today’s a wet, cold day, and i had had some very uninspiring salmon last night at the lost dog, so i wanted to both stay in, and cheer myself up with some light, colorful, spicy lunch. i love cauliflowers. they’re generally the main event for me as far as vegetables go. i like them roasted, i like them creamed and mashed like the way ruby tuesday makes them, i like them done the traditional way with garam masala, i like them done just with panch phoron, i like them with asafetida, i like them batter-fried, i just…could eat them any way. except raw and in a salad of course. but that goes without saying.
so clearly, the cauliflower is one of my star vegetables. i love baby corn and courgettes too, but more as a supporting cast. although the baby corn could very well be a star in its own right if one is in the mood for greasy cornflower-coated chilli baby corn done indian style with lots of square pieces of capsicum and enough green chillies to unclog all sinuses. i clearly remember my first chilli baby corn experience many many years ago when i was an ickle little thing who never ate out unless traveling, and even then only a very narrow selection of ‘travel food.’ we were staying at a guest house in salt lake, which at that time, for me, was a terribly confusing place with bad tasting water, and we needed to find some dinner. we stumbled across this little place, with seating for maybe ten, in what looked like somebody’s converted garage, but it smelled nice and looked clean, and promised quick service. and that’s where i first ordered this chilli baby corn dish, meant to be a substitute for chilli chicken, since i avoided eating non-veg meals out while traveling. it was glorious, and really, not too greasy at all. these little places that run out of garages and serve quick spicy sides and your basic calcutta noodles are the best finds ever. i remember being famished once after a long day out with mother, and eating the best noodles ever in a tiny non-descript alley in gariahat.
but i digress. the point is, baby corn is never a semi-hit. it’s easy to cook, and always tastes awesome. the zucchini/courgette has really just grown on me recently. but they’re unobtrusive in a mixed vegetable dish, and soak up the spices really well, and i also like them grilled as a side when eating out.
the challenge with cooking at home, for me, has been to find vegetables that go well together, and don’t come out tasting/smelling overly raw even when cooked. my biggest failures have been with carrots and green beans. they hardly ever come out the way i want them to. my favorite green bean, the chinese long bean, or the yardlong, i can never find in binghamton. :(
anyway, so recipe:
4 oz baby corn, halvedquarter of a small cauliflowerhalf a medium yellow courgettehalf a medium red onionquarter of a large capsicumone large tomato1 tablespoonful of canola oilhalf a teaspoonful of cayenne powderhalf a teaspoonful of turmeric powder1 heaped teaspoonful of 7-spice mix. this is a mixture of seven different seeds mixed in the same proportion to each other, or really, just panch phoron with a couple of additions. the one i have, mixed by mother, has fenugreek, fennel, nigella, cumin, coriander, radhuni and either celery seeds or jowan, i can’t tell which. or maybe they’re both present. in any case, just basic paanch phoron would probably work just as well i imagine.
this is good for about three servings with rice.
heat oil, add the seeds, let splutter. add onions, fry, cover. add baby corn and cauliflower, cover and let soften on low. add tomato, courgette, turmeric and cayenne powder, toss vigorously and cover. add capsicum last, with the ginger and salt, so that it stays green and doesn’t get too yellow with the turmeric. and that’s it.