Tag Archives: Indian cuisine

Lots of pop-ups in Santa Cruz this weekend

Lemon rice is one of the dishes Monsoon Kitchen will be preparing at Midtown Friday, May 20. Credit: Midtown Facebook page

Lemon rice is one of the dishes Monsoon Kitchen will be preparing at Midtown Friday, May 20. Credit: Midtown Facebook page

These days, Santa Cruz is often buzzing with popup energy—and this weekend, May 20-21, there are quite a few food popups. Here are some highlights.

Friday: My Mom’s Mole at Popup
On Friday, My Mom’s Mole is featuring “enmoladas” (enchiladas with mole) for dinner at POPUP from 5 to 9:30 p.m. — or earlier if the food sells out. They are also offering mole tacos, and cactus/kale salad. Taco/enmolada filling choices are roasted chicken, slow-cooked pork, or roasted veggies (Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, potatoes, green beans, and pasilla peppers with cilantro). Sauce choices are traditional My Mom’s Mole, vegan My Mom’s mole, or gluten-free mole verde.
Location: POPUP, 1108 Pacific Ave.

Friday: Monsoon Kitchen at Midtown
On Friday, Monsoon Kitchen will be in residence at Midtown Cafe from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Menu items will include egg curry, lemon rice, naan, kabobs, and mango pie, and they recommend pairing these with Discretion Brewing beer (on tap at Midtown) or a glass of wine (also available at Midtown).
Location: Midtown Cafe, 1121 Soquel Ave.

Friday: Cider & Sliders at Food Lounge
The Food Lounge is hosting “Cider & Sliders: Take 2” from 5 to 9 p.m. Chef Andrea and her partners held the first “Cider/Sliders” night a few weeks back, and were surprised by the extremely large crowd that showed up, so they sold out before everyone had a chance to partake. This time, they are ready! They promise “cider flights, food made and paired with cider, and mouth-watering sliders.”
Location: Food Lounge, 1001 Center St.

Saturday: Indian pop-up benefiting animals at Food Lounge
Karma Khana will be cooking at an Indian cuisine dinner pop-up at the Food Lounge from 5 to 9 p.m. A percentage of proceeds will benefit the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter. Dishes available will include several vegan options like chundal (chickpeas, coconut and turmeric), vegetable biriyani, and Gobi Manchurian (fire-roasted cauliflower breaded in chickpea flour, served with tangy garlic-ginger-soy sauce). Non-vegan options include kofta curry meatballs made with a choice of locally sourced turkey or grass-fed lamb.
Location: Food Lounge, 1001 Center St.

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30-minutes-or-less Indian cookbook author Ruta Kahate in San Francisco Bay Area

Quick-fix Indian author Ruta Kahate is making several Bay Area appearances

Popular author Ruta Kahate, whose cookbook “Quick-Fix Indian” was published in May 2012, has been doing book signings and classes in the San Francisco Bay Area recently and has a few more coming up. For more details see her Facebook events page:

Cooking Class at Cavallo Point, Sausalito – Saturday July 14 at 1 p.m.
Cooking Demo at Purcell Murray, Brisbane – Thursday July 19 at 11 a.m.
Book Signing at The Pasta Shop, Oakland – Friday, July 20 at 4 p.m.

The subtitle of “Quick-Fix Indian” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $16.99) is “easy, exotic dishes in 30 minutes or less.” In the past, the author and chef spent lots of time preparing dishes, including ones that she taught others how to make when she ran a cooking school in Oakland. Then, Kahate became a mother and she had a lot less time, but she still wanted to cook—especially for her new family (she has two daughters). “I discovered smart shortcuts, convenient tehniques, and quick-cooking ingredients that didn’t compromise on taste of nutrition,” writes Kahate in her newest book’s introduction. Kahate is also the author of “5 Spices, 50 dishes” (Chronicle Books, 2007).

“Quick-Fix Indian” features more than 100 recipes, plus a Quick-Fix Indian Pantry and Shortcut Shelf full of tips. The book instructs Indian cooking novices how to prepare selections such as Chickpea Salad with Pomegranate, Green Pan-roasted Chicken, Mushroom Chile Fry, and Indian Tater Tots. You’ll also learn interesting facts such as the natural benefits of traditional spices (did you know about turmeric’s ability to increase brain function?).

Kahate currently divides her time between the San Francisco Bay Area and India. She is opening a restaurant in Goa, India, in November 2012. I recently had the chance to speak with the chef and author about her cooking, her culinary philosophy, and her influences; some highlights are below. For more on this very interesting and talented woman, view her web site.

