Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi and inspired dinner

I have recently become addicted to three cookbooks I acquired from Amazon and our local library. They are, in order of favouritism,

1. Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

2. Moro by Samuel and Samantha Clark

3. Ottolenghi also by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Why the addiction – well these books respect vegetables like I have been taught to respect them as a life time vegetarian. Growing up in a South Indian household, my mother and grandma had endless ways of making vegetables exciting and I try and continue this tradition till today. However, I’m also a little more adventurous that mum and grandma and I cannot eat the same/similar things day in and day out. This is something I did quite gladly did when I was still dependent on my parents, but ever since I’ve moved out on my own, my kitchen has been a bit of a playground, as is this blog I host.

Jerusalem, Moro and Ottolenghi, while laden with meat-based recipes are also quite generous with their coverage of vegetable/vegetarian dishes from Eastern Mediterranean regions, Israel, Palestine with influences from Italy, Spain and Northern Africa. Overall, these vegetables are prepared quite differently (most of the time) to how I’d prepare them as a person of South Indian upbringing and I find that really really exciting. Sometimes, I find some similarities and start thinking about the origins of certain food and how recipes might have travelled from one region to another in ancient time.

To summarize it is food, vegetarian food, exciting vegetarian food and I love it! Food to me is most satisfying when I’ve made it and others are enjoying it 🙂 An opportunity presented itself when we decided to host a dinner and board games evening at our place. While I usually cook Indian food, I decided that I’d try recipes from my recently acquired books instead. There was a deathly silence as everyone sat eating until one of our friends spoke up and said , “You know the food is good when everyone is too busy eating and cannot stop to speak”. I’m going to call it a successful experiment based on this !

My menu and links to the recipes are presented below. I managed to take a lot of pictures for the first few dishes and then ran out of time and my guests arrived so I couldn’t keep clicking any more. Hope you try some of the recipes and like them !

Menu for board games night

Menu for board games night

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Sanjeev Kapoor’s Vegetable and Paneer Jhalfrazie

THIS IS NOT MY OWN RECIPE !!!

This is another one of my North Indian food guru’s recipes. It has lots of vegetables and simple but tasty spices. His book tells me that the dish was invented in the colonial times when servants would cook the leftover meats from the night before with peppers and chillies to make a new dish. The word means spicy and fried. I tend to skimp on the friend and lean more towards the spicy.

When we were little, jhalfrazie was something only grown-ups (my parents) could eat so I didn’t get to taste it until I was much older. Loved the taste then and love it now. Hope you do too…

Vegetable and Paneer Jhalfrazie

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Colourful vegetarian risotto

The Italian risotto is something I didn’t make in my kitchen for a while after I started cooking. I’d usually pay money to eat it as it was one of those things that I didn’t cook in my kitchen. Once, in the small town of Palmerston North, New Zealand, in a “fancy” restaurant, I had a roast vegetable risotto. The rice was half-raw (no, not al dente) and I got put off the taste for a while. A little later, a friend made a spinach-pesto risotto that was so rich, I was ill the next day. Once again, I was put off risotto for a while. A few months later, another friend of mine made a very nice roast vegetable risotto with pesto and I thought I’d put it back on my list of things I like to eat. Clearly, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this dish.

In the first year of my PhD, I met a postdoctoral fellow whose husband was a chef. One day, she gave me his recipe for a mushroom risotto (he is also a mushroom grower by hobby) while chatting over lunch. I soon tried it and ever since I tried it, I’ve been in love with it. I make modifications in terms of what veges I add but the basic recipe is always the same. I have also taught my partner to make it who has extraordinary patience for stirring the risotto after each addition of stock. As a result, his risottos are always better than mine. The recipe here is for a red and yellow capsicum, zucchini and brown mushroom risotto. To spice it I use pepper, lemon rind and lemon juice. We loved it and hope you do too.

Multi-coloured risotto ready to eat

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