Recipes from Nirmala's Edible Diary

Fresh, easy meals from 14 Countries


I have long been a fan of the diverse ethnic cuisines of Central and South America. Twenty years ago, I was serving up Llapinagachos and Roti. Ok, the Roti is decidedly more Caribbean in origin, but the dishes shared a touch of the exotic that continues to excite me today.

So, what a lovely surprise it was to find Nirmala’s Edible Diary, with recipes that range from the tip of Chile to the top of Colombia. Featuring meals that span 14 countries' borders and innumerable cultures, Nirmala’s Edible Diary is full of surprises, as well as easy-to-prepare dishes that will become some of your new favorites.

One of the beautiful things about many of the dishes that Nirmala writes about is that they will work spectacularly with so many of the wines that are popular today. In fact, many of these recipes give a fresh take to some of our most tried and true wine and food pairings!

Meet Nirmala Narine

Nirmala Narine was born in Guyana, South America and came to New York City at the age of 10. Her culinary education began at the age of 5 in a tiny kitchen with no running water or electricity. Her grandfather, an Ayurvedic scholar taught her this ancient art of holistic cooking. Currently the owner and founder of Nirmala's Kitchen, a gourmet importer and distributor, Nirmala's line of products includes exotic ingredients and tools to create simple meals from around the world, all without leaving the comforts of home. She has been featured in The New York Times; O, The Oprah Magazine; and Food and Wine.

Buy Nirmala's Edible Diary: A Hungry Traveler's Cookbook with Recipes from 14 Countries

Artichoke Hearts, Potato, and Pine Nut Salad

This truly is a hearty salad, and I often savor it as a full meal by adding purple or sweet potatoes. Chile has some of the meatiest artichokes I’ve ever tasted, and that’s why they’re the inspiration for this salad. The mustard gives it a nice bite. This salad can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.

Click here for a PDF of the full recipe. Serves 2

1 pound red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled, scrubbed, and cut into 1-inch pieces
Sea salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 small red jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
One 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and halved
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pine nuts

1.) Test for doneness by inserting a skewer into—it should go in easily. Drain and set aside.

2.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, mustard, jalapeño, cayenne, vinegar, and mint. Add the artichokes and cooked potatoes and lightly toss. Season with salt and pepper.

3.) Divide the salad between two salad plates, and sprinkle with pine nuts, and serve.

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  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,989

    Another good choice of cookbook, Greg, with good wine matches, too. I'm always on the lookout for different artichoke recipes, and this one is welcome.

    Have to admit, though, I'm a little curious about just what "this ancient art of holistic cooking" really is...

    Apr 16, 2010 at 11:25 AM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Thanks. I really likes the empanada idea. I've always had an appreciation for handy foods. And I am glad to say I have not a clue what the ancient art of holistic cooking is but if we're lucky it might include offal!

    Apr 16, 2010 at 11:55 AM

  • Snooth User: kebohs
    347125 19

    I like the empanada recipe and will try it at my next get together. I will check out this cookbook too. Thank you.

    Apr 16, 2010 at 1:57 PM

  • Does this call for fresh chorizo? I don't think it would have enough time to cook.

    Apr 16, 2010 at 3:57 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    That's a great question, and while to recipe doesn't mention it I would bet the author had intended to mention cooked. Certainly for the Morcilla, but for the chorizo I assumed she meant cured, that what I'll be using.

    Apr 16, 2010 at 4:03 PM

  • Snooth User: dmcker
    Hand of Snooth
    125836 4,989

    Regarding the empanadas, I'm thinking I might want to try that filling in some spring roll wrappers, deep fried, quickly and lightly. Perhaps with some sesame oil in the mix, though I'll also be light with that.

    Phyllo dough isn't always easy to find over here. I'll be trying it first with some rose champagne, but perhaps also some pinot gris or blanc I have lying around.

    Apr 16, 2010 at 6:28 PM

  • Snooth User: Shanachie
    336849 1

    Just to clarify:
    Roti is NOT a Caribbean dish by origin, it's Indian. And "roti" is the hindi word for bread. Roti is available throughout India and SE Asia, the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Reunion, Seychelles, Maldives), South America (Guyanas, Surinam - are you from there? Trinidad and Tobago etc).
    I'm a fussy, moody Irishman who loves good wine and food but hates erroneous statements :)
    thanks for your good recipes.

    Apr 16, 2010 at 8:24 PM

  • I'm going to try out the empanada's. They sound

    Apr 16, 2010 at 8:24 PM

  • Snooth User: Go4it
    333833 7

    Nirmala’s Edible Diary, with recipes that range from the tip of Chile to the top of Columbia

    ColOmbia and not ColUmbia!

    Apr 16, 2010 at 9:19 PM

  • Snooth User: Gregory Dal Piaz
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    89065 238,748

    Thanks go4it.

    the name has been corrected.

    Shanachia, you are absolutely correct. I was introduced to roti stuffed with various curries on Montserrat so I make that, erroneous as you point out, association. My point was relative to the Llapinagachos, the Roti are more Caribbean.

    Apr 16, 2010 at 9:55 PM

  • Snooth User: iguardo
    337822 1

    A proper chorizo is as Gregory stated, cured. It does not require any cooking and can be eaten as found. If still not happy, try frying it to the point where is starts to sweat and then remove and drain on kitchen paper towel before using as filling.

    Apr 20, 2010 at 3:19 AM

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