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Healthy Mediterranean Cooking at Home

Category Archives: cucumbers

Panzanella

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small country bread or boule, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small clove garlic, grated
11/2 lbs ripe, meaty tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 3-1/2 cups)
Half an English cucumber, unpeeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed

For the vinaigrette:
1 teaspoon grated garlic
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

For the bread preparation:
Heat the oil in a large saute pan. Add the bread cubes and a sprinkle of salt; cook over low to medium heat, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes, or until nicely browned. Add more oil as needed.

For the vinaigrette:
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

For the salad:
In a large bowl, mix the tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, red onion, basil, mint, and capers. Add the bread cubes and toss with the vinaigrette. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Serve, or allow the salad to sit for about half an hour for the flavors to blend.

Italian Style Grilled Tuna

For 2-3 servings

Ingredients

12 oz fresh tuna fillets (albacore and yellowfin, 1/2-inch thick, cut into serving pieces
1/2 lemon, zested
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 clove garlic, grated
1/2 tablespoon each of coarse salt and coarse black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for coating the tuna

Directions

Combine the lemon zest, herbs, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl.
Drizzle olive oil over the tuna fillet and rub the herb and garlic mixture into the fish, coating evenly on all sides. Let stand 10 minutes.

Heat an outdoor grill or a stovetop grill pan.
Grill tuna steaks 4-5 minutes on each side over medium-high heat. Serve with the salad.

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African immigrants in the United States come from almost all regions in Africa and do not constitute a homogeneous group. They include peoples from different national, linguistic, ethnic, racial, cultural and social backgrounds. As such, African immigrants are distinct from African Americans, many of whose ancestors were involuntarily brought from West Africa and Central Africa to British North America by means of the Atlantic slave trade. African Americans whose ancestors were forced into slavery and Africans who emigrated to the US have all contributed numerous qualities in the development of the US as a nation and have greatly influenced our culinary world.

Since the 17th century, enslaved Africans and their descendants have had a profound impact on what Americans grow and eat. Watermelon, okra, yams, black-eyed peas, and some peppers are all indigenous to Africa. Fruits and vegetables brought from Africa flourished in America in large part because enslaved Africans planted their own gardens to supplement the meager rations provided by their captors. These plants eventually made their way from gardens of the enslaved to those of some of the wealthiest and most prominent people in the country, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, whose gardens were planted with heirloom seeds from Africa. Enslaved African chefs left their mark on certain cooking methods, while also developing recipes that are now staples in the American diet, particularly in the American South. Dishes like gumbo, jambalaya, pepper pot and the method of cooking greens called Hoppin’ John (a dish made with greens and pork) are all examples. “The method of deep frying of fish or barbecuing meats were all documented in West Africa before the transatlantic slave trade,” says Kelley Deetz, director of programming at Stratford Hall and who is also the author of Bound to the Fire, which explores how Virginia’s enslaved cooks helped invent American cuisine. “These dishes and ingredients were essential to the formation of Southern, and eventually American, food.”

The continent of Africa has seen many changes in migration patterns over the course of history. The influx of African immigrants began in the latter part of the 20th century and is often referred to as the “fourth great migration.” About three-fourths of all immigrants from Africa went to the United States after 1990. This trend began after decolonization, as many Africans moved to the U.S. seeking education and an escape from poverty, and this trend has been steadily rising over time. Originally, these immigrants came with the sole purpose of advancing themselves before returning to their respective countries. In recent years there has been an increase in the number of African immigrants interested in gaining permanent residence in the U.S. One major factor that contributes to migration from Africa to the United States is for job opportunities. It has been relatively easier for Africans with advanced education to leave and enter the international labor markets. In addition, many Africans move to the United States for advanced training. For example, doctors from different African nations move to the U.S. in order to increase their skills and gain more economic opportunities.

African immigrants tend to retain their culture once in the United States. Cultural bonds are developed through shared ethnic or national affiliations. Some organizations like the Ghanaian group Fantse-Kuo and the Sudanese Association are organized by country, region, or ethnic group. Other nonprofits like the Malawi Washington Association is organize by national identity and are inclusive of all Malawians. Other groups present traditional culture from a pan-African perspective. Using traditional skills and knowledge, African-born entrepreneurs develop services for immigrants and the community at large. In the Washington area, events such as the annual Ethiopian soccer tournament, institutions such as the AME Church African Liberation Ministry, and “friends” and “sister cities” organizations bring together different communities. According to estimates in 2000, there were 8.7 million African American families in the United States. The ten states with the largest populations of African Americans are New York, California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, Louisiana, Michigan, and Maryland.

