Hodge Podge

I’ve been busy with school and work lately, but I’ve still been cooking.  Here’s a glimpse of what I’ve been up to!

Halwa Puri

Halwa puri is to Pakistan what pancakes and eggs are to the United States: a semblance of a national breakfast.  I was introduced to this delightful, hangover-curing breakfast through some friends sometime last summer.  There’s even a place in the cities where I can eat it on the weekends.  But that place is far away, and I was really craving the meal – RIGHT THEN – at home one Sunday morning a few weeks ago.

It consists of a chola dish (a chickpea and potato curry, mildly spicy, that tastes more than anything of ginger, tomato and cilantro), puri (fried wheat breads), and halwa (a sweet dessert made of semolina cooked in ghee, and studded with cashews, raisins and cardamom).

It may be sacrilegious (I’m not actually sure), but I like to tear off a bit of the puri with my right hand, scoop up a chunk of the halwa, and dip it in the chola.  Mmm: sweet and savory and spicy together?  Yes, please!

Lemon Lavender Pots de Creme

You may recall that I had an epic fail of a dessert, thanks to a very mediocre Martha Stewart recipe.  A friend of mine pointed me toward this recipe, which I clearly adapted to include lavender buds instead of chamomile.  My goodness, was it delicious.  So tasty that I forgot to take any pictures.

Tofu Hash

I marinated extra firm tofu (that I had drained) in a combination of red wine, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, thyme, rosemary, black pepper and a few other things.  I pan fried it and served it over purple potatoes, with a poached egg and some fried thyme.

Beignets

A dear friend of mine went to New Orleans this fall and brought me back a box of Cafe du Monde’s Beignet mix.  Fluffy, crunchy heaven.

Mesir Wat (and therefore nitter kibbeh and berbere)

I had some of this spicy Ethiopian red lentil dish at the Blue Nile and then had a major craving for it the next day.  In order to even make this dish you need nitter kibbeh (a clarified, spiced butter) and berbere (a very spicy paste used to flavor most Ethiopan wats, or stews).  I had all the spices but one (coriander) to make both of those key ingredients, so I did.  I was out of red lentils, so I used green lentils, which are a little meatier and more fibrous than is desired in this recipe, but made do.

Usually mesir wat is served on injera (a fermented, spongy, crepe-like bread made from teff flour that also doubles as the eating utensil) with just a little bit of plain yogurt on the side.  Well, I didn’t have teff flour.  I did, however, have rava iddli mix on hand.  Iddli are a South Indian (Tamil, to be specific) steamed pancake made out of a fermented rice batter called maavu. During a shortage of rice, rava iddli were invented, which use a whole wheat flour base into which you mix sour curd, i.e. plain yogurt.  Once upon a time, I had close connections to folks from Tamil Nadu, and I was given my own iddli steamer.  This occasion was the maiden voyage of the iddli steamer.  In a pinch, the rava iddli served as an excellent substitute for injera because they have a similarly sour flavor and spongey texture.

Hard boiled eggs are a part of the Ethiopian dish doro wat, which is a spicy chicken stew.  I co-opted them and decided to serve them with the mesir wat.  Unfortunately, my hard boiled eggs were not nearly done enough in the middle when I shelled them.  So, I sliced them in half and fried them in a little extra nitter kibbeh until they were good and cooked. The bright yellow you see is from the turmeric in the nitter kibbeh.

Huarache

A huarache is a Mexican delight: a ball of corn masa which is stuffed with refried beans (and sometimes bits of meat), flattened into an oblong shoe shape (hence the name), fried, and topped with a meat and a variety of condiments.

I lack the proper device – a tortilla press – to correctly flatten the ball into the huarache shape.  And being a first timer, I also clearly lacked the skills to achieve the desired oblong shape, and to keep the refried pinto beans securely within the masa ball when flattening it.

At my favorite taqueria, these condiments always include slices of fresh radish, crema mexicana (like a very thin sour cream), chopped onions, queso, avocado and hot sauces.  I didn’t have radishes, crema, queso, or avocado, but I did have carnitas, cilantro, onion, lime and hot sauce.

As you can see, the huarache that I used in the base for this one was not the pretty one I have pictured above.  It was my very ugly, but incredibly delicious, first attempt.

I hope these tidbits find you well.  To good eats!

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