First blush of love with kohlrabi

Yes, you might say that for someone who cooks often, I’ve been living under a rock.  I had never tasted kohlrabi and while I had spotted it at farmers’ markets, I had never adventured to cook with it.  But all that changed with a recent discovery – that it is a versatile vegetable that is low in carbs.

“What does it taste like?”, I asked my favorite farmer.  She said it had the slight spiciness of a radish married with the crispness of a green apple.  I proceeded to buy a bunch and cautiously tasted a slice.  The taste and the texture translated into my aha moment – this might be a good low carb substitute for potatoes in any number of dishes, enabling my husband to indulge in a version of some of his favorite high carb foods.

The stew that I created is a favorite from my childhood days.  Dad and mom made this concoction of ginger, green chilies, potatoes, onions and coconut milk which was the perfect accompaniment to steamed rice or fresh bread.  Out went the potatoes and in came the kohlrabis to make their debut in this simple, yummy comfort food which turned out to be a big hit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 medium-sized farm fresh kohlrabi, skin removed and chopped into cubes
  • 1 large red onion chopped into pieces the same size as the kohlrabi
  • 6 green chilies, 2 finely chopped and four sliced vertically (less if you can’t tolerate heat)
  • 1.5-inch piece ginger finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • A few sprigs of curry leaves (optional)

How To:

1. Place all the ingredients except the coconut milk in a pan, cover the vegetables with water and cook covered till the kohlrabi is firm but done – a fork inserted should slide in easily, but the vegetable should retain its shape (about 15-20 minutes).  At this point, there will be some water in the pan, but it will not be watery.

2. Add the coconut milk, mix gently and simmer the mixture for a few minutes.

3. Turn off the stove and wait 10 minutes before serving the stew with steamed rice or bread.

4. The result is super yum and a gift for those on a low carb diet.

Tip 1:  You could also puree this and serve it as a soup and it tastes amazing, the combination of chilies and coconut milk playing a tropical dance on your tongue!

Tip 2: You could use cauliflower instead of kohlrabi for another lovely low carb version as well.

If you cook kohlrabi frequently, I’d love to hear your suggestions!

A Netflix episode of Chef’s Table inspires this dish

Like many of the foodies in the universe, I love watching food shows, listening to food podcasts, buying and getting cookbooks from the library….you get the gist.

A few nights ago, I started watching Episode 1 from Season 3 of Chef’s Table on Netflix.  In this episode, Jeong Kwan, a Buddhist monk from South Korea, espouses the virtues of cooking as a soulful process and how vegan food made with the simplest of ingredients can transport you to a state of bliss.  I don’t know if it was her energy, the beauty of the temple grounds, her artistic way of transcending simple ingredients or her penchant for storytelling that had me glued.  But when she narrated how her father transformed from feeling sorry for her because she gave up eating meat into a content man after tasting her shiitake mushrooms cooked with sesame oil and soy sauce, I could not rush out fast enough to grab ingredients to create this in my kitchen.

While Jeong Kwan did not necessarily share a recipe, it was simple enough to try.  I took the shiitake mushrooms and cut little indentations into the caps like she did.  I proceeded to saute the mushrooms in sesame oil and soy sauce with just one modification, the addition of thinly sliced ginger.

The result was a melt in your mouth amalgamation of flavors, one that took minutes to create but whose taste made me want to savor every bite 🙂

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Ingredients:

  • 2 four oz packets of shiitake mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • One inch square of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • Salt – only if needed

How To:

1.Remove the stems from the mushrooms and cut two slits crosswise across the caps (see picture).  Gently wash and dry the mushrooms. 

2. Heat the sesame oil and when it is warm, add the ginger and fry for a minute. 

3. Add the mushrooms and toss gently in the oil taking care that the mushrooms don’t break. 

4. Add the soy sauce and toss the mushrooms gently again, coating with the soy sauce and sesame oil. 

5. Add salt only if needed. 

6. Cook for two-three minutes and turn off the stove.

7. Serve warm or at room temperature.

If you’ve created a dish from an episode of Chef’s Table, we’d love to hear about your version!

PS.  I’d like to give a shout out to chef Eric Ripert, a follower of Buddhist principles, for bringing us the talent and wisdom of Jeong Kwan.

Spicy garlic naans – the keto way…..and no, I’m not kidding!

Indian breads are simply divine, especially steaming hot naans as they make their way from the oven to the table, waiting to be dribbled with butter and consumed with oodles of spicy vegetables.  But there is a caveat – they use a ton of flour which is not keto friendly at all.

Continuing in the spirit of one meal for all family members with a special adjustment for the hubby, I created these spicy, mini garlic naans.  They are totally yummy and pretty easy to turn out from prep to table.

Ingredients:

  • 100 gms of fresh mozzarella cheese, broken into smaller pieces (you can also use shredded mozzarella cheese if that is easier)
  • 50 gms almond flour
  • One tbsp finely chopped cilantro
  • Two cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tiny slices of habanero pepper (or chili pepper or any sweet pepper if you don’t like your food spicy)
  • Salt to taste

How To:

1.Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Put the shredded or cut up pieces of mozzarella cheese in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 40 seconds or till mozzarella is melted (if a few bits remain, that’s okay). 

3. Add the almond flour, cilantro, garlic, peppers and a wee bit of salt to taste and use your hands to quickly mix the ingredients into a soft dough (see picture below).  Set aside dough for 10 minutes.

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4. Divide the dough into five equally sized balls.

5. Spread a piece of parchment paper (cookie sheet size) on a cutting board, put a ball of dough on the paper, fold the parchment paper over the dough and gently roll it into a disc about 4.5 inches in diameter.  Gently lift the disc with a spatula and set it aside on a plate.  Repeat the process with the rest of the dough.

6. Now take the parchment paper you have just used and put it on a cookie tray.  Lay down the breads on the tray as shown below.

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7. Bake on the lower rack of the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 7 minutes. 

8. Remove from tray and transfer to a plate immediately.

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Serve warm!

With Food, Travel and Experiences

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