Usually I like to buy my vegetables at the Farmers Market and since I cook a big lunch nearly every day (it's our main meal) I work my way through what I've got until the next farmers market a few days later. Once in a while however one thing or another happens and I get behind on my vegetables and therefore have got some extras that are begging to be used. This happened last week when I couldn't bring myself to dispose of perfectly good vegetables and I also couldn't bring myself to buy new ones, but I knew I'd need to.
My solution, a clean out the fridge vegetable stew.
Normally I'm suspicious of pull out the stops, empty the fridge/cupboard cooking, maybe because I remember those sorts of "specials" on the family table as a kid. You know, waffles made with 7 UP ,or strange things done with hot dogs and dried soup mix??? Usually they sucked to put it poetically. But there I was last week, with not enough of any one thing to make a single dish and too much of a bunch of stuff. What to do?? Here's what I did.
I had a bag of Punjabi Badi (sometimes spelled wadi) in my cupboard. I usually do. These dried nuggets of spicy dried dal function as a sort of Indian style crouton..but not exactly. Badi/Wadi are pretty easy to make, dal and spices set out to rise in a batter and then sun dry. Chip away at them, turn them into nuggety dumplings and store for whenever you want some extra crunch and bite. It's even easier to buy them if you have access to a good brick and mortar or online Indian grocery.
So I've got my bag of badi, a few green serrano chilies, a rapidly aging eggplant, a couple of small yellow crook necked squash, and handful of multicolored tiny heirloom potatoes, (red, purple and white) a tomato or two and some peas, and half a can of coconut milk left over from yesterdays lunch.
1.) cut a small eggplant up into 1 inch chunks and steam it until it was tender. (about 15 minutes)
2.) malleted Punjabi Badi pieces until you have about 1/2 cup
3.) In a deep skillet, (I used my Karhai) heat 2 Tbs of oil and 2 Tbs of unsalted butter
4.) When the oil/butter is hot toss in your crumbled Badi and stir fry them till they turn a bit dark
5.) Then add about 3 small yellow squash, zucchini whatever you might have on hand
6.) A few very small fingerling potatoes cut into thin slices
7.) two whole green serrano chilis
8.) 1 one inch piece of cinnamon stick
Stir it all around till the potato pieces start to turn color and the squash starts to soften a bit then
9.) add in your steamed eggplant and
10.) Some chopped tomato
11.) 2 Tbs of chopped fresh mint
12.) 2 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro
13.) 1/2 cup of coconut milk
Stir then cover and reduce heat. Simmer till all the vegetables are cooked through and the coconut milk is absorbed into a thick sauce. about 20 minutes.
Finally add in
14.) 1 tsp of salt, sprinkle with a bit more chopped cilantro and serve.
I served this as a vegetable side dish for lunch on Friday but truth be told it could easily have been an entree with some rice and chapatti. The badi had semi-dissolved and mingled with the coconut milk to make a spicy gravy. We actually had enough left over to give some take away to a friend. What I learned from this is that coconut milk is a great substitute for milk or 1/2 and half which the dish originally called for and once again, vegetables are the character actors of the kitchen and almost any of them can fit into almost any production. It all depends on what's available.