My coauthor Raquel’s husband, Matt, eats this chutney like it’s going out of style. Sometimes I have to remind him that it’s a condiment and not a side dish! He slathers it on omelets, eats it with steak and even with cheese and crackers. Lucky for Matt than Tomato Chutney can be made year round with either summer ripe or winter pale tomatoes. I will be forever indebted to my friend Durga’s mother, a neighbor of my family’s in New Delhi, who introduced me to Tomato Chutney. Originally from Hyderabad, the pickling capital of the south, she got me hooked on it from a very young age.


1/4 cup canola oil

36 curry leaves, roughly torn

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

12 dried red chiles

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

3 1/2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 4.4-ounce tube double concentrated tomato paste (or 9 ounces tomato paste)

2 tablespoons sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon Sambhaar or rasam powder or 1/2 teaspoon curry powder


Heat the oil with the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin and chiles in a large pot or skillet over medium-high heat until the cumin is browned, about 2 minutes. Add the turmeric and cook until the chiles darken, about 1 to 2 minutes longer. Add the remaining ingredients and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and pressing the tomatoes against the sides of the pot to mash them if they are not breaking apart on their own. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the chutney is thick and jammy (if canning, cook until the mixture is very thick), about an additional 20 to 35 minutes (if using hard winter tomatoes, the chutney may cook in less time as there are less tomato juices to reduce), stirring often. Taste for seasoning, transfer to a covered plastic container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

from American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

Dal is my chicken soup. It’s what I eat when I crave something comforting, something to remind me of my kitchen in India. I like my dal with texture, but some people prefer it completely smooth. For a satiny smooth rendition, add a little water once the lentils have finished cooking and whisk vigorously until no texture remains. If you have fresh curry leaves in the house, add about 12 of them, along with 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, to the oil and spices in the very beginning. The curry leaves and mustard seeds give the dal depth and spice. If you want to make a curry dal, substitute 2 chopped tomatoes for the lemon juice and add them with the last addition of water. This is great with simple basmati rice and pita or parathas.


3 tablespoons canola oil

3 dried red chiles

2 teaspoons cumin seeds

Pinch asafetida 

1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 jalapeño (seeded and veined if you prefer a milder flavor), finely chopped

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups washed masoor dal (or yellow split peas)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

6 cups water


Heat canola oil with cumin and chiles in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 1 1/2 minutes. Add asafetida (if using) and cook 20 seconds, then add onions and jalapeños. Cook 1 minute, stir in kosher salt and cook until onions and jalapeños have softened, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and lentils and cook until garlic becomes fragrant, about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of water, stir in and cook until the pan is dry, then add remaining 5 3/4 cups water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover and stir every 10 minutes until the lentils are soft and break apart easily, but aren’t completely broken down, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Taste for seasoning and serve with rice.

from American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

Not So Dull Dal

Serves 6

This isn’t a traditional recipe, but something Panditji, my family’s Brahman chef, and I came up with when I was 10 years old.  Originally we slit the okra in half lengthwise and marinated it with chickpea flour, lemon juice and spices. Since coming to the US, I have streamlined the recipe and now I find it more addictive than ever. Many of my friends proclaim it to be the ideal substitute to french fries. Although I think of this as a salad, others call it a side dish. You can serve it as either.


Canola oil

1 pound okra, stems removed and thinly sliced lengthwise

1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced

2 small or 1 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and thinly sliced

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chaat masala


Heat 2 inches of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. Add 1/3 of the okra and fry until browned and crisp, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat with remaining okra, making sure the oil temperature comes back to 350°F before frying additional batches.


In a large bowl, toss the okra with the onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lemon juice, chaat masala and salt.

Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

from American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

All of the Americans for whom I cook most often seem to love coconut; I’ve realized finally that it’s a very easy way to keep them all happy.  What I like about this particular dish is that the coconut adds flavor without excessive richness.  Serve this as a side dish to a more formal meal or with lentils and rice for a simple dinner at home.


