Asian Food

Vegetable Kespe and Kuwaiti Black-Eyed Peas {Kazahkstan and Kuwait}

Here’s a 2 for 1 post.  These recipes were made a week or so ago, and never made it to a post yet.  I know, these dishes deserve a bit more love than I’m about to give them.  Not having the battery for the good camera charged is my excuse for having only one, single photo of the Kuwaiti Black-Eyed Peas.  My excuse for the Kespe is non-existent.

The Kuwaiti Black-Eyed Peas are simmered in a tomato-vegetable broth and served over rice.  Typically, there’s not left-over Jamaican festival served with it though…

As for the Kazakh meal, I prepared the Vegetable Kespe over egg noodles, with a Kazakh coleslaw.  Served with a dill and parsley yogurt.  It was good, yes, but honestly, the yogurt was my favorite part.  In both of these cases, I should have looked harder for a more interesting recipe, but still feel that these are dishes traditionally eaten in these countries.

If you’re new to the blog, don’t judge me by this post, or these cuisine of these countries by this post.  Hang out, look around.  Check out some other posts.

Categories: Central Asian Food, Food, Middle Eastern Food, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Curried Tofu and Roti {Trinidad and Tobago}

So if you’re a dedicated follower (then I love you, but that is beside the point), you might remember how I left you with a roti cliffhanger after the Surinamese meal.  I really thought I’d be making roti again the next night, but it ended up being almost a week before I attempted again.  Rest assured, you questions about attempt number two will be answered in this post.

Cue the calypso music!  You might pretend I listened to calypso music while preparing this dish…

Trinidad and Tobago is a country composed of islands–two large ones in particular.  (I’ll let you guess on the names of the two large islands).  The country is found just of the northern coast of South America. Much like Surinamese cuisine, the cuisine of Trinidad and Tobago is heavily influenced by the cuisine of many other cultures: Indian, Chinese, Amerindian, etc.  Chicken curry and roti is arguably the most well-known dish of the country.  I love it–I get to take a stab at Indian food (and the tofu I use in it) without actually having to cross India off of my country list.

I’ve made some Indian foods before (Saag Aloo, Veg. Biryani,  and Chana Masala), but never actually a curry.  I went with a very simple chicken curry recipe, subtracted the chicken, added some tofu.  I honestly cannot find the link to the exact recipe I used/adapted, but my base was crushed tomatoes and yogurt with coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper, ginger, onions, garlic, and of course curry powder.  Jordan rating: definitely in the top 5 dishes so far.

And would you look at that roti.  It actually rolled this time, was soft, and had a bit of flavor.  A vast, vast improvement from the last go round.  At lunch, Jordan compared his roti with roti that one of his Indian co-workers brings in.  He said it was looking quite similar.  Whew!  I admit, I feel some pressure is on when I cook Indian food and he takes the leftovers.  🙂

Categories: Asian Food, Breads/Starches, Caribbean Cooking, Leftovers, South Asian Cuisine, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Ketchup Recipes (Okay, catch up recipes): Tanzania, Syria, Tajikistan

I still exist. And so does my kitchen, I swear it.  I know you couldn’t tell it from the blog, but it is true.  My excuses…first the good camera died, leaving me with lackluster photography that I wasn’t as thrilled to share with you.  (I’m still going to share it–please lie and tell me it’s not that out of focus, etc).  Then, I took a trip to New York City.  It was lovely, and at some point, I”ll blog about my restaurant eats there.  I wish I had the time and money to spend a month there.  Anyway, back to my excuses.  Then, well, I had to catch up on at work since I’d missed for NYC.

Still, I’ve been cooking.  To speed my catching up process, I’ve got a post with a quick recap of three country feasts and my recipe for Black Bean and Plantain Stew.

First–Syria.  I made some mini mezze plates for us, with easy tabbouleh, homemade hummus and toasted pita chips, and some olives to round out the plate.  The hummus was extra delicious this go round…I think a bit of extra tahini may have had something to do with it.

For the entree, I prepared Mujaddara.

Now, lentils are rice isn’t exactly anything crazy, but caramelized onions add the flavor that I needed to enjoy this otherwise simple dish.  I opted for brown lentils and seasoned with cumin and coriander.  Seems like I’ve been using so much coriander as of late…

I’ve also attempted a traditional Tajik meal.  I do not think I had quite the dramatic flare that I was hoping for.  Here was my inspiration photo:


Here’s what our table actually looked like:

There are just a couple disparities.  Ah, well.  We had nuts and dried fruit and piti surrounding our plov.  Confused?  Tajik meals are communal, and center around the plov, which is fried rice.  Usually a plov contains mutton, but we stuck to onions, carrots, and yellow turnips.  Our orange soups are the piti.  [Vegetarian] piti is made with chickpeas, tomatoes, and potatoes and cooked while covered in the oven.  I could not actually find an existing recipe, so I worked on my own.  Does anyone have a good piti recipe to share?

