Looking for a flavorful, green side dish to add to your weekly repertoire? Meera Sodha shares a classic Gujarti recipe for Green Beans with Mustard Seeds and Ginger from her new cookbook, Made in India, that will definitely make you want to eat your vegetables.
GREEN BEANS WITH MUSTARD SEEDS AND GINGER
Fansi nu saak
This old bean is one of our favorite recipes and a Gujarati classic. Mum would often cook it for dinner, but I prefer to eat it as a side. The fresh green beans are marvelous with the nutty mustard seeds, crunchy sesame seeds, and a bit of ginger.
Put the oil into a lidded frying pan on a medium heat. When it’s hot, add the mustard seeds and sesame seeds.
The mustard seeds will start to pop; as soon as they do, add the beans. Stir-fry them for a couple of minutes, then add the ginger. Stir-fry for another couple of minutes, then add the tomato paste, turmeric, salt and black pepper.
Turn down the heat a little, cover with the lid, and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes, or until the beans are tender, then take off the heat and serve.
Reprinted from Made in India. Copyright © 2015 by Meera Sodha. Published by Flatiron, an imprint of Macmillan. Read our review of this book.
Did you know that October is National Reading Group Month? We're helping celebrate by rounding up our top 10 paperback picks for reading groups (so far!) for 2015. And you can always find the best new books for reading groups in our monthly column!
Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead
Shipstead revisits the era of Soviet ballet superstars, providing a backstage look at the demanding lives of professional dancers. Using Mikhail Baryshnikov’s famous defection as her point of departure, Shipstead tells the story of Arslan Rusakov, a Russian virtuoso who shakes up the ballet world after seeking asylum in America.
Family Life by Akhil Sharma
Sharma’s Family Life is a masterfully crafted novel that examines the immigrant experience and the ties that bind parents and siblings. Narrator Ajay Mishra tells the story of his family’s arrival in New York from New Delhi—a trip they make in 1979. Ajay’s brother, Birju, lands a spot at a notable prep school, and his father has a job with the government. The family seems set for a fresh start, but many obstacles soon arise.
Redeployment by Phil Klay
In Redeployment, which captured the 2014 National Book Award for fiction, Klay offers up 12 powerful stories about the Iraq War. Klay served in the conflict as a Marine Corps public affairs officer, and his work has the sort of immediacy and intensity that can only come from first-hand experience. Each of these first-person tales has a different narrator; each provides a unique perspective on the experience of war.
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize, Tartt’s The Goldfinch is at once an epic coming-of-age novel and a sophisticated art-world thriller. The narrator, Theo Decker, is 13 when the novel opens and struggling with the loss of his mother. After her death in an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a valuable Dutch painting ends up in Theo’s hands—a rare work that changes the course of his life.
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Invention of Wings is based on the life of Sarah Grimké, an outspoken abolitionist who lived in Charleston, South Carolina, in the early 1800s. Headstrong Sarah is the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. A woman of principle who believes in justice and equality, she seeks a platform for her energies. Since childhood, she has been friends with Handful, a slave owned by the Grimké family who is her personal maid. Their relationship is greatly tested as the girls grow older and the years pass.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
A deadly virus takes its toll on humanity in the bold, accomplished Station Eleven, which was a National Book Award finalist. Actress Kirsten Raymonde belongs to a theatrical troupe that travels by horse-drawn wagons through a post-apocalyptic world, staging Shakespeare for survivors of the virus. When the performers come to a settlement called St. Deborah by the Water, they meet a crazed religious leader who could land them in danger.
Some Luck by Jane Smiley
Smiley’s many fans have welcomed the appearance of Some Luck, the first volume in a new family-saga trilogy set in Iowa. Spanning three decades—the 1920s through the 1950s—the book chronicles the lives of Rosanna and Walter Langdon and their five children, with each chapter covering a single year.
The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
Diamant, the beloved author of The Red Tent, returns with another absorbing historical novel. In The Boston Girl, heroine Addie Baum recounts the remarkable story of her life to her 22-year-old granddaughter. Addie, the daughter of Jewish immigrants, was born in 1900 in Boston. Along with her two sisters, she grew up in a cramped tenement in the North End, a melting pot of a neighborhood that sparked her curiosity about the larger world. Over the course of her long life, she witnesses wars, experiences heartbreak and comes into her own as a woman.