Q. How does your time in the Bay Area affect you as a chef and/or cookbook author?

A. The sheer variety of fun ingredients available here as well as the different types of world cuisine represented in the Bay Area are highly inspiring and so much fun! Truly, I have always cooked and eaten like this myself – when I was growing up in India we moved around the whole country because of my father’s job – and our table always had a nice variety of regional dishes on it.

When I moved to the Bay Area over 20 years ago, I promptly incorporated local influences in my cooking style. Actually, I rarely make an all-Indian meal unless it’s for a particular feast. Mostly, I’m mixing and matching all the time. This is why I feel people should be incorporating Indian in their weekly menus.

To do this successfully I think people need to first unburden themselves from the notion that they have to serve Indian dishes only with other Indian dishes. You really don’t need to. A good place to start the experiment will be to add one dish to your otherwise regular meal. For example, substitute the Curry Leaf Green Beans (for your usual steamed ones) and serve with your Sunday Roast Chicken dinner. Or start with the Red Braised Chicken and add your usual sides of mashed potatoes and salad, etc.

Q. What are one or two of your favorite recipes in “Quick-Fix Indian,” and why?

A. Wow, that’s a hard one. I very rarely fixate on one or two recipes. But recipes like Shortcut Shrimp and Okra Curry, Stir-fried Beef with Peppers, and Chicken and Cilantro Lime Soup are great to get people cooking Indian. They’re delicious, authentic in their Indian flavors and super easy to make!

Q. Do you have any advice for parents who want to cook healthy for their kids?

Use fresh ingredients, always. I don’t do processed food, period. And introduce variety in your kids’ diets. Insist they taste everything. Getting your kids to eat all kinds of interesting, and FRESH food is the best thing you could ever do for them. Being adventurous in their eating habits, I believe, opens little kids’ minds to the world in all other ways too. And of course, include lots and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, no matter what else they’re eating.

Fixing vegetables in the Indian way really gets kids eating! It’s really a no-brainer – if the food tastes good, folks will eat it. It’s a nonsensical notion that kids are afraid of “flavor” or that they demand “plain” food. I believe it’s actually the other way around – I think parents approach mealtime with fear instead of with a sense of adventure, and this transfers to their children.

Why offer Jimmy plain macaroni with a pat of butter, instead of ladling on the sauce that the parents are eating themselves? In my home, there is simply no “plain” food available! The only concession I make towards children at the table is cutting down on the heat – not the flavor – in a meal.

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New cooking school in Soquel fills unique niche and offers lots of fun classes

South Indian Lemon Rice, a dish created in April's Indian Cuisine 101 at Let's Cook!

Let’s Cook! is a fun new cooking school located in Soquel; attendees can choose from many three-hour classes that cover a variety of culinary topics.

Patricia Poritzky started the school in January, and the local community has responded with enthusiastic participation. In fact, the school’s first couple months of classes sold out in just three weeks – some in just days! Classes are for both beginning and experienced cooks, and are offered weekday evenings and Saturday afternoons and evenings.

I had the pleasure of taking a Let’s Cook! class last month, and I can say from personal experience that classes offer professional and skilled instructors combined with accessible recipes and a comfortable environment. Most of the classes are hands-on, with a few demonstration-type-classes in the mix. Poritzky says that in the future, both types of classes will continue to be offered.

In an average class, there are 12 students and students take home 4-7 recipes. At Indian Cuisine 101, taught by Chef Jonathan Miller, I received a packet with 8 recipes. We divided into teams of two, and each team cooked a different dish. At the end of the evening, we all enjoyed a late dinner with samples of each food. Participant Jody Biergel enjoyed the class tremendously. “The best part was the community the school created in the classroom. Your fellow classmates cooked for you, and you cooked for them. By the time we all shared a meal at the end, we were friends.”

This community spirit is exactly what Poritzky strives for. She founded the school for a variety of reasons. “Let’s Cook! encompasses many things I am passionate about including food, eating, and supporting my local community,” Poritzky says. “We use local chefs, organic ingredients whenever possible, and source most of the food within a 100-mile radius,” she adds. “I enjoy teaching people about shopping locally. Hopefully, our students will learn how easy it can be to eat healthfully and keep money local.”

