We’ve temporarily moved on from the “divas” (don’t worry, we’ll be back with Jamie Geller next week) and decided to go for the fourth cook featured in last Friday’s High Holiday Foods supplement. The recipe is for an oriental take on traditional noodle kugel, with orzo and coconut milk in place of egg noodles and sour cream. In creating this recipe, cookbook author Jayne Cohen was inspired by the cuisine of Indian Jews, or the Bene Israel.
We have to admit that as we turned this out (it’s baked upside down) it didn’t totally hold together. Who are we kidding? Even with our clever attempt to cover it up, it’s pretty obvious from the picture above that the final result is not ideal. We’re still trying to figure out why. So far we’ve come up with blaming the ceramic baking dish or leaving it too long to set after removing from the oven.
The upside, though, is that there was plenty to sample, and we can tell you that this kugel is incredibly flavorful, both sweet and spicy. In fact we’ve decided that the cinnamon, vanilla and coconut blend perfectly as a rich, fruity fall dessert.
If you’re going to try this, make sure to use a tin or silicon baking dish — and don’t leave it to set too long!
Bombay Pineapple-Coconut Milk Kugel
- 1 20 oz. can pineapple rings in natural unsweetened juice
- 3 tbsp. maple sugar or brown sugar
- Mild oil such as canola for greasing the pan
- 1/2 cup orzo
- 2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (see Notes)
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1/2 tsp. peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
- 1 vanilla bean, split
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preheat the broiler. Drain the pineapple (use the juice for another purpose or discard it), and arrange in a single layer on a foil-lined broiler pan. Sprinkle evenly with the maple or brown sugar. Broil the pine-apple on one side only until it is a rich, golden brown and the sugar has melted, 5 to 8 minutes. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of an 8-inch square baking dish with the oil. Spread the pineapple pieces (with any sugar drippings), sugared side down, in a single layer on the bottom of the pan. (If there is an extra ring or two, cut it in quarters and use it to fill in the spaces between the rings.) Set aside. Turn the oven temperature down to 350°F.
(Note: We did the next three steps while the oven was preheating and the pineapple was broiling.)
Bring 2 quarts water and 1 tsp. of salt to a rapid boil. Add the orzo and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Drain well, rinse a few seconds under cool water, and drain again.
While the orzo is cooking, combine the coconut milk, cinnamon and ginger in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add along with the pod to the pan. Turn the heat to low and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes to infuse the milk with the fragrance of the spices. Don’t allow the mixture to boil. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a large bowl beat the eggs, granulated sugar, and a pinch of salt until thick and light. Add the coconut milk mixture, pouring it through a strainer into the bowl. Discard the spices. Add the orzo and combine well.
Distribute the mixture evenly over the pineapple in the prepared pan. Place the pan in a larger baking pan, and add enough boiling or scalding-hot tap water to the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the kugel pan.
Bake for 60 to 75 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. The kugel must cool to set. You can serve it right from the pan, or invert it when cool: run a knife along the edges of the pan, turn the pan upside down on a serving plate, and unmold.
We used a 14-oz. can of coconut milk, and baked the kugel for an hour.
Serve the kugel chilled, but not icy cold. Or for a more exotic finale, try it slightly warm (reheat gently).
Cohen’s other recipes in the IJN are: North African Cooked Carrot Salad, Brisket Braised in Pomegranate Juice with Onion Confit and Pomegranate Seeds and Syrian Pilaf.