3 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons yellow split peas (channa dal or supermarket variety)

1 tablespoon black mustard seeds

1 teaspoon hulled black gram beans (urad dal)

3 whole, dried red chilies

8 fresh or 12 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces 

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/8 teaspoon asafetida 

1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

3/4 pound green beans, both ends trimmed, beans cut on an angle into 1-inch pieces

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 teaspoon saambhar or rasam powder

1 cup water


1.  Combine the oil, yellow split peas, and mustard seeds, if using, in a large wok, kadai, or frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cover (the mustard seeds pop and splatter) and cook until you hear the mustard seeds crackle, 1 to 2 minutes.

2.  Add the urad dal, chilies, curry leaves, and cumin and cook uncovered, stirring, 1 more minute.  (Stand back; the curry leaves spit when they hit the oil.)

3.  Add the asafetida and 1/4 cup of the coconut and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.

4.  Add the beans and the salt and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. 

  1. 5. Add the remaining 1/4 cup coconut, the saambhar or rasam powder, if using, and the water.  Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until the beans are tender, about 10 minutes.  Then uncover and cook, stirring often, until all of the water has evaporated, about 5 more minutes.  Taste for salt and serve hot.

from Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes

Stir-Fried Green Beans

with Coconut

Serves 4

Crispy Okra Salad

Serves 4

The farm has become a wonderful draw for friends from around the world who want to come and visit us and experience our new life. I encourage everyone to make our home their home, with full kitchen privileges. Charlie and I were smitten when our friend Joyce Goldstein, the incredibly talented award-winning chef, trendsetter (she steered the café kitchen at Chez Panisse for years), and author of more than twenty-seven cookbooks, came to visit us at the farm. We happily cooked together and learned from each other.

While I shared my ideas and techniques for cooking with Indian flavors, Joyce introduced us to farro and how wonderfully delicious it is. Farro is now always in my pantry. I love using it in this recipe for veggie burgers. In addition to protein and heart-healthy fiber, the texture it contributes is incredibly hearty. You can sandwich the burgers in a bun, top with tomato chutney, or eat it as a cutlet with chutney and a green salad on the side. When Charlie, Raquel, and I were working on recipes for the book, Joyce came to the farm eight months pregnant; she and her four-year-old son devoured these burgers with such voracity, that I am convinced neither missed the absence of meat! If you can’t find farro, you can make the burgers with quinoa instead.


3/4 cup/125 g farro

1 lb/455 g red potatoes (about 3)

1 sprig fresh rosemary

1 sprig fresh thyme

6 tbsp/85 g unsalted butter

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 lb/455 g brown mushroom caps, finely chopped

1 1/4 tsp kosher salt

5 to 8 tbsp/75 to 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp dry white wine, dry vermouth, or water

1/2 cup/50 g finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 cup/50 g panko bread crumbs


Bring 2 1/4 cups/540 ml water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the farro, return to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low, cooking until the farro is tender, about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat, fluff the farro with a fork, cover, and set aside.

While the farro cooks, boil the potatoes. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil, add the potatoes, return the water to a boil, and cook until a paring knife easily slips into the center of the largest potato, about 20 minutes. Drain and set aside. Once the potatoes are cool, peel them and place them in a large bowl.

Remove the needles and leaves from the rosemary and thyme branches, and place them in a large frying pan along with the butter and black pepper over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Once the herbs start cracking, after about 1 1/2 minutes, add the mushrooms and salt. Cook the mushrooms until they release their liquid and the pan is dry again, 6 to 7 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl with the potatoes and set aside.

Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium-high heat in the frying pan. Add the shallots and cook until they are soft and just starting to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the wine (or vermouth or water) and stir to work in any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat and scrape the shallots into the bowl with the mushrooms and potatoes. Add the Parmigiano-Reggiano along with the farro. Use a potato masher or fork to mash the ingredients together.

Form the mixture into 10 patties. Place the panko in a shallow dish and press the top and bottom of each patty into the panko to evenly coat. Heat 1/4 cup/60 ml olive oil in a clean large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 5 patties and cook on each side until nicely browned and crusty, 8 to 10 minutes total. Remove the patties from the frying pan and place them on a plate. Repeat with the remaining patties, adding more oil between batches if necessary. Serve hot. 

from Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country

Farro and Mushroom Burgers

Makes 10 patties

My sister, Seema, has a penchant for following my recipes—and also for changing them to suit her tastes and whims, often with excellent results. This recipe is a prime example. Seema took the instructions for corn curry from my first book, Indian Home Cooking, and substituted coconut milk for the cream (remember that in India, “curry” is a term that is used to describe a saucy dish—as you’ll notice, there is no curry powder in this recipe, or in any of my recipes for that matter—see page 00 for more about curries, curry leaves, and curry powder). Her idea worked very well, and, in fact, this is now how I make corn curry in the summertime, always using the incredibly sweet Butter and Sugar corn from Sheldon Farm, in Salem, New York.

