Who would have thought that curried chicken salad, that darling of the 1980s fancy picnic scene, was ready for a makeover? Ham El-Waylly, that’s who. In his brilliant new recipe (above), he swaps out the chicken for roasted, charred cauliflower, creating a meatless classic brimming with texture: crunchy toasted walnuts, crisp chunks of apples and sweet, chewy raisins. For the dressing, mayonnaise and yogurt are stained yellow with curry powder, which also adds its lingering flavor. It’s a delightful sandwich for spring.
Speaking of things yellow, you’ll need mustard oil for bhetki paturi, or Bengali-style fish. Its pungent, spicy burn — the bracing kind that zaps your nasal passages then makes you beg for more — is integral to countless Bengali dishes, as Priya Krishna details in her recent story for The Times. For this recipe, firm white fish fillets are slathered with a mix of shredded coconut, green chile and mustard oil before being wrapped in foil packets and steamed in a hot oven. Serve them over rice to catch all the earthy, complex juices.
Kay Chun brings us another new recipe that can be just as sinus-clearing (right on time for allergy season), depending on how much chile you add. Her spicy Thai vegetable salad is a riff on a green papaya salad that uses a variety of sliced vegetables, sparked by a zippy dressing of lime and fish sauce. I’d top it with some air-fryer crispy tofu for a crunchy weeknight meal.
Today’s my birthday, so naturally I’m dreaming of cake for dessert. Birthday or not, you can whip up Nik Sharma’s tangy-sweet no-bake mango cheesecake this afternoon — it uses canned mango and takes only 45 minutes of prep time — and serve it this evening, candles optional. And for an easy, cheesecake-cookie mash-up, try the cinnamon-topped sopapilla cheesecake bars that classical cellist Maria Kitsopoulos made for the New York Philharmonic. Gustavo Dudamel is a fan!
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Cake Pan Prep Tip
This tip comes straight from Nik’s mango cheesecake recipe but works any time you need to grease a cake pan. After buttering, place the (still-empty) pan in the fridge for a few minutes before filling it with batter. The firm, chilled butter makes the finished cake easier to unmold. Works like a charm on Bundt cakes, too.