The Brooklyn Kitchen Cooks Madhur Jaffrey

posted in: NYC Events, Recipes | 10

This has been one of the weeks where I wish I could just put time on hold and say, Wait — I know it’s Sunday, but I still haven’t posted my tahiri recipe from last Wednesday’s foodie book club at The Brooklyn Kitchen, nor the seafood skewers from the barbecue after that, nor that little side project from a trip upstate today, the dishes are still piled high in the sink — can we just digest a moment?? I’ve been terribly behind. Then, a miracle happened. Before I could blog a belated post about all the great dishes that were shared at Foodie Book Club in honor of Madhur Jaffrey’s Climing the Mango Trees: A Memoir of a Childhood in India, another blogger swooped in and did a fine job of it himself. With the help of Midtown Lunch‘s Zach, here’s The Brooklyn Kitchen’s round-up of the recipes and good times at the potluck book club meeting.

And to add to that, here is my belated recipe for a Jaffrey-inspired tahiri salad. Simply dubbed “Rice and Peas” at the back of the memoir, I spruced up the recipe with some chopped fresh mint and a squeeze of lemon. In Jaffrey’s introduction to the recipe, she admits to using frozen peas when making the dish more frequently than fresh ones, which are due to hit Greenmarkets in June. I appreciated her relaxed attitude towards the ideal variety, and I happen to have peas in my freezer pretty much all the time. I also added some chopped red onion for color and freshness, and a dash of turmeric to the spice mixture. Basmati rice, with its delicate flavor and firm, long grains makes a beautiful cold or room-temperature dish — perfect for potlucking.

But it was far from the only potluck pleaser Wednesday night. Who knew so many amateur cooks were proficient enough in Indian cooking to invent their own recipes? Some of the highlights:

poori with two chutneys

roasted potatoes (with tons of spices)

rice pudding with pistachio topping

Recipes for each of the above can be found in The Brooklyn Kitchen’s blog. In the memoir, Jaffrey weaves food and cooking into every chapter chronicling her early life. The result is a bewitchingly hunger-inducing tale that really does seem to need some real, physical food accompaniment to be enjoyed at its fullest. So, cheers to the rest of the group for making that happen. Can’t wait for the next read.

digging in

Woody gives the hungry eyes

Rice and Peas with Mint and Lemon (adapted from this recipe in Climbing the Mango Trees by Madhur Jaffrey)
(makes about 6 servings)

2 cups basmati rice, washed well and rinsed
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
1 medium onion, finely sliced
8 whole black peppercorns
2 whole black cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
3-4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 small bunch fresh mint, chopped
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

Heat half the oil on medium in a medium pan and add the peppercorns, cardamom pods, bay leaves and cumin seeds. Stir until just fragrant, then add the onions and reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add turmeric, rice and salt, and stir gently on medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add 2 2/3 cups water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to very low and let simmer for 25 minutes.

Lightly steam or blanch the peas until just tender in the meantime. Remove lid from the rice and fluff gently with a soft spatula or a fork, being careful not to break any grains. Add the peas and gently fold. Let cool completely, roughly 30 minutes. Then, fold in the onions, mint, lemon juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and add a little more salt to taste if desired. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

just-cooked, and cooling down

Cost Calculator
(for about 6 servings)

2 cups basmati rice (at $3.50/3 lb bag): $1.17
1 cup frozen peas: $0.75
1 onion (at $1/lb): $0.25
1/2 cup chopped red onion (at $1/lb): $0.15
1 bunch mint: $1.99
1 lemon: $0.33
4 tablespoons olive oil: $0.35
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, 8 black peppercorns, 3 cardamom pods, 3 bay leaves, salt: $0.40(?)

Total: $5.39

Health Factor

Three brownie points: Fantastically light. But not particularly nutritionally rich. This dish makes a great side or salad to add to a spread of others. With a heftier dose of mint or other greens, and maybe some roasted summer veggies to add, it could be an even more plentiful, flavorful, well-rounded dish.

10 Responses

  1. Laura Wehrman

    I met Madhur when she was a guest actress on a tv show that I worked on. I was flipping out and sadly, the only one who knew who she was. My co-workers thought I was crazy. She was very nice and I happened to be going to India later that year and we chatted about that. She told me that I would miss the mango season by a few months but related how amazing they were and how they were everywhere.

    I think that she could make cardboard delicious.

    She is a true genius and I love her cookbooks!

  2. Hilary

    I call Madhur Jaffrey “Mother Jaffrey” because she taught me the basics of Indian cuisine – like having my very own auntie in the kitchen.

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  5. Otto

    I never ever post but this time I will,Thanks alot for the great blog.

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