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)
10 grams tamarind (soaked in 50ml warm water for half an hour)
75 grams peanuts
½ teaspoon turmeric powder
2 tablespoons peanut or sesame oil
Salt to taste
2 dried red chillies
3 tablespoons black mustard seeds
2 teaspoons split chick pea
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds
Sprig of curry leaves
Pinch of asafoetida (Hing)
½ teaspoon jaggery or brown sugar
½ tablespoon raw rice
Salt to taste
Extract the liquid from tamarind by squeezing the pulp with your fingers and discarding the pulp. You can also use a sieve but with a sieve you may not get all the goodness out.
Place the prepared silverbeet stalks in a saucepan. Pour the tamarind water, add salt and turmeric powder. Allow to come up to the boil and let it simmer with the lid half covered for about 10 -12 minutes. Test a piece of the stalk for doneness. If it isn’t soft, then cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Once cooked, strain the excess liquid out and set aside.
To make the mustard seasoning, place three tablespoons of black mustard, the raw rice, jaggery or brown sugar, one dried red chilli and a pinch of salt in a small bowl of a food processor. If you don’t have a small enough bowl attachment, you can use a mortar and pestle. Once it is sufficiently powdered, add a tablespoon of water and pulse it once again. Set aside.
In a kadai (Indian style wok) or a deep fry pan, add a couple of teaspoons of oil. When hot, add the peanuts and fry until they are sufficiently browned. It takes about 4- 5 minutes. Remove and set aside. In the same kadai, add the remaining oil along with the split chick peas and fenugreek seeds. Fry regularly and when the chick peas are brown, add the mustard seeds and the dried red chilli. When the mustard seeds start crackling, add the asafoetida and curry leaves along with the cooked silverbeet stalks. Give it a good stir to mix and once heated through add the peanuts along with the mustard seasoning. Mix everything well and check for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature with hot steamed rice.
Cooking Tips: I use tamarind pulp available in an Indian store generally sold as a 400 gram black block. I tried using tamarind out of a jar and found it very tart. The pulp has a rounded sharpness that is, there are subtle hints of sweetness.