Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kali, Cabbage, and Prawns

In case you haven't been following the weather in the Northeast, it's hot.  There was a line from Good Morning, Vietnam that has always stuck with me, and it seems to be particularly applicable here: "It's so damn hot you could fry an egg in your boxer shorts."

I went running nonetheless, the past two mornings.  It was hot and humid already, but I went slowly.  Towards the end of the run, somehow my pace coincided with the chant we learned in yoga class on Monday night:  Kali Durge namo namah (a call to a mother figure to nurture, support, and protect us--my teacher wisely says she likes the image of a fairy godmother, so we can leave our complicated relationships with our own mothers out of this).  An aside: my teacher has a knack for picking just the right intentions for class recently ... when I was trying to decide about teacher training, there was clarity.  When I discovered I was pregnant, there was acceptance and being present.  This week, after hearing about so many losses, and witnessing Rebecca's incredible grace in the aftermath of loss, there was mothering and nurturing.

As I ran, I found myself chanting in my head, thinking how fitting it was to be calling on a nurturing mother (or fairy godmother) to be helping me through the last stretch, the way Ian asks me to pick him up and carry him when he gets tired.  As I rounded the corner to my office, wouldn't you know it: the entire in-ground sprinkler system came on.

And you'd better believe I ran through it.

Both days.

On a more mundane note, it's probably not a bad idea to call on your fairy godmother at dinnertime, too, when it's a sweltering 100 degrees outside and you don't feel like cooking, or even warming something up from the night before.  Turns out Kali still has quite a presence in Bengali culture, so perhaps it was also not so much of a coincidence that I happened across this recipe when I was searching for things to do with the cabbage from our CSA this week.  Bengalis call this dish Bandhakopir Tarkari. It's a comforting, nurturing sort of dish that you can eat hot or cold (we opted for cold), and you could also add in some potatoes to make the dish more hearty, or substitute tempeh or seitan for the prawns; we were happy with it just the way it came out, though.

Here's hoping you're staying cool, and that your "fairy godmother," whatever form she might take, is taking care of you right now.

Bengali Cabbage and Prawns

1.5 t. oil
1 large bay leaf
1 t. whole cumin
1 medium cabbage, sliced into 1 cm wide strips
1 1/2 t. cumin powder
1 1/2 t. coriander powder
1 t. turmeric powder
1/2 t. chili powder
1 1/2 T. grated ginger
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
2 whole slim green chilies (optional)
3/4 lb. ready-cooked shelled prawns or shrimp
1 c.of shelled fresh or frozen peas
1/4 c. fresh cilantro, chopped roughly
Salt to taste

Wash the cabbage thoroughly in cold water. In a large pot, heat the oil on high heat.

When the oil is hot, add the bay leaf and cumin seeds. As they start sizzling, add in the shredded cabbage.
Stir fry the cabbage for two minutes and then add the turmeric, chili, cumin and coriander powders. Stir fry for another two minutes on high heat until the cabbage is well-coated with the masalas.

Lower the heat to medium, add the ginger and garlic, cover the pot and simmer until the cabbage is cooked. You shouldn’t need to add any water, but peek in there every once in a while just in case.

The cabbage will take a good 20 minutes to soften. About halfway through the cooking, stir in the peas, prawns and green chilies.

When the cabbage is moist and soft, take the lid off and mix in the fresh coriander.  Add salt to taste and enjoy hot or cold.
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  1. Right on for the running. So awesome and oh man does that look good. You're torturing me on purpose I just know it.

  2. K, I will come be your personal chef for the day. Not sure the Babe would like Bandhakopir Tarkari, though ... ;)

  3. Looks delicious! My family loves prawns. I should give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I'm so excited that I found your blog! I have copied down about 8 of your recipes already to try -- thank you so much. I've recently found cooking as a distraction from the stress of IF.

    I have all of my appendages crossed for you that this pregnancy goes well.

  5. Your blog is so 'peaceful'. I can't think of another objective.

    Tarkari literally means vegetable.

    May Kali smile on all of us....she has many forms, one of them as protector, and the other one as a destroyer of evil. Much revered!

  6. I can not wait to eat your food and be your friend;)!


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