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
The Paying Guests is a vivid, hypnotic portrait of 1920s London. Frances Wray and her mother take in boarders to make ends meet after World War I. Their family has undergone its share of hardship: Frances’ father has died, and her two brothers were killed in the war. Frances, who is 26 years old, devotes herself to housekeeping, taking on duties once executed by servants. When new tenants Lilian and Leonard Barber arrive at the Wrays, a fresh chapter begins for Frances.
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
Robinson takes readers back to the town of Gilead, Iowa, in Lila, a stirring, beautifully crafted novel that was nominated for the National Book Award. Lila is a lonely young woman without a home when she meets the elderly Reverend John Ames, whom Robinson introduced in the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Gilead.
Heidi Swanson takes readers on a vegetarian-focused tour of the world's best dishes in our September Top Pick in Cookbooks, Near & Far. This Almond Cake has just the right hint of amaro, a popular spirit regularly found in Italian cafes and sipped as an aperitivo.
Herbal, sweet, and bitter; some versions weak, others strong—not everyone loves amaro, the widely varied Italian digestif originally sold as a health tonic in the early 19th century. You still see bottles lining enoteca shelves. I love it, and often sip it straight or over a cube or two of ice. It’s invigorating like an alcoholic wheatgrass shot. On the culinary front, I use it for flavor, primarily in sweet preparations—sometimes with creams or granitas, and other times in baking: this cake, for example, where amaro’s green herbaceousness melds beautifully with a thick almond paste batter and glaze accent.
Makes one 8-inch / 20 cm cake or multiple smaller ones
Preheat the oven to 350°F | 180°C. Butter an 8-inch | 20cm pan, generously and evenly sprinkle with flour, and tap out any excess. (Alternatively, you can use multiple smaller pans for a cluster of tiny cakes; see Notes, page 230.)
Break the almond paste into a food processor and give a few quick pulses; you’re looking for medium-size, pebbly pieces. Add the eggs and process until very smooth. Sprinkle in the cornstarch and salt and pulse a few times, then add the butter and amaro. Blend once more before transferring to the prepared pan(s). Bake until deeply golden and set in the center; you’re going to want to test this cake—a toothpick should come out clean before pulling it from the oven—for tiny cakes, this is usually 40 to 45 minutes, longer for larger cakes. Let cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 20 to 30 minutes (very small cakes can be turned out after about 5 minutes), then transfer directly to the cooling rack. Let cool completely before glazing.
To make the glaze, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and amaro. Keep whisking until the glaze is free of lumps. Flood the top(s) of the cake(s), allowing the glaze to run over the sides. Alternatively, you can top each slice of cake with berries that have been tossed with a splash of amaro and sprinkled with brown sugar.
Be sure to buy almond paste, not marzipan. There is a difference.
This recipe makes about 3 cups | 710 ml of cake batter. You can bake one 8-inch | 20cm cake or multiple smaller ones. Adjust your baking time accordingly and use a cake tester to decide when to pull the cake(s) from the oven—smaller cakes take less time to bake.
Meera Sodha shares her family's most treasured staple recipes in her charming new cookbook, Made in India. Here, she lets you in on the secrets of her mother's comforting Chicken Curry.
MUM’S CHICKEN CURRY
I left Lincolnshire at the age of 18 to go to university in London. Secretly homesick, I would stop in Indian-owned newsstands on the way back from class, lingering over the magazines and quietly listening to the owners speaking in Gujarati, just for comfort.
When it came to food, I was at the mercy of the dorm chef, a Jamaican with an adventurous streak who would create delights such as corn and strawberry salad, indiscriminately seasoning everything with pepper. With every bite, I’d be thinking about home and my ultimate comfort food, my mum’s chicken curry.
Put the ghee and oil into a wide-bottomed, lidded frying pan on a medium heat and, when it’s hot, add the cumin seeds and cinnamon sticks. Let them infuse in the oil for a minute, and then add the onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Meanwhile, put the ginger, garlic and green chilis into a mortar and pestle with a pinch of salt and bash to a coarse paste.