Pat and Albert Sheldon have been harvesting corn since the mid-1700s, and people drive to their farm from all around the North Country to buy basketfuls of their famously juicy yet crunchy corn. I buy huge tiger shrimp (also called tiger prawns) from Allen Brothers in Chicago. They are impressively massive, succulent, and sweet, and are a perfect marriage to the rich coconut milk and fresh corn. That said, any size shrimp/prawns work, or eliminate them altogether and substitute peas, green beans, or even sliced baby eggplant/aubergine. We serve this with basmati, jasmine, or sticky sushi rice. Or do what I do and dunk a piece of crusty bread straight into the sauce—heaven!


For the herb paste

40 fresh or 60 frozen curry leaves

3-inch/7.5-cm piece fresh gingerroot, peeled and roughly chopped

2 tbsp frozen ground lemongrass paste (optional)

1 bunch cilantro/fresh coriander, leafy part and tender stems ripped off of the tough stems

1 jalapeño or serrano chile, stemmed, and seeded for less heat


For the curry

3 tbsp ml canola oil

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp brown mustard seeds

15 fresh or 22 frozen curry leaves, roughly chopped

3 dried red chiles

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

1/8 tsp asafetida

Two 13 1/2-oz/385-g cans coconut milk

1/2 cup/120 ml heavy/double cream, half-and-half/half cream, or milk

1 tsp kosher salt

4 cups/615 g fresh corn (from 4 to 6 ears) or frozen corn

2 lbs/910 g tiger shrimp/prawns (16 to 20 shrimp/prawns per pound), peeled and deveined

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro/fresh coriander


To make the herb paste, place the curry leaves, ginger, lemongrass paste (if using), cilantro/fresh coriander, jalapeño or serrano, and 3 tbsp water in the bowl of a food processor and purée into a nearly smooth paste. Set aside.

To make the curry, heat the oil, cumin seeds, and mustard seeds in a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cumin browns and becomes fragrant and the mustard seeds pop, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the curry leaves, chiles, turmeric, and asafetida, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Then stir in the herb paste, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the mixture is very fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour in the coconut milk and the cream, stir, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the salt and then add the corn and shrimp/prawns. Simmer until the shrimp/prawns curl and are just cooked through, 2 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro/fresh coriander and serve with rice or crusty bread.

from Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country

Shrimp and Sweet Corn Curry

Serves 6

This is my rendition of a classical Mogul dish.  It is a truly wonderful way to prepare chicken, delicately scented with garam masala and bathed in a lovely white, yogurt-cream sauce that is luscious without being overly rich.  Because Mogul culture valued the pristine, elegant look of white food, this kurma (meaning “braise”) would have been spiced with bleached white cardamom pods and white peppercorns. I don’t go in for that kind of drama in my cooking: I use everyday green cardamom and black peppercorns.  Make this and your guests will go away celebrating your culinary prowess.  And you will be privately amazed at how much attention something made with so little effort can bring you.  Often served with  a Grape Raita and some quince chutney, this kurma is also the base of Chicken Biriyani all of which can be found in Indian Home Cooking.


3 medium red onions, quartered

3 garlic cloves, peeled

3 inches fresh ginger, peeled and sliced

1/3 cup canola oil

1-inch piece of cinnamon stick

12 green cardamom pods, pounded in a mortar and pestle just to break open the shells

16 whole cloves

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds

5 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon white or black peppercorns

3 whole, dried red chilies

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2- by 1-inch pieces

3/4 cup hot water

1/2 teaspoon garam masala (page 000)

1/2 cup heavy cream, plus extra for drizzling


1.  Combine the onions, garlic, and ginger in a food processor and process to finely mince; set aside.

2.  Combine the oil, cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, cumin, coriander seeds, bay leaves, peppercorns, and dried red chilies in a large, heavy bottomed casserole over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls and the spices brown lightly, 1 to 2 minutes. 

