Soup's On: Potato, Leek & Rainbow Chard

Well here we are, more than half way through National Soup Month and this is only the first soup we've posted! Truth to tell, I didn't even remember January was set aside to honor soup until my SIL sent me a head's up about it yesterday. (Thanks, Tra!)

As yours probably does too, our soup consumption climbs as the thermometer starts to dip. And we've been near or below freezing for awhile in our corner of Maryland. Therefore, lots of soup.

And for some reason, we've had more than our usual share of potato-based soups lately. Maybe because these potato soup recipes usually don't require a lot of long-simmering stock and can be ready from knife to table in under an hour. Maybe because potatoes are both plentiful and filling in the winter. Maybe because we love potatoes. Probably all of the above.

When first snow, then ice kept this island girl indoors and away from driving last week, by Friday I was really eager to re-stock fresh greens in our larder. I spotted this bunch of rainbow chard from across the crowded produce department of our nearest Korean market, glimpsed in snatches between a shuffling mass of bundled shoppers (transported in 4 buses from a nearby retirement community) all jostling for the best produce. But the chard's bright colors were a technicolor beacon: Buy Me, it called. And I knew I would.

So now it's starring in this potato-based soup which I've dubbed Rainbow Soup, named for the colorful chard stalks that double as a healthy, low-cal "crouton" garnish. In addition to potatoes, there is a healthy helping of leeks and a whisper of cream. Hmmmm, you're saying to yourself, this sounds suspiciously like vichyssoise. And you're right! That is one of our favorite soups — chilled or not — so we're building on that flavor profile. The inspiration for throwing in the greens comes from another hearty favorite, Caldo Verde, the Portuguese-style potato and kale soup.

The rainbow inspiration also comes from waxing nostalgic about living on Oahu while putting on 3 layers of clothing every morning — and that's if I'm just staying home! (Did I mention I grew up on an island?) Hawaii is nicknamed the Rainbow State, for obvious reasons, and the vibrant color and crunch from these chard stems are a welcome splash of Aloha against the monotone in both the skies and our soup bowls. (Though I would prefer my Aloha-in-a-bowl in the form of a Loco-Moco, but that's another story...)

And since we're taking this 4800 mile segue anyway, I've been meaning to give a shout out to the folks at Hawaii's public radio station, KIPO, and one of our favorite local programs there, Aloha Shortsa weekly program hosted by Cedric Yamanka of short stories written by local authors and read before a live studio audience by local actors and story tellers. The best way to get your weekly dose of island flavor, short of the 12-hour flight from the East Coast! Aloha Shorts has long been available for live-streaming from the KIPO website, but for those of us who are not awake at midnight (EST) to catch the show live, Aloha Shorts is now available as a podcast from Bamboo Ridge Press on the iTunes store! As of this writing, there are 15 weeks worth of readings awaiting your listening pleasure. But there's a limited window of time during which each new episode is available, so get them while you can. You can also subscribe to the podcast so you won't miss any new shows. Unlike other podcasts, these aren't deleted from my iTunes library after the first listen-to so whenever I really need a dose of island sunshine it's as close as my computer or iPod.
(UPDATE 01/22/2011: I received a comment from one of the producers of Aloha Shorts with the happy news that you can find ALL of the shows episodes on the Bamboo Ridge Press website! You won't be able to download them from here, but you can stream any show on demand. In her own words:

"Please let your readers know that all the past episodes are available at  Just go to "Broadcast Archives" and click on "Show More."  We're happy to warming the hearts of those on the East Coast and around the world with the humor, memories, and wisdom of Hawaii's local literature.  We're also on Facebook at  Hau'oli Makahiki Hou.  ~  Phyllis Look"

Thank you for the info, Phyllis. And a great big Aloha to all the folks on the show!
So to recap, a rainbow in your soup bowl and tales of living Aloha in your earbuds... See, winter doesn't have to be so gray.

Happy National Soup Month, Tracey! Hope the soup's on in your home, too!

What's your favorite soup? Speaking of all things Aloha, this is mine.

Serves 4 persons

1 bunch of rainbow swiss chard
3 large leeks, sliced and washed well
4 TBL unsalted butter
2 TBL olive oil
4 large Russet potatoes, about 1½ lbs (680g), peeled and sliced thinly
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
4 cups (1L) low-salt chicken or vegetable broth, or water
¼ cup (60ml) dry sherry or dry white wine, such as Pinot Gris or Sauvignon Blanc
2 TBL light cream (optional)
3 TBL grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish

Wash chard well in a mixture of 2 qt/L of cool water and 2 TBL of distilled white vinegar. Rinse under cold running water and drain in a colander. Separate the stalks from the greens and trim, then dice. Reserve a small handful of diced stalk (I chose some of each color) for garnish. Shred the chard greens.

