On Thursday night, we had the latest Foodie Book Club meetup, our excuse to gather with friends in the store and eat food inspired by some of our favorite books.  We try to do it every other month, and everyone is invited.  This month we discussed Madhur Jaffrey’s “Climbing the Mango Trees”, a memoir of a childhood spent in India.  Jaffrey is a famous actress who has gained fame here in the U.S. for her wonderful food writing.  “Climbing the Mango Trees” is not only filled with wonderful stories about how important food was in her upbringing, but there is an appendix of recipes in the back of the book.

As always, the Foodie Book Club participants are encouraged to make a dish inspired by the book- and this month’s crew came through in a huge way!  Check out photos of the amazing spread, and a few recipes, after the jump… 

Coconut Pistachio Roll “Things” made by Susanna (we are clearly very specific with titles)

Made by Cathy from “Not Eating Out New York”.  She posted the recipe for her dish, plus her own round up of the evening on her site…

Roasted Potatoes by Antoinette 

Roasted Potatoes with North Indian Spices (from Cooking Light w/ Antoinette’s variations in parenthesis)

3.5 tablespoons of canola oil, divided. (olive oil)
3 pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered
1 and 3/4 tsps black or brown mustard seeds (3.5)
6 dried red chiles (12)
2 tsps minced peeled fresh ginger (4 to 5)
3 garlic cloves, minced (6)
1.5 tsps salt (liberal hand)
1 tsp turmeric (liberal hand)
1/2 tsp (liberal hand)
Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbls fresh lime juice (2 )
8 lime wedges

1. Preheat oven to 400
2. Combine 1 tablespoon oil and potatoes, tossing to coat. Set aside. (I used way more than a tbls)
3. Heat remaining 2.5 tbls oil, mustard seeds, and chiles in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 1.5 minutes or until seeds begin to pop. Reduce heat to medium low. Add ginger and garlic to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, turmeric, and Garam Masala. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add spice mixture to potatoes, tossing to coat.
4. Arrange potato mixture in a single layer in a 13×9 baking dish or roasting pan coated with cooking spray.
5. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until potatoes are tender and browned, stirring every 10 minutes.
6. Stir in cilantro, mint and lime juice. Serve with lime wedges.

Pooris w/ Tomato/Apple Cutney & Green Grape Chutney by Erynn (who emailed us the recipes below)

Pooooooooooris (pooris, puris, whatever)
(makes about 15 pooris)

This is the recipe that I took the most liberties on. Madhur Jaffery offers recipes for the softer more bread like pooris in a number of her books, but I wanted crispier pooris that I hoped would keep overnight. Jaffery’s recipe called for a mixture of whole wheat and white flour, oil, and water. Online I found a number of recipes for “panipuris” which are meant to be dipped in this tamarind liquid and stuffed with this or that. I just wanted something to dip in the chutney, so I stuck to just making the poori itself. This poori is small and made primarily with semolina flour. Many of the recipes I read called for soda water or baking soda… but that seemed like a “trick.” Besides, I didn’t have any soda water and I felt like I could do them without. So….

1/2 Cup semolina flour
1/2 Tbs all purpose flour
1 tsp oil (I used olive, and I didn’t measure it… I think it was about a teaspoon)
Room temp water ’til it works (about 1/4 cup)
Oil for frying

Measure out the flour in a medium sized bowl. Add the oil and mix it around (fingers seemed like the way to go here) until you have a bunch of crumbles (think pie crust). Mixing and kneading with your hand, slowly incorporate the water until the dough just comes together (again- pie crust). Knead the dough in the bowl until it is smooth… adding more water if the dough is too crumbly. You are looking for a stiff dough, but one that doesn’t feel like it’s so dry it’s going to fall apart. Then, roll the kneaded dough into a ball and wrap it an a moist towel. Let it sit and think about what it did for about 20-30 minutes.

