Sunday, March 12, 2006

Tamarind Dreams

Weddings are wonderful, but it was time to get back in the kitchen.

I was planning to whip up a large batch of ground turkey keema to feed Margy and me during the week, and I needed a side dish. Lucky for us I had a head of cauliflower, that most Indian of vegetables, in the fridge. It gave me the perfect reason to use my newish cookbook, Mangoes & Curry Leaves, a huge, colorful volume that explores the food of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It was a Christmas gift from my mom and I had yet to try one of its recipes.

This one, cauliflower dum, was a winner. It's a tomato curry made rich by lots of grated onion. (I have to say that as thickeners go, you can't really beat grated onion.) Traditionally the pot is sealed tightly with a strip of dough and submerged in coals or ashes, but tin foil and an oven make things easier, if a bit less fun. When the pot came out, the cauliflower had become very tender, but it wasn't mushy, and it kept its color in the face of all that tomato and turmeric.

I also made a tamarind sauce from the same book. I had made thin brown tamarind chutney before, and it was much like the condiment used in most Indian restaurants. But this one was different. It was thicker and lighter in color, and it really highlighted tamarind's sour fruity flavor, sweetening it just a bit with sugar but also spicing it up with ground fennel and a strong hit of cayenne. Margy and I couldn't get enough. We poured it on the keema, the cauliflower, the rice -- and we may just have it on a hamburger later this week.

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