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Ramp Recipes


Ramp season is drawing to a close here in D.C. – so sad! If you still have some ramps knocking around, try one of these recipes:

The Ultimate Spring Egg Sandwich: Pretzel Roll, Ramp Pesto, Fried Egg, Bacon, Wilted Ramp Leaves and Caramelized Mushrooms

Fava Bean Salad with Pickled Ramps, Peas and Goat Cheese


The Ultimate Spring Egg Sandwich: Pretzel Roll, Fried Egg, Bacon, Ramp Pesto, Wilted Ramps and Mushrooms


The Ultimate Spring Egg Sandwich: Pretzel Roll, Fried Egg, Bacon, Ramp Pesto, Wilted Ramps and Mushrooms

“Purple Beer”

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Chicha Morado is a tangy, refreshing glass of awesome. It’s a Peruvian drink made from purple corn, simmered with apple, pineapple, dried fruit and spices and served cold. While researching a series for Food Republic (see Part 1 and Part 2), I ended up playing around with it a lot in the kitchen. Not to be confused with the fermented alcoholic corn drink Chicha, it’s made with dried purple corn from Peru. Chicha refers to corn in Peru, and Morado means purple, so it’s named for the corn from which it’s made. The corn usually comes dried in the States, whole on the cob, so dark purple that it’s almost black, and it’s the source of the gorgeous, deep plum color and slight acidity of the final brew. Perfect with Peruvian food, of course, it’s also great with barbecue, or any other time you might ordinarily have an iced tea. Pair with fried chicken for a hangover-free morning after.


Chicha Morado Recipe

Servings: 1½ quarts (about 6 Servings)


1 pineapple

1 pound dried purple Peruvian corn*

2 Granny Smith apples, cored and chopped

3 cinnamon sticks

7 cloves

1 star anise

¼ cup palm sugar

¼ cup dried cherries

Water to cover

1 lemon

Sugar to taste


Cut the peel, top and bottom off the pineapple. Set aside the peel and discard the top. Quarter the peeled pineapple lengthwise. Trim the core from the flesh. Chop the flesh and store it in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to serve. Put the pineapple peel and core in the bottom of a medium stock pot. Add the corn, 1 of the apples, the cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, palm sugar and dried cherries. Cover with enough cold water from the tap to just cover the solids. Bring to a boil over a high heat, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and simmer for 1 hour. The color from the corn will leach into the liquid and stain the apples and pineapple peel. This is normal. The finished liquid will be a beautiful, deep purple, a bit like red wine.

Turn off the heat, uncover the pot and allow the mixture to cool. Strain the mixture, reserving the cinnamon sticks to serve—they unfurl a bit as they cook and serve nicely as a garnish for the finished glasses of Chicha Morado. Thinly slice the lemon. Taste the strained corn liquid and add sugar if desired. This is rather like iced tea—how sweet you like it depends entirely on your palate. 

Garnish your serving glasses with a slice of lemon each, and put the rest of the slices in a jug. Add a couple of cubes of ice to each serving glass. Add some ice, half the pineapple, and the remaining apple to the jug, and then pour the strained liquid into the jug. Pour some of the finished Chicha Morado into the glasses. You can fish out some pieces of fruit for each glass, if you like—they’re the best bit!



*For purple corn, try your local Latin American market, or order online from Latin Merchant or La Tienda. If you live in the Washington, DC area, Las Americas International Market in Rockville, MD usually stocks the whole, dried cobs of purple corn, as well as an instant version of Chicha Morado:

Instant Chicha Morado

Instant Chicha Morado

purple corn packaging


Want to try another Peruvian recipe? Click here for a Caramel Sandwich Cookies.

Cooking with Hannibal: Futamono


Overview of Hannibal's party Hors d'Oeuvres

Overview of Hannibal’s party Hors d’Oeuvres

If Jack’s team is right, Hannibal finally made some food that contains animals rather than people. For a party, he prepares a variety of goodies with the help of the lovely Dr. Bloom.

More of Hannibal's party Hors d'Oeuvres

More of Hannibal’s party Hors d’Oeuvres

In the above photo, you can see little Wagyu Beef Roulade slices (stuffed with Sushi Rice) all decked out with chive flowers on the left. On the right, are little Filo Pastry Flowers with Beef Heart Tartare. In the middle you can see some of the Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon. For more on Hannibal’s party menu, click here.