3.  Add the minced onion mixture and the salt and cook, stirring, until the onions turn a uniformly light brown color, about 15 minutes.  Keep a cup of water beside the stove while the onion cooks.  As the caramelized sugars begin to stick to the bottom of the pan, dribble in water, about 1 teaspoon at a time, and scrape the pan with the spoon to pull up all the sugars and keep them from burning.  Do this as often as necessary until the onion is golden.

4.  Add the ground coriander and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

5.  Add about 3 tablespoons of the yogurt and cook, stirring, until the yogurt is entirely blended and the moisture evaporated.  Continue adding the yogurt, about 3 tablespoons at a time and cooking out the moisture after each addition, to use all of the yogurt.

6.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until opaque, about 5 minutes. 

7.  Add the water and stir.  Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low.  Cover and simmer gently (the onion mixture will be very thick) until the chicken is just cooked through, about 5 more minutes.

8.  Stir in the garam masala and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

  1. 9. Stir in the heavy cream and remove from the heat.  Let the kurma rest for at least 1 hour to allow the flavors to infuse the sauce.  When you are ready to serve, heat the kurma through over low heat and then drizzle with a little heavy cream.  Taste for salt and serve hot.

from Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes

Braised Chicken in White Sauce with Garam Masala

Serves 4

This is a great dish for the summer.  The fresh taste of the mint makes it taste light even for a beef dish, and because it’s a dry curry, it doesn’t warm you up like a steaming, brothy beef stew.  This is also very good, and a little different tasting, with ground lamb.  Both are excellent served with bhaturas or pita and a cucumber raita.



10 ounces spinach, stemmed and washed

1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves


1/4 cup canola oil

1-inch piece of cinnamon stick

8 green cardamom pods

6 whole cloves

4 garlic cloves, finely minced

2 inches peeled, fresh ginger, grated

1 large onion, halved, then halved again and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 fresh, hot green chili, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds

1 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 1/2 pounds lean beef (70/30) or ground leg of lamb, or ground goat meat

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup plain yogurt, whisked until smooth

1/2 teaspoon garam masala 


1.  For the green paste, bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat.  Add the spinach and stir.  Cover and steam, stirring every now and then, until wilted, about 5 minutes.  Puree in a blender (with any remaining water) along with the cilantro and mint leaves.  Set aside.

2.  Heat the oil with the cinnamon stick, cardamom, and cloves in a large, heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat, and cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, about 2 minutes.  

3.  Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

4.  Add the onion, green chili, and salt and cook, stirring, until the onion begins to brown around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes.

5.  Stir in the lamb and black pepper and cook, stirring, 5 minutes.

6.  Add the yogurt, 2 tablespoons at a time and stirring well after each addition.  Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. 

7.  Add the green paste, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer 5 more minutes.

  1. 8. Stir in the garam masala and cook 1 more minute.  Taste for salt.  Serve hot.

from Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes

Ground Beef with

Spinach and Fresh Mint

Serves 4

Inspiration for this recipe came from my lamb burger recipe, in which I combine ground lamb with lots of spices and a combination of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheeses. Richard Arakelian, a chef colleague, asked me why I never use ground turkey in a burger, and, furthermore, why I rarely use American cheeses, like cheddar, in my recipes. I interpreted his question as a challenge, and this is how my turkey cheddar burgers came to be.

First I gently fry herbs and spices, like curry leaves and cumin, with chopped red onions, then I add this mixture, along with shredded cheddar, chopped jalapeños, and fresh cilantro/fresh coriander to ground turkey. The result is turkey burgers unlike any you’ve ever had—absolutely exploding with flavor and masala. The burgers are also delicious made with ground white or dark meat chicken or ground pork.


2 tbsp canola oil

8 curry leaves, finely chopped

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/2 small red onion, finely minced

1 1/4 lbs/570 g ground turkey (preferably dark meat or a combination of white and dark meats)

3/4 cup/85 g tightly packed shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 jalapeño, finely diced (seeded and veined for less heat)

1/4 cup chopped cilantro/fresh coriander leaves

1 tsp kosher salt

4 toasted burger buns

Raita for serving

Tomato Chutney for serving


Place 1 tbsp of the oil, curry leaves, cumin seeds, black pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large frying pan over medium-high heat, stirring often, and cooking until the cumin seeds are fragrant and lightly browned, about 2 minutes.

