Spring turns my head, literally. The bold colors slashing the landscape make it really, really hard for me to keep my eyes on the road as I walk or drive. Right now here in D.C., candy-pink cherry blossoms and sunshine-yellow daffodils are beginning to give way to tulips of every color imaginable. The hyacinths are out, the azaleas are almost here, and the dogwoods are just beginning to spring back to life.
The pale, baby leaves of the mighty maples and oaks look lit from within.
In our backyard, the fiery-red crape myrtle we just planted over Freddie’s ashes is beginning to shoot out its first leaves, reminding us that the energy of those we love is always around us, even if they aren’t.
It’s hard not to feel incredibly good in Spring, nature’s wise and well-timed reminder about the cycle of life. Even the most depressive must surely find it hard to stay down when a very tangible yet mysterious force seems to be saying, go on, renew yourself!
I have many plans this Spring. I want to plant my vegetable garden. Join a CSA that will deliver fresh, organic produce to me all summer. Visit six acres of 80,000 tulips, all blooming together in Baltimore’s Sherwood Gardens, with my friend Bess. Go hiking with Desi in Harper’s Ferry, a gorgeous swath of green national forest in West Virginia, right where Maryland and Virginia touch corners with it.
I also hope to cook more. A lot, lot more. And tell you about it.
What are your plans this Spring?
I had promised in my Dalitoy post to share with you my recipe for the Methi Pilaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes. This is one of those seemingly-strange combinations of flavors that really, really works. The recipe’s a really simple one, requiring– other than methi or fenugreek leaves and the sundried tomatoes– some onion, cumin and a couple of green chillies. What makes it work is the combination of flavors: the bitterness of the methi, the smoky-salty-sourness of the sun-dried tomatoes, and the sweetness of the onions.
I’ll get on with the recipe for now. Have a great weekend, all!
- 1 bunch of methi, tough stems removed and the leaves chopped (I don't mince them too fine because they cook down anyway)
- 10 sun-dried tomatoes, drained, if packed in oil, then chopped into small pieces
- 1 cup basmati or other long-grain rice
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 green chilies, slit down the middle
- 1 tsp vegetable oil, like canola
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Salt to taste
- Heat the oil and add the cumin seeds. When they sputter, add the onions and cook over medium-low heat, about five minutes, until they turn translucent.
- Add the methi leaves and chilies, mix well, and saute another five minutes until the methi's wilted down.
- Add the sun-dried tomatoes and the rice. Toss the rice until it starts to become opaque.
- Add 2 cups of water and some salt to taste. Bring the rice to a boil, then clamp a tight-fitting lid on the pot, turn the heat down to simmer, and let it cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes.
- Turn off the heat and let it stand, again undisturbed, for another 10 minutes at least.
- Open the lid, squeeze lemon juice on the pilaf, and toss gently with a fork to mix.
- Serve hot with a simple dal like Dalitoy.
- Helpful hint: If you don't have access to methi, try this dish with spinach or with watercress.