November 6, 2010

A NOD TO FALL

Post by guest author Leela Cyd / She was living in India during last year's Fall season and wrote this article from there...

The stew and our striped rug
This is my haul from the market today -- everything comes wrapped in newspaper and twine, like a present-- no plastic! The buns with the 'x' on them have coconut inside and are delicious for breakfast or tea time. The bananas are ripe, they just come green here... and those are cherimoyas there by the tomatoes -- they call them 'custard apples' here and they are so sweet!

Although we are far far away from jumping in leaves, pink noses and pumpkins, I absolutely have the season on my mind… It’s my favorite time of year – probably the best season ever invented! The climate here calls for fresh fruits and refreshing spice, not exactly hearty and warming meals, but I found myself whizzing about the market buying vegetables for a stew – sunny swimming weather be darned. We can eat it with the fan on, I figured.


My morning bus ride to the market has quickly become one of my favorite daily routines – I love knowing how much the ride costs (5 rupees), feeling the breeze on my face, listening to the abstract sounds/whistles/calls of the bus conductor, staring into the blue of the Mondovi River, sitting with the fish-basket-on-the-head-ladies – and then, poof – we’re at the market. The place is a complete ruckus, even on a Sunday, when the rest of the town is closed or at Mass.  At this point, I’ve got certain vendors for each item – Santosh, the jolliest of all, is my spice man – NO English toothless lady for bananas and sweet potatoes, another guy in the corner for vegetables, young and efficient lime boy, right around the corner from the custard apple brothers… Then, I buy a random thing I’m not sure of from a new person – this is how I found the greens for today’s stew. It’s so awesome to feel familiar with a place like this – our town, our market, our lunch.

Fall Veg Stew

Ingredients:

1 heaping cup chickpeas, cooked
6 mini eggplants (or one large, as we get at home), chopped in ½ inch pieces
3 small red onions, chopped
6 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 small nub of ginger (barely 1 inch in diameter), minced
4 tbsp vegetable oil
juice of one lime
salt to taste
1 tsp or small cube veg bullion powder
¼ c water
1 bunch bitter greens (such as kale or chard), chopped roughly
1 bunch chopped mint leaves
sesame seeds (for garnish)

spices:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, smashed open
1 cinnamon stick, broken into 3 or 4 pieces
1 tsp coriander powder
¼ tsp chili powder

Method:
Sautee eggplant pieces in a few tablespoons oil, until almost totally cooked and brown – set aside.

Put 2 tbsp oil in pan on medium heat. Put mustard seeds and cumin seeds into hot pan, fry for 30 seconds, until popping. Add rest of spices, stir continuously for 1 minute. Add onions to spices, along with remaining oil. Sautee onions and spices for about 5-7 minutes, until reduced slightly and beginning to go translucent.

Add eggplant and tomatoes to onion mixture. Stir for approximately 2 minutes. Next add water and veg bullion cube. Continue to cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add greens, cooked chickpeas, limejuice and ginger and garlic and salt to taste to the stew. Finish with a lot of mint leaves on each portion of stew. The mint really takes the dish to a Middle Eastern flavor area.

So tasty. Garnish with sesame seeds or whatever nuts you may have on hand. Serve with rice, potatoes or a nice piece of bread.

This is a dish that will improve with a day, to really get the flavors melding – sort of like tomato sauce or chili. Enjoy and keep warm with the stew!

2 comments :

  1. what a lovely - and unique - fall post all the way from India!

    ReplyDelete
  2. yes! Sometimes thats all you need to say.
    XOXO

    ReplyDelete

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