A Worthy Summer Project for Kids

For those of you lucky enough to have young kids at home this summer, might I suggest picking up a copy of Priya’s Kitchen Adventures? Priya Krishna, the New York Times food journalist (famous in my house for her Matar Paneer and pantry-superstar Khichdi) teaches kids how to cook recipes from around the world. Think…

Photo: Mackenzie Smith Kelley

…Dahi Bhalla from India (above), Pozole Verde con Pollo from Mexico, Tea Sandwiches from England. More importantly, she shows how cooking can be an accessible way to explore the world and understand different cultures. Priya herself racked up a lot of international miles as a kid and telegraphs her enthusiasm for travel infectiously:

Consider this book your guide to endless adventuring…in your kitchen! I believe cooking is one of our greatest superpowers. It allows us to travel back in time, to our memories of birthday parties and Christmas dinners and family breakfasts, and outside the borders where we live. You can be at a ramen shop in a subway station in Tokyo, or a roadside chaat stand in Delhi, or a cozy trattoria run by an Italian grandmother in Rome. Most importantly: Cooking allows us to eat delicious things. And I am at my happiest when the food is tasty.

Cooking through this book country by country feels like just the sort of project we would’ve taken on when the girls were back in grade school. To be honest, I might just cook from it as a bonafide grown-up. As with all great childrens’ cookbooks (Alice Waters’ Fanny at Chez Panisse, America’s Test Kitchen’s Kids Can Cook Anything!), I’ve found helpful instructions for recipes that I’ve always wanted to make or that have always intimidated me for one reason or another…

…like tiramisu from the Italy chapter. Look at how Priya breaks it down. I just love it, and plan to tackle that recipe this week, along with Dahi Bhalla, the popular Indian street food that hits every note — sweet, salty, creamy, crispy, spicy, sour. Here’s the recipe.

Dahi Bhalla, Nana Style

From Priya: The street vendors of India are probably some of the greatest cooks in the world. They make dishes that mix sweet with salty, creamy with crunchy, spicy with sour. They know how to achieve that perfect balance. My favorite bites when I visit are always enjoyed not in a restaurant but at a roadside stand. This is my ode to one of my favorite vendors, a guy who exclusively makes dahi bhalla-essentially fritters soaked in yogurt and topped with all kinds of chutneys. Frying at home can be annoying, so my nana, or grandfather, developed this quick version, which substitutes microwaved potato slices for the fritters. They do just as good a job of soaking up the creamy yogurt and all of the chutneys. This is messy, colorful, vibrantly flavored street food at its best. Serves 4.

1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups plain full-fat yogurt (not Greek)
4 medium yellow potatoes
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (optional)
1/2 cup store-bought tamarind chutney
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder (such as cayenne or Kashmiri)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
1/4 cup sev (a crispy chickpea topping available in most Indian grocery stores; optional)

Toast the cumin in a small pan over low heat until it turns a shade darker and you can really smell it, 7 to 10 minutes. Set aside.

Combine 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and the yogurt in a small bowl and whisk until smooth.

Poke the potatoes 5 times on each side with a fork and microwave them uncovered, in a large microwave-safe plate or bowl for 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice them into disks (about 1/2 inch thick should work).

Arrange the potatoes in an even layer with a little overlap on a medium serving platter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over the potatoes. Pour the salted yogurt over the top, followed by the chickpeas, if using, then the tamarind chuntney. Sprinkle with the chile powder and the toasted cumin. Garnish with the chopped cilantro and the sev, if using.

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