Mine was okay.  Healthful, and with some flavor, but lacking a certain je ne sais quoi.

That’s okay, Tanzania’s meal had it (referring to the “je ne sais quoi”) and then some.  This dish was actually meant to be a beef and plantain stew.  I decided to simply use black beans instead of finding a more processed meat substitute for the meal.

Husband actually voted this into his top three dishes the night we had it!  Since then, I think the Philippines may have nudged it out from Bronze medal standing, but still, it was a winner.

Bean and Plantain Stew (Serves 6) Vegan


  • 1 T oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (one if you’re not a garlic lover–why would you not be, though??)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 15 oz can cooked black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 chili pepper (I don’t bother seeding b/c the husband likes heat)
  • 3 small potatoes, cubed
  • 3 plantains, peeled and sliced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in large pot (I used a Dutch oven).
  2. Saute onions until translucent.
  3. Add garlic and chili pepper. Season with salt and pepper.  Saute for 2-3 more minutes.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes, potatoes, plantains, water, and bouillon cubes.
  5. Simmer until vegetables are tender, approximately 30 minutes for me.
  6. Add coconut milk add stir until heated.  Mash vegetables if desired.

Our stew was served with my first attempt at ugali, which is a dough-like porridge made with cornmeal.  It’s quite common in African cuisine, but usually it’s made with white cornmeal, which I didn’t have on hand that day.  The ugali wasn’t the most delicious thing I’ve eaten, but seemed to go well with the stew nevertheless.

Happy cooking, folks.  Scout’s honor that I’ll be more consistent with the posting in the next couple weeks!

Categories: African Food, Central Asian Food, East African Food, Food, Middle Eastern Food, Soups, Vegan, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Indonesian Fried Rice {Nasi Goreng}

Last night’s recipe needed to be a quick-assembly type recipe, because I was busy catching Jennifer Pharr speaking at River Sports in Knoxville.  She happens to hold the time record (for folks with xx and xy chromosomes) for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.  Very inspiring to listen to.  Maybe I’ll thru-hike the AT once I finish the Pearl Project.  But how would I get my Nasi Goreng on the trail?

In Indonesia, Nasi Goreng is ubiquitous.  Or so I have read (I’m still waiting for someone to send me to Bali to sample all the vegetarian delights).  Simple, fast, and still pretty much on the healthy side.  Not a bad combination at all.  Thank you, Indonesia, for a simple and delicious fried rice.

There are many, many variations on this dish.  But they all seem to have a few things in common: rice, aromatics (onion or shallots), and strips of omelet.

I was true to nasi goreng in all three of those areas.  It’s been a while since I’ve had an egg without it being in a baked good.  Tasted glorious. I rolled and sliced the omelet to make strips for the top of the fried rice.

The rice can be made with chicken, shrimp, etc., but we had some leftover tofu from Chinese Hot Pot the night before, so I went with the good old fashioned bean curd.  Our veggies consisted of cabbage, carrots, sharrots, and green onions.  The sauce did wonders for the dish.  I combined a sesame dressing, soy sauce, and a spicy Asian bbq sauce.  You’ll do well to top off your rice mixture with a few bites of traditional garnishes, such as cucumbers and fresh cilantro.  It’ll make for a happy husband.


Categories: Asian Food, Food, Vegetarian | Tags: | Leave a comment

Amaretto Red Adzuki Bean Cake

Let me be clear, this is my take on a traditional Chinese cake….meaning it’s lost a little bit of the traditional part.  Since tasting a delicious red bean ice cream at Knoxville’s Taste of Thai, I have been curious about the possibilities of the adzuki bean.  Then, in my research for the Chinese New Year, I discovered a steamed red bean cake.  Steaming cake takes more time, is stickier, and probably appeals less to the people I need to eat my food.  Thus, my version.

