Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Drumstick Coconut Curry

When we moved to the US and started our lives here, going to the grocery store was a chore restricted to the weekends. At first I did not have a car for myself nor a driver's license. So, the grocery store was a weekend outing. I loved the huge stores with aisles and aisles of food, I loved the idea of semi homemade and I fell in love with margarine, heat-n-eat soups and felt a strange sense of belonging to the modern world, since now I had an access to 'modern food'  (yes, sadly I have been guilty of that). Did not realize that it will not take me long to yearn for fresh, local foods and miss my vegetable vendor back home in India. I still remember before coming to the States,  my aunt had told me that my life will change for the good, forever....I will no longer have to have hours in the kitchen - "you get ready pasta sauce, ready pasta, ready-to-eat soup...". Well no comment on ready to eat meals, but I do see myself more in the fresh produce aisle, farmers markets and my love affair with margarine was short-lived. I do spend hours 'laboring' in the kitchen, cause that is just who I am and I'm glad it is no other way.  Well going back to drumsticks - since visits to the grocery store was limited to the weekends for us back then,  I would stock up on frozen vegetables, for days when I would run out of fresh ones. Never been allured by drumsticks. I don't know how, over the years, I have come to really like drumsticks, and, to tell you the truth, enjoy them.

Drumsticks stir up some precious memories. Two decades ago, when we lived in Lucknow,  India we had a drumstick tree in our yard and had fresh drumsticks when ever it was harvested. Lucknow has  given me great friends and great memories.  I could not have imagined then, that some day opening a pack of frozen drumstick, my heart would yearn for fresh drumsticks and life gone by. Twenty years ago, what was a mundane regular life has become a part of my memories that I will cherish for years. Well, as they say life is a full circle - most times we do not value what we have, till it is taken away from us. Wonder what my bag of memories will hold twenty years from now...

1 cup coconut 
1 medium size onion
1 green chili 
2 tbsp dalia/roasted split gram 
2 tbsp tamarind pulp
small ball of gud/jaggery
salt to taste

Spice blend
2 tbsp urad daal/horse bean
2 tbsp chana daal/gram daal
2 tbsp corriander seeds
1 clove
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 red chili
1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp ghee/clarified butter 
1 tsp mustard seed
1/4 tsp asafetida 

 Tempering is when whole or ground spice are heated in oil or ghee,  so they release their flavors and then it is added as a garnish to a dish. Tempering is done either at the start of the cooking process like in cumin rice, or at the end like in this dish. 

 Roast the spice blend, mix it with the remaining ingredients and grind it into a fine paste. Consistency like chutney.

Cook the drumsticks in salt and a pinch of sugar or jaggery/gud.  Add the chutney paste and a cup of water, bring to boil. Lower the heat, close and lid, let  the drum stick absorb the flavors for about 10 min. 

Heat ghee, add mustard let it crackle, add the asafetida. Sizzle the hot ghee on the curry. Enjoy with some cumin/jeera rice. 
For those not familiar with dalia/roasted split gram....here is how it looks. (above)  It is light and crunchy and can be had as a snack too. If for some reason you cannot find this, you can substitute with chana daal/ gram and roast it on low flame till it is richer in color. You can also use besan/ gram powder.

I could not help but share the glorious sunset from last week, I wish I could capture my emotions too...for that one moment when the sky was fired up at its full glory.....everything seemed perfect and the world seemed so beautiful n pure and I felt so grateful to be part of this creation. I did not want that moment to pass....! 

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