Happy Spring everyone! I couldn’t be more elated to be sharing this post with you all. This recipe is compliments of an amazing chef by the name of Chitra Agrawal. I fell in love with Chitra’s work years ago when I found her blog/website the ABCD’s of Cooking. Shortly thereafter, I learned that she was the owner of an amazing line of Achaar’s, called Brooklyn Delhi and let me tell you, they’re soooo good! So when I learned that Chitra would be releasing a cookbook, I was beyond ecstatic. The name of her cookbook is Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn and it’s available for purchase now. I truly enjoyed reading her cookbook, cover to cover. From learning about her parents, to her upbringing, and to her deep rooted love for South Indian food. I love how she’s taken recipes that have been passed down in her family and made them her own.
Let me just say, this cookbook will be getting a lot of use. In flipping through the pages of her beautifully written, photographed and illustrated cookbook, so many recipes jumped out at me. I love how Chitra labels each recipe according to season and that her recipes are vegan and vegetarian friendly. If you don’t know by now, I adore South Indian food. It may be my southern roots, but this one in particular grabbed me instantly. The creaminess from the Polenta, and the layers of mouthwatering flavors in the veggies. This recipe is one of those types of meals that you can eat for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and although it’s titled spring, you can change the vegetables to accommodate whatever season you’re in.
I couldn’t help but to throw in a little of my own touches into this dish. Don’t stress if you don’t have or can’t find certain ingredients. I substituted the Red Radishes mentioned in the recipe with raw Watermelon Radishes and also topped my dish with Radish Micro-Greens. The recipe calls for a little Chana Dal and/or Urad Dal, which adds a nice nutty flavor to the dish, but don’t go out and buy a whole bag of it, if you’re only going to use it for this dish. It also calls for fresh Curry Leaves, which is not always the easiest to find, unless you can find it at a specialty store or at your local farmers market, but they certainly bring a lot of depth to the recipe if you can find them. I also seeded my pepper…just so that it wouldn’t be spicy. Lastly, if you’re wanting to keep this recipe vegan, then simple use only oil and not butter or ghee.
Recipe: Serves 3 – 4
1 cup Polenta or coarsely ground Cornmeal (may substitute quick-cooking Polenta, adjust cooking times accordingly )
1/2 cup Unsweetened Grated Coconut (fresh, frozen or dried)
4 cups of Water, or more as needed
Roughly 10 stalks of Asparagus (tough end of spears cut off )
1/2 cup Sugar Snap Peas (trimmed, stringed, sliced)
1/2 inch piece fresh Ginger Root (peeled and minced)
1 small Serrano Pepper or Indian Finger Chile Pepper (finely chopped)
4 or 5 Red Radishes (trimmed and quartered)
2 or 3 Scallions or Seasonal Ramps, both white and green parts (chopped)
2 tablespoons of Cilantro leaves (chopped)
1 teaspoon Salt, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons Unsalted Butter (or Ghee)
1 ½ tablespoons Coconut Oil
1 teaspoon Black Mustard Seed
1/2 teaspoon Chana Dal
1 teaspoon Urad Dal
5 or 6 fresh Curry Leaves
1/4 teaspoon Ground Turmeric Powder
Juice of 1/2 Lemon, or more as needed
Plain Yogurt or Butter
Hot Pickle or Brooklyn Delhi Achaar
(I added Radish Micro-Greens and Watermelon Radishes on mine)
Thaw frozen coconut or place dried coconut in a little hot water to plump it up.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, and add the salt. Turn the heat to low and slowly whisk in the polenta until there are no lumps. Cook the polenta, partially covered, for 30 minutes, whisking it well every few minutes. When cooked, the polenta should look creamy. Add the butter and coconut and mix well. The polenta should become fluffy and lighter in color when you do this.
While the polenta is cooking, cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal. Cut the snap peas into 1-inch pieces on the diagonal.
Put the oil in a wok(or skillet) over medium heat. When the oil is hot and shimmering, add one black mustard seed. When the seed sizzles and pops, add the rest of the mustard seeds. Keep a lid handy to cover the pan while the mustard seeds are popping. When the popping starts to subside (a few seconds), immediately add the chana dal and urad dal. Stir to coat with oil and turn the heat to medium-low.
Continue to stir the dals so they evenly roast, until they turn a reddish golden brown and smell nutty, less than a minute. Rub the curry leaves between your fingers a little to release their natural oils, and drop them, the ginger, and green chile into the oil. Cover immediately, as moisture from the curry leaves will cause the oil to spatter. Then stir to evenly coat everything with oil and continue to fry until the ginger and chile are less raw, 10 to 15 seconds.
Add the scallions and turmeric powder. Stir-fry for 1 minute on medium heat. Mix in the asparagus, snap peas, and radishes with a sprinkling of salt. Stir-fry the vegetables over high heat until tender but still crisp and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. During cooking, if the pan is looking dry, add a little water to it. Turn off the heat. Mix in the lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Taste for salt and lemon juice and adjust as needed.
Serve the polenta hot, topped with the vegetables, a dollop of plain yogurt, and a spoonful of hot pickle.
Now! For the giveaway! One lucky person will be the new owner of Chitra’s awesome cookbook(sorry, open to US and Canada residents only). I’ll be running the giveaway via here and on instagram and picking one winner on Friday, April 14, 2017. Winner to be announced on Saturday, April 15, 2017. To be entered, comment below telling me your favorite spring time vegetables and the meal(s) that you like to prepare with them. Please be sure to check back for the winner via instagram/here, because sometimes communications don’t always reach the intended party, but I’ll do my best to reach you. 🙂
Thank you all for entering. The contest is now closed and the winner has been announced on instagram! <3
Thanks again for visiting!