Spirulina Rolls

A page from Rajasthani Bati, another from Chinese Mooncakes, a dab of nutritional blue-green algae and voilĂ ! A superfood roll.

The spirulina powder by itself is reminiscent of the beach, but dressed in the roll is quite neutral. I adapt Moringa Bati here using the the mooncake technique of wrapping dough around the spirulina stuffing. Tastes even better than it looks. Enjoy!

SPECIAL TOOLS:

An oven or just a toaster oven; mooncake stamps.

INGREDIENTS

  • Dry ingredients:
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour (atta)
    • 1/2 tsp salt (to taste) + 1/2 tsp ground pepper
    • Leavener: 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano + leaves of 2 fresh Rosemary stalks
  • Wet ingredients: 4 tbsp yogurt + little (2-3 oz) water to make a dough
  • 2 tsp Spirulina powder
  • EVOO to brush the mooncake stamp

METHOD

Mix all the dry ingredients and divide into two parts and add the spirulina powder to one. Make two separate doughs using the wet ingredients. Rest the two doughs (one light and the other dark) for 30 minutes.

Divide each dough into 8 portions. Roll the light ball into a thin disc of about 3.5-4 inches in diameter, place the dark ball in the center; wrap the dough around it and place on silicone silpat, crease side down. Similarly make a roll with the dark dough as the wrapper. Make the 8 balls and press with the mooncake stamp.

Bake at 375 F for 15 minutes. Rotate the tray and bake for another 10 minutes. Serve hot.

NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:
  1. The EVOO of the stamp also brushes the rolls with oil. Use the best EVOO you have.
  2. If you don’t have a mooncake stamp, leave them as balls like in the bati (and brush with cold water).

Moong Mooncake

When the pandemic erupted it provided me a good opportunity to double down on my language learning. In one of my Mandarin lessons I learned of lu dou gao (green bean cake). One click led to another and soon I was ordering mooncake moulds. I started experimenting and here is my simple version to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Mooncake mould, silicone brush to grease the mould, masher.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup yellow split moong dal, soaked in plenty of water for few hrs (till it meets the bite-test)
  • 1 pinch of salt + 2 tbsps butter (or EVOO)
  • Sweetening agent: 1/4 cup sugar + 2-3 tbsps raspberry liqueur (optional)
  • Flavoring agent: (1 tsp cardamom powder+1 tsp vanilla essence) OR (1 tbsp rose water+ 1/2 tbsp Rooh Afza syrup)
  • little EVOO to grease the mould

Steam the soaked lentils in a steaming basket (or simply a metal sieve suspended over boiling water) for 15-20 minutes or in a microwave steamer. Mash with a masher, then add the sugar, butter and salt and continue to mash till smooth. In a non-stick pan saute the mixture for 5 minutes or until the paste pulls away cleanly from the sides of the pan. Take it off heat and mix in the liqueur. Divide into 12 portions (each approximately 50 gm). Generously grease the 50-gm-mould with EVOO and stamp out each cake (press to compact and then release).

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. These moulds are fantastic: spring-loaded for tight compaction and easy release! Generously brush the mould after each release, it makes your life lot simpler. Use your best EVOO on the moulds- another option is to use ghee (clarified butter).
  2. The recipe above is moderately sweet. Feel free to add more or less based on your taste– this is a very forgiving recipe.
    Rooh Afza syrup usually has rose and pandan flavor– the mooncakes with this are colored red in the picture. The syrup is available in Middle-Eastern or Indian stores.
  3. You could also steam the lentils in the microwave steaming basket (I line the perforated basket with parchment in the picture since the basket has larger holes through which the tiny moong can pass.).

Christmas Murukku

A giant murukku is fun to serve at a cozy gathering, as a communal snack. This unusual size takes a little dexterity to pull off but worth the effort. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Murukku (extrusion) mould; Silicone silpat or wire rack with the baking tray.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice flour + 1 cup besan
  • 1 tbsp ajwain (carom) + 1 tbsp white sesame seed + 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper + 1 tbsp EVOO + salt to taste

Make a hard dough using a little cold water (about 3 oz). Divide the dough into two equal halves and shape each into a cylinder to fit the mould. I used one half to make a gigantic swirl and the other half to make about a dozen small ones (see picture). Gently place the swirls using spatula on a wire rack or a silicone silpat.

Bake at 275 F for 30-45 mins till crisp (and oak colored). Cool and serve or store in airtight container.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Note the traditional murukku is deep fried.
  2. Use rice flour from Indian grocery stores, not SouthEast Asian stores. The latter is usually not preprocessed and is glutinous– this will not work for this recipe.
  3. If the dough is soft, it will not retain the tiny spikes (from the star-shaped hole in the disc of the mould) while extrusion, so make sure the dough is pliable but on the hard side.
  4. Lie the mould flat on the edge of the counter and use the lever handle (as you would a pasta roller). This technique is unorthodox but effective.

Kimchi Potato Galette

Hannukkah brings potatoes to the forefront with its iconic latke. But here is an apostatic version, without the frying oil but bursting with flavor from kimchi, scallions, sesame seeds… Enjoy!!

