Great Vegetarian Dishes
(Part Eight) Drinks, Suggested Menus and Glossary
better way to express one's hospitality than offering a drink to guests? This
selection of non-alcoholic beverages has something for everyone.
KCB 13.1: Homemade Lime
limes (Citrus aurantifolia) impart a wonderful tart flavour to this
thirst-quenching drink. The essential oil contained in the lime is released by
the process of infusion when the lime skins are steeped in hot water. This
recipe yields concentrated syrup, ideal for party punch. Lemons may be
substituted for limes.
AND COOKING TIME: 45 minutes
YIELD: concentrated syrup for about 30 - 40 cups of lime squash
cups (11/4 litres) freshly squeezed lime juice, strained
(about 60 large limes)
1/2 cup (125 ml) water
11/2 cups (375 ml) sugar
2 cups (500 ml) light corn syrup
Peel the outside rind from 8 of the limes in thin strips, avoiding the white
part of the fruit. Place the rinds in a bowl.
2. Boil the water and pour it onto the reserved fruit peel. Cover and let it stand for 30 minutes. Pour the lime water through a sieve placed over a bowl and squeeze. Collect the juice and discard the rest.
3. Heat the lime-rind water in a saucepan over moderate heat. Add the sugar and light corn syrup until it completely dissolves. Remove from the heat.
4. Add the lime juice to the contents of the saucepan and allow the mixture to cool. Pour the syrup into a bottle or jar and refrigerate.
To serve, add approximately 1/4 cup (60 ml) of concentrate to a tall glass, add cracked ice, and fill with cold water, mineral water, or soda.
KCB 13.2: Watermelon
refreshing preparation can be served as either a drink or a dessert. For the
best results Watermelon Sherbet should be made with the juice from ripe red
watermelon flesh at the peak of melon season.
TIME: 15 minutes
CHILLING TIME: a few hours
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
cups (11/2 litres) watermelon juice
1 cup (250 ml) sugar
6 teaspoons (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 cups (500 ml) reduced cream (light cream)
6 sprigs fresh mint
Combine the watermelon juice, sugar, and lemon juice and place in a steel bowl
in the freezer. Freeze until slushy.
2. Remove from the freezer and scoop into individual glass dessert bowls. Pour cream over each serving and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Serve immediately.
Note: alternatively, you can freeze the watermelon juice overnight and blend it in a food processor next day, reducing it to a sorbet consistency.
KCB 13.3: Middle Eastern
special ingredient in this refreshing drink is orange-flower water (I sometimes
called orange-blossom water). This distilled essence of orange blossom can be
purchased in most well-stocked specialty grocery stores. Most orange-flower
water comes from the south of France and from the Levant.
TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
cup (185 ml) lemon juice
3/4 cup (185 ml) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) orange-blossom water, or as required
2 tablespoons (40 ml) finely chopped fresh mint
8 cups (2 litres) water, soda, or mineral water
Blend the lemon juice, sugar, orange-blossom water, and mint. Combine with the
water or soda and serve in individual chilled glasses
KCB 13.4: Lemon Barley
water is famous as a tonic and great thirst quencher. It is very nutritious and
soothing to the stomach and kidneys.
AND COOKING TIME: 15 minutes
SOAKING TIME: 1 hour
YIELD: about 12 glasses
cup (60 ml) pearl barley
63/4 cups (1.7 litres) water
3/4 cup (185 ml) sugar
Wash the barley in several changes of water. Drain it and place it into a
saucepan with 41/2 cups (11/8
litres) of water. With a citrus peeler peel very thin rinds off the lemons and
add the rinds to the barley water. Bring to a boil; then simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Juice the lemons and place the juice into a large bowl. Add the sugar and the barley mixture stir well and add the remaining 21/4 cups (560 ml) of water; then let the mixture soak for 1 hour.
3. Strain the mixture into a large jug or suitable container and chill. To serve pour into chilled glasses half filled with ice; garnish with a slice of lemon.
KCB 13.5: Orange and
protein-rich non-dairy drink combines the smoothness and delicate flavour of
almond milk with the refreshment of orange juice. Serve anytime for a delicious
TIME: a few minutes
SOAKING TIME: overnight
YIELD: enough for 4 - 6 persons
cup (250 ml) whole blanched almonds
1 cup (250 ml) fresh orange juice
5 cups (11/4 litres) water
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
Soak the almonds in the water overnight in a sealed container.
2. Pour the water and almonds through a strainer and collect the liquid in a bowl. Place the almonds and a little soaking water into a blender or food processor cover and blend until smooth (about to 4 minutes).
3. Line a sieve with three thicknesses of cheesecloth. Pour the nut milk through the sieve; then extract as much liquid as possible by squeezing. (The residual pulp can be kept for cutlets or salad dressing). Combine this with the water the nuts were soaked in.
4. Combine the almond milk orange juice and sugar in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate and serve ice cold.
KCB 13.6: Anise Flavoured
Fruit-and-Nut Shake (Thandhai)
drink is well known throughout India, although the recipe varies slightly from
place to place. Thandhai is a summer drink only, generally taken either
in the morning or late afternoon. It cools the body and head.
TIME: 20 minutes
YIELD: one litre/quart
whole green cardamom pods
15 whole black peppercorns
51/2 teaspoons (27 ml) fennel seeds
1/2 cup (125 ml) white poppy seeds
6 teaspoons (30 ml) broken raw cashew nuts
16 blanched raw almonds
21/2 cups (625 ml) chilled water
1 teaspoon (5 ml) rosewater
5 tablespoons (100 ml) raw sugar
11/2 cups (375 ml) fresh cold milk
cardamom pods, peppercorns, and fennel seeds to a fine powder in a coffee mill.
Set aside in a large bowl.
2. Grind the poppy seeds in a coffee mill and add to the bowl.
3. Grind the cashew nuts, almonds, and raisins to a fine paste in a food processor or blender with the aid, if required, of a little water.
4. Add the bowl of ground spices and 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the water and blend for 3 - 4 minutes until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Add the remaining water and process for another 2 minutes.
5. Place a sieve in a bowl and line the sieve with two or three layers of cheesecloth. Pour the contents of the blender through the sieve, gathering the corners of the cheesecloth and squeezing all the liquid into the bowl (save the contents of the bag for cutlets or sauces). To this liquid, add the sugar, rosewater, and milk. Mix well and chill. Serve in chilled glasses.
KCB 13.7: Yogurt Smoothie
yogurt-based smoothie drinks, called lassi, are world famous.
Rejuvenating one's strength and cooling the head and stomach, they're ideal for
counteracting the heat of a midsummer's day.
this version of lassi, popular throughout India, the smoothness of sweetened
yogurt is offset with a splash of rosewater.
TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: enough for 4 persons
cups (625 ml) homemade or plain yogurt
1/2 cup (125 ml) caster sugar or equivalent sweetener
2 teaspoons (10 ml) rosewater
3/4 cup (185 ml) iced water
1 cup (250 ml) ice cubes, cracked
a few fragrant rose petals for garnish (optional)
yogurt, sugar, rosewater, and iced water in a blender or food processor for 2
minutes. Add the ice and process for another 2 minutes. Pour into chilled
glasses and garnish with rose petals.
the subtle flavour of dry-roasted cumin seeds and a hint of lemon or lime juice,
this is, along-side sweet lassi, India's favourite summertime drink.
TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: enough for 4 persons
cups (750 ml) plain yogurt
2 tablespoons (40 ml) lemon or lime juice
1/3 cup (85 ml) iced water
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
8 ice cubes
2 teaspoons (10 ml) coarsely ground dry-roasted cumin seeds
Blend the yogurt, citrus juice, iced water, and salt in a food processor or
blender for 2 minutes. Add the ice cubes and most of the cumin and blend for
2. Pour the lassi into frosted glasses and garnish with the reserved cumin. Serve immediately.
Lassis are a popular Western innovation. Here are two great varieties.
fresh, ripe, sweet strawberries for this recipe. Any ripe berries can be
substituted for the straw berries.
AND CHILLING TIME: 1/2 hour
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
cups (500 ml) fresh strawberries
2/3 cup (165 ml) sugar or honey
3 cups (750 ml) plain yogurt
11/2 cups (375 ml) iced water
1 cup (250 ml) crushed ice
Blend the strawberries and sweetener in a food processor or blender. Transfer
the puree to a bowl. Freeze for 20 minutes.
2. Blend the yogurt, water, and ice in a blender and add the chilled strawberry pulp. Blend until frothy and serve in chilled glasses.
is sometimes called "the king of fruits". There are dozens of
varieties of mango. Select ripe, sweet fruits for this thick and rich mango
AND CHILLING TIME: 30 minutes
YIELD: enough for 6 to 8 persons
cups (500 ml) diced fresh mango pulp (about 4 - 5 small mangoes)
1/2 cup (125 ml) orange juice
1/4 cup (60 ml) honey or vanilla sugar
3 cups (750 ml) plain yogurt
1 cup (250 ml) iced water
1 cup (250 ml) crushed ice
Blend the mango, orange juice, and sweetener in a food processor or blender.
Transfer to a bowl and place in the freezer for 20 minutes.
2. Blend the yogurt, water, and ice in the blender and add the chilled mango pulp. Blend until frothy and serve in chilled glasses.
KCB 13.8: Peach Sorbet
ripe peaches in season are pureed and chilled in this frozen peach dessert from
Sicily. Serve Peach Sorbet as a dessert or between the entree and first
course of a full meal.
TIME: 20 minutes
FREEZING TIME: 4 hours
YIELD: enough for 4 persons
cup (125 ml) sugar
2/3 cup (165 ml) water
4 large white-fleshed peaches
juice of 1 lemon
water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar dissolves;
then boil for 3 - 4 minutes. Set aside until quite cold.
2. Immerse the peaches in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and remove the skins and stones.
3. Blend the peaches until smooth in a blender or food processor. Add the lemon juice and blend for 1 more minute. Empty the fruit into a bowl, add the cold syrup, pour into a shallow freezer tray, and freeze until half firm. Remove, transfer to a bowl, and whisk vigorously. Return to the tray and freeze again until firm.
4. About 40 minutes before serving, transfer the sorbet to the refrigerator, allowing it to soften. Scoop the sorbet into tall glasses and serve immediately.
KCB 13.9: Pineapple and
tropical refresher comes from Jamaica and calls for fresh pineapple juice. You
can substitute fresh pineapples with bottled or canned unsweetened pineapple
TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
cups (500 ml) canned coconut milk
4 cups (1 litre) unsweetened pineapple juice, chilled
2 tablespoons (40 ml) caster sugar
1 cup (250 ml) crushed ice
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) coconut essence
coconut milk, pineapple juice, sugar, and ice in a blender at high speed until
the mixture is very smooth.
