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Learning to cook with mom – Part 3, starting to get the hang of it

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Ridge gourd with poppy seeds, Lima beans with mustard paste, Bitter gourd with mixed vegetables

Jhinge posto: This might have been my favorite vegetable dish growing up. Fresh white poppy seeds have been difficult to find anywhere. There is a possibility that the black poppy seeds might work, but I will have to try and the final look will most certainly be different. I have always been surprised how simple this dish is, in terms of the number of ingredients. Assume we are making two serving sizes. Start with 6-7 ridge gourd. The ones here are 18-20 inches long and at its thickest about 2 inches in diameter. They release a lot of water and reduce, so don’t be surprised with the starting amount. Take off all the stiff/rough green skin. Cut into cylinders that ate1/5 inch thick and cut each cylinder in half. Again, they may look big right now, but they will reduce rapidly. Take 2 small potatoes (1 medium Idaho), peel and cut into cuboids that are a third of an inch per side. In a kadai, add 4 Tbsp of mustard oil and put on medium heat. Let the oil reach smoking point. Add 1 tsp of nigella seeds, let splutter for 10 seconds and add the vegetables. Gently toss and cover. Add salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Add green chilis, chopped or slit, depending on their heat and your tolerance. The gourd will release a ton of water and the vegetables will get cooked in the water. In the meantime, prepare the poppy seeds. Take about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of poppy seeds and grind them to a finer mix in a spice grinder. It won’t really become a fine powder. It will also release some of its oils and start to become a paste. Once the potatoes are starting to break down a little and the water is nearly absorbed, add the poppy seeds and gently stir. Keep uncovered. At this point, our goal is to slow fry the mixture without turning it into a mush. Taste test for salt and heat balance and adjust if necessary. The poppy seeds, as they fry, will start to generate a nutty aroma. Between under frying and over frying, you are better off over frying. There is no turmeric and the vegetables are not browned. The dish has a greenish white appearance. Serve hot with rice.

White poppy seeds, ridge gourd, potatoes, green chili, nigella seeds (kalonji), mustard oil

Shorshe Sem: The flat lima beans are not available in California Bay Area, so I will have to try with other broad bean varieties. It seems that the basic concept can be tried with pretty much any vegetable. It is customary to take the fiber off the spine (trick is similar to how we remove the fiber from celery sticks) of the beans and cut them in thirds or half depending on the size. Lets assume we have making two serving sizes and have 4-5 cups of chopped broad beans. In a kadai, add 2 Tbsp of mustard oil, let it reach smoking point, add nigella seeds, let splutter for 10-15 seconds, add the broad beans, 1/2-1 tsp of salt, stir to mix, cover and gently fry for 15 minutes stirring occasionally. The beans should turn light brown and soften. Add a cup of hot water, 1 tsp of turmeric and cook, stirring occasionally until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 cup. Take 2 Tbsp of the mustard paste, add 2 Tbsp of yogurt, mix and add to the kadai. Gently mix and let cook until all water evaporates, taste and adjust salt. At the end, the beans should be moist and well cooked but not falling apart, and the sauce should coat the beans.

Mustard paste (yellow, black mustard, green chili), flat lima/broad beans, nigella seeds (kalonji), turmeric, yogurt, mustard oil

Shukto: Bitter gourd is an acquired taste. Here, we add only a little. The goal is to add a hint of bitterness. But if you are comfortable with the taste, you can add a little more. Assume serving size for two. Cut half an eggplant into cuboids about 1.5 inch large. To prep the raw banana, peel the green skin, cut into 8 pieces (cut in half and then cut each half along the length in four each). To prep the raw papaya, peel skin, cut a raw papaya into thin slices about 2 inch wide and 5 mm thick to make up about a cup. Throw away the unripe seeds in the cavity, if any. Cut the bitter gourd into rings of 5 mm thickness. Chuck the seeds. In a kadai, take 1 Tbsp of mustard oil, once it reaches smoking point, add the bitter gourd, reduce heat, add 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric and fry for 10-12 minutes. You want to fry them well, they develop better taste upon frying. Once they are done, take them out and set aside. In the same kadai, add 3 Tbsp mustard oil, add the mustard seeds and wait until they stop spluttering (you might want to cover with a screen to avoid them going everywhere), add radhuni and let splutter for 10 sec and then add all the remaining vegetables. Add 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp sugar, mix gently and slowly fry for 10 minutes. The vegetables should acquire some color, but they are not really cooked yet. Add 2 cups of hot water, 1 tsp turmeric, cover and let the mixture boil until the water is reduced to 1/4 cup. The vegetables should be cooked by now. If not, add 1/4 cup of hot water and gently cook some more. Taste and adjust salt. Once the vegetables are tender, add the fried bitter gourd and 1/2 cup milk. Gently combine and switch off heat.

Raw papaya, raw banana, eggplant, bitter gourd, mustard seeds, radhuni, turmeric, milk, mustard oil

Written by Som

December 8, 2021 at 4:50 am

Posted in Recipe

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