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Green is in!

The topic for this week’s column comes as an inspiration from a simple presentation of moong cooked till tender with tomato and masala and served topped with chopped fresh green garlic. The inspiring fresh green garlic that drove me back into the kitchen this morning as I showed Amma (our cook of many years) how to knead the dough for green garlic and coriander paranthas for breakfast. I had mine cooked without oil but scattered a few drops of melted ghee on it. Yum? Yes!

So green garlic is in the market. The best way is to buy a whole bunch, remove the roots and then wash it out. Dry properly and then chop as finely as your knife and board allows. I have seen my mother in law snip it with kitchen scissors. So you have two methods. Then when you have this fragrant fresh herb that is so very winterish and Indian, you can make one delicious thing after the other. So what if it has short shelf life and is slightly more expensive than dry garlic but when in season do use it for its goodness in soups, stews, pizza toppings and sabzis.

Green garlic is also good in a rustic type of chutney. Alyona sautés finely chopped green garlic in a little ghee tempered with cumin and serves it like a fresh chutney type with the meal. I have seen the perfect undhiyo from my mother in law’s kitchen with the methi muthias, stuffed raw banana, the stuffed brinjals, the works, but she waits till the season brings in fresh green garlic. That is why I used the adjective perfect. 

Another little tip on how to make garlic bread with a difference. Take some butter and soften it and mix in 3-4 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh green garlic and 2-3 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley. Slice a French loaf diagonally but do not cut through. Apply this flavoured butter and wrap up the loaf in foil and bake in hot oven for ten minutes. Flip it over once and bake for ten more minutes. Have the soup ready or the baked vegetables or the laksa or whatever else is on your menu as its partner. Only one thing you have to be cautioned about is that one loaf might just not be enough to satiate everyone at home!

Another new idea strikes me while I write this: a pesto sauce using green garlic instead of basil. Make in large quantity and store, refrigerated, in a glass jar covered with a layer of oil. So while I get back to the kitchen, you could try out the following recipe. 

Khatta Moong with Fresh Garlic: Soak one cup moong for a few hours and then pressure cook in two and a half cups of water till four whistles or until the moong is soft but not completely mashed. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a pan, add ½ teaspoon mustard seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, ¼ teaspoon fenugreek seeds, 3-4 cloves and 1 inch cinnamon stick and sauté till fragrant. Chop 8-10 stalks of green garlic and add to spices. Sauté for a minute. Add 3 teaspoons gram flour and sauté for two minutes. Add 1 teaspoon ginger paste, 1 teaspoon green chilli paste and 2 medium chopped tomatoes and mix. Add moong, salt to taste and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and mix. Garnish with some chopped spring onion greens and serve hot.