Naan Therapy

Or should it be 'paratha' therapy …

Archive for the ‘Low Lactose’ Category

“Shorshe Ilish” aka Mustard sauce Hilsa fish

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Hilsa rubbed with turmeric and salt

Mustard paste

Add Hilsa to wok

Toss the fish in the wok

Since this dish is being cooked on day one of my visit to homeland, clearly this one is among my favorites. Between “posto” and “shorshe ilish“, it is hard to argue which one is the more quintessential expression of bangla soul. If you are thinking that being vegetarian or not produces a clear choice, stop right there ’cause Bengalis consider fish to be the vegetable of the sea. So there.

The key to this dish is the quality of the mustard paste. Poorly ground mustard paste will result in a bitter dish. So pay particular attention to the quality of mustard and how you grind it. Typically, hilsa fish is used for the dish but for those of you who don’t live in the vicinity of Ganges delta, weep and then feel free to improvise.

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Written by Som

May 31, 2011 at 9:00 am

Buckwheat tea cake

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Buckwheat tea cake

Buckwheat tea cake

Somewhere between lunch and dinner, I often find myself craving for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. Mostly I make do with a health bar. Some weekends, when all the chakras are in alignment, a cake is born in my kitchen. This one started out being yet another banana bread variation but the nutty taste of buckwheat overtook the tropical taste of banana. The end product was so moist and nutty that I decided to call it a tea cake, perhaps the best tea cake to come out of my kitchen.

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Written by Som

February 13, 2011 at 7:08 pm

A slice of lemon on your pizza?

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Lemon, salami, roasted heirloom tomatoes, arugula pesto and goat cheese

Lemon, salami, roasted heirloom tomatoes, arugula pesto and goat cheese

After years of trying out all sorts of techniques, I have converged on a few basic aspects in pizza making – a) a soft and stretchy dough that is not a rubber mat but has sufficient elasticity to be hand stretched into a thin base, b) a 500-600F oven, and c) minimal but flavorful topping. Result is a chewy crust with a crisp bottom and rich flavors in every bite.

Some say that we should always eat whole grains. I agree, whole heartedly.  I have gladly swapped out white bread for wheat bread – thanks to Acme. There is no better chappati than whole wheat one. I adore whole wheat or buckwheat parathas and puris. I have cheerfully replaced white flour with whole wheat pastry flour in cookies and cakes.  I have even grudgingly swapped out regular pasta and white rice for whole wheat pasta and brown rice. But no whole wheat pizza for me. I have tried to swap out regular flour with white whole wheat, part whole wheat, part whole wheat pastry flour and I have failed to like them. So, my compromise – I don’t make pizza often and when I do, I don’t eat too much of it. If, however, you have to have whole wheat pizza, then give Heidi’s recipe a try.

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Written by Som

August 31, 2010 at 8:05 am

Taquerias – where vegetarians fear to tread

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Little Mexico in Bay Area

Little Mexico in Bay Area

Middlefield Road in Redwood city, somewhere between 5th Avenue and Douglas street is a little Mexican island. Unlike neighboring Palo Alto and Menlo Park,  here there are no cute million dollar homes. Instead, the street is barren of trees and populated by run down yet colorful stores, taquerias, roach coaches and body shops. There is never a lot of crowd on the street and on hot summer afternoons, the emptiness against the stark background is noticeable. When you do see people, you see teenage mothers pushing babies in carts, dilapidated older women in bling, and groups of men standing around in grimy T-shirts, chatting and visually undressing all women walking by.

What brings me here? Yes, the tacos. A plate of tacos is a small meal – it costs practically nothing and can slide in between your normal meals with perfect ease. The salsas excite your tongue, the fresh corn tortillas arrive charred and soft and, the meats here don’t stop at perfectly done carnitas and pastor. You can get tongue, head cheeese, brain, cheek, and tripe too.

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Written by Som

August 4, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Pomegranate chocolate cake

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Pomegranate chocolate cake

Pomegranate chocolate cake

A variation of the sticky plummy chocolatey cake with pomegranate juice. Why pomegranate juice you say? A pixie whispered in my ears that pomegranate, plums and chocolate work well together. The original recipe, Clotilde mentioned, is from Ottolenghi’s cookbook and pomegranates grow happy in the Middle East.

Clotilde’s recipe asked for buttermilk and we made this for a friend who loves chocolate but is allergic to milk proteins.

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Written by Som

July 17, 2010 at 2:23 pm

Rice with scallion sauce and stir fried tofu

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Bamboo rice, fried tofu and scallion sauce

Bamboo rice, fried tofu and scallion sauce

Sometimes you don’t want a fussy meal. This is a simple combination of rice and tofu with tons of flavor. It is easy to put together and nutritionally enhanced by adding some edamame pods on the side. This is great both hot and at room temperature.

Make ahead infused oil:

  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seed oil
  • 1/4 cup szechwan peppercorn

Simmer the peppercorn gently for 20 minutes. Cool and strain. The oil can be stored for up to 6 month is refrigerator. Crush the peppers, add to equal amounts of  your favorite salt and store in a tight jar. I use the peppercorn-salt mixture on edamame pods and salads. This infused oil is inspired by Barbara Tropp’s five flavor oil in China Moon Cookbook.

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Written by Som

June 30, 2010 at 7:26 am

Calcutta street to California home – Kathi rolls unwrapped

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Home made Kathi rolls

Home made Kathi rolls

After eating Kathi rolls at Kasa, I was inspired to make this quintessential Calcutta street food at home.  When you take on such a formidable challenge, you know you are not going to win. There is nothing I can do in my California kitchen that will replicate the experience of eating outdoors at one of Calcutta’s busiest streets. Neither can I hope to replicate the rich interplay between textures and flavors that the street vendors have mastered. When my father’s generation talks about eating out during their college days, they often reminisce about these mouthwatering rolls!

So what can I hope to achieve? I can definitely beat Kasa. I can make mine with healthy, fresh, organic ingredients, mindful of the calories and the nutritional balance. I can bring my experience with modern techniques to traditional Indian cuisine to create something healthy while preserving the authenticity of tastes and flavors.

There are several key aspects to a perfect roll – the paratha, the kabab and the chutney.  These ingredients need to come together in a timely manner. The container that wraps the kababs, paratha, should be chewy and flaky. The filling itself, kabab, should be charred and juicy. The condiment, chutney, should create a taste explosion in your mouth.

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Written by Som

June 26, 2010 at 10:45 am