Bengali Inspired Mustard Chicken & Cabbage Carrot Curry Slaw

While recently spending time in Argentina with Tito’s family, I wanted to bring some Bengali flavor to dinner. But I didn’t have my arsenal of spices at my beckon call, so I improvised.

Mustard, check. Bengali black cumin (a.k.a Nigella Seeds) brought on a prior visit, check. (Regular cumin also works.)

The night before, I thinly sliced the chicken breasts and threw them into a ziploc bag in the fridge with sliced ginger, garlic, a few spoonfuls of mustard, a teaspoon of cumin, and some oil to diffuse the flavors. The next evening, I cooked the chicken, searing on one side first to get that pleasant browned look, then flipping frequently (~15-30s) to improve the consistency of heat transfer/evenness of cooking. As a final touch, I dropped a spoonful of whiskey with the last few flips to glaze the chicken.

For the Cabbage Carrot Slaw, I shredded cabbage and carrots lightly sauteed with mustard seeds and cumin. You can garnish with cilantro or parsley, or cook with curry leaves if accessible. Serve warm or chilled. The photo shows the two items served with gnocchi di ricotta.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Fond memories of my Mom’s corned beef over tales of our family history, visiting downtown Chicago to see the river turned green, and my love of a good stout collide at the end of proper pint of Guinness direct from the source.

Herbed Israeli Couscous

Herbed Israeli CouscousIsraeli Couscous is excellent either as a side mixed with minced herbs (e.g., parsley and mint as in the photo) or tossed like you would any pasta salad to make meal. It also works with a number of dishes that call for various grains or orzo. It’s texture complements rustic dishes nicely, but is also refined enough that I lovingly refer to it as pasta caviar.

Turkish Favorites: Pine Nut Halwa

Semolina halwa topped with buttered pine nuts is both warm and light – making it an ideal desserts for all seasons. Teşekkür to Fikret ünsal for providing a family recipe.

200 ml (4/5 cup) water
200 ml (4/5 cup) milk
300 ml (6/5 cup) superfine “Baker’s” sugar
125 gr (4oz) butter
200 ml (4/5 cup) semolina (called “Irmik” in Turkish or “Sooji” in most Indian markets)
1/4 cup of pine nuts
2 pats of butter
1 tsp of cinnamon

Step 1: Make the Halwa
Combine water, milk, and fine sugar in a pan over medium heat until fully incorporated. In a separate non-stick pan, place semolina and butter over medium heat and stir gently until a golden color. Then add the water/milk/sugar mixture and stir gently for 5 minutes over medium heat, or until the mixture thickly coats the back of a spoon. (photo 1)

Step 2: Glaze the Pine Nuts
Place butter and pine nuts together over a medium-low heat until the mixture turns a golden color. Distribute over top of halwa and sprinkle cinnamon on top. (photo 2)

Step 3: For a classic touch, serve with tea
See photo 3 & 4.

Argentine Favorites: Empandas del Sanjuanino

Empanadas are an Argentine classic. In the Recoleta (Posadas 1515), the Hubert family favorite is El Sanjuanino. They have a fantastic range of fillings for all tastes, but my favorite is their empanada de carne picante (spicy meat) which includes an green olive baked in whole. The crust at El Sanjuanino is more like bread than pastry, but because of this, their empanadas are able to hold heartier and more flavorful filling. Don’t forget to finish your meal with a cortado.

Hibiscus Gin

Inspired by Mexican hibiscus agua fresca and a recent encounter with a mixologist in Boston, I decided to try out infusing my own gin. The hibiscus complements traditional gin flavors and makes it palatable to a wider range of drinkers. Mixers I’ve tried with success include soda and herbs, fresh lemon wedge, shaken with apple juice and ice, and any favorite flavor of Dry Soda.

I was able to buy my hibiscus online, but I can also usually find it in the “Latin Foods” section of my grocery store. (In Spanish it is called jamaica.) Add two handfuls of dried hibiscus flowers to a bottle of gin, let rest for at least a few hours. I recommend staying away from premium brands such as Hendricks or Sapphire not only because the hibiscus can overpower their special blends, but it’s also lower risk in case you find the hibiscus too strong for your personal taste.