Asparagus was a new vegetable for me when I came to States few years back. I had never heard about it or seen it. I was curious to try it and cook it. I do not as promptly fall in love with new vegetables like I do with fruits. May be because we are so much into spices that just salted, blanched stalks caught very little attention when I ate them those first times with eggs and hash. It for sure looked and sounded something amazingly healthy but I was a little skeptic. I hardly cooked it, unable to figure out how to involve it our style of home cooked meals.
It would be really dishonest if I associate every recipe with some kind of a memory or inherited cooking. Not everything can belong to childhood years or to mom’s and grandma’s secret stash of recipes. Even though the basics string down from their kitchens but many dishes are just cooked in our house because a particular vegetable is in season or we got those organic free range chicken at a bumper price.
It is not very often that I scribble down recipes, you know that pencil in one and spoon in other kind of cooking sessions.I don’t. Not always. It becomes a process then and the fun in the kitchen is lost (at least for me). It’s a lot of unplanned, impulsive cooking that happens here, plainly guided by the senses. I taste, I sniff and I enjoy.
When I got a bunch of asparagus few week backs, like those initial years, I again didn’t know what I would do with it. It was inexpensive and looked very green. I got it and forgot about it .Only because the bunch was so fresh, it survived a good four – five days in the refrigerator.We were having curried eggs for dinner and just in a whirl of a moment I threw together this stir fry over the other stove while the eggs came together. Keeping the spice selection very simple and mostly south indian style, this stir fry won our heart. It is kind of south indian ‘poriyal‘ (stir fry) with a basic tempering of mustard seeds, fresh coconut and curry leaves. Aromatic, clean and fresh tasting – it turned out to be a perfect side to those eggs. I wish I had written down the measurements but anyhow.
When we were vegetarian for a while, I cooked it again and spooned it over ghee rice – what a fantastic lunch it was. Soft, crunchy asparagus bits and that burst of sweetness from peas in every bite – so sublime yet fulfilling. Of all the ways I have cooked and eaten asparagus so far,this one is my current favorite.
It is one of those recipes which turned out glorious even though it was more of an experiment in the kitchen. Both me and the husband can (literally) eat grass tossed with curry leaves and I must admit that those aromatic leaves play magic here though I least imagined that they would. No wonder this simple & quick stir fry is a favorite ‘green’ side on our tables these days.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 1 bunch asparagus (about 12-15 stalks)
- 1/2 cup sweet peas (fresh or frozen)
- 2 tbsp ghee (or coconut oil for vegan version)
- 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
- generous pinch of hing (asafoetida)
- 1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger (optional but recommended)
- 1-2 Thai green chilies (adjust to taste)
- 1/8 tsp turmeric powder
- 6-7 fresh curry leaves, torn into small bits
- 1-2 tbsp fresh grated coconut (you can cut it in small bits too)
- 1/4 tsp jaggery powder (or use sugar, optional)
- Salt to taste
- Lemon juice – to taste
Throughly wash the asparagus stalks. Hold and try to bend the stalk between fingers of both hands,it will automatically break at the (inedible) bottom part. If you feel that the skin is thick and hard, you can peel it away. Chop the stalks into small round pieces. It is better to chop them this way for this recipe since they cook really quick and do not lose the color. Also thaw the peas if using frozen. Set aside.
On medium high, heat up the ghee in a wok. Temper it with mustard seeds, be careful since they splutter in all directions. Only after the seeds have crackled (else they will remain bitter), immediately add the cumin seeds. Let them crackle too. Add the hing, green chillies, ginger and turmeric next.
Before the chillies change color, add the chopped asparagus and peas along with curry leaves to the wok. Add a generous pinch of salt and stir so that everything mixes together. Cover and let steam for 2-4 minutes on medium high heat.
Remove the lid, add the coconut, adjust the salt and let cook uncovered till the asparagus and peas are tender (but not mushy) and have a crunch to them. Sprinkle the sugar and lemon juice to taste. Cook or 1-2 minutes more.
Serve as a side to main dishes.
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!