Strange Times

​The world news is not good. Coronavirus is making its way through and each and every human being is worried sick about the health and wellness of their loved ones. Surprisingly the only solution available at this point to get through this global disaster is doing very little. Wash your hands, be a good neighbor and help those in need, and stay away from people so that you are not a vector in spreading this disease. I spent this weekend doing exactly that, and a portion of that social separation involved pouring over my cookbook collection to make a short list of everything I have ever wanted to cook. Here is a short list below with the wish that it will inspire readers to find some joy as they think about their own meal preparation for the weeks ahead.

To note:

- Food supply chains are still working but in this global world, definitely strained. Wastefulness (during all times but especially during this time) is a big no no.

- If you don't have an ingredient, make the recipe without it, or with what you think can be a good replacement. Be inspired; don't let perfection steal your joy in this or anything else.

- These are recipes from some of my favorite cookbooks and chefs, and all credits belong to them. Support these and other authors however you can, including buying their books from your local bookshops who really need your support at this time, posting about the authors and their recipes, and writing up great reviews of their books.

1. In Her Kitchen by Gabriele Galimberti

In this incredible book the author travels around the world documenting recipes from the best chefs ever, the grandmas.

It's ingenious, beautiful, and convey so much more than the recipes that it was really difficult to pick one recipe to share, but here comes:

Soto Betawi, or Beef Soup with Coconut and Vegetables from Eti Rumiati:

Ingredients:

Soup:

Beef cubes - 2 lbs

Kaffir lime leaves - 10

Ginger - peeled and minced, one piece

Coconut milk - 10 cups

Vegetable oil - 3 tablespoons

Garlic - cloves roughly chopped, 10

Red onions - roughly chopped, 1.5 cups

Candle or macadamia nuts - 5-7

Red chillies - stems removed, 5

Sweet chillies / capsicum - 10, or as 2 cups

White pepper - ground, 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Spice paste:

Garlic - cloves minced, 8

Red onions - chopped, 2 cups

Sweet chillies / capsicum - 1 tablespoon

Red chillies - stems removed, 2, finely chopped

Ginger - peeled and minced, one piece

Candle or macadamia nuts - 5-7

Cucumber - peeled and sliced, one large

Limes - 2 large, halfed

Tomatoes - 2 large, sliced

Process:

Soup:

1. Mix the half the ginger, kaffir lime leaves and beef, cover with coconut milk and bring to boil. Let simmer for 1 hour / until tender.

2. Heat oil in a pan. Add rest of ginger, garlic, onions and nuts. Sauté until onions are clear. Remove from heat and puree in a food processor.

3. In a pot add the sweet and spicy peppers and water, and bring to boil - cook for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Add white pepper and salt, now puree.

4. Mix #2 and #3 and the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil and cook for 5 minutes.

5. About 40 minutes into cooking the beef, add in this paste, mix well with the coconut milk and let cook until very tender.

Spice Paste:

1. Add all ingredients except cucumber, lime and tomatoes to a mortar and pastle (or food processor) and create a paste.

See image for how to serve.

2. Anna's Mat by Anna Bergenstrom : The Swedish cuisine bible

As I read through this book all afternoon today, I couldn't help but be reminded of how much I love Sweden. It's an odd relationship because I didn't really move there or live there because I ever wanted to, but weirdly living there made me realize how much I have in common with that country than I would have ever believed. Very early in our relationship my Swedish husband started saying that I, a brown woman from Bangladesh was somehow more Swedish than him, a white man from the Sweden and I always used to laugh it off, but more than a decade in, I think he is surprisingly accurate.

My grandfather in law Morfar Bo is one of my favorite humans, leads the charge in the kitchen and makes the best inlagd stromming.

Ingredients:

Fish:

Herring (Whole Foods carries them) - 1 kg

Hot Water - 1 dcl

Salt - 1 tablespoon

Allspice - 1 teaspoon

Red onion - finely chopped, 3-4

Lagning:

White vinegar - 1 dcl

Water - 1.5 dcl

Sugar - 4 tablespoons

Salt - 1 teaspoon

Process:

1. Clean herring and pat dry. Debone and salt. Roll in spirals with scale slide in. Add to a small cast iron pan so that they are tightly packed.

