Recipe: Chaimen mutton stew

A danger of living near New York is the relative proximity of Kalustyan’s and its near-infinite array of spices. Last year on an impulse I bought a packet of dry chaimen spice mix (basically the dry ingredients from the paste recipe here) — it’s a mix of fenugreek, cumin, paprika, and garlic used in some Armenian dishes. Since I’m not really up for making bastirma or something fancy like that, I’ve been experimenting over the last year with ways of using it outside of making a dip. Here’s a recipe for a mutton curry (I used goat), but I’ve used an adapted procedure to make a bean and vegetable dish stew as well: squash, carrots, and white beans, for example.

a picture of the cooking, close to the end

a picture of the cooking, close to the end


  • 2 heaping tbsp chairmen mix
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced or crushed
  • 2-4 tbsp plain yogurt
  • 1 lb cubed goat (bone-in stew meat)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 cup diced prunes

Mix chaimen, 2-3 tbsp or so of tomato paste, garlic, 1/2 cup parsley, and enough yogurt to make a thick paste. If necessary add a little olive oil to thin it out. Coat/rub it into the goat, cover, and let it sit for at least an hour on the counter or possibly overnight in the fridge.

Heat oil with onions in a heavy pot/dutch oven and cook on low until the onions turn more translucent. Add in 1 clove of garlic sometime in that time, being careful not to burn. Add goat and marinade cook for a few minutes, turning over a few times. Add enough water to just cover the goat and bring the heat up until it hits boiling, then cover and turn heat to low and cook it on low heat slowly for at least an hour, preferably more. Uncover and cook for 15 minutes longer to reduce the liquid. By this point the meat should be falling off the bones pretty easily. if not, you can cook a bit longer. Add in prunes and additional tomato paste to thicken (as needed) and cook for 15-20 minutes, still on low, until prunes dissolve. Remove from heat and serve garnished with additional parsley.

Note: other adaptations could include adding potatoes or some other starch about 30 minutes before finishing, or other vegetables that you think might be good. If you make this with chicken adding some vegetables would be great. For a vegetarian version you can shorten the cooking time a bit since you will likely add less liquid. White beans, kidney beans, and fava all work pretty well (or a mix of them). It takes on a bit of a cassoulet-like consistency in that case then. Lots of places you can sub here, like raisins or apricots for prunes, probably.


Vegan Caldo Verde (Portuguese Kale Soup)

I am not a vegetarian but I don’t usually cook meat when eating at home. Back in grad school I had a CSA and they would put a recipe in with every box (along with some news from the farm). One week it was a recipe for Portuguese kale soup, or caldo verde, and I remember it being delicious. Since the weather has been getting cold here I decided last night to make a batch to keep we warm during the last week of classes. When I went to the store to pick up the chorizo, however, I thought it would be more fun (and easier to share) to make a vegetarian version — that way I could use up my shiitake mushrooms too!

Vegan Caldo Verde

Vegan Caldo Verde

The proportions are not too fussy — it depends on how starchy/soupy you want it.

Vegan Caldo Verde

2 vegan chouriço (or chorizo) sausages, sliced
12 shiitake mushrooms, sliced (should cook down to same volume as chorizo)
1/2 – 1 lb potatoes, diced (chunk size based on how you want to eat it)
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic
6 cups liquid (used a 1:2 mix of veg. broth and water)
1 lb kale, shredded (thin slices are more traditional, but laziness wins often)
olive oil
salt and pepper

  1. Using a soup pot or dutch oven, brown sausage slices in olive oil (you don’t need too much), remove and set aside.  Add additional oil if needed and cook shiitakes until they lose their liquid.  Remove those too.
  2. Add additional oil and cook onion (with a little salt) until translucent, then add garlic and cook until aromatic (be sure not to burn).
  3. Add potatoes and mix to coat, then add broth (make sure you cover the vegetables, add more if needed), cover, and bring to a boil. Uncover and reduce to a simmer until the potatoes are cooked through (15 min or maybe longer depending on the variety and size of your dice).
  4. (Optional) Use an immersion blender to partially puree some of the onion/potato mixture to thicken the soup.
  5. Add mushrooms and chorizo. Return to a boil.
  6. Add kale and cook down, around 5 minutes.  Be sure not to overcook the kale. Grind generous amounts of pepper and mix in.

