Friday, January 18, 2008
When I cook, nutrition is as important to me as taste: I am a big believer in food as medicine.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian art of holistic healing, holds it that every meal you eat should have all the six tastes in it: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. When that's the case, not only does the food taste better, it is good for you too.
I wanted to share with you today my recipes for Sweet-Aloo Paratha and Dill-Flavored Cabbage Subzi because together they comprise a meal that's not just nutritionally complete, with all six tastes, but also delicious and pleasing to the senses. The many layers of flavor in this meal come from the atypical use of some typical Indian ingredients.
The sweet potato and the wheat in the paratha contribute sweetness. The tomatoes in the subzi and the twist of lemon in the parathas add the sour taste. The kasoori methi leaves (or dry fenugreek leaves) in the paratha provide the bitterness, while the chili powder and the ginger, also in the paratha, provide the pungency. The salt provides the saltiness, of course, and finally, the astringent taste is provided by cabbage, a veggie that's as delicious as it is good for you.
The recipe for the subzi is based on one I found in a book to which I often turn when I want Indian food with a slight twist: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi. While the author uses ghee and dairy products liberally in her cooking, I usually don't find it difficult to get very tasty results by substituting with canola oil and coconut milk.
I hope you will enjoy this very special meal, and come back for seconds!
1 cup whole-wheat flour or durum wheat flour
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp salt.
Using water, knead into a smooth dough. Set aside.
For the filling:
2 medium sweet potatoes, cooked soft. (I just stab it with a knife all over and put in the microwave for about 5-7 minutes until soft).
1 tbsp ginger
2 tbsp kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves available in Indian grocery stores)
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp chaat masala (also available in Indian stores)
1 tsp lemon or lime juice
Salt to taste
Peel and mash the sweet potatoes. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. The mixture should be fairly smooth and dry.
Take a ball of the dough, about the size of a small lemon.
Roll it into a disc about 4 cm in diameter.
Place about 2 tbsp of the filling in the center.
Roll out another disc of the dough to the same size.
Moisten the edges of this disc with water and place on top of the disc containing the filling.
Press down on the edges to ensure a tight seal.
Using some flour, roll out the paratha to about 7 cm in diameter.
Heat a griddle and coat with a very thin layer of oil
Place the paratha on the griddle and cook until golden-brown spots appear.
Flip and cook the other side, applying a little oil if necessary.
Serve hot with the cabbage subzi.
Dill-flavored Cabbage Subzi:
1/2 large cabbage or 1 small one (about 5 cups), chopped thinly.
1 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
1 14-oz can of diced tomatoes (can substitute with 2 fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 cup peas
2 tbsp dill, chopped
Grind to a fine powder:
1 tsp cardamom seeds
1/2 tsp cloves
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp ajwain seeds (can substitute with cumin)
In a large skillet, heat the oil.
Add the tomatoes and half the ground spices. Let the sauce cook until it has thickened slightly, about 10 minutes.
Add the cabbage and stir until coated with the tomatoes and spices.
Cover and cook on a medium-low flame about 15-20 minutes until quite tender.
If you are using fresh peas, add them now. If using frozen, wait another five minutes until the cabbage is completely tender, then add.
Once all the vegetables are cooked, add the remaining spices and salt to taste.
Add the dill and mix thoroughly.
Serve piping hot with the Sweet-Aloo Paratha.