Skillet Chicken with Apples and RosemaryWe found this recipe at Family Food on the Table -- thank you, Kathryn, for the inspiration! This dish is irresistible; everything about it says, "It's fall!" Our toddler loves it too! Curry Leaves, Shrimp, and Black Mustard CurryThe star ingredient here: fresh curry leaves. Grown from -- you guessed it -- the curry tree, these leaves can be found in most Indian grocery stores. Fry them in oil before adding the other ingredients, and their aroma of citrus + smoke will fill your home. Coupled with black mustard seeds, coconut milk, and garlic, this dish is warming, soothing and satisfying as the seasons turn.Baingan BharthaIf you've never tasted the smoky flesh of charcoal-roasted eggplant, you haven't ever experienced the soul of this mighty late-summer nightshade. With its roots in roadside dhabas in Punjab, baingan bhartha shows off the versatility of this humble vegetable, pairing the eggplant with summer herbs and aromatics of your choice. The result is a creamy, smoky dip or spread that calls for freshly baked naan and a dollop of yogurt. Ode to OttolenghiOttolenghi makes this dish with "conchiglie," or as my family would recognize them, shells. My son and I were excitedly in search of the conchiglie when we discovered "campanelle," which translates from Italian as "little bell." We were certain they were flowers, and we were certain that we should choose them. According to Ottolenghi, this dish is based on a Palestinian "shishbarak" that he describes as ravioli-like dumplings. This vegetarian version shouts out to summer, as the basil plants grow dense while tomatoes still ripen on the vines, and hot days make me grateful for nearly no-cook dinner. Aleppo peppers with a good rosé are simply smashing!Post-Farm Tomato PestoWe aren't done picking tomatoes yet. Particularly not after discovering this Lidia Bastianich recipe for a no-cook tomato sauce, which does something magical to both tomatoes and linguini. Without chopping, sautéing or simmering anything, we were so happy with this hearty pasta sauce. Post-farm, post-beach summertime perfection!Sushil’s Thai Eggplant BasilOn our fourth date, I took Indu to a small, casual Thai restaurant in Brookline, MA named Rod Dee. I've been frequenting this place for almost 20 years, making it as acceptable for take-out after work as it is for a date, right?? The key to this dish is, quite simply, heat -- and not necessarily spice levels (although they count too) -- but rather the temperature at which you cook the tofu, eggplant and aromatics. We use a cast iron wok that retains temperature and distributes high heat evenly, making the cooking process easier to control. We were lucky today to find these Thai Spice garlic heads at the Needham farmer's market, and we're pretty proud of our own home-grown thai basil and asian eggplants -- it's harvest time, after all.
Vij’s ChickpeasThis chickpea dish beats traditional Punjabi "channa" in a heartbeat. The sweet dates and and dreamy, smoky black cardamom redefine the humble chickpea. Paired with nan and yogurt, you have a meal unto itself. Great family dish, as well -- not a lot of heat, but flavors that even our two-year old recognizes as being supremely yummy! My friend Saloni introduced me to Vij's Kitchen, an Indian restaurant in Vancouver that Sushil and visited on our honeymoon -- it lived up to our excitement. Thanks to our friend Helen for making us this beautiful bowl!Sindhi SpinachThese ingredients, these spices, this particular preparation of the humblest of vegetables -- has probably existed for centuries. And the source of its longevity might have something to do with a particular diaspora of people whose lineage traces back to Karachi, Pakistan, before it was Pakistan. Sai Bhaji, translated directly as "green vegetable," is our comfort food. We eat it with yogurt and papadum and onion "brown" rice as fall is setting in, and it tastes like a combination of childhood family dinners, New England harvest, and Diwali celebrations. Add dill when you've got some on hand!Onion “Brown” RiceIt's not brown rice -- quite the opposite, in fact. It's a long-grain basmati that cooks to perfection in a broth flavored by heavily caramelized onions. That's right, onions. Pictured here with Sindhi spinach and papadum, this rice has subtle umami flavor that just feels royal in some capacity -- I can imagine it served in a Moghul palace, paired with lamb or other meat curries. It really does taste like other-worldly, in part, because it is -- in every sense!