Spiced Soba Noodle Salad with Thai Peanut Dressing

1-1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1-1/2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 pound dried soba noodles
1 cup finely julienned carrots
1 cup finely julienned cucumber
Finely grated lime zest and chopped cilantro for garnish

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just Starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add the jalapeño, garlic and ginger and cook until Fragrant, 1 minute. Add the peanut butter and red curry paste and cook over moderately low heat, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the coconut milk, chicken stock, soy sauce and sugar and simmer until thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat. Whisk in the lime juice and season with salt; let it cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted
boiling water, cook the soba noodles
until al dente, about 5 minutes. Drain
and rinse under cold running water until cooled. Shake out the excess water and blot the soba dry. Transfer the noodles to a largo bowl and toss with the remaining 12 tablespoon of oil. Add the spicy peanut dressing and toss well to coat thoroughly. Add the carrots and cucumber and toss again. Garnish the soba with the lime zest and cilantro and serve.



Spinach Saag with Spiced Potato Balls

2 pounds large-leaf spinach
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
3 to 4 Thai bird chiles, each about 1 1/2 inches long, seeded and finely chopped
1 pound baby spinach
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup dried fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Spiced Potato Balls
2 medium potatoes, peeled (to yield 2 cups cooked and mashed)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus 3 cups or as needed for deep-frying
1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger
1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon finely chopped seeded Thai bird chile (optional)
1/4 teaspoon chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside. Place a large pot of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the large-leaf spinach, and blanch until bright green and tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, immediately plunge into ice water until cooled, and drain again.

Squeeze out the excess moisture, chop finely, and set aside.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, and cook until soft and golden, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chiles, and sauté until the garlic and ginger are light brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the baby spinach and cook 1 minute. Add the turmeric and sauté 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the blanched chopped spinach. Season with salt to taste. Cook 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often. Add the fenugreek, butter, nutmeg, and, heavy cream, if desired. Simmer 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally. If necessary, lower the heat to medium-low. Serve hot, topped with Spiced Potato Balls, if desired.

For the Spiced Potato Balls: Place potatoes in a medium saucepan and add cold water to cover by an inch. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and mash with a fork.

In skillet over medium heat, combine 1 tablespoon oil, the ginger, garlic, chile, and chile flakes. Sauté until the ginger and garlic are golden brown. Add the mashed potatoes, turmeric, cornstarch, lemon juice, and cilantro, if using. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt to taste.

Remove the potatoes from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, heat 3 cups of vegetable oil in a deep fryer or wok to 350°F.

Make 16 round balls, about 1 1/2 inches in diameter, from the potato mixture. Working in batches if necessary, fry the balls until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve hot.