I bought a new cookbook the other day -- The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. 800 pages filled with more than than 500 recipes, with fresh produce, herbs, curries and adapted for North Americans. It's written by a well-renowned cook, Yumana Devi, and from what I can see, she and Madhur Jaffrey, cover many aspects of Indian cuisine.
I said I wouldn't buy another cookbook but, after leafing through this one for 15 minutes, resistance was clearly futile. The ultimate rationale was a chance to use some of the more than hundred spices that I have crammed into my cupboard and that grace my kitchen walls. Blame the Spice Hunters, the funky Montreal-based spice shop that also makes it way too easy to order spices on-line.
The recipe I chose is "White Radish with Chopped Radish Greens". And, yes, it took me a few stores to track down the radishes -- white, daikon (known as mooli) and breakfast red. But, totally worth it. the second challenge was looking for radishes with the green tops still on. I found some but also used kale. You can also use a bunch of Swiss chard, spinach or mustard greens. In this recipe, the radish tops and kale are steamed, which reduces their volume considerably.
A word about North Indian cooking. I'm a complete novice in this world. I'm doing complete trial and error i.e., if it tastes great.... it's a keeper. In reading up on this recipe, I learned that in the Kashmir area of India, the oil would likely be mustard oil; while in the Punjab area, peanut oil would more likely be used.
Ghee (clarified butter) is completely easy to make but also readily available so I buy it. It lasts for a long time in the fridge.
I adapted this recipe slightly by using all 3 types of radishes. You can use just one or two types, depending on the quantity you need. The dish is easy to assemble, in about 20-30 minutes all in. A perfect choice for an evening dinner side dish or gracing a salad. Enjoy!
A Word about the Spices
Cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne are all readily available spices. Finding Ajwain seeds can take a little work but is well worth the effort from a taste-bud point of view. Ajwain seeds have a strong smell reminiscent of thyme. It is commonly mixed with coriander and cumin to season chicken and fish and works well with root vegetable dishes.
White Radish with Chopped Radish Greens
2-3 white radishes
5-6 medium-sized red radishes
2-3 daikon radishes
1/2 lb radish greens (or substitute Swiss chard, spinach or kale), washed, trimmed and chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 T coriander seeds
1/4 tsp Ajwain seeds
3 T ghee, mustard or peanut oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or paprika
2 tsp maple or brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp fresh lime or lemon juice
Wash and trim the radishes. Cut white radishes and daikon into 1/4 inch pieces; thinly slice the round variety. Place the radishes in a steaming basket, lay the greens on top, and steam for up to 15 minutes or until tender-crisp.
Combine the cumin, coriander and Ajwain seeds in a small bowl. In pan, heat the ghee or oil over high heat. When it is hot (not smoking), add the spice seeds and fry them until they darken a few shades.
Seconds later, add the radishes and greens. Stir in the turmeric, cayenne or paprika and sweeter (either maple or brown sugar). Reduce the heat to moderate and fry for 4-5 minutes, remove from heat, add salt and lime or lemon juice and toss to mix well.