I'm thoroughly reveling in the season. The calming aspect of tending to my little vegetable patch, which has been colonized by grass, and more important, seeds from my plants last year, dozens of little tomato saplings sprouting in natural disarray, Tiny carrots and red radishes that I'm so tempted to yank out and chew on, but refrain, and a whole patch of fennel & Delfino cilantro with their delicate leaves. I cant get over the fact that they made it out through the harsh winter.
At times, I feel that the right side of my brain has finally opened up, awakened by flavors & aroma of the culinary kind. I had twosweet potatoes sitting on the counter, and suddenly felt an urge to blend in the colors of spring.. Pink stems from Swiss chard and delicate green chives. As I combined these 3 ingredients into a bowl, my fingers fluttered over the rows of spice blends in my kitchen cabinet. Harissa? a tad too garlicky, Berbere? too much cardamom, Tawa fry masala? too strong.. and so on until they came to rest on the Ras el Hanout.
Ras el Hanout... the very name of the spice blend translates as 'the head of the shop' in Arabic. Only the very best ingredients made it into the blend, and so it would be with my supper veggies. Of course roasting ensured that the vibrant colors were replaced with warm golden tones of caramelized sweet potato, but then whats life but a series of constant changes?
Roasted sweet potato with Swiss chard stems & chives: (Serves ONE)
You need:2 medium white sweet potatoes
12-15 stems from Swiss chard leaves (preferably the colorful red or yellow ones)
1 bunch chives
1/2 teaspoon freshly crushed mix of cumin and coriander
1/2 teaspoon Ras el Hanout spice blend
1/2 teaspoon Aamchur (dried mango powder)
Kosher salt to taste
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 F.
Peel and dice the sweet potatoes, and chop the chard stems into 1 cm pieces. Finely chop the chives. Combine all the three in a bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Add the spice blend, crushed cumin/coriander, the dried mango powder and the salt.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer onto a baking tray and pop into the oven for 20 minutes.
Transfer into a bowl and serve. I like to scoop this up with warm plain roti or paratha, along with a cup of fresh home made yogurt.