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Hello Spring and En Guete… Asparagus!

Hello Spring and En Guete… Asparagus!

When you move to a new country there is a lot of getting used to, besides a new culture or language… the food!

My first two years in Switzerland were the exploratory food phase. I’m not a fussy eater, I’m a foodie and I love to delve into something new from every culture. And so I tried every Swiss dish there was and enjoyed it. Moved onto other European plates…  enjoyed it too. Soon the honeymoon phase with European food, was over when I started singing the expat blues. I wanted my South Indian food fix ever so often! But, I wasn’t going to find my precious sun-kissed Indian vegetables here. Was, I? And I wasn’t willing to get my vegetable basket brimming with ingredients from the Indian grocery store that stocked fresh produce from far, far away. Alas…

I’m an avid cook and I enjoy cooking. I started exploring our local farmer markets and discovering what the season had to offer. I did this to reduce my carbon footprint and do our local farmers justice. I also like to use local seasonal ingredients in my home to do my bit for the environment. This is also a great way to discover new food. I first encountered asparagus after moving to Switzerland.

Farmers' market

Understandably, in March and April it’s asparagus that catches my fancy also called “Spargel” in local lingo. You can find these green or white, strange-long-finger-looking-spears lurking in most grocery shops and markets when spring comes knocking on our doors. I’ve never eaten it before but now I’m a big fan of the vegetable spear. When buying  asparagus there are a few things to keep in mind. Crisp and straight is a sign of freshness. Avoid any bunches with dry, smelly or woody stems. Thick or thin, green or white… you decide what you like better. Baby spears are tender and sweet, while fatter stems are more pungent and fuller in flavour. Green spears have a grassy taste as compared to the white ones which tend to be sweeter. They can be found all over Europe in spring. It is a healthy vegetable, full of vitamins and great for kids.

Asparagus can be cooked and eaten many ways. But flavouring it with Indian spices is how I enjoy it best. So here’s to cooking in spring and sharing two of my favourite recipes with you.

Grilled Asparagus

Ingredients

1 bundle asparagus about 20 spears

½ a lime Olive oil

½  teaspoon cumin powder

½  teaspoon turmeric powder

½  teaspoon paprika/chilli powder

Salt to taste

 

Grilling Asparagus

How to cook it

  1. Take your spears of asparagus break off the woody bottom by grasping each end and bending it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness.
  2. Place them in a baking dish and season with cumin, paprika, turmeric, and salt. Squeeze the lime over and drizzle with a generous portion of olive oil. Give them all a good shake and mix.
  3. You can bake them at 200°c in a preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until tender. I like to grill them on a nice hot griddle pan until both sides are nicely scorched.
  4. Serve immediately as a starter or side.

Asparagus in Coconut Sauce

Asparagus in coconut sauce

Ingredients

1 bundle asparagus about 20 spears

1 tablespoon coconut or olive oil

1 medium onion sliced

1 diced tomato

1 teaspoon urad dal

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

7-10 curry leaves

1 tablespoon ginger and garlic paste

2  teaspoons cumin powder

2 teaspoons coriander powder

1 teaspoon paprika/chilli powder

1 teaspoon turmeric powder

150 ml coconut milk

1 lime

Salt to taste

How to Cook it

  1. Take your spears of asparagus break off the woody bottom by grasping each end and bending it gently until it snaps at its natural point of tenderness. Cut each spear into 4 pieces and set aside.
  2. Heat a pan and add 2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil. Splutter the mustard seeds, curry leaves and urad dhal. Add the onion, saute till golden brown and transparent, add the ginger-garlic and saute another minute.
  3. Add the turmeric and then stir in the tomato with salt to taste. Fry on low heat till the mixture is a mush. Add all the remaining spices and continue to fry on low heat for 5 minutes. Stirring frequently.
  4. Throw in the chopped asparagus and coconut milk. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Cook on medium heat for 15 minutes till the asparagus is cooked but still a bit crunchy. Finally, finish off the curry with a squeeze of half a lime. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander for additional flavour.
  5. Serve with white rice.

Stay tuned for more seasonal recipes.

Photos by Maria de Conceicao

About The Author

Maria de Conceicao

Maria de Conceicao moved to Switzerland to work for a Radio Station in Zurich as a copywriter. In India, she worked as an English Editor. Maria now calls Switzerland home. Between mothering and life, she works as a freelance Copy Editor. She is currently pursuing her two passions, cooking and photography.

2 Comments

  1. Banu

    Enjoyed the clicks Maria 🙂

    Reply
  2. Monika Dabrowski

    This is a lovely dish you’ve created with a vegetable that’s relatively new to you! I love to mix and match and switch between cultures in my cooking too. Your Indian asparagus recipe sounds and looks very appealing:) Why not share it with #CookBlogShare which I am guest hosting on my blog this week:)

    Reply

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