Add the paste to the pan and cook gently for 2 minutes, then pour in the strained tomatoes and stir. Cook the strained tomatoes for a few minutes until the mixture resembles a thick paste, then add the tomato paste, ground cumin, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
Whisk the yogurt and add it slowly to the curry. Cook it through until it starts to bubble, then add the chicken. Pop the lid on the pan and continue to cook on a gentle heat for around 30 minutes. Add the ground almonds and the garam masala and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with a tower of chapatis, hot fluffy naan, or rice, and offer yogurt at the table.
Reprinted from Made in India. Copyright © 2015 by Meera Sodha. Published by Flatiron, an imprint of Macmillan. Read our review of this book.
Few books can transport you to an entirely different world like a finely-tuned sci-fi or fantasy can. From adventures in distant futures on distant planets to tongue-in-cheek satires and magical fairy tales to all-too-possible dystopian thrillers, we've rounded up some of the best offerings from 2015.
It’s hard to follow a debut novel like Ready Player One: It immediately became an international phenomenon, was published in 40 countries and is in the works to become a movie, but Ernest Cline's winning formula that blends Gen-X nostalgia, pop-culture references and high-stakes adventure is once again executed to a T in his second novel, Armada. High school student Zack Lightman finds himself in the middle of a government conspiracy and on the frontlines of an alien invasion that only the best gamers are unwittingly prepared for. And yes, it's supposed to remind you of Ender's Game and The Last Starfighter.
Dennis Mahoney reimagines the colonial era of the 1700s, when European empires were sending explorers to the New World, in his latest novel. But the familiarity ends there, as the Old World is called Heraldia and the New World is known as Floria. The natural world is home to fantastical wonders and meteorological phenomena, seasons can change in a matter of hours and unpredictable "colorwashes" often transform the landscape. If you're looking to get lost in a magical wilderness, then Bell Weather is the historical fantasy for you.
Grossman's wickedly witty alternative history stars one of our most (in)famous and parodied presidents, Richard Nixon. In Crooked, everything you know about Nixon's politics, the Watergate scandal and the Cold War is wrong. Narrated by Grossman's own version of Nixon, we discover a world in which he wasn't a paranoid and conniving president, but a selfless hero battling a supernatural enemy much scarier than the Soviet Union.
Looking to escape Earth? In the compelling Mother of Eden, author Chris Beckett returns readers to the alien world of his award-winning novel Dark Eden. The characters are familiar, as they are descendants of the first novel's original castaways, yet instead of a struggle for survival, this story deals with humans navigating now thriving communities on the planet Eden. The reader quickly learns that Eden's alien flora and fauna aren't nearly as threatening as other humans on their worst behaviors.
Neal Stephenson, one of the most popular science-fiction writers in America, imagines Earth’s impending doom and its aftermath in his latest gripping novel. After the moon explodes, it becomes apparent that Earth isn’t long for this universe. National divisions dissolve as the human race bands together to give humanity a chance at survival in outer space. And—despite quite a few setbacks—it works! Humanity survives and thrives—for 5,000 years, at that—on another planet. But after five millennia, people become curious about returning to the legendary planet known as Earth. Filled with detail and technical minutiae, this novel is a sci-fi space odyssey with a giant, mesmerizing scope.
Are you ready to dive into a vast world of magic and adventure a lá George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire, but a bit hesitant to pick up an 800-page doorstopper with a hefty roster of characters to keep track of? Then Naomi Novik has the perfect entry-level fantasy for you with her spellbinding novel Uprooted. This fairy-tale influenced story follows 17-year-old Agnieszka as she leaves her sleepy, vaguely Eastern European village for an apprenticeship with a gruff master wizard known as the Dragon. A classic and inspiring good-versus-evil story with plenty of magic, monsters and romance, this fantasy is easily one of the year's most accessible.
After a year of ravaging, headline-grabbing drought in California and incredibly deadly wildfires eating up swaths of the American West, The Water Knife is about as timely as a sci-fi novel can be. Bacigalupi envisions an eerie, not-so-distant future where climate change has caused another dust bowl and California, Nevada and Arizona are willing to wage war over water rights. Bacigalupi's dystopian novel is a thriller that will keep you turning the pages, but it doesn't shy away from exploring the politics of greed, bureaucracy and environmental regulation. Similar to Margaret Atwood's stories, The Water Knife is a frightening vision of an all-too-plausible future.
