This is one of a series of posts for Vegan MoFo 2010; my theme was a 'Virtual Random Road Trip', where I used random.org's random geographic location generator to select locations around the globe, I then attempted to cook a few dishes from the traditional cuisine of that place. I didn't have a lot of time between generating the locations and coming up with recipes (~ 1 day). So, lacking time to do proper research, I can't vouch for the authenticity of anything I came up with. However, they are what they are, and it was a fun theme.
The road trip has fizzled out a bit over the last week or so, but I wanted to put up one last post in honor of wrapping up VeganMoFo. The last locale for the road trip turned out to be Bangladesh, so here's my shot at a couple of recipes I found on this Bangladeshi cooking site.
The first recipe that caught my eye was a green banana curry. As with the green mango recipes, I can't say whether the plaintains I used are the same variety of hard, cooking banana that would be traditional, but at least these plaintains were truly green, and I think, probably similar in texture starch content to ones used in that part of the world.
Kanchkolar Dom or Green Banana Curry from Bengali Cooking Recipes(Serves 6)
4 green/unripe plantains, peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 green chilis, chopped (I used green serrano chilis)
2 potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 small or 1 large onion, minced
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon.1-2 tablespoons cooking oil as needed/or desired
1/4 teasoon ground cardamon1 tablespoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoon sugar or other sweetner of choice2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt to taste
In a sauce pan add two cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric, and the plantain slices, bring to a boil and allow to cook for ~5+ minutes. (I boiled mine for ~ 7-8 minutes). Drain the plantains and pan fry in ~ 1 tablespoon oil/or use a non-stick pan w/o oil, unitil the plantain slices are browned on both sides.
While the plantain slices are browning, parboil the potatoes in salted water until somewhat tender, but not cooked all the way ~ 6-8 minutes. (Alternately, you could process the potatoes along with the plantain, but keep in mind that depending on how big your potato slices are, the plantain will probably take a little longer to cook.)
When the plantains are brown, remove from pan and set aside. In same pan with remaining oil, or a touch more if there's none left, add cumin seeds, onion, green chilis, cinnamon, and cardamon and allow them to saute over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add the potatoes and saute for another few minutes. Finally, add the plantain back in with the lemon juice, sweetener, and 1/2 cup of water, bring to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook for another ~ 5 minutes. Add salt to taste.
The starch from the potatoes and the plantain should help thicken the broth. (Use more water for more broth if desired.)
An easy way to peel the tough skin from the unripe plantain is to cut the ends off, slice through the skin lengthwise and then pry the skin off slowly by running your fingers underneath the skin. (I hope that doesn't sound x-rated or anything.)
I was tempted to add coconut milk to this, but didn't in order to keep with the original recipe. The dish is quite pretty because the turmeric turns the plantains a lovely yellow hue. It is nicely spiced, and I especially like the lemon juice added at the end.
The second dish I made is called Shukta Vegetable with Lentil. The recipe calls for a lauo (or lau), which is bottle gourd. Bottle gourd is a squash/or melon (whatever you want to call it)...a curcubit at any rate that is described as having a light green skin with white flesh inside. Harvested young, it is used as a vegetable. Harvested when mature and dried, they can be used as bowls or bottles. (Very cool, I totally want some gourd bowls now.)
Well, it probably won't come as a surprise, but I did not use bottle gourd. It's not generally available in my local grocery, and I will admit that I'm a bit lazy when it comes to sourcing ingredients. Instead, I used another member of the curcubit family: chayote, which is like bottle gourd in so far as it has a green skin and white flesh inside...outside of that, I do not have a clue as to how they might compare.
I had never tried chayote before, and didn't actually buy it specifically for this recipe. But rather, I bought a couple a few weeks ago after being inspired by Zoa's cool post on this squash earlier this month. With no bottle gourd around, I figured what the hey, let's give the chayote a try.
Shukta Vegetable with Lentil from Bengali Cooking Recipes
1 lb lauo/bottle gourd (I used 2 chayote squash (unpeeled)), cut into 1/2-inch peices
1/2 cup dry mung beans
1 cup green peas, (not dried)
1 teaspoon sugar or other sweetener of choice1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
salt to taste
In a sauce pan over medium-low, dry roast the mung beans slightly (~1 minute). Now add the ginger and turmeric, salt and 2 cups of water, cover and cook over medium-high until mung beans are tender. About halfway through cooking, add in the chayote pieces. When the mung beans and squash are tender, toss in the peas, the sweetener, and cilantro and cook for another minute or so.
When you are ready to serve, heat the oil in a separate pan, add the mustard seeds and stir quickly. Remove from heat and pour cooked vegetables/mung beans in the oil and stir through.
(Note: the original recipe says to add the bottle gourd in at the beginning and cook it with the mung beans the whole time, but I wasn't sure whether the gourd might be a little harder than the chayote, so I added it in later, probably ~10 minutes before the mung beans were done.)
Both dishes were tasty, especially with a little Frank's Red Hot sprinkled over the top.
And finally, this is more of an aside, but I wanted to quickly mention Panch Phoron, or Bengali 5-spice (panch=five, phoron=flavor). I thought I would use it for this destination, but as it turned out, none of the recipes I ended up making called for it. It consists of fenugreek, anise, nigella, mustard (some sources call for yellow mustard, some for brown), and cumin. It can be used to aromatize oil, or stewed into dals and other dishes. The overall flavor is a little bittersweet, a little licorice-y, and I think it looks pretty.
So there you have it. This random road trip has come to its end. I had a great time and learned a lot from trying new (to me) recipes from other countries and veganizing them. Although, I didn't get to many destinations, I think Algeria and Hungary were my favorites.
I didn't get to read nearly as many blogs as I would have liked either, but I intend to keep perusing the blog roll at over at Vegan MoFo HQ throughout the year to come. There are so many great blogs out there, in MoFo land and beyond!
Bye, bye Vegan MoFo, until next year! Thanks for all the great blogging and good luck to all MoFoers everywhere! And to all vegan bloggers in general (MoFo or not): you guys rock my world! --Love Central--
Finally, *thank you most sincerely* to everyone who came along on the road trip...I really appreciated your company, humor, wisdom, and fun comments!
So long, farewell, and adieu to yieu, and yieu, and yeiu in the languages from the road trip along the way:
Catch ya later
Aabar dekha hobe