The migration of Africans to Europe and the US has introduced a range of African culinary dishes to the world. Ethiopian and Moroccan foods have made their mark with popular restaurants in urban hubs like London, New York, Paris, and Washington DC. Traditionally, African cuisines use a combination of locally grown fruits, vegetables, cereal grains, and meats. African cuisine can be broken down largely into styles from Central Africa, East Africa, the Horn of Africa, North Africa, South Africa, and West Africa. Heavily influenced by spices, African recipes are known for their intense flavor and often include combining sweet flavors such as dried fruit, ginger, and cinnamon with garlic and onions.

The historical record indicates chickens were known in ancient Egypt by 1,400 BC, and later in the Greek and Roman empires. When they first arrived in sub-Saharan Africa is unknown, but they are now common throughout Africa as in the rest of the world. A similar bird, the guinea fowl, is native to Africa and is widely raised there. Both are often called kuku in many African languages. Nsusu or soso are words for chicken in the Congo region. Every culture has its own way of cooking chicken. One classic method of preparing chicken in Africa is to stew it in a peanut and tomato sauce (this basic recipe goes by many names in different parts of Africa). Another delicious African chicken dish is Poulet Yassa, which is chicken marinated in an onion-mustard mixture. The African kitchen is traditionally outside or in a separate building apart from the sleeping and living quarters. By far the most traditional and to-this-day the most common sight in an African kitchen is a stewpot filled with meat and vegetables (often greens) simmering over a fire. The pot usually sits on three stones arranged in a triangle, and the fire slowly consumes three pieces of wood that meet at a point under the pot.

Here is another traditional recipe for chicken.

Piri-Piri Chicken with Piri-Piri Sauce

Piri-Piri (sometimes spelled peri-peri) is Swahili for ‘pepper pepper’, or ‘strong pepper’ and refers to an African-style chili sauce. Piri-Piri Chicken is marinated in a hot chile pepper marinade, then grilled. This dish evolved in Angola and Mozambique (once Portuguese colonies) after Portuguese explorers and settlers brought American chili peppers to Africa.

The most basic piri-piri marinade recipe calls for just oil, cayenne pepper or minced fresh hot chile peppers, and salt. Many piri-piri recipes add an acidic liquid (usually lemon or lime juice, or vinegar, or possibly wine or liquor) which adds a tang and tenderizes the chicken. More elaborate versions also include additional flavorings and spices.

This recipe makes quite a bit and since I cook for two most days, I cut the recipe in half. This dish is delicious and the chicken turns out quite tender and juicy. The sauce has a bit of a kick but not overly spicy.

6-8 servings

Ingredients

4 lb chicken cut into parts or 4 lbs of your favorite chicken parts, about 8 pieces.

Peri Peri Marinade
3 red chilies (reduce for less heat or remove seeds), finely chopped or use 2 tablespoons red chili paste
1 green chili, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Peri Peri Sauce
3 tablespoons reserved marinade
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

Combine all marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold all the chicken parts and blend well.

Reserve 3 tablespoons of the marinade in a small storage container and the coat the chicken with the remaining marinade. Cover and refrigerate 4 hours to overnight.

Hear an outdoor grill or stovetop grill pan.

For the Piri-Piri Sauce
Add reserved marinade, water, and sugar to a small saucepan and bring to boil. Cook for 2 minutes, remove from the heat and keep warm.

To cook the chicken
Place chicken bone side down on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn chicken over and cook for 25-30 minutes. Turn chicken over once more and grill for another 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a serving platter and drizzle the sauce over the grilled chicken.

African Cucumber Sambal

Ingredients

2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/2 green chili (jalapeno pepper), minced
1 teaspoon sugar or natural sweetener (honey, agave nectar, etc.)
1 (2-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 mint leaves, minced
1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, quartered and thinly sliced

Directions

Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Stir and toss well to cover.


Cover and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.
The Sambal will store up to 4 days refrigerated in a tightly covered container.

West African Style Rice With Black-eyed Peas

Every culture seems to have its own version of rice and beans. Peanut oil and hot red pepper give this dish a West African flavor.

Carolina Gold Rice, long grain rice, was the basis of the colonial and antebellum economy of Carolina and Georgia. Considered the grandfather of long grain rice in the Americas, Carolina Gold (which came from Africa and Indonesia) became a commercial staple grain in the coastal lands of Charles Towne in the Carolina Territory in 1685. The rice has a superior flavor, nutty aroma, a tiny texture and a beautiful golden hue in the field. Cooking directions differ from traditional rice, in that, Carolina gold is boiled in salted water rather than simmered.