Our cooking columnist Sybil Pratt has deemed Alice Waters "one of our national culinary treasures." Her new cookbook, My Pantry, is filled with the recipes for the staples she stocks her own pantry with, such as this simple and nourishing Superfood Granola.
Fanny’s Superfood Granola
Makes about 7 cups (1¾ pounds)
Part of what encouraged my transition to whole grains was having my daughter, Fanny, a whole-grain and superfood enthusiast, back home from time to time. When Fanny was in college, she came up with the recipe for this granola, which she claims gave her the long-lasting energy she needed to get through a morning of classes. Making granola is not at all complicated and you can easily customize the recipe. The only time-consuming part is stirring it while it bakes to ensure it doesn’t burn around the edges. Serve it with homemade yogurt for a delicious and healthy start to the day, or eat it by itself as an afternoon snack.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, mix together the oats, buckwheat, quinoa, almonds, chopped nuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla and salt.
Measure the coconut oil and honey into a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
Warm over low heat, stirring until combined. Pour half the mixture into the dry ingredients and toss to distribute. Add the remaining oil and honey mixture and toss again until the granola is evenly moistened. Spread the mixture evenly on a rimmed baking sheet or jelly-roll pan. Bake for 10 minutes, then take the pan out of the oven and toss the granola with a spatula. Return to the oven, removing the pan and stirring every 5 minutes to ensure even toasting, until lightly browned, about 30 minutes in total. Add the raisins and coconut and bake for a final 5 minutes to lightly toast the coconut. The mixture should be golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
You may recognize Jesse Eisenberg as an Academy Award-nominated actor from films such as The Social Network, but he is also an established playwright and author who has been featured in publications including the New Yorker and McSweeney's. In his first collection of short stories, Bream Gives Me Hiccups, Eisenberg's sharp comic timing lends plenty of laugh-out-loud moments to stories that span a wide variety of subjects from arguments between college roommates to reimagined historical scenes, but there are also an astonishing amount of introspective moments and tender displays of human vulnerability. The first grouping of stories, which lend the book its title, are told from a 9-year-old restaurant critic's point of view and are simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. This collection is a wonderful fall read for those looking for some brainy humor, emotional depth and a few lovely lines of prose that are sure to get under your skin.
Sushi Nozawa does not have any menus, which Mom said made it fancy. The Sushi chef is very serious and he stands behind a counter and serves the people whatever he wants. He is also mean.
The first thing they brought us was a rolled up wet washcloth, which I unrolled and put on my lap because Mom always said that the first thing I have to do in a nice restaurant is put the napkin in my lap. But this napkin was hot and wet and made me feel like I peed my pants. Mom got angry and asked me if I was stupid.
The mean woman then brought a little bowl of mashed up red fish bodies in a brown sauce and said that it was tuna fish, which I guess was a lie because it didn’t taste like tuna and made me want to puke right there at the table. But Mom said that I have to eat it because Sushi Nozawa was “famous for their tuna.” At school, there is a kid named Billy who everyone secretly calls Billy the Bully and who puts toothpaste on the teacher’s chair before she comes into the classroom. He is also famous.
What are you reading?
The summer heat is (thankfully) on its way out, and warm and comforting dishes are coming back around. Let Heidi Swanson's recipe for Baked Oatmeal ease you into the fall season. Her vegetarian, whole foods-focused cookbook, Near & Far is our Top Pick for September.
pluots ° kefir ° almonds
I suspect the baked oatmeal recipe in my last book made it into more kitchens than any other recipe I’ve ever written. It’s still a regular here at home, in various guises, and this is a version worth celebrating. Made with crimson-fleshed Dapple Dandy pluots, it rides the line beautifully between the sweetness of the summer fruit and the tanginess of the kefir or buttermilk. Other stone fruit can be substituted.
Preheat the oven to 375°F | 190°C with a rack in the top third of the oven. Generously butter the inside of an 8-inch / 20cm square baking dish (or equivalent), then sprinkle with lemon zest.
