basmati + wild rice with chickpeas, currants and herbs


A few months ago I read an article about what it means to be a good stranger. The author recounts an episode where he might just be walking behind The Slowest Man in the World, and how deeply this rattled him. Why couldn’t this man walk faster? Didn’t he know the inconvenience he caused simply because of the speed in which he moved his limbs? Upon further introspection the author starts to question himself,

It’s telling that I only become interested in the Ethics of Proper Sidewalk-Sharing in moments when I’m being personally inconvenienced. Even though the issue undoubtedly affects millions of people every day, it never seems to be an important topic to think about at any other time. Many or most of our internal moral complaints about others are really just petty reactions to being inconvenienced, and not any kind of meaningful examination of personal ethics or how to run a society. I’m learning to distrust these kinds of thoughts when I have them, but I still have them.

I related to this scene because at different points in my life I was both the annoyed person and the one who couldn’t move fast enough. Whether I’m coming out of the subway or trying to navigate my way home in the cold, I’ve found myself incensed with people who simply couldn’t move. On the other hand, there was a time when I’d injured my knee and was trying to hide a limp, and do you know I felt guilty that I was inconveniencing people because I could bound up the stairs? Couldn’t move, move, move?

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’ve been feeling this constant urge to slow down. I’ve been treating my whole life as a race worth conquering, but for what? We know what’s at the finish line, what awaits us six floors down: a box beneath the earth or the cool copper of an urn. What is the reward for our accelerated personal velocity? Death? Seriously? I have this one giant life to live and why would I push through it for the sole purpose of losing it? Do I “win” because I’m the victor over the loss of my own breath? I read this quote from Marcus Aurelius, and it’s chilling because it’s honest, frightening and real (for those of you whom, like me, are frightened of death):

Were you to live three thousand years, or even thirty thousand, remember that the sole life which a man can lose is that which he is living at the moment; and furthermore, that he can have no other life except the one he loses. This means that the longest life and the shortest amount to the same thing. For the passing minute is every man’s equal possession, but what has once gone by is not ours. Our loss, therefore, is limited to that one fleeting instant, since no one can lose what is already past, nor yet what is still to come. (via)

15853969724_629b8f49c2_oYesterday, over breakfast, I tell my friend Angie about shopping at Whole Foods after work on a Friday evening. It was a perfectly perfunctory day–I leave a work session with my client and walk to the nearest grocery store to pick up some food for the weekend. It’s Friday, it’s Chelsea, and everyone has somewhere to people. As soon as I walk through the door of the market I’m immediately shoved, pushed and nearly run over by a grocery cart. Someone behind me in produce sighs audibly when I linger in front the blueberries too long. I love food shopping. I love thinking about all the meals I could possibly make, and instead of enjoying this bit of luxury, I have to be aware, dexterous, efficient and FAST. I simply cannot linger. God forbid I contemplate. And after navigating lines, subways and sidewalks, I come home, depleted.

I’ve lived in New York my whole life and my god, people move so fast. How is it that I’ve only noticed this? How is it that it’s taken 39 years for me to be bothered by this?

All I want to do is slow down. I want to hear exhalations of breath. I want to cook rice for 40 minutes without having an anxiety attack. Maybe this is one of the many reasons why I plan on leaving New York this year–this desire to not squander or race through time.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe from Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
½ cup wild rice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup basmati rice (to be candid, this was A LOT of rice for me. I ended up using 1/2 and storing the rest)
1 ½ cups boiling hot water
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 ½ tsp curry powder
1 ½ cups (or 15oz can) of cooked and drained chickpeas
4 tbsp canola or sunflower oil for frying
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 ½ tsp of gluten-free flour
2/3 cup dried currants
2 tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Place the wild rice in a small saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Bring the water to a boil and then leave it to simmer for 40-45 minutes until the wild rice is cooked but still firm. Drain and set aside.

While the wild rice is cooking cook the basmati rice: In a medium saucepan that has a tight fitting lid warm 1 tablespoon of olive oil over high heat. Once the oil is heated add the rice and ¼ teaspoon salt and stir to warm up the rice. Carefully, add the boiling water, and decrease the heat to low. Cover the pan with the lid and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave the rice covered for 5 minutes.

While the basmati rice is cooking prepare the chickpeas: In a small saucepan heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and curry powder and wait for a few seconds till the seeds start sputtering and you get the aroma of the spices. Add the cooked chickpeas and ¼ teaspoon salt. Do all this quickly, so that the spices do not burn. Mix everything well together (1-2 minutes) until the chickpeas are heated through. Remove the chickpeas and transfer to a large mixing bowl.

Wipe the same saucepan clean, add the canola or sunflower oil over high heat. While the oil is heating toss the onions with the gf flour. When the oil is hot, pan-fry the onions in batches until they are golden brown. Do not let them burn. Place the cooked onions on a plate lined with a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Add both types of cooked rice to the chickpeas. Add the currants, herbs and fried onion. Mix everyone together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Center Photo Credit: Death to the Stock Photo.

thai beef with basil

Don’t you love it when you start your day one way, and it ends up falling beautifully into something other? After a string of morning meetings, I met up with my dear friend and business partner, and that long coffee led to me cheering on her son’s performance in a grade school musical (yes, I’m that embarrassing friend who whistles and fist pumps), which led us to a long lunch on my deck.

As my yearnings for pasta have been greater than alcohol, coke, and chocolate combined, I’ve been amassing a trove of recipes that won’t leave me fantasizing about bolognese spilling over hot pots and baked noodles bubbling in Dutch ovens. Much like Dante’s journey through hell, my third day without pasta has all the makings of a Shakespearian drama.

