Saturday, March 10, 2012

Two in one--use of cilantro/parsley stems in two gourmet indian vegetarian recipes.


I have a solution. Not that there was a real problem here. But I think I have a solution to an yet un-recognised problem :)

And here is where I think we may have the problem. Somehow the way we use herbs bothered me. We take the leaves and discard the woody parts. And whenever I threw away the stems of herbs--particularly cilantro, coriander, Dill stems that are not that woody at all--I always thought if I could somehow use these. To me this was terrible loss of flavor. On the other hand it was really impossible for me to conjure up images of us gnawing at woodisque (that's a new word!) stems in dish if you just add the stems along with the leaves towards the end of a dish. Worse for garnishes.

 Photo from http://www.klesickfamilyfarm.com

I think I have a solution finally. For soft stem herbs like Cilantro, Coriander, Dill etc, the stems can add a whole world of flavor if used like onion or garlic or ginger i.e. soften the diced stems in hot oil as you would do for example in case of onion or garlic or ginger. This process releases all the flavor that is packed in the stems while softening it and thus making it edible. The other way would be to use it as a veggie. You heard right. Veggie. For example, if you were making a stew you would add the potatoes, followed by the carrots and then whatever. So just throw in your stems before you even put the hardiest of your veggie in. The result is a dramatic flavoring from the beginning of the recipe. Of course you don't want to use woody stems of rosemary or thyme or even the really hardy parsley. But for the softer ones, you don't want to throw away the goodness that you usually do.

I have been practicing this method for a couple of months now. And I feel comfortable going out on a limb to share this technique. I give you two recipes. Both Indian. Using Cilantro stems. But once you get the hang of the method (and I will be sharing more such recipes with stems), you will find use for them in your stews, stir fries and what not. Hello! you got double duty for your buck!

As I said, there are two recipes here today. One is a stir fried Bokchoy with tomatoes and mustard. Such a great little southern Indian recipe, even without the stems. The second is cabbage potato mush and is a take on a very common household cabbage dish from eastern India. I think you will love both. Adding in the stems at the beginning makes both of these recipes exceptional and very bright. Try it and you will not regret it. 

So here we go!

Sir fried bokchoy with Mustard Cilantro and Tomatoes
Ingredients:
Three baby Bokchoys. Cleaned and diced coarsely. You can also use cauliflower, broccoli or cabbage here.
2 small tomatoes. Diced.
Cilantro: stems-- A handful of them, cleaned and diced finely. You really want to do this :)
               Leaves-- chopped for garnish
You can also use Parsley if you do not like Cilantro. I love both!
2 green chiles. Slit and seeds removed. You can use one jalapeno too.
Curry leaves--4-5. dice it or not. You can find it in Indian groceries. Very optional. But it does add a very southern Indian flavor, which is gorgeous
1 tsp of whole mustard
2 tbsf olive oil or regular oil
salt for seasoning

All you do is heat oil in a large skillet (you want to hold all those greens in there, so be careful with your skillet size). Once oil is hot, add the mustard, cilantro stems, green chiles and tomato. Stir fry for 5-6 min. You want the tomatoes to start breaking down and mixing up to a saucy consistency. Add the Bokchoys. Stir and cook through ~ 7-8 mins. Season with salt. Take off the heat, plate up, garnish with your cilantro leaves and serve hot. With some Rice and soup. A great meal. I promise you this much


The second one is Cabbage potato Mush
Ingredients:
One small cabbage. Use the regular ones or Napa ones. Whatever floats your boat. Cleaned and diced coarsely. You can also use cauliflower, broccoli or bokchoy here. 
1 medium potato. Diced. Ensures quick cooking and to make a mush
2 small tomatoes. Diced.
Cilantro: stems-- A handful of them, cleaned and diced finely.
               Leaves-- chopped for garnish
You can also use Parsley if you do not like Cilantro. I love both!
2 green chiles. Slit and seeds removed. You can use one jalapeno too.

1 tsp of whole cumin
1 tsp of coriander powder
1 tsp of cumin powder
1/2 tsp of turmeric
1/2 tsp of sugar.
1 cup of warm water. Keep handy to moisten things as needed
2 tbsf olive oil or regular oil
salt for seasoning

All you do is heat oil in a large skillet (again you want to hold all those greens in there, so be careful with your skillet size). Once oil is hot, add the potatoes and cook covered for 10 min. Check to see that you are not burning your potatoes. Add cumin, cilantro stems, green chiles, tomato and sugar. Stir fry for 5-6 min. You want the tomatoes to start breaking down and mixing up to a saucy consistency. The sugar will caramelize and give a gorgeous flavor. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric powder. Cook for a minute or so.  At this point you have a lovely sauce and you can put any veggie in there. Here we will go with cabbage. Add the cabbage. Stir  and cook through. ~ 10 mins. Covering the skillet or pot hastens the process. You may need to add water to prevent sticking. Usually though you wont need a lot of water. Season with salt. Take off the heat, plate up, garnish with your cilantro leaves and serve warm or at room temperature.



It is a really nice and gourmet dish. The smokey cumin, the bright coriander and cilantro is a cure for any damp night. 

Happy eating and healthy living!

2 comments:

The Japanese Redneck said...

That's a good idea. I hate wasting things.

Dinesh Sharma said...

Gr8...!Post on wasted things of food that we have not considered in our life.....but it much beneficial for us..would you please post on some Indian Recipes