In the past 30 – 50 years we have become quite complacent about our food. Not only have we moved away from Food is Medicine at a time when we are able to fully adopt that philosophy, but we have also moved away from the habit of our ancestors of eating all of our food, as much as possible.
We really are lucky – we can throw those offcuts into the juicer, make stocks out of them, dehydrate them for use later, use them for flavourings in teas and tissanes – the things that would have been luxuries for our ancestors.
When we look at some of the foods that those people living in the hard times made from very little, the flavoursome, deliciousness that arises out of necessity, I believe that we have lost the art of this. I am not perfect by a long stretch of the imagination, but this year I made it a goal to use as much as I could from the foods that I buy.
Now I do not recommend you avail yourself of an old Australian cookbook looking for handy hints of using those leftover scraps. Our cuisine was certainly wild and woolly in those days. I don’t think that I have found much joy in scouring those books. But when you look at Asian cuisine especially, even today there are delicious meals made out of not much.
Today’s dish from The Kitchen is an Orange Kuzhambu – made from the peel only – you can make this also with limes (maybe Kaffir would be wonderful) or lemons (even Meyer lemons). I guess that even mandarin skin could be used.
You can see its genesis in making food stretch, in the “top to tail” eating, vegetarian style, of people for whole deliciousness was the requirement, whatever food was at hand.
What else do you do with Orange Peels?
I make a chutney from them, and throw them into teas/tissanes. They dehydrate very well so in winter I make a stock of various citrus peels that last into summer for teas and icy drinks.
What do you do with them?
Source : interpreted from Narathankai Kuzhambu in Cook and See Part 1, by S. Meenakshi Ammal
Cuisine: South Indian, Tamil
Prep time: about 5 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves: 3 – 4 people depending how you are using it. It makes about 3 cups.
4 – 8 green chillies
3/4 tspn fenugreek seeds
3.5 cups tamarind juice, made from lime sized piece tamarind (or use concentrate for ease) mixed with water
4 tspn ghee
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
1 branch curry leaves
2 tspn jaggery
1tspn rice flour
peel of one orange or other citrus, peeled thinly and chopped. I chopped very finely but you can leave the peel in bigger chunks for texture.
Dry roast the fenugreek and asafoetida powder until the fenugreek just starts to darken, then grind to a powder.
Heat 4 tspns ghee in a pan. Add the black mustard seeds and allow to pop, then add the curry leaves. Add the green chillies and the orange peel pieces. Saute them for a few moments, then add the tamarind juice. Cook for 15 – 20 mins, watching carefully, until reduced to about 3 cups and the orange peel is cooked.
Add the jaggery and the fenugreek and asafoetida powder. Stir while simmering until it is all mixed.
Add 1 tspn rice flour dissolved in a little water to the dish and boil until it thickens. Add more rice flour if you desire a thicker consistency.
Serve in the traditional Indian manner, or with rice, a salad made of greens, an Indian chutney and/or pickle. Pour it over the rice to eat, or you can eat it more like a soup.
From the Sambar and Kuzhambu Series
- Arai Puli Kuzhambu (Mildly Sour “Soup”): A Wet and Tangy Vegetable Curry with Eggplant and Potato
- Classic Seasoned Sambar Method One
- Classic Seasoned Sambar, Method Two
- Classic Seasoned Sambar Method Three
- Classic Seasoned Sambar Method Four
- Green Chilli Kuzhambu
- More on Cooking Sambar – Hot, Salty or Sour?
- Moru Sambar (Buttermilk Sambar)
- On Cooking Vegetables for Sambar
- Plain Kuzhambu (Kottu Kuzhambu): A South Indian Vegetable Wet Curry
- More on Cooking Vegetables for Sambar
- On the Making of Sambar Powder
- Sambar vs Kuzhambu
- Poritha Kushambu: Greens Soup with Tamarind
- Race Kuzhambu: Anjara Petti Kuzhambu
- Vatral Kuzhambu with Onion Vadagam