It's been pretty crazy around here lately, perhaps a bit crazier than usual and there have been times when I've found myself with a whip and a chair in the center ring of the Crazy Circus. As I mentioned last post, I'm doing a mild chemo mixed with a targeted biologic to turn off my mutant gene which means I'll not be joining the rest of the X Men on their latest adventure. I am however back writing, running, and cooking Indian food. My schedule is pretty busy as I get my gene therapy once a week for the next 12 weeks so I'm busy looking for easy, fast, and healthy stuff I can throw at everybody. I also get bored eating the same old stuff which is one of the reasons I started cooking Indian food 25 years ago. This is one cuisine that never seems to come to an end. It's constantly growing and evolving and there's always something new to try. Of course what's new to me isn't always new to everybody else, and I learned that this week about Sumac. It seems I was behind the door when they handed out the sumac info, but I'm catching up and fast thanks to Whole Foods who contacted me last week and invited me to explore some of their new products and see what I could make of them, related to Indian food.
I must confess that I cover most of our household food needs between the Organic Farmers Market we have here once a week in Sonoma, Whole Foods, and various farm and ranch stands. We're lucky to live here so close to good, fresh, organically grown stuff and boy I'm grateful for that. The Indian and Cambodian markets I shop at are a 50 mile round trip so that doesn't happen too often which is why I've put in the 7 raised growing beds at the new house. It makes getting my mitts on bitter melon, Chinese long beans and bottle gourd a lot easier. But, there's more to life than bitter melon and when I found out the sort of stuff I was going to be able to experiment with I was in! So, on Friday I was delighted to find a box of goodies from Whole Foods on my doorstep full of new stuff to play with. One of the first things that intrigued me was Sumac.
Now if you click on that link above, you'll see the origins of this lemony spice and read about how it's a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine. Sumac seems to be the little spice that can, it's a rub, it's a juice, it's versatile and delicious. It's lemony salty flavor makes it an excellent substitute for those ingredients in dishes, and in the Indian kitchen I'd compare it to tamarind.
So I got some sumac.....now what? Friday was a busy day, running around, doing errands etc. What could I whip up fast as a snack to keep everybody happy? One "go to" thing around here are fries. Actually sweet potato fries. And to be more accurate not actually fried either but baked in the oven. So healthier fries. Anybody who comes into our kitchen gives me grief about all the potatoes and sweet potatoes and yams I've got. I guess I'm a bit of a collector but hell everybody should have a hobby!
So I'd heard that sumac sprinkled on potatoes rock, so why not try that? But what to serve with those sweet potatoes to round things out? A dip, a sauce, a hummus???? Actually I settled on a blend of chickpeas (chola) and spinach (saag) from Manjula Jain
This chickpea and spinach blend was light, easy to prepare, and delicious. All you need are some basic ingredients and a food processor or blender. It also worked like gangbusters with the sweet potato fries.
Oven Fried Sweet Potatoes With Sumac and Chickpea Spinach Hummus
Here's What You Need:
2 large sweet potatoes
2 Tbs vegetable oil or oliove oil
Salt to taste
2 or 3 pinches of sumac
1 can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas) If you don't have time to soak and cook your own beans this is fast fast fast.
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup of fresh spinach
2 Tbs toasted sesame seeds
1 and 1/2 tsp salt
1 or 2 chopped serrano chilies (depends how hot you want this stuff)
2 Tbs lemon juice.
Here's What To Do:
Peel and cut your sweet potatoes into long strips (french fry or steak fry cut).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
toss the potato strips in a bowl with the vegetable or olive oil and salt.
When they're coated, put them on a baking sheet and pop them into the oven for 15 minutes.
Have your sumac ready.
Turn the potatoes after 15 minutes and bake them another 15 minutes or until they're crispy and browned.
Meanwhile make your hummus.
Place the sesame seeds into a pan and dry toast them on top of the stove.
When they're lightly browned, they're done. Set them aside.
Rinse and drain a can of garbanzo beans.
Make sure the beans are well rinsed with cool water.
Place the beans in a food processor.
Add in the spinach...
...toasted sesame seeds...
...chopped serrano chilies...
Blend it all together.
Then add in the olive oil.
Blend it again to mix it well, and you're done.
When the fries are ready, take them out of the oven and sprinkle them with several pinches of sumac.
Serve them up.
Dip and enjoy.
There you go! That was totally easy, and good for everybody. Sumac is also a great spice to use on cooked, meats, fish you name it, but as this is Meatless Monday, what could be better than sweet potatoes?
I'm going to be announcing the winner of the GitaDini idili molds in a couple of days so if you want in on that, just leave a comment here. Meanwhile, more new tastes are coming courtesy of Whole Foods and a few interesting take on Indian cooking. Follow along on Twitter @kathygori