Mandalay Mushroom and Tomato Curry

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I’m still eagerly exploring Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavor, and you know that I’ll jump on anything that includes mushrooms. The recipe for “Mushroom and Tomato Curry” calls for toyster, portable or king mushrooms, I went for toothsome trumpet mushrooms, which I purchase organic at my local H Mart.

The ingredients are simple: peanut oil, turmeric, shallots, garlic, mushrooms, tomatoes, chili powder, shallot oil, salt. For the recommended fish sauce, I used a vegan oyster mushroom flavored soy sauce, to bring some umami to the dish and a little of that seawater flavor. When the recipe suggested making a Mandalay version with the addition of a few green chilis, you know I couldn’t refuse. Served with multi-grain rice, this warming dish is perfect for the blustery, blizzardy weather we’re getting on the East Coast.

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Peanut and Rice Porridge

peanut and rice porridgeOn my continued quest for savory, comforting breakfast meals, I came across this wonderful recipe for Peanut and Rice Porridge (or Khao Poon Tua Lin) in the beautifully researched Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid.

An equal combination of boiled peanuts and cooked rice ( I used a brown rice mix), blended together with a bit of peanut oil, soy sauce, and salt, then topped with braised greens and other textural condiments, this porridge overwhelmed me with flavor and texture, and it kept me going strong through a long day. I chose to top my porridge with braised spinach, fried tofu, crunchy toasted chickpeas, fried shallots, fresh coriander, chili oil, and a bit of chili sambal, but you could make your porridge much simpler. The flavor of the peanuts and rice, even alone, is wonderful comfort food.

This isn’t a quick dish – I had to boil the peanuts for about an hour to soften them, but instead of adding raw rice to the cooked peanut water, I saved some time and cooked the rice and prepared the condiments while the peanuts boiled. This porridge lasts nicely for a few mornings or afternoons: just add a bit of water and stir well to loosen the porridge before heating.

Breakfast Bulgar Upma

upma

I love savory breakfast foods. On Philadelphia’s first snowing morning this winter, I wanted a warm, heating porridge, and found a great option in Whole Grains for a New Generation. Upma is a spicy Indian mush – but don’t let that dull description fool you! This breakfast porridge had loads of texture, and bold flavors.

I had no teff in the pantry, but substituted some bulgar, which is made from the farro grain. I fried the onion, garlic and spices first, then added the grains, an additional half cup of tomato sauce, and some salt, and this rich, spicy porridge was finished in 20 minutes. I topped mine with some greek yogurt, but a soft boiled egg, and scallions would be wonderful, as well, as would the addition of some homemade Indian lemon pickle. As the original recipe suggests, you could also use teff, farina, or any type of cracked whole wheat grain, and I suspect that polenta would also be wonderful.

Breakfast Bulgar Upma

1 Tbs. Canola Oil

1 small onion, or 2 shallots, diced

2 cloves of garlic

1 fresh red or green chili (or one hot, red dried chili)

1 tsp. crushed chili sauce

1/2 tsp. dried ginger or 1 tsp. fresh, minced

10 dried or fresh curry leaves

1 tsp. brown mustard seeds

1/2 tsp. ground cayenne  or  other chili powder

1 tsp. hot curry powder

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 cup raw bulgar

1.5 cups water

Heat the oil in a nice large saucepan dutch oven. Add the chopped onion and garlic, and saute on medium just until it begins to brown. Toss in the dried spices, stirring, until they release fragrance (about 10 seconds) then add the tomato and chili sauces, stirring well. Add the bulgar, salt, and water, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until the bulgar is soft, but still toothsome, and your porridge has reached a thick consistency. Top with yogurt, fresh herbs, soft eggs, or fried shallots.

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Grapefruit, Cilantro, and Star Anise

brussels with grapefruit, cilantro, star anise

Roasted brussels sprouts with grapefruit? I know it sounds strange, but this dish, based off of “Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pomelo and Star Anise” from the new Ottolenghi cookbook, Plenty More, turned out like so many dishes from Ottolenghi. Your first reaction might be “Really? Those things all together?” but the end result is surprising and delicious.

I was cooking in the Midwest, where I’ve found that brussel sprouts often cost significantly more than they do on the East Coast.  I decided to supplement the brussels with some carrots, which I roll cut for visual appeal, and roasted with the brussels. Instead of shallots, I caramelized two onions, which brought some sweetness and umami to the dish. And I couldn’t find any pomelo – a citrus fruit that is a cross between a sweet grapefruit and an orange with a very thick pith – so I just used a regular old pink grapefruit, to great results. The fresh cilantro is a must, and don’t skip on the star anise syrup either — both of these elements bring interesting South East Asian influence to  the dish. Simple, beautiful, interesting — what more could you want?