How to Cook a la Grecque

The term “a la Grecque” is used a little indiscriminately. When a dish is “a la Grecque,” it means it has been prepared in the Greek manner, flavoured with, for example, wine, olive oil, lemon, herbs and spices, and is usually served cold or at room temperature. Generally it is applied to a single vegetable at a time, but vegetables can be mixed. It is ideal for tender, young vegetables — artichokes and mushrooms, carrots, fennel, cauliflower, pearl onions, celeriac, bell peppers, fresh lima or fava beans, zucchini. Use vegetables that can hold up during the cooking process. Root vegetables work particularly well; leafy greens do not.

It is likely that “a la Grecque” is a term that originated in France for dishes cooked in this manner. Continue reading “How to Cook a la Grecque”

Halva | Halwa | A Sweet of India and the Middle East, Lebanon and Greece

Halva,or Halwa, is a sweet with a long history. Records of halva go back to the 7th century when Arabs make it by kneading dates into milk to form a thick, sugary paste.

Halva, or Halwa, is a sweet with a long history. Records of halva go back to the 7th century when Arabs make it by kneading dates into milk to form a thick, sugary paste. It then evolved with toasted gains such as wheat flour, almonds, sunflower seeds, lentils, peanuts or semolina mixed with honey, sugar, date or grape syrup. Over the centuries, love of halva spread to Greece, Turkey, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and India.

In the Middle East, halva is made from sesame seeds that are toasted and ground into a paste and mixed with boiling sugar. Lebanese halvas are sweeter than Arabian types, and flaky Greek halvas are sweeter again.

Try fresh pita bread sandwiches of thinly sliced Middle Eastern halva and banana!

In India halwa is made from cereals, fruits or vegetables cooked down with milk and ghee, and there are more than 100 varieties.

Continue reading “Halva | Halwa | A Sweet of India and the Middle East, Lebanon and Greece”

Indian Essentials: What is a South Indian Pachadi?

What is a pachadi? For many people, it is equivalent to a raita, and indeed there are curd or yoghurt based pachadi dishes that have similarities with the raitas of the North of India. They are both yoghurt based dishes that contain mashed, pounded or diced vegetables, less often fruit, and seasoned with spices. Pachadis vary from raitas in the flavourings and spices used. Typically a yoghurt based pachadi will contain coconut and be seasoned with mustard seeds, ginger, curry leaves and chillies. Raita is typically seasoned with coriander leaves, roasted cumin seeds, mint, chillies, chaat masala and/or other herbs and spices. So don’t believe people when they tell you that raita and pachadi are the same!

Continue reading “Indian Essentials: What is a South Indian Pachadi?”