Spanish and Indian-Inspired Hannukah

I really like finding interesting recipes that may not be holiday-specific, but fit in with the types of foods that are typically served for the holiday. And I like to mix cultures in a meal. I think it makes the meal more interesting. So, for this meal I decided to serve a Spanish potato fritter which is also made in Italy, and an Argentinian cut of meat with Indian spices. I just love global cooking!

Try it some time, instead of having a themed dinner party where the entire menu is from one country or region, try making the menu diverse by making a Swedish appetizer, Middle Eastern main dish, Thai side dish and a Brazilian dessert.

I decided to make another variation of the Ashkenazi potato latkes and make something a little more Sephardi, so I made potato and sage fritters. These are quite light and are perfect for a hot appetizer. They are very easy to make and can be made a few hours ahead of time and reheated in the oven. The recipe only called for one tablespoon of sage. I like a nice sage flavour, so I added two tablespoons. I probably could have added more. The lemon is rather pronounced, so if you don’t like a strong lemon flavour, you could put in only one teaspoon of lemon zest.

Potato and Sage Fritters

Yield: 40 fritters

For the sponge:

1/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 envelope (1-1/8 teaspoon) active dry yeast

For the fritters:

450g (1lb) pound russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

Cold water

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sea salt

2 large eggs

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage leaves

2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 to 6 cups peanut oil, for deep-frying

To make the sponge:

In a small bowl, combine the water, flour and yeast. Mix well and set aside in a warm place until yeasty-smelling and covered in very small bubbles, about 45 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, cover the potatoes with cold water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat, add 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the potatoes are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and mash the potatoes with a fork. Allow them to cool.

Potato and Sage Fritters

In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and olive oil until thoroughly combined. In a bowl, combine cooled potatoes with the sponge, flour, sage, lemon zest, pepper, and 2 teaspoons of salt. Mix to evenly distribute the ingredients. Add the egg mixture to potato mixture, and stir until thoroughly combined. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. You should have a thick, sticky batter. Add a bit more flour, if needed. Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer or heavy pot to 190C (375F).

Potato and Sage Fritter Batter Risen

Scoop 1 tablespoon of the risen batter at a time, and use another spoon to scrape it into the hot oil. Don't crowd the fryer. Fry fritters until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes, turning them over occasionally. Drain the fritters on paper towels to absorb any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt and serve warm.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/12/15/spanish-and-indian-inspired-hannukah/

We got a great deal on Argentinian asado, or short ribs as they are called in the States. The best part was that they had relatively little fat on them. Slow cooking is a must for this cut of meat, so when I saw this recipe and it didn’t call for slow roasting, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t have time to marinate them for three days, so maybe that makes the difference. I marinated the ribs for a full 24 hours and then slow roasted (roasting pan, 2 cups of water, covered with foil) them in the oven at 150C (300F) for 1-1/2 hours and then grilled them. They were outstanding and I can only imagine what they would be like if I had marinated them for three days.

We actually had a problem with this recipe because the way the asado is cut here in Israel, the pieces of bone (rib) embedded in the meat are almost three inches long, which means that the thickness of the meat is considerably greater than in the States. This means that you can’t expect to cook it through with just a few minutes on the grill, however hot. In a typical South American grill in Israel (we have quite a few of them just up the road in Kfar Saba, where there is a big Argentinian immigrant community), the asado is often slow grilled for more than an hour on a vertical stand placed a few inches from the fire, which brings out the full flavour in this rather fatty cut of meat.

This marinade is also great on chicken. You can put it directly on the chicken and cook it straight away if you want.

Indian-Style Grilled Short Ribs

Yield: 4

Recipe from Chef Floyd Cardoz

6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1/4 cup dry red wine

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or honey or date honey

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon rosemary leaves

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

8 beef short ribs on the bone (about 450g (1lb) each), trimmed of excess fat

In a blender, combine the garlic, ginger and red wine and puree. Scrape the wine puree into a medium bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients except the short ribs. Pour the marinade into 2 resealable plastic bags and add the short ribs. Tightly seal the plastic bags and refrigerate the short ribs in the marinade for 3 days.

Indian-style short ribs

Light a grill. Remove the short ribs from the marinade, scraping off any excess. Grill the short ribs over moderately high heat until they are lightly charred and medium-rare, about 5 minutes per side.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/12/15/spanish-and-indian-inspired-hannukah/

Exotic Fruits

Israelis love travelling to India. It is a rite of passage for most young adults after they finish their army service, although Thailand, Vietnam and Nepal are also high on the list.

I would love to travel to India. My dream is to go on the Palace on Wheels. This is where my royal highnessness :-) comes shining through. For me, the Palace on Wheels is the epitome of romance. Rajasthan is supposed to be an amazing place, full of bright colors; rich red and orange raw silk fabric. My wedding dress fabric was a gold duponi silk from India. I adore Indian textiles and sari fabric.

