Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Spotlight on New Spring 2013 Cookbooks!

As our readers have already discovered, Hippocrene Books is known for its specialization in international cookbooks. This spring we're releasing one all-new cookbook, two expanded editions, and two paperback editions.

We're excited to share that our first gluten-free offering will be available June 15th: Indian Inspired Gluten-Free Cooking by Alamelu Vairavan and Margaret Pfeiffer! Celiac disease affects about 3 million people in America alone and many are able to find relief in a gluten-free diet. There's not much to a gluten-free diet in terms of flavor and variety, but adding Indian cuisine into the mix takes it to the next level. Indian cuisine is known for rich flavors and spices, incorporating different types of rice, dals (lentils), and legumes--all gluten-free. If you're gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive, Indian Inspired Gluten-Free Cooking will teach you how to expand your diet. Trust us, your taste buds will thank you!

Alamelu Vairavan is the host of the popular cooking show "Healthful Flavors with Alamelu," produced by Milwaukee Public Television and syndicated across the country on PBS. She is a culinary instructor and author of two successful cookbooks, including Healthy South Indian Cooking (Hippocrene Books, 2008).

Margaret Pfeiffer, M.S., R.D., C.L.S. is a practicing cardiac nutritionist , a clinical lipid specialist and registered dietician. She's also taught many classes on healthy cooking and authored a book on heart-healthy eating, Smart 4 Your Heart (King, 2009).

Check out this article by the New York Times which talks about the benefits of a gluten-free diet even if you're not diagnosed as gluten-intolerant or gluten-sensitive. People with other diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis show signs of alleviated symptoms by eliminating gluten from their diets.

Taste of Nepal by Jyoti Pathak is now available in paperback! Winner of the Gourmand Cookbook Award in 2007 for "Best Foreign Cuisine Cookbook," Taste of Nepal is one of the few Nepali cookbooks available. The cuisine is surprisingly diverse for such a small country, with influences from Chinese and Indian culinary methods and tastes. Home cooks who enjoy Asian cuisines will find new and unique dishes to add to their repertoire.

The expanded edition of Nile Style: Egyptian Cuisine and Culture by Amy Riolo, which won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award in 2009 for "Best Arab Cuisine," will hit bookstore shelves in May. This paperback edition is the first of its kind to focus on the multi-ethnic and multi-religious influences in Egyptian cuisine. With two brand new chapters, 16 pages of color photographs, and more than 150 easy-to-follow recipes, Nile Style provides insight into Egypt's diversity for foodies and armchair travelers.

Spoonfuls of Germany: German Regional Cuisine by Nadia Hassani will be available in May. Filled with new recipes and photos, the new paperback edition explores the often-overlooked diversity of German regional cuisine. Hassani takes the reader on a flavor-filled ride with traditional dishes such as spaetzle and sauerbraten, and lesser-known specialties like "Westphalian pumpernickel pudding" and "Windmill Cake" from Frisia. You can also find Nadia on her blog Spoonfuls of Germany.

 The new paperback edition of Sephardic Israeli Cuisine: A Mediterranean Mosaic by Sheilah Kaufman will also be available in May. Sephardic cuisine is truly a mosaic of a variety of Mediterranean influences. Typical ingredients include cinnamon, cloves, fenugreek, saffron, almond essence, rose and orange flower water, tahini paste, artichokes, fava beans, olives, fennel, couscous, semolina and bulgur.

Whether you're looking for more healthful cooking options or seeking a new culinary experience, each cookbook has something unique to offer. Pre-orders can be made on Amazon, otherwise watch your favorite bookstore shelves for the release of these new and updated titles. We hope you'll find something to satisfy your culinary cravings!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Bengali New Year with Rinku Bhattacharya

We haven't had an author guest post in a while, so we're very excited to have Rinku with us today! Rinku is the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene, 2012), and also blogs on Cooking in Westchester and contributes to with her column "Spices and Seasons." Today is the Bengali New Year and Rinku shares the traditional holiday with us today:

Spring has been reluctant this year, teasing us with the sunshine and flowers but somehow falling short of the promise of warmth. If you are in the New York area, you will see the colorful tulips, yellow daffodils and the lovely white, blue and purple fragrant hyacinths all around. The good thing about spending time working with food is that it works well any time of the year. It adds the colors to your life and table in spring and summer, makes things festive in fall, and is warm and satisfying on a cold and windy day.

Spring in the Bengali calendar, much like the rest of the world, is a time of freshness and renewal. I love the idea of a second New Year, especially in the middle of the year as it offers me a second fresh start. Bengali New Year is less about drinking and more about food. (Yes, I know, almost everything Bengali is more about food!) Yet with the New Year celebrations, there is a prelude to the food. My mother made me start the day with taking a bath, donning new clothes, and offering a simple prayer to God. She taught me to ask forgiveness for the transgressions of the years past and blessings for a New Year that would be satisfying and happy. A simple grounding exercise before we went onto indulge in a riot of food.

As with all things in my kitchen, it is all about seasonal food, so I've decided to share a festive green pea stuffed bread, or kachori. If you are willing to take a trip to your farmer’s market it can be made with the new spring peas and if not, well this works just as well with sweet frozen peas. These delectable puffed breads are usually enjoyed with split pea lentils that are made with a touch of coconut and raisins. The flavors of this meal are sweet and satisfying, layered with delicate touches of anise and bay leaf.
This is where I say vegetarian flavors do not have to be boring and ho hum, as with these recipes and countless others I have shown you the many ways to love your veggies. However, Bengali festivities do not stop with vegetables, we love our fish and meat and poultry, too! In fact, if you stop by this guest post, Fragrant Shrimp in a Delicate Coconut Sauce or Chringi Malaikari, you will find my recipe and you can also try your luck at winning a copy of my cookbook. I hope you enjoy these recipes and give your life a fresh start this spring!

