In his first book, entitled Season, published in 2018, Nik Sharma writes the following.
“I take pride in incorporating flavors, techniques, and ingredients in new and exciting ways. This, my first book, celebrates diverse cultural influences and, I hope, helps to erase labels like “ethnic” and “exotic” in the West by shedding more light on some of these ingredients. Season is a collection of flavors from my two worlds – India and America.”
Sharma’s story is fascinating. Born in India to bi-cultural parents, he came to the USA as a young man to study molecular genetics. Eventually his love of food and cooking averted his career path and he started his now famous, award-winning blog, a Brown Table.
He also became a weekly food columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, and is working on his second cookbook, entitled A Brown Table.
Reading Season (I love that title!) and studying the recipes was a fascinating experience for me. Sharma’s food truly is fusion food, but unlike the “let’s see how many weird ingredients we can put together” attitude that I find smug and pretentious of many chefs, Sharma’s approach obviously came from his love of foods from his homeland, blended with what he discovered after moving away.
Examples of such fusion dishes include Caprese Salad with Sweet Tamarind Dressing, Turmeric and Lime Mussel Broth, and Hot Green Chutney Roasted Chicken. But the recipe I wanted to make was Chouriço Potato Salad, using freshly made chouriço, or sausage from the Goan region of India. Goa is a state on the west coast of India, on the Arabian Sea.
According to Sharma, “This (salad) is great for breakfast with a couple of fried eggs, or in a taco, or by itself for lunch.”
Chouriço Potato Salad
8 ounces chouriço, (recipe below)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon thinly sliced chives
1/4 cup crumbled Paneer*
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 fresh lime juice
1 lime, quartered, for garnish
Break the meat into small pieces and set aside.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the potatoes and sprinkle with the salt and black pepper.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, 5 – 6 minutes. Sprinkle with the chipotle chile and paprika and fold to coat evenly.
Add the chouriço, and cook for another 4 – 5 minutes, or until the sausage is browned and cooked through, stirring frequently.
Add the pumpkin seeds and cook for 1 minute longer.
Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the contents to a large bowl. Cool for 5 minutes. Gently stir the chives, paneer, cilantro, and lime juice into the warm potatoes.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary.
Garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and serve warm or at room temperature with lime wedges, if desired.
I can’t describe well enough how wonderful this potato and sausage salad is, besides wonderful. The sausage along is exquisite, but with the potatoes it’s, well, magical.
You taste the spiciness immediately, the creaminess of the potatoes, the flavorful sausage, the freshness of the cilantro and lime, and the slight crunch of the pepitas.
*Paneer is easy to prepare, but the author recommended a swap of crumbled Cotija or queso fresco, which I happened to have on hand.
Homemade Goan-Style Chouriço
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
3 whole cloves
1 pound ground pork, preferably with fat
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 – 1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon Kashmiri chile
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Grind the black peppercorns, cumin seeds, and cloves with a mortar and pestle and transfer to a large bowl.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix with a fork to blend well. Shape into a log, wrap with wax paper, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, and preferably overnight.