In a large Dutch oven or small soup pot, saute leeks in butter and oil over medium heat. When leeks have softened, about 10 minutes, add chard stalks, potatoes, salt, pepper and broth. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until potatoes are completely soft.

Using a hand blender or potato masher (depending on whether you want a pureed soup or a more rustic version), blend the potatoes into the broth. Add sherry, Parmesan and chard greens, and simmer 10 minutes longer. Remove from heat and add cream, if using, and correct seasoning.

Ladle in individual bowls and garnish with reserved diced chard stalks and Parmesan.

This is very filling, and we skipped the breads we would usually have with soup.
A little ironic, given my current obsession with bread-baking...


5-A-Day: Tian of Roasted Potatoes & Chinese Mustard Greens

With yesterday's meal of Portuguese-influenced pork, clam and periwinkle stew, we wanted to serve the traditional accompaniment of roasted or pan-fried sliced potatoes, but we also wanted a vegetable with some bitterness to punctuate the rich and spicy broth in the stew. Rather than make 2 side dishes, I opted to ease my workload and make only one dish.

One of our favorite vegetables is a simple oven-braised endive, wherein Belgian endive or Italian radicchio are cooked to melting tenderness while retaining their characteristic bite. I gambled that by layering bitter Chinese mustard cabbage under potato slices in the manner of a tian, I could get a bed of tender braised greens and crispy potatoes on top. Eureka! It worked.

A tian, like the cataplana in
yesterday's post, is the name of both a type of dish and the vessel in which it is traditionally cooked. Here, the original cookware is a bowl-shaped earthenware vessel, often unglazed, although in the hypermarches in France we saw oval or rectangular heavy ceramic dishes with 5-inch sides also sold as "tians." Tian recipes feature layered vegetables, sometimes combined with cheeses and/or grains, and often topped with breadcrumbs. In this version, it was all about the veggies with only a little broth, olive oil, garlic and sea salt for enhancement. I would gladly have substituted endive or radicchio for the mustard cabbage — as always, use what's local and in season in your area.

Although the seafood and pork stew is a definite no-no for anyone coping with gout, I think this vegetarian dish (especially when prepared with vegetable broth) would be suitable for a gout-management diet and so will be included in the

(serves 4 as a side dish, 2 as an entree)

2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and peeled

Slice potatoes cross-wise into thin slices. Toss with olive oil to prevent browning. Then sprinkle with sea salt and ground black or white pepper.
Pre-heat oven to 350F/180C.

Olive oil
1 large head of Chinese mustard greens, washed well
(or 2 lbs. of any bitter green: radicchio, endive, dandelions, etc.)
4-6 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup chicken or vegetable broth
Sea salt, to taste
Gound black pepper, or white pepper

After washing greens well, separate thick stems from leaves. Slice stems in julienne. Cut leaves lengthwise, then finely shred
— you should have 8-10 cups of leaves. Place stems, then leaves in large (10-12 cup) oven-safe casserole. Add garlic, broth, 2 TBL. of olive oil and seasoning to taste. Layer potatoes over greens in overlapping rings. You may have to press to fit the potatoes atop the greens; but as they cook, the greens will wilt. (Alternatively, place the leaves in a large colander and pour boiling water over until the greens are just wilted, then layer over stems and proceed as above.)

Place in pre-heated oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. If potatoes start to brown too quickly, lightly cover with foil (do not seal or potatoes will steam and not stay crisp).

Although this dish was devised to accompany the
seafood stew, its flavors will also accentuate any rich stew — meat or vegetarian, as well as roasted chicken, game fowl, or pork.

More about Chinese mustard greens, or gai choy


Fingerling Potatoes with Fenugreek

I came across this intriguing recipe while browsing through Dhivya's massive Potato Fe(a)st Event at DK's Culinary Bazaar earlier this month. It came from Eskay at A Bon Vivant's Chow Chronicle and she called it Fenugreek'ed Potatoes, named after the defining herb in the recipe. Fenugreek is used as both a spice and an herb. As a spice, it's available as triangular, amber-colored seeds prized for its distinct bitterness. Along with turmeric, it adds most of the defining color and flavor to commercial "curry powders."

