Italy vs. India: a Foodie’s Dilemma

Published December 4, 2013 by The Feminist

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“What would you order for your last supper?”

As a foodie, I often contemplate about this- albeit hypothetical-  question and the truth is that I don’t know the answer to it yet. I love food so much it is practically impossible to choose one ultimate favourite.

A couple of days ago I had a “sushi moment”. For those who aren’t acquainted with the term, here is a brief definition:

“A sushi moment is a period of time- usually somewhere around 5 pm – in which you start craving sushi. For a couple of minutes  people in the streets will turn into chop sticks, street lanterns will look like wasabi and the cobblestones will turn into a plate of your favourite types of sushi. (from yummy Futomaki to delicious Dragon Rolls) This moment will make you very hungry but you should be aware that what you see is just a hallucination. (So don’t go licking the cobblestones)”

Needless to say that after my “sushi moment” I was convinced that sushi would be my last supper. But then, only a few minutes later, I walked past a high quality Belgian chocolate shop.

Chocolate.

I think you get my point. It is impossible to choose only one. So here is what I suggest: when facing imminent death, stop worrying about calories, large portions and fat content. Eat whatever you want. You only die once. (Unless you’re a Vampire Diaries character)

My last meal wouldn’t be complete, however, without some Italian and Indian food. They are so different from one another and yet they both speak to my inner peace. Both cuisines have a spiritual capacity that can turn me from a stressed-out bitch into a Zen-like hippie.  They are the epitome of comfort food and they always make me feel loved. The spices, the colours, the soothing textures, the aromas… they all blend together to form the ultimate cuisines. They are simply the best. (And I think Tina Turner would agree.)

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Turkey Osso buco and linguini with rocket-almond pesto

Now, I normally try to eat as much vegetarian as I possibly can, but there is just something about Osso Buco that makes me incredibly happy. Stews in general tend to make me happy, but this marriage of Mediterranean ingredients makes me believe there is a heaven. A heaven of Osso Buco.

And what a beautiful heaven it is…

Anyway, the linguini accompanying this very scrummy stew is a true flavour bomb. I made this pesto with rocket and almonds, which creates an interesting flavour palate and is less expensive than a basil and pine nut version. (Seriously, every time I see the price of pine nuts I think I’m going to get a heart attack!)

Ps: Normally Osso Buco is made with veal shanks but since I made this dish the day after Thanksgiving, I thought it was only appropriate to use turkey instead. Absolutely delicious!

Ingredients(serves 4)

For the Osso Buco:

  • 4-6  large turkey shanks
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 carrots, finely chopped
  • ½ red pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper, finely chopped
  • ½ tsp chili flakes
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can (400gr) chopped tomatoes
  • 3dl chicken stock
  • 2dl white wine
  • 1 bay leaf

For the pasta:

  • 375gr linguini
  • 300gr rocket lettuce
  • 100gr almonds
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 30gr parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 200gr cherry tomatoes

Method:

  1. For the Osso Buco: Brown the meat in olive oil. Remove from the large pot and sauté the onions, garlic, carrots and peppers in that same pot.  Return the browned shanks to the pot.
  2. Add the wine and let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the wine has reduced by half. Add the stock, canned tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Add all the spices and the honey and bring to a simmer.
  3. Cover the pan and let it simmer for at least 1 hour until the meat starts to fall of the bone.
  4. Cook your linguini according to packet instructions.
  5. For the pesto: put all the ingredients (except the tomatoes of course)in a blender until you get a lovely paste. Add three tablespoons of olive oil and some extra pasta water (this will give the pesto a glossy shine).
  6. When your pasta is cooked, stir the pesto through the pasta and add the chopped cherry tomatoes.DSCN3440

Indian Vegetable Curry

This may seem like a very long ingredient list, but two thirds of this very alluring list are spices you should all have in your magic spice box. If you don’t have a spice box yet:

First of all : shame on you!

And secondly: Get one.

You have no idea how many wonderful dishes you can conjure up just by having the right spices in your cupboard. This curry is one of those wonderful dishes. It is an homage to the delirious aromas of Indian food: the richness… the heat… the fragrance… the depth… it’s all there.

This is –without a single doubt- the best vegetarian curry on the planet.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 sweet potatoes, cut into cubes
  • 3 carrots, cut into cubes
  • ½ yellow pepper, roughly chopped
  • ½ red pepper, roughly chopped
  • 200gr frozen peas
  • Fresh coriander
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes (400gr)
  • 5dl coconut milk
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp nutmeg
  • ½ – 1 tsp chili powder (depends on how spicy you want your curry)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek
  • ¼ tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tbsp garam massala
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar

Method:

  1. Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large pot. Add  the onion, garlic and all the spices and fry them until your kitchen starts to smell like an Indian Spice Bazaar.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes, palm sugar and coconut milk. Stir and let it come to a simmer.
  3. Add the vegetables (except the peas) and let it simmer for 30 minutes.
  4. Taste and add salt and pepper. Stir in the frozen peas and let it simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  5. At the end, sprinkle some fresh coriander over the top and serve with rice or naan. (Or both 😉 )
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2 comments on “Italy vs. India: a Foodie’s Dilemma

  • I would probably go for Dungeness crab, which means a trip to the Pacific Northwest. (It just doesn’t travel well.)
    With fresh asparagus and fresh linguini, possibly. And a perfect baguette.
    No need for something truly fancy requiring lots of technique. Just a lot of memories revived.
    And then, contrary to all the rules of compatibility, a nice chewy Cote du Rhone with, well, chocolate always goes well with a red. A mousse, then? Considering the timing of the asparagus, maybe with something fresh apricot, instead. Or also.

  • INDIAN! I am a bit obsessed with curries so it’d be an easy choice. But I do adore the look of your osso bucco. Anything braised is divinely delicious. The dilemma is completely understood…! x

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