12 Recipes to Cook In March


Nik Sharma

Hey Friends, I’m a multi-award-winning and best-selling cookbook author and photographer.

March is a time for Hot Cross Buns, which is the first recipe in my recommendations for things to cook this month. I highly recommend the egg pasta dough recipe from The Flour and Water cookbook if you want to learn how to make simple pasta at home. There’s a savory rose bun recipe inspired by Turkish cuisine and a host of other items for you to try.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot cross buns hold special memories for me. Every year as a child, I’d walk with my grandfather to his local bakery, pick up fresh hot cross buns, and quickly run back home to devour them with cold salted butter. This recipe uses the tangzhong method, which relies on making a thickened paste of flour and water to create a very tender bun. (see also Chilli Crisp Cream Cheese Stuffed Rose Buns and Perfect Cinnamon Rolls). I like to infuse the fruit with St. Germain or whiskey, but if you prefer a non-alcoholic alternative or want to skip this step, see the Notes below). 

The Flavor Equation: Sumac and Saffron Refresher

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be giving you little snippets from my upcoming book, The Flavor Equation, and share a new recipe for you to try until my book goes on sale October 27. This week it’s all about Emotion and Taste and their role in Flavor. Our emotions help influence our taste and taste in turn helps influence our emotions. When I’m happy and want to celebrate I often turn to lemon, lime, or passion fruit based sweets. I find them extremely comforting. When I’m feeling down, I lean towards food that I ate as a kid when I was feeling sick or sad; kanji/congee is a dish that does that for me. Think about the last time you were happy or sad, what did you crave or what did you avoid eating and drinking?

The Flavor Equation: White Beans, Potatoes, and Smoked Salmon

We’re just a couple of days away from the release of The Flavor Equation (click the link to get details on the book, where to purchase, book tour events, and more) and I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has been a part of this book. The entire team at Chronicle Books, my agent Maria, my recipe testers, people who answered all my questions behind the scenes, and also everyone who participated in my “experiments” and my family and friends for their support.

Sweet Potato Kale Caesar Salad

After reading this book (Veg-Table), you might conclude that I really like Caesar salad dressing anyway. It’s true. This version is the classic upon which Avocado Caesar Dressing (page 120) is based. Roasted sweet potatoes, tender massaged kale, and crispy chickpeas with delicious umami and salty notes are mingled with luscious creaminess.

The full recipe for this dish is available in my cookbook, Veg-Table

Potato and Onion Tart with Mint Chutney

Photograph: Lizzie Mayson/The Guardian. Food styling: Tamara Vos. Prop styling: Anna Wilkins. A simple yet delightful warm potato and onion tart paired with curry leaves, the crunchy, nutty texture of mustard seeds, creamy, salty feta and a soothing herb chutney. To make this recipe, please visit my column at The Guardian.

Chilli Crisp Cream Cheese Stuffed Rose Buns

I am always excited to bake and eat savory pastries and breads, if I could wake up to savory pastries every weekend, well let’s just say this, it would be pretty close to perfection. This recipe is a combination of techniques and flavors from different cultures. I’ve used the technique for the rose shaped breads/pastries from Turkey called Gül Poğaça, filled it with a paste made from the delicious chilli crisp oil from Lao Gan Ma and cream cheese, and used the tangzhong technique (that originally started out in Japan in the form of the yukane/yudane that later became popular over Asia by Taiwanese cookbook author Yvonne Chen

Braised Cabbage Bucatini

Tender shredded cabbage leaves with a fragrant dose of dried Mediterranean herbs are braised together in this comforting and simple pasta dish. Vegetable stock and miso bring the umami.

Saag Gnocchi Tadka

This recipe’s inception was accidental, but I think most good things start that way. One evening while preparing dinner, I realized I forgot to pick up a block of paneer. I’d already made the saag sauce earlier. Fortunately, a box of gnocchi sitting in my refrigerator came to the rescue. I pan-fried the gnocchi to golden brown crispiness in butter and it does marvelous things in this verdant sauce. A light finish of salty crumbled feta and a tadka of spices harmoniously brings it all together. 

(The palak part of this recipe is based on my palak/saag paneer recipe.)

Indian/Parsi Eggplant Pickle

Indian pickles, or achars, are different from their Western counterparts. They use a combination of oil and spices to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, and they’re also typically not fermented. Some recipes require you to keep the pickles in the sun as they cure and penetrate the preserved vegetables or fruits. Oils like mustard or sesame are the two most popular choices for pickles in India. Mustard oil is unique in that it not only adds a bright golden color to the pickle but also brings in that wasabi kick to make things extra peppery. We pickle almost everything in India, from unripe green mangoes to sweet and savory pickles, gooseberries, carrots, and shrimp. This beautiful Parsi eggplant pickle from Nilofuer Ichaporia King is rich with bold flavors. Serve this pickle as a condiment with some fish and rice on the side, or load it into a kebab sandwich or next to a dish of roast vegetables.

A version of this recipe first appeared in my column, A Brown Kitchen in the San Francisco Chronicle

Homemade Egg Pasta Dough

One of the best local pasta restaurants (and one of my top favorites) in San Francisco is Flour and Water/Ten Speed Press (2014); they have a gorgeous book of the same name where Chef Thomas McNaughton talks about his love for pasta and an equally interesting and wonderful collection of recipes to cook. This egg pasta recipe from the book is easy to make and has plenty of tips to make it a smoother process for a first-time pasta maker.

Blueberry Rhubarb Cornmeal Pudding

Puddings are wonderfully easy to make and unfussy, a big reason why I deviate to them as a choice when I need something sweet. This pudding is made with finely ground yellow cornmeal and tossed with fresh slices of rhubarb and sweet juicy blueberries (and you can use fresh or frozen!). The most important part is that it’s made with fragrant coconut milk, and it thickens and firms up due to the starch present in the cornmeal, which means there’s no need for eggs! This dish can be veganized (skip the butter to grease the pan and use coconut oil); it’s dairy-free and gluten-free. This pudding might remind you of Jamaican cornmeal pudding that’s made with coconut milk and flavored with rum and raisins; they both use the same idea – thickening using starch.

Preserved Lemon, Za’atar Pasta

My pantry is like a treasure chest, a collection of ingredients waiting to be used. This Preserved Lemon Za’atar Pasta is one of the best ways to use up pantry ingredients, and it is inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The pasta is fragrant with the aroma of tangy fresh and preserved lemons, za’atar, and plenty of garlic. Soft creamy ricotta and crunchy toasted breadcrumbs compliment the pasta. This is an easy dinner to make on a busy day, and one everyone loves. This is also an excuse to use the lemons growing in my garden.

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