2. Strain the mixture through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Add the coconut essence to the bowl of juice.
3. Pour the juice into a jug and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Serve in chilled glasses with or without ice.
KCB 13.10: Hot Saffron
Milk with Pistacios
TIME: 15 minutes
YIELD: enough for 4 persons
4 cups (1 litre) milk
1 tablespoon (20 ml) powdered raw pistacio nuts
3 tablespoons (60 ml) sugar or honey
saffron threads to a powder with a mortar and pestle; alternatively, powder them
in a coffee grinder.
2. Boil the milk, saffron, and most of the pistacio powder in a heavy based saucepan over moderate heat. Stirring constantly, bring the milk to a full boil, allow it to froth twice then remove from the heat. Dissolve the sweetener in the milk. Serve immediately, garnishing each serving with the remaining pistacio nut powder.
KCB 13.11: Lemon Mint and
is the liquid by-product in the basic cheese-making process. When this cheese,
or "curd" (as it is commonly called), is prepared, almost 90% of the
total volume of milk is transformed into whey. Whey can be substituted for water
when preparing vegetables, soups, bread, and this refreshing minted lemon drink.
TIME: 15 minutes
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
small bunch of mint
1/2 cup (125 ml) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) boiling water
3 cups (750 ml) chilled water or soda water
1 cup (250 ml) whey, strained through a fine sieve to remove any sediment
1/2 cup (125 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 cup (250 ml) crushed ice
Crush 2 dozen mint leaves with one teaspoon (5 ml) sugar in a mortar and pestle
or food processor. Pour on the boiling water. Allow the mixture to steep for 10
minutes. Strain through a fine cloth and collect the liquid.
2. Blend the mint liquid, the rest of the sugar, the water or soda water, the whey, and the lemon juice in a food processor or blender for 1 minute. Serve over ice in chilled glasses and garnish with mint leaves.
KCB 13.12: Spiced Hot
Apple Juice Drink
freshly squeezed or bottled apple juice for this winter's-night beverage.
TIME: 25 minutes
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
cups (1.5 litres) apple juice
one 10 cm (4-inch) cinnamon stick
6 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) whole cardamom seeds
honey as sweetener, if required
Boil the apple juice and the spices in a large heavy-based pan over high heat.
Cover the saucepan and reduce the heat to low, simmering for 20 minutes.
2. Just before serving, strain the spices from the juice. Serve hot with slices of lemon and honey optional.
KCB 13.13: Orange Ginger
juice combined with fresh ginger, cardamom, and fresh mint make this a
AND COOLING TIME: 1 hour
YIELD: about 8 cups (2 litres)
cup (60 ml) fresh mint leaves
1 teaspoon (5 ml) minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon (0.5 ml) finely ground cardamom seeds
2 cups (500 ml) hot water
1/3 cup (85 ml) honey
3 cups crushed ice
1/3 cup (85 ml) fresh lemon juice
3 cups (750 ml) fresh orange juice
Grind the mint leaves, ginger, and cardamom to a paste with a mortar and pestle
or mince them in a food processor. Steep the pulp in the hot water for 1/2
hour. Strain the mixture through a cloth or sieve, collect the juice, and
discard the pulp.
2. Blend the mint and ginger juice and the honey in a large bowl. Add the ice, lemon juice, and orange juice. Serve in chilled glasses garnished with an orange ring and mint leaves.
KCB 13.14: Fruity
refreshing, digestive beverage with a hint of spice.
AND COOKING TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: enough for 2 persons
sachets chamomile tea
2 cups (500 ml) boiling hot water
juice from one small orange
juice from one small lemon
1 tablespoon (20 ml) mild-tasting honey
2 orange slices, as garnish
Infuse the chamomile tea sachets along with the cloves in the boiling hot water
for 10 minutes.
2. Discard the sachets, add the orange and lemon juice to the tea and heat the mixture in a small pan until boiling. Remove from the heat, stir in the honey and discard the cloves.
Serve hot with the orange slice garnish.
KCB 13.15: Orange
aids digestion by increasing the secretion of digestive enzymes, and it soothes
the stomach. This cultured, low-fat dairy product is combined with freshly
squeezed orange juice in this refreshing drink.
TIME: 5 minutes
YIELD: enough for 4 persons
cups (500 ml) low-fat, cultured buttermilk
2 cups (500 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons (40 ml) sugar or equivalent sweetener
2 cups (500 ml) crushed ice
Blend all the ingredients in a food processor or blender for 2 minutes. Pour
into chilled glasses and serve immediately.
KCB 13.16: Raspberry and
fresh rhubarb, and chilled water (optional) ginger combine wonderfully in this
delicious party punch.
AND COOKING TIME: 30 minutes
YIELD: about 6 cups (1/2 litres)
g (171/2 ounces) fresh rhubarb stalks, chopped
3 cups (750 ml) water
3/4 cup (185 ml) caster sugar
200 g (7 ounces) raspberries (reserve a few for garnish)
1 tablespoon (20 ml) fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) minced fresh ginger
1 cup (250 ml) dry ginger ale
11/2 cups (375 ml) lemonade
chilled water (optional)
rhubarb, water, and sugar in a medium-sized saucepan. Cover with a lid and
simmer over low heat until the rhubarb softens. Transfer into a bowl and
2. Puree the rhubarb in a blender or food processor. Strain it, and discard the pulp. Puree the raspberries with the lemon juice and combine with the rhubarb juice.
3. Just before serving, stir in the fresh ginger, ginger ale, lemonade, and ice cubes. For a thinner punch, add chilled water.
KCB 13.17: Banana Milk
ice-cold banana smoothie with a hint of nutmeg is an opulent and rich summertime
drink. Bananas have a natural sweetness, as does milk, so there is no need to
add much extra sweetener. Bananas also add significant body to this substantial
TIME: 10 minutes
YIELD: enough for 4 persons
medium-sized ripe bananas peeled and sliced
2 cups (500 ml) cold milk
1 - 2 tablespoons (20 - 40 ml) mild honey
1 cup (250 ml) ice
pinch of nutmeg
Blend the bananas, milk, and honey in a blender or food processor for 2 minutes.
Add the ice and process for another minute. Pour into chilled glasses, garnish
with nutmeg, and serve.
KCB 13.18: Saffron and
is an unusual and refreshing drink. Incorporating the subtle flavour of saffron
("the king of spices"), the aromatic freshness of cardamom, and the
tang of lemon juice, this is a real summer thirst-quencher.
TIME: 5 minutes
YIELD: enough for 6 persons
strands pure saffron thread
4 tablespoons (80 ml) fresh lemon juice
6 tablespoons (120 ml) sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) powdered cardamom seeds
41/2 cups (11/8 litres) iced water
1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) salt
saffron threads with a mortar and pestle until pulverized. Alternatively, mix
with a few drops of warm water and pulverize with a spoon.
2. Transfer the saffron powder or saffron water to a large bowl and add the lemon juice, sugar, powdered cardamom seeds, water, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Refrigerate. Serve over crushed ice in chilled glasses.
KCB: SUGGESTED MENUS
Tiny, light-brown spice seeds closely related to caraway and cumin with a very
strong, thyme and oregano flavour. Ajowan, Carum ajowan is used in
many North Indian savoury dishes, especially in fried snacks.
Ajowan aids digestion and is to relieve stomach problems. The seeds keep indefinitely are available from Indian Middle Eastern grocers.
nutritional content of the seeds of the perennial plant Medicado sativa,
alfalfa, is increased dramatically when they are sprouted. Alfalfa sprouts
contain 40% protein and are very high in vitamins A, B, and C, as well as B
vitamins, and the vitamins K and U. Alfalfa sprouts also contain good amounts of
sodium, potassium, sulphur, phosphorus, and magnesium. The high nutrition, as
well as the mild, slightly sweet flavour of alfalfa sprouts make them a popular
A tan coloured powder made from grinding small sun-dried green mangoes. Amchoor
is used in North Indian dishes to give a slightly sour, pungent taste. It is a
predominant flavour in the spice blend called chat masala and is
available at all Indian grocery stores.
highly aromatic seeds of the annual herb Pimpinella anisum. These
greenish-gray, slightly crescent-shaped seeds have a very strong licorice-like
flavour and odour, although they are not related to the perennial plant of the
pea family whose sweet roots are the source of true licorice. Although anise is
generally used as a flavouring for drinks, sweets, and creams, it is delicious
sauteed in ghee or oil and cooked in vegetable dishes such as Cabbage,
Potato and Yogurt witH
Anise. Anise seeds are available at supermarkets and specialty stores.
A light starter or an appetizer served before an Italian meal. It can also be
used as a light snack. Vegetables and salads (served raw or lightly cooked),
make delicious antipasto, as do simple hot dishes, fried breads (crostini),
or miniature pizzas.
A very fine white starch derived from the rootstock of the South American
tropical plant Maranta arundinacea. Arrowroot is used much like cornflour
in sauces, except that it is a non-grain flour and thickens at a lower
temperature. It is also used as a binding agent. It is available at most
supermarkets or grocers.
The aromatic resin from the root of the giant fennel, Ferula asafoetida.
Asafoetida (also known as hing) is extracted from the stems of these giant
perennial plants that grow wild in Central Asia. In the spring, when the plant
is about to bloom, the stems and roots are cut. Milky resin exudes from the cut
surface and is scraped off. More exudes as successive slices of root are removed
over a period of 3 months. The gummy resin is sun-dried into a solid mass that
is then sold in solid, wax-like pieces, or more conveniently, in powdered form.
Due to the presence of sulphur compounds, asafoetida has a distinctive pungent
flavour reminiscent of shallots or garlic. Used in minute quantities, it adds a
delicious flavour to various savoury dishes. I always use the mild Vandevi brand
of yellow asafoetida powder and not the grey variety. All recipes for this book
using asafoetida were tested using this yellow variety. If using other
varieties, reduce the quantities to one half of the suggested amount. Asafoetida
is available at Indian grocers.
known as chapati flour, this
low-gluten flour is derived from a strain of soft wheat popular throughout
India. The entire wheat kernel, including the bran, germ, and endosperm, is
ground very finely making a nutritious flour. Atta flour is suitable for
all Indian flatbreads, such as pooris, chapatis, and parathas. Doughs
made with atta flour are velvety smooth, knead readily, and respond
easily to shaping and rolling. Atta flour is available from Indian and Asian
tender, inner part of the young shoots of the bamboo tree. They are used as an
ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and South East Asian dishes. The best quality
bamboo is the first growth of shoots that sprout early in the new year and is
known as winter bamboo. Fresh bamboo shoots are more or less unavailable in the
West. Substitute canned bamboo shoots, available at any Asian grocer.
