ROSELLE (also called gongura or Jamaican sorrel)
A couple of years ago Rao, our entomologist friend from India, gave us a small number of roselle plants. We were immediately hooked and have been enjoying it ever since, adding more plants each year. It thrives in the sweltering temperatures of late summer in Alabama and it has a unique flavor that always leaves me wanting more.
His suggested preparation is to toast mustard seeds in oil, adding garlic and a chile pepper (optional), and then briefly sautéing the roselle leaves with those ingredients. We tried it this way and it was delicious. The flavor is a bit sour, like sorrel or rhubarb, and there is some okra-ness in the texture. The tart recipe below features both of those aspects – the sourness is used as in a rhubarb tart and the texture serves to help the tart ‘set’.
Roselle is in the same family as okra and hibiscus. We are currently harvesting the leaves, but the calyces (“the sepals of a flower, typically forming a whorl that encloses the petals and forms a protective layer around a flower in bud”) can also be harvested and used in the same way as culinary hibiscus, as in a tea.
Roselle is also used in pickling and can be paired with lentils or shrimp.
Please let us know what you think!
Here is an article on roselle:
Heat 3 to 4 tablespoons of oil in a pan.
Add clean and plucked roselle leaves to the hot pan.
Fry until the leaves wilt. Set them aside to cool completely.
To the same pan, add more oil and fry the chiles until crispy. Switch off and add cumin.
When they cool down, add them to a food processor with garlic and salt. Blend until smooth.
Add the leaves and pulse to get a coarse texture.
Adapted from rareseeds.com
1½ cups sugar
1 tablespoon flour
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1/3 cup water
4 cups roselle leaves, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon lemon extract
2 tablespoons butter
½ cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped
1 tart crust
Mix together the sugar, flour, and cinnamon in a saucepan and add whisk in the water. Place over medium-heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Add in the roselle, cover, and cook until tender, anywhere between 20-40 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon extract and butter. Stir in the pecan pieces and set aside.
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Roll the tart crust out and bake for 10 minutes (pie weights recommended). Place the filling in the curst and return to oven and bake for another 30 minutes. Serve cool.
Burmese Roselle Leaves with Bamboo Shoots & Shrimp - Chin Baung Kyaw
“In Burmese cuisine, roselle leaves are called chin baung ywet or sour leaf. It is perhaps the most widely eaten and popular vegetable in Burma. The leaves are fried with garlic, dried or fresh prawns and green chili or cooked with fish. A light soup (hinjo) made from roselle leaves and dried shrimp is also a popular dish."
1 bundle roselle leaves, washed and chopped
1 (8 oz.) pkg. bamboo shoots, fresh or pickled and sliced
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined (optional for vegetarians)
6 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
8-10 cloves of garlic, diced
1 green chili, diced
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 tsp. shrimp paste/ngapi (optional for vegetarians)
1/4 tsp. turmeric powder
1 Tbsp. fish sauce (optional for vegetarians)
Marinate shrimp in fish sauce and turmeric for 15 minutes and set aside.
Heat oil over medium-high heat and fry garlic, onions and chilies until onions turn translucent.
Add tomatoes and shrimp paste and stir-fry until tomatoes break down and oil resurfaces.
Add roselle leaves and bamboo shoots, mix thoroughly and simmer over medium heat until roselle leaves are cooked and all liquid is absorbed.
Add marinated shrimp and cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with steamed rice.
SWEET POTATO GREENS
You know the tuber well from pies and fries, but did you know that you can also eat the leaves? They have been in staple in many countries, especially in African cuisine, for as long as sweet potatoes have been grown.
I made a simple salad by cutting the leaves very thinly (chiffonade) and marinating them with minced shallot, vinegar, olive oil, and salt. After that it sat for 15 minutes or so, I added some chopped tomatoes. We ate it with crab cakes and were impressed with how the leaves holding their texture. The flavor was mild.
Sauteed Sweet Potato Greens
From The Broad Fork by Hugh Acheson
Serves 4 as a side
"They are wonderfully rich in vitamins A and K and in polyphenols, and have magical way of hitting that hot pan and wilting into a beautiful pile of silky goodness in a minute's time."
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 pound sweet potato greens, stems finely chopped and leaves torn
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon cold unsalted butter
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Place the largest saute pan you have on the stove, or use a wok. Crank up the heat to high, and when the pan is blazing hot, turn on the hood vent. Add the grapeseed oil and swirl it around in the pan. When the first wisps of smoke waft off the oil, add the greens. Cook them for 1 minute, as you would spinach, quickly stirring them around halfway through. Season with kosher salt while they are cooking, and then add the lemon juice, butter, and red pepper flakes, stirring well to combine. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the greens to a paper-towel-lined plate. Blot off the excess moisture and serve immediately.
