Sunday, March 28, 2010

Kasha Varnishkes

I've been obsessing over different types of porridge lately, namely oatmeal, rye porridge and kasha (buckwheat). I might give an update on that later, but for now I'll just say I had a lot of extra buckwheat hanging around. So I was really excited when I came across this column on the New York Times food blog. Kasha varnishkes: Eastern European Jewish soul food. Simple to put together, and composed entirely of things I already had in my apartment.

kasha varnishkes

My recipe is not traditional, but it's still delicious.
Recipe: Kasha varnishkes
1 cup chopped onion*
1/8 to 1/4 cup olive oil**
1/3 cup buckwheat groats ("kasha")
250g (1/2 pound) pasta***
salt and ground black pepper
  • Dry-fry the onions in a pan or skillet for about 10 minutes or until they are sticking to the pan. Add the oil and fry an additional 10 minutes to make the onions a nice deep brown color.
  • Boil 2/3 cups water and add the buckwheat. Cook it the same way you would cook rice--let it boil for a minute and then reduce the heat, cover, and let the buckwheat cook by steam. It should be fluffy and tender in about 15 minutes.
  • Cook the pasta to al-dente by traditional means.
  • Drain the pasta and combine with onions, buckwheat, salt and lots of ground black pepper. Eat immediately! Mark Bittman seemed to think this would serve two, but he's out of his mind. I'm going to say more like four.
* This was about 1/2 an onion. The next time I make this I intend to use A LOT more, like double what I used today (i.e. 2 cups).
** I was supposed to use rendered chicken fat here but olive oil was just fine. Maybe I just don't know what I'm missing.
*** Bow-tie pasta is traditionally used but my pantry only gave me fusilli.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Tahri (rice with potato and peas)

Maybe I've already mentioned this, but I have the best co-workers. They are friendly, entertaining and often bring food in to share with the office. I'm very enthusiastic about this last part, so sometimes they share the recipes as well.

One woman often makes this rice with potatoes and peas. I had expressed a lot of interest in getting the recipe and learning how to cook other types of Indian food. So one day she brought me a gift: a whole bag of Indian spices, basmati rice (the type in the woven bag) and this recipe. She told me she wanted me to be fully prepared. "Now you can make any type of Indian food you want!"

I've made this twice already but forgotten to take a photo both times. I'm just going to post it anyway and maybe the next time I make it I'll update.

Anyway, this recipe goes directly out to Zoe, since it's essentially a combination of her peas recipes. My co-worker also told me she sometimes just cooks the peas and spices without the rice or potatoes (soulmate?)
Recipe: tahari (rice with potato and peas)
2 cups basmati rice
2 tbsp oil
3/4 cup green peas (frozen or fresh)
2 potatoes, chopped into small cubes
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ginger powder (or freshly grated ginger)
1 tsp garlic powder (or freshly grated garlic)
2 tsp coriander powder
salt and chili powder to taste (I use 1/2 to 1 tsp chili)
  • Wash the rice and let it soak for 30 minutes. Mix the turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, salt and chili in a bowl with a small amount of water. It should have the consistency of a thin paste.
  • Heat the oil and cook the fenugreek seeds until golden brown. Add the spice-water mixture and cook until all the water is gone and the oil is separated from the spices.
  • Add the peas and a little bit of water. Cover and let simmer until the peas are "half-tender".
  • Add the potatoes and more water if necessary. Cover and let them cook until the potatoes are also half-tender.
  • There should not be much water left in the pan. Add 3 cups of water (but if you have extra water in the pan, add a bit less than 3 cups) and the rice.
  • Cook on high heat for a few minutes and then cover and let simmer until all the water is gone and the rice is tender and delicious.

This rice is wonderful by itself or alongside daal or some other soupy main dish.