4 servings

Ingredients

1 cup (200 grams) dried black-eyed peas, soaked overnight in water to cover or one 15.8 oz can of black-eyed peas
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 large vine ripe tomato, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ⁄ 4 teaspoon ground hot red pepper (cayenne)
1 ⁄ 8 teaspoon salt
Cooked Carolina (Charleston) gold rice (recipe below)

Directions

To cook the beans if using dried beans:

Cover black-eyed peas with water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer over medium heat until soft, about 1 hour. Drain and set aside.

Or drain and rinse the canned beans. Set aside.

To finish the dish

Heat oil in a heavy pot. Add onion, tomato, tomato paste, red pepper, and salt. Simmer 10 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add rice and beans to the pan. Cover and let the dish sit for 5 minutes before serving. Adjust seasoning if needed.

 Rice

If you use regular long grain white rice, follow the package directions for cooking 1/2 cup rice.

4 Servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup Carolina gold rice
2 teaspoons salt
4 cups of water

Directions

Bring the water to a boil in a medium heavy saucepan. Rinse the rice three times with tap water in a mixing bowl. Add the rice and salt to the boiling water. Stir gently to separate the grains and cook in boiling water 12-15 minutes until rice is tender and doubled in size. Drain the rice in a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside to add to the beans.

Sources:  Jessica B. Harris’ The Africa Cookbook; Marcus Samuelsson’s The Soul of a New Cuisine and The Congo Cookbook.


Korean Americans are Americans of Korean heritage or descent, mostly from South Korea (99%), and with a very small minority from North Korea, China, Japan, and the Post-Soviet states. The Korean American community comprises about 0.6% of the United States population, or about 1.8 million people, and is the fifth largest Asian American group. The two metropolitan areas with the highest Korean American populations as per the 2010 Census were the Greater Los Angeles Combined Statistical Area (334,329) and the Greater New York Combined Statistical Area (218,764). The Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area ranks third, with approximately 93,000 Korean Americans clustered in Howard and Montgomery Counties in Maryland and Fairfax County in Virginia. Southern California and the New York City metropolitan area have the largest population of Koreans outside of the Korean Peninsula. Among Korean Americans born in Korea, the Los Angeles metropolitan area had 226,000 as of 2012; New York (including Northern New Jersey) had 153,000 Korean-born Korean Americans, and Washington had 60,000. The percentage of Korean Americans in Bergen County, New Jersey,(my old home town) in the New York City Metropolitan Area, (increased to 6.9% according to the 2011 American Community Survey and is the highest of any county in the United States. Georgia was home to the fastest-growing Korean community in the U.S., with a significant Korean American population in the Atlanta metropolitan area, mainly in Gwinnett County (2.7% Korean), and Fulton County (1.0% Korean).

One of the first Korean Americans was Seo Jae-Pil, who came to America shortly after participating in an abortive coup with other progressives to institute political reform in 1884. He became a citizen in 1890 and earned a medical degree in 1892 from what is now George Washington University. Throughout his life, he strove to educate Koreans in the ideals of freedom and democracy and pressed the U.S. government for Korean independence. He died during the Korean War. His home is now a museum, cared for by a social services organization founded in his name in 1975.

On March 1, 2018, The Korean American Association of Greater New York (KAAGNY) celebrated the 99th Korean Declaration of Independence Day and the opening of the Museum of Korean American Heritage. This museum is the first and only Korean Heritage Museum in the United States. This historic celebration was attended by prominent members of the Korean American community and the Consul General of the Republic of Korea, Hyo-Sung Park and U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng, NYS Senator Elaine Phillips, and NYS Assemblyman Edward Braunstein.

A prominent figure among the Korean immigrant community is Ahn Chang Ho, pen name Dosan, a social activist. He came to the United States in 1902 for education. He founded the Friendship Society in 1903 and the Mutual Assistance Society. He was also a political activist during the Japanese occupation of Korea. There is a memorial built in his honor in downtown Riverside, California and his family home on 36th Place in Los Angeles has been restored by the University of Southern California. The City of Los Angeles has also declared the nearby intersection of Jefferson Boulevard and Van Buren Place to be “Dosan Ahn Chang Ho Square” in his honor.

Korean American dancers

Another prominent figure among the Korean immigrant community was Syngman Rhee (이승만) He came to the United States in 1904 and earned a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in 1907, a master’s degree from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1910. In 1910, he returned to Korea and became a political activist. He later became the first president of the Republic of Korea.

