No Croutons Required - The Winner for February and the Theme for March


The challenge for February was to come up with a vegetarian soup or salad featuring fresh herbs. Congratulations to Karen of Lavender and Lovage who submitted this tempting Wild Garlic, Lemon & Lovage Soup.


I will be hosting the March edition of No Croutons Required. It is my birthday month and as I am a spicy gal, I am asking for vegetarian soups and salads with a kick of spice. Choose any cuisine you like, so long as spices enhance the flavour of your dish. And, because it is my birthday month, tell me what else you would serve on the menu with links to your creations that can be found on your blog.

Spicy Adzuki Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
Adzuki beans, also known as azuki, red cow peas or red chori, are one of my favorite legumes. Easy to digest and fun to experiment with, most often the recipes for adzuki beans out there are for sweet treats. I prefer to use them for a main dish to go along with a grain or Indian flatbread, though I do want to try making some red bean mooncakes at some point. Popular in Asia, these cute little red beans contain a variety of minerals, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc and folic acid. Certainly a good choice for vegetarians and vegans too.

adzuki beans Indian

I came up with this Indian-style soup that will certainly warm your toes. If you can handle the heat, add a wee bit of fire paste to the pot. This paste is like gold and I always have some on hand. Adjust the spicing according to your preferences and serve with yogurt to help with the heat if desired.

Spicy Adzuki Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and MushroomsSpicy Adzuki Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 27, 2012

A dark, rich and earthy spicy curry made with adzuki beans and dried mushrooms

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Adzuki beans:
  • 1 1/4 cup adzuki beans, rinsed and soaked for a few hours
  • 5 - 6 cups water
  • 2/3 teaspoon turmeric
Sauce:
  • 5 - 6 sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 oz. dried mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 - 4 fresh green chillies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, finely chopped
Finish:
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley or coriander, chopped
  • 2/3 teaspoon garam masala
Instructions:
  • Rinse the adzuki beans under cold running water and soak for 6 hours or overnight covered in several inches of cold water. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large pot along with the water and turmeric. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover and simmer until the beans are tender, about 1 hour.

  • Meanwhile, soak the sun-dried tomatoes and dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes. Drain and chop.

  • In a frying pan, heat the ghee or oil over medium heat. Toss in the cumin seeds, and stir and fry until they darken a few shades. Add the chili peppers and ginger to the pan and stir and fry for another few minutes. Now stir in the ground coriander, ground cumin, paprika, cayenne, asafetida and salt.

  • Add the chopped chilies and ginger and stir and fry for another few minutes. Next, add the sun-dried tomatoes, fresh tomato, mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until you have a thick sauce. Stir in some of the parsley and about half of the garam masala. Simmer for another few minutes. Add the mixture to the cooked beans and simmer until the flavors are blended and the soup is thickened.

  • Garnish with the remaining parsley and a sprinkle of garam masala.

Makes 6 servings
Spicy Adzuki Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Mushrooms

More Adzuki bean recipes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Spicy Adzuki Bean and Brown Rice Salad
Adzuki Bean Casserole
Adzuki Croquettes and Spicy Sesame Sauce
Spicy Adzuki Bean Risotto

On the top of the reading stack: camera instructions (god help me!)

Audio accompaniment: Mutek stuff

Lemon Curd Ricotta Pancakes

lemon curd pancakes

A batch of my homemade golden lemon curd provided the inspiration for these lemon curd ricotta pancakes, and I've got to say that they really are among the most extraordinarily delicious pancakes I've ever tasted. Made from a thick batter without any added sugar except for the sweetness of the lemon curd, these are dense, sturdy and hearty pancakes with a bit of "chew" to them. At the same time, they have a beautifully delicate and almost savory lemon taste and fragrance that makes them a pleasure to nibble on even as they come off the griddle without any toppings. But they made for a lovely treat on a chilly morning covered with some extra homemade lemon curd, warmed on the stovetop, and with some whipped cream and blackberries.

They're also very easy to make and take no more than 10 minutes of preparation and 15 minutes of cooking. Of course I would suggest making your own lemon curd at home to enjoy the rich butteriness and "egg-ness" that store-bought varieties can't quite manage, but these pancakes will still be enjoyable if using the latter.

