Monday, April 13, 2009

Two Onions....

...and the only thing watering was my mouth. Okay that just sounds awful, but you get the idea? I wasn't drooling into the food, I swear!

I was hungry for a good Afghan treat, but I didn't have a lot of time, so here is an adaptation of a classic rustic Afghan dish:

Do Piazeh (lit: "Two Onions")
Breast of chicken fried with caramelized onions, blackeye peas, turmeric, coriander, cloves, and cardamom, then tossed with fresh red onion soaked in lime juice, served over a bed of mushroom, cilantro, and cinnamon scented couscous and drizzled with lemon-yogurt sauce.

My father actually typically made this dish very similarly - sans the blackeye peas. And of course, no couscous! (Afghanistan does NOT make couscous, but you'll see me use it since it's so easy and tasty.) Traditionally this is served over bread, but we eat it with rice as well.

I was thus a bit confused when I found a recipe for it in my Afghan cookbook, which stated that the meat (lamb) was actually boiled with the red onion first and a bit of split peas, then lifted out of the water when tender and placed on bread with vinegar-soaked yellow onion. I didn't have the time or the lamb to try it this way, but it sounds lovely and very different than the typical Afghan rices and qormas. In any case, this is a kind of quick version that I think is very tasty.

The dish derives its name from the way the "two onions" in the recipe are used - one is cooked (either caramelized in my version or boiled with the meat in the traditional version) and the other is added raw at the end (with a bit of acid to cut the bite).

Needless to say, it was delicious, quick, and has a lot of interesting textures and the contrasting bright flavor from the red onion really lightens the heavy caramelized onion flavor.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Vancouver BC Foodventure

See, I'm not dead...I've just been busy! I haven't cooked anything new lately, but I did get the chance to head up to Vancouver, BC for a day with one of my good buddies, Kirk, for a "foodventure"! While the best food we (probably have ever) had, at Vij's unfortunately couldn't be photographed, our delicious lunch and 4PM dessert were fantastic as well!

Go Fish Ocean Emporium
- probably the best fish and chips I've had (though granted I'm no connoisseur). We both couldn't resist getting the salmon - crispy and delicate, lightly seasoned breading, perfectly flaky moist salmon inside, accompanied by some delicious fries that were nicely crunchy and nothing to laugh at, along with an interesting sesame (think asian fusion) coleslaw. Everything was crisp and refreshing rather than heavy and food-baby inducing!

The only downside was I couldn't resist taking a bite before the picture =)

At about 3PM, walking through Stanley Park in the sunshine, we couldn't help but be a little enticed by the teahouse restaurant on a cliff overlooking the water, just 30' above the beach. We were hungry, but all they had was dessert and beer...and well, that was just fine by us too!

We split an AMAZING Belgian Dark Chocolate Truffle Cake, complete with a chocolate dipped gooseberry (!) on top, drizzled with raspberry sauce. We really weren't expecting much, but we were both blown away! One of the best slices of cake I've ever indulged in, and certianly the most beautifully presented. You can only see the edge, but there is a white and dark flecked chocolate "fan" - I'm not sure what it's called really - on top as well. It's a really thin piece of chocolate with lots of holes in it, shaped like a fan.

We both thought the gooseberry was an heirloom tomato and were very confused but intrigued. I ate it and was still uncertain, but upon asking the waitress found out its true identity - as well as the fact that the gooseberry is related to the tomato, so we weren't so far off!

And of course Kirk got a beer!

I promise more of my own cooking soon =)


If you've never been to Vij's restaurant in Vancouver, you MUST go when you're up there! (Frankly I would almost drive the two hours there just for dinner.) The best modern Indian food I've ever had, and frankly probably my favorite restaurant yet. It is very likely one of the best, and certainly most unique, Indian restaurants in North America. The ambiance is perfect, the service impeccable, and the food still manages to outshine it all. Think Pacific Northwest local ingredients with authentic Indian flavors and cooking techniques. Vij destroys any stereotypes about what "Indian food" has to be; he really elevates it to near haute-cuisine, all while keeping it approachable, with an emphasis on sharing and somehow managing an unpretentious, but (dare I say) sexy vibe in service and decor. There's no "chicken tikka masala" on the menu, nor is there a menu with 90 variations on the same curry base. Everything is delicious, and wholly unique. The menu changes frequently, but he might face mutiny if he took a few favorites, like "Wine Marinated Lamb Popsicles" and "Mutton Kabobs with Bengali style curry" off the menu! By the way, the mutton kabobs are my favorite food. Ever.