Amaretto Red Adzuki Bean CakeServes 12

Prep time: 10 minutes, Bake time: 45 minutes


  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 4 cups white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 15 oz. can adzuki beans (azuki and aduki are the same thing)
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • sliced almonds for garnish


  1. Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.
  2. Mix eggs, applesauce, soda, flour, and sugars into a large bowl.  Beat with mixer until well-blended.
  3. Transfer just over half of the batter into an oiled 8×8 baking pan and put in oven.  Let bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, drain and rinse the adzuki beans.  Mash them with a fork or pastry cutter.   Add the almond extract and mix into the mash.
  5. Pour the bean mixture onto the bottom layer of cake.
  6. Okay, yeah, my numbering system is now off with the above photo.  I struggle with formatting issues when I type posts at midnight…No. 7.  Cover the bean mixture up with the remaining batter.
  7. Bake for twenty more minutes.  When cake is almost completely set, garnish the top with sliced almonds. 
  8. Bake for ten more minutes, until toothpick, fork, or chopstick (your choice!) comes out clean.  Be advised that the beans will always be mushy, so that chopstick will most likely never be completely clean.

This cake has a very subtle sweet flavor, which lends itself to drizzles of honey and chocolate syrup.  It would also go well with a scoop of ice cream or almond ice cream, if you prefer.

Categories: Asian Food, Desserts, Food, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Year of the Dragon Hot Pot (Hougou) and Steamed Potstickers {China}

One country down.  Just over 200 left to go.  You and I, reader, we are like Mitt Romney’s campaign.  We’ve got a long way to go together.

As promised, my challenge began for the Chinese New Year.  I’ve celebrated the Chinese New Year since 2006.  This year, I did a bit more research on my recipes and found out that the cashew meringue cake that I love so much is actually Filipino. Oops! (Now we’re looking forward to the day I prepare the food from the Philippines).  Still, even without the cashew meringue, lasts night’s meal was festive and relatively authentic.

I stopped at Sunshine International Market to buy some sweet treats–lychee gummy candies and peanut cakes–and some papers to decorate the table.  The lychee candies didn’t go over well with the Jordans (one Jordan being my husband, the other being our friend), but I still think they are tasty.

Before we actually got started with the food, I prepared a few cups of jasmine tea.  The container was just too alluring for me when I was shopping at the international foods market.  Thanks to my mother-in-law, I also have quite the tea infuser.


Post-tea, I started the meal with some steamed tofu potstickers.

There is no real recipe for these little guys.  I put about 1/5 of a block of firm tofu, carrot shreds, one garlic clove, a half inch piece of ginger, three chopped green onions, and soy sauce into the food processor and pulse to the desired consistency.  Once the filling is made, the fun begins!

I usually put about 1/2 teaspoon of filling in each wonton wrapper.  Moisten your fingers and run them along the outside of the wonton wrappers.  Fold corner to corner (into a triangle) and shape as desired.  From my photos, you might have guessed that I had no particular desired shape.  I certainly need to work on making these look more uniform.  Or maybe not…

And here is where I have a home-cook geek out.  I am finally the proud owner of a bamboo steamer!  It only takes 20 dollars and one trip to Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  I’ve been wanting one of these since 2007.  I deserved it, right?

Yes, it is probably true that half the reason I really, really wanted a bamboo steamer was to take a photo like the following…

I steamed the potstickers for about 10 minutes, before transferring them to a 200 degree oven to keep them warm.  These went over pretty well.  Jordan–of the husband variety–chooses the potstickers as his favorite part of the meal.  I’d almost have to agree.  But then again…I really enjoyed the Hot Pot.

Hot Pot is basically Chinese fondue.   Our sauces consisted of a mustard/soy sauce blend (my personal favorite), shitake sesame, pepper teriyaki, and a sweet and spicy Asian bbq sauce.

Ingredients are dipped into a communal pot (called a fire pot in China) of hot vegetable broth to cook.  Items are then dipped in a variety of sauces and/or transferred into an individual bowl of broth.  We had baby bok choy, carrots, green onions, tofu blocks,  and mushrooms.  The plan was to eat Hot Pot in the traditional manner.  But then all ingredients just seemed to make their way into my individual bowl without hitting the sauces, etc.

Honestly, that worked just fine for me.  I added some of the sauces to my broth to liven it up a bit.  Once I was certain I had my fill of this, I moved on to dessert.  And the dessert in question is none other than the Amaretto Red Bean (Adzuki) Cake in last night’s teaser photo.

I’m not going to talk too much about the cake here, since I plan on providing a recipe post for the cake.  Don’t be fooled, just because there are beans in your cake does NOT mean it is healthy or sugar-free by any means…

Happy New Year!  I’ll see you tomorrow with some Indonesian.

Categories: Asian Food, Desserts, Food, Holidays, Vegetarian | Tags: | 7 Comments

Happy Chinese New Year!

I hope you are celebrating on this eve of the Year of the Dragon.  We are. With Amaretto Red Bean Cake!

Categories: Asian Food, Desserts, Food, Holidays, Vegetarian | Tags: | 1 Comment

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