As orignially appeared in AMi Living Whisk magazine:
The Culinary Journey
Over the next few months, Whisk is taking you on a culinary adventure. Every four weeks, you’ll meet another Jew from across the globe, cooking with their distinctive flavor and flair.
Though our time zones are different, we’ll catch up with each of them for a quick chat…before we’re treated to a delectable meal. As you learn about their culinary styles and peruse the fresh the recipes every month, you’re certain to end up with a few original ideas to bring excitement to your own cooking.
Victoria Dwek - Mangaing Editor Leah Schapira - Food Editor
In our first stop, we’re meeting Shulie Madnick. Shulie is of Indian Jewish ancestry, born and raised in Israel. That explains the Indian and Mediterranean flavors in these recipes and on her Food Wanderings blog.
A Little Bit of Cardamom
Recipes and Photos by Shulie Madnick
“Hi Shulie…we know that some people are born with a wooden spoon in their hands and some find it only later. When did you fall in love with cooking?”
“When I was growing up, cooking was like an assembly line. We were four girls and two boys. We girls all had tasks; I was great at rolling out perfect circles with a rolling pin for breads or stuffed steamed sweet dumplings called Laru, similar to Chinese dumplings. The dough was stuffed with sweetened coconut and nuts or sweetened semolina and nuts. There’s a fun contest that newly married couples have a custom to play—they challenge each other as to who can take the Laru out of the steamer intact. Back then, I think I got some of my mom’s touch in me but I didn’t realize it until much later on in life.”
“Your mom is a good cook?”
“My mom is an excellent cook! She is truly gifted. She got that special touch not many possess. She mostly cooked Indian food while we were growing up.”
“Did you start out cooking only Indian food too?”
“Yes! Most foods other than Indian and Israeli tasted bland to me. Slowly I began to like Thai, no wonder, as it’s packed with a punch of flavor. Now I can even appreciate steak and potatoes. I like to be minimal at times and let ingredients shine without masking their pure flavor. So now, while my main repertoires is Mediterranean and Indian food, my cooking is versatile a fusion of sorts. I can cook pretty much anything. If I am unfamiliar with a certain cuisine it’s just a matter of something sparking my interest and me putting my mind to it. I can make Italian pasta sauce and gnocchi from scratch, sushi, and recently explored Indonesian cuisines. I also like to develop fused recipes that cross different cultures.”
“What’s your family’s favorite?”
“Chicken curry! I bring the mixed spices back from Israel. It’s the exact ratios of different ingredients that go into a curry mix I grew up on. The base is nicely caramelized onions, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, garlic, and curry powder, then chicken and potato added once the base is cooked well.”
“And what’s your personal favorites? If you were stuck on a desert island, what three foods could you live on.”
“Hmmm, I can live off Indian food every day. It has coconut, it has mango and its range is versatile. Not many people know that Indian food can sometimes be subdued. If I had to pick…my three favorites are samosas, halwa, and the chicken curry. Samosas are fried triangle dough filled with spiced potatoes and peas. Some of the spices in there are red pepper and cumin seeds. Halwa is a desert. It’s sweetened milk with corn flour and cardamom, and churned on stove until smoothly thickened. It’s poured into a shallow dish called Talla and chilled in the fridge. The consistency becomes jello-like. Halwa tastes similar to the Israeli/Mediterranean Malabi.”
“What special ingredients do you use that make your dishes Indian-inspired or flavored?”
“An instant simple Indian touch can be a cheap and accessible herb, the cilantro. That will give your dish a bit of an exotic touch without any heat added. Also, add a touch of cardamom to desserts. If you put anything sweet with a hint of cardamom in it in front of me it will always be a success in my book! Never fails!”
“What if someone is new to Indian food and wants to incorporate these new flavors without putting a whole menu of new things on the table. What do you recommend?”
“If you buy curry powder, use just a sprinkle, not the full dose asked for in an authentic recipe. Also start with something you can relate to, like the peach salsa to add to a latke, for example, instead or in addition to apple sauce.”
“You obviously know your stuff. Would you admit to any kitchen disasters?”
“Yes! Two in fact. Early on, just after I got married, I made super burnt popcorn. We had to toss away the microwave and air the house for days. I also once left house with hard boiled eggs on the stove and came back to an incredible mess! It was in our first rented apartment in old Ramat Aviv in Israel.”
