Whip Up a Storm

  • Recipes Anissa Helou
  • Photography Lauren Bamford
  • Set Design Stephanie Stamatis

Cozy recipes for inclement weather.

  • Recipes Anissa Helou
  • Photography Lauren Bamford
  • Set Design Stephanie Stamatis

Indonesian Vegetable and Egg Salad

When I visited Indonesia, I arrived when it was still Ramadan, a time when street vendors seem to be everywhere, selling all kinds of snacks and dishes to those who want to break their fast but don’t have the time to cook at home. I stopped at one food cart in Banda Aceh that had gado gado (gado means “mix” and gado gado means “mixes,” because this salad is made of so many different ingredients). The vendor had arranged his different ingredients in mounds inside the cart and had a wide mortar to one side, which he used to grind batch after batch of the peanut seasoning for the salad. You can have gado gado as a snack or it can be a full vegetarian meal. This version is served with a peanut-based dressing, but on some islands, the dressing is also made with coconut cream. Serves two to four.

For the dressing
2 cups (10 ounces) raw peanuts
6 fresh mild red chilies, trimmed
1 fresh bird’s-eye chili, trimmed
¼ teaspoon shrimp paste (terasi)
1 tablespoon seedless tamarind paste, diluted with
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
Sea salt

For the salad
2 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled and cut into medium-thin rounds
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into wedges
5 ounces cauliflower florets, cooked al dente
5 ounces cabbage, finely shredded and blanched
5 ounces yard-long beans, cut into medium pieces, cooked al dente
1 small cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
5 ounces tempeh, sliced into 4 portions, shallow-fried in vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Make the dressing: Spread the peanuts on a nonstick baking sheet. Toast in the oven for seven to eight minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then process in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl.

Put the red chilies, bird’s-eye chili, and shrimp paste in the food processor and process until you have a fine paste. Add to the peanuts. Strain the diluted tamarind paste into a small bowl and add to the peanuts and chili paste. Add the palm sugar and 2/3 cup water. Season with salt to taste. Mix well. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Arrange the salad ingredients on a serving platter, leaving enough space for the bowl in which you will serve the dressing. Place the bowl with the dressing on the platter and serve immediately.

Aceh-Style Goat Curry

This goat curry, a speciality of Banda Aceh, is normally simmered over a charcoal fire for hours until the meat falls off the bone and the sauce is completely concentrated. It is usually accompanied by rice but you can easily serve it with very good bread to mop up the sauce. Serves four to six. 

For the spice paste
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons white peppercorns
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon white poppy seeds (kas-kas)
1 whole nutmeg, grated
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 inches fresh ginger
2 inches fresh turmeric
1¼ inches fresh galangal
4 shallots (3½ ounces)
2 cloves garlic
1 fresh red chili, trimmed
4 candlenuts, macadamia nuts or cashews
Sea salt

For the meat
2¼ pounds goat meat, preferably on the bone, cut into medium chunks
Juice of 2 limes or 1 lemon 

For the curry
¼ cup vegetable oil
4 shallots (3½ ounces), halved and cut into thin wedges
2 fresh curry leaves
3 tablespoons mild chili powder, mixed with
1 tablespoon water
2-inch cinnamon stick
2 star anise
4 whole cloves
2 green cardamom pods, smashed
4 stalks lemongrass, white part only, smashed
2½ cups coconut cream
Sea salt

To serve
Plain jasmine rice or good bread

Make the spice paste: Put the shredded coconut, coriander seeds, white peppercorns, fennel seeds, white poppy seeds and nutmeg in a nonstick skillet and place over medium heat. Toast, stirring all the time, until fragrant. Add the ground cumin and stir for a few seconds. Transfer to a food processor. Wipe the pan clean and put the fresh ginger, turmeric and galangal in it and toast until lightly golden. Add the galangal to the food processor, then peel the ginger and turmeric and add to the food processor. Add the shallots, garlic, chili, nuts, and salt to taste and process until you have a fine paste. 

