Category: Salad

Sri Lankan Beetroot Curry & Kale Mallung

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Beetroot curry

Where do I even begin?

I guess I’ll start by saying that I feel like I am waking up from the most spectacular, flavourful, technicolour dream. Sri Lanka deeply touched me, from its incredible landscape, beautiful people and of course, the food. The food! The food.

When I was first invited by Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts to go on a food tour of Sri Lanka, I was a bit uncertain – to be honest, I didn’t know anyone who had visited Sri Lanka before, and I especially had no idea what the cuisine was like. I assumed that it was probably very much like Indian, but what I discovered is that it has its own totally distinctive flavours and cooking techniques.

Sri Lankan people are very passionate about their food and the culture around it. From my perspective, they seemed especially connected to the earth and the bounty that springs year-round from their incredibly fertile land. Many of the world’s spices are grown on the island, so you can imagine how rich and complex their traditional dishes are. Sri Lankan food is also hot. Like, crazy hot. Chilies play a dominant role in everything from curries to relish and are accompany every meal of the day – even breakfast. An interesting way to start your morning, I might add, is being startled awake by an explosive plate of food. And with coconuts quite literally dripping from the trees everywhere you look, the backbone of many Sri Lankan dishes, both savoury and sweet, is coconut water, milk and flesh. Heavenly. And a welcome antidote to all that chile.

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Rice and curry is a Sri Lankan staple, and in fact the word “food” there is synonymous with this combination. Happily for me, there are countless vegetarian and vegan options to choose from. My favourites were jackfruit curry (mindblowing!), cashew curry (yes, a whole pot of cashews cooked in coconut milk), wingbean curry, mung bean curry, eggplant curry, lentil curry, and pumpkin curry. But my favourite curry of all? Beetroot curry. Surprising, eh? The first time I was offered this dish, I kind of thought that it was an accommodating east-west mashup or something, but no! It’s a thing. And a wildly delicious thing at that. I never imagined combining beets and coconut before, but it works incredibly well. The earthiness of the beets contrasts perfectly with the sweetness of the coconut milk, and the beets are neither crunchy or mushy, but a perfectly balanced succulent-tender texture that pairs so well with rice.

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The other major love affair I had in Sri Lanka was with all the little side dishes that come with the curries themselves: sambol and mallung (or mallum). Sambol is like a relish, typically based on freshly shredded coconut (but not always), with a featured vegetable, along with chilies and lime. Pol sambol (coconut sambol) is ubiquitous and served at every meal I can remember. It varies in spiciness from table to table, but more often than not I couldn’t eat more than a couple teaspoons with my curry – which was already insanely hot enough, thank you.

Mallungs are “green dishes” made with cabbage, kale, broccoli, beans or other leafy veg. These are always cooked without any oil, and instead use just the heat of the pan and a little bit of water to steam the vegetable – a groovy technique in my opinion. Spices are used in mallung as well, and vary from recipe to recipe. They can be served warm or at room temperature, almost like a lightly cooked salad.

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Curry leaves are an essential ingredient in Sri Lankan food. Many people are confused by this name because they associate curry with a spice blend, and assume that curry powder must then come from dried and ground curry leaves. In truth the word curry vaguely refers to a dish prepared with spices, but means very little to Indian or South Asians, where “curries” originate.

Curry powder is largely a Western creation, and should in fact be referred to as masala, meaning a spice mix. Most curries in Sri Lanka rely on whole spices, not ground or pre-mixed ones, so that the cook can balance flavours according to his / her tastes.

Anyway, back to the curry leaves. Small, dark green and glossy, they are deeply aromatic with a distinctive savoury-smoky scent that is difficult to describe. And no, they don’t smell like curry powder – we’ve already established that. They can be difficult to find fresh here in Copenhagen (and I would imagine, many places in the world!), but dried ones are available at most ethnic grocers or specialty shops. With about half the pungency of fresh curry leaves, the dried ones are an okay substitute if that’s all you’ve got, but do try and seek out some fresh ones – you’ll never look back! Plus, if you find them fresh, you can easily freeze them until your next curry.

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It was very difficult to decide what kind of Sri Lankan dish I would post first (oh yea, there’s more to come…) but I chose beetroot curry and kale mallung because they are both relatively seasonal here in Denmark, and because I think that both of these recipes take us out of our comfort zone with familiar veggies, and make use of entirely unique cooking techniques. You’ll find both applications totally surprising, I guarantee that, and I hope that they inspire you to make curry out of things you wouldn’t normally, or try an oil-free, steamy stir-fry. Yum town.

