Vibrant India: Fresh Vegetarian
Recipes from Bangalore to Brooklyn by Chitra Agrawal, the chef
and owner of Brooklyn Delhi, takes us on a culinary journey to her
mother's hometown of Bangalore and back to Brooklyn.
In this gorgeous book, she adapts her family's South Indian
recipes for home cooks using satisfyingly rich, bold and complex
flavors. Grains, legumes, fresh produce, coconut, and yogurt -
along with herbs, citrus, chiles, and spice - form the foundation
of this cuisine, rooted in vegetarian customs. Vibrant India is a symphony of colors and
flavors and a sign to me that a higher being loves us and wants us
to be happy.
Every recipe in this title appeals to me and will be a fantastic
way to zhoosh up our meals to bring more exciting vegetarian
options to our table. As my eighty five year old neighbor would say
while as I was growing up "this book really blows up my skirt" (but
she was usually talking about a man). Potato Stir-fry with
Onion and Ginger and Green Bean and Coconut Stir-Fry I have made
already and I could totally go vegetarian with recipes like these!
Spiced Spring Vegetable and Coconut Polenta (which we are
sharing here for you today) and Lemon Peanut Rice are next up from
this book in my kitchen. I cannot wait until fresh corn is
readily available to make the Stir-fried Corn with Basil and Leeks
but this recipe looks so tempting I may make do with corn that has
some miles on it.
Our thanks to Ten Speed Press and the author for sharing this
affirmation of Spring in a bowl with our members. Be sure to enter our contest for a chance to win one of three
copies of this title for our members in the US.
SPICED SPRING VEGETABLE AND COCONUT
Uppittu or Upma
Spring • Serves 3 or 4
This is my gluten-free spin on uppittu or upma, a savory South
Indian semolina breakfast or light snack. In Kannada, uppu means
"salt" and hittu means "flour," so uppittu roughly translates to
"salted flour" and is sometimes referred to as upma. In place of
Indian semolina flour or farina, I use polenta and pair it with
crunchy spring vegetables and traditional flavors of black mustard
seeds, curry leaves, chile, coconut, and lemon.
Feel free to substitute other vegetables like potato, green
bell pepper, onion, grated carrot, peas, or tomatoes. Uppittu is
usually served with a pat of butter or yogurt and hot pickle and
sometimes a topping of fried cashews. In the past, I have used
cooked quinoa or couscous in this recipe in place of polenta, so
feel free to experiment with different grains as well.
1⁄2 cup unsweetened grated coconut (fresh, frozen, or
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for sprinking
1 cup polenta* or medium or coarsely ground
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
8 ounces asparagus, tough parts of spears broken
1⁄2 cup snap peas, trimmed and stringed
1 1⁄2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1⁄2 teaspoon chana dal
1 teaspoon urad dal
5 or 6 fresh curry leaves
1⁄2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 Indian green chile or serrano chile, finely
2 or 3 scallions or seasonal ramps, both white and green
1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric powder
4 or 5 red radishes, trimmed and quartered
Juice of half a lemon (about 1 1⁄2 tablespoons), plus more as
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
Plain yogurt or butter
Hot pickle or Brooklyn Delhi achaar
*If using quick-cooking polenta, adjust cooking times
Thaw frozen coconut or place dried coconut in a little hot water
to plump it up.
Bring 4 cups water to a boil in a saucepan, and add the salt.
Turn the heat to low and slowly whisk in the polenta until there
are no lumps. Cook the polenta, partially covered, for 30 minutes,
whisking it well every few minutes. When cooked, the
polenta should look creamy. Add the butter and coconut and mix
well. The polenta should become fluffy and lighter in color when
you do this.
While the polenta is cooking, cut the asparagus into 1-inch
pieces on the diagonal. Cut the snap peas into 1-inch pieces on the
Put the oil in a wok over medium heat. When the oil is hot and
shimmering, add one black mustard seed. When the seed sizzles and
pops, add the rest of the mustard seeds. Keep a lid handy to cover
the pan while the mustard seeds are popping. When the popping
starts to subside (a few seconds), immediately add the chana dal
and urad dal. Stir to coat with oil and turn the heat to
Continue to stir the dals so they evenly roast, until they turn a
reddish golden brown and smell nutty, less than a minute. Rub the
curry leaves between your fingers a little to release their natural
oils, and drop them, the ginger, and green chile into the oil.
Cover immediately, as moisture from the curry leaves will cause the
oil to spatter. Then stir to evenly coat everything with oil and
continue to fry until the ginger and chile are less raw, 10 to 15
Add the scallions and turmeric powder. Stir-fry for 1 minute on
medium heat. Mix in the asparagus, snap peas, and radishes with a
sprinkling of salt. Stir-fry the vegetables over high heat until
tender but still crisp and just cooked through, about 3 minutes.
During cooking, if the pan is looking dry, add a little water to
it. Turn off the heat. Mix in the lemon juice and chopped cilantro.
Taste for salt and lemon juice and adjust as needed.
Serve the polenta hot, topped with the vegetables, a dollop of
plain yogurt, and a spoonful of hot pickle.