Tag Archives: fresh

Going Green for Passover: It’s all about fresh ingredients in Indian cooking

Passover is almost synonymous with spring, and in Indian Jewish cooking all herbs, vegetables and fruits used for the holiday must be fresh and not dried. Foods that are naturally green in color are especially popular as they represent the freshness of the spring season (and the overall spirit of “renewal”). During this time, fresh turmeric root (resembling ginger root) replaces the ground kind, and young, unripe green mangoes (which have a pale yellow/white flesh and are a bit sour and crunchy in texture) are plentiful and used in salads, sauces, and chutneys.

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Fresh turmeric root (left), green mango (right).

Unfortunately it was not easy to find an actual Indian green mango, so instead I used the hardest most unripe one I could find and created a salad adding fresh coriander, mint leaves, and green chili peppers for flavor as well as color. The combination of ingredients was based upon what Sharona Galsurkar described to me — a young woman whom I was most lucky to meet and interview for my cookbook while she was visiting New York City from her native Mumbai.

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Kairi Chi Koshimbir 
(Green Mango Salad with Green Chilies, Mint, Coriander, and Dates)

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 / Makes 5 cups

INGREDIENTS:
3 large unripe, firm mangoes (2 3/4 to 3 pounds total), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes

(Note: If you can find the true unripe “green” mangoes in a Indian grocery,
then peel and coarsely grate instead of cubing)

1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/3 cup coarsely chopped  fresh mint leaves.
2 to 3 teaspoons finely chopped green chilies (optional: add to taste!)
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
15 regular pitted dates (not soft Medjool), sliced into strips about 1/8 thick
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons date sugar (or to taste, depending upon how sweet or sour mangoes are)

STEPS:
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let marinate at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Serve at room temperature in a decorative bowl or small platter.
Store in air-tight container in refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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OUT with the OLD and in with the NEW: Time to throw out the old spices!

Spices_Down_Sink_blogMy students often ask me, “How long can I keep my spices?” This is a hard question to answer as throwing out your spices on a regular basis to replace with fresh ones can be very expensive. But one thing I will say is if you are going to do it only once a year, right before Passover is the ideal time!

Passover is all about spring and renewal, and your Seder dinner should reflect that with all fresh ingredients and spices. Many individuals that I interviewed from various countries (such as from India, Iran, Morocco, or Libya) explained that one of the first and most important things prepared in advance for the holiday were the spices. They were bought from the market as seeds, picked clean, washed, dried, and freshly ground all in honor of the holiday feast. The result? The food just tasted different. Better. Fresher. And to match a home that has been cleaned from top to bottom, the spices also had to be new.

So today, in honor of this tradition, I decided to go down to Kalustyan’s on 28th and Lexington Avenue to purchase some new spices to make sure that I would be getting rid of the old ones. If you haven’t been to this store yet, you definitely should. It’s a beautiful place, almost like a specialty food museum, and you will find yourself getting lost in all of the unusual spices, rices, sauces, and dried fruit. I walked in just for spices, but here is what I walked out with:

Roasted ground cumin (usually buy regular, but thought I would try the roasted)
Ground coriander (A staple in my house along with cumin)
Fenugreek seeds (for making Yemenite soup and Hilbeh sauce)
Turmeric (Generally need for Persian dishes)
Hazelnuts (To test my Sephardic Mustachudos cookie recipe for Passover)
Bokharian Sweet & Sour Persian Dried Plums (hope to use with Bukharian soup recipe next time!)
Whole wheat & white Moroccan couscous (for Mimounah break-fast party last night of Passover)
Tiny dried rosebuds and crushed rose petals (for Tunisian charoset recipe)
3 bags frozen fava beans (for helping my friend to make Tunisian M’soki on 2nd Seder night)

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