Food, like a loving touch or a divine glimpse, has that ability to comfort.
- Norman Kolpas
I mainly cook Konkani cuisine and Kerala cuisine - which are definitely our comfort food. But, I have adapted these dishes to use what is readily available here in the US rather than going out of my way to buy the special ingredient that makes the dish. Well, to be frank, it was not an easy ride. A lot of friends helped me find the best substitutes for vegetables, pantry supplies etc. which are easily available in the US grocery stores.
Chawli is red cowpeas. There is a variety of dishes that can be made with these delicious, protein packed gems. I do not get the red variety easily in the US grocery stores, but instead I get the black eyed peas . Chawli Koddel can be made either with red cowpeas or the black eyed peas.
To make this Manglorean style chawli koddel, my grandmother added the Amaranth stems. One leafy vegetable I miss here is the Amaranth leaves and stems. This was so readily available in Kerala, that we used to make a stir fry with the leaves every other day and the stem was either used in the stir fry or was saved for next day to be used with the Chawli to make Chawli Koddel.
During my initial days of struggle to find vegetables that would get adapted to make the dishes we are familiar with, I met Swiss Chard - a cousin of Beets and Spinach. I fell in love with the different colors of the rainbow chard and made it part of our meals. The succulent stems and the green leaves are nutritious and do not pack tons of calories and is rich in fiber, Since these leaves do not have a strong taste, Swiss chard can be easily adapted to any kind of cuisine.
Konkani cuisine uses a lot of coconut in the preparation of various dishes. But I do not have the privilege of coconut-abundance. Of course, I get whole coconuts in the US grocery stores, but those are not always guaranteed to be fresh, and many a times I have been disappointed to find the white meat of coconut spoiled. I mostly rely on the frozen coconut I buy from Indian stores or from Walmart (Yes, you find frozen coconut in the Dessert Topping aisle in Walmart Freezer section. Yay!)
These succulent chard stems are cooked with the black eyed peas and then simmered in a coconut gravy and garnished off with a simple tadka or tempering of roasted garlic. I serve this with steamed basmati rice or chappati.
If you are looking for a dish that is nutritious, fiber rich, spicy, tangy and with lots of flavor - this is the one.
- ½ cup Chawli/Red cowpeas/Black eyed peas; washed and soaked over night
- 1 cup chard stems See Recipe Notes
To Grind into a smooth paste
- ¾ cup Fresh grated coconut
- 2-3 Whole Red Chillies adjust to your taste
- 1 tsp Tamarind Paste See Recipe Notes
- ½ tsp Paprika optional
- 3-4 Garlic Cloves; crushed lightly
- 1 tsp oil; divided
- Chopping Board and knife
- Bowl to soak the Black eyed Peas
- Pressure cooker
- Food Processor/Mixer-Grinder
- Measuring cups and spoons Optional, the measurements can eye balled
- Small pan for tempering.
- Pressure cook the soaked black eyed peas and the chard stems (see recipe notes) with sufficient water (about ¾ cup) till the peas is well cooked. Let the steam completely escape before opening the pressure cooker. Add another cup of water and salt and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, heat a small pan with couple of drops of oil. Add the whole red chillies and roast them in the oil for a minute. This brings out their flavor tremendously.
- Grind the roasted red chilies, coconut, tamarind and paprika to a smooth paste using very little water in a food processor or mixer-grinder.[br][img src="http://www.framedrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/DSC_8293_Koddel_5.jpg" width="600" height="400" border="0"]
- When the black eyed peas come to a boil, add the ground coconut paste and boil it again. Adjust the consistency at this point.
- Crush the garlic with the back of your knife.[br][img src="http://www.framedrecipes.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/DSC_8290_Koddel_4.jpg" width="600" height="400" border="0"]
- Heat rest of the oil in the small tempering pan and add the crushed garlic cloves and saute them till they turn brown. Add the garlic cloves along with the oil to the black eyed peas.
- Serve hot with rice or roti.