In 1903, the first group of Korean laborers came to Hawaii on January 13, now known annually as Korean-American Day, to fill jobs as laborers. Between 1904 and 1907, about 1,000 Koreans entered the mainland from Hawaii through San Francisco. Many Koreans dispersed along the Pacific Coast as farm workers or as laborers in mining companies and as section hands on the railroads.

Broad Avenue, Palisades Park in northern New Jersey.

Between 1905 and 1910, political activities in Korean American communities surged in opposition towards Japanese aggression of Korea and they formed organizations throughout the US. In 1909, two of the largest Korean-American organizations would merge to form the Korean National Association, the largest Korean immigrant organization in North America. Leaders included An Changho, Syngman Rhee, and Park Yong-man. This organization along with others would play key roles in the Korean independence movement between 1910 and 1945. When the Korean War ended in 1953, small numbers of students and professionals entered the United States. A larger group of immigrants included women married to U.S. servicemen. With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, Koreans became one of the fastest growing Asian groups in the United States, surpassed only by Filipinos. In the 1980s and 1990s Koreans became noted not only for starting small businesses such as dry cleaners or convenience stores, but also for building churches.

Korean taco

Korean American cuisine can be described as a fusion of traditional Korean cuisine with American culture and tastes. Dishes such as “Korean tacos” have emerged from the contacts between Korean bodega owners and their Mexican workers in the Los Angeles area, spreading from one food truck (Kogi Korean BBQ) in November 2008 to national prominence eighteen months later. Often, chefs borrow from Korean flavors and preparation techniques that they integrate into the cuisine they are most comfortable with (whether it be Tex-Mex, Chinese, or purely American). Even a classic staple of the American diet, the hamburger, is available with a Korean twist – bulgogi (Korean BBQ) burgers.

Korean cuisine has unique and bold flavors, colors, and styles; that include kimchi, a spicy dish made of salted and fermented vegetables (baechu-kimchi, kkaktugi), long-fermented pastes (gochujang, doenjang), rice cake, noodle dishes and stews (tteok-bokki, naengmyun), marinated and grilled meats (bulgogi, galbi), and many seafood dishes using fish cakes, octopus, squid, shellfish and fish.

Make some Korean style dishes at home. Here are a few recipes for you to try.

Red Pepper Potatoes

This is a traditional and uniquely-flavored Korean side dish. Serves 3-4.

Ingredients

1 tablespoons soy sauce
1 pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
3 medium red potatoes, about 1 lb, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 large green onions, sliced thin
1 red bell pepper, diced

Directions

Whisk the soy sauce and cayenne pepper in a small bowl until the cayenne pepper is dissolved; set aside.
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; cook the potatoes in the hot oil until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Stir in the scallions and bell pepper; cook 2-3 minutes more. Pour the soy sauce mixture over the potatoes; cook and stir until the liquid is completely absorbed 1 to 2 minutes.

Korean Bulgogi-Style Grilled Steak

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1/4 cup gochujang Korean chili paste
3 cloves garlic
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons of unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 large scallions, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro
1 ½ to 2-pound flank steak

Directions

In a large plastic ziplock bag combine the gochujang, garlic, ginger, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, black pepper, oil, scallions, and cilantro. Close the bag and mix the ingredients together. Add the steak, close the bag and turn the bag over several times to coat the steak. Place the bag in a large dish and let the steak marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Turn the bag over several times during the marinating time.


When ready to grill, pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for a minute or two. Set aside.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Grill the steak for 6 to 8 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until the steak is cooked medium-rare. It should reach an internal temperature of 130°F. in the thickest part of the steak. Remove the steak from the grill to a cutting board, tent it with foil, and let it rest for 3 to 4 minutes.
Slice the steak into thin pieces across the grain, place on a serving plate and serve with the reserved sauce.

Korean Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1/4 cup white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon peanut or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
Half of a hothouse (English) cucumber or regular unwaxed cucumber, unpeeled and thinly sliced
1 green onion, sliced thin
1/2 carrot, shredded

Directions

Make the dressing: In a serving bowl, stir together vinegar, black pepper, red pepper flakes, honey, oil, and sesame seeds.

Make the salad: Mix in the sliced cucumber, green onions, and shredded carrot. Cover, and refrigerate until serving time.


