Archives for posts with tag: Cilantro


It’s no secret: I am possibly cooking my way through the entirety of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Jerusalem. I’ve blogged about a couple of the recipes here—Lentils with Broiled Eggplant and Preserved Lemons; and from his earlier book Plenty, Hummus & Ful, Caramelized Garlic Tart. This month’s Recipe Lab at the New York Times is even focusing on Jerusalem and soliciting fan favorites. I’ve been meaning to write in.

I was flipping through Jerusalem the other day before shopping at the food co-op. I had almost settled on the Helbeh—a honey-soaked, fenugreek-infused cake—when I remembered the outside temperature (97 F) and how much I have been avoiding the oven. I stumbled next on a recipe for Spiced Chickpeas and Fresh Vegetable Salad, a gorgeous mélange of crisp vegetables that are all currently in season, accompanied by chickpeas coated in spices then quickly fried in olive oil. Served with greek yogurt it seemed like the only other thing I’d like to eat in this heat other than cold watermelon. (Check out Bittman’s Watermelon All Day Long in this weekend’s Times’ Magazine.)


You need to get a head start on this the night before by soaking 1/2 cup chickpeas in cold water with a pinch of baking soda. The next day, as the chickpeas are cooking, you can assemble the rest of the salad. I improvised and bought what looked best at both the co-op and the farmer’s market—crunch Kirby cucumbers, local radishes, an assortment of cherry tomatoes from Hepworth Farms, purple scallions, cilantro, and parsley. It’s that time of year in the Northeast when you can’t really go wrong in the produce department if you stick to buying locally.


I’d love to serve the salad as brunch for friends, along with some good pita and homemade hummus. To the salad you could add a salty cheese like feta; or maybe even watermelon!

Spiced Chickpeas and Summer Vegetable Salad

1/2 c dried chickpeas
1 tsp baking soda
2 small cucumbers
2 medium or large tomatoes, or a small basket of cherry tomatoes
1/2 pound of radishes
1 red pepper, seeded, with white pith removed
1 small or 1/2 large red onion, peeled
1/2 cup scallions (green or purple), chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
6 tbsp olive oil
grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar (such as sherry, champagne, or combo white and balsmic)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cumin
Yogurt (optional)
salt and black pepper

Soak the dried chickpeas overnight in plenty of cold water with a pinch of baking soda. (In this hot weather I put them in the fridge overnight.) When you’re ready to cook them the next day, drain and transfer to a large saucepan. Cover with water (about twice the amount, in volume, as the chickpeas) and bring to a boil, cooking on high for up to an hour. Mine were thoroughly cooked in 30 minutes. Skim off the white foam as needed during cooking. Drain and set aside.

Chop the cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and red pepper into small (roughly 1/2-inch chunks, and place in a bowl. Add the chopped scallions, parsley, and cucumber. Mix together.

To make the dressing, combine 5 tbsp of the olive oil, the lemon zest and juice, vinegar, and sugar in a jar and shake well. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat.

Mix together the cardamom, allspice, cumin, and 1/4 tsp salt. Spread out over a plate, then toss the cooked chickpeas in the spice mixture. Heat the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil in a sauté pan and add the chickpeas, cooking for 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat and keep warm.

Divide the salad onto plates and serve with the warm chickpeas and a dollop of yogurt.


Did you hear that winter’s over…Last year’s miracles will soon be forgotten. New creatures whirl in from non-existence, galaxies scattered around their feet. Have you met them? -Rumi

One day this week—I think it was Thursday—I stepped outside of my apartment and noticed that each and every tree on my block had blossomed overnight. I was in Manhattan later that same day and sure enough, the trees there too were exploding with color, especially the pink magnolia blossoms, and white Callery pear flowers. There’s something about spring that takes the edge off of New York. Everything softens: the light, the colors, the clothing, the people. Suddenly there’s pink on the concrete, bare feet in sandals, and rainbow sprinkles dripping down ice cream cones.

Once again I was in the mood for the kind of spring dish that strikes the right balance for March: in like a lion, out like a lamb. Nothing too heavy, but nothing too summery crisp either. Something with color, but also a little bit of warmth. Warm salads tend to do the trick. I was flipping through my cookbooks for inspiration and this here is a riff on another Ottolenghi dish. A combination of chickpeas, sautéed carrots, caraway seeds, chard, mint, and cilantro, served with greek yogurt, olive oil, and pickled shallots.

And because tonight’s the season 5 Mad Men premiere, I leave you with one of my favorite Joan quotes: “But that’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary’s running you over with a lawnmower.”

