For Hanukkah, Leek and Scallion Latkes with Chinese Five Spices

For the longest time (okay, the past 15 years), I have made the family’s favorite cilantro-ginger-chili latkes – a Diva original – for Hanukkah and also come up with a new one each year.

This year, I take inspiration from the Chinese.

(Photo-viewing tip: To see close-ups, click on the pic, and scroll right or left with arrows)



December 6, 2012. Tags: , , , , . Asian, Cultural Feasts, Festive, Hanukkah, Jewish, Sides. 1 comment.

Sambal Brussels Sprouts

Though strawberries and cream are extremely Wimbledon (and there were plenty of both in the fridge), I had a hankering for a curry yesterday after watching Serena Williams blast away her finals nemesis and win her 5th championship trophy – and this was the veggie half of what resulted. (I’ll post the Murg Makhani chicken recipe soon, promise!) (more…)

July 8, 2012. Tags: , , . Asian, Condiments and Sauces, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Corn Muffins

Last day of Passover and I am ready to welcome bread and other leavened grains with open arms and mouth! Thankfully, corn isn’t a prohibited grain and cornbread muffins are possible, with minor adjustments.

  • cornmeal, 1 cup
  • matzah cake meal, 1/3 cup
  • egg, 1
  • buttermilk or water, 1 cup
  • sugar, 1/2 cup
  • baking powder, 1 tsp
  • baking soda, 1/2 tsp
  • salt, pinch of
  • canola oil, 2-3 tbsp
  1. Preheat oven to 425F or 200C
  2. Mix the wet ingredients together
  3. After sifting the dry ingredients, add them to the wet, mixing till just combined
  4. Scoop into a 12-cup muffin tray which has been oiled
  5. Bake 14-15 minutes, or till a finger pressed into the middle leaves no dent
  6. Stuff several, buttered, into mouth immediately!

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April 17, 2009. Tags: . Baked Goods, Passover, Sides. 1 comment.

Charoset for Passover

Charoset, the fruit and nut jam-like confection which, at Passover, recalls the mortar which the enslaved Jews of ancient Egypt bonded bricks together with, is relatively simple to put together. This version is similar to the charoset made in Egypt, which includes dates, nuts and cinnamon. I have substituted orange juice for the more traditional red wine, and thrown in coconut as a nod to my Jewish predecessors in Cochin, Kerala.

  • Fuji apple, 1, grated
  • dates, 1 cup
  • apricot, 1/2 -3/4 cup
  • preserved orange peel, 2 tbsp
  • walnuts, 3/4 cup
  • orange, 1, zest and juice of
  • brown sugar, 1 tbsp
  • coconut shavings, 1/2 cup
  • lemon juice, of 1/2 lemon
  • red wine, 1/4 cup, optional
  • cinnamon, 1-2 tsp

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a food processor and blend, but not too finely
  2. Serve at the Passover Seder, and on toasted matzah for breakfast.

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April 10, 2009. Tags: , . Breakfast, Jewish, Passover, Sides. 6 comments.

Cucumber Salad

My mother-in-law makes a very morish version of this salad. I asked her once what she put in it and she reeled off some ingredients hastily, probably embarassed that the seemingly humble dish had attracted such interest, when on the dinner table lay at least five other items warranting adulation. I hope I mentioned these others to her too, because she is such a superb cook!

Here is my approximation of this salad, with an added twist (of lemon).

  • English cucumbers, 4, sliced thinly
  • white vinegar, distilled, 1/2 cup
  • water, 1/2 cup
  • sugar (or sweetener), 3 tbsp
  • celery seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • dill, handful, chopped finely
  • mint, handful, chopped
  • spring onion, 3, sliced finely
  • lemon juice, of one lemon
  • lemon zest, of a whole lemon
  1. Slice the cucumbers thinly
  2. Separately, add all the other ingredients, except herbs, in a saucepan
  3. Bring the marinade to a simmer, just enough to ensure the sugar is well incorporated
  4. Allow to cool slightly, add chopped herbs, taste and adjust sweetness, piquancy and seasoning, then pour over the sliced cucumber
  5. Refrigerate at least 12 hours
  6. Before serving, check seasoning and adjust if necessary, adding some fresh herbs on top

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April 9, 2009. Tags: , . British, Jewish, Passover, Salads, Sides, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

I have scoured e-newspapers, websites and Jewish cook books to see if anyone has dared stray from the latke recipes handed down for, who knows, how many hundreds of years. The answer seems to be No.