If you are feeling fancy you can add some additional spice by adding pimenton ahumado (smoked paprika) or other spicy element.  I purposefully diluted the broth so that the mushrooms and spices in the chorizo could lend some flavor. I think you could also cook some more chorizo and garnish the bowl with a slice or two of browned chorizo in the middle. The mix of mushrooms and chorizo adds some textural interest and additional flavor, I think. Perhaps a little soy sauce in there would help up the umami.

I have no idea how many portions this makes, but I am guessing it’s at least 4-6 servings for me.  Appetites vary of course.

Dolnamul/dotnamul, or “dot greens,” with a spicy dipping sauce

I went to H-Mart this weekend and decided to check out the greens to see if I could discover something new and tasty. I passed up the enigmatically named Tacochoy since tacos were not on the menu for the week:


Not really sure what this was, but it did look tasty — maybe next time.

What I did pick up was some Korean red-leaf mustard greens and something called “dot greens” (돋나물, or dotnamul) which I eventually (through teaching myself some Hangul and googling) figured out is Sedum sarmentosum, or graveyard moss:

"Dot Greens" or "dotnamul" are the sedum leaves

“Dot Greens” or “dotnamul” are the sedum leaves

Namul seems to refer to a general class of seasoned vegetable banchan-like dishes, so I decided to take a cue from existing websites and made a dipping sauce with gochujang and had them pretty much raw.

Sedum, all dressed up and nowhere to go but my belly

Sedum, all dressed up and nowhere to go but my belly

Here’s the recipe!

1.5 tbsp gochujang
juice from half a lemon
1/2 tsp sesame oil
scant 1/2 tsp rice vinegar (optional)
toasted sesame seeds

Whisk everything but the seeds and pour over salad. Sprinkle seeds on top.

White pepper and honey green beans

White pepper and honey green beans

I stole this chicken recipe from Serious Eats to cook the long beans I had in my fridge. It also gave me a way to use some of the cilantro I planted in my back yard. I decided to make a veggie variant using the same marinade. This is more of a thing to riff on — I imagine it would be super tasty with brussels sprouts.

4 cloves garlic
1/3 cup cilantro, minced, stems and all (I used the leaves too since I am lazy)
2 1/2 tsp white pepper
2 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fish sauce (or golden mountain sauce)
1 Tbsp oil (something neutral)
1 lb (or more) Chinese long beans (or green beans) cut into 1.5″ pieces
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (or shallots)

Grind up pepper, garlic, and cilantro in a mortar and pestle (also very important) into a paste. This will take time. Scrape out and mix in sauce and honey and oil and mix thoroughly. Marinate veggies for 10-15 minutes and then pop into an oven at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, mixing occasionally. Remove and carefully drain off any liquid that has sweated out, then turn on the broiler and finish them for 3-5 minutes under the broiler.

Notes: It’s really important to use white pepper. This really makes the dish. A little less honey may be good if you are not using fish sauce, as the sweetness counteracts the funk and the truly veggie version will have less of that. The liquid is a super-delicious addition to rice — I just kept in the fridge for a little zing. I’m on the fence about the oil — sesame may be good too but it might overwhelm the other flavors.

A.D. Sarwate’s Own Tangelo Bitters

A couple of weeks ago I started a batch of Tangelo bitters, using a couple of recipes I cobbled together from the web as guidelines. To be honest, I can’t even remember which recipes I used, but the closest one is the Serious Eats version. I had not yet obtained the book Bitters, but I figured it would be a fun experiment and I could always foist off the resulting stuff on my friends. The recipe uses two infusions — spices and peel into clear liquor and bittering agents into rye.

Continue reading

Patal Bhaji

Now that I am not traveling around as much and stressed out about job decisions, I have gotten back to cooking. I miss my mother’s cooking and frequently call home to check on recipes (to the point where my mother’s first question is sometimes “what do you want to cook today?”). I figured I’d post some recipes here occasionally. This recipe is for Patal Bhaji, a Maharashtrian comfort dish. Although there are a lot of ingredients, most of them are “pantry items,” at least in Indian kitchens.

Alas there are no pictures because it’s been eaten. I made the variety with chana dal because I seem to have a metric ton of chana dal at my apartment.

Continue reading