Barley (Hordeum vulgare) is an annual cereal grass widely cultivated as a food
grain. The most familiar form is called pearl barley which has had the husk
removed and has been steamed and polished. It is inexpensive and has a pleasant,
nutty flavour. Barley is high in carbohydrate content, containing useful amounts
of protein, calcium, and phosphorus, as well as small amounts of B vitamins. It
is excellent in soups, stews, and side dishes, as well as the refreshing barley
water. Pearl barley is available at any grocer or supermarket.
The fragrant aromatic herb Ocimum basilicum, known also as sweet basil.
It is a small, profusely branched bushy plant, whose tender green leaves are
used worldwide, especially in Italian cuisine, where it is used mostly in dishes
containing tomatoes, and in salads and soups, on pizzas, and in pasta dishes.
Freshly chopped basil should be used whenever possible, as dried basil makes a
poor substitute. Fresh basil is available at good greengrocer shops.
superb, light-textured longgrain, aromatic rice from North India and Pakistan
with a wonderful fragrance and flavour. Even served plain with a little ghee
or butter, basmati rice is a treat. I have found Dehradun basmati to be
most superior in flavour and texture. Basmati rice is easy to cook and
although more costly than other long-grain rices, it is well worth the extra
expense. Basmati rice is
available at Indian, Middle Eastern, and Asian grocers.
leaves of the sweet bay or laurel tree, Laurus nobilis, an evergreen
member of the laurel family native to the Mediterranean region and Asia Minor.
The highly aromatic leaves are thick, dark green, and glossy on the upper
Bay leaves used in their fresh or dried form are quite pungent with a slightly bitter, spicy flavour. They are popular in French cuisine.
beans fermented with malt and salt. They have a strong, salty flavour. Dry in
texture, they keep for a long time in the refrigerator. They are popular in
Chinese and Indonesian cooking, especially as the basis for black bean sauce.
They're available at Chinese and South East Asian grocers.
Often confused with nigella or kalonli seeds, which are tear-drop
shaped. Black cumin seeds (Cumin nigrum) are blacker and thinner than
cumin seeds. They are exclusively used in North Indian cuisine, especially in
Kashmir. They're available at well-stocked Indian grocers.
PEPPER: (see PEPPER)
reddish-gray variety of salt with a distinct "hard-boiled egg-yolk"
flavour. Black salt or kala namak, as it is known in Indian cuisine, is a
major ingredient in the spice blend chat masala. I like to sprinkle black
salt in Scrambled Curd. It is available at Indian grocers.
common Cantonese name for Chinese cabbage. These small cabbages, used in Chinese
cooking, have dark green leaves and wide white stalks joined near the base of
the stem. They resemble a miniature Swiss chard (silverbeet). The smaller the
individual cabbage, the more delicate the flavour. They're available at Chinese
BEANS: One of
the most popular varieties of "legumi secchi", legumes, in
Italian cuisine. They are from the same family as red kidney beans and vary in
colour considerably from pale pink to dark red. They are always speckled.
Borlotti beans should, like all dried beans, be soaked in cold water overnight,
rinsed well, and then boiled in fresh water until tender. They are delicious in
soups such as Minestrone. If borlotti beans are unavailable, substitute
red kidney beans.
The tough outer pericarp layer of the wheat grain. It is removed together with
the germ during milling to produce flour. It is a rich source of protein, B
vitamins, phosphorus, and, of course, fibre.
Buckwheat is not a grain in the botanical sense, as it is related to dock and
rhubarb, although some cookbooks classify it as such. Native to China, Nepal,
and Siberia, it is rich in iron and contains 11% protein and almost the entire
range of B-complex vitamins. Buckwheat is available in the form of the whole
seeds, called groats, finely cracked groats, called grits roasted whole groats,
called kasha; and flour.
Buckwheat is popular in Russian and Jewish cooking. It is available at health food stores and specialty grocers.
grain product made by par-boiling and drying whole wheat kernels and crushing
them into various sizes. Bulgur is popular in Middle Eastern cuisine, especially
in the famous tabbouleh salad. It has a chewy texture and a pleas"
ant nutty taste, and is rich in protein calcium, phosphorus and iron. Bulgur
wheat is available at health food shops and Middle Eastern grocers.
Real buttermilk is the liquid residue after cream has been churned into butter.
However, the buttermilk referred to here (and used in this book) is cultured
buttermilk, which is low-fat milk cultured in a similar way to yogurt to produce
a pleasant, mild-tasting dairy product the consistency of light cream.
Cultured buttermilk is delicious in drinks, soups, and vegetable dishes.
A pure white crystalline powder derived from steam of the camphor tree, Cinnamomum
camphera, which in China and India. It is used in tiny amounts to flavour at
some Indian grocers and pharmacies. Indian milk sweets and puddings. It is
long, white cannelini beans are probably used more than any other dried beans in
Italian dishes. They resemble dried white haricot (navy) beans, although they
are smaller. Soaked and boiled in water until soft they feature in many
vegetable dishes and soups
Caraway seeds are the fruits of the hardy biennial herb Carum carvi, a
native of Europe, Asia, and North Africa. The brown seeds are curved and tapered
at each end, and are sometimes mistaken for cumin seeds, although they taste
quite different. Caraway seeds are warm, sweet, biting, and pleasantly acrid.
They are a favourite flavouring for many kinds of rye bread and are also widely
used in cheese,
The aromatic seeds of the fruit of the tropical plant Elettaria cardamomum,
a member of the ginger family which grows in the moist tropical regions of South
India and Sri Lanka. Cardamom is the world's third most costly spice, topped
only by saffron and vanilla.
The odour and flavour of cardamom is quite pronounced reminiscent of lemon rind and eucalyptus. Cardamom is popular in some Middle Eastern dishes. In Indian cuisine, cardamom is used in rice dishes, milk sweets, and halava. It is also chewed as a breath freshener and digestive aid after a meal.
Cardamom is available in the pod (green or bleached), as decorticated seeds (the outer shell having been removed), or powdered. I would suggest you shun the latter two forms and purchase whole pods, available at Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores, for the freshest and most flavour some cardamom seeds.
The edible beans of the carob tree, a legume belonging to the locust family. The
beans grown on this tall evergreen tree are dried, ground into powder, and used
as one would use Carob cocoa. Carob powder is rich in protein and is delicious
in confectionery. It also contains pectin, which is an excellent tonic for the
stomach. Carob powder is available at health food stores and specialty shops.
The pickled flower buds of the wild Mediterranean bush Capparis rupestris.
Capers have been used as a condiment for thousands of years, and today feature
especially in French and Italian cuisine. They have a distinct sour, salty
flavour and are featured in this book in Tartare Sauce.
orange-red to deep red powder derived from small, sun-dried, pungent red chili
peppers (Capsicum frutescens). This bitingly hot condiment should be used
with restraint, for a small amount will add considerable zest and flavour to
dishes. It's used in a number of hot dishes, notably in Mexican and Indian
cuisine. Cayenne is available from supermarkets or well-stocked grocers.
Both Roman and German chamomile grow wild over much of Europe and temperate
Asia. An aromatic herb with a delicate flavour and fruity aroma reminiscent of
apples, it is made from the dried flower heads of Roman chamomile (Anthemis
nobilis). Taken as a tea, it is good for relieving colic and flatulence and
is a stomach tonic. It is available at any well-stocked supermarket or health
Husked, split whole dried brown chickpeas (a relative of the common chickpea).
They are very popular in Indian cuisine, especially in dal dishes and
savouries, being tasty, nutritious, and easy to digest. Chana dal is
roasted and ground into chickpea flour (besan) and used throughout India
for savouries and sweets. Chana dal is featured in this book in Chana
Dal with Potatoes, and chickpea flour appears in Assorted
Vegetable Fritters (Pakoras) and
Walnut and Chickpea Flour
Fudge balls Laddu. Chana dal is available at Indian grocery stores.
also: CHICKPEA FLOUR
traditional companion to freshly-cut fruit in Indian cuisine. This lightbrown
spice blend contains a number of ingredients, notably black salt, mango powder,
and asafoetida. Sprinkled on fruit with a few drops of fresh lime juice, it
makes a deliciously different dessert. Available from Indian grocery stores.
A close relative of cow parsley, lacy-leaved garden chervil (Anthriscus
cerefoliumlisan) annual plant
mainly cultivated in France as a kitchen herb. Its flavour is delicate and less
robust than parsley, with the distinctive aroma of anise. It is used raw, fresh,
chopped, or broken into tiny sprigs. It is generally not cooked, but sometimes
it is added to a dish just before serving. Chervil can be grown without
difficulty in almost any garden or window box, or can be purchased at, or
ordered from, well-stocked specialty greengrocers.
Known as garbanzos in Spanish speaking countries or ceci in Italy,
chickpeas are the peas from the pods of the plant Cicer arietinum. They
are popular in India in their immature green state, whereas they are commonly
known outside of India in their dried state. These large, lightbrown, wrinkled
peas must be soaked before use, then boiled until soft. They are used
extensively in many cuisines around the world, especially Indian, Mexican, and
Middle Eastern. They are rich in protein 100 grams (31/2
ounces) cooked chickpeas contain 20 g protein. Chickpeas provide nearly double
the amount of iron and more vitamin C than most legumes. Chickpeas are available
at Continental, Indian, and Middle Eastern grocers, and at well-stocked
finely milled pale yellow flour from ground, roasted chana dal. It is
popular in Indian cuisine for making batter, as a binding agent, and in
confectionery. It is also known as besan flour, gram flour, and
peas meal, and is available at Indian grocers.
dried pods of plants of the genus Capsicum, they are indigenous to
Mexico, Central America, the West Indies and much of South America. Dried
chilies vary in size and heat, and can be obtained whole or crushed. In Indian
cuisine, chilies are sauteed in ghee or oil with other spices and added
to dals, chutneys, and sauces to impart heat. Obtain dried red chilies at
Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores, or at supermarkets.
unripe green pods of various chili peppers are available in the markets of most
hot countries. Choose firm, green specimens. Fresh green chilies have an
advantage over dried chilies, as they impart a delicious flavour as well as
heat. The seeds are the hottest part, and often a recipe calls for removing the
seeds to tame the heat of the chili. Green chilies are indispensable in Indian,
Mexican, Indonesian, and Italian dishes.
Fresh chilies are also nutritious, being rich in vitamins A and C. They also stimulate sluggish digestion. Fresh green chilies are available at most greengrocers and supermarkets.
OIL: A fiery
hot oil used in Chinese cooking. To make your own chili oil, stir-fry 3 or 4
dried red chilies in a few tablespoons of oil over moderate heat for 3 minutes.
Strain the oil and use as required. Alternatively, chili oil can be purchased at
any Chinese or South East Asian grocer.