Chickpea Sauté with greek yogurt and pickled shallots
Serves 4

1 shallot, cut in slivers
4 tbsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp water
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 bunch of Swiss chard (300 g), stems and leaves separated
1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
4 carrots, peeled and diced
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 c (250 g) cooked chickpeas
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs: mint and cilantro work well, or chervil, chives, flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and black pepper

6 oz (100 g) greek yogurt
1 tbsp olive oil

You want to do a quick pickle of your shallot: place the shallot slivers in a small jar and cover with the vinegar and water, and add the salt and sugar. (I also threw in some fresh thyme I had lying around.) Let sit at least 30 minutes.

Bring a big pot of salted water to boil and add the chard stems, cook for 2 minutes, then add the leaves, cooking everything for an additional 3 minutes. Drain the water and rinse the chard (stems and leaves) in very cold water. Squeeze dry and do a rough chop.

Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan. Add the carrots and caraway seeds and sauté for 5 minutes, then add the chard and chickpeas and continue cooking for an additional 6 minutes. Then add the garlic, herbs, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat, adjust the seasoning.

To serve, combine the greek yogurt and olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper. Pile the vegetables onto serving dishes and spoon the yogurt mixture on top, drizzling with additional olive oil and scattering some pickled shallots on top.

Here are some photos of spring, from my neck of the woods…including: Long Island beach; Occupy Wall Street @ Union Square; @ Jay St.-MetroTech subway station; a friend’s little one, born on my birthday; more beauty on my block.

This morning I was listening to a podcast I like, Lynn Rossetto Kasper’s Splendid Table. She off-handedly mentioned something about a curry using coconut milk, chiles, and chicken and with that I had tonight’s dinner puzzle solved.

I love a good, spicy curry, regardless of the weather. Today New York City was a ripe summer day, the humidity somewhere near 90% — perfect curry-eating weather as far as I’m concerned. When Yuji and I were in the Maldives in January we ate curry every day in 90-degree heat. Somehow it works.

You know how oenophiles will tell you to pair wine with whatever food you’re eating? A spicy wine with spicy food, a rich one with a rich meal, etc. Well perhaps it’s like that with curries and weather: a hot curry on a hot evening?

I was en route to the co-op this afternoon to stock up on groceries for the week. You take your chances when visiting the co-op on a Sunday. It can be hairy in there navigating tight aisles with Slopers reaching over you to grab their favorite goat-milk yogurt or stretching to fill a plastic baggie with pecan splendor granola. Today for some reason the co-op was pleasantly calm and air-conditioned. I dawdled in the bulk spice section, marveling at the bargains. I needed a lot of spices because I planned to make my own curry powder, or garam masala. For that you need coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamom seeds, whole black peppercorns, fennel seeds, mustard seeds, whole cloves, dried red chiles, and turmeric.

Once home I began assembling, toasting, chopping, and stirring. While you can buy curry powder pre-made, making your own garam masala will improve the quality of your curry. You can make it as spicy as you want, using more or less chiles, and store the leftovers sealed in a glass jar for up to a couple of months. I based my curry on Tyler Florence’s recipe for Spicy Chicken Coconut Curry. It would be easy to make this dish vegetarian by substituting tofu for the chicken, or just adding more veggies.

Spicy Coconut Curry

For the curry powder:
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp cardamom seeds
1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cloves
2 dried red chiles (I leave the seeds in, remove to reduce heat)
2 tbsp turmeric

Toast all the ingredients except the turmeric in a small cast-iron skillet for 2-3 minutes on low-medium heat, just until they begin to toast and smell fragrant. Let cool then transfer to a coffee grinder and blend to a powder. Combine with the turmeric, set aside 2 tbsp for the curry and store the rest in an air-tight container. Yields about 1/2 cup.

For the chicken curry:
3 tbsp unsalted butter (Use ghee if you can get it)
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tbsp curry powder (from above)
1 cinnamon stick
1 to 3 dried red chiles (depending on the heat you like)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cans unsweetened light coconut milk (13-15 oz. cans)
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 large eggplant or 2 smaller Japanese eggplants, chopped
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and 3 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch strips
1/4 c cilantro leaves plus more for garnish
1 lemon, juiced
Mint leaves, for garnish

Melt the butter in a stock pot over medium heat, when warm and melted add the onions and ginger and cook slowly until the onions are very soft, about 10 minutes. After about 5 minutes stir in the garlic. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, cinnamon stick, and chiles and stir; season with salt and pepper. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken stock and bring to a simmer; cook until the sauce has thickened, about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes, eggplant, chicken, cilantro, half the lemon juice, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Garnish with more cilantro and mint leaves.

Oh and the other thing about curries, they taste even better the next day. Good thing I have lots of leftovers.

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