Flying into Delhi in the middle of the night is disorienting. We arrived at our hotel only after weaving through freeways, on-ramps and off-ramps, and darkened tree-lined side streets, eventually resting our heads after 2 am.
The morning brought masala dosa and lassi for breakfast, and we decided to dive into Old Delhi’s chaotic Chandni Chowk straight away—a sea of people, rickshaws, and sidewalk rubble, and an assault of signage. We sought out feathery layered and stuffed parathas for lunch at a stall where you sit on a bench facing the narrow, ancient alleyways before you.
And after, we made our way to the spice market, where I saw a cluster of women in electric green and pink saris crouched in a strip of dirt between spice vendors. They were sorting pistachios—nut from shell. One was eating a simple bowl of rice topped with a smear of what looked like an Indian harissa paste and edged by a peanut-corn vegetable medley of sorts. It was beautiful and simple and you knew at a glance it tasted good. Here’s my version. You can enjoy it over rice, over lentils, or on its own as a side dish.
This recipe is best with fresh corn—although you can use frozen corn that has thawed. Even better, swap in chopped asparagus, broccoli, or another vegetable when corn isn’t in season.
Use a mortar and pestle or food processor to smash the chili peppers, garlic, ginger, turmeric, and salt into a paste.
In skillet over medium-high, heat butter. Add mustard seeds, and once they have begun to pop, stir in corn. Cook, stirring gently but constantly for a minute or so; then add peanuts, half the cilantro, and half the prepared chili paste. Cook for another minute or so; taste, and add the rest of the paste if you donu2019t find the dish too spicy, and a good squeeze or two of lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve topped with the remaining cilantro, sesame seeds, and remaining lemon wedges.
This recipe is part of the Recipes From Near & Far collection.
Tourtière is, for me, the dish that best represents Québec. It can be traced back to the 1600s, and there’s no master recipe; every family has their own twist. Originally, it was made with game birds or game meat, like rabbit, pheasant, or moose; that’s one of the reasons why I prefer it with venison instead of beef or pork. Variation: If you prefer to make single servings, follow our lead at the restaurant, where we make individual tourtières in the form of a dome (pithivier) and fill them with 5 ounces (160 g) of the ground venison mixture. Variation: You can also use a food processor to make the dough. Place the flour, salt, and butter in the food processor and pulse about ten times, until the butter is incorporated—don’t overmix. It should look like wet sand, and a few little pieces of butter here and there is okay. With the motor running, through the feed tube, slowly add ice water until the dough forms a ball—again don’t overmix. Wrap, chill, and roll out as directed above.
My love of artichokes continues with this classic recipe, one of the best ways to eat this interesting, underrated, and strange vegetable. Frozen artichoke hearts are a time-saving substitute, though the flavour and texture of fresh artichokes are, by far, much superior and definitely preferred.
Cervelle de canut is basically the Boursin of France, an herbed fresh farmer’s cheese spread that’s a speciality of Lyon. The name is kind of weird, as it literally means “silk worker’s brain,” named after nineteenth-century Lyonnaise silk workers, who were called canuts. Sadly, the name reflects the low opinion of the people towards these workers. Happily for us, though, it’s delicious—creamy, fragrant, and fresh at the same time. Cervelle de canut is one of my family’s favourite dishes. It’s a great make-ahead appetizer that you can pop out of the fridge once your guests arrive. Use a full-fat cream cheese for the dish, or it will be too runny and less delicious.