I’ve always enjoyed incorporating elements of different cuisines to create new concoctions. In this column I try my hand at two fusion recipes—one Japanese-Indian and the other Italian-Indian.
Japanese cooks love their super healthy soba noodles, made out of buckwheat flour. Buckwheat is rich in protein, fiber, essential amino acids, and minerals. It’s been proven to reduce body fat and lower cholesterol. The Japanese are also known for their use of edamame soybeans, which are high in protein, heart-healthy, and low calorie.
Combining these healthy ingredients with a savory Indian curry sauce is a delicious way to spice up your average Japanese noodle bowl. The Coconut Curry Soba Noodle recipe is extremely low-fat and nutrient-dense, but still exploding with flavor. The creamy coconut curry sauce coats the soba noodles and melts in your mouth, while the tender roasted cauliflower and currants add a sweet balance to the fragrant blend of spices. The very best part of this all-natural summer recipe is that leftovers work perfectly as a cold pasta salad for a light lunch the next day. This dish is a great way to take a culinary tour of Asia in just one bite.
My easy recipe for Eggplant Bharta Pizza with Sun-dried Tomato Chutney makes for an exciting Italian-Indian fusion dish. When I traveled through the South of Italy last summer, my favorite pizza to order was eggplant and onions “senza formaggio,” which means “without cheese” in Italian. This simple combination was divine and didn’t need gobs of greasy cheese on top. I decided to re-create it with an Indian twist.
Coconut Curry Soba Noodles
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 head
1 8-ounce package soba noodles
1 onion, diced small
1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or 1-2 fresh chilis, seeded
¼ teaspoon fenugreek powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder
¼ teaspoon mustard seeds
¼ cup water
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
1 cup shelled edamame, fresh or frozen
1 cup shredded carrots
½ cup currants or raisins
½ cup chopped cilantro
Preheat the over to 400° F. Place cauliflower on a half sheet tray and coat with ¼ cup olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and roast for 20-30 minutes, or until the florets are fork tender.
Cook soba noodles according to the package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Sauté onion with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepot. Season with salt and let cook until soft.
Add ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, tumeric, cayenne, fenugreek, cinnamon, cardamom, mustard seeds, and ¼ cup water to the onions and stir for 2 minutes to create a paste from the spices.
Add coconut milk, edamame, carrots, currants and season with salt. Let simmer covered for 10 minutes and add roasted cauliflower once it’s ready.
Toss soba noodles with the hot curry sauce and adjust seasoning to taste. Garnish with fresh cilantro.
Enjoy hot or cold the next day for lunch!
Variation: Substitute 1 can of coconut milk for ½ can coconut milk and ½ can water for a lighter and lower fat option.
Eggplant Bharta Pizza with Sun-dried Tomato Chutney
1 package ready made pizza dough (available at natural food markets)
1 medium eggplant
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced small
1 green chili, finely diced
½ teaspoon red chili powder
½ teaspoon garam masala powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
1 tomato, diced small
½ cup cooked green peas
Salt to taste
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Brush eggplant with 2 tablespoons oil and roast it on a gas burner over medium heat. Frequently turn the eggplant upside down, until fully roasted. Or puncture the eggplant in several places with a fork, brush it with 2 tablespoons of oil, and roast it whole and unpeeled on a baking sheet at 350°F until it’s soft and starting to collapse.
Once done, hold it under cold running water or place in a bowl of water to cool. Peel off the blackened skin and mash the flesh.
Heat oil in a pan and add onion, tomato, and green chili and fry over medium heat until the onions are a light golden brown.
Add red chili powder, garam masala, turmeric and salt and stir. Add tomatoes and cook until tender.
Add green peas, mashed eggplant, and stir well. Let cook for 5-7 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Roll pizza dough onto an oiled sheet tray and top with eggplant bharta. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the crust is slightly browned.
Sun-dried Tomato Chutney
1 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 piece fresh ginger, about 2 inches long, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
¼ cup fresh coriander leaves
1 tablespoon agave or sugar
1 teaspoon tamarind or lemon juice
Hydrate the sun dried tomatoes as per packet instructions, if not hydrated already.
Pulse all the ingredients in a food processor until it forms a smooth paste, using a little water if needed.
Adjust seasoning to taste.
Top pizza with Sun-dried Tomato Chutney and garnish with cilantro. Serve hot and enjoy!
Chloe Coscarelli is a vegan chef who recently graduated from The Natural Gourmet Institute.She specializes in health-supportive cooking.