“Lastly—what’s your favorite cookbook on your shelf today?”
“I like Paula Wolfert’s Couscous and Other Foods of Morocco. It’s very well researched. As much as I love visuals, even without a single image, I adore it. There’s some amazing recipes, especially for the holidays, like lamb and honey.”
“Thank you Shulie…now let’s look at those refreshing recipes.”
20 Minute Indian Salmon in an Envelope
This is a quick and easy oil free recipe. You can be creative with it. One day you can bake for 20 minutes with an Indian flair as shown in this recipe. The next time you make it, slather it with, even a store bought, basil pesto for an Italian fare. It’s wonderful for a midweek casual meal, as well as to wow your guests on a special occasion with the eye catching parchment paper envelope presentation. Whether you serve at the dinner or buffet table as a center piece, or individually wrapped in personalized envelopes of parchment paper, you’re sure to draw many compliments for the flavor, technique and presentation. Serve with the peach chutney/salsa on the side or as a touch above.
1 pound salmon fillet (whole or cut into four ¼ lb each)
Couple dashes—½ teaspoon curry powder (found in any supermarket spice isle), optional
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
1 sliced tomato
1 sliced lemon
Few sprigs of fresh cilantro leaves and a couple extra as a garnish. If not using curry powder, you can use parsley sprigs instead of cilantro
Parchment paper or aluminum foil
1. Heat up oven to 400°F.
2. Wash salmon fillet in cold water and tap gently with paper towel to dry.
3. Layer a baking dish with foil or parchment paper. Lay washed and patted dry salmon fillet on top of parchment, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle some curry powder on top.
4. Layer with sliced lemons and sliced tomato on top of salmon. Add cilantro leaves on top of tomato and lemon slices.
5. Cut another large enough parchment paper as a tent to cover salmon on top. Fold bottom and top edges of the parchment paper all around to keep moisture in.
6. Bake for 20 minutes. Watch out for the steam as you open parchment envelope while the salmon is still hot.
7. Garnish with additional fresh cilantro leaves and serve with peach chutney/salsa.
Yield: serves 4
Cook’s note:I will let you in on a secret if you are short on time. Layer foil or parchment paper on a baking sheet. Prep the fish as described above and layer another sheet of foil or parchment paper on top like a tent, without folding edges and voila—into the oven. It works just the same!
I like to give the original mango chutney (an Indian salsa/relish) a seasonal twist and use a fruit that is in season, such as yellow peaches I see everywhere nowadays. You can use nectarines and mangoes. If you do not like too much heat, you can leave the jalapeno out and the salsa will have a fresh fruity cooling effect complimenting grilled chicken or the 20 minute Indian salmon. You can use it as a condiment or scoop some with tortilla chips. I diced all the ingredients but you can always whizz all ingredients in a food processor while giving it only a few pulses or more depending on the consistency desired. I prepare it both ways. My mom, in Israel, likes to grind it in a meat grinder reserved only for this and her other pareve dishes.
4 just ripe yellow peaches, cored, peeled and diced
Juice of ½ lime
1/4 of large red onion diced
1-2 minced garlic (optional)
4-8 fresh mint leaves chopped (julienned)
4-8 sprigs of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2-1 seeded jalapeno, diced (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons sugar
Coconut flakes as a garnish (optional)
1-2 tablespoons oil if keeping longer than couple days refrigerated
1. Add diced peaches into a bowl and drizzle lime juice immediately onto the peaches and mix. This avoids peaches from oxidizing and turning brown. They will stay beautifully vibrant.
2. Add the onion, garlic, mint leaves, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, and sugar. Mix and garnish with coconut flakes.
3. Or as in the introduction above, whizz all ingredients in a food processor including the coconut if you wish. Serve with 20 minute Indian Salmon.
Yield: serves 4
Shekem, Simple Dough and Eggplant Roulade
Israeli Shekem doughis the go-to Israeli sour cream dough. It’s simple, yet packed with flavor. It’s perfect for the many vegetarian meals Israeli tables are adorned with, whether at their famous brunches or at the dinner table. Shekem is an acronym, stands for three letters in the alphabet Shin, Koof, and Mem.Shin stands for Shamenet,which would be plain yogurt or sour cream in the States. Koof stands for Kemach, which is flour and Mem stands for margarine or as in this case, I used butter. Eggplant and yogurt are staples in the Indian kitchen and this roulade can be adapted to compliment many cuisines from European, American menus as well.
