Top 5 Local Dishes of 2011


Food is a way to connect with home while on the road, share abundance, build new friendships and understand new cultures. Now at home, I’m compelled to cook these dishes to remind me of my travels and inspire friends to get out there. Here are five great local recipes to try out in the New Year

This New Years Day  will be my first time staying in America on January 1st, after five years of whirlwind January 1st flights. My travels in 2011 were adventurous and challenged me in new ways–to learn, to teach, and to celebrate the journey. Through it all, food is a way to connect with home while on the road, share abundance, build new friendships and understand new cultures. Now at home, I’m compelled to cook these dishes to remind me of my travels and inspire friends to get out there. Here are five great local recipes to try out in the New Year:

Biking in the heat in Chiang Mai is exhausting, but when the wind picked up, fragrant food stalls would lure me to my favorite Khao Soi stand. The spice and sweetness would keep my energy up for the rest of the day.

Chiang Mai Khao Soi

Khao Soi is a curry noodle dish from the northern part of Thailand. It is often made with chicken, served over Chinese Bah-mi egg noodle, and garnished with fried noodles, shallots, cilantro, pickled mustard greens, fried whole chillis and a squeeze of lime juice. The dish is a seeming cacophony of taste, each strong and distinct yet they blend into one beautifully harmonious bowl and delicious bowl, when done right, of course.

Khao Soi, façon Pim
Northern Chicken Curry Noodle

For the chicken curry:
3-4 pounds chicken, cut into large pieces
(or you could use 2 legs, 2 thighs and 2 breast pieces, about 3 pounds altogether)
4-5 tbsp. Red Curry Paste
2 tbsp. Oil
3 cups Coconut Milk
1 tsp. Curry Powder
½ tsp. Turmeric Powder
1 brown (or black) cardamom, crushed or ground (optional)
1-1 ½ cup(s) of water or chicken stock
a pinch of sugar
Fish Sauce to taste

The rest of the ingredients:
About 6-7 (loosely packed) cups of Chinese Bah-mi egg noodle
5 shallots, (very) thinly sliced
1 package of Chinese pickled mustard green, rinsed and thinly sliced
3-4 cups oil for frying
3 limes, cut into slivers
6 dried chillies
a handful of cilantro, chopped

First you make the chicken curry..
1. Into a hot heavy bottom pot, add the oil and the red curry paste, curry powder and turmeric and cook, stirring vigorously, for a few minutes until the curry paste is fragrant. Be careful not to burn the paste.
2. Add 1 cup of coconut milk, stir to blend and let the pan come back to a boil. Let it bubble for a few minutes over high heat, stirring often, until you see the red oil separating from the coconut milk mixture. Add the second cup of coconut milk, again wait until the oil separate.
3. Add the chicken pieces to the pan, with the 1 cup water and the rest of the coconut milk. Let the pan come back to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer.
4. Add the fish sauce, starting with 2 tbsp. Close the lid and let it simmer until the chicken is done. Check the seasonings, you might need to add more fish sauce. The flavor of the curry should be salty, spicy, and with a very slight after taste of sweetness. When you taste the curry at this stage, it should be a bit saltier than what you would like the final dish to taste like. If it is under-salted now, the addition of the other ingredients at serving time will make it even more insipid.

Then you deal with the noodles and the rest of the garnish..
5. Take 1 cup of the noodle, fluff up until the strands are separated. Fry a little bit at a time in a pan with very hot oil until golden, you will need to flip to noodle once in the pan to get the same color on both sides. Set aside
6. Use the oil to fry up the dried chilli, very quickly, be careful not to let them burn. Set aside.
7. Slice the shallots, rinse and slice the mustard greens, cut up the limes, chop the cilantro. Set aside.

To serve..
8. After the chicken curry is done, heat up a large pot of water to a full boil. Rinse the rest of the fresh noodles first in cold water to wash out the excess starch, then cook in the very hot boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Stir the noodles well to prevent sticking.
9. put some cooked noodles in a bowl, top with the curry, and the garnish to taste. Squeeze some lime juice into the bowl just before eating. You could add the fried chillies if you want more heat.

Recipe Courtesy of Chez


Rava Iddli
In South India, when I would have an upset stomach, I would eat Rava Iddli until I felt full—the dry texture helped settle any Delhi belly, and I could dip in Sambar and Rasam if I needed to spice it up.