The word ‘latke,’ for potato pancake, is Yiddish and it is thought that it originated from Russia or Germany. Before Jewish emigration to the US in the early 1900s, it is said that the latke’s main ingredient was cheese and not potato, a relatively recent introduction to Europe. Rice was also said to have been used instead of cheese.

And so we come to this recipe. Being unable to follow the crowd, never having eaten a latke whose recipe I was curious to know and not being content that the plain flouring of grated potato is the best festive treatment for this vegetable, this is my version of the much-loved Hanukkah treat.

Tradition mandates that one eats lots of fried food during Hanukkah’s eight days to commemmorate the Miracle of the Oil. If you’re lucky, doughnuts might be on the menu later this week 😉

  • potatoes, 3 large
  • onions, 3 medium
  • green chili, one, chopped finely
  • ginger, 1 tsp
  • garlic, 1 tsp
  • cummin seeds, 1 1/2 tsp, toasted
  • coriander leaves, 1 handful, chopped finely
  • eggs, 2, beaten
  • plain flour, 2-3 tbsp
  • salt, about 2 tsp
  • pepper, a few grinds of

  1. Peel the potatoes, grate them and soak in very cold water
  2. Change the water a few times, drain and keep aside to dry out
  3. Peel the onions and chop or mince in a food processor
  4. Fry the onions, garlic, ginger, chili and cummin in a pan. Keep aside
  5. Combine flour, potato, onion mixture, eggs, salt, pepper and flour
  6. Preheat a large pan of canola oil (filling about 1/3 of the pan)
  7. Drop the potato mixture by tablespoonfuls into the oil, over medium heat
  8. Cook the cakes about 3 minutes a side, or till golden brown
  9. Remove with slotted spoon and place on kitchen paper to soak up excess oil
  10. Serve immediately with sour cream or apple sauce. Or Thai chilli sauce if you like going against the grain!

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December 22, 2008. Tags: , . Hanukkah, Jewish, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian. 4 comments.

I’m back! With Corn Bread

It’s taken a while to settle in after moving to the US. I apologise for my absence, even as I vigorously resist replacing my s’s with z’s. 

Coming out of a 24-hour Yom Kippur fast, rather than avoid thoughts of food, I thought it appropriate to bake something sweet. Corn bread – which isn’t traditional Jewish fair but seems a quintessentially American one to revive my blog with – was the first thing that came to mind.

I was after a simple recipe to start with, corn bread not being something I had a lot of practise with in my previous lives elsewhere. I didn’t have to look far – Quaker had a handy one on their Yellow Corn Meal box which I present below. It’s quick, turned out quite attractively with a crunchy crust and definitely hit my vast, food-deprived spot! 

For variety, add cranberries, or a honey-and-nut topping or make it lighter by adding whisked egg whites at the end as described below. It was gorgeous served warm with lots of butter.
  • 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 3/4 cup Quaker enriched corn meal
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Heat oven to 400F or 180C
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl
  3. Whisk wet ones separately and pour into dry ingredients
  4. Stir till just combined
  5. Pour into 8 or 9-inch pan and bake for 20-25 mins or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  6. For a lighter cornbread, leave out the beaten egg from the wet ingredients and instead, whisk two egg whites to peaks and carefully carve into the rest of the batter before pouring into a pan and baking. 

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October 9, 2008. Tags: . Autumn, Baked Goods, Cakes, Sides, winter. Leave a comment.

