Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sherbanoo's Indian Cuisine third edition books are now available at Zandbroz, Creative Kitchen, Tochi's in Fargo, North Dakota.  They are also available in Moorhead at the Heritage Center Book Store.  They are priced at $17.00.  I accept mail orders.  Shipping and mailing charges will apply.

Watch for the book signing events and food tasting events being scheduled and will be posted here and on my Facebook.   I look forward to seeing many of you at the events.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

This is appropriate in light of Paris massacre.

"Today's Toronto Star article on Agakhan Museum By a Rabbi
The rule formulated by the late Swedish-American theologian Krister Stendahl that I’ve cited before in this column helps us to understand the essence of interfaith and intercultural relations: always compare their best with your best, not their worst with your best. 

At a time when we often read reports of horrendous atrocities in different of the world committed by Muslims against “infidels” and other Muslims, it behooves us to recognize that such murderous excesses are aberrations of Islam, not its true manifestations. The new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto provides ample opportunities to see Islam at its best. Its promotional brochure states that the “unparalleled manuscripts, drawings, paintings, decorated ceramics, metalwork and architectural ornamentations” on display are “to inform, educate and inspire audiences about the arts of Muslim civilizations.” They do all that and much more. 

In addition to the permanent collection, there are temporary exhibitions of contemporary artistic creativity in the many countries where Muslims now live. The museum also arranges lectures and performing arts events that showcase past and present cultural achievements of Islam. 

The Aga Khan, after whom the museum is named as part of a larger centre, is the spiritual leader of the 15 million adherents of the Shia Ismaili branch of Islam in the world, some 20,000 of whom live in Canada. 

 He’s a welcome guest in this country. Some time ago he was made an honorary citizen of Canada in appreciation of his lasting contribution to mutual respect and understanding between Muslims and other faiths and cultures all over the world.

Ismailis are liberal Muslims and thus only a small minority. The majority is usually in the hands of powerful people, almost invariably men, who confuse and control their adherents by assuring them that they and they alone are the true heirs of their religious tradition. To deviate from it is regarded as infidelity and punished in countless, sometimes cruel, ways.

The phenomenon exists in all three monotheistic religions. If it’s less in evidence in Judaism outside Israel, where Orthodox parties have political clout, it’s because there are relatively few Jews in the world, roughly the same number as Ismailis. But as a liberal Jew I’m persona non grata in virtually all Jewish Orthodox circles. I know of Orthodox Jews in this city who are forbidden to step inside the synagogue I had the honour to serve for many years. 

Yet it’s we liberals who are at the forefront of bridge-building, both with other faith communities and with the secular world. It’s also we liberal Jews who usually take the initiative of seeking common cause with Orthodox Jews, who may despise what we stand for even when they share our objectives. 

We persevere because we know that our work is important, perhaps essential, for the well-being of the societies in which we live. We work on the assumption that Stendahl’s formula isn’t about numbers but about quality and purpose. 

The Ismailis are few in number compared to other Muslims in the world, but their contribution, together with the contribution of other liberal Muslims, toward our understanding of what authentic Islam is about is invaluable. The same is true of the contributions of liberal Christians and liberal Jews in Canada and elsewhere.

Seen in this light, the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto promises to become a vital force, not because it represents the majority of Muslims, but because it stands for what’s best in Islam.

It is bound to grow in importance in years to come in our understanding of this great world religion.

Non-Muslims have every reason to wish the museum success in its sacred endeavor."

Dow Marmur is rabbi emeritus at Toronto’s Holy Blossom Temple. His column appears every other week

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Bigger On The Inside: The Hospitality of Sherbanoo Aziz (The Arts Partnership)

The other day, I had some guests over to my house to share some of my recipes.  The result is this article, penned by the wonderful Kris Kerzman regarding the release of my third cookbook.  He is such a good writer, and makes everything sound much more interesting.  Enjoy!