Rava Idli
(ரவா இட்லி)

Rava (ரவை) – 1 cup
Beaten curd (கடைந்த தயிர்) – 1/2 cup
Green chillies (பச்சை மிளகாய்) – 2
Red chillies (காய்ந்த மிளகாய்)- 1 (optional)
Curry leaves (கறிவேப்பிலை) – 2 sprigs
Green coriander (கொத்தமல்லி தழை) – a little
Mustard (கடுகு) – 1 tsp
Urad dall (உளுத்தம் பருப்பு) -1 tsp
Channa dall (கடலை பருப்பு)-1 tsp
Salt (உப்பு) – to taste
Asafoetida (பெருங்காயம்) – 2 pinches
Oil (எண்ணெய்) – 2 – 3 tbsp
Ghee (நெய்) – 1 tsp (optional)

Add oil and ghee to an heated kadai, add mustard and when it splutters add urad dall, channa dall. When it becomes golden brown, add the red chilli broken into pieces, then the cut green chillies, curry leaves, coriander. Just saute once and immediately add the rava. Roast the rava until it changes colour slightly and smells good. Add salt and asafoetida.
Keep the idli plates greased and ready. Add the beaten curd to the rava mixture, add little water so that the mixture is of idli batter consistency. Pour the batter in the idli plates immediately and steam. What I learnt from my mother in law is that the once the curd is added , the batter must be steamed rightaway. In about 7-8 minutes delicious rava idlies are ready. My favourite side dish to this is the regular idli milagai podi though it will taste good with sambar also.

Thanks to Lakshmi Aunty’s Blog for this great recipe

Trinidad Doubles
Whether in Trinidad, Guyana or Queens, New York, a quick snack with puri, channa masala, and sweet and spicy chutney make this one of the best dishes on the run.

Barra (the bread) Recipe
4 c. flour
2 t. saffron powder
1 t. ground cumin (roasted is better)
1 T. yeast
1/2 t. sugar
1.5 t. salt

Oil for frying

Place 1 c. lukewarm water in a small bowl, and add sugar and yeast. Allow to proof until twice it’s size.

Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl.
Add yeast mixture and 1 1/4 c. water to flour mixture. Mix into a slightly firm dough. Try to handle the dough as little as possible. Cover and let rise until doubled in size.

Form dough into 36 small balls, and let rise for another 10-15 minutes.

Pat a ball of the barra dough into a flattened 4 inch circle with both hands. (If dough sticks to hands, moisten hands with water)

Fry immediately after shaping in hot oil, turning once. Drain on paper towels and allow to cool to room temperature.

Channa (Chick Peas or Garbanzo Beans) Recipe
1 (16 oz) can chick peas or garbanzo beans. Drained and thoroughly rinsed.
1 t. ground coriander
1 T. ground cumin – roasted
2 T. oil
1 small onion – diced
4 garlic cloves – diced
2 T. chives – diced
1/2 t. turmeric powder
1/2 t. salt (to taste)
1/2 t. pepper (to taste)

Heat oil in large pan, add onions and saute over medium heat until the onion begins to carmelize.

Add all remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Add enough water to cover beans by 1 1/2 inches, then boil until very soft. Water may need to be added during this process. Some liquid must be left in pot when beans have finished cooking.

Mango – Cucumber Chutney Recipe
1 ripe mango – peeled and diced
1 large cucumber – peeled, and 3/4ths of it diced
1 T. cilantro – diced
1 T. chives – diced
1 habanero pepper (optional)
4 garlic cloves – diced
2 T. fresh key lime juice
1/2 t. salt – to taste
1/2 t. pepper – to taste
1/2 – 1 t. cumin – to taste
2 t. brown sugar

Mix mango and cucumbers together. Shred the remaining 1/4 cucumber and add to the mixture to add moisture to the chutney.
Add garlic, cilantro and chives, and habanero – adjusting the quantity of the habanero according to taste.

Add lime juice, salt and pepper, and cumin.

Allow to sit 15-20 minutes prior to serving so that the juices begin to run and combine.

To assemble, place a small amount of channa on top of a barra and then add any type of chutney desired. Top with an additional barra.


Kati Rolls
My favorite food stand in Bombay, was filled with many a spicy and delicious Kati Rolls. It was a comfort food, a great place to eat with friends, a perfect start to a night on the town.