About 7 ounces sour cream
2 1/2-3 plus cups self-rising flour
7 ounces unsalted butter at room temperature
¼-½ teaspoon salt
1 pound eggplants (enough for 3 roulades)
2 tablespoons canola oil (or any other vegetable oil)
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful parsley, chopped
Any grated or crumbled cheese you have at home, about ¾ cups, 1/3 cup for each roulade (optional)
1 egg for egg wash (brushing the filled dough on top to achieve a golden hue)
1. To prepare the dough, mix 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, butter, and sour cream in a mixer (or by hand) with paddle attachment. If the dough is too moist, add a bit more flour and continue kneading by hand until a (very) soft delicate dough is formed.
2. Wrap in plastic wrap and keep refrigerated for at least two hours until use. It’s best when chilled. Cut dough into three portions before rolling out. Dough advantage: Dough can be prepared 3-5 days ahead and kept chilled in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen and used later.
3. To prepare the eggplant filling, cut the stem off. Cut eggplant into roughly ¼ of an inch thick round slices or lengthwise, brush with oil and sprinkle with salt on both sides.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F.
5. Lay sliced eggplant on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and roast for 25-30 minutes. Flip eggplant slices with a spatula and continue roasting for 15-20 minutes longer or until golden on both sides. Remove from oven and let cool. Filling advantage: This step can be done a day or two in advance and roasted eggplant can be kept in refrigerator.
6. To assemble the roulade, dust a rolling surface with some flour and roll out 1/3 of the dough into a thin rectangle.
7. Layer the filling 1/3 way up from the edges of rolled out dough along the longer side in a long strip. Leave some unlayered dough space for folding around wider sides as well. Do not spread filling over entire surface; a thick strip is enough.
8. Add parsley and grated or crumbled cheese on top of eggplant.
9. Fold narrow/wider side edges in and then fold bottom and top parts (longer sides) of dough to envelope the filling into a roulade form.
10. Beat the egg and brush top of roulade with the egg wash. Place roulade into an oiled parchment lined baking sheet and proceed to assemble next two roulades.
11. Once assembled, bake for 35 minutes.
12. Serve immediately or at room temperature. You can also freeze roulades. Let thaw and reheat for about 20 minutes. Reheat in oven only (not in a microwave) before serving.
Variations:You can assemble individual servings instead of long roulades. You can also add roasted bell peppers to the eggplant mixture.
Yield: 3 long roulades
Israeli Fruit Salad
In this classic Israeli fruit salad you can use any fruit you have in the house other than watermelon and melons. Apples, bananas, and citrus (at the least orange juice) are keys as a base. You can go from there and be creative. This is a large fruit salad and keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days. You can serve it with a dab of whipped cream, scoop of sorbet, vanilla ice cream, or meringue kisses broken into pieces for contrast of textures. I added mango as it is in season and gives this Israeli fruit salad an exotic Indian twist. During the winter you can use sectioned citrus, in the summer, peaches and so on. You can add ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon or two cinnamon sticks. For an Indian twist you can add ground cardamom found in any supermarket spice isle. I only cored the apples and pear since I liked the depth the color of the skin adds. You can certainly peel the fruit. You must peel the mangoes (I used a potato peeler). Sugar and honey are optional but I like to add sugar to mine; my friends don’t. So this salad can be super healthy or you can just a tad indulge!
4 medium apples, cored and diced
1 large pear, cored and diced
2 large bananas, peeled and diced
2 handful grapes (about 40), halved
Juice of one large lemon
2 cups orange juice
0-4 tablespoons sugar or honey (depending on taste)
2 mangoes, peel, slice along pit while holding mango standing on stem, dice
¼ teaspoon cinnamon, 2 cinnamon sticks or ¼ teaspoon of cardamom (optional)
1. Immediately after dicing apples, bananas, and pear sprinkle these three fruits with some of the lemon juice to avoid oxidizing and turning brown.
2. Combine all fruit together, mix in remaining lemon juice, orange juice, sugar or honey if you wish according to taste (4 tablespoons at the max).
3. Stir in cardamom, cinnamon or cinnamon sticks if you wish. If adding spices, add only one of the three.
4. Cover with a plastic wrap and chill before serving.
4. Serve salad on its own or as suggested above.
Yield: serves between 10-12 people