Read this recipe »

Staple Corner: How to Make Your Own Lemon Curd

lemon curd

My Mom was always a whiz at baking, able to whip up perfect cookies, squares, pies or tarts seemingly at the drop of a hat. As I've grown older I've lost most of my childhood sweet tooth, but I still occasionally like to try to recreate some of the flavors of my Mom's baking. One of these treats that I fondly recall is her lemon meringue pies — the intense tart and sweet "lemoniness" of the filling is a taste that still resides in my mouth's memories.

Of course a homemade lemon curd seems like a much more "grown-up" way to recapture this intense lemony flavor, especially as a lemon meringue pie filling is essentially only a lemon curd itself but made with cornstarch instead of eggs and butter. And a jar of rich buttery homemade lemon curd is wonderful to have on hand for spreading on a piece of toast or an English muffin without committing yourself to a pie — although it is wonderful for pies, tarts and cakes or as a sauce for pancakes as well. Or better yet some delicious lemon curd ricotta pancakes that I'll be sharing with you soon. It also makes a lovely gift.

Lemon curd is easy to make at home although it takes a little patience to cook over gentle heat. But the most work is in the zesting of the lemons, and a half hour should see you from start to finish. Many lemon curd recipes use only the yolks of eggs or else require straining to remove bits of cooked egg white — which also removes the lemon zest unless you're adding it at the end — but my method makes the best of both worlds by frothing the egg whites before incorporating into the curd so they cook evenly and smoothly. We definitely don't want to lose the lemon zest!

I've also gone a little against the grain by using brown sugar in addition to the customary white sugar. The addition gives this lemon curd a more rustic-looking gold color instead of the typically vibrant yellow, which is why I call it a golden lemon curd. The brown sugar also lends it a scrumptious undertone of caramel. But you may substitute the cup of brown sugar for an extra cup of white if you are looking for a more traditional result. And of course you may also try this recipe with any citrus fruit — think 5 Meyer lemons, or 4 oranges, or even 1 large grapefruit!

Read this recipe »

Egg Masala Curry in a Spicy Tomato Gravy


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
egg masala

Pure bliss for connoisseurs of spicy Indian food, I came up with this recipe one evening when I didn't feel like spending time on the net or reading. The result was a fantastic and fiery dish that I have every reason to be proud of — modest girl that I am. If only the local Indian restaurants cooked up a variety of dishes instead of staying with the same menu for years on end without even offering daily specials. Though there are some good Indian restaurants in London, their offerings are restricted to North Indian dishes which is a shame as I really enjoy dishes from various regions of India.

Thankfully, I have a decent knowledge of the art of vegetarian Indian cuisine and can make whatever I choose in my own kitchen. My kitchen is overflowing with spices, including homemade spice blends and pastes. Meals made at home are much better and more economical besides. A varied menu is the motto in my kitchen because your taste buds will thank you, and a well-balanced vegetarian diet should always include a variety of different legumes, grains, dairy and vegetables.

egg masala curry

For those new to Indian cooking, a masala is essentially a blend of spices, most often dry roasted, or a paste made up of spices and other ingredients. The tomato sauce with the coconut paste would also go well over rice or with dumplings or vegetables without the eggs.

Serve with rice and homemade rotis.

Egg Masala Curry in a Spicy Tomato GravyEgg Masala Curry in a Spicy Tomato Gravy
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 20, 2012

Indian-style eggs simmered in a rich and incredibly flavorful spicy tomato gravy — an extraordinary lunch or dinner

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Eggs:
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or a mixture of butter and oil
  • 2/3 teaspoons turmeric
Sauce:
    tomato gravy indian
  • 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 small onion, finely sliced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, grated or minced
  • 3 to 4 fresh green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder (optional)
  • pinch of ground cinnamon
  • pinch of asafetida
  • 2 large tomatoes, finely chopped
  • good handful of dried curry leaves
Paste:
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews, halved
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili and vinegar paste (optional)
  • pinch of dried mint
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
Finish:
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • fresh parsley or coriander leaves for garnish
Instructions:
  • Begin by hard boiling the eggs. Place the eggs in a medium large heavy bottomed pot and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil, cook for a few minutes, remove from the heat, cover and let sit for 15 minutes. Transfer to a bowl of ice water, let sit for a few minutes and peel.