Bigger On The Inside: The Hospitality Of Sherbanoo Aziz

Sherbanoo Aziz lives in a small home here. At least that’s how it appears from the outside.
Inside, her home is anything but. As soon as I walk in, I’m enveloped by the warm scents of cardamom, saffron and curry.
That warmth is reflected by Aziz, who gives me an enthusiastic welcome and chats excitedly as I remove my boots and coat. She’s 81 and comes in her own modest package, but – like her home – is much bigger on the inside.
I’m here to talk with her about her cookbook, “Sherbanoo’s Indian Cuisine,” which will be on local shelves this week. You can find it at Zandbroz Variety and at the Hjemkomst Center. But, at her urging, I’m also here for lunch. This is pretty dang smart on her part, not to mention a complete disaster for anything approaching objective journalism.
Trevor Peterson, a videographer for The Forum, and Julian Dahlquist, a mutual friend, arrive shortly after I do. Trevor sets up his camera and begins filming as Aziz drops samosas into oil, where they quickly brown and fill the air with the friendly crackle of fried food. She mentions to Trevor that he should stick around for lunch, which he politely declines.
She hands out plates with the samosas, along with a healthy scoop of apple chutney, which lands on the palate with a husky sweetness. She pulls a pan of chicken biriyani out of the oven, steam pluming as she peels back the foil. Aziz again asks Trevor if he’d like to stick around for lunch. His resolve is visibly vanishing, and, before he can say no, she’s setting him a place.
We’re ushered over to the table, and Aziz walks us through the meal. There’s a festive chunky raita (cucumber and yogurt salad) sprinkled with pomegranate seeds. There’s some kheema matar (beef with peas), saag (potato and spinach), a plate of hot naan (Indian flatbread), and the biriyani. We heap our plates full, and each receive a glass of sweet mango lassi (a yogurt drink) topped off with a splash of brandy (don’t tell our bosses). As three hungry men fill their faces, and thus are unable to talk, Aziz tells us a bit about her life as a cook.
She was born in Mumbai and spent most of her professional life in Virginia, working in Washington for the World Bank and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She wasn’t much of a cook, she explains, until she had to feed and raise three teenage s
ons on her own. From there, she began to teach Indian culture and cuisine as a way to make some extra income and continued to do so after moving to Fargo to manage a grant program at North Dakota State University.
She wrote the first edition of her cookbook in 2001 after she was no longer able to teach classes because of severe hearing loss.
“People kept saying, ‘Please write a cookbook,’ so that was the incentive,” she says, and she kept it simple for the sake of those intimidated by the idea of cooking Indian food. Two of the dishes we’re eating –the saag and the kheema matar – are simple to prepare.
“I have made the recipes very easy, using the spices and other ingredients that you would get in a regular grocery store,” she says, remarking that the flowering of ethnic food stores and the expanded offerings at grocery stores in the F-M area have made finding ingredients for those recipes even easier.
But there’s more to it than recipes. A big part of her practice as a cook involves a sharing of Indian culture and the Indian concept of hospitality, which in short means no one who visits leaves your house hungry.
“Food has a central role in Indian culture,” she says, and that commitment doesn’t waver.
“When my mother was in her last stages, she had home health come to help her, and she would always insist on offering something. (The nurse) wouldn’t eat because she didn’t have the time, but she would at least give her some fruit to take with her.”
As we all go back for seconds on just about everything, it’s clear none of us will leave hungry.
Aziz is also a watercolor painter, a pursuit she began around the same time she wrote the first edition of the cookbook, and there’s a synergy between the two.
“Cooking is an art,” she says, “It’s very much an art. I always say presentation, besides the taste is what matters. That’s why I make my rice so colorful.”
The flecks of red in her biriyani, she explains, are from food coloring.
Satisfaction begins to set in. Trevor really does have to go, so he thanks Aziz profusely and lugs his gear back to the office. Julian and I sit and catch up, talking about video games, phones and stuff like that. Aziz pours us the best cup of chai I’ve ever had, refuses any help cleaning up, and joins in the talk about puzzle games (she’s a recovering Candy Crush Saga addict).
Julian recalls meeting Aziz a few years ago as a field organizer for Minnesota’s Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. He says some people find it easiest to help a campaign by bringing food for volunteers, usually snacky items like chips, and Aziz put all those efforts to shame with a hearty pan of biriyani. He adds what I’ve been thinking for going on two hours now, that the hospitality of talented, compassionate people makes for a truly heartwarming dining experience.
“I like food,” he adds. “Food makes everything better.”
No argument there. Like Aziz’s small home, and in her capable hands as a chef and host, it also makes everything just a little bit bigger on the inside.
This article is part of a content partnership with The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead and originally appeared in the Monday, January 5, 2015 issue of the paper.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A tip for India's food lovers and love fresh ingredients, here is a tip.  Buy ginger root from grocery store.  It is easy to peel with a teaspoon.  Just scrub it out with the edge of a teaspoon.  Freeze it.  When cooking, take it out and directly grate into the saucepan in which you are cooking.

Will post a samosa recipe tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hello!  And thank you for visiting my blog for my cookbook, Sherbanoo's Indian Cuisine.  I am in the process of printing the third edition of the book, which will be available for purchase soon.  The new edition provides new, simplified recipes, as well as revisions to my previous editions.  I am excited to reintroduce my cookbook to share with the world!