Used in Mexican, Chinese, and Indonesian cooking, this delicate, pale-green,
pear-shaped vegetable, which is related to the gourd family, originally came
from Mexico, where it is known as chayote. When buying chokos,
look for young tender ones with pale, green, almost translucent skin. The spikes
on the skin should be short and soft. Chokos add a subtle flavour and an
apple-like texture to any dish.
Preserved turnips, used in Chinese and Japanese cooking. Sold ln small packets,
they are not expensive and will keep for a long time in the refrigerator.
Preserved turnips impart a pleasant, slightly salty flavour to vegetable dishes
and savouries. They're available at Asian grocery stores.
Although this plant, also known as Rape (its seeds are the source of Rapeseed
oil) is grown in various parts of the world, it is used extensively in Chinese
and Japanese cuisine as a vegetable. It is delicately flavoured, with yellow
flowers, succulent green stalks, and small bright green leaves branching from a
central stem. This attractive vegetable is available from Chinese grocers all
a moderate-sized, bushy evergreen tree of the laurel family whose dried inner
bark is true cinnamon. Native to southern India and Sri Lanka, the thin bark
sheaths are sun-dried and packed one inside the other to produce
"sticks" or "quills".
Confusion sometimes exists in distinguishing cinnamon from cassia. In some countries, what is sold as cinnamon is in fact cassia (cinnamomumcassia). Cassia is a taller tree with smaller flowers and fruits than true cinnamon. In general, cassia is prepared for the market ,in much the same way as cinnamon, and their flavours are similar, although cinnamon is less pungent and more delicate than cassia. Cassia powder is reddish-brown, while cinnamon powder is tan. Cinnamon or cassia sticks impart a sweet, aromatic flavour to fancy Indian rice dishes, vegetables, and dals. Ground to a powder, cinnamon is an important ingredient in the North Indian spice blend garam masala. Cinnamon also features extensively in Middle Eastern and European cuisine. It is available at supermarkets and Indian and Middle Eastern grocers.
Powdered citric acid crystals can be used as a souring agent preparing dishes
where moisture must be avoided. It is also effective in curdling milk when
making Home-made Curd Cheese (panir). These sugar-like white crystals are
available at Indian grocery stores, supermarkets, and chemist shops.
The dried nail-shaped buds from the evergreen tree Eugenia aromatica.
Clove trees are neat evergreens with aromatic pink Coriander buds. These buds,
when hand picked and dried, turn reddish brown to become the cloves with which
we are familiar.
Good cloves should have a strong, pungent, sweet aroma and flavour and should be well formed, plump, and oily. Cloves have diverse uses in different cuisines of the world, being used for cakes, tarts and pastries, fancy rice dishes, soup stocks, sweet cooked fruits, and in various spice blends, including some North Indian garam masalas. Cloves are available at supermarkets and Indian grocery stores.
The coconut palm, Cocos nucifera is grown on tropical coasts all over the
world and is the source of many products. Most important are the nuts
(technically called drupes in this case). When coconuts are picked green, one
can extract their sweet juice as a beverage. The pulp inside is used in many
South Indian savoury dishes. When coconuts ripen on the tree, the picked fruits
yield moist, white "meat", which is excellent in varieties of
vegetable dishes, savouries, rice dishes, sweets, chutneys, and beverages,
especially in Indian and South-East Asian cuisine.
Dried coconut is dessicated and is familiar in Western cuisine as an ingredient in sweets and cakes. When a recipe calls for fresh coconut, dried dessicated coconut is a poor substitute. Fresh coconuts are easily available in tropical areas and can even be found for sale far from their place of origin. These will be suitable as long as they are still full of juice and have no cracks or signs of mould around their "eyes". Once cracked open, separated from their husk, and peeled, fresh coconut can be sliced, grated, shredded, stored in the refrigerator for several days, or frozen.
unsweetened, fatty coconut product sold in blocks in Asian and Western
supermarkets. Imparting a rich texture and coconut flavour, it is used in
larieties of sweet and savoury Indonesian, Thai, and occasionally Indian dishes.
as santan in Indonesian cooking, this creamy white liquid with a fresh,
coconut flavour is extracted from fresh coconut pulp and is used in varieties of
South East Asian and Indonesian dishes. It is available in cans from
supermarkets and Asian grocers.
Extracted from coconut 'meat', this oil is solid white fat at room temperature
but clear when heated. It is used extensively in South Indian cuisine.
When I mention cornflour in this book, I am referring to what Americans call
"cornstarch", and not to the flour milled from corn. Cornflour,
sometimes referred to as wheat starch, is the dry white powdered starch
remaining when the protein has been removed from wheat flour. It is used in many
cuisines, especially Chinese, as a thickener for sauces. It is available from
any grocer or supermarket.
Extracted from maize, or corn, it is a light oil and one of the most unsaturated
of grain oils. It can be used as an alternative to olive oil as a salad dressing
ingredient, and since it has a high smoking point, it is an excellent frying
The fresh leaves of the hardy annual plant Coriandrum sativum. Fresh
coriander is one of the most commonly used flavouring herbs in the world,
certainly on par with parsley. It is found in markets throughout the Middle
East, China, South East Asia, India, and South and Central America. Bunches of
coriander can be recognised by their smell and their fan-like lower leaves and
feathery upper ones.
Also known as cilantro, Chinese Parsley, and har dhania, fresh coriander is a zesty and delicious addition to many varieties of the world's cuisines. Its unique warm-bodied taste is found in Indian vegetable dishes, dals, savouries, and fresh chutneys (see Peanut and Coriander Chutney). It also makes a very beautiful garnish. Purchase fresh coriander from Oriental and Latin American grocers or well-stocked produce markets and greengrocers.
seeds of the annual herb Coriandrum sativum. Coriander seeds are a
favourite flavouring spice in Indian, Cypriot, and some Latin American
(especially Peruvian) cuisines. They are almost round, brown to yellowish-red,
with a warm, distinctive fragrance and a pleasant taste mild and sweet yet
slightly pungent, reminiscent of a combination of sage and lemon. Coriander is
available whole or ground, although I recommend obtaining the whole seeds and
grinding them yourself when you need the freshest coriander flavour. Known as dhania
in Indian cuisine, coriander complements the flavour of many savoury dishes.
They are available at Indian and Middle Eastern grocery stores.
A grain product made from semolina. It is also the name of the famous dish of
which couscous is the main ingredient, being one of the most common and
widely known North African Arab dishes. I have included a recipe for couscous
with Vegetable Sauce in this book.
seeds of the small annual herb of the parsley family Cuminum cyminum.
Cumin seeds are oval and yellowish-brown, similar in appearance to the caraway
seed but longer. They have a warm, strongly aromatic, and slightly bitter
flavour and are used extensively in Indian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American
cuisine (especially in Mexican dishes).
The flavour and aroma of cumin, like most spice seeds, emerge best after they have been dry-roasted or added to hot oil. In Indian cuisine cumin is popular in vegetable dishes, yogurt based salads raitas, dals, and savouries.
Cumin seeds can be obtained from any Indian or Middle Eastern grocer.
CHEESE (Panir): The simplest type of unripened fresh cheese, produced by adding an
acidic curdling agent to boiled raw milk. This versatile food ingredient is
popular in all varieties of Indian cuisine, and it can also be used as a
substitute for tofu, feta, or farmer's cheese. It is high in
protein, has a soft consistency, and is sweeter and creamier than tofu.
It can be cubed and deep-fried, and added to moist vegetable dishes and rice
dishes, crumbled into salads, kneaded and rolled into smooth balls, and made
thin, shiny, dark-green leaves of the South East Asian tree Murraya koenigii.
Curry leaves are highly aromatic when fresh. Used especially in South Indian
kitchens, they are generally sauteed in ghee with mustard seeds and
asafoetida and added to dals, fresh coconut chutney, or vegetable dishes.
They are an important ingredient in one variety of curry powder used in Tamil
Dried leaves are inferior but sometimes all that is available. Obtain curry leaves from Indian grocery stores.
large white radish is commonly grown in Japan. It is eaten cooked or raw, and is
also grated and pickled. Pickled daikon radish is called Takuwan and is
eaten as a condiment with savouries such as Japanese Rice Balls (Onigiri).
The name for any type of dried bean lentil, or pea in India. It is also the name
for thick gravy-like or thin soup-like dishes prepared from these beans,
lentils, or peas. Most raw dal in India is split.
The following dals are used in this book: brown lentils, yellow and green split peas, whole mung beans, arhar dal, chana dal, green split peas, and urad dal.
When yogurt is drained of its whey content, the resultant thickened, rather
solid cheesy residue is called yogurt cheese, or dehin in Indian cuisine.
Yogurt cheese is featured in this book in the famous dessert, called Shrikhand,
and also in Greek Cucumber and Yogurt Dip (Tzatziki) and Syrian
Yogurt Cheese Labreh.
A medium-sized herb with small feathery leaves and yellow flowers. Dill (Anethumgraveolens)
is related to anise, caraway, coriander, cumin, fennel, and parsley. Dill seeds
are oval, tan, and light in weight, with a clean odour faintly reminiscent of
caraway pungent and pleasantly aromatic. They are most frequently used as a
condiment, either whole or ground, especially in pickling cucumbers, and in
breads. In France, dill seeds are used extensively in pastries and sauces, while
in India they are used in traditional medicines.
The feathery fresh herb known as 'dill weed' is excellent in potato salads. It can be obtained dried. Fresh dill is available at quality produce markets or greengrocers, and dried dill weed and dill seeds can be obtained from health food stores specialty shops, or well-stocked supermarkets.
The tall, hardy, aromatic perennial of the parsley family native to southern
Europe and Fennel the Mediterranean area. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare) is
distinguished by its finely divided feathery green foliage and its golden-yellow
flowers. It is used both as a herb and for its aromatic seed. In Italian
cuisine, the bulb of the Florence fennel, or Finocchio, is used whole,
sliced, or quartered as a vegetable, and either braised or baked au gratin.
It is also chopped raw in salads. Wild fennel stems and the frondy leaves, with
their slightly cooking, especially to flavour sauces.
Fennel seeds, although used to some extent in European cooking, are especially favoured in Indian cuisine.
The oval, greenish or yellowish-brown seeds resemble tiny watermelons. They emit an agreeable warm, sweet fragrance, similar that of anise. Fennel seeds appear in Kashmir and Punjabi dishes and are one of the spices in the Bengali spice blend panch puran. They are prominent famous beverage Thandhai, and in a variety of vegetable dishes, dals, and pastries. The most common use of fennel seeds in Indian cuisine is as an after-dinner digestive. They are dry-roasted and chewed, freshening the breath and stimulating digestion. Fresh fennel bulbs are available seasonally at good greengrocer shops. The seeds are available at Indian grocers.
