Tuesday, April 27, 2010

CSA week 20 - Suwa bhaji

Dill with garam masala. Garam masala with dill. I've got to say I'm a little skeptical about how this is going to turn out. But it isn't some avant garde experiment; this is a traditional north Indian dish. Search for dill bhaji or dill curry and you'll get lots of variations. And I'm not one to doubt the collective wisdom of a cuisine so I'm going to give it a try. OK, here goes nothing (but a perfectly good bunch of dill).

1 Tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
1 hot chili, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1 CSA-sized bunch of dill (the original recipe I based this on called for 4 bunches and I don't know how large a bunch of dill is in north India. But the CSA gave us quite a lot of dill so I figure I'm probably in the ballpark.), cleaned and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala (there's a good bit of variation in the three garam masala spice blends on sale at Whole Foods. I picked the one with the most pepper since "garam" means hot. If yours is less spicy or is just faded since you don't use it too often, you might want to add more than the 1/2 teaspoon of pepper called for to compensate.)
salt to taste (probably more than you think you need since the potato just soaks salt up)
1/3 to 1/2 cup water

1. Heat the oil in a large pan or dutch oven over medium high heat. When it's shimmery add the cumin and garlic. After a few seconds, when they've become fragrant, add the onion and chili. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion becomes translucent and lightly browned.

2. Add the potato and cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes get a little browned. Turn up the heat if necessary.

3. Add the dill stems, cook briefly and then add the leaves. Cook briefly to wilt. Add the salt, cayenne, garam masala and the water. Mix thoroughly, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Turn down the heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender and the sauce has cooked down and thickened.

Serve with rice or if you're rather less tired than I am, phulkas. Some chutney or yogurt or something would probably not be bad either. I actually bought both and then forgot to use them. Whoops.

And that looks...kind of odd. And it tastes...not bad. Takes a little getting used to, tasting the dill against the cumin, but the sweet heat of the spice against the particular taste of the dill works. It helps that cooking the dill tones down the grassy aromatic edge and lets it play better with the other flavors as a vegetable. I'm halfway through the serving and now I'm starting to actually like it. Then I hit a little raw dill (I reused the bowl) and I'm not liking it so much any more. OK, so, not a revelation, but interesting. I'll try adding those forgotten condiments when I have the leftovers and put some notes in the comments to tell you how it went.

1 comment:

LaDivaCucina said...

I wasn't aware that Indians used dill, very interesting. I remember eating basamati rice with loads of butter and dill at Persian restaurants in L.A. and Chicago and forget to try it that way. I made a compound butter out of mine!