Saturday, July 8, 2017

Kohlrabi and Peas

There are a bunch of vegetables that are not so popular in the growing season.  I come across pattypan squash, red spring onions, pak choy and a few knobs of kohlrabi. Part of someone's CSA, this week's basket is donated to our soup kitchen. As the vegetables are washed, we play a guessing game, trying to name the assorted bounty. The kitchen squad knows our veggies but the salad staff is flummoxed. 

Kohlrabi or knolkol as it is known in India, is rather bland. It takes on the flavor and spices it is cooked with. Part of the turnip family, it has the same crisp crunch as a turnip or radish. Unlike a radish, it cannot be eaten raw. I decide to use it two ways, as my knolkol is immense. The tough skin is discarded. The leaves are saved for soup. I cut it into big and small pieces. Big chunks go into a Kashmiri mutton curry. The small chunks leave me in a quandary. Since the curry has some, will a side of kohlrabi be too much?? Will I ever shrink from another veggie at my table? No. Never.

I make a coarse paste of garlic, ginger, green chiles and cilantro. Mustard seeds and curry leaves splutter in hot oil. The green paste is sauteed for a few minutes. In go the knolkol cubes, salt and water. Covered, they steam cook for ten minutes till almost done. A handful of frozen peas are added. A little lime juice and a smidgen of sugar enhance the veggies. And off to the table it goes. Sorry folks, no pictures. This post is an afterthought, penned once a delectable aroma envelops the kitchen.

Serves 4

2 medium Kohlrabi
1 cup frozen Peas
4 Garlic cloves
2 1/2 inch Ginger slices
2-3 Green Chiles
1 cup Cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons Canola Oil 
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
5-6 Curry leaves
1/2 teaspoon Kosher Salt 
2 tablespoons Lime juice
1 teaspoon Sugar

Chop off the root end of the kohlrabi. Cut away the tough rind of the kohlrabi. Chop it in half. Cut into thick slices and then into small half inch chunks. The smaller the chunks, the faster they will cook.

Peel the garlic clove and remove the skin from ginger slices. Cut chiles into small chunks. 

Place garlic, ginger, chiles and cilantro in a blender or processor. Or in a mortar and pestle. Do not add water. Grind or pound till you have a coarse paste. This happens very quickly in the machines. But pounding it gives you better feel for the texture. I prefer a mortar and pestle as it lets me have more control over the texture.

Heat oil in a saucepan. 

When hot, add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Let seeds pop and splutter a few seconds.

Add paste to oil and saute for a few minutes till you can get a fragrant aroma.

Drop kohlrabi chunks into saucepan.

Season with salt.

Add 3/4 cup water to pan and cover with a lid.

Let kohlrabi cook for 10-12 minutes till almost done. Add more water if needed.

Add peas to kohlrabi. Cover pan for a few minutes till peas have cooked.

Stir in lime juice and sugar.

Mix and serve hot as an accompaniment.

Life is stranger than fiction. Weird and wonderful veggies provide unexpected flavors. One family's lost bounty is another person's culinary fortune...yes friends..take my word for it...kohlrabi is the fortuitous treasure.