Potato Salad

Potato facts:
-Nearly all the world’s cultivated potato varieties come from a subspecies indigenous to Chile
-The potato, now a staple worldwide, was introduced to Europe only in 1536
-In recent decades, the tuber has grown explosively in Asia, where about four-fifths of the world’s total crop was grown in 2007
-China produces the most potatoes, followed by India
-Potatoes are a source of carbohydrates (one-fifth of a 100g of potato), but are also a source of fiber and protein (2.2 grams in 100g) and vitamin C – a fifth of daily needs -100g will also provide one-tenth of one’s daily potassium needs and a host of other vitamins and minerals, especially eaten with the skin on.

Now that you know how good it is for you, you can eat more of it. Starting with this salad!

  • Potatoes, 1 kg worth
  • Mayonnaise, 4 tbsp or 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • Mustard, seeded, 1 tbsp
  • Dill, 1 tbsp, chopped
  • Lemon, juice of 1/2 
  • Curry powder, 1/2 tsp
  • Capers, 1 tbsp
  • Spring onion, 3 stalks, with white part chopped, some green for colour
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  1. Boil the potatoes (I have used new Ontario red ones here) for about 20 minutes in salted water. Check with a fork that they are done before draining the water, then cube them
  2. Mix together all the rest of the ingredients
  3. Stir the creamy dressing into the hot, cubed potatoes gently, taking care not to break them up
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper

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August 7, 2008. Tags: , . Barbecue, Nutrition, Salads, Sides, Vegetables. 1 comment.

Fig and Mango Salad

This salad was inspired by a recent shopping expedition at Brent Cross in London. Having often made do with whatever sandwich I can find so that I can return as quickly as I can to the task at hand (ie an urgent shoe hunt), I was excited to come across a hitherto unnoticed place serving a massive array of salads and huge toasted panini or foccaccia sandwiches. I was also delighted to see my mother-in-law polish off her entire (and very generously portioned) salad.

The dressing is mine – coconut and cummin to add a bit of an eastern touch which I think goes well with the tropical fruit. And I believe the restaurant served their figs and mango on a bed of arugula, whereas I use spinach and have added some pine nuts and toasted pumpkin seeds for bite.

spinach, bed of
mango, a ripe one, sliced
fig, sliced, 2
pine nuts
pumpkin seeds, toasted

Salad dressing
yoghurt, full fat, 4 tbsp
coconut milk (optional), 2 tbsp
rice wine vinegar – 1 tbsp (or lemon juice)
poppy seeds, 1 tbsp (roast them first)
cummin, ground – 3/4 tsp
salt and pepper, to taste
canola oil, 2 tbsp (optional)

Layer the salad, spinach first, arrange mango and figs as you wish
Sprinkle the seeds over
Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Yum!

July 23, 2008. Tags: , , . Salads, Sides, Spring, Summer, Vegetables, Vegetarian. 4 comments.

Chick Peas with Tomato and Cummin

Definitely one of my favourites when I fancy something spicy, this is a mild version of channa masala, a fragrant and tangy chick pea dish with tomatoes. Indian cooking can be a long-drawn and complicated affair, but I, regularly crunched for time and patience, enjoy taking liberties and simplifying the process. Having said that, don’t let the list of ingredients daunt you!

  • 1 can chickpeas (540ml), in water
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 green chillies, chopped and seeded (if wished)
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cummin
  • curry leaves (if possible), small handful
  • 1 cup stock, veg or chicken
  • 1 tsp tomato paste
  • splash of lemon juice
  • coriander leaves (cilantro), handful

  1. Saute onions in some canola oil till translucent
  2. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves (if using)
  3. Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, chillis and cummin
  4. Stir till fragrant on medium heat
  5. Add tomatoes and chickpeas, drained of water
  6. Add tomato paste and stock
  7. Simmer about 10 mins till tomatoes are done and sauce thickens
  8. Chop some coriander and add right at the end, with lemon juice
  9. Serve with brown rice, eat in a wholewheat wrap or with naan or chapati, with a good dollop of yoghurt

June 14, 2008. Tags: , , . Asian, Indian, Sides, Vegetables, Vegetarian. Leave a comment.

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