Green Starters:Pickings of the Season

-Brian Whyte Sing

With the advent of Indrajatra, Dashain, and eventually Tihar, and with the monsoon humidity in recession, the lean offerings of vegetables and fruits are giving way to a harvest of limes, lemons, citrus fruits, aubergines, and green leafy vegetables that once more make their much awaited appearance on the vegetable stalls of the valley.


Potato Latkes
Quick and easy entertaining: wash, peel, and grate potatoes, mix in some timur-chhop. Heat oil in a small tapke or frying pan, add enough grated potato to spread over the bottom, and fry till crisp, turning when one side is done. On its own, this is good, but top with a fried egg and it makes for a great breakfast dish or snack.

Uppuma, Quick and Easy for that Unexpected Guest
Peel and finely dice one carrot; string some French beans and chop finely, mince half; and onion, green chillies, minced capsicum, a couple of cloves of garlic.

Heat oil in a kadai or wok; add a few curry leaves, then the carrot and beans, garlic, and green chillies. Add turmeric, about 1 teaspoon. Saute for about 3 minutes before adding suji. Fry a while before adding coconut milk, kept ready on the side. You may use the canned ones but I prefer to use the Thai powder dissolved in a little warm water. Keep adding water, stirring all the time, till the suji grains disappear into a paste. Fold in the chopped capsicum and onions and season with salt. Serve immediately.

Lemon Dessert Cups
Limes and lemons are aplenty and here’s an idea to stun your guests with an exotic dessert. Select medium sized yellow lemons, wash well, cut in half, and squeeze the juice. Reserve the juice, and scooping out the pith in the shell, discard this and place the shells in a pot of cold water. Bring to the boil, drain, add more cold water, and repeat at least 3 times—this will remove the bitter taste of the peel. Make up a syrup of sugar and water (1 cup water to 1/2 cup sugar), add cinnamon bark if you wish, and boil till the peel absorbs the syrup.

Remove, drain, and stand to dry in a discarded egg tray, allowing time for it to cool completely. While this is happening, whip one egg into the reserved juice, add sugar to taste and a tablespoon of butter, and over a low fire, whisk till well blended. To thicken quickly, add some vanilla custard powder dissolved in cold water, and blend into the lemon juice mixture. Stir till it thickens to a setting point but not too hard. Into the cold ‘cups’, pour the lemon custard, whisking if it cools too quickly, and allow to set in the shells. Refrigerate. To serve, whip some cream, place a dollop in the center of the cup, garnish with a mint leaf. If chocolate is your hang-up, you might spread a little chocolate sauce on the bottom of the serving plate and place the cup on it.

P.S. This works with tangerines (suntala), jameer, and other citrus fruits though I do not suggest pomelo!

Green Crepes
Your choice of ‘saag’; wash, clean, and pick them off the stems, saut in a little oil till tender, then pulverize in a blender or chop very finely. Make up your batter for crepes: whisk two eggs with a cup of milk, 2/3 cup of flour, pinch of salt, and 1 /2tsp vegetable oil, and then blend in the chopped/pulverized greens. Correct seasoning and let stand for an hour. Grease a frying pan; I dip a piece of kitchen paper or tissue into a bowl of oil and wipe the frying pan. Ladle in enough batter and swirl to cover the base of the pan. Pour off the remainder. The crepe is ready when the sides leave the edge of the pan. Lift carefully and gently take out, and stack on a platter.

These may be eaten with a spread of butter but can be filled with your choice of a filling—egg salad, scrambled eggs, tuna mayonnaise, or grated paneer sauted with a little onion, garlic, dash of pepper, and so on.

Brian is a tourism consultant and an avid cook. He makes and sells varieties of pickles, jams, jellies, and marmalades all prepared at his home. He can be contacted at whyte.brian@gmail.com or 98101056094, 9851056094

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