Monday, April 3, 2017

Neerob Tradition at Packsun Restaurant, some recipes

Neerob is Mohammed "Khokon" Rahman's favorite symbol, both for his store on Starling Avenue, and for his restaurant, called Packsun on Westchester avenue, where the Neerob label is also prominently displayed.

Last week Packsun was extensively written up in the New York Times. Clearly, Khokon and his team produce quality food for a moderate price in our neighborhood.

I am deeply honored to be working with Khokon on the no-oil vegan project. For now, the plan is to launch with a taste testers dinner on Tuesday 4/4 at 9PM. After that on 4/25, there will be a dinner following the showing of Forks over Knives at NY Public Library at Parkchester, from 5 - 7 PM.


Here are some of the recipes we prepared last week for the first time, which I now made at home over the weekend, and with great success. Here is the list, followed by comments on the preparation.

  1. Sautéed spinach with onions, garlic and serrano peppers.
  2. Yellow lentils, tomato, onion, garlic, serrano peppers, and some turmeric, salt and pepper
  3. Water squash (this is a light green squash that is popular with the Bangladeshi community), eddo (a delicious tuber, Jamaicans call this white coco), tomato, onion, serrano peppers, garlic, turmeric, a bay leaf and salt.
Because of timing, the rice should come first. I used Lundbergh Organic Brown Basmati Rice, cooked in my Zojirushi rice cooker on the GABA (germinated) Brown Rice cycle. That takes two and a half hours, but obviously, you can make it ahead of time. I put it on at lunch with a timer for dinner time.

The next dish should be the lentils:
  • Start with softening the onions without oil or water, but just before they start to brown too fast, add in the crushed and chopped garlic, a half dozen of small green peppers. Finally add a tomato, diced.
  • Now, add a half a cup of vegetable bouillon (or can be water from steaming vegetables), then add the lentils and more boullion till the lentils are adequately covered, and add turmeric, salt and pepper to taste.
  • This needs about 35-45 mins until the lentils are done.
 Then comes the squash dish
  •  Peel the water squash and eddo, peel and slice or chop the onion.
  •  Start with the onion, again, dry without oil or water, and when the onions start getting soft, add the crushed/chopped garlic, and the sliced peppers, and now add first the eddo in 1/2" slices, and next chunks of water squash (I quartered it lengthwise and then cut it in 1/4" slices). Add the diced tomato, and again, add some vegetable bouillon before anything starts getting burned, in small amounts.
  • Add enough bouillon to allow this to simmer and cook nearly dry while you prepare the spinach.
The spinach comes last, because it cooks the quickest:
  • Stir-fry the onions first, adding the garlic and serrano peppers (halved length-wise), allow to simmer long enough so it starts getting soft.
  • When the stir-fry gets soft, add the spinach, after a thorough washing and chopped to manageable size. 
In this dish there should be no need for any water, as the spinach contains a lot of water and creates a delicious flavor.

The above should take you no more than 45 mins to one hour to prepare. It is a festive dinner, with delicious aroma. Obviously, you can vary the level of "heat," depending on the number of pepper, and salt & pepper can be used to taste.

The plan is to continue replicating these recipes at home every time, before writing them up here. All ingredients are available at Neerob Bazaar, 2085 Starling Avenue.

Happy and healthy cooking to all.

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