Monday, January 7, 2008

Veggie Twists

Sometimes I get a bit tired and bored of having my veggies the typical desi way - tadka and all. Last weekend while shopping for veggies, I spotted a selection of orange baby carrots. Now baby carrots is something you'll find at fine dining places in Delhi but rarely in markets, so I bagged some immediately, of course. I'm an onion freak too - onions in any form, red, white, spring, leeks, when I spotted a bunch of really tender onion stalks, with the onion flowers still on them, I bagged those too.

Then came the quandary - how to cook these? I didn't want to make a standard sabzi with the baby carrots - what would be the point - and didn't just want to use the onion stalks in a salad - same reason. So I pondered and racked my brain and at last hit upon it. I decided to make glazed carrots - having never had them before. It sounded different, at least, and would work for these small carrots. The onions, I decided to leave up to whatever inspiration hit me when I started my cooking.

So, having a vague idea that glazing involved cooking with sugar, I chopped the baby carrots into thirds (they weren't infant carrots that I could have cooked whole - more like toddler carrots) and dug out my trusty Amul butter. I love recipes that ask for cooking with butter.

Having coated all the carrots with melted butter, I put a lid on the frying pan to let the carrots steam while I chopped the onion stalks into 3 inch pieces. Since the butter was already out, it seemed like a good idea to cook the onion stalks with it too, so I popped a blob of butter in the frying pan and parked the onions in it and stirred them around.

Meanwhile, the carrots had been stewing in their own juices for a while so having checked to see if they were somewhat tender, I sprinkled a tablespoon or two of sugar over them and stirred them to mix up the sugar on all sides. The sugar started caramelizing and I stirred up the carrots some more to ensure they were nicely coated with melted sugar. When the carrots started browning, I added half a cup of water to the pan and popped the lid back on to let them simmer.
I turned back to the onion stalks to find that they had cooked nicely, still crisp with little browned bits here and there. I have had balsamic reductions at various restaurants so decided to try making it but without the bother of hunting for a formal recipe. So I pulled out my modena balsamic vinegar and poured a shot of it into the frying pan. that was fun but I wasn't satisfied, so I also added a glug of Shiraz which was sitting out on the counter, along with a sprinkling of freshly and coarsely ground black pepper. I stirred it around for a while until the wine and vinegar boiled away, leaving the onion stalks bright green and shiny with brown beads of moisture here and there.
Meanwhile, I opened the lid off the carrots and let the water evaporate. The carrots were nice and tender at this point, so I sprinkled a handful of chopped dill over them and brought the carrots and onion stalks to the table with a flourish. The carrots were juicy and sweet, with a caramelized-carrot flavour which was interesting, while the onion stalks were tender, and an interesting mixture of the sharp onion taste and crunchy texture combined with the sweet sourness of the balsamic vinegar and wine and the slow fire of the ground pepper. That, along with a mild cauliflower soup made for an interesting dinner, a composition of contrasting flavours and textures that played off each other really well.


Asha said...

Roast veggies without much spice are the best!:)

Happy cook said...

I love veggies done like this

Swaroopa said...

cool recipe!! will give it a try...happy new yr, dear.

bird's eye view said...

Yes, they sure are, asha.

Happy cook - me too, but only sometimes. most of the time, I like my spice!

Thanks, swaroopa and happy new year to you too.

Mike of Mike's Table said...

Sounds tasty to me!

Shella said...

They would have tasted exotic priya, less spice more flavor. I have finally managed to post my part of the chain, n am sending your packet tomorrow. Apologies for the delay.

bird's eye view said...


yes the veggies did taste pretty good and I'm feeling encouraged to keep experimenting.

Shella, yes, they did taste refreshingly different - and I can;t wait to see what you've got in store for me!

Kalyn said...

They sound quite delicious. Roasted vegetables are always so tasty.

bird's eye view said...

You're so right Kalyn. Very often, I just serve an assortment of roasted vegetables for dinner - baby potatoes and onions, a bulb of garlic, some red and yellow bell peppers, mushrooms etc, roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and served by themselves or with some herbs and a sprinkling of salt. A delicious meal which has the wonderful side effect of making you feel virtuous too!

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