There is so much complexity and diversity to Sri Lankan food and I am forever inspired. I cannot wait to go back to this enchanted island to explore, and eat, once again.

Beetroot curry

 

A huge thanks to Cinnamon Hotels and Resorts  and Sri Lankan Airlines for making this incredible trip possible!

 

Winter Rainbow Panzanella

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panzanela

Dear colour. I miss you. Please come back soon.
Your pal,
Sarah B

I’ve joked before about the oh-so dark, single-toned, and super grey city Copenhagen becomes in the winter. After months upon months of this, I feel as if my eyes have turned into little slits, and only capable of seeing in black and white. Needing some kind of sign that I wasn’t turning into a subterranean mammal, I cycled down to the central market of Copenhagen last week to find some inspiration in the form of light and colour. I was pretty shocked when I arrived to see a plethora of vibrant veggies, all lined up and waiting for me take them home. I guess I’d gotten into such a routine with my shopping that I had failed to remember that winter does in fact offer a lot of brightly hued food, and that I am, undoubtedly, a human.

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Excited and hungry, I hurried home with a whack-load of produce and a plan brewing in my brain. Oh the colours! Oh the possibilities! Oh what a nerd I am! With some stale sourdough rye sitting on the counter and a knob of ginger in the fridge, a hearty, satisfying salad began to take shape in my mind, a rainbow swathe of vegetables stretched out before me like a beacon in a stubborn steel grey sky.

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Super Cool Kohlrabi
Kohlrabi is a mysterious and intimidating vegetable, don’t you agree? I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this prehistoric looking creature, as many of you out there seem to be quite scared of even taking it home!

Well fear not. Kohlrabi is not going to take off a finger or worse if you approach it with a knife. It is a rather gentle and yielding brassica, a cross between a cabbage and a turnip that can be enjoyed cooked or raw. Its pleasantly crisp texture is perfect julienned in salads, but it’s also a tender treat roasted in the oven in slices or batons. The flavour is somewhere near to broccoli but a tad milder and sweeter. I really like it in soups as well, blended up with white beans or chickpeas. The leaves are also edible and very delicious in salad or stir-fried with garlic like collards or Swiss chard.

Key nutrients in kohlrabi include vitamin C, for fighting infection, vitamin E for preventing arterial plaque build-up, and a range of B-vitamins for combating stress. The potassium in kohlrabi helps the body maintain proper fluid balance, while the calcium manages the acid/alkaline balance of our blood. Other minerals in kohlrabi include iron, magnesium and zinc.

When buying kohlrabi, look for bulbs that are firm, smooth and free of holes or cracks. Typically this part of the vegetable is pale green, but you can also find purple varieties like the one pictured above. The younger ones can be eaten with the skin on, but as their season (late fall to early spring) stretches, you’ll find peeling the more mature bulbs is a tastier choice. The leaves should be taut and unblemished. To prolong the kohlrabi’s shelf life, remove the leaves and wrap them in a damp towel, place them in a plastic bag in the fridge for up four days. The root bulb can be stored separately in the crisper as well, and will keep well for couple weeks.

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To the panzanella! Traditionally, this is a salad made with stale white bread and tomatoes, a popular dish in Tuscany. My version is a far, Nordic cry from the classic, but it’s a meal in itself and a very satisfying one at that, since there is just so. much. going. on.

The key to building this dish, or any dish for that matter is layers and balance; flavours, textures and of course, colours. Taking into consideration that the base of this dish would be hearty winter greens I knew that I needed something creamy and yielding, like roast veggies, and something dense and crusty, like the Garlic Sourdough Rye Bread Croutons to contrast and compliment. From a flavour perspective, especially in salads, balancing tastes is very important for success. Because the roast vegetables are so sweet, it’s important to have an acidic hit to add brightness. I made some very tasty Ginger-Pickled Carrots in advance, but capers would also be a nice touch if you are pressed for time. The point is to step back and look at your dish as a whole, then adjust all the levels of salt, sugar, and acid as needed tipping the scales until everything is just right.

And just a special note about these croutons, because they are so darn delish. I first came up with these in the good ol’ days when I was cooking at a very small café here in Copenhagen, inventing new dishes every day and being creative with what I had available. The odd time we had any leftover rye bread, I would make these garlic croutons, few of which actually made it onto any finished dishes because I would typically eat them all up before service with my kitchen mates. They are addictive. The kind of thing you wouldn’t necessarily think of as a terrific little snack, but wow, are they ever hard to stop eating! There is a high amount of garlic-to-bread ratio, but because Danish rye is so rich and flavourful, you’ll need that amount of garlic to be heard. If you’re using a lighter bread, a spelt loaf for instance, you can scale back just a touch unless you really love your garlic and/or not planning on making out with anyone for a couple days.

