A visit to the local farmer’s market is something I eagerly look forward to. Its either the motivation of laying hands on the freshest produce that I will serve my family; or the interaction with the person who devotedly grew it; or the knowledge I gain on growing/storing produce and herbs; or just the lively atmosphere and the music. The farmers are always eager to share recipes for vegetables or greens that I haven’t tried before. Sometimes they recommend their favourites, which I make sure to buy. Last fall, we feasted on a locally grown variety of apples, thanks to one such recommendations. Thin skinned, small and sweet, it was hard to believe that they were actually fruits and not candy. The farmer even complained that she had to stop her son from eating more than three a day.
Over the last few weeks, I was lucky to be introduced to new kinds of produce. Lets start with these . Long, slender and slightly ribbed, they looked a cross between snake gourd and an English cucumber. Some were bright green, and others were lighter coloured. But they both taste sweet and crisp, and didn’t require peeling. Their taste and texture reminded me of a variety of cucumbers that are small, sweet and crisp and are usually sold at bus stands in India. I was happy to rediscover ‘em.
Giant okra compared with regular ones
Next stop, okra. Not your everyday okra, but huge ones. When I saw them, my first thought was, why would anyone want to cook such mature okras. Surprisingly, these giants were still tender. The grower, Maya, explained to me that this was another kind of okra and taste the same as the regular ones. They did, in addition to being less slimy.
Last, but not least, is or , known as 'Paruppu Keerai' in Tamil. An edible weed native to India, they can be cooked or eaten raw. I preferred cooking it, but there weren’t many recipes around. Cooking with dal was definitely a safe option. But noticing the delicate leaves, I want to give them an opportunity to shine on their own.
I turned to , who has always inspired me . In addition to recipes, what I look for in a cookbook are ideas and methods that I could adapt to my own liking. has it aplenty. A recipe that called for amaranth/spinach caught my eye, and I decided to adapt it. The kootu, as I like to call it, was divine. Once cooked, the leaves were unbelievably tasty, tender and not even slightly bitter. I am certain that we would enjoy this recipe over and over, for years to come.
I am sending this to , hosted by Jigyasa and Pratibha. This edition of is about honoring those individuals that inspired and enriched your culinary world. I find it only apt to pay my , with one of her own recipes.
Purslane kootu served with rice, Armenian cucumbers and eggplants sautéed with sambar powderPurslane KootuIngredientsPurslane – 3 bunches, chopped coarsely along with stems
– 2 tbsp, powdered
Ginger – 1 inch piece
Garlic – 2 cloves
Green chillies – 4
Cilantro – ½ cup, packed
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 2 tsp
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Oil – 1 tbsp
Grind ginger, garlic, green chillies and cilantro into a smooth paste with little water. In a pan heat oil, splutter mustard seeds and roast urad dal until golden brown. Add the greens, turmeric powder and cook covered until the greens are done. Add the ground paste and salt, and cook for additional two minutes. Remove from heat and add powdered gram. Serve with rice and vegetables.
This icon, courtesy of Alanna at , celebrates farm produce and encourages bloggers to seek out locally grown produce. Remember from last year? This being Earth Week, I found it apt to blog about local-grown produce. If you haven't gone local yet, here are . 'Going Local' is one of the .