An erect annual herb of the bean family indigenous to western Asia and
southeastem Europe. Fenugreek (Trigonella foenum - graecum) is cultivated
for its seeds, which, although legumes, are used as a spice.
The seeds are small hard, yellowish-brown smooth, and oblong, with a little groove across one corner. Fenugreek has a warm, slightly bitter taste reminiscent of burned sugar and maple.
The seeds are used in Greece and Egypt and especially India, where they are lightly dry-roasted or fried to extract their characteristic flavour. One should note however that over-roasting or frying results in excessive bitter flavours.
The leaves of the fenugreek plant are also popular in Indian cuisine. Known as methi, they are used in vegetable dishes, breads, and savouries. Easily home-grown, fresh young fenugreek leaves are wonderful in salads dressed with oil and lemon.
Fenugreek seeds are available at Indian or Middle Eastern grocers. The fresh leaves (if you are shopping outside India) can occasionally be found in markets, or can be home-grown.
A crumbly, strong-tasting white cheese usually made from sheep's milk and
ripened in brine. Feta cheese is especially well-known in Greek cuisine
(see Greek Salad and Spinach and Filo Triangles, [Spanakopita]). Feta
cheese is available at Greek shops and well-stocked supermarkets.
very light and paper-thin pastry popular throughout the Middle East and in
Greece. This delicate pastry is used for either sweet or savoury dishes. Filo
pastry is featured in this book in Spinach and Filo Trianales (Spanakopital),
and in Turkish Nut Pastries in Syrup (baklava) Filo is difficult to
prepare at home and is best purchased refrigerated from well-stocked
supermarkets, delicatessens, and health food stores.
Two varieties of five-spice are prominent in the world of vegetarian cuisine:
Chinese five-spice powder and Indian panch puran, a blend of five whole
Chinese five-spice powder is a combination of five dried, ground spices, generally cinnamon, cloves, fennel, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns, the pungent brown peppercorns native to the Sichuan province.
When used as a condiment for fried food, it is used in sparing quantities because it is very potent. Try making your own by grinding together 2 or 3 small sections of cinnamon stick, a dozen cloves, 2 teaspoons of fennel seeds, 2 teaspoons of Sichuan peppercorns, and 3 or 4 star anise. Keep the powder in a well-sealed jar in a cool, dry place. Obtain your ingredients at any Asian grocery store. You can also purchase Chinese five-spice ready-made.
Panch puran is most often associated with Bengali cuisine. It is a combination of equal quantities of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, black mustard seeds, and nigella (kalonji) seeds. Panch puran is always fried in ghee or oil before use to release the dormant flavour in the seeds. Mix your own, or purchase it ready-mixed at Indian grocery stores.
pounded rice, also known as poha. Popular in Indian cuisine, it is
sometimes deep-fried and added to fried potato straws, peanuts, and raisins and
eaten as a tasty snack.
There are two varieties of galangal greater and lesser. Both are closely
related, although the lesser is more important. Greater galangal (Alpinia
galanga), native to Indonesia, is related to ginger. Its large, knobby, spicy
roots taste rather like ginger and are used in Indonesian cooking.
Lesser galangal (Alpinia officinarum) is the rhizome of a plant native to China. Its roots have a pepper-ginger flavour and are used in many Indonesian and Malaysian dishes. In Indonesia it is also known as laos.
Laos or galangal can occasionally be obtained fresh from Chinese or Indonesian shops. Peel and slice it before use. If unavailable, substitute fresh ginger. Laos powder is also used, especially in Indonesian cooking. It is less hot and more bitter than fresh laos. Use very sparingly or substitute slices of fresh ginger.
A blend of dry-roasted and ground spices well-used in Indian cuisine. The spices
used for garam masala warm the body (garam means warm). Such
spices include dried chilies, black pepper, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon,
cloves, and cumin. Other spices, such as ajowan, mace, nutmeg, fennel, bay
leaves, ginger, and white and green pepper, as well as other ingredients, such
as sesame seeds, coconut, and saffron, are also used according to the region,
since Indian cooking styles vary immensely according to the geographical
location. Generally, garam masala is added towards the end of cooking. It
is available at Indian grocery stores.
The oil produced by clarifying butter over gentle heat until all the moisture is
driven off and the milk-solids are fully separated from the clear butterfat. Ghee
is an excellent choice for sauteeing and frying and is much favoured in Indian
cooking, as well as some French, Saudi Arabian, and other Middle Eastern
cuisines. The best ghee comes from Holland, Scandinavia, and Australia,
although home-made ghee is easy to prepare and cheaper than purchasing
For detailed information on making ghee click here. Alternatively, ghee can be purchased at Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores, or some well-stocked supermarkets.
The thick, white, tuberous underground stems, or rhizomes, of the plant Zingiber
officinale, which thrives in the tropical areas of the world.
Fresh ginger root has a spicy-sweet aroma and a hot, clean taste and is used in many cuisines especially throughout China, Japan, Thailand, and India. The young "green" ginger is especially appreciated for its fibre-free texture and mild flavour. Mature ginger root is more readily available at produce markets, Asian grocery stores and some supermarkets.
Fresh ginger should be peeled before use. It can be minced, sliced, pureed, shredded, or cut into fine julienne strips and used in vegetable dishes, dals and soups, savouries, fried dishes, chutneys, rices, sweets, and drinks.
Ginger powder is not a substitute for fresh ginger, having lost its volatile essential oil, and being sometimes stale or adulterated. Ginger powder is used mostly in European cooking in puddings, creams, beverages, biscuits, breads, and cakes. It is available at most grocery shops or supermarkets.
flour made from the protein constituent of wheat flour. It creates an
extra-spongy texture when added to breads, by virtue of the elastic network it
forms in the dough when water is added.
RICE FLOUR: A
pure-white, starch-like flour made from a special round-grain, matt-white rice,
which is much stickier than ordinary rice when cooked. It is used in Chinese,
Japanese, Vietnamese, and Korean cooking for batters (savoury and sweet) and
pastries (see Vietnamese Sweet Mung Bean Cakes). Glutinous rice flour is
available at any Asian grocery store.
member of the Phaseolus vulgaris species, which includes not only haricot
but kidney beans, great northern beans, and pinto beans. These dried white
beans, also knows as navy beans, are popular in soups, stews, and casseroles.
They are well-used in Italian cooking and are known as fagiolo secco.
They are available at grocery stores and supermarkets.
root of the hardy perennial plant Armoracia rusticana. When scraped or
bruised, these stout, white, fleshy, cylindrical roots emit their characteristic
highly pungent, penetrating odour, plus volatile oils which cause tears to flow.
Horseradish roots are generally peeled and grated and made into sauces to
accompany savoury dishes. When choosing horseradish select large roots. The
inside core is woody and is not used. Shred or grate the outside of the root,
but use straight away and do not cook it, or else the pungent flavour will fade.
Dehydrated powdered horseradish can be used as a substitute, but fresh is better. Fresh horseradish root is sometimes available at quality produce markets and greengrocer shops. The powdered horseradish is available at specialty shops and some supermarkets.
Large, ink-black olives with pointed ends and shiny skin, named after the
seaside town of Southern Greece where they are grown. Popular in Greek cuisine,
they are flavoursome and full-bodied.
known as nigella or black onion seed no relation to the onion. Very often these
small, black, tear-drop-shaped seeds are confused with, or called, black cumin
seeds, which in fact, they are not. Kalonji seeds (Nigella satival)
have a peppery taste and, when heated, have an herbal aroma. They are an
important ingredient in the Bengali spice blend called panch puran. They
are available at Indian grocery stores
This Sanskrit word means 'action' or, more specifically, any material action
that brings a reaction binding us to the material world. According to the law of
karma, if we cause pain and suffering to other living beings, we must endure
pain and suffering in return.
thick, sweet variety of soy sauce from Indonesia featured in Indonesian and
essential flavouring is derived from the shrub known as screw pine, (Pandanus
tectorius), which grows in the humid swampy backwater areas of South India
and South East Asia. The flowers have an exquisite rose-like perfume. In Indian
cooking, kewra essence is used to flavour sweet dishes. It is available
in the form of kewra essence or kewra water at Indian grocers.
popular kidney-shaped red bean from the plant Phaseolus vulgaris. Kidney
beans can be used in many types of cuisine: as an alternative to borlotti beans
in Italian cooking, and as an alternative to pinto beans in Mexican-style
cooking, or in stews, soups, and casseroles. Red kidney beans are known as rajma
in India and are featured in the spicy chili-style dish of the same name popular
in the Punjab. They are available at any grocery store or supermarket.
The name for God given in the Sanskrit Vedic texts of India. Krishna is revered
in the Vedas as the original form of the Godhead.
variety of sweet potato with a rich, orange colour, popular in New Zealand.
Used as a culinary herb is South East Asian cooking, especially Thai and
Indonesian cuisine lemongrass (Cymbopogoncitratus) is, a typical grass
but has a bulbous base and a strong taste and smell of lemon. It is available in
powdered form (called Sereh powder), in flakes, or sometimes fresh, from
Asian grocery stores. Since very little is used at any one time, the dried
flakes or powder are more practical to have on one's spice shelf.
Lemons (Citrus limon) and limes (Citrus aurantifolia) play a significant
role in cuisines of the world.
Lemon juice is very much favoured as a souring agent in European and Eastern cuisines alike; the essential 'oil of lemon', which is concentrated in the rind or zest, is particularly well-liked in European cakes and sauces.
Limes are especially used in tropical countries, where they are more easily available. Lime juice when used in cooking, gives a markedly different flavour to lemon juice, lime juice being more sour and slightly more bitter than lemon juice.
These juices also act as a preservative in cooked foods. Lemons and limes are wonderful sliced as garnishes, and, of course, are excellent thirst-quenchers. In serving an Indian-style meal, a wedge of lemon or lime is essential as an accompaniment.
Used extensively in cuisines of the world. Brown lentils (from the plant Lens
culinaris) and red lentils (called masoor dal in India) are probably
the most well-known. Toovar dal (arhar dal) is another lentil well-loved
in Indian cooking. Lentils contain almost 25% protein, 54% carbohydrate and
vitamin A, some of the B vitamins, and good amounts of minerals, including iron
and calcium. Brown and red lentils are available at almost any supermarket or
grocery store. Toovar dal is available at Indian grocery stores. (Note
that due to their very high protein content, red lentils are not consumed by
strict followers of the Vedic culture.)
Popular in European cuisine, lima beans (Phaseolus lunatas), are also
known as butter beans, and are available large or small. They are tasty
additions to soups, stews, and salads and are featured in this book in Lima
Bean and Cheese Croquettes. They are available at supermarkets and grocery
fresh or dried leaves of the lime tree. They are used in South East Asian and
especially, Indonesian cooking. The leaves are used in rice, stews, and
vegetable dishes to impart a pleasant lime taste.