Wagyu Beef

Wagyu Beef

Beef Roulade

Wagyu Beef Roulade stuffed with Sushi Rice before cooking

Beef Kebabs

Beef Kebabs

Beef Heart Tartare in Filo Pastry

Beef Heart Tartare in Filo Pastry

Prosciutto Rose on Watermelon

Prosciutto Rose on Watermelon


Platter of Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon

Platter of Prosciutto Roses on Watermelon

If you’d like to try some offal hors d’oeuvres, here is a recipe I developed for The Ration Diaries. Since a lot of whole birds come with the offal in the cavity, I try and use it up with little bites like this. If you want to make something like this in mass, you can always buy veal heart and cut it much more finely; you still need to be careful too cook it gently since it’s a tough muscle and when cooked over a high heat, it tends to get REALLY tough.

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves

Bacon confited-Guinea Fowl Heart with Brussels Sprouts and Blackcurrant Preserves (from The Ration Diaries)

Servings: 1

1/4 strip bacon
1 Guinea Fowl heart
1/2 Brussels sprout, cut in half
1 tablespoon vegetable broth
1 demitasse spoonful blackcurrant preserves

Slice the bacon very thinly then render it in a non-stick pan. When the bacon is crispy, use a slotted spoon to remove it to a plate. Pour the bacon into a boiled egg cup. Allow the bacon fat to cool slightly, then add the heart. Put the egg cup in the microwave and set to “keep warm” for 2 to 5 minutes, or until the heart is cooked through. Heart gets tough very easily, so it’s important not to cook the heart on high. Sear the cut sides of the Brussels sprout quarters in the hot pan, and season with salt. Add the vegetable broth and simmer until the broth has evaporated. Slice the heart very thinly and reserve the bacon fat for another use. Serve the heart garnished with Brussels sprouts, reserved bacon, and blackcurrant preserves.


Cooking with Hannibal: Mukozuke

Hannibal opening oysters

Hannibal opening oysters

Finally, more food! The past 2 episodes have been a bit of a respite from the cooking on the show, but this episode, Hannibal’s back in the kitchen. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day; to Hannibal, this means pancetta, oysters, crayfish and other fancy fancies with his eggs, as he whips up a little something for Jack to comfort him in his time of need…or mess with his mind.

Scrambled Eggs

Scrambled Eggs

This is juxtaposed with a rather beige, depressing-looking breakfast for Will at the Baltimore loony bin. Then we get a flash of pancetta porn from Hannibal’s breakfast:

Pancetta sizzling for Hannibal's breakfast

Pancetta sizzling for Hannibal’s breakfast

And a gorgeous shot of a crayfish and oyster platter. The beetles were a total turn-off for me; who wants to see beetles at breakfast? Now dinner…

Crayfish, Oysters and Beetles

Crayfish, Oysters and Beetles

Here’s the final dish: eggs, pancetta, crayfish and oyster.

Pancetta, eggs, crayfish and oyster

Hannibal’s Breakfast: Pancetta, eggs, crayfish and oyster

Will's Hospital Breakfast

Will’s Hospital Breakfast

The above is one of the beige-est meals I’ve ever seen.

Will's Sad Face

Will’s Sad Face (hospital breakfasts get him down)

No wonder Will looks sad.

My favorite breakfast egg recipe ever is a mascarpone and tomato frittata that I used to make while working at an Italian restaurant. It used oven-dried tomatoes, but I’ve replaced it with some sundried tomatoes and some roasted, since the oven-dried ones take forever to make.

Mascarpone and Tomato Frittata with Basil

Yield: about 6 servings


olive oil

3 ripe roma tomatoes, halved

5 sprigs thyme

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil, drained

5 eggs, preferably local farm eggs

1 cup mascarpone

1/2 bunch fresh basil, torn


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle a small, ovenproof baking dish with some olive oil. Put the roma tomatoes in it, cut face up. Add the thyme sprigs, season with salt and pepper and dust with the sugar. Put the tomatoes in the oven to roast (about 30 minutes, or until browning and emitting an incredible, slightly sweet aroma). Meanwhile, make sure the sun-dried tomatoes are drained and mince (they can be pretty chewy, so you want to make sure they’re cut fairly small. Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Prepare a large, cast-iron skillet by heating over a medium heat. When the roma tomatoes are roasted, remove them from the oven and using a slotted spoon, remove them to a chopping board and cut roughly. Keep the oven on, since you’ll finish the frittata in it. You can reserve the olive oil and roasting juices for a vinaigrette, if you’d like-you just need some vinegar. Turn the heat to high under the cast iron skillet, then add olive oil. Heat until it shimmers a bit, then add the whisked eggs. Using a heatproof spatula, push around the eggs until curds start to form, then allow to solidify a bit before scooping spoonfuls of the mascarpone onto the top of the eggs, being careful to distribute evenly. Add the tomatoes and sun-dried tomatoes. DO NOT STIR!!! Put the skillet in the oven. When the frittata is puffy, and appears fully cooked, about 15 minutes, remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. Cut in the skillet, then top with the basil. You can serve from the skillet at the table. And yes, it goes beautifully with pancetta. From a pig. Not the Hannibal kind.

