September is a special month for me because it’s my birthday this month while October is special because it was one evening 8 years ago in October that I started writing this blog. So this year, to celebrate these two occasions, starting today, I’m going to be giving away a total of 4 cookbooks on this blog over September and October.
This post includes a brief review of the “Silk Road Vegetarian – Vegan, Vegetarian, andGluten-free Recipes for the Mindful Cook” written by Dahlia Abraham-Klein with a recipe for a really good Bukharian Pilaf that I tried from the book.
The publishers of the book Tuttle Publishing sent me a review copy and also offering a worldwide giveaway of the book but let me begin by telling you a little bit about the book. Please scroll right down to the end of this post for the giveaway.
Dahlia Abraham-Klein belongs to a family of central Asian-Jewish heritage and her book, the Silk Road Vegetarian is a collection of vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free recipes that has its origins in her family’s history and her own search for suitable for those with various food intolerance and sensitivities.
The Silk Road, also known as the Silk Route derives its name from the lucrative trade in Chinese silk carried out along its length of the “road” during the Han Dynasty. It eventually became a network of trade routes that connected the Asian continent to Europe. It was a well-known travel route for merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers, nomads, and urban dwellers from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea during various periods of time in history.
It is not then surprising that the Silk Road also had an impact on the evolution of the cuisine of the regions along this route and that of the people who used this route. The Silk Road region is home to a rich diversity of food and cultural tradition. While some of the food in this region is meat based, a lot of it also generously uses vegetables, lentils and beans, and spices.
Abraham-Klein’s family wandered between Persia, Afghanistan, and Bukhara in Uzbekistan, and the recipes in her book reflect the influences of Indian, Chinese and Arab cuisines. If you’re from the Indian subcontinent, you are likely to be familiar with some or most of the recipes in her book.
The book starts with a brief introduction into her family’s history and food culture as well her personal food experiences showing where her recipes have come from. She also goes into some detail about the ingredients that go into the recipes. The recipes themselves have their own little stories and come with enough detail to make cooking them easy enough. All the recipes are vegetarian of course, but each one is additionally labelled to show if it is vegan, gluten-free and / or diary free.
Some of the recipes featured in this book are Tofu Mayonnaise, Persian Green Frittata, Roasted Eggplant Pâté, Curried Parsnip Soup, Persian Bean Noodle Soup, Middle Easter Lemon Potato Salad, Afghan Squash Goulash, Turkish Baked Eggplant With Mint, Spanakorizo, Afghan Risotto, Lemony Roasted Vegetables, Spinach Stuffed Portabello Mushrooms, Rice Flour Malabi and Halvah Parfait.
About the Author:
Dahlia Abraham-Klein holds degrees in education and naturopathy. She has practiced in New York City for many years, treating patients with food intolerances and sensitivities. She writes for JCarrot on food justice and ethical eating, and a column on developing a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle.
There are over a 100 recipes in the book and I couldn’t quite make up my mind about which recipes to try out and I finally settled on the Bukharian Pilaf With Kidney Beans and Carrots because on that particular day, I was looking to cook a one dish meal and all the ingredients needed to make this rice dish are usually on hand in my kitchen.
Bukhara is the capital of present day Uzbekisthan and was an important city on the Silk Road/ Route for trade, culture and religion.The quintessential Bukharian rice dish, mostly cooked with some meat in it, is the pilaf (also spelled pilav, palov or plov), and this is usually served at weddings and other festive occasions and celebrations. The secret to a good pilaf is make sure the ingredients are not mixed up but to cook them in layers.
This Bukharian Pilaf is not an exotic dish but the stuff of hearty and healthy home made food. It’s an excellent way to cook rice when you don’t have time for elaborate cooking but want a hearty and filling well balanced meal. It’s not traditional but you can serve it with plain yogurt or a raita (a yogurt dish similar to Tzatziki and crisps or pappads if you like and you won’t hear anyone complaining. (Recipe reproduced with permission from Tuttle Publishing).
Bukharian Pilaf (Pilav) With Kidney Beans and Carrots
- 1 cup red kidney beans dried
- 2 cups basmati rice
- 3 cups water boiling
- 2 1/2 tsps sea salt
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 3 onions large , finely chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper freshly ground
- 10 carrots large , cut into thin matchsticks
- 1/4 tsp cardamom ground
- 1 garlic head
- 6 pods cardamom
- 3 cups water
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon ground
- Wash the rice until the water runs clear. Drain and pour the rice into a large bowl with 1 teaspoon salt and pour boiling water over it. Mix well and let it soak for 1 hour. Drain and set aside. In a small bowl, plump the raisins in warm water.
- In a large saucepan set over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons of the oil. Saute the onion, stirring, for 7 minutes, or until softened. Then add the kidney beans, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pat down the mixture with the bottom of your spoon to form a fairly even layer.
- Make another layer with the carrots and season with remaining salt and cardamom. Make sure not to combine the carrots with the onions. Spoon the rice over the carrots, distributing it evenly all over the top.
- Bruise the cardamom pods: Place the pods on a flat surface, place the flat blade of a large chef's knife on top of them and press down on it with the heel of your hand to crush them lightly until the outer husk cracks. Poke some holes into the rice and place the bruised cardamom pods into the holes. Pour 3 cups (750 ml) water and remaining oil over the rice in a circular motion.
- Drain the water from the raisins and season with cinnamon. With a spoon, form a pocket in the rice around the side of the saucepan, and place the raisins into the pocket. In the center of the saucepan, firmly push into the rice, the whole head of garlic.
- Place a paper towel large enough to cover the pan on the surface of the rice. The ends will extend outside the pot. Cover tightly with a lid. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 2 hours, or until the rice is fully cooked. (The towel will absorb the steam, preventing the rice from getting too sticky.) Check the rice periodically to make sure that the rice did not dry up. If the water has dried up during the cooking process and the rice is still not done, add xbd cup (125 ml) water.
- When the rice is done, use a skimmer to gently transfer each layer onto a serving dish. First, remove the garlic and set to the side of the platter. Then transfer the rice, then the carrots, and finally the beans. Scatter the raisins over the top for a sweet accent.
And the Giveaway!
Here’s some good news if you’re reading this post. The publishers of the Silk Road Vegetarian byDahlia Abraham-Klein, Tuttle Publishers have very generously offered to giveaway TWO copies of the cookbook and they will ship the books **WORLDWIDE.
If you would like to win a copy of the Silk Road Vegetarian, here’s what you’ve got to do. Leave a comment at this post telling me your favourite vegetarian way to cook dried beans of any kind. Also please leave an e-mail id or some way I can write to you if you win.
This giveaway is open till the midnight of the 15th September, 2015, after which I will pick TWO random commenters as the lucky winners of this giveaway.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED!