Posted on August 20, 2020 at 3:00 PM by Madhu Gadia
August 20, 2020
Summer Vegetable Bounty – Farmers Market
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I hope you are taking full advantage of long summer days and spending as much time as you can outdoors, sitting on the patio, taking long walks in the park, and barbecuing. August is the perfect time for delicious, fresh out-of-the-garden (or Farmer’s Market) vegetables.
I have a beautiful backyard, but this is the first year I have taken full advantage of it. As we all spend so much time indoors, the backyard is a refuge, a place I can hang out, read a book, and even write a blog. To my surprise, I found that sitting under the tree is quite comfortable. Normally, I would shy away from the heat and just be in air-conditioning. I hope you, too, have taken advantage of your yard, balcony, or neighborhood park.
This year, I have been a successful gardener. It’s basic; the plants need attention, and this year I have been consistently vigilant with my garden. Right now, my kitchen garden is producing tomatoes, green beans, green chilies, and bottle gourd. You should see me victoriously smile when I pluck the fruits of my labor. I’m convinced that the vegetables from my garden taste better than even the farmers market (although I know that’s not true).
As it appears, I’m not alone, see Reuters article Home gardening blooms around the world during coronavirus lockdowns.
Farmers Market Bounty
All summer, I try to eat locally grown vegetables; from my garden or farmers market. The taste of fresh vegetables in season is unbeatable. I make a weekly trip to the farmers market (with my mask on), almost always buying more than we can eat; peppers, eggplants, zucchini – whatever is new for the week. Don’t believe me; try it for yourself.
By the way - see the pandemic effect - Farmers Market photos, 2020 and 2019 - it was such a fun place to spend a Saturday morning. Now, I just quickly buy vegetables and leave.
I have to tell you a story, a revelation – a few years ago, when I was visiting India and devouring delicious vegetables, cooked and raw, I was amazed as to how good they tasted. My first reaction was that the vegetables in India are definitely better tasting, of course, I had heard that from my Indian friends as they mesmerized over the taste and glory of “desi vegetables” (desi means from your country). But I wasn’t convinced that it was the Indian soil or the seeds. My theory was that the vegetables were fresh-picked, and cooks purchased vegetables daily from the vendor and cooked foods in season. Of course, in India, that is 12 months a year. So, the following summer, I decided to test my theory. In Iowa, the Farmers Market is only open in the summer. I bought all my vegetables from the Farmers Market, and I was right, the fresh-picked vegetables were terrific, packed with flavor, tender and melt in your mouth, just like India.
In The Indian Vegan Kitchen and New Indian Home Cooking, you will find a variety of recipes for most summer vegetables. Try different recipes and have fun testing and tasting. You will also find several of these recipes in the previous blogs.
In this blog, I’m sharing two popular vegetables that you should try; okra and bottle gourd. If you love okra, you’re going to love this, and if you’re on the fence about okra, this one worth the try.
Bottle gourd, aka lauki or dudhi is super popular in India. In America, bottle gourds are primarily dried and sold as a decoration or ornamental. I wish I could convince all farmers, who plant bottle gourds to please sell them when they are tender and let some dry for decoration.
Think of bottle gourd like a heartier zucchini. It’s low in calories and rich in vitamins. It has a mild flavor and a firm texture. I love chana dal (baby chickpeas) with lauki. By the way, you can substitute zucchini for bottle gourd.
Happy and Healthy Cooking!
Madhu Gadia, RD
Okra With Tomatoes (Bhindi-Tamatar ki Subji)
Okra testimonial by Neha Kothari: Hi Madhuji; I made bhindi yesterday. I’ve been making it from your recipe in the book for years now, and I have gotten really good at it if I may say so myself. My (your) bhindi is the best.
- 1 pound fresh tender okra or frozen whole okra
- 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium tomato , cut in half and sliced into 1/4-inch wedges
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- 2 teaspoons fennel seeds, coarsely ground
- 1/2 teaspoon mango powder
Wash and drain okra leaving no water in the okra. Remove the top end and the bottom tip. Slice okra in half. Set aside. (If using frozen okra, thaw and slice.)
Heat 1 teaspoon of oil in a nonstick frypan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds until seeds turn golden brown.
Add sliced onions and tomatoes and layer sliced okra on top. Sprinkle turmeric, salt, coriander powder, cayenne pepper and ground fennel seeds. Stir gently with a spatula using a lifting and turning motion.
Cover with a lid, reduce heat, and simmer for 8 to 10 minutes. Okra should be tender to the touch.
Remove lid, increasing heat to medium. Add mango powder and stir gently as mentioned above. Pour the remaining 3 teaspoons oil around the sides of the pan, allowing oil to get to the bottom of the pan. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stir once or twice in the same lifting and turning fashion.
Transfer to a serving platter.
MAKES 6 (1/2 CUP) SERVINGS
Calories: 55; Carbohydrate: 6 g; Fat: 3 g; Sat fat: 0.4 g; Chol: 0 mg; Dietary fiber: 1 g; Protein: 1 g;
Sodium: 360 mg
Recipe from New Indian Home Cooking.
Chana Dal With Bottle Gourd (Chana Dal Aur Lauki)
Traditionally this dal is cooked with lauki (bottle gourd). In the summer use lauki, often available in specialty stores. Celery, however, makes a nice substitute and is available all year.
- 1 cup (split, hulled) chana dal (aka split chickpeas)
- 6 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 cup peeled and diced bottle gourd or celery (1/2 inch pieces)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- a pinch of asafetida
- 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice to taste
Clean the chana dal of any extraneous materials. Wash chana dal in 3 to 4 changes of water. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan add chana dal, 6 cups of water, salt, and turmeric. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat. Reduce heat, cover with a lid leaving a slight crack open and simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until the dal is very soft and turning soupy. Stir with an egg beater or a wire whisk 2 to 3 times to blend dal into the water. The dal and water should not separate. ( to cook in a pressure cooker put chana dal, 4 cups of water, salt and turmeric in a pressure cooker, cover with a lid and put pressure weight in place.
Cook on medium-high heat until pressure develops. Reduce heat and cook under pressure for 15 minutes. Cool until pressure is removed. Open the lid carefully. Check for desired consistency and whisk as mentioned above. Return to the stove.)
Add chopped bottle gourd or celery and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes until the vegetable is tender.
To prepare chounk (seasoning): In a small fry pan, heat oil to near smoking point. Add asafetida and cumin seeds and cook for a few seconds until cumin seeds are golden brown. Add chounk to the dal.
Remove from the heat, add lemon juice and stir. Transfer to a serving dish.
MAKES 8 (1/2 CUP) SERVINGS
Calories: 100; Carbohydrate: 15 g; Fat: 0 g; Sat fat: 0 g; Chol: 2 mg; Dietary fiber: 7 g; Protein: 5 g;
Sodium: 299 mg
Recipe from New Indian Home Cooking