One of the most important of all kitchen herbs, it is used in virtually every
type of European cuisine, although not very much used in Eastern cooking.
Marjoram (Majorana hortensis) has a delicate, pleasant, sweet flavour
with a slightly bitter, aromatic undertone. It is generally used in its dried
form, for soup, stews, vegetable dishes, and sauces. As a fresh herb, it is
delicious in salads.
Dried marjoram is available at any supermarket or grocer. Fresh marjoram is occasionally available at produce markets and at good greengrocers.
A combination of herbs, spices, or seasonings used in Indian cuisine. Some masalas,
like Bengali panch puran, contain whole spices. Others, like chat
masala, garam masala, sambar masala, orrasam powder, contain numerous
powdered spices combined together. For details on masalas see individual
Middle Eastern hors d'oeuvres or appetizers. Mezze is essentially a
Lebanese creation but has spread throughout the Middle East. Delicious
vegetarian mezze included in this book are fresh, round Middle Eastern
Breads (Pita) and dips such as Chickpea and Sesame Dip (Hummus), Lebanese
Eggplant Dip (Babagannouj, and Syrian Yogurt Cheese Labreh). Lebanese Bulgur
Wheat Salad (Tabbouleh) invariably appears on the mezze banquet table, as do
varieties of Stuffed Vine Leaves (Dolmades), along with simple items such
as slices of cucumber, olives, fresh raw or blanched vegetables, nuts, whole
cooked chickpeas, and lemon wedges.
A widely used culinary herb. There are many species of mint, and classification
is difficult because the species easily cross and hybridze.
Although spearmint (Mentha spicata) and peppermint (Mentha piperata) are the two most common mints, the round-leaved varieties of apple mint, Bowles mint, and pineapple mint (Mentha rotundifolia) are among the best mints for cooking.
Mint may be generally described as having a fresh, strong, sweet, and tangy flavour, with a cool after-taste. Mint is better used fresh rather than dried. In Indian cuisine, mint is commonly used in fresh chutneys (see Mint Chutney). Fresh mint also goes with many fruits and is excellent in fruit salads and fruit drinks such as Lemon Mint and Whey Nectar.
famous Italian cheese was traditionally made from buffalo's milk, but these days
it is more frequently made from cows milk. It can be eaten fresh, but when hung
for some time it becomes a little dry and is then specifically used for cooking.
Mozzarella is a good melting cheese, making it a popular topping for pizzas. It
can also be baked or batter-fried. It can be obtained at any good supermarket or
Protein-rich, green-skinned, oval beans commonly used for sprouting. Also known
as 'green gram', whole green mung beans are excellent for stews and soups (see Mung
Bean and Tomato Soup), as well as Indian dry-bean dishes. It is available at
Indian or Asian grocers, or specialty stores.
Sprouted, whole green mung beans. Popular in Chinese cooking, the mung beans are
allowed to sprout until quite long. However, from a nutritional point of view,
mung beans are best used when the beans have just sprouted and the shoot is less
than 1 cm long. These are crisp in texture and bursting with nutrition. Mung
bean shoots are rich in vitamins B, C, and E. Their protein content (mung bean
shoots are 37% protein) is highly digestible; they are pleasantly sweet, low
calorie, and inexpensive.
DAL: The pale
yellow beans from the plant Phaseolus aureus. Whether used with or
without the husks, split mung beans are a popular food item in Indian cuisine.
Mung dal is easy to digest, is high in protein, and cooks to a creamy
puree in a short time. It is used extensively in soups, stews, and sauces
throughout India. Split mung beans are also used in Thai and Vietnamese cooking
(see Vietnamese Sweet Mung Bean Cakes). It is available at Indian or
Asian grocery stores.
SEEDS: Of the
many varieties of mustard, the three most prominent are the tiny round
brownish-black seeds from the plant known as Brassica nigra, commonly
known as black mustard; the purple-brown seed of Brassica juncea,
commonly called brown mustard; and the yellow seeds from Brassica alba,
known as white or yellow mustard.
Black and brown mustard seeds are often confused with each other. Brown mustard seeds (Brassica juncea) are commonly used as a spice seed in Indian cuisine, where they are known as rai. In South Indian Cuisine they are fried in hot oil or ghee to extract their nutty, pungent flavour before being added to soups, chutneys, or vegetable dishes. In Bengali cuisine, mustard seeds are one of the five ingredients in the whole spice blend known as panch puran.
Yellow mustard seeds (Brassica alba) are less pungent than the darker varieties and are commonly used in European cuisine as a pickling spice. They are strongly preservative, discouraging moulds and bacteria; hence their inclusion in pickles. When mustard seeds are pounded, they form the basis of the immense varieties of commercial brands of the condiment known as mustard. Different varieties of mustard are made from different combinations of hulled and unhulled yellow or brown seeds. It is interesting to note mung beans. Popular in Chinese cooking, the that the pungency of mustard is due to an essential oil which is not present in the seed or the powder, but which forms when the crushed seed is mixed with water. An enzyme then causes a bitter substance in the seed to react with the water, and the hot taste of mustard emerges. Yellow mustard seeds are available from supermarkets and grocers, and brown or black mustard seeds are available at Indian grocery stores.
The fragrant nut found in the centre of the fruit of the densely foliated
evergreen tree Myristica fragrans. The fleshy fruit of the nutmeg tree
resembles an apricot. When it is ripe, it splits in half, revealing the
beautiful, brilliant scarlet, net-like membrane, or avil, known as mace, which
closely enwraps a brittle shell containing the glossy brown, oily nutmeg. Nutmeg
is egg-shaped and is about 2.5 cm (1-inch) in diameter, with a sweet, warm, and
highly spicy flavour.
Nutmeg is used in many cuisines of the world. It is often an ingredient in the North Indian spice blend known as garam masala and is used in cakes and sweet dishes. It is wonderful with pumpkin, squash, and sweet potato. In Italian cuisine it is very popular in spinach dishes and combines well with cheese. Nutmeg is also a common flavouring in the Levant and in various spicy dishes of South East Asia.
Whole nutmegs are best ground straight into the dish into which they are being used, as once grated, nutmeg quickly loses its flavour. Whole nutmegs are available at specialty stores and well-stocked supermarkets and grocery stores.
The hulled oat grain that has been rolled or cut into flakes. There are three
basic types: quick cook, or rolled oats, which generally has small flakes;
hulled or gritted oatmeal; and steel cut oatmeal. Oatmeal is among the most
nutritious of all the grains it is 16.7% protein and is rich in inositol (one of
the B complex vitamins), iron, phosphorus, and thiamine. Oatmeal is generally
used as porridge or muesli, but is also baked in breads and savoury dishes. It
is available at any grocery store.
The rigid green seed pods of he plant Hibiscus esculentus. These
elegantly curved and pointed pods are used as a vegetable in many cuisines of
the world, notably North Indian, Middle Eastern, and Creole. Its flavour
resembles eggplant but with a somewhat mucilaginous texture. Choose crisp,
fresh, green pods no longer than 10 cm (4 inches). Avoid shrivelled, limp, dull,
or bruised specimens. Okra is available at quality greengrocers and produce
OIL: The oil
extracted from the fruits of the Mediterranean tree Olea europaea.
The finest olive oil is cold-pressed from fresh ripe olives and has a pale-yellow or greenish colour and a very delicate flavour. Cruder versions of olive oil are second pressings made under heat. I prefer to have two grades of olive oil in the kitchen: mild, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil for salads and uncooked dishes, and a pure grade olive oil with a high smoking-point for cooking.
Choosing olive oil is much a matter of personal taste and preference. Olive oil is used in many cuisines of the world not only in Mediterranean cooking. Good quality olive oil is available at specialty and Continental grocers.
The fruits of the semi-tropical evergreen tree Olea europaea. Used in all
types of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, European, and Creole cuisines, olives
vary in size, colour, oil content, and flavour. Green olives are gathered
unripe, whereas black olives are those which have been allowed to ripen. Crude
olives straight from the tree are intensely bitter and quite inedible. They have
to be washed to remove the bitterness, then pickled for some months in salt
water until they resemble the olives as we know them.
See also: KALAMATA OLIVES.
fragrant water distilled from orange blossoms and used particularly in Middle
Eastern cuisine. France produces and exports high-quality orange-blossom water,
as does the Levant, particularly Beirut.
It can be used in savoury rices, sweets, and drinks and is featured in this book in Middle Eastern Lemonade and Turkish Nut Pastries in Syrup (Baklava).
A piquant herb famous in Greek and Italian cuisine. Oregano is botanically
confused with marjoram. In fact for many years both marjoram and oregano were
known as Marjorana hortensis. There is still confusion todayoregano is
still sometimes known as "Wild Marjoram".
Generally, what is purchased as oregano today is most probably Origanum vulgare, with a strong, piquant, sweet flavour and a pleasantly bitter, aromatic undertone.
Oregano is excellent with any tomato dish, especially pizza and varieties of tomato dishes that include pasta sauce. Its flavour marries well with basil. Oregano is available at any continental grocer, supermarket, or specialty shop.
(see CURD CHEESE)
Plain or spiced wafer-thin brittle disks made from dried dal paste that
swell into thin tasty crisp breads when deep-fried or toasted over an open
flame. Ranging from 7-25 cm (3-10 inches) in width, pappadams are popular
served as accompaniments to a full meal, as snacks, or as party nibblers.
They're available at Indian grocery stores.
The bright red powder made from the dried, sweet, chili-pepper pods of the many
varieties of Capsicum annuum. Good
paprika has a brilliant red colour and because it is not hot, it can be used in
generous quantities, giving dishes a rich red hue. It is also very nutritious
having a high vitamin C content.
Paprika is the national spice of Hungary and is featured in Hungarian and Spanish as well as North Indian cuisines (where it is used in dals and sauces). It is available at grocery stores.
The most famous of all the grana, or matured hard cheeses of Italy, Parmesan,
or Parmigiano, takes at least two years to come to maturity, resulting in
its traditional sharp flavour. Parmesan cheese should be bought in pieces to be
freshly grated over sauces, pasta, or rice, or added to cooked dishes.
One of the best known and most extensively used culinary herbs in western
cuisine. There are numerous cultivated varieties of parsley, but the ornamental
curled variety is the most popular as a garnish, and the flat-leaved parsley is
most favoured in Italian and other Mediterranean cuisines. Both are varieties of
Petroselinum crispum Healthful parsley leaves, with their familiar mild,
agreeable flavour, are an excellent source of vitamin C, iron, iodine, and other
minerals. Parsley is appealing to the eye nose, and taste, will sweeten the
breath, and is a natural herbal deodorizer. It is a pleasant addition to an
enormous variety of savoury dishes. It is available at produce markets,
greengrocers, and supermarkets.
