Pumpkin chicken curry: A comforting blend of traditions
The dishes I love most “bring together the culinary roots of two special places,” said Asha Gomez in My Two Souths (Running Press). Born and raised in Kerala, India, I moved to Atlanta more than 15 years ago and opened my first restaurant there after creating a supper club that took off once I began blending Southern and Kerala cuisines.
In Georgia, people are passionate about chicken and dumplings. But I make a version that folds in lessons I learned in Kerala, where I used to mix the spices for family dinners and where there’s a tradition of women gathering to roll rice flour dumplings, or pidi, when a woman is expecting a child. In this recipe, “any variety of pie pumpkin or winter squash can be used to impart the earthy sweetness.” If you like dumplings, “I implore you” to give these cumin-seeded darlings a try.
Recipe of the week
Chicken and pumpkin with dumplings
2 cups rice flour
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small fryer chicken (2½ to 3½ lbs), cut into 8 pieces
¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
1-inch piece peeled fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 cups seeded, peeled, and diced sugar pumpkin
2 stalks celery, rough-cut into large chunks
2 fresh bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tsp turmeric powder
1½ tsp salt
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups coconut milk
15 fresh Thai basil leaves
For the dumplings:
In a medium bowl, mix rice flour, cumin seeds, and kosher salt. Gradually stir in 2 cups warm water to rice flour mixture to make soft dough that is not sticky; dough will have a somewhat sandy texture. Form 24 ½-inch balls of dough with hands or melon baller. Make small divot in each by pressing down in center with thumb; place on baking sheet. Set steamer basket over medium pan with 1 qt water; place dumplings in basket, making sure they are not touching, and cover. Bring water to boil over mediumhigh heat. Steam dumplings until firm and plump, 8 to 10 minutes.
For the stew or curry:
Put olive oil in large Dutch oven with tight-fitting lid; heat on medium until oil is hot. In separate bowl, dredge chicken pieces in flour. Drop chicken pieces one by one into oil; brown for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove chicken and set aside. Add shallots and ginger to Dutch oven and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add pumpkin, celery, bay leaves, thyme, turmeric, and salt. Cook, stirring, 1 minute; stir in stock. Return chicken to Dutch oven; cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add coconut milk; stir just until combined. Add dumplings and stir gently to coat dumplings with sauce. Cover and simmer 12 minutes. Remove from heat.
Roll basil leaves in a cigar-like fashion; slice into thin ribbons. Garnish each serving with a scattering of basil. Serves 6.
Beer: The best Pilsners
Whenever you start wishing that “brewers would just make beer taste like beer again,” Pilsner is the name to reach for, said Spike Carter in Bloomberg.com. First brewed in the Bavarian city of Pilsen in 1842, the crisp, clean pale lager is by far the world’s most popular beer style. Czech-made Pilsner Urquell remains the archetype, and easy to find. But these superlative U.S. examples deserve a go, too.
Firestone Walker Pivo PilsPaso Robles, Calif. Modeled after Italy’s floral, grassy, bittersweet, and cult-worthy Tipopils, this clean-drinking Pils has a “subtly” fruity hop nose.
Half Acre Pony PilsnerChicago The sweet maltiness of this German-style lager is balanced by “a nicely cutting hop bite.”
Russian River STS PilsSanta Rosa, Calif. “Citrusy, grainy, herbaceous, and immensely crushable,” this Pils won gold at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival.
America’s best pies: One critic’s favorite send-offs
Nothing beats a slice of pie at the end of a good meal, said Bill Addison in Eater.com. As a roving restaurant critic—and former pastry chef—I keep a list of the best desserts I’m served each year, and pies show up again and again. For me, fruit trumps chocolate and simplicity beats intellectualism. The finale of a meal “should send you out into the world again feeling delighted and comforted,” as do the pies at these three whistle-stops.
Greenwood’s on Green StreetRoswell, Ga. Bill Greenwood’s pies have always been special, but they’ve gotten even better since he started using flour made from organic soft red winter wheat. Order the apple at Greenwood’s suburban Atlanta family restaurant and you get a quarter of the pie, a tall ship’s prow of “cinnamon-blasted” fruit with a crust that’s “never been more tender and pliant.” 1087 Green St., (770) 992-5383
Sister PieDetroit There’s only one table at my absolute favorite pie bakery, a soulful two-year-old West Village charmer with a single communal table and usually a long line snaking around it. In July, owner Lisa Ludwinski makes a “show-stopping” Michigan cherry pie perfumed with bourbon. On my last visit, I “vanished dreamily” into her plum pie covered with crisp oat streusel and a big dollop of whipped cream. 8066 Kercheval Ave., (313) 447-5550
Honeypie CaféMilwaukee A salted honey pie is the calling card of this popular comfortfood spot in the Bayview neighborhood, and any aficionado has to admire it. I haven’t tried all 50 pies that make appearances in the café’s display case, but so far, I’ve most enjoyed a slice that featured “the goodness of summery blueberries tumbling out of a flaky crust.” 2643 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 489-7437