Vadouvan and Corn and Sweet Potato Leaves
From Heritage by Sean Brock
Serves 6 as a side
“I can never understand why more people in the South don’t eat them (sweet potato leaves). Other cultures consider them a treat and here are all these farmers in the South growing sweet potatoes who have never tasted the leaves, much less tried to sell them.”
4 ears corn in the husk, soaked in water for 1 hour
12 sweet potato leaves
1 tablespoon Vadouvan spice (recipe below)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put the corn on a rimmed baking sheet and bake it for 15 minutes, or until the kernels are soft. Remove it from the oven.
When the corn is cool enough to handle, remove the husks and silk and cut the kernels from the cobs. Set aside. (This can be done up to 1 day ahead. Refrigerate the kernels, and bring them back to room temperature when ready to proceed.)
Wash the sweet potatoes leaves, drain them, and pat them dry. Make stacks of the leaves, roll them into cylinders, and cut them into ½-inch-wide ribbons.
Combine the corn and sweet potato leaves in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the Vadouvan and butter and toss to coat. (This can be kept warm on the back of the stove for no more than 8 minutes. It should be made as close to serving time as possible.)
From Heritage by Sean Brock
Makes ½ cup
“This spice mix is great on pumpkin and fall squash, as well as on lamb, lobster, and scallops. Vadouvan is a curry powder that takes its influences from both India and France.”
1 pound sweet onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
8 ounces shallots, halved
6 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 ½ teaspoons thinly sliced fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon brown mustard seeds
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Working in batches, pulse the onions in a food processor until very coarsely chopped; it’s okay if there are a few large pieces remaining. Repeat with the shallots, and then the garlic.
Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy nonstick skillet over high heat until it shimmers. Add the onions, shallots, and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the onions and shallots are golden and lightly browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
Grind the fenugreek seeds in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Add them to the onion mixture, along with all the remaining ingredients, and stir until combined. Spread the mixture on the prepared baking sheets as thinly and evenly as possible. Bake, stirring occasionally and rotating the baking sheets, for 1 to 1 ¼ hours, until the mixture is well browned and barely moist. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a container, cover, and refrigerate.
Tightly covered, the spice mix can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.
Sweet Potato Leaves Salad
1 large bunch sweet potato leaves, stems removed and cleaned
3 pieces medium tomatoes, sliced
1 thumb ginger, shredded
1 medium red onion, sliced
6 tablespoons sugar cane vinegar
½ teaspoon white sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups water
Place water in a cooking pot and let boil.
Blanch the sweet potato leaves. This is done by putting the leaves in boiling water. Let it stay for about 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the leaves and submerge in a bowl of cold water for 30 seconds, and let dry.
In a large bowl, combine sweet potato leaves, tomatoes, ginger, onion, sugar, salt, pepper, and vinegar. Gently toss until all the ingredients are distributed.
Serve as an appetizer. Share and enjoy!
3 cups rice
5 cups gongura (Roselle or Jamaican sorrel leaves)
1 medium onion
½ tsp - cumin
1 spicy cinnamon stick
3 anise stars
3-5 bay leaves
4 tbsp. - ghee
1 tbsp. - oil
1-2 tsp - coriander powder
½ tsp - chili powder
5 green chilies
5 sprigs cilantro
Soak rice for at-least 1 hour
Cut onion, carrots and potatoes into cubes. Place deep X shaped slit to eggplant.
Separate gongura leaves from stem. Discard stem.
In a pot, add 2 tbsp. oil. Then add gongura, ¼ of onion and green chilies. Close the lid and cook till soft. Let it cool and grind to paste. Add water if needed. Keep it semi solid consistency. It should be watery also like paste.
Meanwhile to another pot, add 4½ cups of water and boil. Now add bay leaf and rice. Lower flame to low, and cook rice till water drains.
Take big pot, add ghee.
Add cumin, star anise, cinnamon fry till golden brown.
Add onion, carrot, eggplant and potatoes. Close lid and cook for 10 minutes.
Add salt, stir and cook for 5 more minutes.
Now add gongura paste, chili powder and coriander powder. Cook for 5 minutes.
Now take gongura mixture into another bowl. Leave 1 layer of mixture on the bottom. Now add a layer of rice. On top of rice add another layer of gongura mixture. Add layers till all gongura and rice is placed. Place aluminum foil on the pot and close lid on top of foil. Placing aluminum foil ensures steam not to escape. We cooked rice partly, by this process we are cooking rice in gongura steam. Gongura taste penetrates rice and gives it aromatic flavor and taste.
Close lid and cook on very low flame for almost 20-30 minutes till rice is cooked.
Mix well, garnish with cilantro. Serve hot immediately.
NEWS FROM THE BEND
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