Cooking with Hannibal: Sakizuki

Veal Osso Bucco

Veal Osso Bucco

So without giving anything away, in this episode, Hannibal makes some changes to another serial killer’s “artwork” and ends up with a leg in his pantry which does not come from a veal. He then decides to make Osso Bucco.

Veal Recipe

Veal Recipe

If you can forget the horrifying carnage that precedes it, it actually looks quite tasty! For a flashback recipe for Osso Bucco, click here. Judging from the quick flash of recipe that we get plus the quick recipe shots, it looks as though he probably dredges the veal in flour (see photo below) renders some pancetta, then sears the veal shank cross sections until brown, deglazes them with wine, and braises them with the mirepoix, garlic, and anchovies and some kind of red (maybe tomato-based?) sauce.

Dredging Veal

Dredging Veal

Searing Veal

Searing Veal

Glazed Veal

Veal Being Deglazed

Sketch of concept for Veal Osso Bucco plating from Hannibal food stylist  Janice Poon

Sketch of concept for Veal Osso Bucco plating from Hannibal food stylist Janice Poon

We learn from the above gorgeous sketch by Hannibal food stylist Janice Poon that it is served on top of a bed of saffron risotto, garnished with Tomato Osso Bucco sauce (maybe the braising liquid?) and some vegetables and gremolata. Since I’ve already posted an Osso Bucco recipe back when Hannibal last cooked veal, this made me think of an amazing Oxtail Stew that I had in Andalusia, in Spain, years ago. Something about the rich, glossy braising liquid from the Osso Bucco shots brought back that moment when it arrived at the table, steaming with beefy goodness.

I recently tried out a great recipe for Oxtail Stew from Claudia Roden’s The Food of Spain. This book came out a few years ago and I’ve really enjoyed the back stories and sense of atmosphere that Roden manages to create. In addition to containing a lot of easy recipes and a smattering of harder ones, it’s a fun read, and full of cultural tidbits. This is adapted slightly from Roden’s recipe.

Oxtail Stew

Recipe adapted from The Food of Spain by Claudia Roden.

Yield: 6 Servings


Vegetable oil

6 pounds oxtail, cut into sections

1/4 cup olive oil

2 white onions, chopped

3 large carrots, chopped

1 medium leek, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves

1/4 bunch thyme

2 small cans good quality peeled and chopped tomatoes

2 cups red wine, such as Rioja

1 cup dry white wine, such as a white Rioja

1/2 cup brandy

Salt and pepper

Mashed potatoes


Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a roasting pan with 2 layers of foil. Brush the foil with a little vegetable oil, then add the oxtails and roast in the preheated oven until browned, about 40 minutes to 1 hour. 

While the oxtails are roasting, heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over a medium heat. Add the onions, carrots and leek and sweat until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook through but don’t allow to brown. Add the bay leaves, thyme and tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, for about another 10 minutes. At this point, you can remove the Dutch oven from the heat until the oxtails are done. Once they’re browned, remove them from the oven and return the Dutch oven to a medium heat. Add the oxtails to the Dutch oven using tongs. Pour off the fat from the roasting pan, then place it over a medium heat and deglaze using the wine and brandy. Use a wooden spoon to gently scrape any caramelized meat from the foil. Then pour the wine mixture into the Dutch oven with the meat and tomato mixture. Add enough water to cover the oxtails, season with the salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 3 to 4 hours, or until the meat is tender and falls away from the bone.

Let the stew rest for about 30 minutes, and remove any fat that has accumulated on top. Remove the bay leaves and thyme and serve with mashed potatoes. Claudia Roden notes that some prefer to blend the sauce to a cream with an immersion blender once the herbs and oxtails have been removed and then serve the oxtail with the blended sauce, but that she prefers it with the bits of vegetables in and doesn’t like blending it. I tried it both ways, and agree with her. It’s a bit more of a rustic finish when it’s unblended, but that’s what I love about dishes like these.

