Culinary Demonstration – White Jasmine – Epcot International Food & Wine Festival 2012

Huma Siddiqui (and her son Samir)

White Jasmine, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin (actually they’re located in Madison, WI)

October 9, 2012

Samir, Huma, and John (host) – and Sharon the assistant chef


John Ekin (host) did a very good job today talking about the different events during the Food & Wine Festival (the booths, Party for the Senses, Sweet Sundays, culinary demonstrations, wine tastings). Huma and son Samir cook together (he takes her recipes and “enhances” them), they have a public broadcasting television show in Wisconsin… you can find videos on their website and on (whitejasminecooking)

Wine: Willamette Valley Vineyards (Willamette Valley, Oregon)

Willamette Valley Vineyards Bernau Block Pinot Noir

Jim Bernau, Founder/President

Willamette Valley Vineyards Bernau Block Pinot Noir

He came around and talked to guests, even gave us his business card and said to call if we ever came out his way & we could visit his winery. He named the winery, back in 1983, Willamette Valley Vineyards because it seemed logical given that it was in Willamette Valley (BTW: the pronunciation is “Will-am-it Damnit”). The climate there is cool, so thin skinned grapes grow best in the shallow volcanic soil. This wine isn’t widely available, but if your location permits, you can buy it from the vineyards’ website; it retails for $45 per bottle, but is/was incorrectly priced at the Festival center at $34.95.

Tasting Notes:

  • smell: mushroom & fruit (nick says, with wonder in his voice “that smells good” and nora concurs that it smells very good)
  • taste: smooth & plum (nick says this tastes good without food :O and nora says yum! a little tannin at the end, not as full as a cabernet sauvignon but that can be a good thing)
  • finish: a bit sharp and tangy
  • the winemaker says “a little smoky not oaky”


Cumin Basmati Rice with Sajji Salmon and Sauteed Asparagus

Cumin Basmati Rice with Sajji Salmon and Sautéed Asparagus

Food without Flavor is just Empty Calories, Why Bother?

 Recipes:  Serves 6

Start with your rice


The tumeric makes the rice yellow

Cumin Rice:

  • 2 c uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 tbs cooking oil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin (yum!)
  • 1 (4-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 c water
  • salt, to taste
  • tumeric, a couple of good pinches
  1. Wash rice thoroughly (when you wash it, you removed the starchy powders on the rice and your rice will come out more separate and less sticky)
  2. Heat oil in pain and add whole cumin and cinnamon stick; let sizzle for about a minute (you’re infusing the oil with the cumin and cinnamon)
  3. Add rice, 3 c water, tumeric, and salt to your taste; let it come to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
    • NOTES: while your rice is simmering, don’t touch it, leave it alone; if you have to look at it, get a pot with a glass lid so that you can watch your rice cook

The salmon is nicely crusted with the Sajji masala

Sajji Salmon:

  • 6 (1.5 inch) pieces, salmon fillets
  • “spice jacket” for the salmon a.k.a. wet rub…
    • 2 tbs garlic, chopped
    • 3 tbs olive oil
    • 2 tsp White Jasmine Sajji Masala (Samir chose this particular spice blend because it won’t overpower the salmon)
  • 1 tbs olive oil (for cooking the fish in)

Tomato Sauce (cooks in pan with salmon)

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 8-oz can of fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp White Jasmine Sajji Masala
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro chopped (they didn’t put this in during the demonstration and we didn’t taste it in the food we were served)

Method for Sajji Salmon and Tomato Sauce:

  1. Mix garlic, 2 tbs olive oil, and 2 tsp White Jasmine Sajji Masala in a bowl and smear it over the top (non-skin side) of your salmon
  2. Heat a saute pan, add remaining tbs of olive oil and gently place the filets in the pan, skin side down. Sear on medium heat until the cook line is about 2/3 of the way up the filets. Gently turn over and cook the rest of the way. (Samir said he likes to cook fish about 80% on the skin side and then the remaining 20% on the masala side.) You can remove the skin while the masala side is cooking if you don’t like the skin.
  3. When the salmon is nearly done, add the tbs of olive oil for the sauce, add the fire roasted tomatoes, 1/2 tsp Sajji masala, and 1/4 tsp kosher salt; cook for a couple of minutes
  4. Serve warm with cumin rice and sauteed asparagus

The tomato “sauce” was very good

You’ll need to cook the asparagus while the salmon is cooking to get it timed right.

Sauteed Asparagus:

  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp whole cumin
  • 3 whole red chiles, dried
  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs warm water
  1. Heat oil in pan, add whole cumin and chiles, let sizzle for about a minute
  2. Add asparagus; saute on med heat for about 5 minutes (or until the asparagus is cooked to your liking), add salt and stir
  3. Add warm water and continue to cook on medium heat for 5 minutes (Huma didn’t do this during the demonstration)

“I’m not a chef, I’m an accountant, I love to cook for friends and family” – Huma Siddiqui

Further notes:

  • “Sajji Masala” includes chipotle chile and other smoky flavors
  • “curry” is the sauce
  • “masala” is a spice blend
  • Always start with a warm pan, give everything 20-25 seconds to warm before adding the next thing to the pan
  • Buy spices in small amounts and use them, protect from light and heat (after your spices are a couple of years old, they’re not as flavorful as they should be – nora says)
  • When cooking, think about your spices and what complements each other in the dish

The meal begins when friends gather and the wine is opened


Our thoughts:

  • The scents of the food went very well with the wine
  • The asparagus with the whole cumin seeds, YUM YUM YUM
  • The fire roasted tomatoes were very sweet and rich
  • The salmon was quite good, not over cooked
  • Both of us really liked the whole cumin seeds in the rice and on the asparagus
  • SURPRISE, the wine was still priced at $34.95 at the Festival Center Wine Store, and… we bought TWO bottles (OMG!)

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