The finest pasta is made from durum wheat, which is one of the hardest varieties
of wheat. When making pasta from durum wheat only the endosperm of the grain
kernel is milled into semolina, which is then mixed with water to make the
When preparing pasta dishes, note that the completed pasta should be tender without being soft and sticky, this is called al dente. Pasta comes in many shapes and sizes. Notable varieties used in this cookbook are as follows:
Conchiglie a shell-shaped pasta
Fettuccine a flat, ribbon noodle with a coiled, bird's-nest appearance
Lasagna flat sheets of pasta used for baking in layers
Linguine a very thin, narrow ribbon noodle
Penne rigate short, tubular, ridged pasta, like short macaroni, but with angled ends
Rigatoni a ridged short variety of macaroni
Risoni rice-shaped pasta used for soups
Spaghetti common string-like noodles of many varieties
Trenette narrow ribbon pasta similar to linguine
Vermicelli a thin variety of spaghetti
known as ground-nut oil. The method of extraction is particularly important to
the value of peanut oil. High-quality, more expensive peanut oil comes from cold
pressing. Lesser-quality peanut oils are produced with the aid of chemical
solvents. The oil is then refined and heated and treated with anti-oxidants.
Cold pressed health-food store peanut oils are good substitutes for olive oil in
salads, whereas the cheaper and more refined peanut oils usually sold at
supermarkets are good for deep-frying, because peanut oil has a smoking point of
up to 230°C/450°F and has a bland flavour.
The small, round berries of the woody perennial evergreen vine Piper nigrum.
Black pepper, white pepper, and green pepper are all obtained from these same
berries in different stages of maturity. For black pepper, the berries are
picked whilst green, left in heaps to ferment sun-dried, and allowed to shrivel
and turn dark brown or black. Thus the whole berry, including the dark outer
hull, forms what we know as black pepper.
White pepper is produced from fully ripened berries, which are greenish-yellow when picked and at the point of turning red. Then they are soaked in water, the outer hull is rubbed off, and the grey inner berries are sun-dried until they turn creamy white, to become what is known as white pepper.
Green peppercorns are soft, immature berries that have been picked and preserved in brine, or freeze dried.
Black pepper is characterized by a penetrating odour and a hot, biting, and extremely pungent flavour; milder-flavoured white pepper is generally appreciated in European cuisine. Either way, black and white pepper are used in practically every cuisine in the world. Although available pre-ground, discerning cooks prefer the superior flavour of freshly ground peppercorns, for which a pepper mill is an essential acquisition.
Protein-rich beans related to the kidney bean, from the well-known vulgaris
family. Much-used in Mexican-style cuisine, it can be substituted with kidney
beans if unavailable.
Skinned sweet red peppers of a small, elongated variety of Capsicum annuum. They
are preserved in salt water or sometimes in oil, and are used in Mediterranean
cooking to add bright colours and sweet flavour, especially to salads. They also
make an attractive garnish when drained and cut into strips.
Also known as pine kernel, pignolia, or pinoli. Pinenuts come from
the stone pine (Pinus pinea), a beautiful Mediterranean pine tree. The
pine cones are gathered, the seeds are shaken out and cracked, and the small
white or cream-coloured kernels are extracted. Their delicious, delicate nutty
taste has made them a very popular ingredient in Italian, Spanish, and Middle
Eastern cuisine. They are available at specialty, Continental, or Middle Eastern
A lightly leavened round Middle Eastern bread with a soft crust and usually a
hollow centre. Generally made without oil, it is baked in a very hot oven for a
few minutes, where it puffs up, deflating when cooled. There are many versions
throughout the Middle East, each one with a different name. The term pita has
become a popular name for these breads in the West. Whether in Greece, Turkey,
Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, or Armenia, some version of round, slightly
leavened bread is always available, especially for the famous mezze, or
A yellow maize or cornmeal grown in northern Italy, where it is regarded as a
staple food. Polenta is graded according to its texture and is available fine-,
medium-, or coarse-ground. It is available at most supermarkets and health food
varieties of poppy seed are referred to here
black and white. Both are the seeds of the poppy plant Papaver
The minute, kidney-shaped, bluish-black seeds have a pleasant nutty taste and crunchy texture. They are well-known in Middle Eastern and European cuisine as a topping for breads and cakes, or ground up and sweetened as a pastry filling.
White poppy seeds are much used in Indian cuisine. They are even smaller than black poppy seeds, have a similar flavour, and are creamy white. When ground, they add special flavours to Bengali dishes. They are especially used as a thickener for sauces or gravies (flours are generally not used in Indian cuisine for this purpose).
Obtain black poppy seeds from any grocer or supermarket. White poppy seeds can be purchased at Indian Grocers.
Food which has been offered to God before being eaten. Prasadam means
'God's mercy'. See introduction for more information.
South Indian spice blend used to flavour the famous rasam, a chili-hot
soup dish made from toovar (arhar) dal lentils. Ingredients vary. The
home-made rasam powder recipe contained in this book (see Fiery South
Indian Toor-Dal Soup) contains mustard seeds, coriander seeds, dried hot red
chilies, black peppercorns, fenugreek seeds, and cumin seeds. Rasam
powder can be purchased ready-mixed in packets or tins from Indian grocery
Crumbly, soft white cheese made from the whey of cow's milk and popular in
Italian cuisine. It is frequently used in cooking both sweet and savoury dishes
in Italy, for, like curd cheese or cottage cheese, its mild, somewhat bland
flavour combines well with other ingredients. It is available at selected
supermarkets or specialty grocers.
The small, narrow, aromatic leaves of the evergreen shrub Rosmarinus
officinalis. This fragrant seasoning herb with its clean, woody odour
reminiscent of pine is popular in some European cuisines. Its strong, camphor
like taste is not always appreciated however, and it is easily over-used.
Because whole leaves of dried rosemary are not pleasant to find in a dish, I
find it useful to grind them to a powder before using. If fresh rosemary is
available, whole sprigs can be added to a dish and removed whole at the
completion of the cooking.
diluted essence of rose petals, particularly from the highly scented species Rosa
damascena and Rosa centifolia. It is widely used throughout the
Middle East as a flavouring agent. In India it is especially used in the
refreshing, icy-cold, sweet yogurt-based beverage known as lassi, in Milk
Balls in Rose Syrup (gulab jamun), and in rasgoolas. It is available
at Middle Eastern and Indian grocers.
zesty South Indian spice combination always added to the famous hot-and-sour dal
dish called Sambar. Varieties of sambar powder are available, each
with different combinations of ingredients. Varieties might contain ground,
roasted red chilies, dried curry leaves, roasted and ground coriander, cumin
mustard and fenugreek seeds, black peppercorns, turmeric, sesame seeds, and
toasted and finely powdered chana dal, toovar dal, and urad dal. Sambar
powder (also called sambar masala) is available at Indian grocery stores.
OELEK: A hot
condiment made from ground, fresh, hot red chilies, popular in Malay and
Indonesian cuisine. It is often added to a dish for an extra-hot chili
dimension, such as in Malaysian Hot Noodles with Tofu (Mie Goreng).
Available at Asian grocery stores. To make 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of your own Sambal Oelek, pound together 2 hot red chillies and 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt.
(see COCONUT MILK)
OIL: The oil
extracted from the seed of the tall, thistle-like safflower plant (Carthamus
tinctoriusi). The seeds are husked and pressed and the oil extracted by
hydraulic or chemical means. Safflower oil is low in saturated fatty acids, has
a mild flavour, has a high smoking point, and is suitable as a salad oil or a
The slender dried stigmas of the flowers of Crocus sativus, grown
commercially in Spain, Kashmir, and China. When the plants bloom, the brilliant
stigmas (the female organs of the plants are hand-picked daily, just as the
plants open in the early morning. About 210,000 dried stigmas, picked from about
70,000 flowers yield one pound of saffron. Understandably, cost of saffron
production is very high, and saffron is the world's most expensive spice. (At
the time of writing, pure Spanish saffron is locally available at $3,655 per
After picking, the saffron is dried in sieves over low heat, then stored immediately. The final product is a compressed, highly aromatic matted mass of narrow, thread-like, dark-orange to reddish-brown strands about 2.5 cm (1-inch) long.
Saffron has a pleasantly spicy, pungent, slightly bitter honey-like taste with such a potent colouring power that one part of its colouring component, known as crocin, is capable of colouring up to 150,000 parts of water unmistakably yellow.
Saffron has enjoyed immense popularity throughout the world for centuries. By the sixteenth century, for instance, saffron was being extensively cultivated in England as a culinary spice. Its popularity today is limited to mainly Indian, French, Middle Eastern, and Spanish cuisines.
The saffron strands should be soaked and ground or slightly dry-roasted and powdered before using. A big pinch of saffron is sufficient to colour a whole dish, but be sure to purchase the real thing--saffron is often adulterated. And remember, there is no such thing as cheap saffron! Saffron is available at Indian grocers, gourmet stores, and large Chinese medical centres, where it is known as hoong fa (ask for the more expensive variety).
The cream-coloured cereal obtained from hard durum-wheat grains in the middle
stages of flour milling when the wheat germ, bran, and endosperm are separated.
The first millings of the endosperm are known as semolina. Semolina is ground
fine, medium, and coarse. Besides being used for making pasta in Italy, where
semolina enjoys great popularity, it is also used in Indian cuisine, where it is
known as sooji. It is simmered for fluffy sweet halava puddings or
savoury vegetable dishes called upma. I find that medium- or coarse-ground
semolina yields the best semolina halava.
Semolina is available at Indian, Italian, or specialty grocers and some supermarkets.
types of sesame oil are referred to here. One is expressed from the roasted
seeds of the annual plant Sesamum indicum. It is much favoured as a
flavouring agent in Chinese and Korean cooking. It has a low smoking-point and a
delicious roasted-sesame flavour. Generally this delicate brown oil is added as
a final seasoning to a cooked dish.
The golden oil expressed from the oil-rich unroasted sesame seeds has a slightly sweet smell and a clean taste. It has a higher smoking-point than roasted sesame oil and is used both as a salad oil and especially as a frying oil throughout the world, especially in Mexico and South India, where it is popular because it does not turn rancid, even in the hottest weather.
Chinese sesame oil is available at Asian grocery stores, and the cold-expressed pale sesame oil is available at health food stores or well-stocked grocers and supermarkets.
commonly used ingredient in Chinese cooking, not to be confused with tahini.
