Indian-Spiced Cabbage and Onions

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I have found the best ways to interact with neighbors all center around food.

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For example, when I was really little we lived on the bottom floor and my cousins lived right above us in a duplex. Apparently, as a robust three-year-old, I would eat dinner at home and then go upstairs for round two. Very convenient. Also good to know old habits die hard.

wpid460-IndianCabbage-2.jpgIn my last apartment, there was the surprise (shirtless) visitor from downstairs, who emphatically asked if we wanted a gallon of kombucha, since he had just made way too much, oh, and hey we also made some blackberry jam, want some? (Uh, yesplease.)

wpid462-IndianCabbage-3.jpgwpid464-IndianCabbage-4.jpgOh, and once, in a fit of panic, I went around and knocked on all 3 doors of my old building to see if anyone, legit, had a half cup of milk for a cake I was baking. The dingy downstairs boys indeed did, and, after enduring a brief jam session I was invited to witness, were rewarded with cake the next day.

wpid466-IndianCabbage-5.jpgIn my new place, the basement of a brownstone with a family living upstairs, surprise shirtless visitors will be few and far between (I hope) (unless its a toddler). BUT we do share a corridor with the family and at in impromptu hallway meetup the other morning, our new neighbor asked if we were cooking something incredible last night.

wpid474-IndianCabbage-9.jpgYes, yes we were. It was cabbage. And onions. And it smelled like you were transported to the homiest of loving homes in Delhi and sat down for a legitimate feast. Onions, cumin, ginger, and turmeric. The humblest of ingredients create the most irresistible wafting aromas.

wpid470-IndianCabbage-7.jpgOh! And! My old roommate found the cookbook this recipe came from on this side of the street and thought I’d like it. Full Circle.

Indian-Spiced Cabbage and Onions

adapted the smallest bit from Madhur Jaffrey: An Invitation to Indian Cooking

7 T canola oil, divided
½ t whole cumin seeds
½ t whole fennel seeds
½ t whole brown mustard seeds
2 onions, divided
½ a large red cabbage, sliced as thin as possible
2-3 large collard green leaves, sliced into ribbons (optional)
1 t chopped celery leaves (I used this as a sub for whole fenugreek seeds)
2 whole canned tomatoes and their juices
fresh ginger, about 1 inch by 1.5 inches, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ a jalapeno or ¼ a long hot pepper, some seeds removed, thinly sliced in rounds
½ t turmeric
1 T lemon juice
1 t salt
1 t garam masala
Greek yogurt, to serve
rice, to serve

Heat 4 T oil over high heat in a very large pan. Add cumin, fennel, and mustard seeds. Stir frequently for about 30 seconds to a minute, until mustard seeds start to pop. Turn heat to medium and add one and a half onions, sliced (save the last half onion for later.) Cook for 5 minutes.

Next, add cabbage, collards leaves, and celery leaves. It will seem like there is WAY too much cabbage but stir lovingly and be patient, and cabbage will wilt astonishingly. Don’t be afraid to sacrfice a couple cabbage strands in the process. Cover, turn to low, and cook for 15 minutes. After this, take off the cover and cook for another half an hour.

Meanwhile, blend canned tomatoes + their juices, ginger, garlic, and the reserved half onion using an immersion blender (or a legit one).

Heat 3 T oil in a small skillet on high heat. Add blendered spice paste, spicy pepper slices, and turmeric. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and your neighbor texts to ask if they can come over for dinner.

Once cabbage has cooked for 30 minutes, add thickened spice paste, lemon juice, salt, and garam masala. Stir together well and cook for an additional five minutes to let flavors meld. Spoon over rice, add a dollop of yogurt, and enjoy! I added some quick pan-fried tofu just to make it more of a complete meal, but it was totally unnecessary. Leftovers were AMAZING.

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Cheesy Bulgur Risotto with Broccoli and Tomatoes

CheesyBrocBulgurRisotto-3Home is colors and clutter, memories and fantasies. A place to be proud of, to share, to embrace.

Well-read books and paged-through magazines and background music and postcards and leftovers and clean laundry and dirty laundry and scarves and beer and nail polish and lost pennies.

This is home. Not a specific bed, or room, or apartment, or neighborhood.

A feeling, a net, a hug, a soup, a warm shower.

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Changing all that isn’t easy. You can’t just plop a whole van’s worth of boxes and drawers into a different set of walls and expect it to transform.

This time I felt like the luckiest person in the world–moving into a place I already felt quite homey in, with a loving and fantastic person who had already prepared for this transition by buying extra storage boxes, reorganizing furniture, and, thankfully, not even asking me if I wanted to drive the van.

And here we are, a few days later, boxes still scattered and corners still cluttered but I look around while drinking a glass of wine from my vantage point on the couch and see the flowery potholders my mom bought me years ago hanging above the stove, and the elephant hooks I acquired in Nepal already overflowing with scarves, and our reordered dressers so they both fit snugly against the same wall, and I know I’m home.

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And seriously what better way to celebrate that than a reimagining of a homey meal I had growing up: broccoli and cheesy rice casserole. I’m not the biggest fan of broccoli, but cheddar always makes it shine, and the fractal (romanesco) version at least provides visual excitement. I’m having a bulgur wheat moment, as it has recently appeared as a nutty-and-crunchy sub for rice in this risotto, and as a hearty wholesome addition to a salad with apple, radish, quick pickled red onions, cilantro, and poppy seeds. I wonder if in 20 years “risotto” will sound to my children like “casserole” sounds to my generation, but for now it’s a pretty good excuse to combine grains, cheese, and veggies into a quick and delicious one-pot dinner.

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Guys I know these pictures are a bit subpar but a) make this because it’s seriously delicious and b) it’s the last time you’ll see this bowl in a post since it lived at the old apartment

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apple, radish, pickled red onion, bulgur salad. recipe from plenty more!

 

 

Cheesy Bulgur Risotto with Broccoli and Tomatoes

created by me!

1 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped small
1 large (or 2 small) garlic cloves, minced
1-2 scallions, minced (white and light green parts only)
1 spicy green chile pepper, some seeds removed, chopped small (I used 1/2 a long hot but 1 jalapeno would work too)
1 cup coarse bulgur
1 cup vegetable broth
2 cups water, divided
1 large broccoli, cut into florets (I used some romanesco) (and took a lot of pictures of it)
1 tomato, roughly chopped
½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
small handful coarsely chopped parsley
s&p to taste

In a medium-to-large pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chopped onion, scallion, garlic, and spicy pepper. Heat until soft, translucent, and smelling good, about 8 minutes.

Lower heat to medium and add bulgur. Toast, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Then, add broth, 1 cup water, and big pinch of salt. Turn heat to high until it boils, then cover and turn heat to low.

Simmer for 10 min. At this point, most of the liquid should be absorbed. Add 1 more cup water (or broth) and broccoli florets. Cover again. 5 minutes later, broccoli should have started turning bright green. Add your chopped tomato and all its juices. If necessary, add more water at this point too. Cover, but leave lid open a crack.

Risotto should be done about 5 minutes later–the tomatoes will be disintegrated, the bulgur chewy, the brocolli cooked through but still crunchy. Add cheddar, parsley, and s&p and serve immediately.

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boxes boxes boxes