  • Heat the ghee, or a combination of butter and oil in a wok or large heavy bottomed pot over low heat. When hot, add the eggs along with the turmeric and gently stir and fry for a few minutes until the eggs are slightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

boiled eggs with turmeric
  • In the same pan, increase the heat to medium and toss in the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. Stir and fry until the mustard seeds turn grey and begin to splutter and pop. Now add the onion and stir and fry for another five minutes or so or until the onion begins to turn slightly brown. Next add the ginger and chilies and stir and fry for another few minutes.

  • Next into the pot are the spices. Toss in the coriander powder, chili powder, cayenne, curry powder (if using), ground cumin, cinnamon and asafetida. Stir and fry for a minute and then add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Simmer until the tomato mixture is thickened — about 10 to 15 minutes.

  • While the tomatoes are simmering, prepare the paste. In a food processor or blender, blend together the coconut milk, cashews, yogurt, red chili vinegar paste (if using), dried mint and salt. Add the paste to the tomato mixture and continue to simmer until you have a gravy that has thickened to your desired consistency.

  • Add the garam masala and eggs and gently simmer for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Garnish with fresh parsley or coriander and serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings

More egg recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you will enjoy:
Shahi Egg
Shakshouka
Greek Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Feta
Indian-Style Fried Egg and Potato Cake

On the top of the reading stack: Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats by Sally Fallon

Audio Accompaniment: Arthur Oskan

Kidney Beans with a Cardamom-Yogurt Gravy


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
If you are looking for a quick and easy midweek meal that is nourishing and filling, this is just the recipe for spice lovers like myself. I adapted this recipe from 660 Curries. This curry has a tart flavor despite the lack of tomatoes, lime juice and tamarind. Do cut down on the spicing if you can't handle the heat, and serve some yogurt on the side to cool the palate. This dish goes well with rice or any Indian flatbread.

kidney bean curry cardamon

Another reminder to submit your favorite vegetarian Indian recipe for a chance to win a lovely cookbook. I will except entries until the end of the month.

Kidney Beans with a Cardamom-Yogurt GravyKidney Beans with a Cardamom-Yogurt Gravy
Recipe by
Adapted from 660 Curries
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 18, 2012

A simple, filling and nourishing red kidney bean curry with an earthy but tangy flavor

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Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup dried kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 - 4 green chilies, seeded and finely chopped
  • 6 green cardamom pods
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons rock salt or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley or coriander, chopped for garnish
Instructions:
  • Rinse the kidney beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight in several inches of cold water with a little yogurt whey or lemon juice added. Drain and rinse. Transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. Drain and set aside.

  • Wipe the saucepan clean and heat the ghee or oil on medium heat. When hot, toss in the onions, hot peppers and cardamom pods and stir and fry until the onion is softened, about 5 - 7 minutes.

  • Now whisk in the yogurt and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid evaporates. This should take about 15 minutes. Take care not to burn the yogurt. Now stir in the turmeric, cumin and add 2 cups of water, the cooked kidney beans, garam masala and cayenne. Bring this mixture to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened to your desired consistency.

  • Garnish with parsley or cilantro and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings
kidney bean curry with a cardamom yogurt gravy

Other Kidney Bean dishes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Cornmeal-Crusted Kidney Bean and Black Bean Chili
Kidney Bean and Quinoa Salad
Nigerian Baked Beans
Kidney Beans in a Slowly Simmered Tomato Sauce

On the top of the reading stack: 1,000 Indian Recipes by Neelam Batra

Audio Accompaniment: Vic Chesnutt

Ash-e Anar ( Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup )

Herbs and fruits are frequently prominent components in Persian cooking, often used to stunning effect when combined with rice, vegetables and spices. This split pea and pomegranate soup is just such a wonderful example of a blend of contrasting ingredients and flavors — from onions and garlic to seeds and spices, and from split peas and rice to fresh herbs and pomegranate molasses — all combined to produce an astonishing result. Hot, sweet and sour at the same time, there is more going on in just this one soup that can really be properly described, but it all joins together into a perfect whole. And a scattering of colorful pomegranate seeds on top burst with a tart pop in your mouth to provide a spectacular finish on the palate.

Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup

Ash-e anar is also a very simple and warming soup that's filling and nourishing at the same time. It doesn't require too much attention, making this an ideal soup for chilly evenings when you don't have a lot of time for prep work but you want something special. I like thick soups that are almost a meal unto themselves, especially at this time of year, and this recipe is written for that effect — but you can easily make this a thinner soup to be served as a starter either by increasing the liquid or reducing the quantity of split peas from 1 cup to 3/4 cup. Pomegranate molasses is a truly wonderful base for this and other soups and is a staple in Persian and Middle Eastern pantries. You can easily find it at any Middle Eastern and most Asian grocers, but if you can't find it you can easily substitute 2 cups of pomegranate juice plus a teaspoon of sugar or honey for the same amount of water or vegetable stock.

This is my contribution to this month's No Croutons Required, hosted this month by my dear friend Jacqueline. The theme for February is a soup or salad featuring fresh herbs.

Ash-e Anar (Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup)Ash-e Anar (Persian Split Pea and Pomegranate Soup)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Persian
Published on February 16, 2012

A simple sweet-and-sour Persian split pea soup bursting with the flavors of spices, pomegranate and fresh herbs

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Ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 cup yellow split peas, rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, lightly crushed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1/2 cup long-grain white rice, rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (garnish)
Instructions:
  • Heat a large saucepan or soup pot over medium heat. When hot, add the olive oil, wait a few moments, then swirl to coat the pan. Toss in the onions and fry for 2-3 minutes or until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and stir a few times. Add the split peas and stir for 2 minutes.

  • Now add the crushed fennel seeds, turmeric, ground cinnamon and cayenne, and stir to coat the peas and vegetables. Pour in the vegetable stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes or until the split peas are just tender.

  • Add the rice, cover again, and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the rice is cooked. Stir in the pomegranate molasses and herbs and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes to let the herbs wilt.

  • Remove from heat and season with salt and plenty of fresh ground black pepper. Ladle into bowls, scatter pomegranate seeds over top, and serve hot.

Makes 6 - 8 servings
ash-e anar

Other recipes you many enjoy:
Shakshouka ( Tunisian Tomato & Pepper Stew with Eggs )
Mesopotamian Barley, Chickpea, Lentil and Tahini Soup
Zahtar ( Dukkah )

On the top of the reading stack: The National Post

Audio Accompaniment: Sasha

Lemon Ricotta Blueberry Biscuits

lemon ricotta scones

When will this Canadian winter ever end? Though snow in South-Western Ontario has thankfully been rather sparse, and the temperatures rather mild all things considering for this time of year, the apartment I reside in is in a lovely old house but alas, we have no control over the heating and being a rather wee girl, I suffer from the cold and drafts that older homes tend to be prone to. What better way to warm up than to make a baked treat? I always leave the oven door open after the baking is done for additional heat. Why waste that precious warmth?

These biscuits — or scones if you prefer to call them — are a delicious and even slightly savory dessert to finish off any meal. Though they are packed with blueberries, they are also an enjoyable side to go along with a vegetable soup, perfect for a light breakfast or brunch or snack. Easy to prepare and well worth the effort even considering the number of dishes baking creates. They won't last long, especially if you have an eager husband and friend wishing to fill their tummy with blueberry delights. Ricotta cheese is an ideal component to baked goods — creamy without tartness or an over-powering flavor.

Read this recipe »

Curry-Laced Potato, Carrot and Broccoli Soup

potato vegetable soup

As careful as I ordinarily am to to provide a balance of proteins, fats and other nutrients into my dinners, there are times when I just crave a little comfort food and a blissful indifference to the rest. Not that it's difficult to balance the essential nutrients, and after years of healthy vegetarian living I can do this pretty much automatically, but still… It may just be the time of year when it seems like spring really ought to be right around the corner, but it's not and we're all still just coping with the cold and dark.