Special tools:

Parchment paper or silicone silpat; Food processor or grater.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup kimich + 1 tbsp gochujang (if kimichi is not already too hot), finely diced in processor
  • 1 lb potato (if organic, no need to peel), coarsely grated
  • 4 scallions + 1/2 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 1/3 cup besan + 2 tbsp oil + salt to taste + pepper
  • Filling: 1/2 cup goat cheese + 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Garnish: microgreens

Mix all the first four ingredients well. Line a baking tray with parchment or silpat: you need this to help you roll.  Make a mat of the mix on the parchment, about 1 cm in thickness. Loosely pat it down and level off the edges. Bake in the middle rack, at 400 F for 25 mins.  Check on it for the last 10 minutes, to rotate the sheet or pull it out of the oven if already done.

Dot with goat cheese and sesame seeds. To serve either just cut into squares, or, roll and slice. Sprinkle with microgreens and serve with sour cream or yogurt.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. The combination of kimchi and potatoes is inspired from The Week’s latke recipe by Evan Bloom. I am not sure if fermented kimchi is kosher, but nevertheless.
  2. Besan is chickpea flour and is available at Asian (Indian) groceries, or you can simply order over the internet.
  3. You can use eggs instead of besan.
  4. I simply use the processor bowl as the mixing bowl by first using the blade to process the kimchi; then the coarse grater to grate the potatoes. For the classical latke, one laboriously squeezes out the water from the potatoes– here I don’t and I simply use besan to absorb the excess liquid while providing an additional layer of flavor.

Wrapped Chicken in Lemon Pickle Broth

This weekend morning was greeted with an intriguing and uplifting posting by a dear friend on Indigenous Food entering the restaurant scene in India. The steaming of leaves-wrapped food inspired me to put this together with this week’s CSA greens- broccoli leaves. The result was delicious!! The lemon pickle here is ala Moroccan Preserved Lemons– the soft lemon skin is part of the game (not just a flavor inducer). The broccoli leaves have more personality than spinach and the brightness of the pickled lemon in the light broth will blow you away. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Pressure cooker, steaming basket

Ingredients

  • 1 cup light lemon pickle (see Notes below for a quick homemade recipe)
  • 4 chicken thighs skinless, on the bone, wiped dry with paper towel
  • 8 large broccoli leaves (or collard), made pliable by wrapping in moist paper towel and microwaving for 1 minute
  • about 1 tsp turmeric (for color)
  • I large parchment sheet for en papillote steaming

Method

Marinade the chicken and lemon pickle in a ziplock bag for 4-6 hours. Wrap each thigh with a piece of preserved lemon, a sprinkling of turmeric and salt, in a pair of leaves. Place the four wraps, seam side down, on parchment, sprinkle the leftover marinade and make a single pouch. Place the pouch in steaming basket and pressure cook on high for 15 minutes.

Serve warm with knife and fork (for chicken, preserved lemon, broccoli leaves) and spoon (for the broth).

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. Lemon Pickle: (Adapted from Archana Mundhe’s recipe). Pressure cook the following for 5 minutes under high pressure
    • (sour) 4 medium sized lemons, quartered and deseeded (as much as possible)
    • (sweet) 1/2 cup sugar + 1 tsp salt
    • (spices) 1/2 tsp chilli powder + 1 tsp cumin powder + 1 tsp coriander powder
  2. 1 cup is about half the above recipe. You can refrigerate the remainder in a mason jar.
  3. You could make the pickle a day in advance and marinade the chicken overnight. You can add more sugar, if you prefer. In fact, while the pickle is still warm, you can fold in additional sugar if that is to your taste.
  4. When blanched (microwaved) the leaves are a bright green, but with further steaming, it turns dull (not even with the acidity in the medium!!). Alas. But no compromise on taste- it tastes great!
    I did not remove the veins of the Broccoli leaves- it softens with the pressure cooking. But if using collard greens, you may want to remove the thick veins.

Pressure-steaming wrapped chicken:

Shishito Eggplant

Lightly blistered with a sprinkling of sea salt, Shishito has rapidly become a popular finger food. At this time of summer, the weekly CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) supply always has a generous bag of these Japanese peppers. Here I change the shishito playbook by using it with CSA Japanese eggplant, for an equally simple and delightful result. Enjoy!

Special tools:

Wok.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 Japanese long eggplants, chopped into chunks, soaked in plenty of water
  • 8-10 shishito peppers, destemmed (use kitchen scissors)
  • 2-3 garlic pods, chopped very fine
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • salt to taste

Method

Heat the oil with the finely chopped garlic. Drain and sdd the eggplants and salt. Mix well and then cover to let it cook in steam for 5-7 minutes, under medium heat. Mix in the shsishito and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.

Notes, hints, tips:
  1. I use the Japanese chopping technique of chopping the eggplant into irregularly shaped chunks, by chopping at an angle.
  2. The kitchen scissors is very convenient for the peppers, to slit and remove the internal seeds.

An even easier microwave version: Mix all the ingredients well and place in a microwave-proof bowl and covered with moist kitchen paper towel. Nuke for 6 mins+3 mins (check and adjust appropriately).