Award-winning food blogger Nik Sharma created an instant buzz in November with the release of his debut cookbook, “Season” (Chronicle Books).

The well-executed volume, aptly subtitled “Big Flavors, Beautiful Food,” follows Sharma’s odyssey from his native India to California by way of the American South. “Season” features 270 enticing food photos and 100 easy-to-cook recipes that combine flavors of contemporary Indian cuisine in fresh ways.

A good example of Sharma’s approach to cooking is shown in Crab Cakes with Lemongrass and Green Mango, a recipe inspired by his mother.

Sharma points out that fresh mango works well with hot chiles, while the lemongrass, lime and coriander brighten the flavors of the crab cakes even more.

Among other recipes are Deviled Eggs with Creamy Tahini and Za’atar; Roasted Young Carrots with Sesame, Chili and Nori; Chat Masala-Grilled Pork Chops; and Spicy Chocolate Chip-Hazelnut Cookies.

Sharma’s blog, “A Brown Table” at, has built a devoted following. Since 2016, he has contributed a food column, “A Brown Kitchen,” for the San Francisco Chronicle.

Journalist Tom Witom, who lives in Elgin, has written extensively for years about food and the food industry. Feedback on the column can be sent to

Crab Cakes with Lemongrass

and Green Mango

Makes seven appetizer servings

1 pound fresh crab meat

4 shallots, minced

2 tablespoons minced lemongrass (white part only)

3 tablespoons finely diced fresh green mango

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves

2 Thai chiles, seeded, if desired, and minced

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 whole lime, plus 2 limes, cut into wedges (optional)

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

2 large egg yolks

Vegetable oil for frying

Sweet and Smoky Tahini Sauce for serving (optional) with recipe below

In a large bowl, combine the crab meat, shallots, lemongrass, mango, cilantro, Thai chiles and mustard.

Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind the coriander seeds to a coarse powder and add to the crab meat with the garam masala.

Grate the lime zest and juice the whole lime. Add one teaspoon of the zest and one tablespoon of the juice to the crab meat, discarding the remaining zest and juice.

Add the salt and breadcrumbs and mix gently to combine. Add the egg yolks and fold it into the crab meat mixture. Divide the mixture into 14 equal parts and shape into two-inch rounds.

Heat 1 to 1-1/2 tablespoons of oil in a medium, cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Place four cakes in the skillet and cook until golden brown and crispy, 2-1/2 to 3 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels. Transfer to a plate and serve with the lime wedges and sauce, if desired.

Sweet and Smoky Tahini Sauce

Makes two cups

1 cup tahini

1 cup hot water

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons ground chipotle chile, plus more for garnish

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Combine all the ingredients in a blender and pulse on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

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