At Indian Cuisine 101, students seemed to appreciate instructor Miller’s down-to-earth personality. This, combined with his teaching ability and dedication to quality ingredients and delicious dishes, produced a delightful and learning-filled evening. He was willing to answer everyone’s questions and gave advice on topics such as where to find certain ingredients. “I enjoy teaching, and I feel especially passionate about people eating well and healthfully in their own homes,” Miller says. “This is a way for me to share excitement about certain foods and cuisines with other people, and hopefully it will translate into more people cooking real food at home.”

Miller has an interesting background; most of his chef experience is in the local area, but he also spent close to four years in L.A. His time there included working as personal chef to actress Charlize Theron, and since he was cooking for her every day he had to get creative so the menu wouldn’t get repetitive. He ended up greatly expanding his culinary repertoire, learning many other cuisines, and now he’s passing these along at Let’s Cook! (his other classes include Thai and Mediterranean Cuisine). The dishes from Indian Cuisine 101 included South Indian Lemon Rice and Mughlai Lamb Curry.

Miller and Poritzky are both firm believers in the power of cooking and eating with your loved ones. “Having a home-cooked meal together has great impact that reaches further than simply eating better. People connect and share more over meals, and that strengthening of bonds starts to bleed into other aspects of home life and helps to create a more overall satisfying living situation,” Miller says. “My husband and I cooked together on our second date; it definitely made an impact on my decision to marry him three months later,” shares Poritzky. You never know, you could meet a potential partner at a cooking class, or if you’re already dating someone, get to know them on a different level. “Cooking and learning more about food can be a fun night out. Bring a date, a friend or a family member to Let’s Cook!,” says Poritzky.

Eric Carter, who serves as Director of the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program at Cabrillo College, is a Let’s Cook! instructor. His classes include the popular Knife Skills and Sauces. “I enjoy teaching here because it is a completely different group of students. At Cabrillo the students are interested in learning the skills for furthering or starting their careers. At Let’s Cook! the students are attending to improve their cooking skills for themselves,” Carter says. “Things are a little more relaxed at Let’s Cook!, and the students have a good time. These are self-enrichment classes.”

As Carter points out, Let’s Cook! fills a niche that culinary schools can’t. When a student enrolls it is for a single night, in a subject designed for the home cook. “It’s fun, it’s social, and the students leave with enhanced skills that they can put to use every day,” Carter shares.

Stacey Plant has taken several classes at Let’s Cook! including Knife Skills and Chicken 101. “I really like that the classes offered are varied and seem to provide something for everyone. They offer everything from basic cooking techniques to more advanced instruction,” Plant says. “Each class is very affordable, taught by professional chefs, and provides hands-on instruction where all of our questions are answered either by the instructors or the people running the school. All the people involved with the school are very friendly and helpful during the class. Students get as much individual attention as they need.”

“I really enjoyed Knife Skills because the instructor went over all the basic instructions on the different kinds of cuts (dice, julienne, etc.) and which knives to use for different purposes,” shares Plant. “Very basic information that comes in handy when preparing meals!” Knife Skills is next being offered on June 7.

Plant also loved Chocolate! Chocolate! taught by Jennifer Ashby of Ashby Confections, where each student got to take home about six handmade truffles they created. She recommends this “fun and very educational” class, which will next be offered on July 28.

Other upcoming classes include Sausage Making 101 on May 19 (with Brad Briske from Gabriella Café, utilizing organic pork from Fogline Farms), Preserving the Season: Jam Making (June 2), Baking: Morning Pastries (June 9), and Sustainable Sushi 101 (June 21). For more information or to sign up for a class or buy a gift certificate, see the web site at http://www.letscooksantacruz.com/.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie

Santa Cruz restaurant news: Malabar serves lunch, Mission Hill Creamery temporarily closed

Broccoli Tofu, Pumpkin Curry & Brown Rice lunch at Malabar

Some news in the Santa Cruz restaurant world, from two businesses on Front Street: Malabar now serves extremely affordable lunch in addition to dinner, and Mission Hill Creamery is temporarily closed as it searches for a new retail location.

