This year Mother’s Day coincided with a sniffles bout (for me). Celebrating seasonal ramps, I cobbled this together to recreate the Southern Indian thin soup- rasam. It turned out as delicious and as cold-busting as the original. Enjoy!
- 1 bunch ramps: thinly slice and separated the bottoms from the leaves
- Sputtering base:
- 2 tbsp oil
- whole spices: 1 tsp whole mustard+2-3 stalks curry leaves+ 2 red chillies + 1/2 tsp whole black pepper (optional)
- Ground spices: 1 tsp rasam powder (or sambar powder) + a dash of heeng
- Flavorings: 1 tbsp tamarind paste (+ optional: 2 cubes of sugar)
- Veggies: 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 cups water (or, more as per taste)
- salt to taste
- Garnish: coriander leaves
On medium heat, place the sputter base ingredients till mustard seeds begin to pop. Reduce heat to minimum and add ground spices (so that they dont burn). After a minute or so, add the bottoms of the ramps and let saute for a minute. Then add the tomatoes, turn up the heat to medium and cover and let soften in its own juice (3 mins or so). Add the flavorings and water and salt to taste. Cover. As it comes to a slow simmer, add the sliced tops of the ramp. Cover and turn off heat.
Serve hot, with garnish.
NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:
- The use of sambar powder in rasam may shock the purists. But, I have used this in a pinch, and, it has served me well.
- Feel free to add other veggies of your choice. Just remember that this is not meant to be a thick soup- so do retain its thin consistency.
- Instead of heeng– you could use 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced. Mix it in with the sliced ramp bottoms and follow the above steps.
- Lacinato Kale Rasam: Kale instead of ramps. Separate the stalks from the leafy parts. Chop the stalks very fine. Stack and roll the leaves, then chiffonade into thin slivers.
A Sprouting Cauliflower showed up in the CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) bag this week for Father’s Day. With a quick internet scan I learn that it is also called Chinese Cauliflower in Asian markets, though its genesis is attributed to a Japanese breeder.
Don’t be distracted by its disheveled, shaggy looks. In fact it is a sweeter version of the regular old cauliflower. I take inspiration from my friend’s Mom who makes the best Andhra-style pulihora (tamarind rice) in town. I do a half-and-half. Curry leaf infused, mild rice –to elicit all the sweetness of the sprouting cauliflower– paired with hot, naughty pulihora. This will knock your socks off. Enjoy!
- In Processor: 1 Sprouting Cauliflower + 3-4 stalks of curry leaves
- 1 tsp puliogare powder (or any other spice mix of your choice)
- 1 tsp oil
- salt to taste
Pulse in the processor till coarsely riced. Cover with damp paper towel and microwave for 4-5 minutes, till al dente but not mushy. Mix in salt to taste. Divide into two equal portions. Heat oil in a pan and very lightly toast the spice powder and mix in one half of the riced cauliflower.
Notes, hints, tips:
- Ricing the cauliflower is also a good use of the stem portion of the head. If you can handle heat, then also pulse in half a green chilli.
- I use a store bought puliogare powder, perhaps to the horror of my friend’s Mom. It works out fine, although nothing beats a homemade mix.
- If too hot, serve with yogurt.
Muthia means a fistful and you may have seen it in Indian Delis (or Freezer sections). The one here however is even more interesting. And, if the title triggers flashes of Clint Eastwood, it is intentional 😉
But back to delicious, conscientious eating. A more assertive substitute for plain white rice is a mixture of whole grains that Asian grocery stores are already stocking. There is always leftover rice and here is how you transform les restes to je ne sais quoi irresistible morsels. Enjoy!
- Macerate overnight: 1 1/2 cups cooked mixed grains + 1/4 cup yogurt + 1 shallot finely minced + 1/4 inch ginger finely grated + 1 finely chopped green chilli + salt to taste + (optional: oat flour)
- For tempering: 1 tbsp oil, 1/tsp mustard seeds + 1 dozen fragrant curry leaves
- Slices of heirloom tomatoes for serving
- Topping: cottage cheese
If the rice mixture is too runny, thicken with the oat flour. Steam the rice mixture for about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly and shape roughly into little balls (fistfuls).
Heat oil in a non-stick pan for tempering. Add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. When they begin to sputter, gently place the balls. Flip gently after a tw minutes and let lightly brown on the other side.
Serve warm with slices of Heirloom tomatoes and topped with a little cottage cheese.
NOTES, HINTS, TIPS:
- The mixed grain used here was from the Asian market. It has regular and hulled barley + rye berries + black rice + red rice + brown rice. Follow the instructions on the package.
- For steaming, I used a steaming basket lined with parchment. Since the steaming basket was that of a pressure cooker, I succumbed to temptation and pressure-steamed for 12 minutes, under medium pressure. This softened the grains a bit.
- Since the grain here are not as docile as plain white rice, in fact they provide a nice texture.