Cooking my way through my CSA share, Indian-style

I went to my farm yesterday and was overwhelmed -- in a good way. I am overwhelmed by the bounty of it all. Purple carrots, fennel, hot chilies, salad greens, tomatillos, tomatoes, eggplant, sweet onions, shiso leaf, an armful of flowers... And that's not even half of what's available. Canned 4 jars of tomatillo salsa verde last night, and will make more today just to eat now. Pickled some carrots with Moroccan spices, and made pickled beets, and canned the tomatoes from my garden that have accumulated on my counter. I have these jewel-filled jars piling high now, and it's making me feel very rich indeed.

Two recipes that take advantage of what's in season now.

Corn and Chili Pakoras
Makes about 2 dozen

These are one of my favorite snacks. If I drank beer, I would pop one open, stretch my legs on the porch, and try and control myself around these delicious fritters. These are best served with a green chutney (storebought or homemade) or a spicy ketchup. Note: chick pea flour is very light and airy -- when you measure it out, tap the cup on the counter a few times so it can settle and you get an accurate measurement.

1 ear of corn, kernels cut off with a sharp knife
1/2 large sweet onion, diced into corn kernel-sized cubes
1/2 large jalapeno or other hot green chili, or to taste (remove seeds and white pith if you want it less spicy)
1/4 c chopped cilantro leaves
1 c chick pea flour (see note)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4-1/2 tsp red chili powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp lemon juice
vegetable oil for deep frying

1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl, adding enough water to make a thick batter.

2. Heat 1" of oil in a deep-sided sauté pan, wok, or medium-sized saucepan. When oil is hot (test it by dropping a bit of batter in it -- the oil should bubble and it should float to the surface), add the batter in rough spoonfuls, making sure not to crowd the pan. When the bottoms of the fritters are a rich golden brown, turn them over and let them cook on the other side. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels. (I always make one pakora on its own first to test for salt and other seasoning, and I suggest you do, too, adjusting the batter as necessary before you make the rest.)

3. Serve hot with chutney or ketchup.

Pickled Carrots with Moroccan Spices
Makes 1 quart

This is an only slightly-tweaked version of a Bon Appetit recipe. It's delicious.

2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1-1/4 pounds medium-size carrots, peeled, trimmed
Peel from 1 lemon, removed in strips with vegetable peeler
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
4 small dried hot red chiles
1-1/2 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt

1. In a small, heavy frying pan, toast coriander and cumin seeds until they turn color and become fragrant. Remove to a mortar and pestle and crack the seeds (don't powder them).

2. Cut the carrots into long sticks -- halve them lengthwise, and then cut each half into sticks that are about 1/4-1/2" thick. (I like them on the thinner side.)

3. Put carrots in a quart-sized glass jar, adding lemon peel, garlic slices, chilies, and crushed spices. If you stand the carrot sticks up vertically you can pack them all in.

4. In a small saucepan, heat water, vinegar, sugar, and salt till boiling. Allow to boil for 5 minutes until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the liquid into the jar, leaving 1/2" of headspace at the top. Close the jar and refrigerate for at least 2 days before serving. (I actually left mine out on the counter to marinate, with no qualms.)


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