Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday: Prettiest Root Ever

Lotus root korma, with coconut milk and cashew paste, on basmati rice.

A korma is an Indian dish with a creamy, nut-based sauce. This recipe was heavily spiced and extra rich due to its reliance on coconut milk - and it was delicious.

Our loyal readers may remember that D4SA's first encounter with the lotus plant was non-culinary in nature: we visited a few lotuses this past summer at the New York Botanical Garden. But we've actually cooked with lotus root a few times now. We find they're very versatile: they don't have a very strong flavor, but their most unique characteristic is a pleasing crunchy texture that holds up under cooking. They fit well in contexts that suit other firm, plain vegetables like jicama and potato.

Lotus roots themselves grow in a long series of segments - on the plant, they look like linked sausages. The links are sold individually or in pairs; for cooking, they are peeled and then sliced into rounds. The interior of the root naturally has a symmetrical pattern of empty chambers, resulting in the pretty lacy patterns you can see in the picture above.

You have the best chance of finding lotus root in fall or winter at Chinese or pan-Asian groceries; they also pop up in Indian grocery stores. We used to always find a bin of them caked in fresh mud (a good sign!) at a grocery in Boston Chinatown.

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