Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Potato & Ramp Curry


 
Lunch box offerings in India ought to have a whole culinary genre dedicated to them. After all India is where the uber efficient network of the dabbawallas operate right?
We may not pay too much attention to the whole process, in fact take it all too granted. but Indian housewifes have elevated the concept of lunch box food to a subtle art. healthy, tasty & an a nearly infinite amount of combinations to boot. and the best part, most of them manage to whip it up in the morning, from scratch before heading out to work. Hats off!
Growing up I remember one of my favorite dishes was Alu Methi (Potatoes & Fenugreek greens curry) made with baby potatoes. it seemed to have exactly the right amount of moisture and yet not soggy enough to ooze out of the box. (great for dipping, bad cos of the 'dripping'). 2 fresh parathas slathered with ghee & it was food fit for sharing royalty. The type where you'd be left with one paratha, if you were lucky after 'passing' your box around amongst your friends.
The textural characteristic of potatoes with greens is the smoothness of the boiled potato combined with strands of the greens (Spinach, fenugreek, dill, scallion greens etc) that offer a refreshing contrast of their individual flavor to the bland starchiness of the interior of the potato. Its like having a set of identical dresses in different colors, each offering its own trademark fingerprint.

Today, I added a new candidate to the set of greens. Ramps
 
 
These wild plants, native to North America have been a staple in upscale restaurants & gourmet chefs for a while now. There is a short window in spring when they make their appearance & like true stars, they make their presence known in the culinary media. The aroma is like a cross between garlic & onion although taste wise they're similar to scallions - mild. Its like getting 2 flavors from one vegetable, the taste of onions & the aroma of garlic. Drool Inducing!.
I had a list of dishes that I wanted to include ramps in, but the price tag ($12.99 / lb) stopped me short & I had to take a call. (of course, I plan to go out & get some more for the others which I'll post in true 'Bubba-Gump' style in the days to come) & so, here is my first Desi offering walking the Ramp!

        Ramp- Alu  Curry.
 
 



10-12 stalks of whole Ramp,
1 1/2 cup baby fingerling potatoes
1 tablespoon salt for adding to water used for boiling the potato
1 pinch turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 tablespoon finely minced Fresh ginger root
1 small green chili, finely chopped
Salt to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Mango powder (aamchur)
1/2 teaspoon toasted cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon toasted coriander powder
1 pinch sugar
1/4 teaspoon toasted dessicated fenugreek leaves
lime wedges
finely chopped cilantro for garnish 
 
  • To obtain the toasted cumin & coriander powder, simply toast 1 teaspoon of each spice in a small skillet. Powder and use the required amount. Toss the dried fenugreek leaves onto the same skillet after its been removed from the heat. the warmth is enough to perfectly toast the delicate leaves. Crush the leaves with the fingertips prior to adding to the dish.
  • In a pinch bowl combine the dried mango powder, toasted cumin & coriander seeds, sugar and the crushed fenugreek leaves. Set aside till needed
  • Wash the baby fingerling potatoes & boil them in water to which salt & turmeric have been added. This yields a bright yellow color to the potato without coloring the ramps. Cook till fork tender. Drain off the water, peel & set aside. (you may cut them up so that they are a uniform size).
  • Cut and discard the roots of the ramp. Chop the entire plant finely as you would chop a scallion. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in a skillet. when it begins to smoke, add the mustard seeds. When they sputter, lower the heat &add the ginger & green chilli. Stir and add salt.
  • Add the ramps & saute till the greens are limp and the white parts begin to soften. At this point, add the potatoes & stir to combine well. Cover and allow for the flavors to blend.
  • Add the spice blend & toss to coat evenly. (you may drizzle some extra oil at this point to ensure that the spice sticks to the potatoes. Retain on heat for about 2 minutes before transferring to a serving dish.
  • Squeeze a wedge of lime & garnish with finely chopped cilantro prior to serving.
  • Serve warm with Parathas or simply with some plain Daal-Rice.
That is my 2 yr old helping herself!


 

3 comments:

  1. looks delicious! had never heard of ramps before! will keep an eye out now.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This potato curry sound delicious! I am a big fan of ramps! I usually prepare a pesto with it, but this is a very innovative recipe!

    ReplyDelete

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