Cooking with Hannibal: Kaiseki

Hannibal slices meat in the dream sequence, then catches Jack Crawford's eye.

Hannibal slices meat in the dream sequence, then catches Jack Crawford’s eye.

SPOILER ALERT! Season 2 kicked off on Friday with a Hannibal-on-Jack fight in the kitchen. Turns out, it utilized one of my least favorite narrative devices. The “it was all a dream” schtick. There were a couple of very cool images during the fight scene, though. Before the fight explodes, we see Hannibal prepping meat and a salad and there are some very eerie reflections as we see him slice.

Dream sequence: Hannibal preps salad then sees his own reflection.

Dream sequence: Hannibal preps salad then sees his own reflection.

Back in the real world, Hannibal really does cook dinner for Jack Crawford, supposedly to make him feel better about Will’s apparent guilt. He makes Jack a kaiseki meal (a type of high-end Japanese repast that has imperial roots), including some raw sliced “flounder” and some sea urchin.

Sea Urchin during Kaiseki dinner Hannibal serves to Jack Crawford.

Sea Urchin during Kaiseki dinner Hannibal serves to Jack Crawford.

Doesn’t it look beautiful?

Look how pretty!

Look how pretty!

It’s served with the squid roll (the tall white object below) as a side to the flounder dish, but in my opinion, sea urchin always merits center stage.

Sea Urchin with Squid Roll and Squid Ink Quills

Sea Urchin with Squid Roll and Squid Ink Quills

One of my favorite sea urchin dishes is a Sicilian pasta made with bottarga and fresh sea urchin. Here is a recipe:

Pasta with Bottarga and Sea Urchin (adapted from La Cucina: The Regional Cooking of Italy)


4 ounces bottarga of tuna

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 pound spaghetti or bucatini


1/4 cup fresh sea urchin


1. Grate the bottarga into a medium mixing bowl. Add the garlic, parsley and olive oil. 

2. Cook the pasta in unsalted boiling water since the bottarga is so salty. When al dente, drain.

3. Add the sea urchin into the pasta, then add the bottarga mixture, mix gently so as not to break up the pieces of sea urchin, and enjoy!

Will's prison food

Will’s prison food

Less alluring by far are the culinary delights of the prison system. Poor Will!


Happy Valentine’s Day!

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When I worked in New York still, I used to meander over to Beecher’s across the street for coffee and a sweet treat from Liddabit Sweets. One move to Virginia, and one kid later, and I’m too far from New York for an impromptu candy bar from them, but since their cookbook is one of my favorites that I’ve been playing with over the past year, I was thrilled when my husband bought me a ticket to their ICE course. One blizzard and postponement later, I finally made it to the course. Here are a few shots of the class, plus one of a truffle recipe I developed this year. Whether you have someone in your life or not, I hope you’re enjoying something delicious right now. For more craft chocolate makers, see my recent article for Food Republic.

Cooking with Hannibal: Savoureux

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

What to serve your traumatized shrink? Head, clearly. In this episode, Hannibal surprises the beautiful Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier (played by Gillian Anderson…yes, Scully!) with a platter of Tête de Veau – veal head. Needless to say, this is not a popular dish in America.

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

Tête de Veau, Parsley Sauce, Quail Eggs, Capers, Red Potatoes and Red Onions

As you can see from this shot, he serves it as a sort of a roulade of the head meat from the “veal” and then adds the bone marrow to the plate. In this sketch below, you can see how the individual roulades of deboned veal head are served.

Sketch of Tête de Veau by Food Stylist Janice Poon

Sketch of Tête de Veau by Food Stylist Janice Poon

Speaking of bone marrow, browsing old cookbooks the other day, I came across an Osso Bucco recipe in The Dione Lucas Book of French Cookery. It’s an oldie but goodie by Dione Lucas, who was born about 3 years before Julia Child. She was also a huge proponent of French cooking, as the first female Cordon Bleu grad. She worked as a hotel chef before opening a French cooking school in London in the 1930s, and eventually ended up moving to the USA, publishing cookbooks and opening a cooking school here. She was the first female host of a cooking show in the USA. Unfortunately for her, she wasn’t nearly as personable or lovable as Julia Child, so she is a name that seldom comes up anymore, while good old Julia is an American icon.