Add the onion and cook until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.

Place the ground turkey in a large mixing bowl and gently knead in the remaining ingredients. Stir in the onion mixture and form into four patties.

Wipe out the frying pan with a paper towel/absorbent paper. Heat over medium-high for 2 minutes, add 1 tbsp oil, and then add the patties. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Flip and cook the other side until browned and the center is cooked to your preferred doneness (I like mine slightly pink). Place the burgers on the toasted buns, dollop with Raita and Tomato Chutney, and serve.

from Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country

Juicy Turkey-Cheddar Burgers

Serves 4

Sally Longo is one of our dearest North Country friends, and it is by her side that we’ve cooked so much amazing food at our farmhouse, including this rabbit terrine and the Rustic Rabbit Pâté with Juniper Berries on page 00, both elegant, inspired, and perfect for entertaining. The pistachios, fennel, and anise-y Pernod liqueur work pure magic in this terrine. Its refined and cosmopolitan flavor will have your guests wondering if you made this yourself or mail-ordered it from some fancy restaurant. If you’re squeamish about removing the meat from the bone (in our house, that’s Sally’s job), ask your butcher to do it for you.

6 thin-cut fatty bacon/streaky bacon slices

2 1/2-lb/1.2-kg rabbit, liver reserved (save the heart and kidneys to make the Rustic Rabbit Pâté with Juniper Berries on page 00)

3 large shallots, finely chopped

1 tbsp Herbes de Hebron or herbes de Provence

1 large egg

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

2 tbsp Pernod liqueur

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 fennel bulb, thinly shaved using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, feathery fronds reserved

1 lb/455 g mild pork sausage, squeezed out from its casing

2 cups/230 g toasted pistachios roughly chopped

Crackers or crusty bread for serving


Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C/gas 4. Place a 5-by-9-inch/12-by-23-mm loaf pan on the worksurface and place the bacon/streaky bacon strips widthwise across the pan, slightly overlapping, so that the bacon/streaky bacon covers the bottom and sides of the pan.

Set the rabbit on a cutting board and use a boning knife to slice away the meat from the bone, and then the sinew from the meat. Chop the meat into small cubes and then finely chop the liver.

Place the shallots and the herbes de Hebron in a food processor and pulse together until the shallots are finely chopped. Add the liver, pulse to combine, and then add the rabbit meat and pulse until finely chopped with no pieces larger than 1/4 inch/6 mm, scraping the sides and bottom of the bowl as necessary.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, olive oil, Pernod, salt, and pepper. Add the fennel and the sausage, and mix with your hands until the mixture is smooth. Use a rubber spatula to scrap the rabbit mixture into the egg mixture, stir together, and then fold in the pistachios, mixing well to combine.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and press and smooth out the top. Fold any bacon/streaky bacon ends that hang out of the pan up and over the top of the terrine. Cover the top with a sheet of aluminum foil, crimping it around the edges to seal, and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the terrine reads 160°F/70°C, about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Remove the terrine from the oven and set it on a cutting board. Loosen the foil slightly and then place a second same-size loaf pan on top of the foil. Place 3 cans of beans (or cans of tomatoes) in the loaf pan to weigh it down and set it aside for 2 to 3 hours to cool and compress. Remove the cans and loaf pan, and cover the terrine with plastic wrap/cling film. Refrigerate the terrine for at least 2 days or up to 1 week to allow the flavors to come together.

Before serving, place the loaf pan over a burner set to medium-high heat (to loosen the fat in the bottom of the pan). Run a paring knife around the edges of the terrine to loosen it from the pan and then invert it onto a serving platter. Garnish with the reserved fennel fronds and let the terrine sit out at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving with crackers or crusty bread.

from Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country

Country Rabbit Terrine with Pistachios and Pernod

Makes one

5-by-9-inch/12-by-23-mm terrine

The Mogul emperor Akbar, who ruled India from 1556 to 1605, wrote about this very old and famous rice dish in his memoirs.  For Indians, however, this seductive dish has been so widespread for so long that we mostly take it for granted.  With its lovely, sweet saffron flavor, it can be served alongside savory dishes, or on its own as a snack or dessert.  Some Indian households make this with yellow food coloring to give the rice an all-over yellow color, but I just use saffron; I like the way the spice colors the rice unevenly, so that some grains are yellow while others remain white.


