In the JOK Kitchen with Silk Road Vegetarian *Giveaway*

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Tamar Genger MA, RD
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silk road cookbook

The Silk Road refers to the routes of trade along Central Asia, India and the Mediterranean.  Many of our Jewish ancestors worked along these routes dealing in the spice trade.  Dahlia Abraham-Klein takes us all on a culinary journey through her heritage in her new book.  After years of suffering health problems on a regular American diet, Dahlia went back to her roots and found that the foods of her ancestors could be easily made today.  Many are naturally vegan and gluten free and they changed her life.

The Silk Road Vegetarian is the culmination of Dahlia's transformation and celebration of her family's strong culinary roots along the Silk Road. With 120 vegan, vegetarian and/or gluten free recipes tweaked for the modern cook, the Silk Road Vegetarian has something for everyone.  Dahlia shares a lot of herself in this book, but we wanted to know a little more.  Here is what we learned from Dahlia plus a few recipes from the book you can try out.  And don't forget to enter the giveaway to win your own copy.

You found renewed interest in foods from the Silk Road that you grew up on after feeling sick on a more Americanized diet. Was it difficult to learn to cook this way?

I grew up watching my mother cook the traditional foods from Central Asia, so through osmosis and some extra tips from my mother I learned to cook the dishes I grew up with.
I also learned through years of studying naturopathy (natural medicine) after suffering from a sever ulcer and years of meditation, that the attitude towards food needs to change.
Cooking with patience, love and nurturance changes the spiritual energy of the food you give to your loved ones. Food has healed me and if cooked properly can heal people.
So keeping that in mind it's not difficult for me to cook this way when the outcome is so great.

Indian Red Lentil Falafel

Indian Red Lentil Falafel

You got very personal in this cookbook even including old pictures of your family, was it hard to share so much of yourself?

It was not difficult to share myself with my readers. For the service of the book, I felt it was crucial to be completely open and honest in that way my readers can connect to a real person.

What was your earliest memory of cooking?

I started cooking from a young age, probably around 15 yrs. old.

Persian Bean & Noodle Soup

Persian Bean and Noodle Soup

What was your worst kitchen disaster?

Experimenting with gluten free desserts was a challenge for me. I made terrible gluten free desserts until I made them perfect. You need to know how to combine the right flours to make a nice consistency, otherwise you have a mushy cookie or a cookie that is hard as a rock.

How did you decide which recipes to develop/include for this cookbook?

I have included almost all the recipes I have grown up with that could be converted to vegetarian. There were some dishes that were made with dough, that I did not convert because this is a gluten free cookbook. I felt I had enough recipes to fill a book.

Do cooks who use your cookbook need to get a whole new set of spices?

Depends on the cook. I think anyone picking up this book has an adventurous palate and will most likely have these spices in their pantry. Vegetarians are generally risk takers with food, because they might feel that vegetarian fare is limiting so will try anything.

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans pulah

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans pulah

What is your favorite spice?

My favorite spice has to be curry. It's a combination of spices including: coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers in their blends. You can make your own variation of curry and add additional ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed and cardamom.

What tips do you have for busy moms trying to get a healthy dinner on the table every night and eat well themselves every day?

The wonderful thing about Central Asian cuisine is that we are masters at one pot meals. There is a whole chapter devoted to Rice Meals and in it the meals have everything you need for a wholesome nutritious meal. There are legumes, rice, vegetables and currants in the dish. It can be made once a week, and feed the family through out the week and for little money as well.

Here are a few recipes excerpted from the book:

Bukharian Pilaf with Kidney Beans & Carrots

Indian Red Lentil Falafel

Persian Bean and Noodle Soup