Spice it Up – What ethnic dishes are on your “bucket list?”

0031Perhaps it is the anticipation of Rochester’s annual World Festival April 13–14, or recent visits to area grocers that has had me contemplating different healthy dishes laden with vibrant spices.   

Craving leftovers

When I woke one morning, craving leftovers of what proved a marvelous black bean and orzo salad I had concocted the previous evening for bookclub friends, complete with the protein from canned beans and vitamin-rich spinach,
I knew here was a recipe to share with readers. It proved a dish with flavors that teased palates, even tempting mine as an atypical breakfast.

    Pad Thai has always been on my “bucket list” of dishes to prepare someday. When Eav Ngov of the Asian Food Store offered me a recipe (see pg. 33), I was thrilled. I claim success!

    A few days later I pulled out some farmers market ground lamb from my freezer and created a meatball recipe. It won’t be any too soon when I find Summerhill Farm and Misty Meadows, purveyors of lamb, back at the Rochester Farmers Market. While shopping at Rice-N-Spice. I was fortunate to enlist the help of owner Jeevan Kanthi Rao when selecting a spice blend for this dish.

    Chutneys have always intrigued my palate given the various forms available in varied markets. Having a jar of chutney on hand led me to incorporate it in a dressing for fresh spinach. The flavor profile, of the “ethnic dressed” Spinach Salad that follows will be influenced by both the brand of chutney and the specific curry powder used.

Ingredient insight

Both curry and masala are terms for spice blends, each of which come in a myriad of variations. Likewise there are regional differences as well as variations by household. Garam Masala is more a north Indian spice blend relying on cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, black peppercorns, cumin, coriander and nutmeg. Curry powder is a southern blend with primary flavors from fresh curry leaves and fenugreek seeds along with cumin, coriander and turmeric—which gives the bright yellow color prevalent in many blends.

Margo Stich is food editor for Rochester Women magazine.