Sunday, August 25, 2013

Bounty

At the big supermarket at Bathbatheni, where I was staying in Kathmandu, just over a fortnight ago, I noticed this colorful bag of nine kinds of beans. It's for Kwaati, a special dish prepared around the full moon in August when the monsoon ends. We've had no monsoon here in New York, but the moon was full a few nights ago and tonight's Sunday so I tried my hand at assembling a Nepali meal around it. The beans took some prep time - not only to soak, but they need to be sprouted before cooking - perhaps in evocation of the explosion of shoots and leaves ushered in by the monsoon. I gave them the better part of three days. They are then pressure cooked with cloves and bay leaf, ginger-garlic paste, onions, ground coriander and turmeric, then cooked with chopped tomatoes and assorted peppers, and served with tomato slices and cilantro.

To flesh out the meal I made some eggplant with fenugreek seeds, loosely following a recipe from my friends' cook (in fact, sizes and strengths of things vary so much it wound up being a distant cousin), sautéd chard, and - especially nice - a sort of achar of bitter gourd (bought especially for the occasion at Little India Stores in Curry Hill) with tomato, onion and lime juice. It all worked well, and worked well together, too! Beyond the pleasure of sharing some of the summer's bounty with my friends here, it's very satisfying to be cooking again.

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