As an herb, it can be found in both fresh and dried forms at specialty Indian markets. I've seen fenugreek seeds both bottled and sold by the ounce at health food stores here and on the Mainland, but not the leaves. Even at specialty stores, the fresh leaves can be hard to come by unless the shop caters to a sizable Indian population. However the dried form, called Kasoori Methi, is usually on the shelves. Dried methi leaves have a pleasing clean, minty, and almost astringent aroma. When fried lightly in hot oil, as in this recipe, it becomes nutty and smoky. The amazing change in character is reminiscent of the transformation of a fresh green jalapeno pepper to a smoky chipotle.

I had only used kasuri methi in a handful of recipes, and they were usually part of a large mix of other spices and herbs, so I really could not have told you what fenugreek leaves on their own tasted like. Eskay's recipe really stood out because it highlighted the flavor of fenugreek. I had some dried methi leaves (or so I thought), and we had just scored a bag of fingerling potatoes, so it seemed like a perfect time to try this! I first attempted to make this last week as a side for some ribs, but found that my poorly-secured bag of methi leaves had become infested with bugs. Ick! Luckily we had a chance to drive through the university district and stop by the India Market to stock up on some staples. I passed it at least five times on the shelf because the new box was spelled differently ("Qasuri Methi" it might also be spelled "Kasuri"), but finally realized what I was seeing.

This was part of our Easter Sunday meal with
Lamb Rib Chops & Lentils Catalane, steamed asparagus, and a cucumber and radish raita (yogurt salad). The earthy, smoked flavors worked surprisingly well with the sunny flavors of the lamb and lentils. In fact, the lentils and potatoes complemented each other so well I couldn't resist making a grilled sandwich with them: whole wheat bread, garlic mayo on the potato side, Kasoori Methi Potatoes, and Lentils Catalane, grilled with olive oil = Heaven!

One note: I cut larger potatoes down to the size of the smallest ones for even cooking, and found the cut ones had the added bonus of absorbing more of the spice flavors (no surprise). If you prefer skin-on whole potatoes, you may want to cut or at least score the potatoes after steaming, but before frying, to allow the spices to reach the buttery potato interior.

We've grown to really love tangy, sour flavors
whether it's tamarind in curries; powdered sumac on grilled meats; wild lime leaves in Laotian stews; or dried whole limes in Persian stews. If you enjoy any of these flavors, don't skip the sprinkling of amchoor powder in the first step.

(adapted from Eskay's
Fenugreek'ed Potatoes)

2 lb. fingerling potatoes
1/2-1 tsp. amchoor, aka dried green mango powder (optional)
tsp. sea salt

Scrub well, and cut larger potatoes in halves or thirds. Steam or boil potatoes until just cooked. Peel potatoes, if desired (we prefer the skins on). Combine amchoor and salt, then liberally season potatoes while still warm. (If not using amchoor, season to taste with sea salt.) Keep aside.

2 tsp. coriander seed
tsp. cumin seed

In a mortar, grind together coriander and cumin seeds to make a fine powder.

TBL. olive oil
5 TBL. kasoori methi
1 tsp. cayenne pepper (or Aleppo)
sea salt

Heat oil in wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add spices, cayenne, and methi leaves and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add potatoes and stir through to coat with leaves and spices. Cover, reduce heat and cook together for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered until serving.

For a vegetarian meal, Eskay recommends rice or rotis, and a dal (see earlier posts:
Tarka Dal or Mung Bean & Gourd Stew). We found it a perfect accompaniment to grilled lamb, as well as a hearty sandwich filling with lentils.

UPDATE: I was delighted to see lavaterra in Germany try this recipe as part of a vegetarian meal, along with a spring salad. You can see her version, and get the recipe auf Deutsch, "Kartoffeln mit Kasoori Methi"


Confetti Potato Salad

Confetti Potato Salad

When we found a package of mixed new potatoes in the market, I couldn't pass up the chance to play with the lively colors for the Potato Fe(a)st Event at DK's Culinary Bazaar.
Although my first instinct with new potatoes is always to roast them, I knew from past experience that roasting, while intensifying the flavor, dulled the vibrant colors. Potato Feast logo

(Raw and steamed Okinawan purple sweet and Peruvian purple new potatoes)

Steaming would preserve the color and keep them firm, but they would require some strong flavors to punch through that waxy texture. Since T has never been a fan of mayonnaise-based salads, I'm always keen to try any potato salad without mayo. The sharp mix of lemon and feta in this recipe seemed the perfect foil for the bland potatoes, but the original called for kalamata olives, which we didn't have. I've substituted capers for the olives, and so hesitate to call this Moldavian Potato Salad, which is what it was titled in the library book I borrowed. At any rate, I was happy with the rich colors and sassy flavor that comes through in the end.