Break off grape sized bits of dough and roll them into grape sized balls. Place them on whatever (I used wax paper) a couple of inches apart (small counter? I did six at a time) and roll ’em out into flat little discs. The discs should be quite thin. Sprinkle their tops with salt and cover them with a moist towel. Give it all a rest… heat up your oil, put on some music, call your grandma, whatever takes about ten minutes.

It is important that the oil be pretty hot. If it’s not hot enough, the pooris won’t puff up. I didn’t take the temperature of the oil, but I looked for those hot oil swirleys (know what I mean?) and dropped a little bit of dough in to see what was what. Now comes the fun part.

One at a time drop the dough discs into the oil… watch as they sink to the bottom, quickly get engulfed by bubbles and rise up to the top (if this takes more than 3 seconds, the oil isn’t hot enough). Once you’ve got a floater, watch as it fills up with air. It’s amazing, the air bubble seems to come from the side, and they just puff up and turn from discs into balloons. If the bubble creeps in but seems to get stuck, use a slotted spoon to push it under the oil a bit to encourage the hot air that’s inside. As the disc-now-poori browns, flip it over to brown the other side. This whole event happens pretty quickly- under a minute.

Now you have crispy greasy pooris. Keep them crispy by draining the excess oil off them right away. Store finished and dry pooris in an airtight container, though they are best eaten hot immediately.

Tomato Apple Chutney
Makes a ton, half it if you don’t want to freeze or can some.

This is bad, but I’m not sure where this recipe came from exactly. I THOUGHT I copied out of a Madhur Jaffrey book, but I’m looking through her books on amazon, and I can’t find the one I used. It was a book that did not have only Indian recipes (though it was predominantly Indian) and it was meant to be recipes from the “spice road.” Jaffrey has a couple of books with spice in the title, but neither of them look right. Well… I found it at Barnes and Nobles on 6th ave in the Village. It was on the bottom shelf of the Indian cooking section.  This is pretty much directly from the mystery book, though the cooking instructions are mine and there are some slight flavor alterations to my taste.

4 Sour apples, peeled and chopped (my apples were not so sour, so I added a bit of lemon)
12 oz can diced plum tomatoes
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaping Tbs fresh ginger, peeled and grated
3 green chilies, seeded (to taste) and chopped
2 cups brown sugar (I should note that I was out of brown sugar, so I used white sugar and added molasses)
1/2 tsp cayenne

Honestly, I prepped all of this while waiting for the poori dough to be well rested. So when it came time to make the chutney, I literally put it in a big pot all at once, mixed it up, and turned the heat on. I let it cook, covered and stirring occasionally until it boiled. I reduced the heat and simmered it until the apples were translucent. I took it off the heat and gave it a beating with an immersion blender (best kitchen tool ever) and set it aside to cool. The recipe noted, and it was true, that the chutney doesn’t really need to be reduced- it thickens as it cools.

Green Grape Chutney
Makes just enough… not meant to be a preserve.  Also from the mystery-maybe-Jaffrey book, this one is packed with exotic spices.

2 cups green seedless grapes, halved.

1/4 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Kalonji (also known as nigella)
1/4 tsp fenugreek
1/4 tsp fennel
1/4 tsp brown mustard seed

1/2 tsp powdered ginger (or 1 Tbs fresh)
1/2 tsp toasted then ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayanne

1 T Ground amchoor powder (green mango- fun!)
1 T sugar

Olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan (generously)

Mix the ground spices, salt, and sugar in a bowl with 1 cup of lukewarm water until they are mostly dissolved. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan. Once oil is hot, put in the mustard seeds. When they pop (quick- 20 seconds) add the other whole spices (it was a good idea to mix these up before hand so I could add them all at once). After another 20 seconds or so, add the water and spice mixture and the grapes. Bring it to a boil, then let it simmer, stirring from time to time, until it reduces enough to be syrupy. I also used the immersion blender on this one, but I left it pretty chunky.

Rice Pudding, made by our own Taylor from a recipe in the back of “Climbing the Mango Trees”

Thanks to everyone for coming!   We’ll announce the date and book for our next Foodie Book Club meetup soon, so stay tuned!