those tend to dry out (unless you’re really careful). Not to mention they’re costly, and don’t pack nearly as much flavor as chicken thighs do. So chicken thighs it is. Changing the type of chicken I used also meant altering the cooking method a bit. Instead of baking in an oven, I did a fricassee, meaning brown the chicken, add the liquid, and then let it cook on the stove top.
Chicken thighs have to cook longer than breasts do. However, doing it my way means you only need a single skillet. There’s no putting anything in the oven and no need to use two different pots (or worry if your skillet is oven safe). That also means there’s a lot less cleanup. Less cleaning up is always a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.
Two more slight twists. The original recipe called for shallots. I never have those around, and I wasn’t about to buy them for one recipe (you know how I hate that). So, I cut up some garlic and onions instead (since they’re kissing cousins so to speak). If you have shallots, or don’t mind buying them, go right ahead and use them. He also said to sprinkle the chicken with chives. I didn’t have that either, so I used some fresh rosemary.
As I type this, I’m wondering if I’m spiraling into Internet recipe comment territory: “Great recipe! I changed X, and Y, and Z, and then I didn’t follow the directions at all, but it turned out great!” Well, it did turn out great, so I guess it’s OK.
The whole thing is done in about 35 minutes, so it’s perfect for a weeknight meal when you don’t want to fuss (because you just want dinner).
OK, two confessions. The first is that this spaetzle recipe is nearly identical to Tyler Florence’s spaetzle recipe. Also, his version claims it’s six servings. I suppose that’s as a side dish. Or maybe it’s a typo. My second confession is that it was soooo good I ate the whole thing. All at once.
First of all, it was delicious! But that alone wouldn’t make it something I’d normally share, especially since I made so few changes. The important thing about this recipe isn’t that I adapted it or altered it. What I did do was figure out a way to make it without any special equipment.
I hate single use gadgets and while the recipe is really good, I wasn’t going to go out and buy a special spaetzle maker. Besides my dislike of one-use gadgets, there’s just no place to keep the thing. Tyler’s recipe, as well as many others, suggest using a slotted spoon or a cheese grater instead of the spaetzle machine. I tried both of those. They just didn’t work very well.
Then I had a brainstorm. The potato masher! It worked perfectly! Just hold it in one hand, scoop up some batter with a spoon in the other hand, and scrape the spoon back and forth over the masher (like you were grating cheese). Ta da!!!
You want the flat-bottomed sort of masher, with lots of holes, not the squiggly kind that looks like a bicycle rack.
There’s no brand name on the one I have, so I don’t know exactly what it is, but the masher on the left is the closest I could find. The holes on mine are rectangular, not round, but I think that will be OK, since real spaetzle maker holes are round. The key is that there’s a flat surface, with lots of holes in it.
I included the image below so you could see what it should look like. That design will work fine. The one on the right will mash potatoes, but will be useless for spaetzle.
A super-easy way to get your noodle fix. And, with my method you don't need any special tools either.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Get two bowls, one large, and one medium. Put the flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in the larger bowl, and mix them together.
Now get the smaller bowl and whisk together the milk and eggs.
Make a depression in the center of the flour mixture and pour the milk-egg mixture into it.
Push the flour in from the sides toward the milk-egg mixture and then gradually mix everything together to form a dough.
It should be fairly smooth and thick. Let the mixture rest for at least 10-15 minutes.
While the dough is resting, fill a 3 quart saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. Once it's boiling, turn the heat down to a simmer.
Now, grasp your potato masher by the handle with one hand, holding it with the flat mashing side down. Pour a spoonful of batter over the mashing head. Then scrape it back and forth with the spoon (like you were grating cheese). This will make your spaetzle.
Do it in batches, so the pot doesn't get too full. Cook the spaezle for three minutes or so, until they start to float to the top. Stir every once in a while so they don't stick. Then remove them with a slotted spoon, drain, and set aside while you make the next batch.
Once the spaetzle are cooked, heat the butter in a large skillet. Or be lazy and reuse the saucepan. Add the spaetzle, and turn and toss them so they are coated with the butter. Cook for a couple of minutes, then sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.
Spaetzle Recipe Substitutions and Variations
Serve with grated cheese, like Emmenthaler or Gruyère
Cook some onions until caramelized, add them to the spaetzle (with or without cheese)
Cut off small pieces of dough and flick them into a pot of simmering chicken soup or broth (like mini dumplings!)