Ingredients for the Dough :

· 2 cups Wheat Flour
· ¼ cup Maida
· 2 tbps. Curds
· 1/3 tsp. Baking Pwd.
· Salt to taste
· Water

Preparation of the Dough :

Mix the wheat flour, maida, baking pwd & salt together. Mix curds with a little water & add to the dry mix & knead. Then add a little water at a time & knead to form a dough which is soft & pliable. (Good exercise for your arms). J Cover the dough with a damp cloth & let it rest for about 20 mins. Roll out circular moderately thin chapattis/parathas with the dough. Half roast the chapatti on both sides on a tawa or griddle without oil & place in a casserole to keep soft & warm. It will be used later to assemble the roll. Alternatively you can prepare the dough using a food processor like the way I did.

Ingredients for the Filling :

· 2 Chicken Breasts (boneless)
· 2 fresh Green Chillies (cut finely)
· 1 tbsp. fresh Garlic paste
· 1 tsp. fresh Ginger paste
· ½ tsp. Turmeric pwd.
· 3 med.Onions (sliced finely)
· 2 med. Capsicum (deseeded & sliced finely)
· 2 tbsps. Coriander pwd.
· ½ tsp. roasted Cumin pwd.
· 1 tsp. Garam Masala pwd.
· ½ tsp. Chaat Masala pwd.
· ½ tsp. Red Chilli pwd.
· ¼ tsp. Pepper pwd.
· 1 tbsp. Curds
· 2 tbsps. juice of fresh Lime
· 4 tbsps. Vegetable Oil + Oil for the omelettes & chapattis
· A pinch of Sugar & Nutmeg pwd.
· Salt to taste
· 4 Eggs
· Chopped Coriander leaves (for the filling + garnishing)

Preparation of the Filling :

Wash & drain the chicken breasts. Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips or cut them into small cubes. Marinate the pieces of chicken with ginger – garlic paste, turmeric pwd & some salt for about 25 mins. Heat a wok with oil on med. heat. Put the marinated chicken in the wok & stir fry. Now add green chilli, garam masala pwd., chaat masala pwd., cumin pwd., coriander pwd., pepper pwd., red chilli pwd. & stir well. Then add curds, sugar, nutmeg pwd. & mix well. Let it cook for about 5 mins. Transfer to a bowl. To the same wok add the sliced onions & capsicum & stir fry & toss from time to time & cook for about 2 mins. Then add the cooked chicken & stir fry for another 2 mins. Make sure the chicken is moist, tender, cooked thoroughly & dry. Adjust salt to taste. Take it off the heat & add lime juice & chopped coriander leaves. Stir well & keep aside. Break the eggs in a bowl. Beat it slightly. Add a pinch of salt & pepper. Keep aside.

Assembling of the Paratha/Chapatti with the Omelette :

Heat a tawa/griddle (preferably non stick) on med. heat. Add 1 tsp. oil to the tawa. Slowly pour in ¼ of the egg on the tawa & place the chapatti on it & rotate it with your hands in a quick motion so that the egg sticks to the chapatti. Gently insert a spatula underneath the omelette & flip it over. Let the chapatti cook evenly on both sides. (Do not cook the chapatti for too long as previously it was half cooked. Also apply a little oil on the chapatti so that it remains moist but not crisp. Make all chapattis in the same way & stack it in the casserole to keep it soft & warm. All the chapattis should have the omelette clinging to it.

Assembling the Chicken Kathi Roll :

Place the chapatti in a plate with the omelette side up. Place the chicken filling in the centre of the chapatti & dot it with some mint chutney. Place some sliced raw onions, thin wedges of tomato & some chopped coriander leaves. Drizzle some more mint chutney if you like. Roll up the paratha with the chicken stuffing firmly making sure the chicken pieces stay intact. Prepare all the rolls similarly. Wrap the rolls with a tissue paper, cling film or foil. Eat it warm.
If you are preparing for a crowd then prepare the chapatti with the omelette & serve the filling & accompaniments separately so that your guests can assemble their own kathi roll according to their choice.

Thanks to Hilda Aunty for the recipe:

Burmese Tea Leaf Salad
This recipe is from one of the most fascinating places on earth. Burmese Tea Leaf Salad offers an awakening crunchy snack to have when you are travelling on the Burmese border or passing through Burma. The mix of flavors is memorable.

Recipe for Lephet Thoke

First, marinate the fermented tea leaf (lephet) with oil, fish sauce and lime or lemon juice

Ingredients needed for Lephet Thoke
1. cabbage, thinly sliced
2. tomatoes, thinly sliced
3. onions or shallots, thinly sliced
4. dried shrimps
5. toasted chick peas powder
6. mixed crispy fried garlic, crispy fried yellow beans, roasted peanuts,
sunflower seeds and sesame seeds ( Ready-made)

Eat, Share and Enjoy the journey in the New Year!

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