This dish may seem component-heavy, but most of these elements can be made in advance so the whole thing comes together when you’re ready. The only thing you need to do before serving in fact, is massaging the kale and kohlrabi leaves.

Now excuse me as I dive face first into this bowl of rainbow ecstasy! Okay, good-byyyyyyeeee!

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*   *   *   *   *   *

Hey guys! I have some very exciting news…I’m going on tour with my cookbook! Although we are still working out some of the hard details, I wanted to let you know when and where I’ll be so you can make a note of it. It would be so rad to meet you, and I hope that you can come out and celebrate! I will update this page and post the events on my Events page and Facebook as they are finalized. Looking forward to it, more than you know!

My New Roots - Inspired Plant-Based Recipes for Every SeasonTORONTO
April 9 – 14

VANCOUVER
April 15 – 17

LOS ANGELES
April 18 – 20

NEW YORK
April 22 + 23

I hope that everyone who has pre-ordered the book is enjoying the Bonus Pack of recipes! Thanks for all of your very positive feedback so far. There is still time to get yours if you’re interested…click here!

Late Summer Abundance Bowl

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Late Summer Abundance Bowl / My New Roots

 

I have a serious shopping addiction. But it’s not for clothes, or house wares, or even kitchen tools.
No.
It’s for health food.

Although I am incredibly excited to go back to Canada every summer to see my family and friends, the other thing I unapologetically look forward to the most, is browsing the aisles of the natural foods co-op. Oh, I could spend hours upon hours wandering around, checking out what’s new and exciting in the world of loose leaf teas, gluten-free bread, vegan ice cream, and sampling the latest nut butters. Did you know they now sell dehydrated kombucha scobies in bulk? Omigod, reeeally? So yea. I have a problem and I’m not afraid to admit it.

This year I found something very thrilling, and that was sorghum. I had heard of it before, but only in relation to the syrup that is made from the plant. I didn’t know that the plant also produced a cereal! Omigod, reeeally? The silliest things light my fire. I guess you know this by now.

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Anyway. Sorghum. It’s gluten-free, high in fiber and rich in iron and the B-vitamins. Sorghum is also very high in protein (more than quinoa!), yet it lacks lysine, an essential amino acid, so combining it with something that contains this amino acid is important. I chose chickpeas in this case so that we can cover our bases, and indeed make a perfect protein.

Sorghum originates from Africa, then traveled through the Middle East and Asia along ancient trade routes and the Silk Road. Today sorghum is a staple food in India and Africa, but did you know it is the third most important cereal crop grown in America? Insanity!

Late Summer Abundance Bowl / My New Roots

 

Sorghum is very similar to millet in its nuttiness and dry quality. For this reason, it is perfect for cold salads and pilafs as the grains don’t stick together. Like millet, this grain requires a lot of water for cooking too, at a 3:1 ratio. Although there was no mention of soaking the sorghum prior to cooking, I found that cooking it straight from dried took a very long time (more than one hour) and even required more water than suggested. When I cooked it again after soaking it overnight, the sorghum cooked a little faster (about 45 minutes) but still took almost 3 cups of water to reach the desired tenderness.

You can find sorghum (obviously) at health food stores and gourmet grocers. I suspect that it will get more attention in the coming years as words of its awesomeness spreads, so be on the lookout. You heard it here first.

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As summer wanes, we begin to see the gorgeous produce burst forth from all the warm temperatures and soft rains. It’s a beautiful time of year because it’s the season when almost everything is in season! Tomatoes and cucumbers are at their best, fully ripe and juicy and sweet. My late summer abundance bowl celebrates all of this, with an Indian twist honoring the traditional Indian grain, sorghum. I played around with it quite a lot and eventually settled on using curry and coconut as base flavours, then combined with a kachumber salad and chickpeas. The cilantro, cumin seeds and citrus are bright and playful against the rich coconut-y vibes. You will love it.

Late Summer Abundance Bowl / My New Roots

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Great news everyone!
Registration is now open for the cooking classes, lectures, and other events taking place next month in Amsterdam. I am so pumped to finally be teaching breakfast classes! Hoorah! My fav meal of the day plus tasty snacks – what could be better? Nothin’.
I will also be presenting 2 different lectures, giving a (free!) Q&A session at the America Book Center, and hosting a collaborative dinner at the world-renowned restaurant, De Kas.

I am over the moon to be touring, teaching, and above all, connecting with you in person once again.

Please visit Healthy Happy to learn more about all the events and book your space today. Looking forward to seeing you there!

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