First, regarding Malabar: people who love good international vegetarian food, especially ones who work anywhere near downtown, will be happy to hear that the restaurant now offers lunch service from 1130am-230pm every day except Sunday. Selections include one entree for $6, two-entree combos for $6.50, and three-entree combos for $7; these include your choice of jasmine or brown rice. Entrees rotate; recent choices featured Chickpea & Mushroom, Broccoli Tofu, Pumpkin Curry, and Tempeh Lala. One highly recommended appetizer is Fresh Salad Rolls ($6) with rice-paper-wrapped avocado, tempeh lala, lettuce, carrots, and two sauces on the side: plum sauce and an exquisite almond sauce. I haven’t yet tried Malabar’s dinner, but I’ve heard it’s fantastic. The menu is extensive and intriguing with dishes like Malaysian Mango Salad, Jalapeno Pakoras, Roasted Pumpkin Ravioli in Chipotle Sauce, and Artichokes and Pineapple Sauce. Plus, dinnertime also features homemade ice cream with a rotating flavor each week such as Meyer Lemon with blood oranges, raisins, lavender and ginger syrup, and fresh almonds. Dinner is served from 5-9pm Sun-Thurs and 5-9:30pm Fri-Sat.

Location: 514B Front Street, Santa Cruz 95060, (831) 458-3023.

Mission Hill Creamery announced Monday that its retail location at 504 Front Street is closed, effective immediately. Dave Kumec opened this organic ice cream shop in July 2010 (read background in my article), and Mission Hill’s tasty treats featuring seasonal ingredients from local farms have been satisfying Santa Cruz residents ever since. New gluten-free business Pele’s Oven is now the owner of the Front Street building and is restricting the space to gluten-free retailers, so Mission Hill has to move. Kumec says, “We are beginning our wholesale production and will be selling in local supermarkets as well as some restaurants, cafes, and attractions. We will continue to sell at Santa Cruz Local Foods in the frozen foods section and are still working on a new retail location on Pacific Avenue.” Santa Cruz Local Foods is an online marketplace where you pre-order organic food and then pick up from a pre-set location (or choose bike delivery for an extra fee). Keep up to date with Mission Hill through its Facebook page.

On Twitter? Follow me @santacruzfoodie.

Indian Cookbook Author Madhur Jaffrey: Bookshop Santa Cruz appearance and recipe review

Indian cookbook author Madhur Jaffrey appears at Bookshop Santa Cruz on October 25 to promote her newest cookbook, and I can personally vouch for two of the recipes.

“At Home with Madhur Jaffrey: Simple, Delectable Dishes from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka” is a terrific cookbook with 190 recipes including Red Lentil Curry Soup and Salmon in a Bengali Mustard Sauce. Last night I used it to make two dishes, Stir-Fried Chettinad Chicken (a spicy entrée that requires 30-minute marinating but only 7 minutes of cooking) and Swiss Chard with Ginger and Garlic (I used chard purchased from the Aptos Farmers Market the day before, and the freshness really made the flavors come alive). They were simple recipes that produced delectable results, and the recipe ingredients are all easy to find. The ones that weren’t as common, urad dal and curry leaves, included an author’s note that yellow split peas and basil leaves could be substituted – which is what I used. I ate the two savory dishes with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains because that’s my go-to healthy, easy couscous-orzo-quinoa side and goes well with a lot of entrees, but the chicken and chard would be well complemented by basmati or brown rice, with perhaps a little Greek-style yogurt to provide some cooling.

The author is known for making Indian cuisine very accessible to the novice home chef, and she once again delivers with this book. As Jaffrey writes in the introduction, the recipes “…are simple to being with…very often all you require is a little oil, a few whole spices, and the vegetable or fish. Saute and it is done.” Also, Jaffrey uses “…a smaller palette of spices” which makes the recipes even easier while not sacrificing any flavor. She has said of this book: “Whether you are cooking Indian Food for the first time or just looking for new ideas, this is the book that will show you how to do it with ease.” Jaffrey has written several cookbooks; six have won the James Beard Award – including her first book, “An Invitation to Indian Cooking” (1973), and “Madhur Jaffrey’s Taste of the Far East” (1993), voted Best International Cookbook and Book of the Year. She is a legendary chef, not to mention an award-winning actress with a new film coming out in November (“Today’s Special”). Her memoir, “Climbing the Mango Trees,” was published in 2006. Learn more about Jaffrey at her web site.

The Bookshop Santa Cruz event, at 7:30pm, includes samples of Jaffrey’s recipes prepared by store staff. I’ve gone to a few readings at Bookshop where staff members make food from author cookbooks, and they always do a terrific job. I recommend showing up quite early for this reading: Jaffrey is known for being a great storyteller and she has a huge following. The event is bound to be extremely crowded.

The Details

Monday, October 25, 2010


Cookbook Author Madhur Jaffrey

Bookshop Santa Cruz

1520 Pacific Avenue, Santa Cruz


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