That said, I'm not going to start gorging on deep-fried goodies just for the sake of comfort either. No, for me comfort is a hot bowl of a simple and creamy homemade potato, carrot and broccoli soup, just all by itself and no worries about whether I'm incorporating grains or legumes into my meal for just one particular night. I love the smell of cooked potatoes, and the little specks of bright green broccoli buds swimming on the surface of the soup is a visual treat. And no one is going to call a potato, carrot and broccoli soup unhealthy.

Read this recipe »

Bengali-Style Potatoes in a Seasoned Yogurt-Pistachio Crust


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
These potatoes are marinated in a fragrant seasoned yogurt blend before they are fried to create a fragrant golden-brown spice crust with delicate aromatic flavours and just enough spicy heat. They're a wonderful accompaniment to almost any northern Indian style meal — or any other meal or just snacking for that matter. As an added benefit, the easy preparation required is done hours before a meal, making the actual cooking a simple process during which other dishes can be attended to.

Bengali-Style Potatoes

This recipe is adapted from Yamuna Devi's indispensible Indian cookbook, Lord Krishna's Cuisine, which the author in turn adapted from a Bengali dish. Note that the green chilies do not need to be seeded to make the yogurt-pistachio blend — you can remove the seeds if you wish to reduce the "heat", but the potatoes are not spicy hot in any case. Please also note that the recipe calls for cardamom seeds and not the pods — an 1/8 teaspoon of ground cardamom can be substituted if you do not have the seeds on hand. Nigella seeds, curry leaves and cardamom seeds are all available at your local Indian grocer.

Also a reminder to send in one of your favorite Indian vegetarian recipes for a chance to win a lovely cookbook. Details can be found here.

Bengali-Style Potatoes in a Seasoned Yogurt-Pistachio Crust
Recipe by
Adapted from Lord Krishna's Cuisine
Cuisine: Indian
Published on February 8, 2012

Potatoes marinated in a fragrant seasoned yogurt blend and then fried to create a fragrant golden-brown spice crust with delicate aromatic flavors and just enough spicy heat.

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Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lb small potatoes
Yogurt-Pistachio Blend:
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup raw pistachios
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, chopped
  • small handful fresh coriander or parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried grated coconut
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried red chili flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom seeds
Finish:
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or olive oil
  • 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon fresh or dried curry leaves
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon nigella seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • juice of 1 lemon
Instructions:
  • Scrub the potatoes and cut into 1-inch or bite-sized cubes. Steam or cook the potatoes until just tender. Add the cooked potatoes to a mixing bowl and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, combine the yogurt, pistachios, green chilies, ginger, coriander or parsley, coconut, dried red chili flakes and cardamom seeds in a small blender or food processor, and process until smooth.

  • Pour the yogurt-pistachio blend over the potatoes and mix. Cover and refrigerate for 1-3 hours.

  • Heat the ghee or olive oil over medium-high heat in a large non-stick pan. When hot, toss in the cinnamon stick, curry leaves, cumin seeds and nigella seeds and fry for 30 seconds or until the spices become fragrant and the cumin seeds darken a couple of shades.

  • Stir in the coated potatoes, salt and turmeric. Reduce the heat slightly to medium. Stir occasionally and cook for 30 minutes or until the potatoes are dry and have a golden crusty surface.

  • Remove from heat and serve hot or warm, sprinkled with a little fresh lemon juice just before serving. Reheat potatoes by gently re-frying on medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Makes 6 servings

Indian potatoes

Other Indian potato ideas you may enjoy:
Bengali-Style Crunchy Potatoes
Aloo Gobi
Tamarind Potatoes

On the top of the reading stack: The Cat's Table by Michael Ondaatje

Audio Accompaniment: relative silence

Puy Lentil Soup with Spinach

puy lentil soup

Soups are perfect anytime of year, but especially during the winter months. I adapted this colorful, earthy and nourishing soup from River Cottage Everyday Veg. We all need more vegetables in our diet and the recipes from this beautiful and innovative book will certainly be gracing my kitchen table time and time again. Easy to cook up and a pleasure to the tummy, you won't be disappointed with this nourishing soup. Consider adding more spices, such as cayenne and cumin along with the tomatoes and hot peppers for an extra kick.

