When I was a kid, maybe around 9 or 10, I had fish. I don’t remember it being particularly exciting or complicated, but I spoke to my mom recently and it turns out her brother had fish growing up. So maybe she had absorbed a lot of his knowledge and knew where to start. Actually, now that I think about it, an even better explanation is that she did not have the internet and therefore felt no urge to start googling aquariums, resulting in getting blasted with an overabundance of information.
Which might be what happened to me the other day.
We promised Alex an aquarium for her 8th birthday. If I am 100% honest (and I hope John isn’t reading this) I might have encouraged the idea because I loved having fish. Yesterday (after throwing my hands up in the air from too much internet advice), we finally made a trip to the pet store to get the aquarium. It is requiring a stand, so John is putting that together today. I asked my mom, and apparently my fish adventure started with winning a goldfish at a local festival, so my fish experience was a gradual one, rather than investing in the whole tropical she-bang right from the get-go. But I refuse to stick a goldfish in a bowl, so 20 gallon aquarium it is. Stay tuned for pictures and reports on this experiment as it progresses.
What does this have to do with Indian Inspired Hash of Midwestern Garden Veggies? Nothing, other than both had to wait for getting home from the beach. The aquarium for obvious reasons, and the hash because my family is not the most adventuresome when it comes to Indian flavors. So I always come home from the beach craving Indian spices. And, for that matter, after my brother bringing his grill this year to the beach, we also came home craving vegetarian meals.
A little later in the summer this dish might have included zucchini, which I did not see at my local farmer’s market last weekend (I think it was there this weekend though). It was the corn and potatoes I was especially excited about. Fresh, locally grown sweet corn and potatoes are 2 of the best things about summer. I would eat them all season long at every meal if they were better for me. Speaking of health, I boosted the healthiness of this meal by adding a lot of lentils, some chickpeas, cauliflower and fresh (also local) tomatoes. If cilantro had not required a second, separate grocery store trip, I would have added it to the meal as well.
- 2-4 T vegetable oil
- 4 t dark mustard seeds
- 4 t cumin seeds
- 2 large red onions, thinly sliced
- 2-3 T minced garlic
- 2 t chaat masala
- 1 t Ceylon cinnamon
- 1 T amchur
- 1 t tart cherry powder, if you have it (or pomegranate seeds or even 1 T lemon juice)
- salt to taste
- ½ t turmeric
- 1 t paprika
- 1 cup dried green lentils, cooked to al dente
- kernels cut off from 4 cobs of corn, cooked to al dente
- 6 medium-small potatoes, thin skinned, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 2-3 T water
- 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 2-3 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved, or small romas, cut into rounds
- 2 T chopped mint
- chopped cilantro, optional (I did not have but would use next time)
- 2-4 t chaat masala, to taste
- While you are prepping the veggies, cook the potatoes, lentils and corn to al dente and then drain.
- Heat the vegetable oil on medium high in a large saute pan or Dutch oven with the mustard seeds. Cover with a lid to prevent the popping mustard seeds from escaping. When the popping slows, add the cumin seeds. Roast in the oil until darkened and fragrant, but do not let burn.
- Add the onions when the cumin seeds have darkened. Add a pinch of salt and toss. Let cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are caramelized, about 20 minutes. If they start to scorch add a splash of water.
- Add the garlic. Cook for one minute.
- Add the 2 teaspoons of chaat masala, cinnamon, amchur, turmeric, paprika and tart cherry powder (or another souring agent such as pomegranate seeds or lemon juice). Add another pinch of salt.
- Stir and cook for one minute.
- Add the cooked potatoes, lentils and corn, along with the cauliflower. Add the water and place a lid over the pan. Turn heat to medium. Let the cauliflower steam cook for 10 minutes.
- Add the chickpeas with a pinch of salt. Toss. Taste for doneness. If the vegetables are as tender as you would like them, add more chaat masala to taste. Once you have the taste where you like it, turn off the heat and toss in the tomatoes and mint. Serve warm.