Stuffed Grape Leaves (: Warak Dawali)

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Rolls stuffed grape leaves with a few simple herbs and tomato. A rich Gaza kitchen through Hadeel Assali family stories. Homemade young grape leave from her parents farm in Texas farm, Laziza Farms. Hadeel's mom Nahida Saker has a PhD in food science with a specialty in cheese-making. 

Hadeel Assali is a Palestinian-American anthropologist who is interested in cultural practices around food, especially rice.  She is currently a PhD candidate at Columbia University. 

 

Rice with Cherry Blossom pickles

Pickled cherry blossoms are originally used to make sakura tea, which is used on special occasions such as weddings. They have used seasonal ingredients for dessert or drinks. However, when cooked together with rice, it creates a beautiful colorful contrast and rice also absorbs the flowery aromas of the cherry blossoms.

Everyone is a rice sommelier

I was raised in a rice culture where my Mom cooked rice just the way my Dad liked it, and she cooked rice for the rest of the family just the way we liked it.  She wanted to make everyone happy. This is common for families who enjoy rice. Every family cooks rice differently to suit their special textures and flavors. My grandmother also adapts her rice preparation to harvest time. Depending on the year, she will change the amount of time she soaks and cooks the rice and the amount of water used to make perfect rice.
 

At this time of year, it is exciting to try the new harvest rice and other grains. In Nalata Nalata, NYC, I purchased a brown rice called ‘Koshihikari’ from outside of Kanazawa, Japan. It is produced by SKURO, a small, organic, family-run farm. Exclusively imported, each bag contains 600g of rice grain or 5 cups.

As we know brown rice retains the outer layer called bran. Bran is usually milled away to become white rice. However, the bran contains many nutrients, high amounts of fiber, vitamins and minerals that bring chewy texture and earthy aroma.

I cooked the new “Koshihikari” rice on top of the stove instead of in the rice cooker.  I had this delicious rice with my homemade pickles. Just the way I like it!