This LGBTQ+ Pride Month, Bon Appetit is excited to be partnering with the James Beard-award winning Raghavan Iyer, who resides with his partner Terry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Long known as an expert on Indian cuisine, Raghavan has led trainings for Bon Appétit teams across the country, providing instruction in the fundamentals of curries, baking with tandoor ovens, and more.
Raghavan selected two recipes to share from his cookbook Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking.
Indian Slaw | Bund Gobhi Nu Shaak
Nutty, tart, with a citrus burst, these crunchy shreds of cabbage pack just the right amount of heat from the fairly benign serrano chiles. Serve the slaw as a salad course or as an accompaniment to your traditional picnic fare. For an elegant presentation, serve the slaw after the appetizer course mounded on top of leaves from a romaine heart with, when seasonal, an edible flower as garnish.
Makes about 6 cups
- 1⁄2 small head of green cabbage (about 1 pound) or 1 bag (14 ounces) coleslaw mix
- Handful of shredded red cabbage (optional)
- 1 to 2 fresh green serrano chiles, stems discarded
- 1⁄4 large red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into thin strips
- 1⁄4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
- 1⁄4 cup dried unsweetened coconut shreds
- 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
- Juice from 1 medium-size lime2 tablespoons canola oil1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds1⁄4 teaspoon ground turmeric
- If you are using a half cabbage, remove the tough rib from the bottom by making diagonal cuts on either side and lifting it out in a V-shaped wedge. You will end up with a V-shaped opening at the base. Cut the cabbage in half lengthwise. Slice both halves into shreds, as thin as you can. Place the green and red (if using) cabbage shreds in a large bowl. If you are using a preshredded coleslaw mix (which usually has a few shreds of carrots and red cabbage in it for color), empty the contents of the bag into a large bowl.
- Slice the chiles lengthwise and then cut them into thin slices, crosswise, to form half-moons of chiles that still have the rib and seeds within. Do not discard the seeds. Add the chiles to the cabbage along with the bell pepper.
- Place the peanuts in a spice grinder (you can also use a coffee grinder), food processor or mini chopper and pulse the nuts to the consistency of coarse breadcrumbs. Letting the machine run constantly will create a gummy result the consistency of peanut butter. Add the coconut, cilantro, salt, and lime juice. Sprinkle the ground peanuts over the cabbage mixture.
- Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil appears to shimmer, add the mustard seeds, cover the skillet, and cook until the seeds have stopped popping (not unlike popcorn), about 30 seconds.
- Remove the skillet from the heat and sprinkle in the turmeric, which will instantly bathe the oil with its yellow hue; the heat from the skillet will be just right to cook the turmeric without burning it. Pour the mustard-turmeric mixture over the cabbage. I often grab some of the cabbage from the bowl and add it to the skillet, wiping it clean with the shreds to make sure I get every last bit of spice and oil. Using tongs, spoons, or my favorite, a clean hand, thoroughly combine the slaw in the large bowl to ensure every shred of cabbage is evenly coated.
- Serve the slaw either at room temperature (my preference) or chilled.
Buttery Basmati Rice with Spinach and Onion | Palak Pulao
Once a month we all try to gather around the stove—close friends who have a passion for food, fellowship, and frolic. There are two rules: We only cook the Indian way, and this is an all-men gathering (no spouses or partners invited). This is how we bond, talk, and just be. We chip in to prep, cook, clean, eat, and of course drink. When it is time to make the rice, we all turn to our resident physician, Jeff Mandel, an extraordinary internist and a warm, caring man, who happens to make perfect rice. “What, sun-dried tomatoes in the rice again?” we joke, knowing that it is a favorite ingredient in his pantry. This time I asked Jeff to do something with spinach, onions, and one spice—I wanted to keep it simple in order to highlight the flavors of the curries we had prepared. This was his offering, and the result was just right: fluffy long-grain rice, drenched with spinach and onions that have been slow-roasted in clarified butter and cumin seeds.
1 cup Indian or Pakistani white basmati rice
2 tablespoons Ghee (page 21) or butter
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 medium-size red onion, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 cups firmly packed fresh spinach leaves, well rinsed, patted dry, and coarsely chopped
1½ teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
- Place the rice in a medium-size bowl. Fill the bowl halfway with water, to cover the rice. Gently rub the slender grains through your fingers, without breaking them, to wash off any dust or light foreign objects (like loose husks), which will float to the surface. The water will become cloudy. Drain this water. Repeat three or four times, until the water remains relatively clear; drain. Now fill the bowl halfway with cold water and let it sit at room temperature until the grains soften, 20 to 30 minutes; drain.
- Heat the ghee in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and cook until they sizzle, turn reddish brown, and smell aromatic, 5 to 10 seconds. Then stir in the onion and add a handful of spinach. Lower the heat to medium and stir until the greens wilt, about 1 minute. Repeat until all the spinach has been added. Then cook the onion-spinach mixture until all the liquid has evaporated and the onion has turned soft and honey-brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add the drained rice and toss it gently with the onion-spinach mixture. Pour in 1½ cups cold water and add the salt. Stir the rice once to incorporate the ingredients. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook until the water has evaporated from the surface and craters are starting to appear in the rice, 5 to 8 minutes. Now (and only now) stir once to bring the partially cooked layer from the bottom of the pan to the surface. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and reduce the heat
to the lowest possible setting. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes (8 for an electric burner, 10 for a gas burner). Then turn off the heat and let the pan stand on that burner, undisturbed, for 10 minutes.
- Remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork, and serve.
Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less by Raghavan Iyer. Workman Publishing © 2013