This salad joins "Purple & Squeak," made with the Okinawan sweets, in going out to DK for her event celebrating the International Year of the Potato.

(heavily adapted from
The Potato Cookbook)

For the potatoes:
2.2 lb. (1kg) total of mixed red, Yukon gold, and Peruvian purple potatoes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
TBL. olive oil
sea salt
ground black pepper

Wash potatoes well, including a soak in a solution of 1
TBL. white vinegar for every 2 qt./liter clean water. Scrub, rinse and place whole, unpeeled potatoes in large steamer that can hold potatoes in single layer. Cook over medium high steam until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife blade. You might have to remove smaller potatoes earlier so they do not become water-logged.

Combine minced garlic and oil. While potatoes are hot, cube them into 1/2-inch (1.5-2cm) cubes, place in large bowl, and dress with garlic oil. Season to taste with sea salt and ground black pepper. Allow to cool to room temperature.

To finish salad:
4 scallions (green onions), white and light green parts only (save the dark green for garnish), sliced thin
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/2 cup capers, rinsed and drained
1 sprig of fresh dill (about 1/4 cup)
Juice of 1 lemon

When potatoes have cooled, add scallions, feta, capers, dill and lemon juice, and toss gently to combine. Taste and correct seasoning
it should be lemony and salty-tart from the cheese and capers. Serve at room temperature. Can be chilled if made ahead, but allow to come to room temperature before serving. Garnish with reserved scallion greens, if desired.

Plate alongside your favorite finger sandwiches or quiche for an elegant tea or brunch, or fried chicken for a picnic in the park. Also makes a terrific sandwich filling stuffed in a pita with tomatoes and cucumbers, or rolled in a tortilla wrap with a smear of hummus to bind (I didn't have hummus for the wrap seen here, but was wishing I did).

By keeping the skins on the potatoes, this salad seems to fit the criteria for dad's gout management diet, so it will be included in the Gout Diet Challenge round-up for him.


"Bubble & Squeak" tweaked . . .

Purple & Squeak

When I received DK's invitation to participate in her first sponsored event at DK's Culinary Bazaar celebrating the year of the potato, I thought this might be the time to try something that's been lurking in the back of my mind for some time. I've always loved the combination of potatoes and cabbage, whether it's as Haluschka (potatoes, cabbage, onion and caraway) or the delightfully named Bubble & Squeak (mashed potatoes and cooked cabbage). And it's the latter that has been tickling my imagination for as long as we've had access to the gorgeous dark purple Okinawan sweet potatoes here in Hawaii what if you combined purple potatoes with purple (i.e., red) cabbage and red onions? You would have, of course, Purple & Squeak (you can see in the photo that even the mustard seeds took on a red tinge after they popped, so as to blend with today's color scheme).
Sweet and savory potato varietiesSweet Potatoes and Yam
Hawaii has a wondrous bounty of sweet potato varieties. At left, basketfuls of taro (upper left), russets, and two varieties of Okinawan sweet potatoes crowd a display at Kekaulike Mall in Chinatown. At right, 3 varieties of sweet potato (US, top left; Okinawan white, bottom right; and Okinawan purple) and 1 yam (bottom left). The Okinawan varieties have a firmer flesh than the US regular sweet potato.

In Britain, Bubble & Squeak is a dish designed to make-over mashed potatoes and cabbage left from the previous day's Sunday roast; in this case we had leftover
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Awamori (but without the evaporated milk called for in that recipe) and I cooked the red cabbage to make this dish. Given the natural sweetness of the Okinawan purple sweet potato, and the added sweetness of cooked cabbage, I wanted to balance those with a little heat and spice in the form of popped mustard seeds, cumin, chaat masala and a chopped jalapeno (seeded). We enjoyed this dish very much, and will make it again. We had it first with grilled fish and couscous, but loved it even more simply wrapped in a warm whole wheat tortilla with cilantro sprigs tucked in the middle.

DK's Potato Fe(a)st is open until Feb. 29th. If you enjoy potatoes, both savory and sweet, as much as I do, check out her site to enter or to see the Round-up soon.

