The moment my toes met carpet this morning, I could feel 12,035 pounds of heavy clouds whoosh towards my home, settling just above my tangled mess of hair. I should have just made myself a bloody mary, grabbed a bag of peanut M&M’s and surrendered back to bed, as there was no way that I would come out ahead at the end of this day. I knew it was over. I had an out of control problem and needed to address it head-on.
(sigh) “I’m sorry, Emeril. I’ve got to give you up, sweetie
What I once called a “collection” had turned into an embarrassing epidemic. The books covered my kitchen counter, littered the floor like a trail of cookie crumbs leading from bed to bookshelf and completely took over every available dry, horizontal surface in my home. Every day at 5pm, it was the same routine – shuffle books from kitchen counter to dining table to make room to cook. Then shift the volumes back to the kitchen for dinnertime. Just last night, I spent 2 hours searching for my laptop, only to find it wedged between the Bread Bible and the past 6 years of Food and Wine.
But oh how I love my companions! In the late hours of the night, I love caressing Tyler’s, Giada’s and even Raichlen’s glossy pages of beautiful, lusty photographs of food. My husband is secure enough in our relationship that he lets Rocco hang out at the edge of the nightstand, just inches from my sleeping head.
No. I had to let go.
It was time to de-clutter. Wiping off yesterday’s black eyeliner that streaked down my cheek, I cradled Nigella and whispered, “Honey, it’s better this way, your Coconut Macaroons never really came out that great anyways.” With a single deep breath, I looked away, turned her face down and tearfully trailed my finger one last time along her spine.
Then suddenly, I heard a dull “thump” at the door. It was my prince, Amazon, who rode in a big brown truck coming to rescue me from this silliness. He quickly snapped me right back with the RRRRRIIIIPPPPP of the packing tape being torn off.
Ahhhh….dreamy Hari Nayak and his Modern Indian cookbook greeted me with a welcoming, warm cover that seduced me with exotic combinations of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, coriander and cloves. He even whispered sweet promises with innovative spice techniques like dry-toasting saffron threads for a smooth, creamy dessert.
So smitten I was with Chef Hari’s book that I emailed him for 3 signed copies for you. Oh, I know it sounds like I’m try to clutter your home with another cookbook, just so I could feel a little better about my situation. And yeah, ok, you got me there. But how could you resist recipes like Marsala Mashed Potatoes, Tamarind Rice with Roasted Peanuts and Pink Peppercorn Chocolate Truffles?
Quickly glancing back at the Tetris-like piles of books, I smiled sheepishly. I’ll try again tomorrow.
My version is a bit different from Chefs Hari and Vikas - but definitely inspired by their spice combinations. Straining the yogurt creates a creamy, rich dessert without the calories of let's say, ice cream or creme fraiche. Instead of straining plain yogurt, you can use unstrained Greek yogurt. Use whatever fruit combinations you like, I love the festiveness of pomegranate and kiwi. Fresh grated cinnamon would also be a great addition. I would have loved to have pistachios in the dessert too! Inspired by Modern Indian by Hari Nayak and Vikas Khanna
1. Line a large sieve or colander with cheesecloth. Place colander over a bowl. Place yogurt in colander to drain for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator. Discard the water (or whey.) Turn the yogurt into a bowl and mix in the honey, nutmeg and cardamom.
2. Lightly toast the saffron strands in a small dry skillet over medium heat, until brittle. Let saffron cool on plate and with your fingers, finely crush the strands. Cut kiwi into small pieces and remove the seeds from the pomegranate.
3. Layer yogurt, fruit and saffron in dessert cups.
This next recipe was also inspired by the book – I would have never thought to combine vanilla and sweet chili sauce for a salad dressing, but let me tell you, it was wonderfully sensuous. Seared Scallops with Vanilla & Sweet Chili Dressing.