Immigrants to the United States from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are referred to as Asian Indians. The first Asian Indians or Indian Americans, as they are also known, arrived in America as early as the middle of the nineteenth century. By the end of the nineteenth century, about 2,000 Indians, most of them Sikhs (a religious minority from India’s Punjab region), settled on the west coast of the United States, having come in search of economic opportunity. The majority of Sikhs worked in agriculture and construction. Other Asian Indians came as merchants and traders; many worked in lumber mills and logging camps in the western states of Oregon, Washington, and California, where they rented bunkhouses, acquired knowledge of English and assumed Western dress. Between 1910 and 1920, as agricultural work in California began to become more abundant and better paying, many Indian immigrants turned to the fields and orchards for employment. For many of the immigrants who had come from villages in rural India, farming was both familiar and preferable. In July 1946, Congress passed a bill allowing naturalization for Indians and approximately 6,000 Asian Indians immigrated to the United States between 1947 and 1965.

From 1965 onward, a second significant wave of Indian immigration began, spurred by a change in U.S. immigration law that lifted prior quotas and restrictions and allowed significant numbers of Asians to immigrate. Between 1965 and 1974, Indian immigration to the United States increased at a rate greater than that from almost any other country. This wave of immigrants was very different from the earliest Indian immigrants—Indians that emigrated after 1965 were overwhelmingly urban, professional, and highly educated and quickly engaged in gainful employment in many U.S. cities. Many had prior exposure to Western society and education and their transition to the United States was a smooth one. More than 100,000 such professionals and their families entered the U.S. in the decade after 1965.

India Square, Jersey City, New Jersey, is home to the highest concentration of Asian Indians in the Western Hemisphere and is one of at least 24 Indian American enclaves characterized as a Little India which have emerged within the New York Metropolitan Area.

In general, the Asian Indian community has preferred to settle in the larger American cities rather than smaller towns, especially in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. The Asian Indian community in the United States is an ethnically diverse one. One can distinguish among subgroups who trace their roots to different regions or states within India, who speak different languages, eat different foods, and follow distinct customs. Some of the most populous Indian groups within the United States are Gujaratis, Bengalis, Punjabis, Marathis, and Tamils.

The majority of Asian Indian Americans have retained diets rooted in Indian cuisine. Indian food is prepared with a variety of spices, including cumin, turmeric, chili powder, ginger, and garlic. All Asian Indians eat a variety of dals (lentils), beans, and chaval (rice) dishes. Hindus generally will not eat beef for religious reasons, while Muslims do not eat pork.
Tandoori, the clay-baked chicken or fish marinated in yogurt and spices, is a popular North Indian dish. Biryani, or flavored rice with vegetables and meats, is served on festive occasions, often accompanied by a cooling yogurt sauce called raita (rye-tah). Southern Indian dishes like masala, dosai crepes filled with spiced potatoes, and steamed rice cakes, are also popular.
Green chutneys made of mint or coriander accompany a variety of savory fritters like the triangular, stuffed samosas. Pickled vegetables and fruits like lemons or mangoes are popular accompaniments to meals. A variety of unleavened bread like naans, rotis, and parathas are also widely eaten.

Most Asian Indian American families continue to eat freshly-prepared Indian food for the main meal of the day and the evening meal often serves as the time when the family will get together to discuss their daily activities. The average Asian Indian family tends not to eat out as often as other American families because of the importance accorded to eating together at the family table.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is a popular Indian dish consisting of chicken marinated in a mixture of yogurt and spices that are traditionally cooked in high temperatures in a tandoor (clay oven) and also can be prepared on a traditional barbecue grill.

Tandoor cooked chicken actually dates back to the Mughal period. This delicacy was the main course at Indian feasts of that day. Other stories of its origins exist, such as the one about a man named Kundan Lal Gujral, who ran a restaurant called Moti Mahal in Peshawar before the partition of British India. Trying out new recipes to keep his patrons interested, Gujral tried cooking chicken in tandoors (clay ovens) used by the locals to cook naan bread. The tandoors are bell-shaped ovens, set into the earth and fired with wood or charcoal reaching temperatures of about 480 degrees. Gujral was able to cook the tender chickens in these ovens making them succulent inside and crispy outside. After the partition in 1947, Punjab was partitioned with the Eastern portion joining India and western Pakistan. Peshawar became part of Pakistan and Gujral found himself a refugee fleeing the upheaval by moving to India. He moved his restaurant to Delhi in a place called Daryaganj.

The dish gained so much fame that even the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru was so impressed by the Tandoori chicken at Moti Mahal that he made it a regular at most of his official banquets. Visiting dignitaries like the American Presidents Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy, Soviet leaders Nikolai Bulganin and Nikita Khrushchev, the King of Nepal, and the Shah of Iran have all enjoyed this famous dish.

The chicken gets its characteristic red color from either a lot of red chilies or the addition of red food dye. You don’t need a tandoor oven to make tandoori chicken. You can cook it over a grill or in an oven with a broiler.