Read this recipe »

Zahtar (Dukkah)

In preparation for a black-eyed pea dish that I'll be featuring soon, I made this Middle Eastern spice blend. I am running out of room for all the homemade spice blends that I make, but I can never resist in any case. Widely used in the Middle East and North Africa, zahtar is a wonderfully tangy, zesty and salty blend of herbs, spices, seeds and nuts that's surprisingly hearty on its own. Often served for breakfast with bread after dipped in olive oil, this delicious blend can be enjoyed for a snack, lunch, dinner or whenever you please. Consider adding it to salads, with your vegetable dishes or included in your favorite dipping sauce. The possibilities are endless.

I did some research and came up with my own recipe for zahtar (also known as za'atar or dukkah) based on ideas I found from A Life Time of Cooking and Kevin of Closet Cooking. Zahtar will keep in the fridge in a well sealed glass jar for several months. Your pulse should be rather coarse. Enjoy the aroma while making this blend, and try the exotic flavor just on its own.

Sumac is the dried fruit of a temperature shrub ground to a powder and used extensively in Middle Eastern and Turkish cuisine. You can easily find it in any Middle Eastern or Asian grocer.


Zahtar (Dukkah)Zahtar (Dukkah)
Recipe by
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Published on February 3, 2012

A tangy, zesty and salty blend of nuts, seeds, herbs and spices from the Middle East.

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Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pistachios
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon rock salt or sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons sumac
  • pinch of dried marjoram
  • 1/3 cup dried fenugreek leaves
  • pinch of dried thyme
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
Instructions:
  • In a frying pan, dry roast the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, walnut pieces, sunflower seeds, pistachios, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns until fragrant. Grind together in a coffee grinder or food processor (I used my trusty magic bullet).

  • Transfer to a small bowl and add the salt, sumac, marjoram, fenugreek leaves, thyme, oregano and chili powder. and stir until well combined.

Yields approximately 1 1/2 cups
Other spice blends you may enjoy from Lisa's spicy kitchen:
Curry Powder
Chat Masala
Garam Masala

On the top of the reading stack: Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More

Audio accompaniment: Horace Andy

A Celebration of Indian Food and a Giveaway - Part Two


Visit the Indian Food Glossary for information on the ingredients in this recipe
A few months back, I invited my readers to submit one of their favorite Indian vegetarian recipes. I have decided to offer lovers of Indian food a second chance to participate in a roundup because I received so many tempting recipes the last time around. This time, participants will have a chance to win a copy of Sukham Ayu by Jigyasa Giri and Pratibha Jain. I will choose a random winner and ship this incredible book at my own expense to any location in the world.

tangy lentils

This cookbook is full of information about vegetarian Ayurvedic recipes, principles and guidelines, and is illustrated with gorgeous photographs that will be sure to tantalize your taste buds. Ultimately, it is the blend of flavors and seamless offerings that makes this a must for Indian cuisine enthusiasts. I have tried many recipes from this lovely cookbook and have learned much from the advice and wisdom offered. Truly a treasure and one of my prized cookbooks.

Look for Indian cookbooks and save with these Barnes and Noble coupons.


Now for the guidelines: Submit your most cherished Indian creation from any region of India. It can be an appetizer or sweet, spice blend, chutney or sauce, legume dish, soup, salad, grain dish, vegetable dish, bread, dessert or savory snack, beverage or an Indian-style fusion dish. Please note that I will only accept one entry from participants who are bloggers, and the recipe must be vegetarian. Your post must include a photo that I will feature in the roundup. A link to this post is also required. I look forward to your creations.

The deadline for entries is February 29th. Please send your recipe to herdcreature(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Update: It seems that some folks that have emailed their entry receive an error message when trying to send in their submission. Do send an email but please also leave a comment on this post so I can ensure your recipe is included in the roundup.