1 quantity of
Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Awamori (2 lbs. of sweet potatoes)

TBL. olive oil
TBL. brown mustard seeds
1 medium red onion, diced
1 serrano or jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
2 tsp. cumin powder
1 medium red cabbage (about 2 lbs/1kg), sliced lengthwise into 1-inch (2.5cm) wide slices
sea salt

1 tsp. chaat masala
cilantro for garnish

Heat oil over medium high heat in large saute pan or wok. When hot, add mustard seeds and stir until they begin popping, then immediately add onion. Stir to coat onion, then cover pan and turn heat to low. Allow onions to cook until translucent, about 8-10 minutes. Remove cover and return heat to medium high. Move onions aside, creating a space in the middle of the pan, and add cumin powder to the center, stirring well to cook through for 1 minute. Add peppers, and saute for another 5 minutes. Add cabbage and 1 tsp. sea salt, mix well. Cover and cook until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes.

Stir in prepared Mashed Sweet Potatoes and mix well to combine. Cover and heat through completely. Sprinkle with chaat masala and garnish with minced cilantro. Serve with any grilled fish or meat. Or eat either rolled in or atop (like a pizza) your favorite homemade or purchased flatbread. You can also shape into patties and pan fry with olive oil
the stickier texture of the sweet potato means no egg is required for binding for entree-type cutlets.

Purple & Squeak as a side dish

Skinless potatoes should be eaten less frequently by those with gout conditions, although potatoes with skin are considered good for those on a gout management diet. I wouldn't imagine eating the purple sweet variety with its skin, since it tends to be a bit tough after cooking; although the Okinawan white-flesh sweet variety could be mashed with the skin.

Cabbage is also high on the list of good foods for gout management. I would include this in dad's low-purine regimen by using a larger percentage of the cabbage mixture to sweet potato, and ensuring the other elements of the meal were especially low-purine, such as quinoa and lemon roasted chicken.


At the movies: Aloo Gobi

Potato and Cauliflower Curry

When I think about my favorite food-related movies, one of the first to mind is "Bend It Like Beckham." What? What does a movie about girls playing football/soccer have to do with food? Well, there's an iconic line in the movie when the protagonist, Jesminder, says, "Anyone can cook aloo gobi, but who can bend a ball like Beckham?" Jesminder is a bit of a soccer fiend, but in order to play she has to overcome stereotypes about women's roles in her culture say, as makers of aloo gobi (a spicy potato and cauliflower).

As the oldest and only girl in my family, I sympathized with Jesminder's plight, to be sure (I heard "Young ladies don't scuba dive"), but the aloo gobi reference really hit home when I found Director Gurinder Chadha's "how-to-cook aloo gobi" featurette at the end of the DVD. She provides a wonderful peek into her family and her kitchen technique when she makes aloo gobi with her mother and aunt "supervising" in the background. I laughed so hard I cried the first time I saw this because it reminded me so much of cooking with my own mother — me trying to take shortcuts and improvise, mom insisting it had to be "done the right. way." Aloo gobi has been one of my favorite dishes for over 15 years, and the dish on the screen looked so good that I wanted to try Director Chadha's recipe. I took notes on the recipe and technique directly from the DVD, pausing and writing, rewinding often to capture it just so.

This is the recipe I use every time now, and it's what we had for T's b-day dinner last night. It's a nice balance of heat (we only use 2 serrano chilies) and spice, and definitely my favorite use of cauliflower! If Indian cooking is new to you, this is a good introduction because it doesn't require some of the more exotic spices (like fenugreek, kalonji, or brown mustard seeds) in other traditional recipes. If you're leery of peppers and heat in your food, try using hot paprika instead of sweet paprika and leave out the serranos altogether, but some small measure of heat is necessary to balance out the dish. Enjoy!

Aloo Gobi

(as prepared by Gurinder Chadha)

Ghee or unsalted butter
1 large onion, thinly sliced
Medium cauliflower, quartered, then sliced
2 large potatoes, quartered then sliced
1 TBL cumin seeds
1-3 green (serrano) chilies, sliced
2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt
2-inch piece ginger, sliced
3-6 garlic cloves, diced
1 tsp sweet (regular) paprika
3 canned tomatoes, and juice
handful cilantro, chop stems and pick off leaves for garnish
1 1/2 tsp garam masala

Heat ghee, add cumin seeds, then onion and cilantro stems. Cook until translucent ("creamy golden").
Add chilies, turmeric, salt. Add paprika, then tomatoes. Stir in.
Add ginger, garlic cook about 1 min.
Add potatoes, cook 5 minutes
Add cauliflower and 2 TBL water, cover and cook 10 minutes.
Add garam masala cook 10 more minutes until cauliflower is tender, but not mushy.
Add cilantro leaves. Cover, turn off heat and leave 10 minutes.