In a bowl, mix together the oats, almonds, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, kefir, water, egg, half of the butter and the vanilla. Arrange the pluots in a single layer in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Cover the fruit with the oat mixture. Slowly drizzle the kefir mixture over the oats. Gently give the baking dish a couple of raps on the countertop to make sure the liquid moves through the oats.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and the oat mixture has set. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Drizzle the remaining melted butter on the top and serve. Finish with a bit more maple syrup if you want it a bit sweeter, and a thread of cream to bring it all together.
Masterful home cook Katie Workman's new cookbook Dinner Solved! makes it simple and easy to accommodate kids and picky eaters with tweaks to a single meal. Try this super customizable recipe for Simple One-Skillet Chicken Alfredo Pasta, which can be served as-is, or tweaked with add-ins like sun-dried tomatoes or broccoli florets.
Fork in the Road: Slightly decadent, more than a little comforting, and with some great add-in options to elevate it above the usual.
Serves 6 to 8
What the Kids Can Do
Measure ingredients, pick add-ins, stir with supervision.
While it’s certainly reasonable to thrill over a meal of reheated leftover Alfredo pasta, either warmed on the stovetop or in the microwave, this dish is best when it’s made just before serving.
Note: What does rigate mean? Ridges. And those ridges are what lets the pasta grab onto that sauce and hold it tight. Tighter than a preschooler hangs on to his mom who is about leave him at school for the first time, or maybe even a month or so into the school year, even though he knows she is coming back, because when has she ever not? (Can you tell I still have scars?)
One of the reasons I like to cook mostly healthy food is so I can justify the occasional dish like this one. In between an evening featuring Kale and Quinoa Salad (page 78), and another dinner starring Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia (page 147), I can rationalize this warm hug of a meal. Plus, any one-skillet meal where the pasta cooks right in the sauce is a gift with purchase, in my book.
1. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Melt the butter in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary, and sauté until nicely browned on the outside, but still a bit pink inside, about 4 minutes (the pieces don’t have to be browned on all sides; two sides is fine). Remove the chicken and set aside on a plate.
3. Do not clean the pan! Those brown bits on the bottom of the pan are going to add flavor to the sauce. Add the garlic to the pan and sauté over medium heat until you can smell it, 30 seconds. Turn the heat to high, add the chicken broth, and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up all of those delicious caramelized bits. Bring to a simmer, lower to medium heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the pasta, stir well and simmer until the pasta starts to soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the warm cream and the browned chicken with any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, most of the liquid has been absorbed, and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes more.
4. Stir in the Parmesan until well incorporated, and adjust the seasonings.
5. You can continue with Step 6 or see the Fork in the Road for add-in suggestions.
6. Transfer the mixture to a serving bowl and sprinkle with the parsley, if desired. Serve hot and pass extra Parmesan at the table.
When you add the Parmesan in Step 4, you can add any of the following to the pot, alone or in combination; stir over medium heat for another minute or two.
Or, you can serve up portions of Chicken Alfredo Pasta for those who like it plain and simple, and add proportionate amounts of any of the add-ins to the pot.
Looking for the perfect side to complement any grilled dish? Try these Grilled Fingerling Potatoes (ready in just 10 minutes!) from Joe Carroll and Nick Fauchald's new cookbook, Feeding the Fire.
Grilled Fingerling Potatoes
Makes 4 servings
This simple side dish can be served alongside any meat or other main course you’re throwing on the grill. A hot grill crisps up the exterior of the fingerlings so they are like fat steak fries, making them the perfect starch accompaniment.
1. Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and add enough water to cover by 2 inches. Add 1 tablespoon salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool slightly, then cut lengthwise in half.
2. Prepare a hot single-level fire in a grill (see page 149).
3. In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with olive oil until well coated. Season with salt and pepper and toss again. Grill the potatoes, cut side down, until charred on the first side, 2 to 3 minutes. Turn the potatoes over and grill until the skin is crispy, about 2 minutes longer.
4. Transfer the potatoes to a bowl and toss with the garlic butter. Season to taste with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the parsley, and toss again. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.