Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Azad bring his parents over for dinner

We had decided that we'd do a mix of African dishes, since none of us had ever tried cooking African (Azad has a very sophisticated palette).

We made Spicy fruit and Nuts, a roast vegetable pizza with Berbere (which is mixed into the dough) and Harissa

Nupur and Shilesh dove right in making the Spicy Nuts (after a ridiculously long trip up to Salem.  Google maps is great, just not for getting to Salem from Boston).

It looks like Shilesh is adding spices or something, but I think he's actually eating out of the hot pan! Understandable.

Azad joined us at (OK, on) the table for what was a delightful dinner.   Try it, invite friends, make something different, listen to music, talk, eat, repeat.

Spicy Fruits and Nuts

A unique and addictive African spicy nut mix.

4 Tbsp. Olive Oil.
1/2 cup dried dates, pitted and cut into bit-sized slices
1/2 cup dried apricots done as above
1/2 cup almonds, whole, unblanched
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, halved
1/2 cup pecans, halved
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon or lime (have I mentioned our new small microplane? Awesome for lemmon zest and fresh ginger as well)
3 tablespoons cilantro
1 red chili, deseeded and finely chopped (we used a couple of dried chilies
salt and pepper.

In a large frying pan heat oil over medium heat
Add all the fruit and nuts and toss until the apricots and nuts begin to color.
Remove from heat and add lemon or lime zest, cilantro and chili
Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve straight from pan.


An Ethiopean spice mixture that we used in making an African roasted vegetable pizza (add a few table spoons to the dough. No really, to the dough). We've also tried it as a glaze for broiled fich and it was also excellent. Also good in stews.

1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cardamon
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp. fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
a pinch of ground cloves.
1 onion chopped
2 cloves garlic
3 Tbsp red wine
1/2 cup paprika
2 Tbsp cayenne pepper
1/2 cup sunflower or other light oil

In a dry frying pan, toast the ginger, cardamon, ground coriander, fenugreek, nutmeg, and ground cloves over low heat until fragrant. Set aside to cool.
Place toasted spices in bowl of food processor with chopped onion garlic, 1.2 tsp salt and process adding wine to slowly form a paste.
In a saucepan, toast the paprika, cayenne black pepper and 1 1/2 tsp salt, stirring constantly, until fragrant (oh and how beautifully fragrant it will be).
turn off heat and add the onion/spice mixture from the food processor. gradually mix in 1 1/2 cups water.
Place over low heat and cook stirring constantly for 10 to 15 minutes until it thickens.
Transfer to a sterilized jar, allow to cool, cover with oil and store in fridge (for up to 6 mo. if covered with oil).


Caution: if you like spicy sauces, chutneys, salsas etc. you have been forewarned, this is an addictive North African condiment and you will be hooked. If you find yourself checking to see how much you have remaining, and planning you next batch so that you never run out, don't blame us. We warned you.

8 chilies
4 cloves garlic crushed
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
a large bunch of mint, chopped
1/2 cup Olive Oil
Chop the chilies, garlic and salt together to form a paste and transfer to a bowl
Grind spices in a spice grinder (Spice grinder? Yes, spice grinder. We use a spare coffee grinder that we use just for this purpose (Thanks Cheri). Don't use your regular coffee grinder, you'll be bummed. Get a spare cheap grinder, you won't use it all that often so no need to go for the super-duper Krups model, Black&Decker will do).
Add the spices to the chilies and add chopped mint.
Whisk in the Olive Oil, transfer to a jar and store in fridge. The flavor is better the second day, and the mixture will last longer than it will take to finish it if you keep it covered with oil. We brushed this over top of a roasted vegetable pizza after baking and it was awesome. But we don't think you'll have any problem finding uses.