2. Mix salt and water and pour over the fish. Cook for 7-8 minutes.

3. Pour off remaining salt mix, sprinkle allspice and red onions over the fish and let cool.

4. Make the lagging - i.e. heat all the lagging ingredients together gently. It should mix well but doesn't need to come to a boil.

5. Cool the lagning and pour over fish rolls, and let stand for 1 day!

Eaten with fresh boiled potatoes, even reading the recipe taken me back.

I have never really known my grandparents but with Bo and Mormor Mia I understand how it's possible to love people without much logic and all heart.

3. Zoe's Ghana Kitchen by Zoe Adjonyoh

This book is a whole personal journey of self exploration. Artfully narrated, it even comes with a recommended soundtrack to cook to. Truly, what more can be more beautiful than that?

Lamb cutlets with peanut sauce. I can taste it just looking at that photo.

Ingredients:

Lamb cutlets - 8, 3/4 inch thick each

Unsweetened peanut butter + ginger garlic paste + cayenne pepper and salt to taste - 2 cups (the recipe calls for a custom made peanut sauce, but this will serve you when you are in a rush)

Marinate:

Ground nut oil / rapeseed oil - 3 tablespoons

Ginger - 1 inch piece, grated

Cayenne pepper - 1 tablespoon

Seasalt - 1 teaspoon

Black pepper - 1 teaspoon

Roughly chopped peanuts and spring onions to garnish.

Process:

1. Marinade the lamb with all ingredients of the marinate for 1 hour in the fridge.

2. Once marinated, take out of fridge and return to room temperature. Grill on a hot griddle evenly on both sides.

3. Once done, serve with the garnishes.

Serve with rice or fried plantain!

4. Return to the Rivers by Vikas Khanna

Himalayan food is literally my favorite cuisine in the world, and this Darjeeling corn soup recipe is the perfect example of the eclectic, wonderful flavors of the region. Simple and so incredibly delicious.

Ingredients:

Oil or butter - 1 tablespoon

Onions, chopped - 0.5

Paprika - 0.25 teaspoon

Garlic - 1 clove, finely chopped

Ginger - 0.5 inch, finely chopped

Tomato - seeded and diced, 1

Firm Tofu - cut into small cubes, 14 oz

Salt - 1 teaspoon

Water - 4 cups

Corn - 3 kernels

Corn starch -1 tablespoon

Scallion - chopped, 1

Process:

1. Melt bullet, add onions and fry to golden. Add paprika, ginger and garlic and fry until fragrant. Add tomato, tofu, salt and water and bring to boil.

2. Add corn. Mix corn start with a little bit of water and stir into soup. Bring to boil and stir until thickened, for about 1 minute.

3. Top with scallion to serve

I think this will also be delicious with some minced chicken or strimp mixed in.

4. Ranna Khaddo Pushti by Siddiqa Kabir : Bengali food bible

When I left home at 17, this is the book I walked away with. I lost all of my family soon after, so these recipes are no short of family members themselves.

Egg Korma

Ingredients:

Hard boiled eggs - 8

Onions - chopped, 1 cup

Garlic - 2 teaspoon

Ginger - 1 teaspoon

Coriander powder - 2 teaspoon

Cayenne pepper - 1/8 teaspoon

Turmeric - 1/8 teaspoon

Cloves - 3

Cardamom - 2 wholes

Light sour yoghurt - 1/3 cup

Chilli - 4

Oil - 1/3 cup

Salt to taste

Process:

1. Peel the eggs and make shallow vertical cut marks on them

2. Heat oil in a pan, and fry the onions until golden brown.

3. Add all spices and fry until fragrant.

4. Stir for about 5/6 minutes and once the oil rises up, add the whipped yoghurt. Stir for 1 minute to mix.

5. Add the eggs and chillies, and lower the temperature so that it cooks slowly for 7 to 8 minutes.

6. If you wish, you can add 1 tablespoon of rose water, some raisins and saffron at this point.

Serve with fresh basmati. Heaven.

Keep panic away, and your loved ones close (virtually if required) during this weird time. I am thinking about you and sending all good vibes your way.

What happens when people open their hearts? They get better. - Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood