It’s hard to believe another season has already passed. I’m cutting up grapefruits and tangerines every night (unlike last year, when the husband had to wield the kitchen knife as I nursed the newborn), roasting winter squash, steaming cauliflower and stuffing myself with salad. Last night we even ate mashed potatoes and gravy.
But I especially revel in the return of the crucifers. I’m finding greens, cauliflower, radishes, turnips and bok choy at our farmers markets. I love radishes and their relatives so much, I present to you a word portrait—you know, a poem.
They offer leaves, stems, buds and roots
so we forgive their lack of fruits
try the cooler season’s crunching
while on radishes you’re munching
rutabaga and kohlrabi
thrill your taste buds with umami
you won’t even miss your pesto
mustard, collard, kale and turnip
eat them all the flavor’s turned up
INDIAN STYLE RADISHES serves about 1½ of me, maybe more of y’all
- 1 large bunch or two small bunches of round red (or pink or white) radishes
- a couple of quarter sized slices of fresh ginger, slivered into shreds, or minced if desired. By the way, I almost never peel fresh ginger (dirty girl!) and neither did Barbara Tropp in the privacy of her home kitchen. Peel if you must!
- one or a half a green chile (like a jalapeño or serrano), halved and sliced. If you’re sharing with the children, cut out the seeds and ribs. Or you can use a sweet green pepper, but I particularly like japs in this recipe.
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds
- scant 1/8 teaspoon kalonji seeds, also known as nigella
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander seeds—I grind them up myself, a small jar’s worth at a time, for greater freshness than purchasing pre-ground. Use whatever works for you.
- scant ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- pinch of turbinado sugar
- 2 Tablespoons ghee—see my simple instructions.
- salt to taste (about ¼ teaspoon)
- fresh-squeezed lemon juice to taste
Separate your radishes from their stems. Wash the orbs and leaves, scrubbing the radishes and thrice rinsing the leafy stems. Drain, but don’t dry, the leaves and stems. Cut the radishes into approximately ½ inch pieces and coarsely chop the stems and greens. If your spicy little balls are big and overgrown, the thick stems may cook up a little tough. You can either chop them finer or discard the thickest portions.
Combine the whole spices in a small dish near your stove top. Have your ginger and chiles close by. Combine the ground spices and sugar in another dish and keep that handy as well.
Heat up a large (12″) heavy skillet, I like the stainless steel All-Clad vessel I found at Goodwill on Lamar, (yes, South Lamar—not Lake Austin Blvd.!) for seven or eight bucks. Quality pan. Cooks on a budget don’t forget to check out the housewares sections of your local resale shops. Get your skillet hot on highest heat and add the ghee. Quickly toss in the whole spices, stir them around and let them toast up until they smell fragrant and browned. Add the ginger and chiles, stir and delight in the nose-tingling aroma. Toss the radishes in and stir-fry until they’re picking up browned patches. Turn the heat down a bit if you must to prevent smoking, but high heat delivers the best color.
Stir in the ground spices, then add the stems and leaves. Wilt the greens, add salt, cover the pan, turn the heat down to LOW and let the mess cook for 15 minutes. The dish should require no maintenance during this time, but I like using a glass lid so’s I can spy on the cookin’.
At the end of the cooking time the radishes should be tender and all the ingredients should be nicely browned. Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze some lemon juice all over. Stir to distribute, correct the seasoning if necessary and serve right away. Actually it’s even delicious cold, so serve it whenever you want.