After twenty minutes of sauteeing beef in chilis and garlic, fluffing basmati rice with a fork, and whisking fish and soy sauces with fresh lime juice, I presented my dear friend (and myself) with a rich, filling, DELICIOUS (OMIGOD, I DIDN’T THINK OF PASTA FOR TWO HOURS) meal. Naturally, I blitzed up some kale smoothies, and we spent the afternoon hatching plans for 2014.

If Bon Appetit were a grade school performance, you’d find me in front of the aisle, shaking my shimmy and snapping pics of the glory.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
2 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 red chiles, thinly sliced, seeded for less heat if desired, divided
1 pound ground beef
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups fresh basil leaves, divided
2 medium carrots, julienned or coarsely grated
2 scallions, thinly sliced
4 tbsp fresh lime juice, divided
2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
1 tsp sugar
Steamed rice and lime wedges (for serving)

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add garlic and 1 chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, breaking up with a spoon and pressing down firmly to help brown, until cooked through and nicely crisped in spots, 8–10 minutes.

Add broth and 2 cups basil and cook, stirring, until basil is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Toss carrots, scallions, 1 Tbsp. lime juice, and remaining chile, 1 cup basil leaves, and 1 Tbsp. oil in a small bowl.

Mix soy sauce, fish sauce, sugar, and remaining 3 Tbsp. lime juice in another small bowl until sugar dissolves.

Top rice with beef and slaw and drizzle with soy dressing. Serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.


persian jeweled rice

There was a time when I stacked unread magazines. Hoarded issues of The New Yorker, Bon Appetit and Harvard Business Review, for the thought of opening a single issue would send me into a state of apoplexy. My life, for a time, could not handle complexity. I was a fragile thing, prone to only managing complexity in small doses, so I have to say that after four years of living under anesthesia, it feels good to READ. It feels joyous to immerse myself in a magazine and make recipes that take an extraordinary amount of time, just because.

I’ll also have you know that I’m reading, which has been helping tremendously in terms of my story writing. In the past month, I’ve devoured Nick Flynn’s The Reenactments, Taiye Selasi’s Ghana Must Go, Claire Messud’s The Woman Upstairs, V. Nabokov’s The Eye, Bill Clegg’s Ninety Days, Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem (re-read), among a pile of art books acquired in Paris, and I’m finally, FINALLY, keeping up with my Bon Appetit. Which brings me to this lovely dish made in the evening during a long, cold weekend.

I’m going to hold on to this feeling for as long as I possibly, possibly can.

INGREDIENTS: Recipe courtesy of Bon Appetit
1/4 cup unsalted, shelled raw natural pistachios
1/4 cup slivered almonds
2 cups basmati rice
Kosher salt
1 orange
1/2 cup sugar
2 medium carrots, peeled, cut into matchstick-size pieces*
1/4 cup dried barberries or 1/2 cup dried cranberries*
1/4 cup raisins*
1/4 tsp saffron threads
2 tbsp unsalted butter
4 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground turmeric


Dried barberries, sold as zereshk, are available at Middle Eastern markets and However, I had dried cherries, Turkish apricots (which I finely diced) and golden raisins on hand, which made this recipe sing. I’d also use dried mango or blueberries, if you have them as well. Use what you have on hand when it comes to dried fruit instead of making the fuss of ordering items on online. Unless that’s your bag, in which case, Kalustyans is the BUSINESS.

Also, I used 3/4 cup of pre-chopped (cubed) carrots, if you’re looking to save a little time.

Be forewarned, this recipe will take a little over two hours from start to finish. Don’t cut corners, don’t NOT read the recipe — the joy is in the process, in the alchemy of taking simple ingredients to make extraordinary flavors and textures. This recipe was calming for me, methodic in a way that baking feels, so I invite you to take it easy, spend time with this because the results will be well worth the journey. You’ll love the candied taste of the orange peel, the smokiness of the nuts and the crunchiness of the rice and charred bits at the bottom of the pan. I felt AWAKE after eating this rice, it was that GOOD.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread pistachios on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until just beginning to brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate, let cool, then coarsely chop. Spread almonds on the same baking sheet and toast until golden brown, 5–8 minutes; let cool. Set nuts aside.

Place rice in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear. Cook rice in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until grains have lengthened but are still firm, 6–7 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water. Spread rice on another rimmed baking sheet; let cool.

Meanwhile, using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from orange and thinly slice lengthwise (reserve flesh for another use). Bring sugar and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add orange zest and carrots, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender, 15–20 minutes; drain and set aside (discard syrup).

Combine barberries and raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let soak 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. Place saffron in another small bowl and add 1/4 cup hot water; set aside.

Heat butter and 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, season with salt, and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 8–10 minutes. Add cardamom, cumin, turmeric, and 1 tablespoon saffron mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Reduce heat to low, add barberries and raisins, and cook, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Stir in reserved nuts and orange zest and carrot mixture; season with salt. Set fruit and nut mixture aside.


Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large wide heavy pot over medium heat. Add half of rice, spreading evenly; top with fruit and nut mixture, then remaining rice, spreading evenly. Using the end of a wooden spoon, poke 5–6 holes in rice all the way through to bottom of pot (to help release steam and help rice cook evenly).

Drizzle remaining saffron mixture over rice. Place a clean kitchen towel over pot, cover with a tight-fitting lid, and secure loose edges of towel on top of lid, using a rubber band or masking tape.

Cook until pot begins to steam, 5–8 minutes. Reduce heat to very low and cook, without stirring, until rice is tender and bottom layer of rice is browned and crisp, 30–40 minutes.

Scoop rice into a wide serving bowl, breaking bottom crust into pieces.

DO AHEAD: Fruit and nut mixture can be made 2 days ahead. Cover fruit and nut mixture and remaining saffron mixture separately and chill.