Ingredients

2 lbs skinless chicken thighs and breasts
Vegetable oil for basting
Marinade
5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Kashmiri chili powder (or substitute ½ teaspoon each paprika and cayenne pepper)
½ cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
3 teaspoons minced garlic
3 teaspoons peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
Garnishes
Thin slices of red onion, tomato, cucumber, lime, and mint leaves

Directions

Use a sharp knife to make shallow cuts in the chicken. Combine the marinade ingredients in a large plastic ziplock bag. Add the chicken and toss to coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours. I did not use red food coloring.

To grill
Preheat an outdoor grill to medium-high. Remove chicken from the bag using tongs and place it on the grill; discard the bag and extra marinade. Grill for about 10 minutes on each side, brushing with oil before turning. The meat should feel firm when you press it and register an internal temperature of 165 degrees F for the breasts and 180 degrees F for the thighs on an instant-read thermometer.

To bake
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with heavy-duty aluminum foil (for easy clean-up) and set a rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick cooking spray or grease with vegetable oil.

Arrange the chicken on the rack, leaving space between the pieces. Roast for 45 minutes, turning once midway through until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (be sure to turn on your exhaust fan as the oven will get a little smoky). Turn on the broiler and broil the chicken about 6 inches from the heat for 3-5 minutes, until lightly charred and crisp all over.

To finish the dish
Transfer the chicken to a large platter. Arrange the garnish slices over the chicken and seal the platter with foil. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes to absorb the garnish flavors before serving.

Indian-Style Basmati Rice

Ingredients

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced or shredded
1/2 large green chili, seeded and sliced
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup basmati rice, rinsed
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, chili, and ginger and stir for 3-4 minutes until the onion softens. Add rice and stir well to coat with the butter. Stir in stock, turmeric, peas, and salt. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, for 20 minutes or until the rice has absorbed all the liquid and is tender. Remove from the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.


Arab immigrants began coming to the U.S. in sizable numbers during the 1880s. Today, it is estimated that nearly 3.7 million Americans trace their roots to an Arab country. Arab Americans are found in every state, but more than two-thirds of them live in California, Michigan, New York, Florida, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Los Angeles, Detroit, and New York are home to one-third of the population.

Arab Americans are as diverse as their countries of origin, with unique immigration experiences that have shaped their ethnic identity in the U.S. While the majority of Arab Americans are descended from the first wave of Christian Arab immigrants, Arab American Muslims represent the fastest growing segment of the Arab American community.

Contrary to popular assumptions, the majority of Arab Americans are native-born, and nearly 82% of Arabs in the U.S. are citizens. While the community traces its roots to every Arab country, the majority of Arab Americans have ancestral ties to Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and Iraq.

Arabic-speaking immigrants arrived in the United States in three major waves. The first wave between the late 1800s and World War I consisted mainly of immigrants from Greater Syria, an Arab province of the Ottoman Empire until the end of World War I. Following the breakup of the Empire, the province was partitioned into the separate political entities of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, and Transjordan. The vast majority of immigrants in this wave were members of Christian minorities. Although some writers claim that these immigrants left their native countries for religious or political reasons, the evidence suggests that they were drawn to the United States by economic opportunity. Like many economically motivated immigrants during this period, Arabs came to the US with the intention of earning money and returning home to live out the remainder of their lives in relative prosperity. The major exception to this pattern was a small group of Arab writers, poets, and artists who took up residence in major urban centers such as New York and Boston. The most famous of the group was Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), author of The Prophet and numerous other works.

Unlike the earlier influx, the second wave included many more Muslims. It also included refugees who had been displaced by the 1948 Palestine War that culminated in the establishment of Israel. This period also witnessed the arrival of many Arabic-speaking professionals and university students who often chose to remain in the United States after completion of their training. Immigrants of the second wave tended to settle where jobs were available. Those with few skills drifted to the established Arab communities in the industrial towns of the East coast and Midwest, while those with professional skills headed to the suburbs around the major industrial cities or to rural towns.

A mural inside the lobby of ACCESS that depicts the story of many Arab-Americans making their way to build a community in Detroit.

In the mid-1960s, the third wave of Arab immigration began which continues to the present. More than 75 percent of foreign-born Arab Americans identified in the 1990 census immigrated after 1964, while 44 percent immigrated between 1975 and 1980. This influx resulted in part from the passage of the Immigration Act of 1965 which abolished the quota system and its bias against non-European immigration. The third wave included many professionals, entrepreneurs, and unskilled and semi-skilled laborers. These immigrants often fled political instability and wars engulfing their home countries. They included Lebanese Shiites from southern Lebanon, Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and Iraqis of all political persuasions. But many professionals from these and other countries like Syria, Egypt, and Jordan, and unskilled workers from Yemen also emigrated in search of better economic opportunities. Had conditions been more hospitable in their home countries, it is doubtful that many of these immigrants would have left their native countries.