Serve with naan or basmati rice. We had this with
vindaloo (meat curry) and tarka dal (spiced lentils). Also excellent cold the next day as a sandwich or tortilla wrap.

Go, Broncos! (SCU)


What Brussels sprouts inspired

We found some incredibly fresh brussels sprouts at a market recently. They aren't local, but it's been so long since we've seen such fresh brussels sprouts that we had to buy them. I've always liked the German name for them, Rosenkohl, which means "rose cabbage." They do look like little green roses, don't they?

When they're so fresh, I like to cook sprouts in minimal amount of time so they retain their bright green color, crunch and sweet fresh flavor. So many people wrinkle their noses when they hear "brussels sprouts" — I know how they feel because I used to be one of them! If the only sprouts you've tried were boiled to death and a smelly flaccid green, then I hope one day you'll give them a second chance. They can and should be crunchy, sweet and full of healthful, cancer-busting goodness that their cruciferous cousins broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower also have.

So what to do with these little beauties? We felt overdue for a non-meat meal, so I began to think South Asian. We had made a dish once with cabbage and coconut so it seemed a natural to substitute the sprouts. The pantry turned up split yellow mung beans and potatoes so we settled on the following menu: a dry curry with brussels sprouts and coconut, tarka dal, and chaat potatoes. And store-bought naan (was in the freezer). The sprouts were wonderful prepared this way. I just wish I had had fresh coconut on hand (living on a tropical island, you'd think coconuts would be falling out of trees, wouldn't you? ... well, actually they do, but I didn't do the husking, cracking, grating thing for this ... sorry)

The best thing about having left over tarka dal is making a tortilla wrap with it the next day. It is so-o-o good. I actually put all these bits in a spinach tortilla and it was delicious. Cold, no need to heat anything up. Even better is if you make an aloo gobi and tarka dal wrap the next day. (Mmmm, guess what will appearing soon?)
Brussel sprouts with coconut and mustard seed

Brussels sprouts with coconut
1.25 lbs. (1/2 kilo) brussels sprouts, cleaned and trimmed
2 TBL unsalted butter (or ghee if you have it)
1 TBL black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp ground coriander seed
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
3-5 TBL dried unsweetened coconut, or 1/2 cup fresh grated
3 TBL coconut milk (optional) - this is not in the cabbage recipe, I added it for liquid to help cook the sprouts

Boil water and briefly blanch sprouts (no more than a couple of minutes). Drain (keep some of the water) and cool. (I skipped this step)

Heat butter in pan and add mustard seeds. When seeds begin to pop (I love the smell of popping mustard seeds! It's like spicy popcorn), add ground coriander, cumin, turmeric, salt and coconut. Warm spices.

If using coconut milk, add now. Add sprouts and coat with spices. Cover and lower heat.

If not using coconut milk, add sprouts and coat with spice mixture. Keep mixture moving in pan so spices don't burn. You may want to add some water from the blanching if the pan is too dry.

Cook until sprouts are just tender and still bright green. Remove from heat immediately.

Tarka dal

Tarka Dal
2/3 cup (160g) lentils, split peas or mung beans
2 cups (500ml) water
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt

For the Tarka
3-4 TBL unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic
1-3 dried red chilies (had to leave these out this time)

Boil together the pulses, water, spices and salt. When the water reaches a boil, lower heat and simmer about 20 minutes or until the pulse reaches a soft consistency.

Meanwhile, prepare the tarka. Saute onions and garlic in butter until onions are translucent and starting to brown. Add crushed chilies and warm through. Remove from heat.

Add half of tarka to cooked dal and stir well. Remove dal to serving bowl and garnish top with remaining tarka.

Chaat Potatoes
2 large baking potatoes (about 1lb/.5kg)
3 TBL unsalted butter

2 TBL Bhel chutney, or date chutney
1 tsp honey
2 tsp chaat masala
1 tsp cayenne powder

Peel and cut potatoes into 1 inch dice. Melt butter in pan and fry potatoes on all sides.

Mix together chutney and honey in large bowl.
Combine chaat masala and cayenne powder.

Remove cooked potato cubes into bowl with chutney/honey mix, and coat well. Immediately sprinkle masala/chili mix and mix to coat well. Let cool a bit so flavors will blend.

These make a great drinks appetizer, too. Just serve with toothpicks.
Spicy chaat potatoes