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Nihari Recipe (Indian Lamb Stew) Recipe

There is a meat stew dish in every culture. The version from Indian cuisine, called nihari, is one of my favorites. I made some over the weekend with lamb shanks and lamb sirloin (my favorite), but other red meats such as mutton, goat or beef can work well. The key is to use very tender meat parts. The traditional garnish is a mix of fried onions, fresh ginger, cilantro, mint, cilantro, green chiles, sliced lemons and white radish sticks. I served it with naans which is also the standard way to enjoy the dish.

Nihari, in Urdu, is derived from the word "nihar", which translates to "morning sunrinse". Originally, the stew was usually eaten in the morning after prayers. The spicy stew is very flavorful thanks to the use of bone marrow. Interestingly, this is what gives Vietnamese phở broth its body.

My husband's aunt, Phoopi, taught me how to make it, but I first heard of the dish when I met Abbi, Lulu's late grandfather. He was a savvy bridge player and we would play from time to time. He told me that back in the days in Hyderabad, India, he would invite his pals over for an all night bridge game. There would always be a large pot of nihari waiting for them the following morning at the end of their game. The nihari would simmer overnight, tenderizing the meat and thickening the gravy. Lulu's late grandmother, Baji, would finish the dish with bhaghar, which is the final red oil layer of ghee (clarified butter) commonly used in a lot of Indian dishes. Delicious!


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Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe Recipe

Blue Cheese Pasta Sauce Recipe

05.19.11 by Jackie

Blue cheese sauce isn't what you would call low-calorie, but it's certainly very tasty. Instead of the usual Gruyère cheese, I used roquefort cheese in a Mornay sauce, which is basically a béchamel (creamy sauce made of flour, butter and milk) with cheese. It's not the authentic French sauce but my husband Lulu and his little sister Sunny loved the strong flavor of blue cheese.

I poured the blue cheese sauce over riccioli pasta and topped with a brunoise, which is a blend of similarly-sized and shaped diced vegetables (I used orange bell peppers, crimini mushrooms, zucchini, jiacama and carrots). The addition of the jicama adds body and crunch to the vegetarian pasta meal. I also finished the dish with crumbled blue cheese as a reminder of the flavor from the creamy pasta sauce.


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Pulao Recipe (Indian Vegetable Rice) Recipe

Pulao is an Indian rice dish filled with sabji ("vegetables" in Urdu). In this version, I flavored the rice with only three vegetables: lima beans, carrots and green peas. Lima beans are packed with protein and are very filling. The combination of lima beans and rice makes a perfectly balanced meal for a vegetarian diet.

I served this one-dish meal family style with raita or chutney on the side. This weekend, we prepared a large pot and everything was gone at the end of lunch time! My favorite is the fried "burnt" rice at the bottom of the pot, called kurchan.


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Tofu Eggroll Recipe Recipe

Tofu Eggroll Recipe

02.28.11 by Jackie

I finally made my own soy milk. I had a lot of fun squeezing the boiled, blended soy beans and collecting the liquid. I got the girls to help me out. We used the solid remnants, called okara or soy bean paste, to fill eggrolls. I'm telling you, nothing goes to waste in our home! If you don't have time to make okara (because it's quite time-consuming), you can buy it ready made in Korean markets.

To make the eggrolls, I blended the soy bean paste mixture with matchstick-cut fried potatoes, wood ear mushrooms, bean thread noodles and fried tofu. It’s packed with protein and makes a great substitute for meat. I served the eggrolls with the usual accompaniments: vermicelli rice noodles, Vietnamese herbs and shredded cucumber. You’ll love it!


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Tomato Risotto Recipe Recipe

Tomato Risotto Recipe

12.21.10 by Jackie

This version of tomato risotto has a decidedly Indian sensibility. I flavored the rice with tomato chutney as I recently did with an Indian-inspired asparagus pie. The flavors from the chutney are so bold that no other spices and very little salt are needed. I just added chopped sun-dried tomatoes as garnish.

Making risotto takes a little bit of practice to begin with, but once you've worked on your fundamentals, you can start to use the basic recipe and create dozens of different variations. I've stuffed artichokes with risotto, paired pistachio pesto with celery risotto, stuffed it in zucchini flowers, made a roasted beet and ricotta cheese version, and also a rather unconventional risotto with bamboo; the list of adaptations is truly endless.


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