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Bowl Food

The New Comfort Food for People on the Move

Edited by Kay Scarlett (Laurel Glen)

Bowl Food



Have bowl, will travel. This tempting tome is your ticket to tasty trips. From paella, to risotto, to Thai, Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Greek, Middle Eastern, European and, of course, American specialties, plates may become a thing of your past.

This isn't a niche topic. Simple bowl food is such a staple around the world that nothing seems to be missing from this book: It's one of the best ethnic cookbooks I've ever read. Map your course by perusing the sumptuous full-page color photographs. Decide on your destination from there.

"Bowl" obviously doesn't have to mean boring: There are full chapters on soups, salads, pasta, rice, wok dishes, curries and one-pot meals. Almost every recipe is a standout like Chicken-Pork Paella that gets snap from chorizo, Sri Lanken Chicken Curry with Cashews, Italian Beef Casserole with Polenta Dumplings, Pear and Walnut Salad with Lime Vinaigrette and Thai Jungle Curry Shrimp.

Authenticity and exceptional flavor are hallmarks of the recipes: Curry powder is homemade, as are touches like the gremolata (garlic, parsley, finely grated lemon zest and chopped anchovy) that tops a tempting osso bucco and the garam masala (spices toasted until fragrant in a dry frying pan) that accents a rice and red lentil pilaf.

The following Penne with Rustic Sauce is typical for the book: Quick and simple to prepare, yet distinguished and delicious.

4 cups chicken stock
3/4 pound penne
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, chopped fresh thyme
1 (13-ounce) can lentils, drained, or 2-1/2 cups cooked brown lentils
Yields 4 servings.

Boil the chicken stock in a large saucepan for 10 minutes, or until reduced to 2 cups of liquid. Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of rapidly boiling water for 10 minutes, or until al dente. Drain and toss with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil.
Heat the remaining oil in a large, deep frying pan, add the onion, carrots and celery and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes or until browned. Add two thirds of the crushed garlic and 1 tablespoon of the thyme and cook for another minute. Add the stock, bring to a boil and cook for 8 minutes or until reduced slightly and the vegetables are tender. Gently stir in the lentils until heated through.
Stir in the remaining garlic and thyme and season with plenty of salt and black pepper --- the stock should be slightly syrupy at this point. Combine the pasta with the lentil sauce in a large bowl, drizzle generously with extra-virgin olive oil and serve with grated Parmesan, if desired.

Garam masala (see note):
1 tablespoon cilantro seeds
1 tablespoon cardamom pods
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick, crushed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup basmati rice
1 cup red lentils
3 cups hot vegetable stock
2 scallions, thinly sliced diagonally, to garnish
Yields 4 to 6 servings.

To prepare garam masala: Place all of the garam masala ingredients in a dry frying pan and shake over medium heat for 1 minute, or until fragrant. Blend to a fine powder in a spice grinder or blender.
To prepare rest of dish: Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic and 3 teaspoons garam masala. (Save rest of garam masala for another usage.) Cook over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
Stir in the rice and lentils and cook for 2 minutes. Add the hot stock and stir well. Slowly bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the rice is cooked and all the stock has been absorbed. Gently fluff the rice with a fork. Garnish with scallions.
Note: Although homemade garam masala is outstanding, a store-bought version can be substituted, if desired.

(Updated: 02/17/09 KR)

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