FOODBUZZ 24,24,24: American Masala Farm Feast

“Indian food is not about drama or hidden recipes within recipes.  It’s all about spices, added at different times during the cooking process, which add layers of complex flavors.” -Chef Suvir Saran

When Foodbuzz asked Featured Publishers for submissions for the August 24, 24, 24 Event, I was on my way to see friends at American Masala (Washington County, in upstate NY) and I knew a farm-fresh Indian-spiced meal would be a wonderful way to share a summer feast with other food lovers.

Why Indian? It transports you with heady aromas and, as with all deeply satisfying pursuits, leaves you dreaming and plotting of how you can relive it again and again and again.

The American Masala Farm Feast Menu:

Masala Fried Chicken
Suvir’s Sister’s Favorite Corn Curry
Mirchi Kaa Saalan–a mixed hot pepper curry
Apple-Cucumber Salad
Warm Lentil Salad with Coconut and Tomato
Tomato Onion Raita
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Lemon Verbena Ice Cream
Peach Apricot Clafoutis with Pistachio
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Beer and Prosecco
Cantaloupe Sparklers

Whenever I get together with Chef Suvir Saran (of Devi in NYC and American Masala in Jersey City) and his partner, Charles Burd, the harvesting and cooking of food is almost 24/7.

A Typical Day at the farm:

Friends of the Farmer

Friends of the Farmer

Early morning, Charlie makes us steaming hot cappuccinos before gathering eggs. He tends to about 100 heritage breed chickens, as well as 20 geese, 15 ducks, 36 guinea hens, and 40 (non-egg laying) goats. These eggs have been described by pastry chef and baker extraordinaire, Michael London as having yolks “as if they drip from the sun.”

guinea hen eggs and fingerlings

guinea hen eggs and fingerlings

Rich, creamy and highly addictive, I would eat one of these gorgeous eggs every day if I lived here…

Suvir grinds fresh potions of cardamom, cumin, and chiles, while stewing thick black raspberry jam and directing me to pit sour cherries to gently cook in simple syrup. I already have my eye on apricots and peaches for clafoutis.

peaches and apricots, Hudson Valley

peaches and apricots

Our friend, Dan, pours sweet and thick Battenkill Creamy milk over fresh lemon verbena for ice cream. We sometimes take a break, gather around the hot skillet to taste Suvir’s lard-laced biscuits or another one of Charlie’s espressos before cooking some more.

Today, for FOODBUZZ 24, 24,24 we have decided to host a feast using local produce and the faraway spices of India. We’ll be guided by the gentle hand of the chef as well as his recipes in the 2 cookbooks, Indian Home Cooking  and American Masala (see details below). Friends, including Grande Dame of Washington County, Elizabeth Gambee “Betty” Osborne, regional television host and cookbook author Sally Longo as well as neighbors, Joe and Sally, Suzanne, and two hungry gentlemen farmers from England have come to join us at the table.

Suvir’s Tips for the home cook:

“Indian cooking is so easy; once you have the spices, you just need a will and desire.

Make a trip to the spice store–I like Foods of India in NYC–once a year (or buy them online). Invest in a spice grinder and a mortar and pestle. I like to store my spices in airtight containers in the freezer and fill smaller airtight containers that I keep in the cabinet. The spices will keep a couple years in the freezer with no problem.”

Chef Suvir Saran, aka Mr. Messy

Chef Suvir Saran, aka Mr. Messy

First, fresh watermelon juice for our guests.

Fresh Watermelon Juice with a squeeze of lime

Fresh Watermelon Juice with a squeeze of lime

Then, on to the serious business of Mirchi Kaa Saalan, a curry of mixed peppers, both hot and sweet. I Love this dish so much, the pleasure of heat compelling me to take one more bite…. The first time Suvir made this, I knew I would dream of it, crave its heat and depth of flavor (dark peanut flour, coconut). I knew I would want to eat this every week, and now I can because Suvir taught me to make it. The recipe will be in his forthcoming cookbook, so there will be lots of happy mouths.

peppers for Mirchi Kaa Saalan

peppers for Mirchi Kaa Saalan

a bevy of peppers

a bevy of peppers

cocount, dark peanut flour, and freshly ground spices

cocount, dark peanut flour, and freshly ground spices

Mirchi Kaa Saalan

Mirchi Kaa Saalan

Chef Suvir Saran and Betty Osborne

Chef Suvir Saran and Betty Osborne

Apple-Cucumber Salad, Corn Curry, Masala Fried Chicken

Apple-Cucumber Salad, Corn Curry, Masala Fried Chicken

apple-cucumber salad, spiced Basmati, warm lentil salad

apple-cucumber salad, warm lentil salad

Peach Apricot Clafoutis

Peach Apricot Clafoutis

The Hungry Men

Hungry Men: Adam, Daniel, Charlie (right)

americanmasalasign1

Thanks FOODBUZZ and VISA SIGNATURE for sponsoring this month’s 24, 24, 24.

For more recipes and to start cooking your own feast, buy Suvirs cookbooks:

11 comments... read them below or add one

Comments

  1. August 31, 2009 7:31 am by Katie Reply

    This looks gorgeous and delicious. I’d love to try the fried chicken…we are big fans of Indian-spiced anything in our house :)

  2. August 31, 2009 10:15 am by Pierino Reply

    Kim, are you going to the FOODBUZZ thing in San Francisco in November?

  3. September 1, 2009 11:21 am by Robert Reply

    The watermelon juice looks so refreshing. I could use a glass or two right now. And what exactly are cantaloupe sparklers? By the way, these photos are gorgeous

  4. September 1, 2009 4:54 pm by Gina Reply

    I loooove Indian food and everything you prepared looks absolutely incredible! Way to go!

  5. September 7, 2009 8:02 am by Dan Reply

    That Mirchi Kaa Salaan was the spiciest thing I have ever eaten, and i don’t think I even got a bird pepper. It did calm down the next day, after it had some time to think about itself, though.

  6. September 11, 2009 10:25 am by Rachel Reply

    I really enjoyed this post being in nearby Saratoga County. We do have so much good farm and home grown food to be thankful for in these parts and this feast looks wonderful.

    I just finished reading your book Trail of Crumbs and enjoyed it very much as well. Am off to the grocery store today to buy some Napa cabbage to pair with my own garden escarole to make some of your Quick Fix Kimchee.

    Looking forward to more of your ethereal posts.

  7. September 21, 2009 2:19 pm by Bryan Reply

    Kim,
    Thanks for posting those gorgeous pictures. I would love to try those beautiful eggs!

    By the way, what’s your next book project?

  8. October 6, 2009 6:06 am by game Reply

    I’ve got two kids under the age of 9 and it is my goal in life to get them to eat food from every corner of the world. This is not always an easy task. American Masala is brilliant; Suvir Saran has practically written this book with me in mind. It is all the comfort food my family knows and loves, like Macaroni and Cheese and Fried Chicken, but Saran adds the spices and flavors from India that make it unique and exciting. I can introduce my kids to a cuisine I love while satisfying their young need to recognize what they are eating.

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