I've been absolutely loving the weather in Edmonton this summer. Its been in the low plus thirties all this week and its due to last into next week, and for me-from-the-tropics, its heavenly weather. The husband and kid complain that its too hot, but I tell them both to suck it up, cause I'd rather it be plus thirty than minus thirty.
All this beautiful weather has meant that the garden has been doing extremely well. We've had some nice rainy weather on a few days, and this has helped everything grow, and the sunshine means that fruits and vegetables are ripening up beautifully. I don't have much of a berry crop this year, as we onlt just planted our strawberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and raspberries, but my highbush cranberry bush has gazillions of berries on it, and I can't wait for them to ripen. The pin cherries only need a couple more days, and then... mmmm... pie.
So, Kay comes in with a boatload of beet greens one afternoon, and dumps them on my kitchen counter with a 'do something with these, will ya?'... and these guys were just the thinnings from the beets. Faced with a ton of greens, I did what any clever Indian daughter would. I turned to mama dearest :) My mum had passed on her recipe for 'fugath' (a type of dry curry from Goa/ Mangalore in which vegetables are sauteed with curry leaves, mustard seeds, garlic and finished with shredded coconut) and of course, this style of cooking is absolutely perfect for this kind of weather, as it takes less than 20 minutes.
A 'Fugath' or 'fugad'/ 'foogath' is synonymous with Goan and Mangalorean cooking. A classic way of cooking vegetables, it includes minimal preparation time, and was a godsend for busy women as they prepared an elaborate dinner of meats and side dishes. Most Goan households would have a very simple vegetable dish, as the majority of dinners revolved around meat and fish. Vegetables were almost an afterthought to these main courses, and were kept as simple as they could possibly be, without just being plain and boiled.
This is where fugaths came into their own. For their minimal list of ingredients, they pack a huge punch of flavour, and are perfect with their richer meat/ fish counterparts. Like I said above, this whole recipe takes me less than 20 minutes to make, and the amount of prep involved is practically nothing. The vegetables retain the majority of their nutrients, and the simple sauté means that the flavour of fresh vegetables really shines through. These dishes are not complicated, and the final addition of shredded coconut really adds a different element to them, lifting them above the ordinary into the really divine. For such a humble dish, the flavours really are extraordinary, and anyone who eats a fugath is always shocked at how simple and easy it is to make.
And the funniest comment of course is made by Kay, who tells me that this is the taste of India for him. The context being that, he, as a vegetarian, confuses the heck out of my very carnivorous family. So when there is a feast of meat, fish and other yummy stuff happening in India... all Kay gets is a fugath, seeing as my mum rarely had the time to make a separate dish for him... no wonder its the taste of India for him :)
I hope you do try this recipe. It is so simple and elegant, it would be perfect as a side dish to an elaborate Indian meal, or if you are feeling virtuous, its the perfect way to punch up your healthy vegetables. The beet greens in this recipe can be easily substituted with any other vegetable, try shredded cabbage, sliced french beans, beets, cauliflower... pretty much anything that catches your fancy.
Makes 4 servings as a side dish
500g beet greens and stems
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or any other oil, except extra virgin olive oil)
1 teaspoon brown or yellow mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves (opt)
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
Salt to taste
2 - 3 tablespoons shredded coconut (fresh or dried)
Chop the stems of the beet greens and shred the leaves.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wide pan, and add the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop (about 10 - 30 seconds) add the curry leaves (if using) and the onion.
Cook on a medium heat until the onion is soft and just beginning to colour, about 3 - 4 minutes.
Add the sliced garlic, and stir for 30 seconds.
Add the beet greens and stems, and sauté for about 5 - 7 minutes until the greens are tender. Season to taste with the salt.
Take off the heat and stir in the coconut. Serve as a side dish with any meat, or with rice or roti as a simple meal.