What’s kind of funny is that Osso Bucco is an Italian dish and this is a French cuisine cookbook, but let’s not nitpick. In the original recipe, Lucas uses veal shins that still have some meat on the outside of the bone. Most places don’t have this anymore, so I’ve adapted the recipe a bit. I also changed the rice to Arborio rice. Really, Dione? Long-grain? For shame!

Osso Bucco: Braised Veal Shins with Risotto

Adapted from The Dione Lucas Book of French Cookery

Yield: 4 Servings


2 1/2 pounds veal shins or knuckle, cut across the bone into 4 pieces 

1 clove garlic, halved

1/4 cup dry Sherry

Freshly cracked white pepper

3/4 cup salted butter

1/2 cup Cognac

2 white onions, finely chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

6 ounces white mushrooms, thinly sliced

3/4 cup pine nuts

Salt to taste

1  1/2 cups arborio rice

3 cups chicken stock

1 teaspoon saffron

3 tablespoons cold water

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Rub veal with cut halves of garlic clove. Brush veal with Sherry and season with pepper. Allow to marinate for 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat the Cognac in a shallow pan, ignite it, and pour over the veal bones in a sauté pan. Remove the veal bones from sauté pan. In the same pan, melt the rest of the salted butter but do not let it brown. Add the onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add the mushrooms and pine nuts. Stir in the rice, then add chicken stock. Add the saffron to the cold water then add to the rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring the rice to a boil.

Put the veal on a platter and serve with the rice. Top with the Parmesan cheese.

Cooking with Hannibal: Relevés

Black Silkie Chicken Soup with Red Dates and Bok Choy

Black Silkie Chicken Soup with Red Dates and Bok Choy

If you really care about someone, you make them chicken soup…while you’re convincing everyone around you that they’re mad. And a serial killer. At least, that’s what you do if you’re Hannibal. In this episode, Will Graham is laid up and Hannibal, in between periods of plotting Will’s incarceration in a loonie bin, makes him a restorative chicken broth. Ya know…’cause he cares. From food stylist Janice Poon’s blog, it looks like it’s a soup of black silkie chicken, with red dates (also known as jujubes), goji berries, bok choy, ginseng and  white fungus. All of these ingredients are considered to have health benefits in Chinese medicine.

The reason the chicken looks so dark is because black silkie chickens look like this:

Black Silkie Chicken, Image by

Black Silkie Chicken, Image by

If a chicken can be adorable, the black silkie is it. This is what it looks like plucked (less adorable):

Plucked Silkie Chicken, Image by Clove Garden

Plucked Silkie Chicken, Image by Clove Garden

Silkie chickens come with white feathers or black feathers, but both varieties have black skin, as above. Don’t they look cool in soup? What a great idea for clear broths.

My favorite easy chicken soup is a recipe from Canal House Cooks Every Day. The authors, Christopher Hirscheimer and Melissa Hamilton, are two ex-Saveur Magazine staffers who run Canal House Cooking, and do all the photography, design, production, recipes, the works. They’ve written a whole bunch of cookbooks and continue to produce 3 a year. You can subscribe, and get them as they come out for $50.

If you have extra meatballs, you can always freeze them in a little tomato sauce. For a good quick dinner in a pinch, you can just add some pasta to the tomato sauce and meatballs, top with some parm and fresh basil and you’re good to go.

I find meatballs work better with some breadcrumbs to bind, so I’ve adapted the recipe a little. I tweaked some measurements since I find it easier to measure grated nutmeg than the amount of a whole nutmeg grated, for example. Hope you enjoy, even if you’re not being plagued by a serial killer.

Chicken Broth with Spinach and Little Meatballs, Image from Canal House Cooking

Chicken Broth with Spinach and Little Meatballs, Image from Canal House Cooking

Chicken Broth with Spinach and Little Meatballs

Adapted from Canal House Cooks Every Day

Yield: 8 to 10 servings



1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground veal

2 ounces ground prosciutto

1/2 cup fresh whole milk ricotta

1/2 cup freshly grated pecorino cheese

1 egg, beaten

1 cup parsley leaves, finely chopped

1 cup mint leaves, finely chopped

1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Salt and pepper to taste

Breadcrumbs, as needed


10 to 12 cups chicken broth

1 pound baby spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil (finishing quality)


For the Meatballs:

Gently mix  the pork veal, prosciutto, ricotta, pecorino, egg, parsley, mint, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Add just enough breadcrumbs to bind. DO NOT compress or overmix, or you will get meatballs the consistency of hockey pucks. You can test the seasoning by taking a teaspoon and cooking it in a frying pan with a knob of butter. Adjust the seasoning as necessary. Using a small scoop, put a small ball, about the size of a teaspoon, in your hand and roll a meatball. Set aside and repeat with the rest of the mixture. You should get about 80 small meatballs. They can be made ahead of time. 

