Friday, November 13, 2009

Hold the Drumsticks! Hold the Turkey Too!

This is a weird time of the year to be talking about holding the drumsticks. Drumsticks seem to go together with Thanksgiving, which everyone in the US of A is frantically preparing, shopping and cooking for. As I discovered when I started cooking Indian food, there are other sorts of drumsticks. Drumsticks that any vegetarian would have no problem with. Because these drumsticks are a vegetable, otherwise known as Moringa Oleferia. It's a long ridged bean-type veggie and it's eaten as a lot of things are, in a lot of places, except here. When I talk about except here, I'm really talking about Sonoma where I live now.
Back in the day when I was full time In Los Angeles I was always shopping at a number of Indian Markets, buying spices, kitchen equipment and all the exotic vegetables I wanted as most of them were grown by local people. Long beans? Got em. Bitter Melon? Got it? Snake gourd? Got it? I could go on. Of course here in Sonoma there are many things that I couldn't find so easily down in LA. All sorts of local organic farms, for fruit, meat and vegetables all with in a stones throw. So, I can't complain too much.
We have one Indian market in the entire county which is a 50 mile round trip drive for us and there are also 3 other southeast Asian markets that I shop at, also a long haul. Whenever I'm in LA on business I'm always toting back everything I've been missing, and any studio meeting is always followed by a grocery shopping trip.
Among the things that I can't get up here are the aforementioned Drumsticks. I've been looking and am always promised..."next week....maybe" So, alas I can't show a drumstick here, but I can show a drumstick recipe and there's no better stand in for an original drumstick than a good old easy to find green bean.
Green beans are everywhere right now. It's one of the most popular dishes served on the Thanksgiving table. Green beans with browned butter and almonds, and who hasn't had green bean casserole with cream of mushroom soup mix right out of the can sprinkled with canned fried onion strings.....anyone? anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
This adaptation of an Indian dish by Atul Kochhar from his book, Indian Essence goes beyond Indian food and makes it all the way to the shores of Plymouth rock. And I promise no canned fried onion strings were used in the making of this dish!
Which brings me to what I call the non drumstick drumsticks with peas and potato.
1.) Clean and chop 1/2 lb of green beans into 1 inch pieces
2.) Cut 10 small fingerling potatoes into thin rounds
Meanwhile, in a spice grinder or processor mix
3.) 2/3 cup of grated dried unsweetened coconut
4.) 2 Tbs of chopped fresh cilantro
5.) 2 medium tomatoes
6.) 2 chopped shallots
7.) 2 tsp of sliced fresh ginger
8.) 1 Tbs of vegetable oil
9.) 1 tsp of Kashmiri chili powder substitute is 1/2 tsp cayenne powder mixed with 1/2 tsp paprika
10.) 1/2 tsp ground coriander
11.) 1/2 tsp ground cumin
12.) 1/2 tsp of turmeric
Grind all of this up until you have a nice thick paste.
Now, in a deep skillet or karhai heat
13.) 2 Tbs of oil
Toss in:
14.) 1 tsp of brown mustard seeds and
15.) 10 curry leaves
Saute these till the mustard seeds pop and everything is crackling. Then add in your spice paste and stir it all up.
16.) Cook it, stirring for about 3 minutes or so then Add in your green beans, and potatoes along with 7 Tbs of water and some salt to taste.
17.) Simmer the vegetables for about 20 minutes or until they're done.
18.) Add in 2/3 cup of frozen peas and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.
Serve this hot. It makes a great quick vegetarian lunch with chapattis, or you can serve it as a side with any meat or fish. In fact it might make its' way to your Thanksgiving table. You won't be sorry. Save the canned fried onion strings for another day, and give thanks you don't have to eat them.

Just a note
Go to my A Million Cooks Podcast Page and listen to my interview with JoAnn Cianciulli Author of The LA Farmers Market Cookbook from Chronicle Books. JoAnn co-created and produced Food Network shows such as Food 911 with Tyler Florence, co-authored cookbooks with world-renowned chefs like Michael Mina, and has served as an industry expert on shows including Bravo's Top Chef Masters. It was great fun talking to her and I'm going to be talking to more cookbook authors in the near future, so stay tuned to the podcasts.


  1. Gotta research that vegetable -- sounds like a good garden candidate. Never heard of it!

  2. It's definitely not common, but one can usually find it frozen at most Indian or South Asian markets..which is where I've been able to get it. Except when I can't.

  3. I may have to make this for T-Day. It is perfect for a vegan. Hey, bought Paula's new book. Going to cook out of it tomorrow!

  4. 'Except when I can't.'

    I love it! Know the feeling well. Those damn shopkeepers who never re-stock!

  5. @janis...remember to cook my 5 hour rice pudding when you have lots of time... look for me in the dessert chapter

  6. @mr. P...yes, the cupboards of our one Indian market are frequently bare..better luck at the south asian markets. Though they don't have everything. Since I like to cook a lot of South Indian dishes it does make it easier since a lot of the same ingredients are used.

  7. Kathy,
    The first thing I did was look up your recipe :--) Now you have to autograph for me!!!

  8. ha! next time you're out here drop by..or if i get out there...

  9. I am pretty fortunate here to have all those ingredients in abundance. Must so hard to just want a certain ingredient and it can't be found.

  10. I would like to have Thanksgiving at your house, please. Seriously.

  11. @tasty trix...ha ha! any time..I do the honors now every year since my mom hates to cook and we moved to Sonoma full time and we have the place that's big enough to have everybody..but there is no way they'd ever eat anything i post here. we're italian so if it's not italian they won't eat it. my mother does not trust me in the kitchen i think she thinks i'm trying to poison her, and my dad is the only one who loves what she cooks.

  12. Kathy & hubby are going to celebrate thanksgiving too! How nice. I think we celebrate almost every festivals over here in Malaysia. It's fun living in a multi racial country. In the past, when neighbours like Muslims or Indians sent sweets & goodies to us during festive celebration, in returns we'll give them a bowl of sugar(means wishing them happyness & sweetness!). But now we're returning red packets means wishing them luck & prosperous!

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