My Amma (Mum) would never waste the stalks whether it is
cauliflower or radish greens. If we had cauliflower for dinner, the next day I
was sure that the stalks would be served up this way. When I was younger and
didn’t know better, I didn’t appreciate it at all. But now I am full of
appreciation for my Amma’s resourcefulness.
300 grams cauliflower stalks (peeled and cut into 2-3
Eating root to shoot isn’t a new
idea. Long before it became a thing, my mother and grandmother were doing it. Growing
up, it was always drummed into me that we need to respect not only food but
also the farmers who produce and as a mark of respect, if it is edible, it is
not be wasted. So very often we would have the leaves served up one day and the
next day it was the stalks. This is a very traditional Andhra dish (the Telugu
name is in small) and you can use the same technique to cook amaranth stalks,
cabbage, radish or even plantains.
400 grams silverbeet stalks
(washed, peeled and cut into a 3 centimetre dice)
Did you know that this classic Italian dish has its origins in Campania, Sicily? People tend to associate Parmigiana to Parma in the north but now you know. There are several variations and you can do it with breaded meat but in our household we prefer the vegetarian version with eggplants. The process is long but I assure there is nothing technical or hard and the end result is very tasty. Remember good things take time!
3 large eggplants
Plain flour for dusting
100 ml of extra virgin olive oil
2 cups salsa di pomodori (recipe
150 grams Mozzarella cheese
grated or sliced thin
50 grams of Parmigiano Reggiano
Slice the eggplant lengthways
into 1 centimetre slices. You will have about 7 or 8 slices from each eggplant.
Don’t make them too thin as they will disintegrate when you fry. Sprinkle each
layer liberally with salt, as you place in a colander in a sink and leave for
about 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 180oC
while you prepare the salsa di pomodori and the eggplant.
Pat dry with kitchen towel, dust lightly with flour.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wide fry pan. Add the eggplant slices
and fry briskly until browned on both sides. Do not crowd the pan. Remove and
drain on kitchen paper. Repeat with the remaining oil and eggplant slices.
Use a lasagne dish, with
alternate layers of salsa di pomodori, eggplant and Mozzarella cheese. Finish
the last layer with Parmigiano Reggiano.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to
40 minutes until golden. Serve hot as a main for four with crisp Cos lettuce
salad or as a side dish to accompany meat for eight people.
SALSA di POMODORI
500 grams of tinned plum tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive
3 cloves of plump garlic finely
1 carrot diced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
½ to 1 teaspoon chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
2 – 3 sprigs of fresh basil
Heat a saucepan and when hot
enough add the olive oil, followed by the onion. Once onion is softened, add
the garlic, chilli flakes, sugar, tomatoes, carrot and tomato paste. Salt to
taste and grind plenty of black pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon to break up
the tomatoes. Add half cup water and bring to the boil. Partially cover and let
simmer for 15 -20 minutes. Remove from heat, blitz to form sauce. Stir in basil
400 grams of beans cut into 3
centimetre pieces (I use cut frozen beans)
300 grams of peas
1 large onion chopped finely (150
1 thumb size ginger, peeled and
2 large tomatoes blanched, skin
peeled and chopped fine or use 1 plum tomato from a tin of plum tomatoes and squash
it up with fingers
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ to 1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 teaspoon garam masala powder
3 tablespoons ghee
Salt to taste
Squeeze of lemon
Put the beans and peas into
separate bowls of cold water to thaw.
Heat a medium sized sauté or fry
pan. Add the ghee and once it melts, add the cumin seeds so they splutter. Fry
the onions until golden (about 10 minutes) and then add the turmeric, garam
masala and chilli powder. Fry off for about 30 seconds and then add the tomato
along with a tablespoon of water. While tomato is frying, squeeze out the
ginger juice (from the grated ginger) into the pan and mix it in. Now add salt
and the beans and mix to combine. Cover with a lid and reduce heat so the steam
cooks the beans for about five to seven minutes. Stir in the peas and cook for
a further 3 to 4 minutes. If you find there is too much water, then remove the
lid, turn to high and cook off for a minute or so until the water evaporates.
Just before serving, squeeze the lemon if using. Serve hot with rotis or pita
bread. Serves 4.
In Andhra Pradesh, the state
where I was born vepudu is a common method of cooking vegetables. It literally
means fry but the vegetables are not deep fried and the dish is dryish to look
as it is eaten with liquid accompaniments like rasam or sambar.
There is sweetness from the
carrots and beetroot and a hint of chilli coming through. The vegetables are
lovely and juicy and I think it is a colourful accompaniment.
3 large carrots (450 grams)
evenly diced to 1 centimetre pieces
3 medium sized beetroots (250
grams) evenly diced to 1 centimetre pieces
1 dried red chilli
1 green chilli finely chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon channa dhal (split
3 tablespoons peanut or other
3 tablespoons roasted peanuts
3 tablespoons desiccated coconut
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a heavy based fry
pan with a lid. When hot add the channa dhal if using, followed by the red chilli.
Allow them to fry slightly for about thirty seconds and then add the green
chilli and cumin seeds. When you can smell the cumin seeds, add the beetroot
and fry for a minute before adding the carrots. Put the burner to high heat and
cover the pan with lid and do not touch for a minute. Then remove the lid, stir
to mix and do the same again that is cover with a lid and do not touch for a
minute. Then reduce heat to low, add salt and stir to mix. Cover with lid and
allow to cook for ten minutes. Fry once more this time remove the lid and allow
the moisture to evaporate. Turn off the heat, add the desiccated coconut and
the peanuts, mix and serve. Serves 6.
Vepudus are fried (but not deep
fried) or stir fried dishes from the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.
Crisp, fried foods are a basic part of the meal and add a textural element when
served alongside a plain tadka dhal. In Andhra or Telangana, vepudu is made
using vegetables such as okra or small tender brinjals and I have used the same
technique for zucchini.
4 plump zucchini
3 tablespoons chick pea flour
1 tablespoon ground cashew nut
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 teaspoon chilli powder (mild or
Salt to taste
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
Wash, top and tail the zucchini.
Depending on how big your zucchini is, cut in half or thirds. Put the zucchini
piece upright on your cutting board and make a slit of about 3 centimetres down
towards the centre. Do the same on the other side but in the opposite direction
to the top end slit. So if you do one left to right, then make the other one
north to south so if the slits were to meet they would make quarters of the
piece of zucchini. However you do not want them in quarters and do not want the
slits to meet.
In a bowl mix the chick pea
flour, ground cashew nut, cumin seeds, garlic, chilli powder and salt. Add a
couple of teaspoons of oil and mix with your fingers. It should look like bread
crumbs. Use your fingers to stuff the zucchini pieces with the chick pea flour
mix in the slits being careful not to break the piece in half. If there is any
leftover mix, reserve this to sprinkle on top of the fried zucchini in the end.
Heat a heavy based fry pan and
add the remaining oil. When hot enough add all the zucchini pieces and set your
pan on high heat. Cover with a lid for 3 to 4 minutes. Using two spoons or
tongs gently turn them over and reduce heat to medium. Cover and cook for a
further 3 -4 minutes. Remove lid, reduce heat to low sprinkle a tablespoon of
water and let cook until everything is evenly roasted. About 12-15 minutes.
Serve hot as a side dish to your Indian meal.