The surprising thing is that Indian food is not more popular in Israel. There are only a few Indian restaurants here. There is a chain called Tandoori: the food is good, but they are rather expensive.

I really enjoy getting Indian takeout in London. I love all the choices of curries, side dishes, samosas, stuffed naan, etc. I also like making it myself. All of the wonderful smells from the cardamon, cinnamon, whole peppercorns and other spices. It fills the whole house with a wonderful spicy, oriental aroma.

For Tu’Bishvat I decided to make an Indian meal, well at least most of it was Indian dishes.

All of the Indian dishes I made for this meal came from Madhur Jafrey’s A Taste of India. I have two of her cookbooks and both of them have delicious recipes, but this cookbook is also a work of art. The photography and the stories she tells take you to India. You can taste the food and smell the smells.

The main dish I made was Chicken with Apricots and Potato Straws (Sali Jardaloo Murgi). This dish is from the state of Gujarat, which is on the Northwest coast of India and borders Rajastan. It has some amazing Temples, one of which is the Temple of Krishna. The dish is spicy and fruity, seasoned with hot chilies, cinnamon, cumin, cardamon, cloves, fresh ginger and garlic.

Chicken with Apricots ad Potato Straws

Serving Size: 4 to 6

(Sali Jardaloo Murgi) Recipe from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

1.4 kg (3lbs) whole chicken or chicken pieces, skinned

4 whole dried hot red chillies

5cm (2-inch) cinnamon stick, broken up

1-1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds

7 cardamom pods

10 whole cloves

2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger

1 teaspoon finely crushed garlic

100g (4oz) dried sour apricots

1/2 cup vegetable oil

225g (1/2lb) medium-sized onions, cut into very fine half rings

2 tablespoons tomato paste mixed with 1 cup of water

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

1-1/2 tablespoons sugar

For the potato straws:

1 tablespoon salt

200g (7oz) large potato, peeled

Vegetable oil for deep frying

To make the chicken:

If using a whole chicken, cut it into small pieces. For example, divide the chicken legs into 2 and the whole breasts into 4 pieces and place in a big bowl.

Place the red chillies, cinnamon, cumin, cardamon and cloves in a coffee grinder and grind as finely as possible.

Rub in 1 teaspoon of the ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic and half of the spice mixture on to the chicken, making sure the chicken pieces are coated with the mixture. Set aside for 1 hour.

Place the apricots in a small pan with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer, uncovered, until the apricots are tender, but not mushy. Set them aside to cool.

Heat 1/2 cup of oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and fry until they are a reddish-brown in colour. Turn the heat down and add the remaining ginger, garlic and spice mixture. Stir well and add the chicken, browning lightly for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste liquid and the salt. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low, and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the vinegar and sugar, cover again and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove as much fat from the pan as you can.

Place the apricot gently in between the chicken pieces and let them soak in the sauce for at least 30 minutes.

To make the potato straws:

Fill a large bowl with about 8 cups of water. Mix in the salt.

Grate the potato on the coarsest grating blade and place in the bowl of water, stirring them around in the water. Remove one handful of the the potato straws at a time, squeezing out as much liquid as you can. Spread them out on a tea towel and pat as much moisture off as possible.

Put vegetable oil into a wok or frying pan until it is 5cm (2-inches) in depth in the pan. Heat slowly over a medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, this may take 10 minutes, put a small handful of potato straws in the oil. Stir them until they are crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

When ready to serve, heat the chicken on medium-low heat and garnish top with the potato straws.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/13/exotic-fruits/

The next dish was Aubergines with Apple (Tsoont Vaangan). This dish is from Kashmir. I know this combination sounds strange, but it is delicious.

Aubergines with Apples

Serving Size: 4 as a side dish

(Tsoont Vaangan) Recipe from A Taste of India by Madhur Jaffrey

550g (1-1/4lb) aubergines, cut crosswise into thick slices

1-2 large, hard, tart apples such as a Granny Smith, cut into sixths, unpeeled

1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds

1/2- 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp tumeric

1/4 tsp red chilli powder (cayenne pepper)

6tbsp mustard or vegetable oil

1/8 tsp ground asafetida

Put the fennel, salt, tumeric and chili powder in a small bowl and add 1 tablespoon of water and mix into a paste.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the asafetida and then the apple wedges. Saute, until the apples are golden brown. Remove the apples and set aside.

Place one layer of aubergine in the pan. You may need to add a little more oil. Brown them on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside. Repeat this until all of the aubergine has been cooked.

Put the apples and aubergine back in the pan, add the paste and stir gently. Cook on low heat for about 10 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and serve.

http://www.baronesstapuzina.com/2007/03/13/exotic-fruits/

For dessert, I moved to a country whose dishes I have never made before, Georgia.

This is a Walnut Raisin Torte (Nigvzis Torti). It is not too sweet and is a perfect dessert for Tu’Bishvat. Full of nuts and raisins. It is also not very hard to make. I made a half a recipe, which serves about six people.

 

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