Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Breakfast with Madhur

Yesterday I raved about Madhur Jaffrey's Cookbook, and how glad I was I borrowed it from the library. But little did I know how delightful her influence would be around here.

First I made a batch of her quick pickled radishes. They were pretty good. Not spectacular, but definitely one for the files, since we often have radishes around.

Then I decided to make Indian food for dinner. I made a lovely dry-cooked potato, carrot and pea dish with cumin seeds and green mango powder from Neelam Batra's 1,000 Indian Recipes. I also threw together a spinach and chickpea curry from some leftovers that were in the fridge. For the starch, I decided against puris or naan or rice or anything traditional like that. Instead I chose something called Golden Sesame Cornbread from the Madhur Jaffrey book.

I warned the s.o. (a lifelong southerner) ahead of time: "I'm making something that looks like cornbread but won't taste like traditional cornbread." I had to do this because like all southerners, he has a very well-defined idea of what cornbread should be like. I've tried variations--a really nice custard-topped cornbread from Craig Claiborne's Southern Cooking, for example--that have been rejected outright.

Well, I shouldn't have worried. From the first bite, the s.o. was in love with Madhur's delicate, cakey, ginger- and chile-scented cornbread topped with mustard and sesame seeds. I served it with some of last year's homemade pear and raisin chutney. He ate two pieces of it then and kept eating it all the way through "American Idol" and "House." I had to ask him to please save enough of it so I could have some at breakfast time.

He did save me some. And let me tell you, warm, cakey, fragrant cornbread with pear and raisin chutney is the breakfast of champions.

We will be making this recipe again and again. It's so easy and so beautiful.

By the way, I mentioned in yesterday's comments that I was baking dog biscuits. Since they, too, turned out really well (the dogs are clamoring for them! they are wrapped around our fingers!), I thought I'd pass on the URL. The kind I made are called Boo's Biscuits, and you can find them here. I made a half-batch, which happened to fit perfectly in a nonstick round pizza pan. I used warmed goose fat for the drippings, and I used a pizza cutter to score the dough into little squares before I put them in the oven. They smelled so nice that we actually tasted them before trying them out on the dogs (they weren't bad!). I don't think I'll be buying commercial dog treats anymore.