Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Coconut

Every recipe has a story--or many stories.  Recipes passed down by family members or friends; recipes adapted or invented out of necessity; recipes that changed in the process of movement between cultures, places, people.  I don't often think about this, how every dish I write about on this blog has this almost infinite tapestry of backstory, like The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman... and how any one person can only see so far back.

For instance, it's rather flooring to look back over recent posts and think about how many people in my life are implicitly represented: this one dish was a replication of one that I enjoyed with two friends in Colorado; this one is inspired by trips to a restaurant in my neighborhood made with visiting family and with lovers; this one was suggested by a new friend I made while visiting old friends in Boston; this one suggested on the phone by one of those old friends.  This one was emailed to me by a girl who sort of blew me off but keeps emailing me recipes; this recipe I made for a new dear friend whose cook-extraordinaire mother gave it her stamp of approval; this recipe I brought to a party; this recipe I made for friends at my house.

Anyway, I made the recipe which follows because many months ago my friend Sowjanya, who's since moved to New York, insisted upon the magic of cooking brussels sprouts with coconut.  And she was very, very right on this account.  It is SO good.

I went roughly off this recipe, but I changed some ingredients, and for once I didn't measure anything.  To be honest, all this measuring and recording is taking a bit of the fun out of cooking.  It's ok for baking, but a) when you're following measurements you're not using your eyes, ears, nose, intuition to gauge what you're doing and b) when the recipe is based around something as vague and hard to measure as chopped green veggies, the measurements don't count for much, anyway.

It was amazing.  The slightly bitter/funky tastes of brussels sprouts and mustard are balanced by the sweetness and nuttiness of the coconut and the masala, and the onion and sprouts themselves start to carmelize a bit as you cook.  Use lots of coconut (it had better be unsweetened--sometimes hard to find, but you can always count on an Indian grocery to have it), and be careful to not use too much salt.

Brussels Sprouts with Coconut

several cups brussels sprouts, shredded/chopped
canola oil
mustard seeds
cumin seeds
1 onion, diced
coconut, grated (unsweetened of course)
garam masala

Mix brussels sprouts with turmeric, cayenne, masala, and coconut.  Heat oil, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, onion, and garlic.  Cook, then add the mixed brussels sprouts. Stir fry for a few minutes keep stirring, then lower the heat to medium low cover and cook for a few minutes until it is cooked, adding water as needed. Add salt to taste while cooking.

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