It has been well over a week since I've last cooked and quite some time I've been eating heavy French food several evenings in a row. At first it's nice to be pampered and invited.. but in the end, it's torture to not be able to help out in the kitchen or completely create the menu.. or even add a touch of ginger or chile! This type of abstinence makes me naturally inclined to my own version of "home-style" food.
Lucky for me, my family "home-style" is transcontinental, so I have a plethora of choices and cravings depending on the time of day, season, or weekly events.
Since I was able to sneak a peek of Cambodian/Chinese food at my all-time favorite place, the Angkor, I was craving Ba's (grandma) food.
The first thing I did upon arriving was to soak some green and red lentils while I returned the rental car.
Then I naturally started grating carrots and cabbage, letting my Ba's energy flow through me as I remember feeling when eating her food. It usually included cabbage and peas with black mustard seeds, or sometimes potatoes and cauliflower in a similar seasoning. Of course, all of this was accompanied by an okra main dish with a daal side, some fresh rotis with ghee, and some tainted yellow rice once you thought you were finished.
I don't know if I love to eat this way because of my genetics or because of the fond warm memory it awakens within me, but what I do know is that it is the best way to replenish my depleted nutrients after a week-long out-of-the-kitchen business trip.
Serves 3-4 as a side
2 Tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric
pinch hing (asafoetida)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1-2 green chiles, seeded and sliced
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 small red onion, sliced into moons (optional)
2 cups shredded cabbage
pinch fleur de sel
1. Heat the oil in a wok and add the cumin and mustard seeds. Cook until they sputter a bit.
2. Add the hing and turmeric. It should fizz and be sensually pleasing.
3. Add the carrots and chiles and stir-fry for about 40-60 seconds.
4. Add the peas and onion slices and cook for another 30 seconds, stirring.
5. Make space into the center of the wok and add the shredded cabbage. Spread so that it doesn't cook in a pile, but evenly.
6. Cook, stirring for another minute or 2.
Serve as a side in a "Welcome Home" thali.
I served mine alongside some Green Ki Dal and some basmati rice.
If I had had the time, I would have made some Rotis.. because nothing screams GUJU GIRL like rotis.
Wow I'm realizing I haven't done that in quite some time. I think I'll be taking advantage of this rainy weekend and abundant leftovers to do something productive with my fingers..