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Nirmala Narine Prepares Worldwide Cuisine

Nirmala Narine grew up in Guyana, South America. She learned to cook in a small kitchen that had no electricity or running water.

She moved to New York City when she was 11, and has since traveled all over the world, developing a love of various cultures and their food.

Her experiences led her to write her first cookbook, "In Nirmala's Kitchen: Everyday World Cuisine."

As The Saturday Early Show's Chef on a Shoestring, Narine cooked an exotic three-course meal for four, on a budget of only $40.

The menu: Tunisian Carrot Salad, Peruvian Chicken and Cashews in Chile Sauce, and Cardamom Coconut Macaroons.

Guyana is a country about the size of Great Britain on the northern coast of South America. Bordered by Brazil, Venezuela, Suriname and the Atlantic Ocean, it's the only country in South America with English as the official language. Narine calls it "a combination of the best of the Caribbean and South America."

She began cooking for her family at the age of six, in a small kitchen that had no electricity or running water. Her father was a sugar-cane farmer and his machete became an essential kitchen tool! At age 11, the family moved to the New York City borough of Queens.

After holding a wide variety of jobs, Narine realized she was bored and needed a new career passion. Inspired by her travels around the world, she founded FOOD FACTS

Aji Chile: These yellow chilies are common in Peru. They have a lightly fruity aroma, but with a kick. They are shaped like wrinkly jalapenos. If you can't find powdered aji chilies, you can substitute cayenne pepper.

Cardamom: This spice is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern, Indian and African cuisines. There are actually three different types of cardamom; the most common type is green. You can buy whole cardamom pods or the ground spice. Green cardamom is typically used as in desserts, beverages and rice pilafs.

Macaroon: A small cookie classically made with almond paste. Coconut macaroons substitute the almond with coconut. The cookies are often chewy, but can be crunchy as well.

RECIPES

Tunisian Carrot Salad

1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Place the carrots in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 5 minutes, or until carrots are tender but still slightly crisp.

2. Drain carrots and set aside. Add the oil, garlic, cumin, curry powder, cayenne, sugar, and lemon juice to the saucepan and cook over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the carrots, stir, and continue cooking for 2 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove carrots from heat and add the cilantro. Let cool before serving.

Peruvian Aji de Gallina
(Chickenin Chile Sauce with Cashews

(divide in half to serve 4>

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 slices white bread, crusts removed
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon ground aji chile or cayenne pepper
1/2 cup unsalted cashew nuts, finely chopped
3/4 cup evaporated milk
5 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
8 small Peruvian blue or red bliss potatoes, boiled and cut in half
3 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup pitted black Kalamota olives
Finely chopped fresh chives, for garnish

1. Cover chicken breasts with 1 inch cold water in a medium saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Boil until tender and cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the breast.

2. Remove the chicken breasts and set aside to cool. Discard all but ½ cup of the cooking liquid. In a small bowl, soak the bread in the reserved liquid and set aside. When chicken is cool enough to handle, shred it into small pieces and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, paprika, and aji chile and cook until the onions are soft, about 5 to 7 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the soaked bread. Stir continuously with a wooden spoon breaking up the bread, about 3 minutes.

4. Add the cashews, evaporated milk, grated cheese, and shredded chicken; continue cooking for about 5 minutes more or until heated through. Transfer chicken mixture to the center of a large serving platter. Arrange potatoes around the outer edge of the platter. Top the chicken with hard-boiled egg halves and olives, and garnish with chopped chives.

Cardamom Coconut Macaroons

2 + 1/2 cups unsweetened grated coconut
1/4 cup canned sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons ground cardamom
2 large pinches salt
2 large egg whites

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375*. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

2. In a medium bowl, combine the coconut, condensed milk, cardamom, and one pinch of salt; mix well with a wooden spoon so that all the coconut is evenly coated with milk. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, beat egg whites with the other large pinch of salt until stiff peaks form. Fold into the coconut mixture until just combined.

4. For each macaroon, drop about 1 tablespoon of dough onto prepared cookie sheet leaving 1 inch between them. Wet your hands with water and shape dough into rough mounds. Bake macaroons until edges are lightly browned, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.

Costs

FIRST COURSE
Carrots $1.49
Garlic .48
Lemon .33
Cilantro .89

MAIN COURSE
Chicken Breasts $5.67
Bread $2.19
Onion .33
Smoked Paprika $2.39
Ground Aji Chile $2.59
Cashew Nuts $1.28
Evaporated Milk .75
Grated Parmesan Cheese $2.27
Potatoes $1.26
Kalamata Olives .81
Chives $1.49

DESSERT
Coconut .99
Sweetened Condensed Milk $1.99
Ground Cardamom $4.29

TOTAL COST: $31.49