This super-easy smoked salmon artichoke salad requires absolutely no cooking. And it’s ready in about 10 minutes. It not only looks good (check out all those beautiful colors: green, orange, pink, and red), but it’s got the zing of citrus, smoky, salty salmon and zesty marinated artichokes. The balsamic dressing and the parmesan add a savory flavor. It’s a great combination because the bitter greens from the spinach play off against the sweet oranges, the salty parmesan, and the smoked fish.
It’s a great lunch just for yourself (especially if you’re hungry and in a hurry). Or, scale it up and serve it to company. It’s elegant enough for a party if you’re having one.
Since we’re not catering, or necessarily fancy, this version will just cut everything up and serve it all together in a single bowl. You can use blood oranges if you like. I went with the regular navel oranges, since they seem to be particularly good this year.
I also used smoked salmon bits (which my grocery store sells for less than the carefully sliced kind). Look for it in your local store, and save a bit of money. Lastly, I substituted spinach for arugula, since I prefer it, and it’s more readily available.
Need something simple, yet elegant for dinner? This feta brined roast chicken is easy to make, but looks like something from a fancy restaurant. Brine the chicken, let it sit overnight, and then mix a few ingredients together and bake.
The brine helps infuse the chicken with flavor, and (as a bonus) keeps it from drying out. It works just like the brine for a turkey, except this will taste much better! Feta cheese is particularly effective as a brine since it is packed in water, so it’s already moist. Blending it together creates a smooth, creamy brine that penetrates the chicken, keeping it tender and moist, even under high heat. The finished chicken doesn’t have a strong feta taste, but it will be rich, tender, and delicious.
Once the chicken is brined, you create a quick and easy spice rub from lemon zest, pepper, and oregano, blend that together, and spread it all over the chicken. The feta cheese adds salty savor, the lemon a hint of tartness, and the oregano and spinach give the dish a fresh, bright flavor. The original dish called for arugula, but I’m not a fan, so I used spinach instead.
Taking the chicken out early before you cook it helps it dry out and allows the skin to become crisper when the chicken is roasted.
Huddled up in the cold? Want dinner that’s both comforting and easy? Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and Apples is just the thing. It’s filling, it’s quick, and it’s dinner all by itself. All in one pot. Some say this dish is German, others call it Polish. Whichever, it’s delicious!
I adapted this recipe from one I found online. That recipe called for first cooking the kielbasa on a grill, then putting them in the oven, while starting the onions on the stove, and making the rest of the recipe. That would leave you with a grill, a baking sheet, and a frying pan to clean. No! No! No! Not doing that way.
Plus, it’s too cold to grill anything here. Even if I had a grill. This way is much easier.
My version only uses a single pan. And, it’s ready in about 20 minutes. Much better!
The kielbasa makes this dish filling, while the sauerkraut adds a little bite. Cooking it mellows out the sharpness (a bit like cooking onions or garlic), and the apples give it a bit of sweetness and balance the richness of the sausage and the sourness of the kraut. The honey mustard horseradish sauce is also sweet/spicy so it complements the rest of the dish perfectly.
Use apples that are slightly tart (I had Crimson Topaz, but a tart apple such as Granny Smith would work fine).
We tend to think of “fusion” foods as a new idea: Asian/Cuban, Mexican/Jewish and so on and so on. The truth is people have been mixing and matching cuisines ever since we started exploring (or on a less positive note, colonizing). The bright side is that exposure to new spices, flavorings, and cooking techniques can be a springboard for creative new dishes. Mulligatawny soup (which means pepper-water) is one such “fusion” food. It’s a mixture of Indian Tamil and British cooking. The Tamil cuisine brings the spiciness and the British added the meat.
This particular version of the recipe is adapted from Foodaholic. Her recipe uses red lentils (which I didn’t have). However I asked her and she said lots of recipes use rice instead. I had that, so rice it is!
I don’t have garlic paste, so I took a garlic clove and smashed it to smithereens. Just chop it up finely and then swipe the flat of a wide knife over it. Or, if you don’t mind a bit of extra cleanup, put it in a mini-chopper or a garlic press.
Finally, I used a chicken thigh, rather than chicken breast (which she uses because of picky kids). I think the chicken thigh has a better, richer flavor and I don’t have to worry about pleasing fussy eaters.
I did follow her lead in only using one pot. I can’t stand extra cleanup!
If you want the soup creamier and more elegant, remove part of it from the pan and puree the rest with a stick blender. If not, just cook it another 10 minutes for a more rustic texture.
