Would you believe I used to hate cooking?
Seriously. I was scared of the cooker.
And no wonder, given that this was first dish that my well-intentioned mum tried to teach me. Not something plain and placid like a basic stir-fry or an easy dahl, or even a stew, oh no. She started me off with the tarka technique, which means frying the spices before adding in the main ingredients to get them to release the flavour. Which is sometimes problematic anyway due to the increased likelihood of burning the spices. Add the only seeds that leap out of the pan and burn you in the face, and you're onto a winner.
Needless to say, I spent most of these early lessons cowering under the table saying mum can you just do it and I'll learn to cook later if I absolutely have to.
And hey ho, I did. They say that your mum's cooking will always taste the best to you, because its what you grow up on: whilst this may not exactly scream "COMFORT FOOD," as a result, that's exactly what it is! The inclusion of dried fruit, apparently a very Maharashtrian thing, creates a delightfully sweet and salty mix of flavours. You can switch up the fruit, nuts, and spices to your heart's content. Throw in some coconut, or one of those pre-mixed nut and fruit bags in there if you want - I know my mum often did! Dishes like these probably very on established my love for savoury-sweet combinations as of today.
The tarka step is essential - it really does intensify the flavour by 10x. Unless you're hardcore like mother Tilak, just do what I do and cover the pan while the seeds are bursting. (And stand back.)
I enjoy this dish most with hot buttered pita bread and sweet pickle, as I used to eat it growing up, but it will go nicely with toast and hummus, or as a side to a rice and curry dish - anything really!
Cook Time: 15-20 mins
Ingredients (Serves 4 as a side)
- 1 head broccoli, chopped and steamed for 5 minutes
- handful of nuts (I like to use a mixture of cashews and almonds best)
- handful of rasins
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp chili powder
- Salt, to taste
1. Heat some oil of choice in a wok. When the oil is piping hot, drop in the mustard seeds, and cover immediately. Wait till most of the seeds have popped, then:
2. Immediately add all the other ingredients.
3. Lower the heat to medium and cover for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Cook until desired softness is reached.
5. Adjust seasonings as required, and serve!
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