1 1/4 cups basmati rice

2 1/2 cups water

1/4 teaspoon saffron threads

1 tablespoon milk or cream

1/4 cup ghee or canola oil

2 –inch piece of cinnamon stick

10 green cardamom pods, pounded in a mortar and pestle to break open the shells

1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1/4 cup dried currants

1/4 cup blanched, chopped almonds

1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped

2/3 cup sugar


1.  Combine the rice and water in a medium bowl and soak 20 minutes.  Drain and reserve the water.  Set the rice and water aside separately.

2.  Meanwhile, toast the saffron in a small frying pan over medium heat, stirring and pulling the pan off the heat occasionally to keep the saffron from burning, until the saffron darkens to a maroon color and is fragrant, 15 to 20 seconds.  Crush to a coarse powder in a mortar and pestle, or in a bowl with the back of a spoon.  Stir in the milk or cream, and set aside.

3.  Combine the ghee or oil, the cinnamon stick, cardamom, and ginger in a medium heavy-bottomed casserole over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring, until the cinnamon unfurls, 1 to 2 minutes. 

4.  Add the currants and nuts and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

5.  Add the drained rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add the reserved water, turn down the heat, cover and simmer very gently over low heat for 15 minutes. 

  1. 6. Now uncover and sprinkle the rice evenly with the sugar.  Drizzle the saffron mixture over the top.  Put the pan over very low heat, cover and continue cooking 5 more minutes.  Serve hot.

from Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes

Sweet Saffron Pilaf with

Nuts and Currants

Serves 4 to 6

Bread pakoras are a wonderful breakfast treat. Growing up in India, many mornings I was lured from bed by the scent of them frying in our kitchen. Essentially a slice of bread dipped in a spiced chickpea batter and fried, these are one of my favorite breakfast treats to make for visitors. I’ve never met anyone who could refuse seconds!


4 cups/960 ml canola or vegetable oil (plus more if needed)

1 1/2 cups/140 g chickpea flour (besan)

1/2 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda

1 large red onion, very finely chopped

1 jalapeño, very finely chopped (seeded and ribbed for less heat)

1 cup fresh cilantro/fresh coriander leaves, very finely chopped

1 tbsp chaat masala

3/4 tsp ajwain (carom seed)

1/2 tsp garam masala

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 slices white, whole-wheat/wholemeal, or multigrain sandwich bread, halved diagonally

Tamarind Chutney  or ketchup/tomato sauce for serving


Heat the oil in a deep frying pan or medium saucepan (if using a saucepan you’ll only be able to fry 1 pakora at a time) to between 350°F/180°C and 375°F/190°C on a digital thermometer over high heat. (You should have about 2 inches/5 cm of oil in the pan; add more as needed).

While the oil heats, whisk the chickpea flour, baking soda/bicarbonate of soda, onion, jalapeño, cilantro/fresh coriander, and spices together in a large bowl. While whisking, gradually pour in 1 1/4 cups/300 ml lukewarm water until you have a thick batter.

Dip a bread triangle into the batter, making sure it is nicely coated on both sides, and carefully slide it into the hot oil. If you’re using a deep frying pan, repeat with another bread slice (take care not to overcrowd the pan, otherwise the pakoras will stick together). The bread should float to the top immediately and be surrounded by lots of tiny bubbles. Drizzle 1 tsp batter over the top of the bread and baste the top with hot oil to set the batter. Fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, and then carefully flip the bread slice over and fry the other side until golden brown. Using a kitchen spider or slotted spoon, remove the pakora from the oil and set aside on a paper towel–/absorbent paper–lined plate to drain. (You can keep the fried pakoras warm on a baking sheet/tray and in a 250°F/120°C/gas 1/2 oven while you wait for the remaining pakoras to fry.) Dip and fry the remaining bread slices and serve warm with chutney or ketchup/tomato sauce on the side. 

from Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country

Bread Pakoras

Makes 12 pakoras

Tomato Chutney

Makes about 3 cups

Grandma Hayes in West Virginia taught me how to make cast iron skillet cornbread. By adding some Indian spices and seasonings, I’ve adjusted her recipe to reflect my cooking style. This cornbread has become a staple in my home and a favorite among many friends. To add a smoky edge, roast the corn over a high flame on your gas cooktop or on a baking sheet under the broiler before before combining the kernels with the other cornbread ingredients.


