These Vietnamese rolls resemble Chinese egg rolls, but use rice paper instead of won ton wrappers, which produces a much more delicate product. Handling rice paper for the wrapping is easy if you use only a couple of sheets at a time and keep the rest covered with a damp towel to keep them moist. These rolls can be prepared in advance: reheat in a 350 degree oven until crisp, about 20 minutes.
Dal is the Hindi word for several of the legumes or beans that resemble lentils or split peas. In India they can be found both fresh and dried, but here we almost always find them dried. The bean used in this curry is called "toovar dal" and resembles a yellow split pea. Pulses or dried lentils are sometimes hard to digest. So cooks in India where they are staples, say to prepare them with ginger or turmeric to make them more digestible. This recipe contains both.
Poblano chiles are used here for their flavor and serranos for their serious bite in this hearty stew that’s perfect for a crisp fall day. This is an understated fusion dish with vegetables from all over the globe. Serve this with cornbread.
Similar to empanadas, traditional samosas are conical shaped filled pastries that are a popular snack throughout the sub-continent. Although they are typically fried, I prefer the filling in a baked empanada pastry. Potatoes and peas are common ingredients in samosas and I like to add a little yogurt so the mixture isn’t too dry.
Don't wait for a party to serve this spicy shrimp. After grilling the shrimp, simmer the marinade for 15 minutes and add a small amount of cornstarch to thicken. Serve the shrimp with the sauce over rice for a terrific entree.
Coconut adds a Caribbean flavor to this dish from the Dominican Republic and Cuba. A favorite on island menus, the fish and coconut combo is also very popular in Brazil, where both are plentiful. This delicate and delicious dish is served with rice and plantains. This recipe can be found in La Comida del Barrio, Clarkson Potter Publishers/New York.
"Holy" basil is widely available in Thai stores. The stems are purple and the leaves are pointed, distinguishing it from regular sweet basil. I actually prefer the flavor to "regular" basil—it’s slightly more bitter and fragrant, with a unique aroma. The basil doesn’t require much cooking, as too much heat makes it bitter and destroys the delicate flavor.