Chinese sesame paste is made from whole, roasted, crushed sesame seeds. The
oily, nutty-flavoured paste with a consistency of thick peanut butter has
distinct smoky overtones and adds a special touch to savoury dishes. It is
available at Asian grocery stores.
seeds of the cultivated annual plant Sesamum indicum, grown predominantly
in India and China. These flat, pear-shaped seeds are generally lightly roasted
to bring out the nutty flavour and are popular in many cuisines of the world. In
western cuisine they are scattered on bread and cakes before baking; they are
ground into a delicious Middle Eastern confection, called halva, and a
semi-liquid paste called tahini; in Japanese cuisine they are roasted
with sea salt and ground to a fine powder called gomashio a versatile
condiment; and they are popular in many regional Indian cuisines.
The dried red berries of the small, feathery-leaved, spiny tree Xanthoxylum
piperitum, grown in Sichuan province of South Eastern China.
Sichuan peppercorns have a pungent smell, but only a faintly hot taste, and are an important ingredient in Chinese five-spice powder.
The young, sweet pea pods of Pisum saccaIatum, also called mange-tout
in France. This delicately flavoured vegetable is a versatile cooking
ingredient, especially in Chinese cooking, where it is stir-fried quickly to
retain its flavour and colour. The pods should have their tops removed and their
strings pulled away before use. They're available at Chinese grocers and
and split, green or yellow dried peas. The green ones are especially good for
cooking to a creamy puree (see Green Split-Pea Dal with Spinach and Coconut
Yellow split peas can replace toovar or chanadal in a recipe. They are available at all supermarkets and grocery stores.
The founder-acharya (spiritual master) of the International Society for Krishna
Consciousness (ISKCON). Çréla Prabhupäda was the author of many spiritual
texts and the world's most distinguished teacher of Vedic religion and thought.
He guided his society and saw it grow to a worldwide confederation of hundreds
of ashrams, schools, temples, institutes, and farm communities.
dried, hard, brown, star-shaped fruit of the small evergreen tree Illicium
verum. Star anise has a lico rice-like flavour and odour and is an
ingredient in the Chinese five-spice powder.
An important souring agent in Arab cuisine. The seeds of Rhus corioria
are ground to a purple-red powder and used to add a sour, pleasantly astringent
taste to recipes as a preferred substitute for lemon.
The extracted juice of the soaked seeds is used in salads and in some vegetable dishes to impart a tamarind-like flavour. Sumac has a pleasant, rounded, fruity sourness which is well worth experimenting with. It is available at Middle Eastern grocers.
A semi-liquid sesame butter used in Middle Eastern cuisine. This cream-gray
paste has the consistency of runny peanut butter and is the basis of various
salad dressings and mezze (entrees) throughout Greece, Cyprus, Lebanon,
Jordan, and Syria where it is known as tahina.
Sometimes called the tree tomato, this glossy plum-red egg-shaped fruit is a
native to South America and the Peruvian Andes. It is now grown commercially in
New Zealand. Tamarillos have a juicy, slightly acid flesh, and can be used raw,
after peeling, for fruit salads or cooked in purees and chutneys. It is
available at selected produce markets and greengrocers.
The pulp extracted from the brown pods of the tamarind tree, Tamarindus
The fresh pulp has a sour fruity taste and is popular in Indian and Indonesian cooking. Tamarind is available in different forms commercially. The crudest consists of blocks of partly dried, unpitted, broken, sticky, fibrous pods. They should be macerated in water to extract the sour brown tamarind juice, as should another form, in blocks of fibrous pulp without seeds. The most convenient is tamarind concentrate, which can be used straight from the jar. Tamarind makes excellent sweet-and-sour chutneys or sauces, and can be used in vegetable dishes and curries.
Tamarind in its various forms is available at Indian and South East Asian grocery stores.
This famous gourmet culinary herb with long slender leaves and pungent,
bittersweet, tangy flavour is popular in French cuisine, especially as one of
the four fresh herbs found in fines herbes (along with parsley, chives, and
chervil) and in butters, soups, sauces, creams, and salads. French tarragon (Artemesia
dracunculus) is stronger in flavour than Russian tarragon (Artemesia
dracunculoides). Tarragon is available at select greengrocers and produce
long-grain, aromatic white rice from Thailand. Sometimes called Jasmine rice, it
cooks to large, soft, fluffy grains.
This attractive herb is grown in Mediterranean regions and Asia Minor. There are
more than one hundred species of thyme, but common or garden thyme, Thymus
vulgaris, is frequently used. Others include lemon, mint, orange,
golden-lemon, caraway-scented, woolly-stemmed, and the silver thyme. Used fresh
or dried, thyme imparts a distinctively warm, pleasant, aromatic flavour and is
popular as one of the great European culinary herbs. It is used alongside bay
and parsley in bouquet gami, and goes into many soups and vegetable
dishes (especially potatoes, zucchini, eggplants, and sweet peppers). It is
available fresh at selected greengrocers and dried at grocery stores and
Soybean curd, or tofu, is used in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and
Indonesian cooking. This white, almost tasteless and odourless substance is
produced from soya beans that have been successively crushed, boiled in water,
strained, and pressed into a mould.
Tofu is low in calories and is cholesterol-free. High in protein, tofu is becoming increasingly popular in western kitchens.
Standard Chinese tofu, which is lightly pressed, is sold fresh in most Chinese grocers. It has the consistency of firm custard. A firmer variety of tofu is also available at Chinese shops. Japanese style tofu is the variety usually sold in health food shops in Australia. Being firmer, it is good for slicing, cubing, and deep-frying. Dried beancurd sheets and sticks are also used in Chinese cooking and are available at Chinese grocery shops.
called arhar dal, toor dal, or pigeon peas, these cream-coloured
split lentils, which are paler in colour, flatter, and larger than yellow split
peas, are widely used for cooking in Northern and Southwestern India. They have
a delightful, slightly sweet flavour and are easy to digest, especially in the
famous South Indian soup-like dishes rasam and sambar. Toovar dal
is available at Indian grocers.
A thin, round, flat bread made from white cornmeal, or mesa. Tortillas
are the national breads of Mexico and are cooked on a griddle. They're eaten
fresh and are also the basis of Mexican dishes such as Enchiladas and Tacos.
The rhizome, or underground stem, of the tropical herb Curcuma longa.
The short, waxy, orange-yellow rhizomes are boiled, cleaned, sun-dried, and then
ground to a fine aromatic, yellowish powder that is used as an essential
ingredient in Asian and, especially, Indian cooking. Turmeric adds a brilliant
yellow colour to cooked dishes and imparts a slightly bitter, pungent flavour.
Used in vegetable, legume, bean, and dal dishes, it introduces colour and warmth to a dish, although overuse produces excessive colour and bitterness. Turmeric powder is available at Indian grocers and specialty stores.
Japanese white daikon radish, pickled in rice bran and salt.
salted, pickled plum that is used in Japanese cooking. It has a dry, sour taste
and is used to flavour rice and other foods.
split dried beans ,, from the plant Phaseolus mungo. Whole urad beans are
blackish-gray. Split urad dal are cream-white. Their shape resembles
their close relative, split mung dal. They are used to prepare
protein-rich purees and soups in Indian cuisine. Combined with grains and milk
products, their protein value increases. In South Indian cooking they are fried
in ghee or oil for use as nutty seasoning, and soaked and ground into
dumplings, pancakes, and fried savouries. Urad dal is available at Indian
The pod of the climbing tropical orchid Vanillaplanifolia. The vanilla
flavouring material is obtained from the dried, cured, partially ripe pods. The
white crystalline compound called vanillin, present only in the cured black
pods, provides the delicately sweet, rich, Spicy, and persistent aroma which
Whole vanilla beans are cooked with creams, custards, and sauces in French cuisine. The beans can be washed, dried and re-used. Vanilla sugar and pure vanilla essence are substitutes.
Vanilla beans are available at specialty grocers.
Life-style based on the tenets of the four original scriptures of India, the
leaves of the grape vine Vitis vinifera. The most popular use of vine
leaves in vegetarian cookery is to stuff them with aromatic rice. The resultant
little parcels are enjoyed in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines as Dolma
or Dolmades. Vine leaves are obtained fresh in countries where grapes grow
(leaves from any vine yielding edible grapes are suitable) or purchased
preserved in water, salt, and citric acid in jars or plastic pouches from Greek
or Middle Eastern grocery stores.
Fresh water chestnuts, with their crunchy, succulent texture and sweet, nutty
taste, are a common delicacy in Asian cuisine. They are actually the edible root
of an aquatic plant. The fresh water-chestnut has a tight skin; it should be
peeled and sliced as required. If unavailable at good Chinese produce markets,
tinned sliced water chestnuts sold at Chinese grocery stores are an acceptable
(though inferior-tasting) substitute.
The liquid by-product when milk is curdled in the curd-cheese-making process, or
from yogurt when it is allowed to drain in a cheesecloth. It can be used in
bread-making, in soups, or to cook vegetables. Allowed to sour, it can be used
as an agent to curdle further batches of milk.
Yeast used for baking commonly comes in two forms: compressed, or fresh, yeast;
and dried or dehydrated yeast. When used in bread making, both varieties produce
enzymes which act on simple sugars to make carbon dioxide gas. This aerates the
bread dough, causing it to rise, giving the bread its characteristic light
This versatile and healthful cultured dairy product is a staple food found in
many cuisines of the world. Its pleasantly tangy flavour and smooth, refreshing
texture give it great appeal.
Yogurt appears in many dishes throughout this book, including South Indian Yogurt Rice, Gujarati Yogurt Soup, South Indian Vegetable Combination, Mixed Vegetable and Yogurt Salad, Fresh Coconut Chutney, Savoury Dal Dumplings in Yogurt with Tamarind Sauce, Syrian Yogurt Cheese, Soft Cakes in Strawberry Yogurt, and Mango Yogurt Smoothie.
CHEESE: ( see
KCB: ABOUT THE AUTHOR
becoming a member of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON)
in 1970, Kurma dasa has become one of the Hare Krishna movement's most
celebrated chefs. As head chef at the famous Gopal's Vegetarian Restaurant in
Melbourne, he has captivated tens of thousands of people with the delights of
Vedic (traditional Indian) vegetarian cooking. Kurma is the inspiration and
mainstay of Hare Krishna cooking throughout Australia, having generously shared
his wealth of knowledge and skills with nearly a generation of Hare Krishna
For the last ten years, Kurma has been running regular vegetarian cooking courses for both beginners and advanced students. His 12-part television series, "Cooking with Kurma", is also enjoying great popularity throughout the world. Videos are available from; The Bhaktivedanta Archives, P. O. Box 255, Sandy Ridge, NC 27046 (336-871-3636) [firstname.lastname@example.org]
If you would like to correspond with him about the subject matter of this book, write; Kurma dasa, P.O. Box 125, Albert Park, Victoria 3206, Australia.
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