Indian Asparagus with Shredded Coconut

Asparagus 1

I don’t know about you, but my Instagram feed and feed reader are clogged with photos of ramps and ramp recipes, respectively.   Unfortunately I’m going to have to miss out on the fun yet again since I’ve never seen a ramp at a farmer’s market or grocery store out in Honolulu.

Bummers.

I guess I’ll just have to drown my sorrows with excessive amounts of rhubarb and asparagus.

Asparagus

These days it’s rare that I leave a grocery store without 2-3 large bunches of asparagus.  Although I love basic grilled or roasted asparagus as much as the next girl, I’ve been trying to branch out and use it in other recipes as well.

Although the cold weather crop isn’t a vegetable that I normally associate with Indian cuisine, asparagus makes one heck of a side when paired with shredded coconut and Indian spices.

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Curried Tuna Salad

Curried Tuna

Even though we’ve got pretty great weather year-round here in Honolulu, I’m certainly not immune to a little spring fever.  The longer, warmer days mean even more frequent trips to the beach and, more importantly, more frequent beach picnics.

While I’d love to be the kind of person who can put together a magazine shoot-worthy picnic set atop a chic table in a bag, more often than not, my picnics consist of  several friends huddling around a cooler, passing around Pyrex containers of food.  While I may fall short when it comes to providing ambiance, I’d like to think I can put together a mean assortment of food.  And this curried tuna salad?  I can assure you that it’ll probably be in just about every cooler I pack this summer.

Curried Tuna 1

In this quick and easy dish, canned tuna is combined with sauteed onions, garlic, ginger and a hefty dose of curry powder while some sliced Serrano chile pepper provide a bit of heat .  I’d happily eat this stuff plain with a fork, with crackers or in a sandwich.  Hot, warm or cold.  With mayo or without.   Honestly, it’s hard to go wrong here.

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Meatball Curry with Green Coconut Cilantro Sauce

Green Meatball Curry 1

They say that some folks are predisposed to dislike cilantro (even Julia Child hated it!).  I am so, so glad that I’m not afflicted.  It’s far too important an ingredient in so many of my favorite foods.   I mean, what other herb would I put in Pico de Gallo?  How would I garnish tacos? Would I have to pick out the cilantro from summer rolls?  A world without cilantro?  It sounds like a scary place.

While I most often use cilantro as a final pop of freshness , color and flavor to many dishes, here the cilantro is the primary flavor and star of the show.   Cilantro, one and a half cups of it to be exact, combines with Indian spices and coconut milk for a rich and creamy curry sauce with extra herb-y goodness.

Green Meatball Curry

It seems like I’m pretty much all about meatballs and/or sliders these days (see here, here and here) and I’m happy to continue the streak with this curry.  Consider this dish the meat equivalent to the Mexican green cilantro rice I made a couple years  back (has it really been that long?).

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South Indian Pineapple with Chile and Mustard Seeds

Indian Spiced Pineapple

Soon after I’d made the rash decision to move to Hawaii, I was looking through the Oahu job classifieds online.  Sandwiched somewhere between the ads for fire knife dancers and coconut tree climbers was an ad for field worker at a pineapple plantation.  Clearly the job market in Honolulu was going to be a little bit different than on the mainland.

Since my fire knife dancing and tree climbing skills were rusty at best, I figured if I couldn’t get a job that utilized my college education, I could always work on a farm picking pineapples for the summer.  Never mind the fact that at that point I thought pineapples were grown underground, with only their spiky tops reaching above the surface.  It  seriously blew my mind when I first visited Dole Plantation and saw pineapples growing on top of the plant, almost like somebody had just walked by and rested them on the foliage.

Pineapple

Thankfully I found a more suitable job within a couple weeks of arrival, because I’m pretty sure I would have only lasted a day or two doing manual labor.  It’s a toss-up as to whether it would have been heatstroke or lower back pain that would have done me in.

In any case, I’m lucky to have access to local pineapples that are grown just a few miles away.  But for too long I’ve been guilty of using pineapples exclusively for smoothies or mixed drinks- it never occurred to me to include them in a savory meal (no, Hawaiian pizza and Hawaiian chicken aren’t popular out here).  So I have India to thank for making me finally recognize pineapple’s versatility.

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