Why are kids and dogs fascinated with holes? Why do we lose our fascination with digging as we age?
I love beaches, always have.
My favorite thing to do on a beach is beachcomb. I have a rather nice collection of shells and rocks that I’ve managed to collect since The Boy and I have been dating. I bring something home from every trip we take.
I can beachcomb for hours now, but could not when I was a kid, I would get bored then and begin digging holes. Like most kids I wondered what would happen if I finally managed to get down to the magma in the middle of the earth, and like most kids, I never made it that far. But now I know. If I dug a hole right out in front of my apartment here in Brooklyn I’d end up in the middle of the Indian Sea, somewhere off of Australia.
I was kind of hoping I’d actually end up on the subcontinent of India. Why? Because something, aside from Gogol, should explain my recent obsession with Indian (and Middle Eastern) food. But alas. I learned from starting a hole where my friend Ruth lives in Bombay that I’d have to live somewhere in the South Pacific, off the coast of Peru, to have this excuse hold water.
So let’s move on to possible explanation number two. Might it be Meat-Free March? Possibly. And what is Meat-Free March? I’m not sure to tell you the whole truth, but it’s some attempt to control the chaos eddying around me I guess. Perhaps it’s the redheaded cousin of TV-Free February, which was scotched this year by the move.
Either way, after being a vegetarian for 13 years, one month is a breeze. Unfortunately I’ve also remembered why I was the only fat vegetarian I knew, it’s so easy to slip into a diet that consists mainly of cheese (glorious cheese!). We had an everyone-eats-cheese-dinner over the weekend (that was gloriously aided and abetted by Patrick from Stinky Brooklyn, thank you!) and so had to do some culinary atonement wherein I discovered the flavor of yellow.
And what is the flavor of yellow?
Gobbi Matar ki Sabzi to be exact.
On one of my recent book buying rampages I picked up Smita Chandra’s Cuisines Of India. This is a big, workmanlike book in which she covers both traditional and contemporary fusion recipes. In the section on ancient India, this cauliflower recipe jumped out at me immediately due to this phrase, “Grating the cauliflower not only reduces cooking time but also helps brown it thoroughly during sautéeing, enhancing the flavor of the dish.”
It sounded like a quick, 20 minute way to simulate roasted cauliflower, but with delicious spices taken along for the ride. I had to try it.
I’m glad we did. It was so delicious. I don’t keep garam masala lying around, so I had to improvise that, which I think worked out just fine.
I’m amazed at how much depth of flavor came out of such a quick dish. There was heat and intense, punchy spikes, but also mellow, blissed out layers of delicacy. This is a keeper.
The recipe said to serve with spinach and dal, which sounded like too much fuss, so I simply boiled some lentils with mustard seeds and ginger. These are actually better as leftovers. The flavors have had time to meld to great effect, and they’re luscious mixed into leftover basmati and warmed up. Good stuff for an after work dinner.
And so, I present to you the flavor of yellow. I’m very glad I don’t know what the flavor of blue is.
Head below the jump for the recipes for Grated Cauliflower Curry & Gingered Lentils.
Grated Cauliflower Curry (Gobbi Matar ki Sabzi)
prep time: 15 minutes ~ cooking time: 30 minutes
- 1 head Cauliflower, washed and grated (I used a Microplane box grater on the largest holes, but I think a normal old boring non-razor sharp grater would give you the best results)
- 1 cup frozen Peas or Green Garbanzo beans
- 1 large Onion, chopped
- 6 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- Olive Oil
- 1 tsp ground Coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
- 1/2 tsp (or more) Cayenne
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric
- 1/2 tsp ground Cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 2 Bay Leaves broken into large pieces
- 1/2 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 hot dried Chile Pepper
- 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
Place a glug of olive oil into a very large sautée pan over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and let heat through about one minute. Add the onions and garlic. Fry quickly until just becoming golden. Add the spices and cook a few minutes until highly fragrant.
Add the cauliflower and the peas or beans. Stir to coat with the onions and spices. Turn the heat down to medium-low and cover with a lid. Allow to cook, stirring a few times, 20 minutes. Remove the lid and boil off any remaining liquid. This is a dry curry. Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.
Serve with basmati rice cooked with cardamom and gingered lentils.
Adapted from Smita Chandra’s Cuisines Of India published in 2001 by The Ecco Press.
prep time: 10 minutes + 2 hours soaking time ~ cooking time: 20-30 minutes
- 1 1/2 c. yellow & orange lentils, picked over, washed and soaked for 2 hours
- 2 tsps Yellow Mustard Seeds
- 1 large Sweet Onion, sliced thin
- 1 knob Ginger, skin removed with a spoon and grated
- 1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
- Olive Oil
- Cayenne Pepper
Add a glug of olive oil to a pan over medium heat. Add the yellow mustard seeds to the oil and cook until they begin to pop. Add the onions. Cook until becoming translucent. Add the ginger. Continue to cook until the onions are becoming golden. Add the lentils and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the lentils are tender and the water has been absorbed. Add the black mustard seeds and season with salt and cayenne pepper to taste.
These are better the next day, so have a little when fresh then stow the rest in the fridge to be reheated with leftover basmati for a quick, delicious after-work supper.