Give me Red!!! - A greens story !
Isn’t it funny that when we left India, we thought we had packed all that we could in our four suitcases… Amma, we get everything in the U.S…No, I don’t need the pickles…I know you make the best puli-inji curry and I am tired of your bragging but I can’t take it through customs…Yes, we get curry leaves – you don’t have to powder it for me…don’t worry, we will be fine’
And then late in an afternoon you sit back, relax and are either watching TV or reading a magazine, when out of nowhere a remark made by someone about the taste of kapaa with kandhari chutney…or jackfruit payasam…or ripe mango slices – just makes your mouth water. For an instant you are lost and you actually picture yourself in the kitchen with your mom serving you the dish!!!
How many of you have been through this ordeal??? – I would like to hear your cravings – let us see who misses India the most?
There was a time when I used to similarly crave for something as simple as ‘Red cheera’ (Red greens). The very memory of my food turning red when mixed with the cheera thoran and the taste with a spoon of ghee would drive me crazy. Nirmal, however adapted well to the U.S varieties and so was comfortable with all varieties of greens. So I ended up using spinach, collard greens, methi, drumstick leaves etc to cook cheera thoran for him. But I was never satisfied.
And then during pregnancy, the cravings got worst. Anybody who knew me in Orlando was required to keep a lookout for ‘Red cheera’. Finally a family friend of ours got some seeds from India, planted the seeds in their backyard and grew the plant for me. I finally got to make my ‘Red cheera’ thoran in Orlando – it was so sweet of them. I however told them they had to work on their timing the next time – it was a full 2 months after my pregnancy that I got the Cheera!!!
However, did the craving just go away – NO WAY!!!
So here I am in Atlanta, shopping at the farmers market and we chance upon ‘Swiss Chard’ a beet family vegetable with green leaves and red stalk. For all those ‘red cheera’ lovers out there, you have to believe me when I say that ‘Swiss Chard’ is the closest you can get to the kerala red cheera taste.
You can never take my word for it, can you? – So try this recipe…it will rock you back to your mom’s kitchen.
- Swiss chard - 3 stalks
- Tur dal - 1/2 cup
- Grated coconut - 1/4 cup ( 2 hands full )
- Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
- Chilli powder - 1 tsp
- Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
- Tomato - 1 small
- Oil - 2 tsp
- Dried red cillis - 1
- Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
- Curry leaves - 1 spring
- Salt - to taste
- Wash and pressure cook the dal . Make sure it is not over cooked.
- Chop the swiss chard finely. Boil the swiss chard and chopped tomatos along with dal and salt.
- Grind together coconut ,cumin seeds ,chilli powder and turmeric powder. Add this to the dal-swiss chard mixture and cook till done.
- Heat the oil in a small pan and splutter mustard seeds .Add red cilli and curry leaves to the oil and pour it on top of the curry. Serve hot wit rice/roti.