Matarshutir Kachoris

To understand the essentials of regional Indian cooking, the devil, as they say, is
in the details. Kachoris are filled breads that puff when they are deep fried. The
Bengali kachori differs slightly from the North Indian variety in its texture. This
kachori is meant to be softer as opposed to the slightly crisper coating of its
Northern cousin. The green pea filling is also a unique variation that is typical of
the Eastern regions. The pre-stuffed dough packets can actually be prepared up
to two days in advance and kept in the refrigerator. If prepared in advance, they
should be removed from the refrigerator and kept at room temperature to
warm for about 30 minutes prior to rolling and frying.

Prep Time: 1½ hours (includes time for dough to rest)
Cook Time: 30 to 40 minutes | Makes: 16

3 cups all-purpose white flour, plus extra for rolling
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ghee or oil
¾ cup cold water
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon nigella seeds
1 teaspoon fresh ginger paste (page 13)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
¾ teaspoon fennel seed powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Oil for frying

Prepare dough:
Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Gently mix the ghee or oil into the
flour, resulting in something that looks like a pie crust dough. Gradually mix in
the cold water to form a smooth elastic dough. (The dough should not feel
sticky and it should have a smooth pliable texture.) Set the dough aside to rest.

Make the filling:
Place the peas in a food processor and process until smooth. Heat the oil in a
wok or skillet, add the nigella seeds and wait for these to sizzle. Add the ginger
paste, cayenne pepper powder, fennel seed powder, salt, and sugar and mix
well. Add the pureed peas and cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently,
until the mixture is cooked through and separating from the sides of
the pan. Cool the mixture slightly.

Assemble and fry:
Divide the dough into 16 portions. Shape a portion into a ball and roll out,
using some flour, into a 3-inch disc. Place about 1½ teaspoons of the filling
onto the center of the circle. Shape the circle into a round package by covering
the filling with the dough, carefully ensuring that the dough covers the filling
comfortably without any tears. Place the dough packet seal side down on a
greased tray and continue with remaining dough portions. Keep the dough
packets organized on the tray so you can roll them out in the order they were
Place some oil in a wok and set the heat to medium high. Test readiness by
dropping a breadcrumb in the oil; it should immediately come up to the surface
if the oil is hot enough.
Take a sealed dough packet and roll out on a floured surface to a circle about 3
to 4 inches in diameter. It is critical to try to roll these out as thin as possible
without tearing the dough. Gently place the rolled dough into the hot oil and
wait until disc rises to the surface and then puffs up. Cook briefly on the first
side for about a minute or so and then turn and cook for a couple of minutes on the other side.The finished breads should be pale golden and puffy. Use a
slotted spatula to lift it out and drain the oil on the side of the wok. Continue
this process with all the remaining dough packets. Serve hot.

Misti Cholar Dal

This is a festive recipe for special occasions, when you might actually get a fresh
coconut and chop it yourself into tiny, delicate pieces. But I must confess I often
make do with frozen shredded coconut, and in fact wrote this recipe with the
frozen variety in mind. Either way it is up to you, but the fresh coconut does
yield a nice crunchy sweet taste.
I have on occasion made small Matarshutir Kachoris (Fried Puffy Breads with
Green Pea Filling, page 59) and arranged then on an appetizer platter to serve
with this dal. It is a modern twist on a very traditional combination.

Prep Time: 7 to 8 hours (to soak the lentils) | Cook Time: 25 minutes in a
pressure cooker; 45 minutes in a saucepan | Makes: 4 to 6 servings

½ cup yellow Bengali gram lentils(cholar dal), soaked overnight
3 green chilies
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder
1 teaspoon salt
1½ teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon raisins
½ cup finely shredded coconut
2 teaspoons ghee (clarified butter)
2 cloves
1-inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces
2 cardamom pods
1 bay leaf

Put the lentils, chilies, turmeric, cayenne pepper powder, salt, sugar, raisins, and
2 and 1/2 cups water in a pressure cooker or large saucepan, you may need more water for the stove top.
Cook till the lentils are very soft but still retain their original shape, about 25 minutes under pressure or 45
minutes in pot on stove.
Gently toast the coconut in a small skillet (I do this without oil, since the coconut
has quite a bit of oil). Stir the coconut into the lentil mixture and taste for salt.
(It should have a creamy appearance and slightly sweet taste).
Heat the ghee in the small skillet and add the cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom
pods, and bay leaf and cook for 20 seconds. Pour over the lentils and gently stir
in and simmer for another 5 minutes before serving.

Rinku Bhattacharya is the author of Bengali Five Spice Chronicles and the blog, Cooking in Westchester, where she shares her life experiences and original recipes that combine Indian spices with produce from her backyard and local farmers markets. Rinku is blessed with a gardener husband, who always surprises her with a prolific and fresh supply of produce to keep her creative instincts flowing.  She has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past six years, inspiring many with simple recipes from Eastern India. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Rinku resides in New York, and is currently working on her second cookbook expected in spring 2014.