Arab Americans have a distinctive cuisine centered on lamb, rice, bread, and highly seasoned dishes. The Middle Eastern diet consists of many ingredients not found in the average American kitchen, such as chickpeas, lentils, fava beans, ground sesame seed oil, feta cheese, dates, and figs. Many Arab dishes, like stuffed zucchini or green peppers and stuffed grape or cabbage leaves, are labor-intensive but delicious and healthy.

Arab Americans are probably most known for their restaurants and cuisines found across the country. Many classic dishes coming from the Arab World have become popular dishes for Americans. The dish most famous, of course, is hummus. This simple puree of chickpeas, tahini, lemon, and garlic is served as an appetizer or as a side to grilled meats and vegetables. Sometimes called “street meat” in the U.S., shawarma is another national hit thanks to Arab Americans. Wrapped with garlic and pickles in Arabic bread (pita bread), shawarma has become a great alternative sandwich. Tabbouli, falafel, grape leaves, and kebabs are part of the American cuisine today.

Stuffed Grape Leaves

Ingredients

1/2 cup pine nuts
1 1/2 cups long grain white rice
1 medium onion, minced
1/2 cup fresh minced dill
1/4 cup fresh minced mint
6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1 3/4 cups vegetable broth
50 large jarred grape leaves
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh mint leaves, lemon slices, and olives (for garnish)

Directions

Place the pine nuts into a skillet and lightly toast them over medium heat until golden brown. Set aside.

Pour ¼ cup of olive oil into a medium pot and heat it. Add the minced onion and sauté until soft. Add the rice to the pot and stir to combine. Sauté for another minute. Pour in ¾ cup of vegetable broth and lower the heat; simmer the rice uncovered for about 10 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is half cooked. Remove the pot from heat.

Add the minced dill, mint, toasted pine nuts, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and lemon zest to the pot of rice. Stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Fill a large pot with salted water and bring to a boil. As the water is heating, trim the grape leaves by cutting the stems off flush with the leaves. Trim any large, hard veins from the leaves. Place the leaves in the boiling water and let them soften for 3-5 minutes until they become pliable. Drain, then cover the leaves with cold water. Drain the leaves again and pat them dry.

Place a grape leaf shiny (smooth) side down, vein (bumpy) side up, on a flat surface like a cutting board. Place 2 tablespoons of rice filling at the base end of the leaf, near where the stem was. Fold the stem end up over the filling. Fold the edges of the leaf inward. Continue rolling the leaf till it forms a neat rolled package. Squeeze the roll gently to seal.

Repeat the process with the remaining leaves until all of the rice filling is used.

Place the stuffed leaves in the bottom of a deep saute pan. Pack the leaves snugly; as this will help keep the leaves intact as they cook. Make a single layer on the bottom of the pan. When the bottom of the pan is full, make a second layer on top.

Pour 1 cup of broth, ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, and ¼ cup of fresh lemon juice over the stuffed grape leaves. Heat the pan over medium until it begins to simmer (don’t boil, or the leaves will start to fall apart). Cover the pot. Let the grape leaves cook for 30-40 minutes. The leaves are finished cooking when they are fork-tender.

Hummus

Ingredients

3 cups (200 grams) cooked chickpeas, drained
1 to 2 garlic cloves, minced
3 to 4 ice cubes
1/3 cup (79 grams) tahini paste
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Juice of 1 lemon
Hot water (if needed)
Extra virgin olive oil
Sumac

Directions

Add chickpeas and minced garlic to the bowl of a food processor. Puree until a smooth. While the processor is running, add the ice cubes, tahini, salt, and lemon juice. Blend for about 4 minutes. Check, and if the consistency is still too thick add a little hot water. Blend until the mixture is a silky smooth consistency. Spread in a serving bowl and add a generous drizzle of olive of and a sprinkling of sumac.

 

Kofta

Ingredients

1 pound lean ground lamb or beef
3 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil, for brushing the grill
Flatbread or pita, for serving

Tzatziki sauce:
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup grated cucumber squeezed dry
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon fresh mint or dill (or ¼ teaspoon dried)
Pinch of kosher salt

Directions

To make the tzatziki sauce, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

For the kofta: Mix the beef, onion, garlic, parsley, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Divide the mixture into 6 roughly even balls. Mold each ball around the pointed end of a skewer, making an oval kebab that comes to a point just covering the tip of the skewer. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for 15 minutes before threading them.

