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Recipe Corner: Expanding the vegetarian palate!

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Ever since I began travelling I realized that I faced this unique dilemma! Either I had to give up being vegetarian or I had to find options being a successful vegetarian outside India aka comfort zone.

Growing up with a traditional sample set of vegetables meant I had developed strong preferences about the vegetables I will or will not eat at all.

Staying overseas meant I had to revisit all my likes and dislikes all over again. Being a parent forced me to reconsider all my food options with their health benefits in mind as well.

Trips to grocery stores, farmers’ markets and fields made me realize that indeed there were many plant based food options which I was neither aware of nor was my palate accustomed to their tastes.

To cite a few examples, I had never known rapini, brussels sprouts, dandelion greens, swiss chard or collard greens! How and what could I possibly make of these given that I had my parents and kids at home. Stir fry or general bland salt pepper seasonings were not going to work for anyone!

That really got me in the adventurous cooking mode! I began understanding the structures of these new greens and how I could use them in Indian cooking. One of my first experiments was Dandelion greens!

The menace in the lawns was now in my kitchen! Quite literally! A stir fry resulted in wilted soggy greens hated by all! So next was a raw salad format, but the bitter taste of dandelion was a great put off for all!

Bitter! That turned out to be the key!  I chopped the dandelion greens finely, added a few sprigs of green onion with a dash of lemon! A cool methi(Fenugreek) like pachhadi was ready! Well a light bulb moment indeed! This green guy could be my replacement for methi! Then life just rolled from there and dandelion parathas were born!

This was an instant hit in the family and all never really bothered verifying whether it was methi(fenugreek) or dandelion greens anymore!

Today I shall share with you my recipe of dandelion parathas. You can replace the dandelion with mustard greens or collard greens as well! The recipe is straightforward, in fact if you make any theplas or parathas, just replace the standard spinach or methi (fenugreek) with dandelion greens!

So, the cast of the show is :-

1.5 cups of atta (whole wheat flour)

0.5 cups of besan (can be replaced with bajra/nachni/jowar flour)

1 cup tightly packed

Chopped

1 or 2 finely chopped green chilies or ground into a paste

7 to 8 garlic pods or 2tsp garlic paste

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 teaspoon oil

Salt to taste

Water as required

0.5 cups rice flour (for rolling parathas)

0.5 cup ghee/butter

Optional add-ons

1 teaspoon jeera powder

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

1 teaspoon carrom seeds (ajwain)

The script of our play!

Rinse the dandelion greens till their green shines on! Drain them completely and after this royal bath just chop them up and let them lie on the chopping board for a while.  Bring out the garlic pods and peel them and mince them up or simply bring out the garlic paste bottle from the deep dungeons of your refrigerator! While you are in there, bring out the green chilies and chop them up or grind them into a paste.  In a mixing bowl scoop out the wheat flour and gram flour (besan atta) and sprinkle dainty carrom seeds, sesame seeds, turmeric, jeera powder and salt. Add 1 teaspoon of oil and chopped chilies and garlic/garlic paste. Finally invite her royal greenness dandelion into the flour party and mix them all with water till it turns into a well-rounded ball of dough! The dough should be firm to touch, and you can use the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil to coat the dough ball from outside. Make medium sized balls and roll out each ball. Use rice flour to aid smooth rolling out of the parathas. Place each rolled paratha on the hot griddle (tawa) and when one side is partially cooked, flip the paratha and continue to cook till it gains a few golden- brown spots. Apply ghee or butter on both sides and remove the paratha from the griddle. Once your paratha stack is ready, holler out to all the folks at home and dig in!  😊

Serve the parathas with a bowl of curds or pickle or butter.

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