For the Soup:

Bring the chicken broth to a  simmer in a large pot. Cook the meatballs in the broth until they float and then cook 1 more minute so they are cooked all the way through. Transfer about 10 mini meatballs to a shallow bowl, add a little broth and cover with plastic wrap to keep warm as you cook off the rest of the meatballs. Strain the broth when done into a medium bowl. Return to a rinsed out pot and return to a medium heat. Add the spinach and allow to wilt, then remove from the heat. Season the soup. 

To Serve:

Divide the meatballs between the serving bowl. Ladle some soup and spinach into each bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, then serve.

Cooking with Hannibal: Rôti

Kudal: a South Indian Curry with a Coconut, Coriander and Chili Sauce

Kudal: a South Indian Curry with a Coconut, Coriander and Chili Sauce

So, we haven’t seen all that much in the way of obvious Indian culinary influence on the show yet. This episode, Hannibal serves Dr. Chilton Kudal, which he describes as a “South Indian Curry with a coconut, coriander and chili sauce.” We can see a bit more clearly what else is on the plate besides the bowl of curry on the fabulous blog of Janice Poon, whose blog Feeding Hannibal details some of her amazing food styling work on the show.

Sketch by Janice Poon of food styling for Kudal on Hannibal

Sketch by Janice Poon of food styling for Kudal on Hannibal

There’s a banana leaf plate. The Kudal, which according to the sketch includes plantains, is in a banana leaf bowl. Also on the plate are some purple yam chips, some Pani Puri balls filled with pomegranate and yogurt, and a rice pilaf. There are also some feathers, berries, moss and chrysanthemum for decoration.

Pani Puri is actually something I wasn’t familiar with until I looked it up and found out it is the Hindi word for Golgappa, a street food/appetizer popular in many areas of India and known by different names depending on where you are in India. Golgappa are little balls of dough that are usually stuffed with a flavoring of some kind. The few I’ve had have usually been stuffed with a tamarind vegetable mixture. In her book Modern Spice, DC-based writer Monica Bhide describes meeting one of her idols, Chef Sanjeev Kapur, and eating some Golgappas with him, stuffed with shrimp, served sitting on top of shot glasses of lavender coconut curry.  She suggests serving store-bought Golgappas filled with mashed potatoes and cilantro on Chinese soup spoons, and eating them while drinking shots of flavored vodka. Here is an adapted version of her recipe from the book, from Leite’s Culinaria. Here, she just describes serving a shot of spiced, chilled buttermilk soup with a stuffed Golgappa balanced on top of the shot glass. I love her Kapur-inspired appetizer idea, since it will finally give me a use for those shot glasses I haven’t pulled out of the back of the cupboard since college. Cheers!

Golgappas stuffed with shrimp, from Monica Bhide, via Leite's Culinaria. Photo by Leite's Culinaria.

Golgappas stuffed with shrimp, from Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice, via Leite’s Culinaria. Photo by Leite’s Culinaria.

Hot Shots

Recipe adapted from Monica Bhide’s Modern Spice, via Leite’s Culinaria


For the filling:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and diced

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


For the soup:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/8 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

10 fresh curry leaves

2 cups buttermilk

1 clove garlic 

1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/4 teaspoon salt

20 large, store-bought golgappas

For the filling:
In a skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. When the oil begins to shimmer add the mustard seeds. As the seeds begin to sizzle, add the garlic. Saute for a few seconds, until the garlic begins to change color. Add the chile flakes, turmeric, and shrimp, and cook for 2 minutes, or just until the shrimp are no longer translucent. Do not overcook the shrimp or they will become rubbery. Add the lemon juice and salt to taste. Mix well, remove from the heat, and set aside.
For the soup:
In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until it shimmers and then add the mustard, cumin, and fenugreek seeds, and the curry leaves. Cook, stirring frequently, for a few seconds, until the seeds begin to splutter. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Pour the buttermilk into a blender. Add the spice mixture, garlic, turmeric, and salt. Blend until the mixture is fairly smooth. There will be a few tiny pieces of curry leaves—this is fine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until cold. Pour 2 tablespoons of the soup into each shot glass. Fill each golgappa with about 2 teaspoons of the filling. Place a golgappa on top of a shot glass and serve.

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