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or prepare an outdoor grill. Brush the pan or grill grates lightly with olive oil. Grill the kebabs, turning occasionally, until brown all over and cooked through about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with tzatziki sauce and flatbread.

Fattoush Salad

Fattoush is a salad of crisp lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, toasted pita bread, and a sumac dressing. Since I was serving pita with the kofta, I did not include it in my salad.

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

Pita
2 large pitas
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt to taste

Dressing
1 clove garlic minced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice about 1 lemon
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sumac
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or more
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salad
1 head romaine lettuce torn into bite-size pieces
1-pint cherry tomatoes halved
1 English cucumber halved and thinly sliced
1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced and separated into 1/2 circles
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves torn into small pieces

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut pitas in half. Separate the top from the bottom and tear into bite-size pieces. Transfer to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil; toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet and season with kosher salt. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, tossing once, until crisp and golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl to keep from over browning. Set aside.
To make the dressing. In a small bowl combine the first 6 dressing ingredients (garlic through black pepper); whisk until combined and honey has dissolved. Add olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss gently to combine.
Drizzle dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat evenly. Sprinkle pita over the top and serve.

 


Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend I grilled a whole chicken and, of course, there were leftovers. The leftovers made a delicious filling for the peppers. Here is the link to the grilled chicken and my recipe for Ranch Salad Dressing.

Ingredients

2 large bell peppers
1/2 cup water

Filling
1 cup of shredded cooked chicken
1/2 cup leftover rice or cauliflower rice
1/4 cup salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 scallions, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning

Ingredients

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Cut the tops off the peppers and reserve them. Remove the pepper seeds, wash and dry the peppers.
Combine the filling ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. You need about 1 cup of filling for each pepper.

Fill the hollowed out pepper cups and place them in a baking dish where they can stand upright. Put the tops on the peppers and pour the water in the baking dish around the bottom of the peppers.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the peppers are tender.

Corn and Black Bean Saute

Ingredients

2 cups corn kernels
1 seeded and minced jalapeno
2 minced garlic cloves
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups canned or homemade black beans, drained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Directions

Saute the corn, jalapeno, and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until corn is just tender. Stir in the black beans and cilantro. Season and heat.

Sliced Cucumbers With Ranch Dressing

Ingredients

1 English cucumber
Ranch Dressing (your favorite or my recipe in the link at the top of this post.)

Directions

Cut the cucumber into thin slices. Place on a serving plate and drizzle with ranch dressing.


Spices are very important in Moroccan cuisine. Common spices include cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger, paprika, coriander, saffron, mace, cloves, fennel, anise, nutmeg, cayenne pepper, fenugreek, caraway, black pepper, and sesame seeds. Twenty-seven spices are combined for the famous Moroccan spice mixture called “ras el hanout”.

Due to its location on the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in natural resources and meals are usually built around seafood, lamb or poultry. The Moroccan national dish is a tagine or stew named for a special pot that is used for cooking. Common ingredients include chicken or lamb, almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices that may include saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. Give this Moroccan inspired recipe a try.

Moroccan Spiced Chicken

Ingredients

1 tablespoon chili paste (harissa or sambal oelek)
1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1 orange, zested, then cut into segments
2 tablespoons oil
4 bone-in chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup green olives
1/4 cup chopped preserved lemon
Couscous, recipe below

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Heat a wide, deep braising pan over medium-high heat.

In a small bowl, combine the chili paste, paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, allspice, cardamom, cayenne, orange zest, and 1 tablespoon oil. Stir to form a paste.

Season the chicken with salt and pepper; rub half of the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken thighs.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the heated pan. Sear the chicken skin-side down until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Turn and brown the other side. Remove the chicken to a plate.

Add the garlic, onion and remaining spice mixture to the same pan, using a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onions are softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan along with the tomatoes, chicken stock, olives, preserved lemon, and sliced oranges. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to braise for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Uncover and continue to braise until the chicken is tender, another 15 to 20 minutes.

Couscous

Ingredients

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ¼ cups no salt added chicken broth

Directions

Bring the chicken broth and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Pour in the couscous and the olive oil, give a quick stir, cover and turn off the heat. Let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork to break up any lump and serve.

Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

1 English cucumber, sliced thin
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup plain whole milk Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed.

Directions

Combine all the ingredients in a serving bowl. Mix well, cover the dish and refrigerate several hours before serving.



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