Put the goat meat in a bowl and add the lime or lemon juice. Mix well, then rub the spice paste into the meat. Let marinate for at least two hours, or preferably overnight, in the refrigerator. 

Now it’s time to make the curry: Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden. Stir in the curry leaves and chili paste. Add the marinated goat, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom and lemongrass and cook, stirring regularly, until the goat is lightly browned. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for a few minutes, or until the meat browns a little more. Add the coconut cream and salt to taste and mix well. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring regularly to make sure the sauce is not sticking, or until the sauce is thick and some of the oil has risen to the surface. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve hot with rice or good bread.

Bread of the Seraglio

The word seraglio means both “harem” and “sultan’s palace.” Depending on how you read it, you can consider this dish, of Turkish origin, either a cheap dessert served to concubines or one fit for kings. I would opt for the latter despite the modest basic ingredient of stale bread. As a matter of fact, most Arabs consider aysh el-saraya a luxurious dessert because of the sinful amount of clotted cream covering the sweetened bread base. It is often eaten as a treat in between meals rather than as a dessert—Arabs usually finish their meals with fresh fruit and only serve sweets at celebratory meals. Serves four to six.

One 8-inch round loaf of bread (about 14 ounces), around 1 day old
1¼ cups organic cane sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon orange blossom water
1 tablespoon rose water
1¼ cups Lebanese clotted cream (ashtah) or English clotted cream
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped pistachios, for garnish

Trim off and discard the crust of the bread, or reserve it for making breadcrumbs. Tear the bread into rough 1-inch pieces.

In a medium saucepan, combine 3½ tablespoons water, the sugar and the lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly so that the sugar does not recrystallize in places, until the syrup has caramelized to a golden-brown color, about 15 minutes; be careful not to burn it. In the meantime, bring about a cup of water to a boil. Gradually add ¾ cup of the boiling water to the golden-brown syrup, stirring with a long-handled wooden spoon—the syrup will splutter when you add the water, so make sure you do this very slowly and cautiously. Remove from the heat and add the orange blossom and rose waters.

Add the bread to the caramelized syrup and return to a medium heat, pressing down on the bread with the back of the spoon to help it soak up the syrup. Keep mashing it, until it has absorbed all the syrup and is quite mushy, about five to 10 minutes. 

Spread the bread in an even layer on a round serving platter. If there is any syrup left in the pan, pour it over the bread. Let cool for about 20 minutes.

Spread the cream over the bread, leaving a little of the edge showing. Sprinkle with the chopped pistachios and serve straight away. You can also refrigerate it, covered, in which case reserve the pistachio garnish until just before serving.

Apricot Leather Drink

Apricot leather is a speciality of Syria, and pretty much the lollipop of our childhood. My mother or Syrian aunt would give us strips of apricot leather to suck on whenever we wanted something sweet. It’s a kind of “healthy” candy (or, to be more accurate, it’s slightly healthier than proper candy). Another way to use apricot leather is in a drink; I like to serve it with a dash of orange blossom water and soaked pine nuts. (Slivered pistachios or almonds can be substituted, but I prefer the freshness and sweet taste of the pine nuts.)You don’t really need to sweeten the drink as there is already enough sugar in the apricot leather, but if you prefer it sweeter, simply add raw cane sugar to taste. Serves four.

3 tablespoons Mediterranean pine nuts
3½ cups boiling water
12 ounces apricot leather (qamar el-din), cut into medium squares
4 teaspoons orange blossom water
Few sprigs of fresh mint (or another herb), for garnish

Put the pine nuts in a small bowl and cover with some of the boiling water. This rehydrates them and makes them taste as if they are fresh. 

Put the apricot leather in a large heatproof measuring cup. Add the remaining boiling water and stir with a whisk until the apricot leather is completely dissolved. Add the pine nuts and their water together with the orange blossom water. Transfer to a serving jug and serve warm, tepid or chilled, garnished with mint leaves.

You are reading a complimentary story from Issue 44

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