1 stick unsalted butter cut into 8 pieces

2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 3 ears)

1 small onion, finely chopped

1/2 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated

1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 jalapeño (seeded and veined if you prefer a milder flavor), sliced into thin rings

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 cup fat-free plain yogurt


Heat your oven to 400°F and set an oven rack at the lowest position. Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, reduce the heat to low.


Place the corn, chopped onion, cheese, corn muffin mix, flour, cilantro, jalapeño, salt, cayenne pepper and cracked pepper in a large bowl and set it aside. Lightly whisk the egg and yogurt together in a medium bowl and add it to the corn mixture, stirring until just combined (the consistency will be thick).


Pour the cornbread batter into the hot skillet and using a rubber spatula, press batter into the pan. The butter will rise up the sides of skillet and over top of batter. Tilt the skillet toward you, and then rotate it away from to evenly coat the top of the batter with melted butter. Bake until its top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean, about 30 to 35 minutes (some butter will still be bubbling around the edges of the skillet). Remove the skillet from oven and set it aside to cool for at least 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

from American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

Grandma’s Cornbread

Makes 1 9-inch skillet of cornbread

This recipe comes from Elie Nasr, whom I met through eGullet, a food website and chat group. Elie sent me his Lebanese mother’s recipe for Pistachio Pound Cake thinking I would enjoy it. He was right—I loved it from the first time I baked it. It’s incredibly tender and fine. I find that freshly ground cardamom enhances the flavor of the pistachios, contributing an ethereal citrus essence. The lemon icing is a nice finishing touch, but the cake is just a delicious plain. Heavy cream makes the icing opaque and less gritty. Omit and add an extra teaspoon of lemon juice if you don’t have any handy.


For the cake

1 cup raw, shelled pistachios

1 1/2 sticks plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)

1/4 teaspoon table salt

3 large eggs

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup milk


For the icing

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon heavy cream (optional)

1 teaspoon ground cardamom (preferably freshly ground)


Heat your oven to 425°F. Place the pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and browned, about 5 minutes. Cool and then pulse in a food processor until they become very fine (be careful not to over process, otherwise you’ll have pistachio butter) and set aside. Reduce your oven temperature to 350°F.


Grease an 8 1/2 X  4 1/2-inch loaf pan with 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Place a long strip of parchment paper in the pan bottom. Grease the top of the parchment with 1/2 tablespoon of butter and set aside.


Whisk the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside. Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup, whisk with the vanilla and set aside.


Using a standing mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar until they are light and airy. Drizzle in the eggs, a little at a time, beating between additions to incorporate, scraping the bowl as necessary. Alternate adding flour and milk, starting and ending with the flour and mixing until just nearly combined between each addition, scraping the bowl as necessary. Fold the pistachios into batter by hand and transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan. Bake the cake until a cake tester inserted into cake’s center comes out clean, 45 to 55 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a cooling rack and turn it so its top faces up. Let the cake cool completely.


While the cake cools, make the icing. Sift the confectioners’ sugar and cardamom into a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon juice and cream (if using). Spread the icing over cake, letting it drip over the cake’s sides. Once the icing has set, slice and serve. 

from American Masala: 125 New Classics from My Home Kitchen

Rustic Double Apple Tart

Serves 6

Pistachio & Cardamom Pound Cake with Lemon Icing

Serves 6-8

I recently rediscovered this delightfully unusual raita from Bukhara, a restaurant in Dehli that has the reputation amongst some as being the finest in the world.  I like it best with tiny champagne grapes, if you can find them, but any seedless variety works.  When I have a great deal of leisure, I peel and halve the grapes but neither is necessary.  


3 cups plain yogurt

1 1/2 cups seedless grapes, halved

2 teaspoons ground, toasted cumin seed powder

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper or paprika



3 tablespoons canola oil

2 teaspoons black mustard seeds, or cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

6 fresh or 10 frozen curry leaves, torn into pieces 

1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1.  Whisk the yogurt in a bowl until smooth and lightened. 

