Friday, May 6, 2011

Curried Peas and Potatoes with Mint Raita

This week's recipe is a version of a classic Indian recipe called Aloo Mutter, or curried peas and potatoes. It uses several of the wonderful vegetables in today's CSA box - potatoes, peas, and the beautiful fresh mint from Silver Lake Farms for the raita, or yogurt sauce.

There are many ways to make curry. I enjoy mixing and toasting whole spices to make my own aromatic curry powder. Then I grind them with a mortar and pestle. However, for today's recipe, I'm using a fabulous curry blend made at the Spice Station called Vadouvan.

If you haven't been to the Spice Station yet, this recipe is a great reason to check it out. They have an amazing array of spices from all over the world as well as their own wonderful spice blends made on the premises. And if you'd prefer to mix up your own curry powder, you can get everything you need at the Spice Station.

Spice Station owner and CSA shareholder, Brownwen, says their Vadouvan contains domestically-grown curry leaves. She gets them from a grower at the Santa Monica Farmer's Market. Imported curry leaves are currently banned by the FDA in an attempt to stop the spread of the Asian Citrus Psyllid, so they're apparently quite hard to come by.

I like to use ghee, which is clarified butter, in this curry. Making clarified butter is easy. Slowly melt a stick of butter and remove all of the milk solids that rise to the top. Clarified butter has a higher burning point. It also keeps for quite a while in the fridge. Just pour it into a covered jar or crock. If you don't want to make clarified butter, you can buy it at most Indian markets and some full-service grocery stores. If you prefer, you can substitute olive oil for the ghee.

Curried Peas and Potatoes

4 T ghee
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic minced
2-3 T Vadouvan
2 T tomato paste
2 # potatoes, cubed, with or without peels
1 # sugar snap peas, shell the peas and compost the pods
2 C vegetable stock or water
1 t sugar (optional)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large skillet with a cover, heat the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until the garlic is slightly golden.

2. Stir in the Vadouvan and the tomato paste. Add the cubed potatoes and the shelled peas. Stir to coat with the spices.

3. Stir in the stock or water. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened, about 15 minutes. Check once or twice while simmering. and add a little more liquid, if necessary.

4. When potatoes are tender, check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste. You can also adjust the seasoning by adding 1 t sugar. If you'd prefer a thicker sauce, you can add 1-2 T cream or you can take 1 t corn starch or arrowroot powder in a small cup and stir in 2-3 T of the sauce until smooth, then add this mixture to the curry and re-heat, stirring, until the sauce thickens.

5. Serve the curry over basmati rice with raita (recipe below) on the side.

By the way, it's best not to use the Texas Sweet Onions in this dish. Sweet onions in general are best eaten raw. They tend to get mushy when cooked and the qualities that make them sweet and delicious raw work against them when exposed to heat.

Mint Raita

2 C thick yogurt
1 T toasted cumin seed
1 bunch fresh mint, finely chopped
1-2 t fresh lime juice
1-2 green onions, finely chopped (optional)

Stir all the ingredients together in a medium bowl and chill until ready to serve. It's nice to make the raita ahead of time to allow the flavors to blend.

Today's bounty included:

From Underwood Family Farms: rainbow chard, fennel, sugar snap peas, mizuna, yellow carrots, Texas sweet onions, red leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce, asparagus, spinach, and Navel oranges.

From Rancho Santa Cecilia: pumello, Golden Nugget tangerines, and avocados.

From Weiser Family Farms: Russian Banana and French Baker potatoes.

And from Silver Lake Farms: mint and mustard and radish microgreens.



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