Thursday, 2 August 2012

Almond, asparagus and red cabbage subji (vegetarian main dish)

Almond, asparagus and red cabbage subji (vegetarian main dish)

In my eternal quest for high protein vegetarian dishes, I stumbled upon creating this one. 
What happened was that while grocery shopping, I was admiring the asparagus when I experienced the dimmest memory of buying asparagus the week before and leaving it in the bottom drawer of the fridge. 
Yikes, I didn’t buy any more, and instead hurried home to see if I had a droopy and mildewy mess to break my heart.
Luckily, the asparagus was just as perky as the week before, and anxious to be turned into something delish.  You can’t go wrong with almonds, and since I had a nice red cabbage on hand, I decided to try this:

The Masala
1 teaspoon cumin seed
¼ teaspoon black cumin seed
¼ teaspoon ajwain seed
3 cloves
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon fennel seed
2 green cardamom pods, bashed
3 pieces cassia bark
½ teaspoon coriander seed

½ teaspoon turmeric powder
½ teaspoon black salt
½ teaspoon amchur powder (powdered unripe mango)

¼ cup raw almonds
Gently roast the first group of ingredients in a large non-stick pan, on medium heat.  As soon as they darken slightly and give off a good fragrance, slide them into a spice grinder, along with the next three ingredients, and blend to a powder.  Add the almonds to the same pan, and roast till they’re slightly browned, shaking the pan often.  Slide them into the ground masala, and briefly grind to coarsely chop the almonds.  Set aside.

                                                                                                  The Rest
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
½ teaspoon dark mustard seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed
1 small red onion, halved and quartered, then sliced finely
1 inch ginger root, cut into matchsticks
3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
3 small chillies, finely diced
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
up to a half cup of cold water
2 cups red cabbage, finely sliced into bite size pieces
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends snapped off, cut into pieces

It's so gorgeous at this stage!
Heat the oil to medium high.  Add a few mustard seeds, and when they splutter, add them all.  Then add the cumin, then the onion and ginger, stirring to cool the pan.  Turn the heat down to medium and cook till the onion is transparent and golden. 
Add the garlic and chillies and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Add the masala and almond mixture, and stir.  The pan will be quite dry, so add the tomatoes, being sure to scrape the left over juice into the pan as well. 
Next toss in the cabbage.  If the mixture is really dry, add a bit of water, and cover.  After about five minutes, open and stir.  If more water is needed, go ahead and add it. 
Separate the asparagus pieces into stems and tips.  Add the stems, stir and cover.  Cook about five to seven minutes.  Toss the tips in at the last minute.  Stir and cook for less than two minutes, till tips turn green and are tender, but not limp. 

This could be a vegan dish if you served it as is.  It’s rare to find a vegan dish this luscious, but I didn’t quite manage the vegan angle as I served this with ghee kissed chappatties.  I suppose you could try making the chappatties without the ghee, but me, I don’t think I’m that virtuous.  You could serve this main vegetarian dish with rice, of course, or better yet, quinoa.  
When you have meals this rich and tasty, healthy and easy, you will feel indulged.  Try it and let me know what you think!  Do you really need to be nibbling on some old carcass?  Really?  Opinions please!