The cold weather is here at last! Sweet-smelling woolens have been taken out of the cedar chest to air in the beautiful dry air, and we are enjoying the last of the summer garden’s offerings…. spinach-like amaranth greens.
Amaranth is really more of a weed than a garden plant; indeed, the spiny, weedy amaranth torments the paths and untended parts of my garden every summer.
Six or seven summer gardens ago (in other words, six or seven years ago), I planted some beautiful Mayo Indian Red amaranth, and a pretty yellow variety. I remember that garden of yesteryear very clearly – I did a dent corn trial, with patches of different jewel- colored corns grown between patches of bush beans, with the Christmas Pole Limas on a trellis in the very front. It was that year I first grew the Dudley farm corn and saw it spring out of the soil, the last planted, but the tallest of them all and the king of the garden that year.
I remember feeling slightly cheated when I poured the contents of the first amaranth seed packet into my palm. Twenty five very small seeds did not impress. But every year since that year, the amaranth has planted itself and grown in unexpected places, tall and colorful with beautiful pink-lined leaves that offer us tender greens in the lean times between summer and winter. It also has proved itself an effective trap crop for many pests, keeping them away not only in the early summer, but also now when my tender greens are still small and vulnerable.
A note about this recipe: I had to use “boughten” potatoes from the store. I would otherwise have used cassava from the garden, except that we had a tragic cassava year already at the beginning of spring when I went to plant my cassava and found that the Rodents Of Unusual Size that populate the junk piles in the barn had eaten through all my stalks! I did find more to plant this year, but I did not get the cassava planted early enough to eat it with callaloo in this recipe! If you’d rather go for a local curry, I have more details here about how I like to process it before adding it to recipes.
Callaloo Curry With Flat Bread
For the flat bread:
2 cups flour (spelt, kamut, farro and wheat all work well)
Unbleached white flour
About 1 cup kefir or yogurt or buttermilk
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Butter for cooking (optional)
1. Mix flour and salt together in a bowl, and slowly add the sour milk until it is a most dough, almost to thick to stir with a spoon, and sticky to handle.
2. Cover with a cloth or plate and let sit overnight.
3. Heat a frying pan while getting the dough ready. For the dough, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and add maybe a handful of flour to make the dough kneadable, so that it doesn’t stick to the hands.
4. Roll the dough between your palms into a fat roll. Cut with a sharp knife into about 1 inch pieces, and roll each piece out into a circle.
5. To bake the flat bread, lay it in the pan, with or without melted butter. I bake it right on the top of the wood stove, and layer them in a stack with butter so it melts and runs down the sides of the stack. It’s ready to flip when the edges start looking dry.
For the curry:
A generous bunch of amaranth leaves
1 onion, chopped
4-5 potatoes, peeled and diced, or about 2 cups cassava chunks
A generous amount of butter or ghee
1 Tablespoon ground coriander
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
1 Tablespoon garam masala
2 teaspoons turmeric
Any where from 1 teaspoon to a small pinch of cayenne, depending on how spicy you like it ( I use a very small pinch because my children won’t eat anything to spicy)
1. Melt butter in a large frying pan and add the spices and onion and stir-fry until golden.
2. Add the potato chunks and cook until nearly soft.
3. Meanwhile, wash and finely chop the callaloo and add to the potatoes. Com with the lid on about 10 more minutes, stirring occasionally. The callaloo cooks down like spinach. Serve with flat bread and butter.