New Recipes New Crops

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Courtesy of Nicholas Potovszky

Have you ever dreamed of a mouth-watering dinner plate? I know I have. Lucky for me, my dream became reality on Thursday night when I had the pleasure of indulging in a delicious plate of wholesome goodness at The Stop Community Food Centre. Not only was it wonderful but it was also grown right here in Ontario’s Greenbelt. The ingredients were fresh and flavourful. Local always tastes the best! 

The Stop welcomed urban gardeners across the City to share knowledge about growing world crops successfully. The event was part of a bigger project to test new world crops for growth in the Greenbelt and Ontario. And my meal proves it is a great success! 

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So, can you guess what world crops were on my plate? Well, my favourite was the green stuff next to the long green beans—that’s okra! It is low in calories, providing just 30 cal per 100 g, containing no saturated fats or cholesterol and is a rich source of dietary fiber. Okra is beneficial for everyone, especially pregnant women. It is a mainstay of Southern cooking, commonly eaten either breaded, fried, in gumbo or can also be steamed, boiled, baked, grilled or pickled. If you want to try this great dish try the recipe below: 

 Okra ~ Poppy Seed Curry 

20 young and fresh looking okra (Bendakaya, Bendi)
3 tablespoons poppy seeds (Gasagasalu, Khus Khus)
3 dried red chillies - Indian variety
Salt and turmeric - to taste or ½ teaspoon each Popu or tadka: 1 tablespoon peanut oil,
Pinch each - cumin, mustard seeds and 6 curry leaves  

- Trim the ends and cut the okra to quarter to half inch wide rounds.

- Roast poppy seeds in a dry, hot iron skillet for about 3 minutes, until they just start to color and release their aromas. Add dried red chillies and a pinch of salt and pound or blend all the ingredients together. Keep working until a nice, moist paste is formed. I usually use a spice grinder or Sumeet small jar for this purpose.

- In a wide skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil. Add and toast the tadkaingredients first and then add the okra pieces. Mix once and fry the pieces, very rarely stirring, until they are free from moisture. A well seasoned cast-iron skillet charms the okra to a beautiful crispiness. If you have one, use it for this recipe. When okra pieces transform fromclinging kids to leave me alone type teenagers, it’s time to introduce the adulthood delights with spices. Add the poppy seed powder, turmeric and salt. Mix gently and saute for few more minutes.

Serve the curry hot with rotis/chapatis or with rice and dal. Okra-poppy seed curry makes a great tasting side dish.

 Recipe Source: Amma, Nandyala  

Stay tuned for the World Crops Project FB Fan page and blog, where we will learn and share information, try something new in your kitchen, and play a part in building a market for locally-grown world crops.

 --Esther 

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