This will make about three servings of soup. Eat one right away and save the rest in separate containers for another day.
I just learned to cook this Jewish chicken curry chitarnee recipe recently from an online cooking friend Azlin Bloor.It’s (to the best of her knowledge) a Sephardic Jewish recipe, but it doesn’t have the usual flavor or ingredients we tend to associate with “Jewish” cooking in America. Here “Jewish” cooking is usually Ashkenasi (from Eastern Europe). It tends to feature lots of noodles, brisket, and chicken soup.
Ashkenasi food is generally flavorful, but the spiciest ingredients are onions and garlic.Not too many chilis! And definitely no cardamom. But Jewish people are part of every continent’s and every country’s population.So, local recipes get adopted, and adapted (if needed) to make them conform to the dietary rules (for those that follow them). Pork gets replaced by chicken, oil is used with meat instead of butter, and so on. And voilà, some local Indian dish gets transformed into Jewish chicken curry chitarnee.
This recipe, for example, has a bit more snap than standard Ashkenaski fare. It’s not super-spicy though.There’s onion, garlic, ginger, mild chilis, and cardamom. The garlic, onion, and ginger get cooked down slowly so they become more sweet and mellow than sharp.The cardamom is aromatic and herbal rather than strong or spicy. Lots of fresh lemon juice and some white wine vinegar add a piquant tang.
Azlin suggested a variation on this recipe to make it vegetarian, by replacing the chicken with bell peppers, eggplant and potatoes.
I didn’t want to make it fully vegetarian (though you certainly can if you want).But, I thought, well why not just add potatoes to the chicken version. Then it’s a one pot dinner. That way, there’s no extra rice to make on the side and it will all cook in the same pot in the same amount of time. Fewer pots to clean is always a good thing!
Not your usual "Ashkenasi" fare, this dish has onion, garlic, ginger, and cardamom. It's fragrant, and mellow, not spicy since the onions cook slowly. Easy to make too. Once everything is in the pot, you can leave it alone to cook.
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 onion, sliced
1 pinch sugar
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 small piece (about 1/3 inch) fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded, and cut into large chunks
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/3 tsp cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
2 green cardamom pods
1 large chicken thigh
1 potato, cut up into chunks (you can peel it or scrub it and leave the peel on)
1 cup chopped tomatoes in puree
2 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice (divided in half)
1 tsp white wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Start by heating the oil in a deep frying pan, or dutch oven on medium heat. Then add the onions and the sugar. Cook until the onions start to wilt and soften, about three minutes.
Now add the garlic, ginger, and the rest of the spices and cook that for half a minute.
Put the chicken in the pan and turn it over a few times so that it gets thoroughly coated with the spices and the onions. Cook it for a minute or two.
Add the potato pieces, tomatoes, vinegar and 1 1/4 tsp of the lemon juice. Bring the chicken mixture to a boil. Once it starts to boil, lower the heat, put a cover on the pot, and simmer for 40 minutes. The chicken and the potatoes should be soft and tender by then. Test with a knife to make sure it’s all cooked through.
Remove the pan from the heat and set aside on a cutting board. Add the remaining lemon juice and stir to combine it with the rest of the sauce. Remove the cardamom pods and serve.
Note: You might want to put the cardamom pods in a tea ball (or cheesecloth) to make it easier to fish them out when you're ready to serve.
Tools and Ingredients for Jewish Chicken Curry Chitarnee
Garam Masala is a blend of warm, aromatic spices that gives a great flavor punch to many recipes. It’s not spicy though. It’s made with nutmeg, coriander, cumin, cloves, and seven other spices. It’s great on eggs, chicken, or to make your own chai (spiced tea). You can also add it to desserts (think pumpkin spice with a bit more flair), or hot drinks.
I confess when I first heard of cardamom I thought it would be spicy and overpowering. It isn’t! Instead, it adds an aromatic, slightly minty, herbal flavor to your food. Put it in your coffee as a “sweetener” without sugar. Or add it to dessert recipes (I’m thinking it would be great in a pear tart). Or toss one or two pods in with your rice for a flavor boost.
This is technically supposed to be used for brewing tea. However, I find they’re great for cooking. Trying to fish out a bay leaf is a pain.
With the tea ball, instead of splashing through a pan of chicken, or a pot of soup to find a bay leaf, cardamom pods, or whole cloves you aren’t going to eat, put them in a tea ball, and drop that into the pan, and hook the end on the side of the pot. That way, the spices are easy to remove, and you don’t have to worry about biting down on a clove!