2.  Stir in the grapes, and then the cumin, sugar, and cayenne or paprika.  Heat the oil with the mustard seeds or cumin seeds in a small frying pan or kadai over medium-high heat.   Cook until the cumin darkens or the mustard seeds crackle, 1 to 2 minutes.  (Cover the pan if using mustard seeds; they crackle and pop.)  Add the fennel seeds and curry leaves, if using, and cook uncovered, stirring, 5 to 10 more seconds.  (Stand back if using curry leaves; they spit when they hit the hot oil.)  Pour over the yogurt and chill well.  Just before serving, stir in the salt.

from Indian Home Cooking: A Fresh Introduction to Indian Food, with More Than 150 Recipes

Grape Raita

Serves 4 to 6

This free-form rustic tart showcases apples in two ways: first, with a cushion of long-cooked and silken apple butter, and second, with a top layer of crisp fall apples that are sliced extra thin so they absolutely melt in your mouth when you eat them. The tart dough takes on an incredible yellow color thanks to egg yolks from the girls in the barn and Kerrygold butter from Ireland. Simple, rustic, and delicious, an apple tart is one of my staples for fall dinner parties.

For the pastry

7 tbsp/100 g unsalted butter

1 2/3 cup/185 g all-purpose/plain flour plus extra for rolling

3/4 tsp kosher salt or fleur de sel

1 large egg yolk

3 tbsp cold water

2 tbsp sugar


For the tart

1/3 cup store-bought apple butter or homemade Upstate Apple Butter (page 00

2 tart, firm apples

3 tsp sugar

1 tsp lemon zest

2 tbsp lemon juice

3 tbsp cream or milk

Vanilla ice cream, for serving


Slice 6 tbsp/85 g of the butter into small pieces, place them in a bowl, and then put in the freezer to chill. Place the remaining 1 tbsp butter in a small bowl and in the freezer (you’ll use it later for the tart). Pulse the flour and salt together. Whisk the egg yolk with the cold water and set aside. Add the 6 tbsp/85 g cold butter to the flour mixture and pulse until the dry ingredients are mealy with nuggets no larger than a small pea. Pulse in the liquid just until the dry ingredients look sandy and then turn the mixture out onto your worksurface. Bring the dry ingredients together with your hands, kneading it lightly until it can be pressed into a mound (if you tap it, it should break apart). Transfer the mound to a large sheet of plastic wrap/cling film, wrap it tightly, and lightly knead to make a solid, flat disc. Chill the dough for at least 45 minutes or up to 3 days.

Heat the oven to 400°F/200°C/gas 6. Unwrap the dough and place it on a generously floured worksurface. Roll it out to a 9 1/2-inch/24-cm circle. Fold the dough into quarters and transfer it to an 11-by-18-inch/28-by-45-cm baking sheet/tray. Sprinkle the top of the dough with sugar and continue to roll it on the baking sheet/tray until it becomes a somewhat roundish 12- to 13-inch/30.5- to 33-cm rectangle.

Evenly spread the apple butter over the dough, leaving a 3-inch/7.5-cm perimeter at the edge. Peel, core, and halve the apples, and then, using a mandolin or a sharp chef’s knife, slice 3 apple halves as thinly as possible, about 1/16 inch/2 mm thick. Begin arranging half of the sliced apples in concentric circles over the apple butter so that they slightly overlap. 

Using a mandolin or the large-hole side of a box grater, grate the remaining 1 tbsp cold butter into fine shavings. Sprinkle 1 tsp of the sugar over the apples and follow with half of the butter shavings, all of the lemon zest, and 1 tbsp of the lemon juice. Layer the remaining apples over the first layer, sprinkle with 1 tsp sugar, all but a few pieces of the leftover butter, and the remaining 1 tbsp lemon juice. Slice the remaining apple half into 1/8-inch-/3-mm-thick slices by hand and then arrange decoratively over the top. Fold the edges of the dough up and over the apples, overlapping the dough as you work your way around the tart. Tuck the last few bits of butter into the apples. Brush the edges of the dough with cream or milk and then sprinkle with the remaining 1 tsp sugar.

Bake the tart until the apples are singed at their edges and the pastry is golden brown, 35 to 45 minutes. Cool at least 20 minutes before serving, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

from Masala Farm: Stories and Recipes from an Uncommon Life in the Country